Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Gene Dillard

Gene Dillard of Plano, TX, is this month's Spotlight Artist. If you would like to be "in the spotlight", please email Anna at to submit your information.

Gene Dillard
Interview with our January Spotlight Artist, Gene Dillard: 

When and how did you first become seriously interested in Art? 

Pretty much all my life. I drew a cow in the first grade and my teacher really liked it. I was hooked. Throughout a career in advertising design, I kept canvases going all the time…a wide variety of subjects and styles. About 15 years ago I made a commitment to focus on   painting portraits. I find it the ultimate, challenging passion.

What is your training, and what medium(s) / subject matter do you work in?

I majored in art briefly at Baylor and then graduated at U.T. Austin in Applied Arts. I later attended and graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. There, I received fantastic training by wonderful instructors and met life-long artist friends.
"Janis," by Gene Dillard

My portrait work is primarily in oil; occasionally watercolor. 

What do you try to express in your work?

To me, the biggest challenge in portraiture is to capture the character of every subject. Likeness is essential, but pressing beyond likeness to express character remains a never-ending quest. It is exciting to use all the tools of painting…composition, color and the gesture of the pose to depict the true essence and personality of the subject.

What artists/professionals have been your biggest influences?

Deceased: John Singer Sargent
Living: John Howard Sanden                      
"Betty Jo," by Gene Dillard

What do you do to gain new inspiration for your work?

I am inspired by studying the masters. I enjoy going to world class museums to study master figurative works. The days I spent in the National Portrait Gallery and Tate in London were really life-changing visits. This year I spent time at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington and was inspired by the remarkable works there. I also gain insights from demo videos of current top professional portrait artists. Access to workshops and demonstrations provided by the Portrait Society of America have also been inspirational.

What would you like to be doing with your art ten years from now?

I would like to be realizing the rewards of ten more years of improving my craft.

Do you set goals for yourself concerning the making of your art?

My goal is to make “the next painting” the best it can possibly be.

Are you happy with your job choice as an artist? Do you have any regrets in this career choice or things you would have done differently?

My only regret is not focusing on painting as my exclusive profession much earlier in my life.

"Sarah Jones," by Gene Dillard

"Tiara" by Gene Dillard

Any fun or interesting facts about yourself that you'd like to share?

Maybe more interesting than fun, I have experienced amazing adventures in the advertising business over the last several decades. Good fortune has resulted in my being involved with very interesting brands in the most amazing array of categories. My advertising work has been published and broadcast in all major national media.
I designed and developed major print and broadcast advertising campaigns for dozens of national marketers including Exxon, Kraft Foods, Sara Lee, Frito Lay, Chase Bank, Tyson Foods, Texas Instruments, Billy Graham, Chase Bank, U.S. Army, Crown Plaza Hotels, Schlotzsky’s and Borden Dairies (for whom I was the first to animate Elsie the Cow for TV.)

Best piece of advice for other artists? 

"Sisters," by Gene Dillard
Practice to improve. Learn from the work of artists better than yourself. I see some artists who get stuck at a certain level and never progress to their potential. I think the only way forward for a motivated artist to achieve new heights is through the combination of constant study and constant practice.


Gene Dillard
Legacy Portrait Painters
At Rail Station Studios and Gallery
1013 15th Place #101
Plano, Texas 75075

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