Featured Artist Q & A:
She’s No Plein Jane
Patris is one busy woman. The bubbly full-time artist somehow finds the time to manage and teach at her own studio, Patris Studio and Art Gallery, work to the improve her adopted community of Oak Park and make stunning plein air landscapes and portraits sketches. What motivates her to accomplish so much in such little time? Read below to find out:
1. You grew up in Montana and lived in Minneapolis for quite some time. How did you end up in sunny Sacramento?
I was living in Minneapolis after I graduated from college, working temp jobs and trying to pay off student loans, wondering what I was going to do next. It was like 20 degrees below zero in winter, I lived in a crummy apartment, and my aunt who was living in Fair Oaks called and asked if I wanted to come stay with her in California for a few months post-college.
I also heard there was a big Southeast Asia refugee population in California. I had become very involved in tutoring refugee students in college and was very interested in their culture. Chasing my interest in working with this population seemed a whole lot better than living in a cold apartment alone in a big city.
2. Before becoming a full-time artist, you were a language development specialist. What inspired you to switch careers?
I had always been interested in art, but never pursued it. Although I found myself in the education profession and heavily involved in community activism, I still questioned my true purpose here on earth. It was not until I watched my mother lose her battle to cancer that I realized I didn’t want to regret not taking a chance on my lifelong dream of becoming an artist.
Patris finds beauty in everyday sights in Sacramento.
3. You are passionate about Oak Park. Neighborhood landmarks are frequently featured in your paintings and in 2012, you relocated your studio from Midtown to the area. What draws you to the community?
I’ve been involved in Oak Park’s revitalization efforts since 1996 when my husband and I first bought and rehabbed a condemned crack house. I find the historic architecture, the diversity of cultures, the genuine nature of people living here to be unpretentious and interesting. Also, home prices are still relatively low, and so it’s possible to keep expenses down to pursue my creative endeavors.
While some may look at Oak Park in less than positive light, I choose to create artwork that focuses on the beauty and hidden charm woven into Sacramento’s first established suburb. Oak Park is my community and I love living here.
4. You are a plein air artist, meaning you paint or draw outside. What makes for the perfect “working” location?
I think the important thing to keep in mind while painting on location is that there is no perfect view. It’s up to me to communicate to the viewer what I’m seeing and feeling, regardless of where it may be.
I’m inspired by the natural beauty, the light and shadow patterns on a scene, the vast array of colors presenting themselves in front of me. Photos just cannot capture that one-on-one interaction that I feel while painting outside.
5. As an instructor, what do you believe is the key to creating a great piece of art?
One of the things that I frequently encounter with students is the idea that they must do it perfectly the first time or even the first 100 times. A lot of times people think they can create great art from Day One. Maybe a few gifted people can, but for the majority of us, it’s letting go of the notion of instant perfection. In museums, we only see the masterful works of great artists. We never see the beginning works that led to their genius. We fail to realize that their greatness was built upon countless unseen hours of study, practice, and development.
Just showing up to the work, making a commitment to learn, practice, explore, and grow are essential building blocks to great art.
Jump to 15:48 to watch the artist chat (and paint pears) with Rob Stewart of KVIE’s Rob on the Road.
6. Last year you were featured on Rob on the Road’s “The Future of Art” special. Tell us more about the experience.
Rob Stewart and I had a blast. We had a genuine connection that brought the story to life. It was so much fun and energizing to be around him; I couldn’t help but be excited about the interview. He has a way of asking questions that delve into the human aspect of a story and pull the interest out of everything he encounters. I was honored and humbled at this opportunity to share my story.
7. What are your current muses or inspirations?
I continue to be inspired by the landscape as well as urban images, particularly the scenes I find in Oak Park. I’m also really drawn to the works of the Russian Impressionists and their use of color and brushwork — I want to pursue more of those techniques in my own work. I’ve also been studying figure drawing and art fundamentals with master teachers through the internet.
8. Other than being an artist and instructor Patris, we’d like to know you better. What are three personal, lesser-known things about you that people may be interested to know?
1. I work occasionally as a simulated patient actress for UC Davis. I was heavily involved in theater in my younger years, so it’s fun to revisit that part of my youth and earn extra income to help buy a few tubes of paint!
2. I volunteered as a youth leader for at-risk Southeast Asian refugees for 10 years through my church. With the growing gang population, teen pregnancy, and high school dropout rates soaring, my heart went out to these young people caught in a new culture, old traditions, and teen rebellion.
3. While in college, I worked summers in Montana at the Hungry Horse Dam, the eleventh largest dam in the USA, giving tours of the dam and hydroelectric power plant.
Art enthusiasts can take a variety of drawing and painting workshops at the Patris Art Studio and Gallery year round.
9. When you’re not teaching or making art, what would someone find you doing?
I’m always working. It never stops or lets up. There is nothing I want to do more than art, but when I do take a short break, I really enjoy a few precious moments to hang out with friends and enjoy some food, friends, and conversation — and all the better if the conversation is about art!
10. Lastly, what is on the horizon for you and the Patris Studio and Art Gallery in 2014?
I want to continue developing the educational component with the studio’s classes and workshops. Also, as the Triangle Development continues to expand around the studio and gallery, I hope our 2nd Saturday events will become an even more popular neighborhood destination for art, music and community connection. This summer the gallery will be showcasing artwork produced in-house with our Student/Instructor exhibition. And of course, I look forward to carving out time for my own work!
Don’t forget to check out the Patris Art Studio and Gallery on 2nd Saturdays!
Interview by Sacramento365’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.