Recently, I had the chance to meet one of my favorite artists, Paige Poppe. I’d been following Paige for quite some time on Instagram, and with each post I fell more and more in love with her watercolor work. Paige beautifully captures everything I love about my home state of Arizona, from the cacti to the vibrant and numerous colors of the desert.
After months and months of Instagram stalking, I finally met Paige at the Phx Flea in November (and bought my new favorite wall art). She’s so sweet and talented, and I knew I had to interview her for the blog.
How did you get started in watercolor painting? Did you go to school for art?
I first started watercolor painting when I was 12 and fell in love with a little portable watercolor kit that I loved to travel with. I fell out of practice with the medium, but during architecture school, I reconnected with it through two watercolor classes. First, while, I was studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and my friend convinced me to take a watercolor class with her. To think I needed convincing, ha! I had a wonderful teacher that semester who taught me a very refined and architectural style of watercolor. This class got me hooked, and you could always find me hanging out in the gardens of the city and painting after that.
Then during my final year in architecture school, I took another watercolor class from an architecture professor. His style was much more loose and suggestive, but has influenced me immensely. I feel that I have joined these opposite styles into the art I create today. So to answer your question, no I did not go to art school, but I am so grateful I had the opportunity to take these classes during my time in architecture school!
Are there any other artists in your family?
There are not any other artists in my family, but my aunt is a very talented interior decorator that I look up to!
What’s your favorite project you’ve ever done?
This is so freaking hard to choose! Painting larger in general brought me a lot of joy in 2016, but was also something I was scared to do. Looking back, all of my large-scale works are some of my favorite pieces I’ve ever made. It’s very exciting to go into 2017 with a new confidence, and that fear of painting big dissolved. I feel like I haven’t even dreamt up the large pieces that will come to life this year yet!
What advice would you have given yourself 5 years ago?
Five years ago I was still in architecture school, and I was pretty content with where I was at. I had started selling a few art pieces on Etsy, but it was mostly so I could buy art supplies and create more art. I don’t know if I would tell myself anything too drastic, because I think the skills I learned in architecture school and the patience I had to build my business were invaluable.
One thing I can think of is that 2012 was the year I started my YouTube channel. I only uploaded a couple videos about fashion (I was fashion blogging at the time for fun) and I wish I had stayed consistent with this platform back then, because I didn’t really ramp up my channel with weekly videos again until 2015.
What’s your goal for 2017, both personally and in your business?
As for my business 2016 was my year of creating all of the time and sharing all of my ideas and collections. In 2017 I hope to have the same creative energy and a large body of work, but I would like it to all run a touch smoother. I learned so much about my business in 2016, and implemented many systems to help me do this in the new year. I am excited to put them all to use in the coming months!
As for a personal goal, I would love to cook better meals at home. Grocery shopping + cooking are admittedly not my favorite activities, but I prefer eating healthy meals at home rather than eating out. This week I planned out my meals and grocery list in advance, and I am already enjoying the process! And as an added bonus, by planning ahead we are wasting less food and putting it all to use. Also, my crock pot will be my best friend in 2017 ;)
What supplies would you recommend for someone looking to get into watercolor? Do you have any online classes that you recommend for someone not near an art school?
When it comes to watercolor, I believe that the brush and paper quality matter the most, and you can be more experimental with the paints. I recommend watercolor brushes by Winsor & Newton, Princeton, or anything made from sable hair. As for paper I use a mixture of Canson and Strathmore brands. For the paint, you can definitely use student grade paint tubes or pans and see how you like them. If they’re not performing how you’d like, buy a couple higher-end brands like Holbein or Winsor & Newton and see if this makes a difference. You can purchase a tube or two at a time, without having to buy a whole set, which is a good way to try a bunch of brands at once.
As for online classes, I have never taken these classes myself but I know Brit + Co. offers watercolor classes, and Skillshare does as well from a variety of teachers. Many art stores also offer art classes taught by individual artists. These are usually posted by the front counter, or you can ask if any are coming up in your area.
Who/what do you draw inspiration from?
Besides the artists that I’ve mentioned below, I find a lot of inspiration in nature, of course, and also at the antique store. I typically pick up an old copy of “Arizona Highways” magazine for the beautiful desert photos and retro fonts. The dishware I’ve been browsing has been a new inspiration point for me as well that I didn’t expect. I recently bought my boyfriend and I a dish set from the 70’s, and now I find myself browsing dish patterns on Etsy in my free time. I am looking forward to exploring this new obsession of mine through my art in 2017.
What do you do when you get artists block?
Luckily my business as an artist involves creating the art, but also managing my business, so there is usually something I can pick up to keep me busy. So if I’m having artists block, I can edit a video for my blog or catch up on emails.
If I’m experiencing a period of artists block that lasts more than an afternoon, I have found that simply establishing a new color palette really gets my brain rolling with ideas. It sounds trivial, but I think colors reference so many different plants and decades, that I can usually come up with a new idea once I play around with the colors a bit!
Who are some other artists that you admire?
I have always loved painter Peter Max for his insanely bold and colorful work. Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo are classics that I have admired since grade school. In high school I was obsessed with beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s work. As of late one of my biggest inspirations is Kat Von D. Our styles are very different, but I don’t think anyone has branded herself or included her artwork into everything they do as well as she has. From her books to her makeup palettes, every single piece is so obviously “Kat Von D” which I find awesome.
Where is your favorite place to go in Arizona?
Growing up I lived near Papago Park, and still do in my new place! I love riding my bike there and taking in the scenery. I find that it offers the perfect setting for a variety of activities. I have been there to walk, hike, run, take photos, sketch, strength train, mountain bike, and have even had meetings there! It’s a really diverse and beautiful spot.
You can follow Paige and her amazing art on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. In fact, I highly recommend it! Also, check out Paige’s online shop here. She is available for commissions, logos and branding, wedding + event suites, and personal creative coaching.
P.S. There will be a giveaway happening on my Instagram page from Sunday, 1/8 around 9pm CST to Sunday, 1/15 at 11:59pm CST for a $25 gift card to Paige’s online shop!