Interview with Brenda Hash, Artist of the Month June 2014
Brenda Hash is IAPS representative for PSST. Her painting Thoughts of Elberta won Best of Show in the PSST exhibition, Art of the Pastel 2014, received 2014 Award of Excellence from Portrait Society of America, and was juried into 2014 Pastel Society of America exhibition.
PSST: Brenda, why are you an artist?
BH: I’ve always enjoyed drawing. I remember all the way back to 3rd grade drawing an Indian that was selected to be in the school art show, and later having the school’s Assistant Principal select a snow scene I had created to hang in her office. Fast forward a hundred years, nine of those spent working for Shell Oil as a software engineer, I found myself at home raising my two sons. That’s when I returned to my artwork and took up pastels. At the time it seemed the best medium for an on-the-go mother of two young boys; easy to put down and pick back up again. I went straight to portraiture, too. I just love looking at all kinds of faces. In recent years I have added oil painting to my repertoire to be more marketable as a corporate portrait artist. The inevitable is around the corner; the day my boys leave the nest. Then I can spend more time on my career. And what a great career… to be an artist!!
PSST: Where do you paint? Home, studio, corner of a room? How is it set up?
BH: You know, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is my studio. When we built our home eleven years ago, we made sure that the floor plan included a studio space. I set it up to have an office area, storage area, and painting area. My office space has a desk, computer and bookcases. I love to draw, so I have to have storage for my collection of wonderful papers. I had an Amish furniture maker create the cherry flat file you see. Yes, it cuts into my work space, but it keeps me organized. My work space has room enough for two easels; one for oils and the other for pastels. Those oils just don’t play well with pastels, so I have to keep them separated. I like to stand when I work, but my feet were paying a price standing on tile floors covered with only a drop cloth. So, I recently added rugs to hide some wonderful, thick pads that make it a joy to stand at my easels. In my future studio I would love to have a standalone studio, not connected to the house. That would minimize distractions, and it would be nice to have room for a model stand, kitchenette and more bookcases and storage room.
PSST: What is your subject matter and how do you choose it?
BH: I love the portrait. It’s really difficult for me to be interested in anything else, but I try to keep myself challenged to do new things. I don’t really think you can be a good portrait artist if you can’t do a good landscape or still life. Portraits are filled with them. I like commissioned portraits, because I get to meet such interesting people, but I also like to do non-commissioned portraits. That’s when I can set the pose and have complete control over the composition.
PSST: What is your art background? Academic, self-taught, workshops?
BH: I have a Masters Degree in Computer Science and this has ended up very helpful in my art career. I use the computer to help compose my photo references and to build my own website. The computer is a great tool for artists. As for art education, I took a few classes from the MFAH’s studio school, Glassell, but I believe my real art education has come from workshops with the following artists; Daniel Greene for pastel, Jon deMartin for drawing, Rob Liberace for drawing and oil painting, Stephen Early, Lea Colie Wight and Kerry Dunn for oil painting, and JaFang Lu for analyzing color.
PSST: How do you describe your painting style and color choices?
BH: I like to think of my painting style as Contemporary Realism. I don’t just copy what I see. I tend to saturate the color a bit more than I see it. I might even put colors that I only think I see, because I really like beautiful color. In my portraits you can see lots of color. In what might seem to be brown skin you will find green, blue, violet, orange, pink, rose, anything I think I see.
PSST: What do you consider your best painting ever and why?
BH: My next one, because there is always something that can be improved.
PSST: What art events do you have scheduled?
BH: June 20th -21st I will be teaching a portrait workshop at the Gates Fine Art building in Rosenberg. I am limiting this to oil painters, since the room is small and I will have to set up a model stand. Pastelists just need more room to spread out than oil painters. The workshop is almost full, but interested painters can get information on my website.
PSST: Do you have any marketing or exhibiting tips that you would like to share?
BH: I wish I could credit the correct person, but I heard someone say you should always try to do your very best work and then work to get as many people as possible to see it. Our area provides many ways to get your work in front of people; galleries, art shows, publications, etc… Like Nike says, “Just Do It”. I would add, “Don’t just do what’s easy. Do the hard things.” That would include creating a business page on Facebook, creating a website…and keeping it updated, apply for signature memberships in art organizations, enter national competitions, enter international competitions, write an article for an art magazine. The opportunities really are endless, but they don’t happen by themselves. You have to make it happen.
PSST: What social media, websites or art-focused groups are you associated with?
BH: The following are links to find me on the internet. You can also see my entire CV of awards, publications and memberships on my website. Other links: Facebook, On My Easel Blog, LinkedIn.
PSST: What are your goals as an artist?
BH: I want to stay on a path of continuous growth. This year’s goals include the usual entering artwork in gallery shows and submitting my work for competitions and publications. Recently I achieved a long time goal of having one of my portraits selected for an award in the Portrait Society of America’s International Competition. Two new goals I have added this year follow. The first was to study with an artist whose work and business sense I admire. That artist was Michael Shane Neal, a highly successful portrait artist who has painted a very famous list of people including Sandra Day O’Conner and Arlen Specter. Upon returning from studying with Mr. Neal, I was inspired to submit my work to be considered for a portrait commission with Baylor University. I am very excited to say that I have secured that commission. The second goal was to submit my work to be juried into the Pastel Society of America’s Annual Exhibition to be held at the National Arts Club in New York. Well, I submitted one, but the jury is still out. Watch my blog for any good news. It seems appropriate at this point to share a recent quote from Amelia Earhart that I ran across: “Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.”
I hope that my work and goals, even those that might end in failure, can be an inspiration to other artists.