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Last week we introduced you to the work of our new artist friend, Alex Clymer. We feel so passionately about the work she does that we wanted to know more about her and her creative process. Enjoy the interview!
We understand you are a Colorado native. What does that mean to you? What gives you joy in being in CO?
As a native, I’m probably supposed to drive a Subaru. I don’t fit that stereotype; but I do enjoy getting outdoors, drinking a microbrew, and I am a pro at applying sunscreen even when there’s snow. I grew up in Littleton and went to college at Colorado School of Mines. I love Colorado too much to leave! I might be biased, but I think Colorado is one of best states to live in (and the secret is definitely out). The scenery is so beautiful that I find the most joy when I’m outdoors – hiking, climbing, snowboarding and backpacking.
You’ve been an artist since you can remember. In what mediums do you like to work most and why?
Growing up I was constantly creating things by painting, drawing or sculpting out of clay. However, in the past few years I’ve primarily focused on painting with acrylic on canvas. I like acrylics because they dry quickly and allow me to get vibrant colors with a smooth texture, plus I’m too impatient to wait around for oils. I tend to enjoy creating larger paintings about 2ft or larger.
What subject matter is your favorite and why?
I love painting animals, whether furry, feathered or scaly – I enjoy them all. I love using bright, vibrant colors. Generally, I paint close-up compositions to really highlight the detail of the subject. My favorite part to paint is the eyes and I often save them for last. Kind of like eating all the oats in your bowl of Lucky Charms and saving the marshmallows for last.
What drives you to create?
I’ve always had a love for animals. I started doing pet portraits as a way to capture the love I had for my pets. I started doing portraits of other people’s pets, seeing the joy my artwork can give others is a huge motivator for my work. I enjoy creating things that have the power to spark emotional reactions in people.
What kind of challenges have you overcome in developing your talent and becoming a successful, in-demand artist?
Often my paintings can take over 100 hours. Since I also work a day job, finding the time to paint and work on my craft regularly is one of the biggest challenges. It takes a lot of discipline to come home after work and spend hours painting. It’s also hard to sacrifice weekends, but it’s worth it for the final product and to see the joy my paintings bring to people.
“Commissioning a painting” sounds big and scary to some people. Describe the process if someone wants to commission a painting of their dog. What happens start to finish?
It can sound daunting, but it’s really pretty simple. The process usually starts by sending me reference photos. I try to learn a bit about your dog’s personality and figure out which reference photos would work the best for a portrait.
Then, I develop a “proof” of what the painting will look like as far as composition and background color, etc. Before my brush hits the canvas, I make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting and make sure you’ll absolutely love the final painting.
Next, I start the painting process and send progress photos as I go, making tweaks along the way. I send a final photo of the finished painting to make sure you’re completely happy, and then varnish and ship the painting (or hand deliver if in the Denver area). I’ve never had a client that wasn’t completely in love with the final product!
There are many reasons to commission a custom painting of your pet. Describe some of the situations or client needs that stand out to you.
Often the pet has passed away and the client is looking for a way to remember their dog in a meaningful way. Maybe they don’t have photos of their dog that are high-quality enough to print and frame, but by creating a painting they’re able to hang something beautiful on the wall that honors their pet.
I’ve also had many clients that get a portrait as a gift for a friend or family member. A custom painting is an unforgettable gift. For instance, I often hear from clients, “My wife absolutely loves the painting; she can’t believe it’s an original painting. She says it’s the best gift she’s ever gotten and she can’t stop talking about it.”
Any favorite memories of the reactions when the final work is delivered?
Many clients get very emotional once they see the painting of their pet for the first time, which is so rewarding to get such a powerful response. Sometimes their pet has long since passed away, so it’s a like a reunion with a long-lost friend. However, as far as the most memorable reaction, I had one client that told me about a month or so after hanging the painting that the spirit of his dog had returned to the house. He said since hanging the painting he swears he’s seen the dog zoom by out of the corner of his eye and once felt something brush past his leg when nothing was there.
What is the best part of being an artist?
As an artist I love working with my hands and creating something that is truly unique. I enjoy knowing that there is nothing else in the world exactly like what I’ve created. Also, a lot of art forms are something that can last beyond your lifetime. I think that’s really powerful, creating something so lasting.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Just keep creating. Never stop working on improving at your craft. Eventually you’ll find your niche and the fans that love your work.
Check out some examples of Alex's increditble dog paintings and commission your very own custom dog painting today! We are always looking for new artists, artwork and customizable items to make your experience with us unique. Please share your ideas and we would love to go find what you need.