Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of the Artist on Artist Interview!
For this month's Artist on Artist Interview I have great pleasure in presenting well-known pastelist and children's book illustrator, Wade Zahares.
Mr. Zahares has graciously agreed to share his thoughts and work on his artistic life with us today.
I first discovered Mr. Zahares' work through the Quintessential New England: Paintings by Facebook Artists group and was immediately wonderstruck. Mr. Zahares' pastels stand out on many levels; with their bright and bold colours, unusual compositions and perspectives, and their wonderful sense of whimsy and imagination. There is more to each piece than meets the eye - every time I look at any given piece of his, I find myself suddenly being transported into an entirely different World of enchantment and wonder, and I find myself wanting to stay and explore. His ability to unite everyday life and whimsy is simply fascinating to me and it stimulates the imagination and creative urge.
Mr. Zahares' work is in corporate collections across the country and has graced the covers of soon to be 8 children's books.
And now without any further adieu here is Mr. Zahares' interview along with selected works.
Wade Zahares and his works.
Polly: Would you please describe your earliest memories when you realized you knew you were an artist?
Wade: Kids from the old neighborhood where I grew up in Maine would make fun of me as I opted out of playing football and other neighborhood sports to go draw pictures sitting on my bedroom floor. There was just something special about it. On Saturdays I would watch the 60's cartoons, loved the backgrounds and would try to do my own version. My work today still has some of the same qualities.
"My Baltimore Apartment". 1982. Charcoal. 18" x 24".
Polly: Could you tell us about your education and training?
Wade: High school art class is where I got my start with Jan Merrill. I give her much gratitude for pointing me in the right direction. I started my first two years of college at University of Maine at Orono , transferring to Maryland Institute, College of Art, in 1980 where I received my BFA. My most influential teacher at the institute was my illustration, Susan Waters Eller. After graduating I backed packed throughout Europe for several months, before settling in Boston where I started my art career.
Wade Zahares Studio.
Polly: Would you describe your style, methods of working and what materials you use?
Wade: I started using pastel in college, advice from an instructor, a good way to start working color into my charcoal drawings. I never worried about style as I figured that would come naturally as it did. I started with the hard pastels, like Nu and Rembrandt with Canson paper and slowly moved to the softer pastels like Unison and my favorite Schmincke. My paper slowly evolved from paper with no tooth to Kitty Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper. Now to start working in paint of some kind.
"First Snow" 1988. Pastel. 43" x 29".
Polly: Speaking of style, the style you have today is rather whimsical; would you say your style has always had a sense of whimsy or has your style evolved and if so in what ways, and how do you feel about that?
Wade: I have always had a whimsical, humorous side to me. I once took a stand up comedy class but that is as far as that went. My art is just an expression of me. I have a very political side to me too and some of my older work from the late eighties shows this. I am beginning to come full circle with my art and cannot wait to explore this side of me again.
"Working in my studio in the winter time is the best" ~ Wade Zahares.
Polly: What interests you most about pastel as a medium and why do you make art?
Wade: I love the simplicity of the medium. Tell that to me when I am going out to do plein air especially in the early days trucking around Boston with my easel, pastel box, board and paper, all covered in pastel.
"Kennebunkport" (My hometown). 2011. Pastel. 11" x 17".
Polly: At first glance, your pieces appear to be simplified, however they’re rather complicated; what is the average time it takes you to start and finish a piece?
Wade: My methods have changed over the years and are constantly changing as everything is, adapting to the challenges I am presented with. I start with a sketch of the idea that is developed over a few days, moving on to the final art with a few days on the first layer of pastel, a few more on the second layer, a bit of fixative, workable of course and a few more days for the last layer. The first layer of pastel is the most creative, the second being the most grueling and the last the most satisfying.
"All Night Long" 2011. Pastel. 19" x 27" (Commission)
"Autumn on a Farm". 1988. Pastel. 29" x 43".
Polly: Please tell us about your influences and how you find inspiration?
Wade: In my younger years I was Influenced by Usher, of course for the perspective, Hopper for his subject matter, Monet for his paint quality, and Wayne Thiebaud for his color and composition. Other influences would be Chris Van Allsburg, Grant Wood, David Hockney, Thomas Hart Benton and Alex Katz. But most of my influences and inspiration comes from just living life.
"My Dog Chip" 2003. Pastel. 35" x 23".
(One of my favorites! ~ WZ)
(One of my favorites! ~ WZ)
Polly: If you could try your hand at another medium or genre what would it be and why?
