CONVERSATION WITH THE ARTIST

Paula Zammit

 
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Originally From: Wyandotte, MI
Currently Reside: Lathrup Village, MI
Years working as an artist: 10


How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

There are elements of serene, bucolic landscapes and sky mixed with a tinge of trepidation and humor. Organic elements and color palette allow both mediums to merge together in this body of work.


What mediums do you work in?

Oil painting and encaustic


Can you talk about your process?

I think I love the process as much as the finished piece. It always takes me through a gamut of emotions, some of which I would rather not endure, but at the end I feel like I’ve conquered something. It’s good. I am also really drawn to the smell of beeswax and oil of spike lavender (a medium I use with oils).

 Photos by Nate Haas

Photos by Nate Haas

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How has it evolved or changed over the years?

I never would have worked on multiple pieces a few years ago. Now, I always have three or four things going on at once.


What are you currently inspired by?

Positive people who look for things to be grateful about.

  Air , oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches

Air, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches

  Options , oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches

Options, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


You’re known for working in both encaustic and with oils – seemingly very different mediums. Can you talk about what draws you to them, and how/if you see your work in both intersecting or overlapping in some way?

I have always struggled with the right/left brain thing. The way I work with each medium allows for that. Obviously, the way I work in oil is more academic and realistic, but there is definitely a crossover. The palette in this body of work is an indication of that, but also my love of the figure, nature and organic forms. When I choose to work with the encaustic, it’s on days when I am in a more meditative mood - thousands of brushstrokes. It feels ritualistic.

 
  Hustler , oil on canvas,   30 x 30 inches

Hustler, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches

 

The Skyline series seems to be blending the softer, more abstract lines of your work in encaustic with the crisper images of your portraiture. Is this a conscious choice? Can you talk about what brought you to the Skyline series?

This really was not a conscious choice, but now I can see how it all fits together. I had been working in a bluesy palette, a bright, uplifting one, not melancholy, in regards to my oil paintings. I needed something to make me feel happy. It just naturally transitioned into the encaustic pieces, with a whole lot of greens and neutrals thrown in to create the organic textured work. I think both are landscape oriented.


How do you choose your subjects in your portraits?

Action, composition and humor. You’ll see Jack Russells in several of my paintings. I have never owned one, but I’m so taken with their personality and athleticism.

  The Alarmist , 2018, oil on canvas, 12 x 48 inches

The Alarmist, 2018, oil on canvas, 12 x 48 inches

Fun Facts:

What is something many people don’t know about you?

That I really like the name “Zammit”. I was dating a guy with the same last name when I met my husband, Jay Zammit - no relation. I guess in Malta it’s a very common name. There is a large Maltese contingency in the Detroit area. My father-in-law actually grew up in Corktown, only a few blocks from where my studio is now.


What is currently your favorite:

Website:
ebay - I’ve recently gotten into treasure hunting at the thrift stores and reselling.

Work of Art:
John Currin’s Skinny Woman has been one of my favorites for a long time.

Piece of advice:
Learn to laugh at yourself. It will get you through a lot.

Book:
She Got Up Off The Couch by Haven Kimmel

Artist:
Eloise Zammit - she’s 7 and she’s fearless in her color choices.

Restaurant:
Vertical


What else should we know about you and/or your work?

I was not one of those kids that was drawing and doodling from the time I could hold a pencil. I didn’t really discover this whole life I had buried inside me until my late forties. I hope I can encourage anyone that has thought about pursuing something, to just go for it. They might shock themselves, like I have.

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The Skyline Series will be on view from November 16 - December 5, 2018

Opening November 16, 6 - 9 pm