Artist Interview: Frank DePietro


Click Here to download a PDF version of this interview.

When did you realize you loved art and wanted to be an artist?
Art had been an important part of my life growing up. I spent most of my days at school tuning out my teachers and drawing in my note books. I remember at one point in about fourth or fifth grade, one of my teachers would make me take my notebook home and get it signed by my mom,so she would tacth me drawing instead of taking notes. When I entered college undecided, it became clear to me that I wanted to pursue art as a career.
Who has been your mentor, or greatest influence to date?
Karl Beamer, my ceramics professor at Bloomsburg University. What I learned most from Beamer, was the work ethic and mental discipline that it takes to be an artist. He taught me to be self-critical, to not dwell on satisfaction or mistakes and to strive toward improvement at every opportunity.
What living artist do you admire and why?
There are so many artists that I admire. I'm always looking to learn things from other painters work. When I think of contemporary painters in an historical perspective, Gerhard Richter is someone that stands out to me. The variety his work encompasses, both conceptually and technically, has brought the medium into question and validated it at the same time.
What is your favorite surface to paint on? Describe it if you make it yourself.
I've always worked on stretched canvas. I've experimented with different surfaces and different priming tones, but I work with paint in its full opacity, so once the canvas is covered, the surface becomes pretty much working on top of paint.
What is your favorite brand of paints to use?
Windsor and Newton artists oil colors.
Do you have a favorite color palette?
Not really, the subject usually dictates my palette. I experiment with as many colors as possible. I love all the subtle differences between different hues.
What is your favorite color in your closet?
I don't have a very colorful wardrobe. Mostly earth-tones.
You seem to paint a lot of water lilies. What prompted this?
When I first thought about water lilies as a subject, of course Claude Monet came to mind. For that reason, I went back and forth in my mind for quite a while, deciding whether or not to go forward with it. I was drawn to the correlation water lilies have to painting. There are many physical similarities between painting and water lilies, because they are both patterns of color laying on a flat surface. I see it as an opportunity to combine formalist abstract concepts with elements of both still-life and landscape.
How often do you paint? How many hours a week?
Usually five to six days a week, 40-60 hours.
What is the one thing you would like to be remembered for?
I've never really thought about it all that much. I really try to live my life in the now. I guess I would like to be remembered for the objects and ideas that I spent my life working on, both professionally, and with family and friends.
There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity?
There are always distractions in life, no matter what you are doing. I try maintaining a sustained flow of creativity by working, and when it gets interrupted I just try to refocus. I read a quote once by Chuck Close that best sums up this question for me." Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work."
What is your favorite way to get your creative juices flowing?
Creativity comes to me through the working process, it's a series of small ideas an decisions which lead to a larger final outcome.
Which work of yours is your favorite?
I don't really think of my paintings individually, more as a part of a series. My favorite work is usually the one I am currently working on, unless I'm having a hard time with it, then it's my least favorite.

Up Close and Personal

What book are you reading this week?
I've read several books this week: Elmo's Night before Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Jingle All the Way, just to name a few.
Do you have a favorite television show?
I like Storage Wars, but I'm a little conflicted since the Dave Hester scandal.
What is your favorite food?
Dry aged beef
What are you most proud of in your life?
My two daughters, Ella and Ava
Who would you love to interview?
Lao Tzu
Do you have a passion or hobby other than painting? What is it?
I like sports, more so watching them then playing them at this point in my life.
Who would you love to paint?
Adam and Eve
If you were an animal what would you be and why?
A chimpanzee, it would be similar to being human without the trivial social conventions.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three things, what would they be?
Sunscreen, my cabana wear and a volley ball to talk to.
Share something with us that few people know about you.
I don't like to talk about myself.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I'm pretty happy where I am right now.