Friday, April 1, 2016

Artist Spotlight - Louise De Masi


Thank you so much Annie for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. (You bet! MY PLEASURE ~Annie)

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
I like to introduce myself as a wildlife artist from Australia with a weakness for tea and fine chocolate. I am a mum to three grown children, a retired school teacher and an animal lover. Art has always been a huge part of my life. It was my favorite subject at school and it is something that has always bought me great personal satisfaction. I have been painting on and off for 18 years. When I first started painting I used acrylic paint but after ten years or so I grew tired of using it. I no longer found any pleasure in painting. So I put my brushes down and took myself off to university for four years and became a school teacher.

When I completed my degree, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to secure a permanent teaching position. I had to make do with relief teaching for a few years. I gave my details to different schools and I’d sit at home and wait for the phone to ring. To avoid boredom and to take my mind off not working I taught myself to paint in watercolor. I started painting on small pieces of watercolor paper until I was confident to move onto slightly larger pieces. Because I adore birds and animals they were my chosen subject matter.

Eventually the phone for relief teaching rang quite regularly and I juggled teaching with painting. Anyone who is a teacher knows the amount of time that goes into planning and preparing lessons so it wasn’t long before I had little time to paint. I missed it so much. I remember another teacher who, after seeing my work online, said to me one day, “Louise, if you can paint like that what an earth are you teaching for?”

I now paint full time and although I miss the regular pay cheque I have to say I don’t miss teaching at all.

Did I go to art school? Yes I did but only for one year. We needed money at the time so I had to cut the course short.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I work primarily in watercolor. It is such a beautiful medium to use. I love its translucency and vibrancy and I love how it has a mind of its own. You never really know how a painting is going to turn out. There are a lot of happy accidents and some not so happy accidents when you paint with watercolor. I do occasionally pull my acrylic paints out but I never enjoy painting with them as much as I do watercolor. I’d like to start introducing pencil, ink and charcoal into my work. I need two or three lifetimes to do everything I want to do.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
I gather my inspiration from the things I am most passionate about. I have a deep respect for all living things and the natural world. I find inspiration in the ruffled feathers of a bird, the soft and delicate folds of rose petals and the zig-zag track that the larvae of a moth makes on the bark of a Scribbly Gum tree. I am drawn to the shadows and highlights that the sun makes on different things. Our property adjoins a State Forest and in the past I would take my camera with me when I walked my dog. I’d take photos of the bark peeling off a gum tree, the dew on a cobweb and the leaf matter on the floor of the forest. There is beauty everywhere and I try to convey that in my paintings. I want to make people smile or move them in some way when they look at my art.

What are you working on now?
I recently finished co-authoring a watercolor instruction book called ‘The Art of Painting Sea Life in Watercolor.’ That was a good experience and I really enjoyed working with Walter Foster Publishing.

Last September I signed with Painted Planet Licensing Group. They introduced me to design, branding and licensing expert Liz Wain, who’s been working with me on prioritizing my existing art to develop it into collections. I am new to art licensing and my knowledge about this side of the art world is limited, so Liz has been guiding me and offering me pearls of wisdom. All of what I have been painting over the past 5 years has been wall art. I need to learn how to turn that wall art into art that can be used on products. With lots of patience, Liz is helping me do that. She is also helping me to plan a Christmas collection for 2018. Fellow Painted Planet artist Jackie Decker has also been a great support to me as I delve deeper into the art licensing world. She has shared a lot of information and ideas with me.

I am teaching myself how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and it is opening up a whole new world to me. Although I am enjoying this new learning, I have to say, give me a paint brush over a computer any day!

My agent, Jan Draheim, is in the process of negotiation my first licensing contracts, which has been really exciting!

Any great advice for our readers?
One thing that really irritates me is seeing a beautiful watercolor painting painted on cockled paper, so because I work fairly large, I always stretch my paper. I used to tape my wet paper to sealed MDF board but on occasions the paper would stick to the board when it was dry and when I tried to remove it, would tear.  I recently discovered a product called Gatorboard. It is fabulous for supporting watercolor paper. It’s lightweight and very strong and my paper never sticks to it.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Painting is my passion and I try to do it everyday. It is what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me up late at night. If I go a few days without painting I start to feel agitated and grumpy. I told my kids many times as they were growing up to find their passion and to pursue it with everything they had. If they can turn that passion into a career then they will never work a day in their life. I am so grateful to do what I love for my living.

I am also very grateful to be working with Jan Draheim and her team. As I mentioned earlier, I am new to art licensing and I realise that to be successful in this business not only do I need to work hard but I also need to have a lot of patience. I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own so having Jan as my guide is a necessity for me.

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
I am both. I am usually up before the sun and I am often still at my computer after 10.00 at night.  This sometimes causes me to have a little nanna nap in the afternoon.

What is your favorite food?
Hmm… that’s a tough one. I’d have to say the one thing that is always in my pantry is chocolate. I eat way too much chocolate. You know in the past, I have scoured the internet trying to find some information or research that paints chocolate in a negative way. I have looked for something to tell me to stop eating it. Something like: ‘it clogs your arteries and increases your risk of heart disease’ or ‘if you eat it too much you have a higher risk of developing dementia.’ I thought if I read something like that it might make me stop eating it. But no! I could find nothing negative except for its high calorie content. In fact, I kept reading about the health benefits of eating chocolate. So I guess I’ll just keep on munching it.

You can find Louise:
My blog:
Painted Planet:

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