Bill Farnsworth, OPA - interviewed by Leah Schwartzman
Bill Farnsworth, the 2016 National River Road Art Show judge/juror for 2016, is a signature member of the Oil Painters of American (OPA), American Society of Marine Artist's and the American Society of Impressionists. He is a nationally recognized award winning oil painter having garnered awards of excellence from OPA National and Regional shows. Fine Art Views says, "Sensitive and full of human emotion, the heartfelt work of Farnsworth takes us to inner depths."
We asked Bill when and how he discovered his inner artist. His response was, "I guess when I started drawing on my bedroom walls at 3 years old. My Grandpa was a Lace Designer and gave me a roll of design paper … a graph on one side and pure white on the other … and I began drawing on paper instead of on walls." He said at 14 he learned that artists could make a living as an illustrator; artists such as, Walt Disney, Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Bernie Fuchs influenced and inspired his passion for drawing.
When Bill Farnsworth first became a professional artist, he was working full time as a Land Surveyor for his dad's business and spent nights and weekends on illustration assignments. It was a struggle to go full time (as a professional artist) but eventually became a reality. He graduated from the Ringling School of Art and Design in 1980. Although his parents were supportive of his artistic endeavors, he says, there is no substitute for hard work … it's 90% of the equation. He said school was a good starting point but the real lessons came when he was a professional illustrator and his livelihood depended on meeting deadlines.
Bill continues to work hard, juggling his art-making with other parts of his business and home life; he has two daughters who are both very talented and have always been creative with making gifts for friends and family. He normally tries to get time at his easel, either outdoors or in the studio, 5-6 times a week … even if only for 2 hours for a quick study, or up to 10 hours depending on the size and nature of the work to be done.
An illustrator for 34 years, Bill moved seamlessly into the fine art field; he primarily paints landscapes, occasionally placing a figure in the scene. Drawn to his subjects by "the light" - he says any subject matter, even garbage, can be a beautiful, interesting painting in the right light. He authored and illustrated a manuscript about the Florida Cowmen in hopes of getting it published, and illustrated more than 60 other children's books. He says oils have always been the most versatile medium for him to achieve what he desires in a painting. But he has also experimented with a combination of oil and pastel or using oils over an acrylic underpainting.
Bill shared a few insights other insights from his years of experience: He views "painter's block" periods as a time when things don't go well, your critical eye is saying you need to improve; it is a window for growth not depression.
If you feel there is just "something wrong" with a painting, it is most likely shapes, values, edges or color temperature. Painting from life/painting outdoors will make you a better painter in the studio because it requires you to edit out all the unnecessary stuff and get right to the essence of the subject. It helps one to understand how light behaves on the subject as it slowly changes. To beginning artists - "Think twice about a private art school, if you have to finance it" … check out my blog: "Dear Art Student" on my website, billfarnsworth.com.
Don't miss the opportunity to spend three days painting with Bill in his workshop … "Putting Light into Your Paintings," while he is here in Baton Rouge to judge the River Road Show!