Jeannie Lee, gifted anime and manga artist and co-author of The Art of Drawing Manga & Comic Book Characters, became “obsessed” with drawing at the age of 9. This was around the time she discovered Japanese animation and Korean comics; she was drawn in both visually and spiritually. Initially, she traced panels from comics and, eventually memorizing the lineart, was able to draw them from memory, altering details and making the art her own.
“When I look back, I realize that this is how I learned to deconstruct artwork. I remember this experience as my very first stepping stone into drawing and developing my own work.”
As a professional commercial artist, Jeannie works mostly with digital media; however, she has over a decade of traditional art training and a profound love and respect for all traditional media. Her favorite media include colored pencils, watercolor, and alcohol markers, but she also enjoys oil pastels, acrylic, and gouache.
“Each medium has its own unique characteristics and challenges, and I always encourage artists to step away from the computer once in a while to broaden their horizons.”
Jeannie has many creative outlets; she also makes clay and paper crafts, enjoys gardening, and likes to bake and cook.
“I particularly like to spend 12+ hours making these epic cakes and decorating them, and then cursing and vowing to never make them again!”
Jeannie finds inspiration in seeing what other artists are doing and in trying out new techniques. She also gets motivated by doing what she loves – watching cartoons, reading comics, playing video games, and seeing what her friends are creating.
“Being surrounded by creativity in turn helps bring out my own.”
Jeannie believes that despite all of the new technology and advancing digital art techniques, traditional fundamental concepts are still extremely important. In order to draw a comic full of action heroes, the artist must first learn to draw the human figure. According to Jeannie, knowing the fundamentals is crucial for all professional artists.
“An artist should forever be a student, always learning and always challenging oneself.”
To see more of Jeannie’s fun and unique artwork, visit www.gneeworks.com .
The essence of childhood is rooted in fantasy. Author Bob Berry helps children turn that fantasy into reality with his book Pirates, Vikings, & Ancient Civilizations. This book contains step-by-step instructions for drawing ancient characters, civilizations, and mystical creatures. Through fun facts and illustrations, Bob opens the door to the imagination, providing the reader with a set of keys that unlock a world filled with legend and lore. This passion for drawing the fantastic can be traced back to Bob’s own childhood, where he spent much of his time drawing characters from popular cartoons and comic books.
“My older brother was a comic book reader and I remember scanning those [comics] endlessly, subconsciously picking up drawing techniques. I used to ask my mother to cut out some of the coolest poses of Batman or Superman from my brother’s comics. He wasn’t too pleased, but I soon had a collection of some very cool poses that I played with constantly…it was the beginning of my informal art education.”
Even though he began showing a keen interest in drawing at an early age, Bob’s parents viewed art as a hobby. The idea of pursuing a career in art was not even considered a viable option at this point in his life. After highschool, Bob took a technical commercial art course. His teacher noted his raw talent and encouraged him to go to art school.
For over 15 years, Bob has worked as an artist, illustrator, and character and graphic designer. Since opening his own graphic firm, Bob Berry Illustrations, he currently works mainly on children’s publishing and textbooks. However, over the years he has done art and illustration for interactive CDs, children’s games, toy packaging, and costume design for the sports entertainment industry.
“Because 99% of my work is commercial illustration, my client ultimately decides what they like best. That part of my work is so subjective. I really appreciate working with clients who have a strong vision of their own and who can work with me to arrive at the best image.”
For artists just starting out, Bob advises that learning to draw is key. Drawing is a wonderful foundation for visual artists, even sculptors. He recommends not becoming limited to one specific genre, but branching out in order to understand the underlying structure that is the basis of any good drawing.
“Drawing is a gateway to understanding. Every piece is a learning experience and you grow as an artist in every single thing you do.”
Bob believes in looking at everything, learning from everything, and taking as much as you can from these experiences, turning your art into something that is yours, not just a good copy of someone else’s work.
To learn more about Bob Berry visit www.bobberryillustration.com.
Steven Pearce, famed artist and author of Drawing Still Lifes, has the type of personality that makes you want to invite him to join you for a cup of coffee and an afternoon of easy conversation. When speaking of his wife and grandkids, it is obvious he is a down-to-earth family man at heart.
