Q&A with Chicago-based artist Patricia Panopoulos - painting blues and jazz musician’s past and current

"Blues, Soul and Jazz music appeals to a wide variety of people. It can bring people together on a common ground. Although our concerns may be different, music brings us together on a human level."

Patricia Panopoulos: Music Colors Feelings

Artist Patricia (Trish) Panopoulos says: "My childhood was spent near the shore in New Jersey, where I lived until my family moved to the Hudson Valley in New York. I earned a Bachelor's degree in the arts from the State University of New York at Potsdam. Moving to the Chicago area in 1989, I worked in graphic catalog design and promotional marketing design for several years. My focus is now on painting and the fine arts. I strive to understand the energy that surrounds us and capture it with art to share it with others in a visual form. My art is created to honor Women and their Strength, which is where true Beauty resides."                                  (Photo: Patricia Panopoulos)

"I believe our perception is the brush that ultimately paints our own reality. True beauty is something that cannot be seen with your eyes open, instead it is something that can be felt when your eyes are closed. Life is nature, calm one minute and turbulent the next. I believe women have a great gift to endure, to share, to succeed, to encourage, to forgive and to love. ALL women are beautiful and all women are strong even it they have yet to realize it. In my paintings I have tried to grasp that fleeting moment of reflection when we let our guard down to take a breath to regain our focus."

Interview by Michael Limnios                    Artworks © by Patricia Panopoulos

How has “women’s strength and beauty” influenced your view of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I believe that a women’s beauty lies in her strength. All women are strong, and all women are beautiful even if they have yet to discover that. Humans are connected by a timeless energy even though it may appear as though we are all separate. An important part of my journey and why I share my art is to inspire others to feel connected.

What were the reasons that started the artistic and photo art researches and experiments?

I simply paint because it feels right. It is how I participate in what is around me. If I am trying to understand or appreciate something, I paint it.

How do you describe and characterize your artwork? Where does your creative drive come from?

My paintings tend to lean toward expressive portrait and figurative pieces. I paint in whatever style reflects my mood and often work on multiple paintings at the same time. My concentration is painting blues and jazz musician’s past and current. It gives me the opportunity to listen to their music and reflect on what they may have been feeling when they performed. My drive comes from a desire communicate thoughts that don’t have words. Painting what I feel is more important than painting what I see. True beauty isn’t something that you can see with your eyes open, instead it is something that you feel when your eyes are closed.

"I am not sure that I would say I miss the music of the past as we have so many ways to keep it alive. I listen to music from the 1920s to current. Creative expression changes through the years and many younger musicians express themselves in different styles. The most important thing to me is that people continue to express themselves freely with music and art."

(Photo: BB King, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy & Muddy Waters / Artwork © by Patricia Panopoulos)

How important was music in your life? How does music affect your mood and inspiration? 

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love music. Listening to music while I paint contributes to the finished piece. It’s almost as if the paint brush captures the essence of the music and transfers it to the canvas. An original piece of art carries the artist’s energy with it. It is more than paint and canvas.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears of the future?

I am not sure that I would say I miss the music of the past as we have so many ways to keep it alive. I listen to music from the 1920s to current. Creative expression changes through the years and many younger musicians express themselves in different styles. The most important thing to me is that people continue to express themselves freely with music and art.

What does to be a female artist in a A Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in the music?

I don’t consider myself a woman in a man’s world. Our perception has a very strong influence on our reality. It’s important to keep your path clear and not put up your own obstacles.

I am a painter and not a musician, so I don’t have the experience to speak to the status of women in music. I paint many portraits of Women in blues to express my admiration of their talent and achievements. I also paint many portraits of men in blues.

What touched you from Bessie Smith and Billy Holiday? What would you like to ask Aretha Franklin and Janis?   (Aretha, Bessie, Janis & Billie / Artwork © by Patricia Panopoulos)

Bessie Smith was sassy, bold and not afraid to express herself. I feel that her strength, style and passion influenced many women that followed.

Billie Holiday inspires me because despite the rough life that was dealt to her, when she sang she captivated audiences with elegance and soul.

If I could ask Aretha Franklin something, I would ask how she felt inside while she sang. I wonder if she was moved the way she moved millions with her voice.

Janis Joplin was quoted as saying “On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, and then I go home alone”. I would ask her if she can she feel the deep admiration and appreciation of the millions that continue to be swept away by her voice screaming truth and if she still feels lonely.

What is the impact of Blues, Soul and Jazz on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want to it affect people?

Blues, Soul and Jazz music appeals to a wide variety of people. It can bring people together on a common ground. Although our concerns may be different, music brings us together on a human level. I hope that one day all of my Blues Series paintings will be displayed together in a Blues Museum to share. I also hope that my paintings encourage people to get acquainted with some of the musicians of the past and the history of the Blues.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for the whole day?

This is easy; I don’t even need to think about it. I would stay right here in the present. I would take a road trip in the car with my husband and kids. We would ride in the car all day long listening to music and talking. Connecting with my family brings me peace. It doesn’t even matter where we are going, the true joy is definitely in the journey.

Patricia Panopoulos Art - Home

(Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight: Legendary female blues and jazz artists Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Janis Joplin enjoy a night out on the town together. The painting is a tribute these amazing and talented women. This piece is titled after a song that Bessie Smith sang. Artwork © by Patricia Panopoulos)

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