Richard Pawlak is a mature fine artist who ranks among the more prolific along the abstract expressionist spectrum in the past 50 years. He has a long art history of his own throughout eastern Massachusetts—from Boston, to the North Shore along the edges of Cape Ann, and south, into Cape Cod. His work shown here is his latest, as he continues to move through newer themes with unique techniques.
Artimusi: Richard, it’s been over seven years since Artimusi first featured your website in February 2014. Has your artwork changed since then? If so, how would you characterize it?
Pawlak: It’s changed somewhat. In 2014, my artwork was mainly landscapes, marshes, and birds; mostly done on paper. The content went to figurative work, starting with my Bus Stop series. Then I began the Women Studies series. The first four of this set were painted with acrylic on paper. I then began experimenting with a fresco-style painting using a similar textural approach, using shapes resembling my City Shapes series with abstract streets, alleys, and walls. After that, I began using MDF board with multiple layers of lime-based fresco plaster.
Artimusi: How would describe this fresco painting technique? Why did you switch?
Pawlak: Paper was too delicate for the aggressive application that I was doing. I use razor blades, palette knives, and stainless steel trowels to scrape and layer paint. I remove paint and build color, sometimes scraping into the substrate. That’s why I went to using MDF board. I usually apply two coats of primer, and four-to-five coats of colored plaster, usually blue, black, or grey. When using the tools to scratch and scrape the surface, the underlying layers of colors sometimes show through, depending on what I’m trying to communicate. Texture adds a measure of content on its own. For example, “The Jackhammer” (a guy working a jackhammer), has a more aggressive texture. Others, like ones in the Women’s Series, have a softer texture. Using the blade, knife, or trowel, I can press the color at a flat angle into the surface. Then I can remove color, to add transparency, depending on the angle of the blade. I sometimes use straight edges and brushes for details. I finish, using a stainless-steel trowel edge burnishing technique to “close” the surface.
Artimusi: Since 2014, you’ve exhibited over twenty-five times, averaging roughly three times a year. That’s pretty ambitious for a working man, husband, father, and at-home grandfather. What drives you to paint these images and connect with galleries?
Pawlak: I love women, a precious part of my life. I thought to myself “Why not do a series of studies of women?” That idea moved me to paint the Women Studies series. I later added men to my studies. I like to think of my work as sending up a “kite,” hopefully a message that might touch somebody in some way.
Artimusi: While your paintings are more figurative, you identify your work as “abstract-expressionist.” Would you say it is more abstract or expressionist? What percentage of both?
Pawlak: I think both qualities are there. I’d say, on average, a 50/50 percentage.
Artimusi: You won a few awards and have been published since 2014. Which are you most pleased with and why?
Pawlak: In 2021, I won 1st place in the painting category at Cape Cod Museum of Art. Curators say they see a social message in my work with an “honest” appeal. In summer 2021, I had a one-man show at Woodruff’s Art Center on Cape Cod and sold several pieces. That was exciting.
Artimusi: You showed exhibits through 2020–the Covid year. How did 2021 shape up?
Pawlak: 2020 was more productive because I was home more often due to the lockdown. In 2021 I was busy most of the year with architectural trade work.
Artimusi: Your commercial work is in Boston-Cambridge area these days. Have you had interest in making gallery contacts there?
Pawlak: Actually, in February 2022, I have a one-man show coming up at Honey Jones Gallery in Cambridge, near Harvard Square.
Artimusi: Your work has included, some would say, “socially-sensitive” subject matter. Is that a theme you plan to expand, or is it a limited series?
Pawlak: Curators have commented along those lines, though I haven’t claimed that I am trying to send a social message in my work. I’m not done yet with my current series. I plan to expand within that theme of People Studies, and continue to develop the frescos applications with figurative content.
Artimusi: Thank you for your interview, Richard. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Pawlak: If I were to be successful, my hope is that the work would speak for itself. My hope is that people see something of value in my work.
