Portland artist Don Bishop on painting plein air, romanticism and using Artfinder to connect with art lovers across the world.

by Poppy Rooney

Portland artist Don Bishop describes himself as a romantic painter who is inspired by light. When he is not in the studio, he is chasing the sunset and painting en plein air.

Don is a versatile painter who paints both the rolling valleys of the wine country outside of Portland, and also abstract pieces which shine like the light they're inspired by. As an active competitor at many plein air painting competitions, Don has been awarded numerous prizes such as first place for the quick draw event at Umpqua Plein Air 2015 and first place award at Hillsboro Plein Air 2013.

With over 1,000 followers on Arfinder, Don is a firm favourite. So we caught up with him, to see what he had to say...

On becoming an artist

"I have enjoyed creating art since a young age. I went to California State University, Long Beach where I majored in commercial art and then went onto work as a commercial illustrator for most of my adult years. I enjoyed doing commercial illustration and was able to work with many interesting clients and do a variety of projects. In the commercial world, however, you are always more or less doing work for someone else’s vision."

"I have always wanted to be a fine artist, and around 15 years ago I finally took the plunge. I reached middle age and thought to myself, if I don't do it now, I'm never going to do it. So from that day onwards, I haven't stopped painting."

'Lake Reflections', £322.55 by Don Bishop

On being an artist

"I describe myself as an impressionist painter and try to embrace my creativity in every part of my life."

"I grew up in Southern California but now live in Portland, Oregon. Portland has a really large creative community, which makes it a very fun city to be in. The beauty up here is incredible! The seasons are always changing. Although I must admit, I still miss the sunny days of Southern California sometimes though."

'Red And Blue', £72.57 by Don Bishop

On painting

"When I begin a painting, I start by looking at the light and emotion of the scene. Initially I paint very loosely, and generally only add finer details at the end. I focus on capturing the atmosphere of whatever I am painting, before worrying about details. I am a romantic painter, I think this is why many are drawn to my work.

I enjoy painting the countryside and have always enjoyed being outside, seeing the beauty of the natural world. A few years ago, I also started painting abstracts so this is pretty new territory for me. My abstract paintings are also based on light, and I enjoy painting these as much as my figurative work. I'm in a different head space when I'm painting abstracts, I find the process very meditative and try to be as clear minded as possible."

Don painting 'Afternoon Trees' in an impressionist style, using oil paints, palette knives, brushes and non-traditional tools. £725.73

On the studio

"During the warm season I tend to paint plein air, on location. For me being able to paint outside in front of what I am seeing in that given moment is very important. When painting outside, I really get to focus on the light and atmosphere of the landscape. There is nothing else like it, painting plein air allows your to see the pure essence of a scene. I often use the paintings I've completed outside as studies, to help me create larger works inside the studio.

When the fall brings rain, I return to my studio to work indoors. I also have a couple of other friends who always let me share their studios, so I sometimes paint with them. I've been floating around a lot lately!"

'Calm Beach', £112.89 by Don Bishop

On inspiration

"As mentioned, I am predominantly inspired by light, which explains why I paint outside so much. I am always chasing the light, it is one of my favourite things to do! If it looks like it's going to be a great sunset, I'll jump into my car and drive out into the countryside to see the scene unfold."

"For me, inspiration is everywhere. It's just a case of looking!"

'Lavender Field', £645.09 by Don Bishop

On challenges

"I think all artists have their creative blocks, I certainly do. But I always keep going. When I have a surge of creativity, I paint hard and fast to make the most of the burst."

"When I hit those nasty creative blocks, the one thing I don't do is stop painting. I try to keep going on some level, because I've learnt that my creative energy always comes back and I don't want to miss it when it returns."

'Afternoon Light', £241.91 by Don Bishop

On other artists

"I am inspired by so many artists, it is hard to list! My influences are all over the board. I don't have one set of artists or styles that I like. If it is good art and stands out to me, then that’s all that matters."

'Blue Pool', £201.59 by Don Bishop

On life in Portland

"I live in Portland Oregon, close to the Willamette Valley wine country. I get the best of both worlds really, I can be downtown in the city or out in the country in 30 minutes!"

"My overall view on life is to be good to one another. Beauty is all around us, all the time. If we take time to learn to see it, and take it in then inner balance is achieved. The more time you spend 'seeing' the more inner balance and calm you have. Pretty simple really."

'Evening Mist', £241.91 by Don Bishop

On Artfinder

"One of the best things about Artfinder is that I am able to, and that I have, reached so many people from all over the world. I have my paintings everywhere now, with people who would have never found me otherwise."

'Distant Trees', £120.96

On the future

"I mostly exhibit at plein air events, which take place in the summer months."

"I have just finished a very large 4x5 foot landscape painting for the Fall show at the Portland Art Museum's 'Rental Sales Gallery'. The Rental Sales Gallery is a nonprofit gallery which help to promote artists from Oregon, the Vancouver and Washington area. I will be showing one of my paintings at the 'Contemporary Western Art Show' at the Mountain Oyster Club. The show is in its 47th year now, and features some of the top names in western contemporary art."

"I'm also taking part in 'The Big 500' show in Portland again, this coming December and have a solo show coming up in the spring at 'Art Elements Gallery."

'Calm Beginning', £483.82 by Don Bishop

'Calm Beginning', £483.82 by Don Bishop

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