Joe Friddle began his career in marine biology. He found his artist’s path via the teaching road. Starting with pencil portraits, Joe transitioned to watercolor when he encountered Texas artist John Carter. Watercolor has been his preferred medium ever since.
Tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
I was born and reared in Birmingham, Alabama. Attended Auburn University and graduated with a degree in Art Education. A lot of expensive supplies, but I was fortunate that Auburn’s Athletic Department put me through school. I taught and coached in 3 different school districts around the state until I settled in Killeen, Texas.
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What initially inspired you to be an artist?
My art really began in college doing pencil portraits, then continued during my teaching years. The 1983 Texas State Artist, John Carter, was instrumental in getting me into watercolors in the early ‘90’s.
I have continued ever since then. I did coloring books and artsy things as a youngster but the first that I remember trying to do realistic was a spring sunrise when I was in the fifth grade
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
I had thought for years I would go into architecture, advertising or marine biology. I started in marine biology but counting fruit flies in genetics made me rethink. Since I didn’t start in the school of visual design, the only way I could take art courses was to go in to Art Education. TEACH? I didn’t want to be a teacher at that time, but I figured something would work out eventually. I taught for 32 years in public schools and have been teaching privately since 2005.
Tell us about your most challenging piece. What were the obstacles and how did you get past them?
Every piece is challenging, exciting with its own obstacles, but the one that got to me the most was a portrait of a helicopter pilot & his Blackhawk helicopter. It was for his family. I learned that he was one of those who had died in Somalia (movie – Black Hawk Down). It was emotionally draining.
Have you had a “never again” moment, then gone and did it again?
I don’t know if there was a ‘never again’ piece. But I have learned that on commission pieces it is always smart to get a down payment. Sometimes I’m too trusting.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
My inspirations come from everywhere…. Landscapes, wildlife, sunrises and sunsets: God’s beauty all around us.
Do you plan your work out all ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
Sometimes I may do a practice piece or else I try to think a piece out before I start. Then sometimes I jump straight into the deep end of the pool and about halfway through I wonder what am I doing and can I salvage this piece?
When is your most productive creative time?
Younger I could be a night owl or a day break trooper. As I get older if I can start in the morning I can go until I get ‘fanny fatigue’. I have a hard time getting kick-started in the afternoons. If I’m under pressure to finish something, I have been known to work thru the night.
What is your favorite storage tip for your creative supplies?
Storage tips: Don’t leave brushes bristle down and any materials…. Try it, but if you don’t use it, you may lose it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Advice – it’s only a piece of paper!
How do you keep inspired to go in the studio and produce new work?
I’m always inspired. I always have several things to paint. My problem is to be sure I finish before starting something new or else I’ll have a dozen partly finished.
Tell us more about your latest technique, working with coffee!
I had a friend, a professor of herpetology (study of turtles) at UT Tyler try it – instant decaffeinated coffee. So far, it’s been trial and error to see what effects can come with it.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have been a part of the two most blabbermouth professions – coaches and artists! Both will share something they have tried and had success.
The secret to Good Art? HAVE FUN!
Check out Joe’s gallery and contact him for some amazing watercolors: joefriddleart.com
Interview posted August 2017
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