Realism as a style has basically remained unchanged since the Renaissance. Realism as a technique, however, has definitely been altered and heavily influenced by technology. Most artists have given up “eyeballing” a subject as a drawing technique and have come to rely on photographs instead. Turnaround time for photographs is now virtually instant because of digital cameras and computers. Photoshop can actually “paint” a picture for you. Artists have always used the tools at hand and of their time …. Camera obscura, compass, protractor, calipers, rulers etc. The challenge has always been and still is the same: How do you make a work of art and not just an artwork? How do you infuse poetry into what you are doing and give the work meaning and beauty? One of the things I try to achieve in my work is the creation of a feeling of three dimension through the objects I paint, whether they are flowers or boxes or antique kitchen appliances. The space between the objects and the viewer is usually somewhat shallow. However, behind and around the objects, there is the illusion of great depth. An artist friend of mine once said that the object of painting, whether realistic or abstract, is to make a two dimensional space appear to be three dimensional. Maybe it’s just that simple.
The need to create art must be inborn or else the leftover remnants of a life lived in another time when art was a profession in great demand, requiring large numbers of workers to decorate churches and palaces. As this professional demand no longer exists, I have often wondered where my own overpowering need to paint comes from.
I was born in rural North Carolina, in a small town called Rockingham. The practice in those days was for babies to be born at home, which would have worked had it not been a cold, snowy January morning. The doctor, on his way to our house, found himself in an ice storm too challenging for his driving skills and as luck would have it, he wrecked his car and was not present at the occasion of my birth. My paternal grandmother was there, thank heavens, because I presented myself to the world feet first, doing just the opposite of a normal birth. That has been my lot in life ever since.
As a child, that story was told to me so many times, I must have thought that I was expected to take the less traveled path. Another story I was told was that shards of colored glass lying about on the ground would catch my eye, and I would pick them up and take them to my mother. I have often wondered how I managed that without getting injured. My fascination with color was very strong even at that early age.
And I drew, all the time, on any surface I could find, including the ground. This rural setting in North Carolina was my home until I graduated high school. From there, I went on to East Carolina College (now a university) and majored in art education, thinking this would be a safe career choice. But I only taught one year of art in the public schools after graduating.
I married Larry Blizard, a fellow artist, and we moved to New York City, seeking fame and fortune. My education continued in the city at Art Students League, Pratt Graphics Center, and finally at City College, where I earned a Masters Degree in Art.
But the most important part of my education came from going to museums, galleries, associating with fellow artists and from trips to ancient cities in Europe. Over the years, while raising two sons with my husband, I worked at many different and diverse jobs to earn a living: Secretary, Benefits Specialist for Ciba Geigy, pattern maker in the garment district of NYC, gallery owner, children’s art teacher, fashion teacher at Marymount College (now defunct), became a landlady, and once in a while, sold a painting. And that’s where I am at this point. Painting. Every day and very happy to be doing it.
"Afternoon in Florence"
MA, Art Education, City College, New York
Pratt Graphic Art Center, NYC
Art Students League, NYC
BS, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
All images copyright Peggie Blizard. All rights reserved.