Artist Spotlights Series:
Cinda Sue Dow

Please share a brief biography, including where you’re from and how you got started as an artist.
I was born and raised in Missouri, one of nine. Drawing was always my thing, as far back as I can remember. I started my art life just after high school when I attended Butera School of Art in Boston, MA. But, like so many girls of my generation, I married and dropped my art training for potty training. When my oldest was in high school, almost 20 years later, I jumped back into art. I took workshops and was privileged to study with Doris Jean Colvin (Redmond School of Fine Art). I fell in love with Pastels! Another twenty years down the road, and here I am, with a studio in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA. I love trying new things and have done some Acrylic, and painted furniture. However; Pastels are my passion.

Cinda Sue Dow, Siri's Joy, San Juan Islands Washington. Why do you do what you do?
Why do I paint, and why Pastel? I just love doing it. I don’t seem to have a choice. And I have to paint bright, figurative and animal subjects. No sweet little landscape for me, as much as I love them, it’s just not me.

What jobs have you done, other than being an artist?
When I was in high school I was a waitress. Being one of nine, working was the way life was. Right out of high school I worked for a national newspaper, doing classified layout. When my sons started school, I decided to take bookkeeping as a back-up to my art. Twenty five years later I had worked up in the accounting field to controller of a private school. Needless to say, I got way laid.

What role, if any, does an artist play in society?
There are all types of artists. Without them we couldn’t have the graphics on our computers, or the esthetic layout of a theme park. Artists make our world more beautiful, whether it’s a painting or a lovely garden. Even the “dark” abstract makes one pause and question “what does it mean”? Artists civilize society. How could we live without art? How could we have art without artists?

What do you like/dislike about the art world?
I like the excitement of a show, the anticipation of seeing something new and different. I like learning from other artists and then putting my own twist to what I learned. But the art world is tough. It’s hard to get in shows, galleries, and competitions. Marketing takes up a lot of time. Getting your work out there so those who want to buy can see it is the ultimate challenge to an artist.

What is “creativity”?
Creativity is a way of seeing and doing something differently than the norm, just enough that it captures your imagination. There’s nothing “new” in the art world. Creativity is the ability to take the same old thing and sparking excitement for the viewer as well as the artist.

Cinda Sue Dow, Van Gogh Zebras, San Juan Islands Washington. What motivates you to begin a new project, and what keeps you going?
I’m always chasing that “masterpiece”. I usually start thinking about my next project sometimes weeks before I really know what I’m going to do. When an idea finally comes to me, I can’t wait to get started.

How do you describe your style?
I do traditional subject matter (figurative or animal) with vibrant, lively colors and quite often a surprise background, giving it a contemporary feel. I guess you could call it “Contemporary, Traditional”.

How much time do you spend doing your work every week?
I paint from 9 to 1 every day. I try hard to maintain this schedule. There are times, of course when I need to fulfill some other obligation and miss my studio time. If possible, I make up the time later in the day.

Has your work changed over time? How?
Yes. Over the years I have tried to paint what others do, i.e. landscapes, portraits, still life’s. I like portraits but prefer figurative. I get bored with landscapes. If I painted solely for money, I would do oil portraits and landscapes. As I said previously, I don’t seem to have a choice, I do what I do. It’s just in the last year that I’ve really developed my “Contemporary, Traditional” style, and I am very excited about it. If a painting “tickles” me, I figure it just might make someone else smile.

What artist(s) would you most like to be compared to?
Oh, my. I wouldn’t presume that I could ever compare with some of the artists I admire. Rockwell, Sargent, Monet, but I would like to be seen as a unique artist in my own right.

Cinda Sue Dow, Shearing Day, San Juan Islands Washington.If there was no chance of ever being paid, would you still do your work?

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Stubborn, Persistent, Positive

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Well, I’m not getting any younger, so it’s time to close the deal, have my art in galleries, and be established as a collectible artist.

Any advice for aspiring artists?
Continue to learn, and get rid of that day job!

This interview with Cinda Sue Dow for the Artist Spotlights Series was completed on May 8, 2012. For more information about Cinda Sue and her work, please visit her website.

Read more Artist Spotlights:
Robin Atkins, Patti Barker, Yvonne Buijs-Mancuso, Beth Hetrick, Peggy Sue McRae, Jan Murphy, Kevin Roth, Tom Small, Lewis Spaulding, Nancy Spaulding, Margaret Thorson, Virginia Van Camp, Paula West

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