Celebrating Women in Art! — Part 5: Amanda Fish

by Hanna Zorilla

Amanda Fish is a traditional artist whose specialty is in painting photorealistic still life. Looking at Amanda’s work, every pristine detail is accounted for and beautifully appointed. Over the phone, Amanda’s liveliness is plentiful and her enthusiasm definitely translates into her paintings. 

When did you start painting and what made you want to be an artist?

“I was always a creative child. My first picture… I actually still have it, my mom kept it… was when I was about five years old and funny enough it was a still life, it was a bowl of fruit sitting on the table. I’m from an artistic and creative family. My mother was a painter, and later a pastel artist. Growing up, she would paint oils at the dining room table. My sister and I spent a lot of time at our grandparents house during our childhood. My grandfather was a writer and photographer. My grandmother taught me to sew, knit, crochet. We were always involved with some kind of creative project, painting or doing crafts. I always wanted to be an artist and was fortunate enough to have encouragement early on from my family. My mother took me and my sister to museums, galleries, and antique shops throughout our childhood and teens. I certainly think that had a strong influence on me as well. Though I got a BFA degree in college and continued to paint after, starting an art career straight out of college wasn’t exactly viable, so I set my sights on working for a museum. I was beyond thrilled, after quite a few applications, I got a job at the Getty Museum.”

You often paint photorealistic still life, why do you choose to paint still life, rather than another genre?

“I was a watercolorist for over twenty years before I switched to oils. (I have been painting Still Life with oils professionally for over 15 years.) When I made that decision I already knew a wonderful group of landscape oil painters. It was through them that I joined Southern California Plein Air Painters, and began painting oil landscapes at first. But I quickly realized that this was not going to be my subject matter. I couldn’t see myself painting landscapes on a daily basis, it didn’t grab me.”

Why do I paint still life? I started to think about classical art. I loved vignettes in homes, items that were gathered in a lovely way on an antique credenza. Since my mother was a collector of beautiful items, it got me thinking about creating still lifes. I became excited to see what I could create using items I had collected for many years, and adding fruits and flowers. It ignited a passion to pursue still life painting. There is such beauty and grace…..a lovely lyrical quality that can be created with the light dancing across objects. I also love the control I have bringing items together, designing my own compositions.”

Do you paint from photos or do you create physical environments from which you paint, and how do you get inspiration for the subjects of your paintings?

“When I started painting still lifes I would paint small paintings live. As I was learning, it was important to see the items in their clarity, to capture and understand the color, the light, the nuances. That is still important, it always will be, but one becomes accustomed to objects, and your artistic style develops, etc… As I grew as a painter, my still life compositions grew larger. Photographing my compositions became a much better way to work. I also have space limitations in my studio. I now take high resolution photographs and work from those. My photo shoots take about 2-3 day, with many different compositions created. I tend to do them seasonally, as certain fruits become plentiful and certain flowers are in season. I’ll have an idea of what items I want to bring together and then develop my compositions from there.”

How do you determine success?

“Success to me is having a passion and desire to create and wanting to share it with others. There is certainly truth in saying, having motivation is a success some days! The feedback I receive from visitors or collectors means a great deal to me. Looking at and reacting to my paintings becomes personal to them. If someone feels something about your work enough to purchase it, that’s success in itself. I also see being accepted into a gallery as success. They see the value in your work and yourself, and they want to share it with their visitors. It is an honor to be included in a community of artists.”

Do you paint symbols within your artwork, and if you do, do they ever represent aspects of yourself and your life?

“No symbols. I’ll use objects which are meaningful to me, whether I collected them, or they were once my mothers’, or gifts from loved ones and friends. But it doesn’t symbolize anything. I don’t paint a lily because it symbolizes love or fertility, or paint apples because it represents Adam and Eve, it’s just the beauty of an apple or a flower.”

How do you know when an artwork is done, do you ever force yourself to stop?

“The larger the painting is the more questions I might have, is it done? The smaller paintings I pretty much know. There’s so much more happening in a larger painting, there’s more to consider, more contemplation and studying. I ask myself if there is something jumping out at me, is something “off.” I think intuitively, you just know when a painting is done.”

What advice would you give to young female artists?

“Once you find the passion of whatever art it is you want to pursue, work within a consistent style and build a cohesive collection of what you want to express. Success can come from an identifiable style and I think when you find an identifiable style within yourself, it can give you confidence to know you have gotten to a level of accomplishment to go out with your body of work. I was talking to a gal from the LA area, and she had no idea what to do with or where to go with her art. I told her to narrow it down to two different mediums if she couldn’t decide what direction to go into and create two different collections to focus on development and style. I told her to look into local Art Groups to join in L.A. There are also websites that list art shows, outdoor fairs or small outdoor art markets which is a good start. It’s an important way to get feedback, feedback that you especially need when you are starting out.”

Still-life master, Amanda Fish has been part of Chemers Gallery’s stable of artists for 6 years. Her translucent layer of oil paint combine in harmony with her classical painting style.. To see more of Amanda’s work click this link to our website.

In case you missed our interview with Kara Bullock, click here
For our interview with Maria Counts, click here
For our interview with Jonde Nothcutt, click here
For our interview with Lorraine Bubar, click here