Born into a home surrounded by creativity and artistic talent, Steven’s passion for art is in his blood. His mother was an accomplished oil painter and graphite artist. His father graduated with a degree in art from Oklahoma University and still possesses a passion for woodcarving at the tender age of 92.
“Growing up, my parents were a big influence in my love for art.”
While he had a wonderful high school art teacher, many would be surprised to know that Steven was unable to attend any formal art classes in college. Much of his technique and skill was self-taught through books, videos, workshops, informal classes, and old-fashioned hard work. Continually learning new and more challenging ways to create art is a core part of who Steven is as an artist.
One of his favorite artists is Mike Sibley from the UK. Steven says he also draws inspiration from his great friends, many of whom are artists themselves, and his family. To stay abreast of what is happening in the art world, he and his wife frequent art galleries as often as possible. While many of the pieces in his book, Drawing Still Lifes, center around inanimate objects, he also enjoys drawing animals.
“I draw a lot of different things. I love the challenge and learning experience of drawing many various subjects. But if I had to choose a favorite, it would be animals.”
As seen below in his charcoal drawing of a wolf titled “Alert Eyes,” Steven has a talent for photorealistic drawing, making his drawings appear as striking and detailed as a photograph.
“I use photo references a lot because of the many hours it takes to do most of my drawings. A lot of times I will add or enhance what I see in my reference photo, such as sun reflecting off of glass or metal.”
"Wine Glass and Wood" (graphite drawing)
It is the detailed work that emerges through graphite drawing that excites Steven. While he tries to keep the overall composition fairly simple, he truly enjoys the freedom that comes with creating art with a pencil.
“My mother, who was very good at drawing, taught me so much and was very encouraging. I experimented with, and still do, other media over the years, but I seemed to have always loved the pencil, charcoal, and graphite. “
Most of his drawings have become more detailed over the years, and he uses many different tools and techniques to achieve his finished works. However, he still loves to draw using a looser technique as well.
“As a graphic artist, I feel this method has a bit more drama to it and it is important to keep in touch with that part of my art.”
Perfecting your skills is a continual process for any artist. Steven takes great pleasure in the learning process itself, but also understands that creating beautiful art is not without its share of frustrations. His advice to new artists is to learn the basic techniques first, and to take advantage of any available books, classes, and workshops that are offered.
“This is where you will get honest critiques and encouragement, which is very important. Visit art galleries and art shows. Never stop learning and experimenting!“
In addition to working as an artist, Steven retired as a fireman in 2011. These days, he spends most of his time practicing new methods and techniques to create his detailed drawings, getting involved in his community, and spending time with his loving family.
To view more of Steven’s art visit www.srpearceart.com.
"Young Elephant" (graphite drawing)
What’s one valuable way to stay inspired as an artist? Surround yourself with art, and look at it everyday. This organic approach is telling of how Nino Navarra views his work as an illustrator. He has been drawing for as long as he can remember, and enjoys drawing literally anything and everything—from scenes in a local coffeeshop to designing video game characters. With a wide-sweeping artist’s eye, he loves searching for the interesting element in every potential piece.
“There is something to appreciate and learn from in every subject if you know how to look at it correctly,” Nino says.
Nino’s approach to composition includes allowing the image to progressively emerge on the paper, and relying on fundamental illustration concepts to help find the most dynamic representation.
“I let my mark-making go wild along with my imagination. This part of the process is the most fun because anything is possible—the artist can discover the potential image even from a chaotic mess of scribbles,” Nino says.
These days Nino works mostly with digital tools, especially for professional projects. However, the satisfaction of working with traditional pen and paper will never loose its magic to him. After becoming enamored with art and the creative process at an early age, Nino immersed himself in cartoons and comic books, and over time self-trained his hand to draw from copying what he saw.
“I was that kid who constantly got in trouble in school for not paying attention because I was too busy drawing in my notebook!” Nino says.
He credits a vast number of artists who have influenced his career from an early age, as well as studying a wide range of different mediums; from classic illustrations and painting to comic books and animation, and eventually digital art and graphic design. Today, he is creatively influenced by his work environment sharing a studio space with a group of professional artists, where each person can benefit and grow from the others. Over the years, Nino’s work has evolved to include a wide range of styles as well as mediums. He’s learned to appreciate the diversity in having a variety of influences, and believes the more well-rounded the artist, the stronger the visual statement.
