Dr. John Plishka was the featured artist for October 2009 on Cow Art and More. Dr. Plishka's art has been featured on the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. He enjoys both painting and drawing with pastels portraits of the animals he sees on a regular basis, whether they are patients or not.
Why do you paint and draw?
It's hard to describe but it's a really strong internal drive to express my ideas about what I find beautiful or interesting.It's also a great way to escape from the realities of the world-I can totally immerse myself in the painting and probably like most artists, once you're painting, all time seems to stand still.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I have limited time to work, so I try to take a lot of photos when I'm out, and try to work on my paintings later. My inspiration mostly comes from trying to see subjects which should be ordinary, in an extraordinary way. So, I try to find beauty in subjects that are often overlooked. Hence a lot of my paintings are of simple everyday things or situations.
How do you decide what to paint and draw?
I work from photographs mostly, so I try to take my camera almost everywhere. I try to find one or two photos from an experience, scene, or subject, that inspire me. I can often in my mind see the painting before it is on the paper. Often the beauty or power of my subjects is what ultimately drives me to start a painting.
What is your technique?
Now I work mostly in pastels. In the past I also painted in oils and acrylics. Pastels allow me to work quickly, and for me they are easier to correct mistakes than other media. In my paintings I use a lot of pastel pencils. This allows me to get the fine detail I need when depicting hair, feathers, etc.
Where did you learn your technique?
Since I haven't had much formal art training, I've learned mostly from reading, trial and error, and following some of my favorite artists. Over the last few years, I've taken some pastel classes which have helped immensely in elevating my art. However there is still so much to learn- I wish I had access to more class time!
How long does it take you to get an average piece of art?
Smaller pieces will take me about 2-4 hours, but larger pieces may take 10-15 hours. Considering I may only have 4-5 hours a week for my art means that a larger painting may take me 2-4 weeks to complete!
Do you ever have goof-ups or work you don't like?
Sure I have goof ups like everyone else. For myself, If a painting isn't working after about an hour, I usually scrap the whole thing. Sometimes I come back to it, sometimes not. After that though, I'm pretty stubborn and won't give up on a painting after I've invested alot of time and work into it. I'll see it through to the end. There is a point in most of my paintings that I doubt whether it will work or not, but after I get past that point, I know the final result will have been worth the effort.
What advice do you have for aspiring painters?
I still consider myself at this point to be an aspiring painter. I want to improve my art in many facets still, and am a firm believer in that you can never know too much about a subject. But if I had any advice to give to people it would be to try to learn as much as you can about your chosen art direction and dive right in. Have a thick skin about your work as art is so subjective that a lot of people will not care for your work while others love it! Try to get yourself noticed as much as you can, and have the belief in yourself that your art is good and is worth creating! Lastly, try to get to know a lot of artists with similar interests- they will help you in your work and give encouragement which is so important when you are starting out!
What else do you do besides your art?
My plate is pretty full! I'm a full time veterinarian in Antioch, Illinois. My wife and 2 children are the loves of my life and I try to spend as much time as I can with the kids now: especially while they're little. I love and play sports too, especially hockey, soccer and baseball. I play the drums and piano, and I dabble in banjo. Lastly, I enjoy fishing and the outdoors. At the end of the day is usually when I can get some art work done!
What would you like to do more of in the future?
I guess I would just like to get the opportunity to paint a lot more. Perhaps try different techniques. I'm interested in sculpting, so maybe one day I could try that. I would like to do more art shows and get myself out there more.