Getting to Know: Alice Dustin

Young Alice Dustin at the Easel

When did you start painting?     

The question of when I started can be answered in a number of ways.  I actually started oil painting in a serious manner in about 1997 and began selling my work in 1999.  Before that I had done very little oil painting.  I have been drawing my whole life–beginning when I was a toddler.  Through school I was the class artist, even in college.  I did a certain amount of cartooning and line drawings and have come back to that now.  I’ve written and illustrated two short books for adults and am constantly doing short early “readers” for my two pre-kindergarten grandchildren.  I’ve also illustrated a book and a half–also of a humorous nature– written by someone else.  (line drawings).  About painting, I feel, as I suppose most artists do, that I am changing and so on the tangent I am painting now, it feels as though I am starting anew with each series… So you could say, on one hand, that I started as soon as I could hold a crayon and,on the other that I am constantly starting…or, just stick with 1997.

What artists would cite as influences on your work? 
  I feel influenced by several artists for differing reasons: Rembrandt (for his focus on chiaroscuro), Manet, Sargent, and Franz Hals (for their brushwork).
Are there influences that might surprise someone familiar with your work?   
I feel that I am a happy painter rather than one who uses art as an outlet for sadness or frustration.  (For that I turn to writing.)  So the surprising or not so surprising influences are family, and physical fun.  I have done judo, horseback riding, and recently have taken up all sorts of circus arts.  I have done a short series of large paintings of pre-performance atheletes, but it isn’t really the subject matter that inspires me, but the energy and comraderie of the sport that complements the quiet hours of solitary painting.  
What is the best advice you’ve ever received concerning your art?   
I think the best advice I’ve had is “take 5 minutes after you think you have finished a painting and just look at it before you call it quits”.  I recently gave a workshop and I stressed this notion of changing your pace for looking and painting.  I tend to paint quickly, but I think I intersperce this “fury” with quiet looking and/or thinking. 

What single piece of advice would you give to young or new artists?   I would say “believe in yourself!”
Do you have a favorite piece of art?    I only have one piece of artwork other than my own.  Naturally, it is my “favorite”!  It is by Christine Lafuente, a former teacher and now friend of mine.  I don’t have a favorite one of my own.  I have some that I feel are more powerful, more dynamic, more moody, or capturing a place of more meaning for me, but this changes.  
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, any favorites?    Yes, I listen to music when I paint [inside].  I listen to classical music on the radio.  
Favorite book?   No, I don’t have a favorite book, but I can tell you a favorite title:  “The Agony and the Ecstasy”.  It relates very much to the emotion/passion I bring to my painting.  I have a very visceral reaction to what I have painted and if it isn’t what I like, I am impelled to change it right away.  I tend to be on a “high” when I’ve finished a painting.  I do remember reading the book in high school.  It was a biography of Michelangelo and his passion for his work.


One Response to Getting to Know: Alice Dustin

  1. sheila says:

    Dear Alice,
    I enjoyed reading your comments. I especially like to hear about the early readers that you have made for your young children. I enjoyed writing books with my boys when they were young. However, I did not write the books, they did! I also enjoyed your comment on “constantly starting”. That makes much sense to me. Thank you for sharing.

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