12 Questions: Paula DeStefanis

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1.     What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

Oddly enough, the first books that inspired me were the Time Life Books.  My Mom had bought 5 books from the door to door sales men and my dad had not been happy about it. He had  felt it was a waste of money.  They were 5 books about countries, they included Mexico, America, Japan, Italy, and Russia.  I have no idea how she came to pick these 5 countries.  But what I do know, is that was the best money she ever spent.  I spent my entire youth pouring over every detail of these books.  I was transported every time I opened opened one.  The books were so worn down by touch. 2.     What is your studio like? Could you share an image? I have 3.  1 in the Marshall Building, The Arts Mill and 1 in my home.  If you were to meet me you would understand I am a bit hyper and make art nonstop,  Having multiple spaces in different locations allows me to create a lot.  I consider my Arts Mill Studio my main space.  It is stunning.  It is in an old mill on the river - it makes me happiest.  I love the fact that it is a mill since my father grew up in a flour mill in Italy.  If feels very full circle to me, 

3.     What are the biggest challenges you have faced as an artist? Wow, there are many.  The challenges change with my age.  When I was young it was the normal challenges of finding artistic work that would support my constant need to create and my financial needs.  Then I went through the entire parent/wife stage of life.  During that time, I always felt guilty if I wasn't giving my boys the time and attention they needed. An artist needs alot of a lone time, time to cultivate and work out ideas, it can be so hard when you care for others.  And as for now, its similar.  I manage 2 arts spaces, North Shore Academy of the Arts and The Arts Mill.  I tend to a lot of artists.  They are musicians, writers, designers, dancers, artists of all kinds.  And with them I face the same challenges, managing helping them without draining my creative spirit.  It is a very thin line.  I do think its why I paint in bursts of time.  I am constantly moving, and so are my paintings.  4.     What is your most unusual habit? OK, here it is.  I bite my hand when I am extremely mad or upset.  Remember those old fashioned Italian movies where the old  woman would bite her hand and wave the other angrily?  That was my grandmother - and now its me (but not the old part)  5.     If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why? SUCH A GOOD QUESTION!! So many, but I'd say Chuck Dwyer.  I went to MIAD with Chuck.  He is hands down one of the most naturally talented artists I know. 6.     What is the most  item in your studio/workspace/office? Sadly, I'd say my computer.  I wish I could say something cooler.  I use it to listen to pod-casts, receive orders, respond to others so on so forth.  It is my studio mate. Next, my cat.  I love my studio cat. 7.     When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself? I try to tell myself to stop over thinking it.  My worst funk is doubting my art.   I need to not compare myself to others and value myself and creative process more.  I need to turn off social media.  I find it can get into my head really easily.  It's my best and my worse friend.  I sell a lot on-line, and I love the new friends I have made.  But it also can really play with my confidence when I see what others are doing.. its such a strange thing.. so I stay away!

8.    What is the most inspiring place you have been to?  Italy.  It is always Italy.  I have dreamt about it my entire existence.  It feeds my soul.  My everything.  The food, the language, the smells, the color, the way of life and of course, the art.

9.     Do you collect anything? 

Yes, art supplies.  

10.   What words of advice would you give to your younger self?   Every experience, interaction, relationship, travel experience will will influence your vision which will than influence your ever changing art. 11.   Who/What influences your work?  Travel influences me the most,  and especially Italy & Europe.  I could go to Europe over and over. I guess I am a renansiance girl in the end, funny since I paint bright and abstract. 12.  Share an image that inspires you!