“In my opinion, all art is related in some way, and every artist can borrow from each medium's unique visual language,” Nino says.
Outside of art, Nino enjoys staying active, spending time with family and friends, and simply enjoying life. Nino’s advice to aspiring artists involves persistence and repetition: To keep drawing as much as possible, and never give up. He views the art world as broad and filled with possibility, and has learned to appreciate the growth process inherent in the creative journey.
“I’ve learned to never be satisfied as an artist. The trick is to accept that there is no real end to your learning and growth—I don’t allow myself to get complacent; I’m constantly working on personal art, participating in galleries, or teaching an illustration class,” Nino says.
Nino also believes in staying positive and driven as an artist, and accepting constructive criticism as an aid to development.
“Just don’t forget whatever attracted you to art in the first place. The answers are out there, and it’s up to the individual to be resourceful enough to make it happen. Keep your passion alive, stay focused, work hard, and good things will happen!” Nino says.
Penny Raile’s journey to become an artist involves getting out of your own head and letting go of fear—her story encourages the creator in each of us that it’s never too late to trust your talents and pursue what you love. Although Penny discovered a love for art in college, for years afterward she felt compelled to craft, draw, and paint, but struggled with self-doubt. In recent years, she has explored and stepped into a new identity as an artist, personally and professionally. Today she works and makes her home in a 1600 square-foot Los Angeles studio full of color and inspiration.
Personalizing her studio space was the blank canvas of Penny’s dreams, with its open layout, high-loft-style ceilings, and view of Los Angeles’ artist’s district below. She has filled it with whimsical accents, including staining the concrete floors turquoise and brown, painting the walls deep, dramatic shades, and mixing in her own imaginative creations.
Penny is primarily self-taught, and works in acrylic paint, pastels, and graphic design, along with Zentangle art. She is a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher), and one of the talented contributors to Walter Foster’s recent release The Art of Zentangle. Among her various pieces replete with flourishes, patterns, and swirls is a 20-foot tangle-in-process crawling up the wall just inside her entryway.
After discovering Zentangle on another artist’s blog, the meditative art form quickly became one of Penny’s favorite past-times. She loves the process for its accessible, relaxing nature and endless range of possibility.
“You have the freedom to create your own unique style because the inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. Anyone can tangle if they learn the basics!” Penny says.
In fact, the Zen-like nature of the art has since helped her manage everyday anxieties such as fear of flying, waiting in a doctor’s office, or even sitting in LA traffic.
“I love sitting down with a piece of paper without any idea of what I will do with it—the challenge of not knowing the outcome is so exciting to me,” Penny says.
Whether a tangled tile or a colorful painting, however, Penny’s signature touch of whimsy is present in all of her pieces. She also finds inspiration in intricate, black-and-white line work, including the creative style of Tim Burton.
“There’s something about ink on paper that draws me in,” she says.
Penny has found a way to integrate an artistic component into other areas of work as well. Much of her time outside the studio is spent as development director for a nonprofit organization named Amanecer, which offers community counseling for adults and children battling mental illness. One of Penny’s recent initiatives is a children’s art therapy program; including a summer project titled “Happiness isHomemade,” which involves making a miniature world out of recycled art complete with buildings, animals, and characters, to be exhibited downtown in September.
Penny stays motivated as an artist by looking inward and outward for inspiration—everything from a neighborhood walk to a monologue from her own imagination. In addition, the subconscious aspect of tangling her designs leads her to new ideas.
“Often it’s just about forcing the mind to quit thinking, stop worrying, and letting the hand move in front of the brain,” Penny says.
Penny feels one of the major ways her work has evolved over time is simply in becoming more comfortable in her own skin. Part of this process has included accepting imperfections. She credits the perspective she once learned from an improv comedy workshop—to loosen up and not take herself so seriously—as wisdom she tries to mirror as an artist.
“I always thought that if I put pencil to paper it had to be perfect the first time. One day it finally hit me—what matters the most is that this is what I love to do,” Penny says.
For Penny, creating art is freeing, therapeutic, and the truest form of self-expression. She would encourage beginning artists to give themselves permission to just go for it!