Wade: I am now putting my hands in oil, and acrylic. I love pastels but for many reasons I want and need to move on to another medium. As I get older I do worry about the side affects of the pastel dust, though I have always been conscious of the hazards. Framing is another problem, along with shipping framed pastels which is not an option, Another problem is my fingers just darn ware out, from the rubbing of the medium and when I have 28 pieces for a book due in a few months it can be a challenge. Another reason is that oil and acrylics go for more money, which is always nice.
"Aunt Connie's Place" 2009. Pastel. 18" x 25".
"Fall is Flying By". 2007. Pastel. 23" x 35"
Polly: Aside from your commercial/commission projects; do you have any pastel projects of your own you’re working on?
Wade: All the time. In between books and commissions I spend all my time on my own work which looks much like all my commissioned pieces. I also love to plein air paint, and have been doing it from the beginning, from the Boston/Cambridge neighborhoods to the Maine coast where I now reside.
"My Back Yard" 1986. Pastel. 19" x 25".
The view from Zahares bedroom/studio in Cambridge, MA, his first studio!
Polly: How did you come into illustrating children’s books?
Wade: Back in the 80's I rented one of my first studios in an old warehouse in South Boston on a floor that was occupied by artists. I soon found myself managing the floor of non residential studios, 16 of them, soon to be 48 studios with the build out of 24 more studios in another warehouse across the parking lot. One of my tenants, a graphic designer, introduce me to Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges and her husband, the late Philomen Sturges, who represents Children's Book Illustrators and they both loved my work. It took several years to sign my first contract, but I have been working with her and the staff Studio Goodwin Sturges ever since.
The young artist, Wade Zahares, at 5 years old!
Polly: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Wade: My father, Alcide George Zahares, who died when I was first starting out in my career, and would always said "Son, when are you going to get a real job" to show him that I really do have a "real" job and have had it for the past 30 years.
"Catchin' Dinner". 2002. Pastel. 23" x 35"
"Let's Go Swimming" 2003. Pastel. 36" x 25".
Polly: Who has been the greatest support to you as an artist and how?
Wade: My partner of 19 years, just for being there for support through the good and bad times and who never let me quit when I wanted to most. Thank you!!!
Wade Zahares Gallery.
Polly: What has been most challenging for you as an artist?
Wade: Paying the bills. Keeping it fun. To be a speaker. Time management. The loneliness. To be all in one, creator, sales, secretary, accountant, framer, shipper, speaker.....
"The Parlor" 2009. Pastel. 23" x 35".
Polly: Tell us what your thoughts are on what it's like being an artist?
Wade: Good Question. Life is all about finding your passion and purpose. I was lucky and found mine early in life. It's about taking what is inside of me and expressing it so other can enjoy how I see life. Art is what I am suppose to do and that makes me content.
'Four Seasons at Wade's Place.'
Prints soon available
"Spring at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"
"Summer at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"
Polly: If you were conducting this interview what one question would you ask yourself and what would the answer be?
Wade: By looking at your work you must have a lot of patience. Do you???
I did not have any patience when I was younger. I wanted things right away. Having a career as an artist I realized things take time. You can not hurry the process. I have tried and it fails. Every aspect of the of the journey is in the final result.
"Fall at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"
"Winter at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"
Polly: Would you mind sharing something interesting about yourself most people wouldn’t know?
Wade: When I was young, I had three interests in life. Art, flowers and weather. Be careful for what you wish for! I am an artist that raises and sells fresh cut flowers by the roadside and just finished up, what could be my 9th children's book, all about weather!!!
"Windy Day on Goat Island" 2009. Pastel. 11" x 23".
Polly: And lastly, what words of wisdom would you offer to young artists?
Wade: A professor at MICA once said to me , If you're going to be an artist you need to live and breathe art 24/7. It has to be your passion in life. Good advice. Another professor said to me if you're going to paint a house, you have to put everything you have into it. Another bit of good advice. My advice. Do as much art as you can. Set up a daily schedule for your time in your studio. Start now. Keep going and never ever give up.
"Round Street" 1985. Pastel. 19" x 25".
"Windswept Farm" 2011. Pastel. 21" x 34".
A new book in the works.
Polly: Thank you so much for your time Wade! Is there anything else you would like to share with us about you and or your art?
Wade: On November 1, 2013, my 8th Picture Book "Frosty The Snowman" Performed by Kenny Loggins, Illustrated by Wade Zahares will be released. It's published by Peter Yarrow Books, A division of Charlesbridge. It will be selling worldwide. Watch for it at your local bookseller!!!
To learn and see more of Wade Zahares works please visit his website www.zahares.com .
Wade Zahares studio is open by appointment, please call 207-499-2465 or email email@example.com