1. What was it like growing up with an artist as a parent?
My fondest memories of my mom growing up are of her doing creative things, such as sewing, flower arranging, cake decorating, drawing, and painting. We didn't have a lot of money, but you couldn't tell that by looking at our clothes or house. She made everything beautiful with her creative skills. I have four sisters; we each gravitated to different creative activities taught to us by our mom, and we were encouraged to try it all. At age five or there about, I was fascinated by how she could put together pieces of fabric to make a dress or a toy, so she handed me a needle and thread, some buttons and pieces of fabric to play with. I started making doll clothes and Halloween costumes, and by the time I was in sixth grade I was making my own school clothes. My first oil painting lesson was at our kitchen table. I was a teenager by then but remember how amazing it was to create an image with paint. Mom was a patient and loving teacher. She never spoke harshly or lost her temper when teaching us new things.
My parents opened their gallery in Lake Tahoe when I was a teenager. Life really changed then. Home was no longer the gathering place of the family; the gallery was. Everything revolved around the visual arts by then. Lakeside Gallery was more then just a show place for fine art. It also had a large classroom to accommodate painting workshops, an art supply store, and a frame shop. The gallery was not only the hub of our family life; it was also the gathering place for a lot of artists and art teachers. I worked at the gallery for many many years doing framing and teaching art.
Growing up surrounded by creativity and the arts was a very normal thing for me. I never thought much about it until later. In fact just this past year, a student of mine commented that I was lucky to have lived my whole life in creativity. She said not many people can say that. I think she was right; I am very lucky.
2. How did you decide to focus on landscapes and seascapes in your work?
Landscapes are what I started out with. I'm an outdoor kind of person. I love being out in nature. The colors of nature are perfect in every way, and I like to try and replicate them on canvas. I'll change things up from time to time, by painting animals, buildings, boats, trains and even abstracts. But I always go back to landscapes and seascapes; they are what inspires me the most. Every day on Maui, I'm greeted with incredible views. I love studying the clouds and the shadows that play along the valley of the mountains or watching the waves as they come in to caress the sandy beaches. The colors of flowers, the sky, the ocean, it all inspires me. I do a lot of walking and exploring the island with my husband who is a photographer. I'm always looking out for scenes that would make a great painting. I don't like to put people in my scenes because I want the viewer to see the beauty of nature as I see it, pure and un-touched.
3. What inspired you to start Art E Studio?
I moved to Chico, California in 2002 from Lake Tahoe. I got a job at a local frame shop and started a once a week oil painting class after work at the shop. At first it was a "drop in" casual kind of thing with two to four students a week. It was a great way to keep the skills I learn from my mom sharp and make a little extra money. When 2008 hit with the housing crash, my students dropped off. I almost stopped teaching at that point. But I ended up getting a call from a young mom looking for a teacher for her daughter who was in the 6th grade. She pleaded with me to take her on and promised to bring me more students if I did. I loved teaching the kids at my mom's gallery and thought "why not?". Jenny was a shy but eager student and was a joy to teach. Her mom kept her word about finding more students. I ended up with five fun-loving, silly 6th grade girls, all friends, once a week. Soon I was teaching more and working less. I went from two classes a week to twelve. I had adult classes, youth classes and two classes for kids from 6 to 9 years old.
What inspired me was my students. Each one of them special and unique. Art E Studio took on a life of its own and became the gathering place for many bright talented young artists, and I loved watching them grow. I relocated Art E Studio to Lahaina, Maui in 2012. I've cut my classes back so that I'm no longer teaching nights and weekends. I have more time to paint, which is good since my work is in three galleries.
4. Do you mostly teach locals at Art E Studio, or do visitors to Maui often take your classes as well?
I do both. My local students come once a week or as often as they can. I design my classes around what each student wants to learn. Some painting subjects and or styles take two to four weeks of lessons to complete. My younger, high school students come after school once a week for two hours. What I love about these young up and coming artists is how eager they are to try new things and how excited they are when they finish a painting.
Visitors to Maui come for one or two classes. I've created a series of paintings that can be done between two to four hours. These students can go to my www.art-e-studio.net website to see which of these paintings fit into their vacation time. Some of these students come back every year.
5. What has been the response to your book, The Art of Painting in Acrylic, and do you have any other books or other new projects in mind?
The Art of Painting in Acrylic was such a fun and challenging project for me. I had not thought to write a learn how to paint book until the editor of Walter Foster Publishing contacted me via email. She had found my www.daricemachel.com website and felt my work was perfect for their new project. The book has six artists in it. Each one of us specializes in different subjects and styles. It was the first time I was faced with "deadlines." I ended up completing my portion of the book way ahead of schedule. One of the great things about this book is I don't have to market it. Walter Foster does all the distribution and marketing for it. The book is in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. It's been translated into multiple languages. The book has boosted my art career by giving my work a farther reach to the world. I would love to write another one in the near future. I have a few ideas churning in my brain.
As far as future projects go, I do have plans in the works for doing a series of videos on painting techniques. These will be short demonstration videos to help beginning students and even seasoned students with their painting skills.