Guest Post: Dorrie Rifkin

My paintings don't start when I take out a new sheet of paper. Rather, they start when I start experiencing life, when I walk out the door, when I am open to the unexpected. It is at this point that I am ready for the miracles. Unexpected sights are the best. I know this because after I photograph such a sight, I feel warm and fuzzy. I have got the big idea, the one that will paint itself.

I was and am an art director who needs to paint. My creative process is the same for designing or painting. I ask myself, "What's the big idea?" and try to repeat the question throughout the project so as not to lose sight of it. What is the big idea? That which I seek to communicate. Only with that knowledge can I proceed to design the page so as to best communicate my thoughts. Painting is my preferred way of communicating.

My subjects are the things I come across that intrigue me from my adventures and life experiences. But the subject is not just the thing, it's a story that the thing tells. That's what makes city scenery so much fun to paint. A painting can sometimes take a few months. Sometimes I make up stories about the people in the paintings. (I am told I might have an overactive imagination.) I rework my photos with Photoshop to create a stronger design. Then I create a tight drawing (which sometimes takes longer than the painting.) Next, a visit to the fridge for a snack and Diet Coke. Then the fun starts.

The last painting that I've finished started off as most of my paintings do — an adventure with my husband. Every time I took a photo, he determined to get himself into the photo. (As the subject was an iconic NYC landmark the size of a city block, I didn't see him among the masses of people caught in the frame.) I decided that that was the story.

Whether I am showing my work or admiring someone else's, I love the instant connection you often make with folks when you share art. The world becomes smaller and warmer when we share what we have created.

Dorrie RifkinComment