To learn more about Penny’s work, visit http://raile.typepad.com/or http://www.tangletangletangle.typepad.com/. To see more inspiration from Certified Zentangle Teachers and learn how to tangle yourself, order your copy of The Art of Zentangle today!
Skilled multimedia artist Varvara Harmon has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember. “I was one of those kids who drew on everything and anything: walls, furniture, whatever I could find!” Everywhere she's lived and worked, art has always been a huge part of Varvara's life. She is also the author of Painting in Acrylic.
Many artists have inspired Varvara, but the most influential have been Russian artists, including Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Aivazovsky, Fedor Alekseev, Vasily Vereshchagin, Arkhip Kuindzhi Serov, and Vasili Polenov, among others. She has also found many talented contemporary artists who are also good sources of inspiration.
In addition to acrylic, Varvara also paints in oil and watercolor and enjoys drawing. “Each medium has its own beauty: oil gives you control over the process; watercolor is always surprising, especially when painting wet-on-wet; and acrylic dries very quickly, which is great if I am painting plein air,” says Varvara.
There is no shortage of subjects that Varvara enjoys drawing and painting. She loves painting seascapes, landscapes, sill lifes, and florals, and she also enjoys drawing portraits. “Working in different media and on a variety of subject matter makes the process of creating art fun!”
Acknowledging that composition is essential to rendering a successful painting or drawing, Varvara usually does a few rough sketches first before she starts painting on the canvas. She claims that this is the fun part of the creative process since it allows the artist to use their imagination.
Over the years, Varvara has explored many different mediums and painting techniques. “I found that it is fun to try things I have not done before and to discover what I like.” Although the majority of her artwork is realistic, she also likes creating impressionistic paintings.
Aside from art, Varvara enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and walking along the ocean shore. “The surrounding beauty of nature constantly inspires me to create new paintings.”
Varvara stays motivated as an artist by being involved in the art scene in her community—she works in an art gallery and teaches fine art classes and painting workshops. According to Varvara, “Art is not a profession, it is a life journey.” She finds it very fulfilling to see her students progress and use the techniques they learn in her class to create their own masterpieces.
To aspiring artists, Varvara recommends trying different styles and techniques in order to discover what you enjoy doing most, and then to master those skills. “The most important thing is to not be discouraged if your work is not perfect—it will get better with practice!”
To see more of Varvara’s artwork, visit www.VarvaraHarmon.com
Alain Picard, talented and refined pastel artist and author of Pastel Basics, discovered his love for art at a very young age.
Always drawing or doodling or copying comic characters, Alain has been drawing since he was a young boy. “I remember drawing a portrait of Bill Cosby in the seventh grade that got a lot of attention,” Alain says.
After that, Alain knew he had a talent for drawing, but it was not until his junior year of college that he declared art as his major; he has now been drawing consistently for 18 years!
Alain has been inspired and influenced by many great artists, but most strongly by those who focus on portraits and figures, including John Singer Sargent, Edgar Degas, Joaquin Sorolla, Thomas Eakins, N.C. Wyeth, and Norman Rockwell, among others. His parents have also supported and encouraged his talent and his pursuit of art.
Another great source of inspiration and guidance is his high school art teacher Ms. Bogart, who would enter Alain’s paintings into art competitions to encourage and push his development. “I recently returned to my high school to teach a portrait workshop to Ms. Bogart’s AP art students. That was great fun!” Alain says.
In addition to pastel, Alain also works in oil. “I enjoy working in two mediums; I like how they influence each other and push me to take different approaches with each one,” Alain says. In his approach to composition, Alain likes to narrow in on subjects, drawing the viewer’s eye with the use of contrast and dramatic lighting.
With age and experience, Alain has become more painterly—bolder with marks and more interested in the way color and edge can impact the viewer. “Once the challenge of painting realistically has been achieved, you look to develop your style with a more personal approach. For me, I just love loose backgrounds and bold strokes combined with very subtle and refined passages,” Alain says.
For Alain, motivation and inspiration are the result of living life and remaining open and curious about the world around you. “Sometimes creating is a discipline, but inspiration always comes,” Alain says. He is constantly inspired by the beauty of the world around him; he sees beauty in people, in creation, and in the play of light and shadow.
