Paige Oden

July 23, 2019

1. Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist? 
Yes, I always knew that I wanted to create a career based on drawing and painting, whether it was a commercial art career, fine arts career or teaching career… as long as it included drawing and painting as my main daily active process.
2. Tell us about how your parents shaped who you are today?
I grew up with two artist parents who met in art school. We were surrounded by art and other artists and regular museum trips. I thought that was what everybody did with their time. It definitely gave me an early focus.

3. What is your favorite medium?
I love all mediums. I think I love drawing the most because of its immediacy and flexibility- one can draw anywhere, anytime with a minimum of supplies. But I love all types of painting and sculpture too. I have an MFA in Sculpture. I like to mix it up.

4. How has the art world/industry changed since you first started out?
The impact of free digital photographic images has really impacted the professional Illustration career. I miss seeing great illustrations as magazine covers and book jackets. But those artists will survive and I feel illustration will make a resurgence when the world realizes how much better a creative illustration is rather than a free photo image

5.  Do you remember the first piece of art that you sold?
I sold some drawings to the Daily Pilot when I was a little kid. Also, I had a painting in the old Newport Beach City Hall for many years. My dad helped me get some Illustration jobs when I was in junior high and high school, mostly magazine ink drawings.

6.  How has your style changed over the years?
I have always loved to draw and paint portraits and the human form. The challenge of capturing an emotion… It is also called drawing the “human condition”. I also love Plein Air painting because it is such a challenge to capture a specific scene and the atmospheric light in a limited amount of time.

7. What defines good art to you?
Good art to me is someone who can really draw! And also someone who understands color and uses color to their advantage. Most of the great artists I know don’t have big egos or need much attention, they are just happy when their selling and producing good work.

8. Is there a particular style of art that you don’t care for?
Not really, all art has merit if it has effort and passion.

9. How has working at OCSA as Director of Visual Arts enhanced your life?
I have been the Director of Visual Arts for nearly 20 years with 200 Visual Arts students per year. My students are so talented and brave and intelligent. They are so inspiring and they keep me focused on what it means to be an artist. That kind of daily classroom dialogue exchange forces me to articulate what I am doing and why I do it.

10. Do you have a favorite that inspires your work?
Not really. I went to school in Italy and I am very influenced by classical portraiture.

11. Which artists inspire you?
I am inspired by so many artists. Currently, the artists I look at most are Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuilliard, but that is always changing. I also love so many new young artists that are showing. I look at my dad Dick Oden’s work a lot – he was incredibly talented as a draftsman and colorist. Also, I was very close friends with Laguna artist Ken Auster. His color and composition and thick brushwork have always stayed with me.

12.  With your commission pieces, what is the process?
If it is a portrait I talk with the person who is requesting the commission to understand what they are imagining. I love to have a storyline in all my figurative pieces whether real or imaginary. I spend time with the model for sketches and I also photograph them in interior light with back shadows. Then I make compositional sketches and share them and move forward to the final piece.

13. Is there anything you just won’t do?
Not so far. But yes probably...

14. What are you most excited about right now?
My newest group of paintings are mixed media pieces that explore the image of Mother Nature and allegories. Mostly figurative pieces that are about how nature can soothe so many of our shared humanistic struggles. I love the freedom of exploring this theme and I love combining materials to create fresh marks and patterned abstract areas laid down next to classical portraits.

15. Tell us what being in the upcoming Festival of Arts means to you.
I showed in the FOA for about 15 years, right out of art school in the ’90s up to 2007, when my husband and I moved out of the zip code area. It was a wonderful experience with an incredible group of supportive artist friends. I loved it and am thrilled to be showing my newest mixed media pieces this summer. It’s a huge daily audience and the public is very honest and usually very sincere. I am looking forward to it.

16. How would you describe the art scene in Orange County?
Honestly, I am out of touch in the art scene in greater Orange County because OC is so big and spread out. There are some wonderful galleries in Laguna and CDM and Tustin. I love any gallery because their goal is to support art and artists and I am so appreciative of that. As a longtime professional artist, I know what it means to be a gallery artist. Most galleries will give you a number of how many works they need from you per year. I participated in that life for many years and benefitted from it greatly. But with my position at OCSA and my family, it seems best for me to paint for myself and show at the FOA and then participate in various shows throughout the year.

17.  What’s your favorite piece of artwork?
Certain Paintings by Dick Oden and also Ken Auster.

18. Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
I am so fortunate to have the life I live. I’m too busy and stressed all the time because of painting deadlines and family and OCSA deadlines. But if I stand still- and look at it all, I realize I am so fortunate to have all of this humming around me. The students at OCSA inspire me daily by sharing their sketchbook ideas and me sharing my thoughts on the expansion of their ideas. Hearing their backgrounds and their future goals inspire me so much.

19.  Why art?
There was no other option for me. I never even thought of anything else.

20.  What’s a secret that most people don’t know about you?
I am crazy crazy crazy about dogs, especially greyhounds. We always have one greyhound and one mutt in our family.

She can be reached at

Greer's OC
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Since 1993, Greer has been writing about fashion, dining and trends in Orange County, as a popular columnist for the Los Angeles Time Community Newspapers (Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and HB Independent) and now as founder of Greer’s OC.

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