Artist Mike Bagdonas of the Foothills is One to Watch
08/25/2015 02:26PM ● Published by Style
Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group
Gallery: Mike Bagdonas - Artwork photos courtesy of the artists [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
Originally from Southern California, Mike Bagdonas didn’t focus on his art until after a career in public service, yet it was always something he used to deviate from workday demands. Having studied at the California Art Institute, Bagdonas hasn’t wasted time carving a name for himself—winning several awards in both national and international level competitions. Bagdonas also teaches local workshops in plein air, parading his affection of the surrounding region’s pristine beauty.
HLB: How’d you get your start?
MB: I’ve been artistic my entire life. I started painting over 40 years ago with acrylics. At that point I was self-taught and knew little about the nuances of the various mediums. One day I decided to try oils because I heard they had more luminosity and fell in love. I’ve tried every medium since and always return to oil.
HLB: What inspires you most?
MB: The ruggedness of our Western landscape. I see this in our national parks and bluffs along the coast above Big Sur. American Indians—who explored without roads and freeways before us—truly understood this ruggedness! When I paint in the mountains and along this coast, I feel the struggles they endured that allow us to enjoy our landscape today. I feel I’m preserving that heritage through my paintings.
HLB: What advice do you have for young artists?
MB: Follow your heart and never give up. Remember the saying, “starving artist.” It’s true—it’s very difficult to make a living in fine art at the beginning—but you can also have another career and still strive to be an artist. I did it and so have many others. Even if you don’t become a professional artist, art is something [you can do] for the rest of your life.
HLB: What award are you most proud of?
MB: An “Artist Choice” award I received at a plein air painting event in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My wife and I hiked into the wilderness to an elevation of nearly 11,000 feet. I painted a mountain lake scene with wind and rain trying to ruin my day, while my wife held an umbrella. When I got the award for this painting, it felt like a validation of my entire art career.
by Heather L. Becker
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