Aside from art, Alain has a strong passion for God and his faith. He also loves spending time with his beautiful wife and two adorable sons. “That’s my favorite thing in the world: spending time with my family. I feel incredibly blessed as a father and husband, and I’ve developed a pastor’s heart for people,” Alain says.
After traveling to Africa with his church and being involved in relief work there, Alain was inspired to develop his Rwanda Collection. “Life is a gift, and it’s so important to live it fully,” Alain says. The reason he enjoys teaching art so much is that he gets to encourage others in their talents.
Alain’s advice to beginning artists is to work hard, practice the craft of drawing and painting, and find a way to study with a master artist who inspires you. “The more comfortable you become in your medium, the more freely you’ll begin to express your own vision. Be patient with yourself and celebrate successes,” Alain says.
He also advises to become involved with art associations and share your work with others. According to Alain, getting feedback is a great way to grow quickly. And most importantly, “Keep creating throughout all seasons of life!” Alain says. Being able to see the beauty in the world is essential to living a fulfilling and meaningful life.
To see more of Alain's beautiful artwork, please visit: www.picardstudio.com
Patti Mollica, gifted oil and acrylic painter and author of Modern Acrylics and Color Theory, first became passionate about art when she was a little girl. Her first role model was her babysitter, who would come over with a sketchbook and oil pastels.
“I still have those sketchbooks! She would sit and draw from her imagination, including beautiful scenes, people, etc. I was completely mesmerized by her, and so inspired to follow in her footsteps,” Patti says.
After these early artistic encounters, Patti asked her mother to buy her a sketchbook and some oil pastels, and thus began her lifelong career as an artist.
Many of Patti’s favorite artists have also been a source of inspiration to her, including Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargeant, Richard Diebenkorn, William Hook, Marvin Franklin, and Robert Cunningham. She was also encouraged to pursue her dreams and artistic endeavors through the support of her parents.
Living in New York City, and thus driven by so many sources of inspiration, Patti has never had an issue staying motivated—once she starts a painting, the inspiration happens naturally.
“When I go into NYC, I see paintings everywhere I look—it’s very inspiring!” Patti says.
In addition to working in oil and acrylic, Patti enjoys working in mixed media and pastels. Her favorite subjects to draw are cityscapes, city scenes, and still lifes.
For artists just starting out, Patti advises that practice makes perfect. She believes the only way to learn to draw well is to practice constantly. Looking at the bigger picture can be a great help, including thinking globally when it comes to composition.
Patti feels that she has a unique perspective in approaching composition, thanks to a background in graphic design. Expressing that a strong composition outweighs detail or rendering when it comes to the success of a painting, Patti stresses the importance of being aware of design.
“It is the large abstract shapes that are the foundation of a painting. If the composition does not work in black and white (think logo), then it will not work in color,” Patti says.
Patti admits that her work has evolved over the years. She is now more sensitive to color and has learned the importance of using it sparingly, only when needed. She agrees with the words of famous illustrator Andrew Loomis who said, “Colour is very much like a bank account. If you dip into it too much, soon you have none.”
Aside from art, Patti also enjoys snowboarding, exercising, and Eastern spirituality. She is an avid supporter of environmental causes and animal rights.
To see more of Patti's artwork, visit http://www.mollicastudio.com/
Martin Clarke, talented Western Australian artist and authorof Oil & Acrylic: Oceans & Seascapes, discovered his artistic talents later in life. After training and working in the field of science for many years, Martin accidentally stumbled into the world of painting in 2001. His introduction to art was a bit unorthodox—he had just built a new house that had a lot of bare walls and, because he couldn’t afford to buy any new art, he decided to throw some color on the walls himself.
After his first few raw abstracts, Martin was captivated by art and wanted to improve and sharpen his skills. “I got hooked—I read a lot, participated in forums, and painted like crazy! Eventually pieces started improving to the point where people started buying them—much to my amazement,” says Martin.
