Artist William Matthews displays work in Vail
July 12, 2010
VAIL, Colorado – A showing of new works by William Matthews will be on display at the Claggett/Rey Gallery in Vail this month. Paintings featuring the artist’s most well-known subject of working cowboys, alongside landscapes from the Great Basin to the rolling hills of Ireland and Scotland, are included. Matthews took the time to talk to the Vail Daily about his life as a painter, what inspires his work and his advice for burgeoning artists.
1. Vail Daily: How did you get started as a painter?
William Matthews: I was born into a family of artists. My mother was a portrait painter, my grandfather was a modernist. Paint was always available and conversations about art seemed to dictate family discussions, sort of the way sports dominate a lot of family discussions today. Being a non-conformist, even at 7, I had to do the total opposite of what my mother was doing, painting in oil; so I chose watercolor. By the time I was 12 I knew that was what I wanted to do. When I was 19, I moved to L.A. and started designing album covers for Warner Brothers and Capitol Records.
2. VD: How would you describe what motivates your paintings?
WM: I’ve been painting seriously now for 50 years, and though my eye and heart want to go somewhere familiar, my mind continues to expand my motivation. I find myself more and more interested in ideas and concepts than ever before, but the basic tenants of aesthetics – design and color – intuitively permeate my work.
3. VD: At this point in your career, what inspires your work?
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WM: I have a huge file of photos and sketches and books, but more and more I depend on my imagination for inspiration.
4. VD: You wrote such an amazing tribute to Andrew Wyeth recently, can you give us some insight into the significance of the friendship you had with him and how that has influences your life and work?
WM: Andrew Wyeth was a good friend of mine for the last 20 years of his life. He passed in 2009. During that time he greatly influenced me, but not just his technique, more by his joy and work ethic. He rose early every morning and was in the studio painting while most people were having breakfast. His excitement and child-like enthusiasm was contagious.
5. VD: What advice would you give young artists just starting out?
WM: Live your life. Have experiences, travel and see how other people live. Try other careers too. Advertising is a place where many artists learn discipline and durability. This is a tough economic climate, the key is to persevere. Never take “No” for an answer.
6. VD: When you are adding to your own collection, how important is the subject to you? Or is it more about the artists creative truth and skill?
WM: As with all art, I’m drawn to pieces that speak to me – touch me emotionally. Most importantly, things that I can learn from.
7. VD: What’s the best and worst parts of being a full time, working artist?
WM: The worst part about being an artist is that it can be tentative and unpredictable as a steady source of income. The best part is that I get to paint every day and delve into things that are important to me. I get to bring my own sense of creativity into the market. I’m the luckiest guy in the world!
Courtney Shaw is the marketing coordinator at the Claggett/Rey Gallery. E-mail comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.