When did you first become interested in art?
I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. I doodled and drew constantly as a child. From my teens to the age of 30, I was quite dormant, but started pursuing painting in earnest from that time on.
What style of art do you use most?
I like more of a realist approach, but not photo-realistic. I like a painting to “look like a painting”. And I like to push the colors to their ultimate saturation, yet not to the point of being garish. Being “literal” is not a requirement for me, but making interesting, appealing art is!
Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?
No, my art has always been about the same. I lean towards realism. I DO like some impressionistic works I’ve seen by other artists, but in my opinion, there are very few who do it well. And I must admit that I’m not really a fan of the abstract.
What medium do you use?
I work ( or, have worked ) in just about everything; Oils, Acrylics, Pastels, Pen & Ink. Oils are my favorite because nothing compares to the richness of Oil color. I am currently launching my Signature Line of Oil painting products, which will be available world-wide. Next to Oils, I would say Pen & Ink is my 2nd favorite medium. I love the stark Black & White contrasts and all the subtle mid-tone “grays” achieved by careful placement of the lines and dots. It’s a precise medium with no margin for error.
What made you choose that medium?
As stated in my answer to the last question, for Oils, it’s their rich, vibrant color. For Pen & Ink, it’s the precision of the execution and the challenge of achieving all the correct values by using only Black ink and White paper.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
Both, really. If I have a specific subject, such as an animal, I’ll use a reference photo to assist with the anatomy. But, I’ll dream up and envision the surroundings and background. This gives it a “looser” feel than duplicating Mother Nature exactly. As I stated earlier, being “literal” is not necessarily my main goal.
How do you choose your images and colors?
Images are easy, because I like painting just about anything and everything; animals, old barns, still life, florals, seascapes, whatever. There’s SOOO much to choose from, in that respect. As for my color choices, I use a pretty limited palette. Typically, I use no more than 6-7 colors on any painting. They may vary, maybe Ultramarine Blue in this piece and Cobalt Blue on the next. But, I find I can achieve a better “color harmony” by mixing my hues with a handful of staple colors. In fact, my book, “WILDLIFE LANDSCAPES YOU CAN PAINT” ( Northlight Books ) was written using only 5 colors for all 10 projects. It’s a great lesson in color-mixing.
Do you work in a studio?
Yes, I have a devoted work space. Roomy enough with everything “at the ready”, so I can paint at a moment’s notice when the inspiration hits me.
Who is your favorite artist?
Da Vinci and Van Gogh are a couple of my favorites. Da Vinci because of his experimentation and development of chiaroscuro and Van Gogh because his work is totally unique. He went for color and texture and wasn’t afraid to deviate from the “norm”, or what was expected. Though it’s far removed from my particular style, “Starry Night” is one of my all-time favorite paintings.
What is your favorite piece of work by yourself?
I can’t really say that I have one. I guess my all-time favorite is yet to come.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
I’m not the type who can spend weeks, or months on one piece. I’m not patient enough and my inspiration will ebb away before I reach the end. Over the years, I’ve gotten adept at taking a painting just as far as I can alla prima, then tweaking the details when it dry. Most of my works are a maximum of 4 – 6 hours. ( which, surprises a lot of people )
How well do you take criticism?
I’m okay with it, but the bottom line is that it’s just someone else’s opinion. And everyone has one! Therefore, I don’t take it too seriously. Art is something different to everybody and everybody sees it in a unique way, which is personal to them. Therefore, it’s impossible to please everyone, so I don’t try to. I please myself.
What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?
I put my brushes down and find something else to do until my inspiration returns. Plus, I’ll sometimes pull photos out of my reference file to kind of stir my juices.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
Though this is a problem with some artists, it’s never been an issue for me. I know what I’m trying to achieve when I sit down at my easel. I can “see” my “finished” composition in my mind. When I reach that point in the painting, I’m done. My paintings are quite simple in design. I focus on my subject and down-play the background, which further emphasizes my subject. It’s a simple formula, but very effective. I don’t like busy, cluttered paintings.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
No, I’ve never approached a gallery. I’ve had a few approach me, however. But, I’m not a big fan of all the rules, stipulations and percentages associated with that atmosphere. Would it be more exposure? Sure! But, I can reach an even wider audience on-line via my blog, Facebook, my website and YouTube and that’s where I target my energy. The Internet is second to none as far as marketing goes.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I still paint, or teach painting on a daily basis. A lot of my time and effort right now is being devoted to launching my product line ( which, I mentioned earlier.) My Signature products will be available at www.jerrysartarama.com and www.aswexpress.com , as well as my website, www.wilsonbickford.com
What are your plans for the future?
To continue conducting painting workshops and broaden my scope by branching out into other locales.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is”.
What advice would you give new artists?
Follow your heart and paint for yourself, not someone else. Realize that not everyone is going to like your work. That’s just the way it is, so get used to it and don’t let it discourage you. And lastly, refer to my answer of the previous question.
Have you done any courses to help you?
I never went to “art school”, or college. I’m pretty much self-taught through books, videos and watching/studying other artists.
What do you do to market your work?
While I hang and display work in my local area ( banks, restaurants, etc.) I use the Internet to my advantage. ( personal blog, website, YouTube, Facebook )
You can search me on Youtube and on Facebook, where I actively post my class schedules, paintings and painting tutorials. I also have a free on-line newsletter, which you will find details for at my website.
Are you available for work (commissions)?
Yes, I’ve done a million commissions in my day. Pets, antique cars, boats, private planes, cottages/camps, house portraits. Though I can do “people” portraits, I rarely accept them, as they’re too time-consuming for me. My love is in painting nature and animals, so the brunt of my commission work has been pets.
Have you got hobbies?
I’m also a musician and I have been playing in bands since I was 15 years old. (I’m 52 now, so I’ve been at it for a long time) I’m a lead singer / lead guitarist and also play blues harmonica. Our band plays cover tunes from the 60’s & 70’s. We “gig” on most week-ends.
Where are you based?
I reside in northern New York state about 30 miles from the Canadian border.
It’s a small town, rural setting, which is where I was born. I never found a reason to leave the area.