Many of Martin’s favorite artists, including Larry Mitchell,Andrew Tischler, Jim Thallasoudis, Dave Brayshaw, Daniel Hutchings, Clyde Aspevig, and Scott Christensen, have been a source of inspiration because of their beautiful renditions of land and seascapes. “Each of the above has inspired me to try to improve my color, composition, and realism. Whenever I need a lift, I look at their works,” says Martin. As for other important people in his life, Martin has been fortunate enough to have the unceasing support of his wife and two galleries, Boranup Gallery and Wills Domain, in Western Australia.
Although he started out working in acrylics, Martin switched to oil painting six years ago and has stuck with it. “I enjoy the long open time, the technical challenges, and its versatility,” says Martin.
Even though Martin has experimented with still lifes, portraits, and landscapes, his favorite subject to paint is the ocean. “It has a thousand moods, changes incessantly, and is a constant challenge,” says Martin. Having been a surfer for over 40 years, Martin has an affinity for seascapes and believes that, because of his long familiarity with the sea, he is able to bring something original to his work.
When it comes to composition, Martin spends a lot of time thinking about the scene he wants to create. “I have a reference library of about 20,000 photos—plein air does not suit the size of the pieces I paint—and I’ll often pick elements of various photos and mix them to produce the scene I want,” says Martin. He tries to maintain a good balance by having a focal area of interest and strong supporting elements. According to Martin, “Where possible, I’ll make use of paths to lead the eye to my focal area—I have recently done a number of pieces featuring beach stairs, which create an excellent path to my focal point.” He also pays close attention to color harmony and light.
Like every good artist, Martin is continuously improving his skills by challenging himself and painting similar scenes repeatedly until he is satisfied with them. “The sense of realism in my paintings has improved, largely because of better use of color and more appreciation for value and chroma,” says Martin. Even though he has encountered failures, Martin sees them as good opportunities for learning and growth.
In order to stay motivated as an artist, Martin likes to look at the works of other great artists, preferably in a gallery, which inspires him to start painting again and to try to achieve results equal to those of the great artists. Working full time though makes juggling work, family, sports, and painting a challenge. “But there is rarely a wasted moment in my life, and I certainly never get bored,” says Martin.
In addition to painting, Martin enjoys surfing and cycling—riding over 200 miles a week! He also enjoys the occasional race to challenge himself physically. Being a very well-rounded individual, Martin also likes reading (mainly science fiction), listening to science and history podcasts, watching movies, and traveling with his wife. With a daughter living in Los Angeles, the U.S. is on his list of places to visit.
For artists just starting out, Martin advises to read everything you can about painting, go to art galleries, study brushwork, and learn as much as possible about color. Subject matter is also extremely important—Martin believes that you should pick a subject for which you have an affinity, one that excites and stimulates you. “Experiment and don’t worry about failure. Don’t listen to detractors and those who only offer negative critiques. Seek a mentor or someone who can offer a critically positive eye—my wife has been totally invaluable in this regard,”says Martin. He also advises that success is not instant, so paint, paint, and then paint some more! “The road to good work can be long and hard with many pitfalls, but it’s also an amazing, stimulating adventure, which can be very rewarding personally, intellectually, and even financially,” says Martin.
The main message Martin wants to send out to novice artists is “Go for it!” You never know what you’re capable of until you try, and art truly enhances and enriches one’s life in so many ways.
To see more of Martin's artwork, visit http://www.martinclarke-art.com
Talented watercolor artist Ronald Pratt started painting while he was in college studying architecture. “I was looking for an elective class in art that would help me improve my presentation skills in architecture,” says Ronald. There was an opening in a beginning watercolor class, so he signed up. “I liked the beauty of a good watercolor painting and the challenge it presented when I discovered it was much harder than it looked. Never in my wildest dreams at that time did I imagine 35 years later it would be my profession.” After finishing school, Ronald only painted in the evenings and on weekends as a hobby. Eventually, he left architecture to paint fulltime.
For Ronald, the people who have influenced him the most in his artistic journey have been some of his watercolor teachers and workshop instructors. “They are the ones who helped me with the transition from watching the magic of someone else being able to paint, to being able to create that magic myself, says Ronald. In particular, Ronald cites Robert Reynolds, Tom Lynch, Ron Ranson, and Zoltan Zabo as key mentors who taught him not only about painting, but how to make a living as a painter.
