"I’m an artist because I have to be an artist. For me, its like breathing."
- Bill Mather
In the midst of a festival where dreamers and artists go to indulge in an electric current of creativity, we first met Bill Mather. Matte painter, graphic artist, and established dreamer, Mather's work is ethereal, enchanting, fantastical.
Through his live painting, Bill emanates peaceful purpose and appreciation for the female form. The subjects of his paintings tend to be women, bold and strong, intertwined with the Earth around her — standing free and embracing her Wild disposition. In an open field where bold creators, and professional innovators come to share their talents, Lightning in a Bottle, Bill stood engaged with his painting of a woman, part tree, all Goddess. Overflowing feminine force and forest nymph, she represented the spirit of this festival where uninhibited expression takes precedence. It was this stage upon which Bill was summoned to lead a demonstration on “Drawing Without Fear”. And as a bold step towards honest teaching, he embraced this chance for live painting as a practice in letting go of his own inhibitions.
A few weeks later, we visited his studio, a stone’s throw away from the inspiring shores of Venice Beach. Original paintings decorated his sunlit space from floor to ceiling while we got the chance to engage the artist himself in a conversation about what inspires him to create such a force field of bold imagery and fierce femininity.
Here’s what we learned:
Bill began his artwork at the young and prodigious age of four. A landscape painting of a red barn hangs high amongst his work as the piece that first set him on his path. After creating it, he showed his parents who happened to have a professor of art in their company. The professor exclaimed, “This boy has talent!” And since, he hasn’t ceased to prove that professor right. He remembers this moment vividly as the moment when he was encouraged to pursue his current career.
His fervor began with a passion for drawing otherworldly creatures and ethereal beings. He later developed his current aesthetic fusing these elements of the surreal with the essence of Woman, emphasizing the mystical qualities of the feminine physique.
Today the majority of his figures are Goddesses of Earth, sea, and sky. Woman in her divine state; winged, infused with nature, hair wild and overflowing with purpose."(My creations) have a lot of personality, strength and individuality”, Bill emphasized.
His first experiences as a live painter opened a new door for expression within his career. Back at Lightning in a Bottle for the second year in a row, Bill led his course in Drawing Without Fear once more. This time creating a gilded Shiva to contribute to Lightning in a Paintcan, LIB's onsite auction.
He has learned to balance his work by engaging this passion for fine art independent from his work as a commercial designer. This dichotomy allows for the sentiment that time is not of the essence. "Its really liberating, its really free that my fine art can have all the joy I want because I've already dealt with deadlines in my commercial career."
Bill imagines that one day he will shift his energy to focus on the realm of fine art. What will happen when these worlds merge and the fine art becomes the priority? In the past he admits to having hesitated due to the notion that it might put more pressure on his art and detract from his pleasure in creating it. But after the recent invigoration he experienced sharing the creation of his original work, he has come to the conclusion that, "You shouldn’t worry about if its going to feel like a job or if its going to be work. Its not. Its going to be a lot of fun and always joy.”
Back at Lightning in a Bottle, what he came to find while paint-stroking the leaves of aforementioned tree nymph, was a new found appreciation for this experience. He explains, "live painting at festivals has really opened my eyes...its invaluable". This interactive experience set ajar a new door for expression within Bill's career, “With live painting I was really getting ecstatically happy… overcoming my fears that if this becomes what I do for my living and for my life, that I still can just be my own artist, I can still be creating, and listen to my own ideas and thoughts, and still people have good response. Its a beautiful thing."
We couldn't possibly agree more. And so it is with this message of Creating without Fear that we share with you the paintings of Established Dreamer, Bill Mather.
Interview by Alyssa Aparicio