A Talk with Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Pam Vossen

Art by Pam Vossen, cropped.
Art by Pam Vossen, cropped.

This week’s cover artist, Pam Vossen, has been studying oil and pastel for over 30 years, beginning when she signed up for landscape lessons at the former Huntington Fine Arts Workshop. She came to art relatively late, though her mother was a graduate of Pratt and her father loved to do stained glass. Vossen went to Uppsala College [which has since closed] in East Orange, New Jersey, where she majored in Liberal Arts because she felt it connected her to her roots in Sweden [Uppsala University there, founded in 1477, is one of the most prestigious research institutions in Europe]. A couple of years ago, when she was visiting family in Sweden, she discovered a cousin who was a painter. “I think art is in my genes, I have to create something,” she says.

Vossen is happy, of course, to have won awards from the Suburban Art League in the Town of Oyster Bay, where she grew up, and from The Art League of Long Island, in Dix Hills. Her still lifes have appeared on the cover of previous Dan’s Papers. This week’s oil painting—titled “Reflection”—with its strategically lit, inviting warm interior, could well be described as comfort art for the long winter ahead.

Dan's Papers January 29, 2016, cover art by Pam Vossen
Dan’s Papers January 29, 2016, cover art by Pam Vossen

Do you think you have evolved over the years?

I started with pastels and I still love doing them, they are close to drawing, and I enjoy what pastels allow: mixing colors right on the paper. When I began, I did (and still do) wild animals. Pastel can make things look like fur. I have not gone on safari, but friends have and they bring me photos. I seem to be spending more time these days on oil landscapes and rendering paintings which are less confined. Over the years, I’ve also included more figures in my landscapes which, like my still lifes, reflect my fascination with contrasts of lights and darks.

Do you use a camera at any point?

I do use my cell phone often to take shots of folks doing ordinary things, especially on the beach. I also take photos at plein air locations, so that I can complete the painting in my studio. No photo was used, however, in this week’s cover painting. In my studio I pretty much set up the still lifes in a traditional manner, considering composition, color and design. The lighting is from the side as well as from above.

You belong to the Artists Alliance of East Hampton (AAEH) and participate in the Wednesday Plein Air Group. What are the advantages of such affiliations?

I’ve been with The Wednesday Group for three years and I find it quite challenging. I met some of the artists at AAEH. I also belong to other art organizations, including Southampton Artists Association, Springs Improvement Society and Guild Hall. The advantage of belonging to such groups is not only exposure, but also the opportunity to be involved in an exchange of ideas, being able to participate in discussions on technique and style. Painting by yourself can be very lonely, so it’s fun to paint with other like-minded individuals. A few of us, in fact, from The Wednesday Group regularly go to Jericho as well to paint with Howard Rose [this well known art teacher has given workshops at C. W. Post and The Art Barge, among other venues]. He’s wonderful. Each of us does our own picture, sometimes from photos we bring in. If people don’t know what they want to paint, Howard will suggest something or hand out his own photos. He will also critique us. I mean, what can we answer if we ask only ourselves, “What do you think of this line?”

Pam Vossen will have several paintings in the The Wednesday Group show at Ashawagh Hall, 780 Springs Fireplace Rd, East Hampton, February 13–14. In Florida she is represented by Artblend Gallery. For info on previous exhibits and to see a slide show of her work, visit artbypamvossen.com.

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