Molly, Susan, Tim, and Greta Van Campen
Molly, Susan, Tim, and Greta Van Campen
If you have missed the first part of this dialogue with local artist family Susan, Tim, Molly, and Greta Van Campen, you can find it at freepressonline.com. Click on "Columnists" at the top of the bulleted list on the left side of the homepage, and then choose "art current" to find previous columns.

Britta Konau: Did you give your daughters any specific advice on becoming an artist or pursuing a creative career?

Tim Van Campen: I'm not sure if any specific advice was given. I think growing up in a creative household prepared them for uncertainties. It appears they have good memories and want the future to emulate similar adventures. I look forward to watching their artistic careers and lives blossom.

Susan Van Campen: Yes! I said . . . Don't Do It! In reality, though, I knew it could happen. Who doesn't want to sit around all day playing with paint and fancy brushes and paper? They were surrounded. Once at one of my openings in Philadelphia a woman asked Molly, who was about four at the time, if she wanted to be an artist when she grows up and she replied, "I AM an artist."

They were both very good students in the sciences and math so we were getting excited and had them pegged as future doctors and research scientists . . . real jobs! We took them to many of the wonderful museums in the various cities we visited. Always, always art museums (where we liked to let them just wander), but also science museums and zoos. Hiking, biking and camping were always part of summer. I liked taking them to beaches with rocks and tidal pools so I could (selfishly) paint alone while they played (always in view). Now that they are older and involved in the arts we do give more advice - lessons learned the hard way . . . they don't always seem to listen!

BK: And which are those?

SVC: Follow your gut, your heart, your passion. Don't always listen to your teachers or any other bossy britches out there in the real world. You can listen and consider but you don't have to obey. Keep things organized, it will help in the long run. Get out there and have confidence. There's nothing to lose but time. Keep working and working and working.

BK: Do you see any similarities or affinities in your work?

Molly Van Campen: My mom's style is very realistic - she only paints from life and true forms in nature. My dad's work is much more abstract, relying on geometric shapes and interesting color combinations. Greta's work is a unique combination of our two parents - she's recently been focusing on landscapes of places she visits and renders them in an abstract form. My interest in interior design and architecture stems from my dad's influence of geometric shapes and an overall appreciation for simple and minimalist design.
Greta Van Campen: I like to joke that my work is a cross between my mom's and my dad's, but it's actually the truth. They are, by far, my biggest influences and I don't think I could change that, even if I wanted to. For a while, I was working in two very different styles: loosely painted oil landscapes and hard-edge geometric acrylics. My recent work is somewhat of an attempt to marry the two, by looking at the world around me and attempting to turn soft lines and subtle changes into distinct shapes. It's a fun exercise, and I get to think like each of my parents when making the visual decisions involved in these paintings.

All four of us have similar taste in art and design. We migrate toward the same paintings in museums and are almost always in agreement about "good" and "bad" art. We share our opinions a lot and ask for advice with our own work. For example, if I'm debating about adding one last line to finish a painting, or if I come to what feels like a dead end in a piece, I will sometimes ask Mom and Dad what they think. We've all helped each other in that way, and usually without enraging one another. Even when Molly and I were kids, my mom would let us help to pick out work for various shows. We would help to curate, which made us feel like our opinions were important to her, and I think it gave us a sense of pride and validation that some kids don't always get to experience.

TVC: Greta and I are both left handed.

Everyone thinks her art displays a combination of Susan's and my work, but whatever has been gleaned from us, she has found a way to make it her own. I have been learning a few new techniques and becoming aware of some new uses of materials from observing her paintings. Maybe I can learn a bit about marketing myself from both Greta and Molly's efforts (blogging etc.).

Molly has an uncanny way of using very interesting compositions with her photos. I look forward to seeing what she accomplishes with her interiors. Her work with PBS, Ideo and SmartDesign has given her self-assurance and taught her how to maneuver with the public. (Maybe we will all benefit with placements of artworks in some of her future design projects?)

SVC: I think we've all learned the most about color from Tim; not by his talking about it, just by noticing what he comes up with. Composition is a big undercurrent in our house. Where things are placed, not only in paintings but in a room or on a mantle. Objects get moved around a lot when someone isn't looking, like a game but serious. We don't intellectualize or discuss art much in our family - we just make a lot of it. We each look at things in a slightly different way and it's always a surprise for me to see what Molly and Greta produce. I think our work does overlap and is, I hope, ever-changing.

BK: Do you now create together at any point?

SVC: We create together for fun, like in the sand on the beach or in the snow, making a card for someone or preparing and decorating food in the kitchen - probably like most families.

GVC: I agree with Mom. We're usually up to something creative around the house, especially when we're all home together. I've thought about doing more serious collaborative projects with Mom and Dad, but right now we're all busy with our own work.