To see a more complete body of Richard’s work, visit his website at richardpawlak.com and his current work via Facebook at “Richard Pawlak, Artist.” Best contact medium: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Somewhere in the high desert of Los Angeles County, Shellie Dial is creatively drawing and painting images. In the past year, she has roughed out novel pencil sketches, finished in various mediums, and has emerged as a promising artist along time-tested art genres with all the signs of a mature painter.
In December 4-9, 2020, Shellie showed her work at the Color Me Mine studio in Studio City of greater Los Angeles. The show was a success with some 30 attendees, refreshments, and entertainment by a local acoustic guitarist and vocalist.
In early February, Shellie began submitting her work to Instagram’s, “Birds of a Feather” Challenge. The Challenge is for artists to generate and upload images using a menu of 28 themes, a theme a day, throughout the month. Shellie completed “Backyard Birds” theme, Day 6 (left) in nine hours, from concept to finish. For Day 22, Shellie submitted “Spring Chicken” (upper right), completed in three hours. More recently, Shellie was asked to a illustrate a book cover for The Best Breakup Line I Ever Got, A Young Widow’s Journey to Finding Love Again (lower right), by Teresa Schachtel, expected to be in print soon.
Artimusi. How would you describe the artwork you do? Shellie. All over the board. I don’t just have one style. My paintings are sometimes whimsical, sometimes more serious or illustrative.
Artimusi. What tools do you use in your art from concept to finish?Shellie. I normally paint in watercolor; it’s my very favorite medium. However, I always begin with a pencil drawing. Sometimes I will use ink or pastel pencils also.
Artimusi. Who or what helped you the most to get to this point in your career? Shellie. I was an art major and always thought I would have a career in art or photography. I was a portrait photographer and then ran a photo lab when I was younger, but ended up becoming a retail manager for a variety of stores and my art was mostly put aside for many years.
A friend, Melinda, challenged me to paint chickens and share them in text with her when the Pandemic lockdowns began last year. I finally had time, realized how much painting relaxed me, and decided to keep painting and relearn my art skills.
Artimusi. Where do you do your artwork? Shellie. At home. I often sit on the couch listening to a sermon or music or a movie while I paint. In the mornings I will work at my desk in my daughter’s room where the sunlight streams in.
Artimusi. On average, do you create art daily, weekly, monthly? Shellie. I try to draw or paint something every day.
Artimusi. Do you sell your artwork? If so, how many pieces would you estimate have sold over the past five or ten years? Shellie. I did not intend to sell any artwork when I began painting last May 2020, and gave away many to friends and family. However, I began getting lots of requests, and when my friend Dru asked me to do a gallery showing at her studio, I decided it might be time to offer prints for sale. Even with pandemic challenges, the show was very successful and I have continued to receive order requests since it happened in December.
Artimusi. Do you have a pricing method, such as size, or are they generally custom? What is your average price? What is the highest priced item sold? Shellie. I only sell prints so far and I keep my originals. I sell by the size, and will have a set pricing structure when I get my website up and running very soon.
Artimusi. Are you showing anywhere now or in the future? Shellie. Once the lockdowns are completely lifted I will be doing another gallery event in Studio City.
Artimusi. What are your future, long-term art plans? Shellie. I paint because it brings me joy and because I have found it brings joy to others. I want to use the talent God gave me and glorify Him with it.
Artimusi. Is there anyone you would like to credit as a main supporter(s) of your artwork? Shellie. My husband is my main supporter. He encourages me constantly and that motivates me to keep going.
Artimusi. Do you use a website to display your work, such as Zhibit, WordPress, or Facebook? Shellie. Right now, my prints can be seen on Instagram @shellie.dial.art. A website is in process. I set up a Facebook page solely for my art at: facebook.com/ShellieDialArt
Artimusi. Our thanks to you, Shellie, for sharing your art, your time, and interview Q&A. We commend you to anyone interested in high-quality, hand-drawn illustrations.
Originally from New Mexico, Shellie and her husband, Jeff Owens (left), married in 2014 and moved to Palmdale in Los Angeles County, California. She also has a natural eye for desert photography. Both enjoy preparing and cooking speciality foods.