I first saw Lawrence Churski’s paintings when I was looking at the list and work of the invited artists to this year’s Door County Plein Air Festival. Many of you will notice I have interviewed many of this year’s invited artists, some more than once. As I looked at the work of the artists I was impressed and fascinated with Mr. Churski’s wonderful compositions and his colors. He is a man that has painted for years and has had great success both in the commercial field of art and fine art. He was, as I said earlier in this paragraph, an invited artist to this year’s event but a health problem will not allow him to attend. I urge readers to go to his website – lawrencechurski.com – to see his paintings.
Randy Rasmussen (RR): Congratulations on again being accepted into the American Impressionist Society show.
Lawrence Churski (LC): Thank you Randy. I feel very blessed to have made the show for four consecutive years.
RR: As a child, what or who stimulated your interest in art?
LC: I, like many children at that time, watched many of the great Walt Disney cartoons and movies. I really loved the illustrators of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
RR: When did you think you were going to have a career in art?
LC: In the fifth grade we were told we had to create a historical piece of art illustrating early Ohio history. I did the “Battle of Lake Erie” and the other kids did stick figures. The teacher’s reaction I think made me realize I had talent.
RR: I know you have workshops with many outstanding instructors including Robert Wade and Charles Reid, both primarily known as watercolorists. Do you now work exclusively in oil?
LC: I still love watercolor, considered by some a difficult medium. I saw a Richard Schmid oil painting when I was in “Arts for the Parks” show in Jackson Hole, Wyoming years ago. I was hooked, from that time, on oil. I saw the 3D effect one can achieve when the light hits the edges in a juicy, thick oil painting. Wow! One can’t get that on the internet or in prints media.
RR: On your website, you describe a painting of your father’s that really impacted your life. Can you describe the painting for our readers?
LC: It was a beautiful vista with a distant view of Mt. Whitney. I loved the feeling of depth and distance my father created. It was a small painting, maybe a 7” x 5.” It made a profound impact on me as it seemed more alive and real than a photograph. And, it was created by my dad.
RR: Why is painting outside important?
LC: Early on I was too detail-oriented and tight with my studio work. I loved Andrew Wyeth and for a time thought that was the direction to go in. In 1984 I fell in love with “en plein air,” which means painting outside. I loved the feeling, the emotion, seeing the real colors.
RR: What three instructors have been most important to you in your development as an artist?
LC: The first was my wonderful high school art teacher Sister Genevieve. She worked hard to get me a full scholarship at an art school. Second would be Lowell Ellsworth Smith, winner of “The Prix de West,” the premier contemporary western art exhibition. The third would be the great Don Stone, former illustrator, watercolorist from Monhegan, Maine. One of the best artists in the country with legendary workshops. Today I would say my best teachers are my students always asking me wonderful, challenging questions.
RR: I know you have done extensive teaching. Do you still do workshops?
LC: Recently I have stopped giving workshops but I still give individual lessons. I have always put my heart and soul into my teaching. I think the most important thing is to start with a good design. Then brushwork is important followed by an accurate drawing. Degas said, “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” I like that. Be childlike, follow just the basics and enjoy the process.
RR: I originally found you looking at work on the internet and seeing your glowing reds. What is your current palette?
LC: My current palette laid out from right to left is: titanium white, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, transparent oxide red, ultramarine blue, viridian, and purple. I took out the phthalos and the greens early in my career.
RR: How would you describe your work?
LC: I would say I am a contemporary American impressionist. My paintings look realistic but upon close expression they are abstract. Making a statement with a single brushstroke is very important to me as it was to one of my idols, John Singer Sargent. He was an absolute master of this technique.
RR: You have been involved on both the business and the creative side of art. What do you see for the future?
LC: I am excited about the future of art! Just when you think you have seen it all, a new work appears and speaks to you. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring. Personally I always feel my next painting is going to be my best. I have had a wonderful and financially rewarding life as an artist. Giving back is part of my DNA. Thanks Randy for giving me this opportunity with the Pulse readers.
RR: Thank you.