Henryk Ptasiewicz: Painting a Polychroma

By: Brian Anderson - May, 1st, 2013

The Divine Miss B

Divine Miss B

Born Scunthorpe in the North of England, July 17 1955

My style is realistic, it came about because of the influence of the Surrealists. If you can paint the real world, then you have a chance to illustrate another one. I liked to paint things which only existed in my mind. I was an only child with a lot of imagination and was always building things, some just to look at. I made some really fun, elaborately structured, Italian styled aeroplanes, but never flew them because of the time I had invested in them they were more sculpture than practical. I also built other elaborate toys including the ultimate toy, a type of carousel. The stand was a one thousand piece three dimensional puzzle. The theme was land, sea and air. The air was a flying whale, I loved the idea of a leviathan that could float like a balloon, the land was a train with legs like a millipede and the sea was a Viking boat, sculpture if there ever was. All powered by one of those steam engines that ran on methelayted spirits. I also was amazed at Celtic and Viking Art and I did a lot of work based on the Book of Kells. I drew my ideas and then began to paint in a realistic way to make real things that I couldn't build. With this in mind I applied to and got into Saint Martins School of Art in London with the idea of being a fantasy illustrator, designing for books and films.

3 Papillon

3 Papillion

I found success and settled in the fibre-glass industry making children's play equipment, which I both designed, sculpted and built. One of the highlights was I got to design and built a prototype boat for Jerry Dammers of the Specials, founder of the Two Tone label, a thirties gangster car which was a boat, to be used on the canals around Coventry, England, going once again back to the theme of toys, which I paint on a regular basis. I also had a desire to put craftsmanship back into making these things, I'd always liked carousel horses and admired the hand-carvers of the late 19th early 20th centuries and that was the standard that I held myself up to.

4 Yellow Heart

4 Yellow Heart

In the early eighties I had the good fortune to meet Robert Lenkiewicz. I had painted a lot of portraits of people and pets, which were nice, but I saw what it meant to paint someone from life. It's more than a superficial photographic representation, and, especially when painted life-size,the painting has a distinct presence in the room, that and Robert's work ethic, painting passed the point of exhaustion, very in depth knowledge of the things you were working with, and the value of the ordinary person on the street, no eight syllable words, no elitism, became my pinnacle to reach for.

Assorted Painted Works

The Studio

I came to America in 1999 and have worked as an Artist since, painting Corporate and private portraits, painting around the country in plein air events, organising parties, making the props for them, I also went back to sculpting, this time the figure, and overall turning my attention back to painting portraiture. I still do design work, which I've also liked a lot, and the design styles of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, still hold a soft spot in my heart. Occasionally I like to paint the figure reflected in a mirror, I like shop interiors, standing on the street looking at a display which was put together by a window dresser and lit perfectly, and then you notice the reflections, area's that aren't lit reflect back what's behind you, but in reverse, then there's corner windows where you can see beyond what's in the shop itself. Two windows at right angles to each other produce one object, three reflections.



Some Questions for Henryk

Q: Please give us a brief bio, where you are from and how you first discovered your creative talents?

A: I'm English. Standing next to classmates at infants school, 4 years old, when asked to draw a train, I drew a train, no one else seemed to get it.

Q: What is your definition of art?

A: Good Art has narrative and moves you emotionally.

Q: What is the role of the artist in society?

A: Someone to bounce ideas off, to make people think.

Q: What else do you do besides make art?

A: Kids, soccer, golf

Q: What medium do you use?

A: Oils, Acrylics, latex, watercolours, coloured inks, coloured pens, coloured pencils, regular and water soluble, markers, pastels, sculpting and photography, not to mention marbling.

Q:. What are you working on at the moment?

A: Portrait and figure work.

Q: How much of your day is spent drawing?

A: At least a third.

Q: How do you describe your style?

A: realistic, with emotion.

Q: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?

A: I'm intrigued by the world, and I find interpreting it through my Art exciting. Plus the way I draw and paint needs practice, which in turn gets you motivated to do more, which makes you.................

Q: Describe one challenge you constantly face in your practice.

A: Making things look like they're living, exciting and three dimensional. Even as a model is static, for me, it's essential to make the person firstly recognisable and try and say what it is that makes that human being unique.

Q: When are you most creative?

A: Mornings.

Q: How do you know when an artwork is complete?

A: When the cheque clears.

Q: Any influences or anyone you look up to when it comes to art?

A: Robert Lenkiewicz, Alex Kanevsky, Klimt, Matisse, Art Noveau, Art Deco and my friends at the Meetup group.

Q: Who are your favorite artists?

A: Robert Lenkiewicz, Alex Kanevsky, Klimt, Matisse, my friends at the Meetup group.

Q: What artistic trend are you seeing a lot of lately?

A: People who would probably have been Illustrators, if the market had been better, coming into fine Art, meaning people who can really draw and paint in a realistic, but NOT, photographic way

Q: How has your artistic practice changed since you first began making art?

A: I'm painting more from life.

Q: What is the strangest comment someone has said about your work?

A: Can you match the curtains?

Q: What advice would you give to a young artist?

A: Draw and paint all the time, read everything you can, look at everything, engineering books photography books, whatever.

Q: Some people claim that they aren’t “real artists”. Do you think such a divide exists, and if so, where is the line drawn?

A: If thats what they think, let them. Art isn't an easy option. I get a lot of pleasure from it, but the bottom line is you have to push yourself everyday and it's hard work.

Q: Do you have a website where we can look at your work?

Henryk Ptasiewicz on MySLART

Henryk Painting

Thanks to Alessandra Plattner for formulating these helpful questions and also to Henryk Ptasiewicz for allowing me to share his artwork on this site.

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