Ronald points out that art academia focuses on teaching the skills—but what you do with those skills is equally as important. Ronald remembers that when he decided to make the switch from architecture to art, a lot of friends and family members were surprised. “Architecture was a glamour field, and the art world had a lot starving artists. It was interesting to watch people’s reaction to that decision,” says Ronald. “Some thought I was crazy. Some said, ‘You have to chase your dreams.’ But it was my wife who said that I should go for it. Her only caveat was that I only get one midlife crisis, this is it, and so I better make it work. Thirty-five years later she still insists I’m in my midlife crisis.”
Like most artists, Ronald doesn’t restrict himself to one medium, although watercolor painting is definitely his favorite. He also likes to work in pottery as a three-dimensional alternative. “I think having to think and design three-dimensionally really helps improve the depth and perspective aspects of my paintings,” says Ronald. “Even though watercolor painting is a two-dimensional medium on paper, the sense of depth one achieves leads directly to the success of a painting.” Ronald also enjoys the tactile nature of clay, so sculpting and wheel throwing stimulate other aspects of the senses. Ronald sometimes works in pencil, colored pencil, gouache, and oil and has recently begun to dabble in acrylic as well. “ Ibelieve all mediums interrelate in ways and stimulate your work in other mediums,” says Ronald.
For Ronald, the most enjoyable aspect of watercolor painting is the process—he doesn’t have a favorite subject, but likes to paint everything.
“I do seem to gravitate more to nature for my subject matter,” says Ronald. “Landscapes,seascapes, florals, and cityscapes all excite me.”
Color is the most exciting element of painting for Ronald. “I can be walking outside and observe the splash of color in a garden, or the subtle nuances of color in the foothills, or the marvelous colors in a fleeting sunset, and get charged up,” Ronald says. “Because I get so excited over color, I try to infuse my paintings with strong, vivid colors that make the painting come alive.” Traditional watercolor paintings tend to use soft pastels and leave large areas of white paper—but that isn’t Ronald’s style. He fills the paper with rich, intense color and strong value contrast to breathe energy into a piece, a style that is more common in acrylics or oils. “With the quality of lightfast paints being produced by manufacturers today, this style is not only available to the watercolorist, but is highly relevant in our society, where people are looking for art that makes a statement on a wall, instead of blending into the background,” says Ronald.
Ronald’s new book book, Watercolor: Seasons just came out this year. The easy-to-follow step-by-step projects are full of color and life—a perfect example of Ronald’s vibrant work. Click here to learn more about this fun, instructional book.
With his background in architecture, Ronald’s early paintings were primarily architectural illustrations that were crisp and controlled to show exact details in building and structures. As he painted more and got away from his background, however, Ronald started to loosen up and realize that painting is more the art of expression and exaggeration than the art of exactness. “I realized that if I was going to compete with the photorealism of a camera, the camera would win every time! This freed me up to look for mood or sense of place and try to depict that, rather than the exactness of a scene.”
As most artists know, the dreaded “artist block” hits everyone at some time. It isn’t possible to stay motivated and charged up all the time. Ronald finds that when motivation and inspiration is lacking, sometimes a break from art is what is needed. “I love outdoor sports. The enjoyment of swimming, hiking, camping, and golfing all seem to keep a balance in my life and get me out of the studio and into nature. When I get back to the studio, I seem to be more focused and recharged for painting,” says Ronald. Another tactic is to just start. “I tell my students that the hardest part about painting is getting started. If I’m procrastinating on getting started, I take a small kitchen timer and set it for one hour. I tell myself I can always just paint for one hour and then go on to something else. Usually when the timer goes off, I just keep on painting because I’m into what I’m doing. The hard part now is stopping.”
For artists who are just starting out, Ronald would first tell them to have fun with what they are doing. “Too often, artists who truly enjoy creating art lose sight of that joy after the initial rush wears off. Try to keep that sense of awe at what you create and look at the world as if through the eyes of a child,” says Ronald. He also suggests being willing to experiment and challenge oneself with new projects and directions. “Don’t play it safe. After all, it’s only paper and paint. Remember we get to say oops! You don’t want your doctor, dentist, attorney, or mechanic saying oops, but we’re artists, and we can! Have fun with it!”
To see more of Ronald’s artwork, visit www.ronaldpratt.com.