One of my favorite painters, watercolor artists from Australia, David Taylor answered my questions for you. You started your art journey with etching and engraving. How did you come to watercolor medium which is so different from graphic art required discipline and exactness?
My Passion for Painting Started in my Youth. I would sketch events an subjects around me I helped other Students at School also. I developed and studied and worked at my watercolour Technique while in the Trade of Etching I had a great Knowledge of Colour and Brush handling Skills through the etching background.
David Taylor. Catching.The.Morning.Light.38x22
What is in your opinion the importance of the drawing in watercolor painting?
Drawing Skills are important. An artist needs to understand the structure and bones of the subject, before finishing his or her masterpiece.
David Taylor. Barges Pinnmill. UK
I watched some of your art video extracts. You demonstrate there how you draw a lot of sketches on the spot. I saw your works with people, crowds, cars, ect those are usually constantly moving. Do you prefer to use your life drawings or photo to create your compositions?
When Drawing from Life, I use the Contour Drawing method, keeping pencil on paper to move Quickly this is necessary for spontaneity. I spend a lot of time viewing the best angles of subject matter that appeals sometimes rearranging to make better compositions .
David Taylor. Evening Shower. Armadale.
How often do you finish the painting right on location?
I like to start and finish a painting on site while the feeling is still with me. Spontaneity is a major Factor here.
How do you choose the size of the painting? What is your favorite size?
Working Outdoors it is comfortable working a Quarter or half Imperial Size as it handles well in the conditions. Larger works I do in Studio often from Works done outdoors one must Choose carefully for larger pieces. I Like working all sizes both large and small.
David Taylor. Quite Moments. 42x33
You have a great teaching experience. How does the audience affect the process of painting while you demonstrate?
My answer is If you have a great love and Passion for The medium you have a choice to share that. I am totally absorbed in my subject when I am demonstrating and will speak me inner thoughts to those around me. People and Noise and even heavy weather conditions fade as total concentration will block out outside thought pattens.
David Taylor. Prague In Autumn.
Had your style been changing during your painting career?
My painting Has changed from early days, and continues to do so the next painting not started may be that special piece of magic iI have been looking for. When you know a medium well you take more risks and not be scared of it.
David Taylor. East Coast. Tasmania.
What is your preferences in watercolor paper? What brushes do you use – natural or synthetic, flat or round, ect?
Watercolkour Paper plays a big part in Results Hand Made Rag Paper ,Like Arche in various weights Usually rough or medium, Saunders Waterford, are good reliable papers, but there are many others that perform well. My advice is spend time looking for good Quality paper I use a variety of brushes - Pure Sable, Kolinsky, Flat Sable, Rigger Brushes and Daggar brushes.
David Taylor. Following The Shade. InVenice.
Do you have a color theory that you use in your work?
Colour Plays a Part in Painting . Light is very important as is the value , A good knowledge of the percentage of the primary colours mixing together to make the desired final result . Colour changes like the day itself .
What is in your opinion better attitude for artist`s development – competition or co-operation with other fellow-artists?
The best Advice is to love the creative process of this medium and enjoying the beauty and results. Share your love of it to help others and keep the passion smouldering
David Taylor. Lighter Moments. Venice. 24x36
Can you give some tips to young watercolor artists: what to pay attention to in mastering watercolor technique?
The tip to master this wonderful medium is to Persevere with the works that failed , keep working at improving and honing skills , Look for change and always work hard on the weakest areas. Understand the beauty of nature , and work with it not against it. Never give in to weak moments , keep trying , allow the medium to work itself .
David Taylor. Quite Time. Essex. 55x37
Why in your opinion Australia is the country where come so many outstanding watercolor artists?
The light in Australia is bright and the weather pattens vary so much I think we have a great variety in the landscape and combined with seasonal change that sometimes very quickly provides great opportunity for watercolourists and there has been a solid connection of influence that has been noticed and passed on from the early part of the century until this day.
In this DVD Shirley takes you on a journey through her creative process from how to start a picture from scratch to how to decide when a painting is truly finished. She deals with the all important choice of paper and introduces you to some exciting new colours from the USA that she is currently using. DVD: 2 hours approximately.
Her latest book ‘Breaking the Rules of Watercolour’ which was published on 1st February has already gone for a reprint.
Best wishes from Shirley Trevena.
Her new DVD ‘My World of Watercolour’ is available from 30th May and can be ordered from her website NOW
1. Escoda, synthetic, Barocco - Simmons. For detaails.
2. Roubloff, squirell, #12. For washes.
3. Roubloff, synthetic, experimental item, not manufactured yet. For everything!
4. Roubloff, pony, flat. For washes.
5. Chinese calligraphy brush. For many things.
Since some time I have noticed that I keep clicking on the watercolors of the same artists in Facebook. Her name is Mineke Reinders. Today I am sharing her interview.
Have you always been a watercolor artist or you had a story how you have become one? I had experimented with various media, in particular oils and gouache, before I discovered watercolor. Around 1989 I was working in a library when British watercolor painter Lucy Willis' book Light: how to see it, how to paint it came across my desk. It was a turning point, because for the first time I saw the expressive power and beauty of watercolor, especially with regard to the effects of light and atmosphere. I bought my own copy of the book, and many other books after that, and started my journey in watercolor before getting a formal art education a few years later. I haven't really looked back since, although I'm not a purist and will combine watercolor with other media if it seems fit to do so.
Mineke Reinders. Podmurna. 28x38cm
What is the major size of your works? My largest size is full sheet, 22x30 inches, my smallest is 5x7 inches, but most of my work now is quarter sheet, 11x15 inches. It is a good size for me. When I go to museums, I am the person who goes up to the tiny paintings and sketches that most people pass by, and attract the attention of the guards when I put my nose too close to them to study the brushstrokes and details. These small works are more intimate. I want that intimacy in my works too, because I think it suits my subjects.
Mineke Reinders. Boulevard Of Mist. 26x27cm
Do you paint on location or more in studio? Despite the current popularity of plein air, I remain more of a studio painter. I can sketch on location, but anything that requires more of a set-up is not for me. I am also shy of painting in front of curious onlookers, which would be inevitable in the kinds of places I paint. I know that painting on location gives a sense of immediacy to the work that cannot be achieved in the studio, but that is not necessarily what I am after. I prefer solitude while painting. Alone in the studio, while listening to music, it is easier to access the state of mind that allows for memories and imagination to come into play. My work is representational, and I do use photo references, but they provide a starting point and a reference for particular details only. I don't aim to give an accurate rendering of a place or to capture a moment in time. The feel and atmosphere I want to express come from the mind, from memories and visualization. The sense of place is very important to me, but it does not have to be an immediate response then and there, it can be intensified by time and distance. At least, that is how it works best for me.
Mineke Reinders. Factory Girl. 34x27cm
Do you travel to paint or you use the travelling for painting? Both. I have been very lucky in that I have had many opportunities to travel and see different places. I would love to travel to paint more, but I am also happy to use the impressions from my travels, as well as times living abroad, for painting. In fact, living in a place for an extended time is best, because you can get to know nuances and moods of a place much better, but it is not always possible of course.
Mineke Reinders. A Winter Day. 15x21cm
Is there some European or American influence in your painting approach? My early influences came primarily from British and American painters. Later I was inspired by painters working in Australia, such as Joseph Zbukvic, Greg Allen, Alvaro Castagnet et al. In recent years I have moved away from that style though. Much as I admire those artists, I am wary of imitating a style, which I see a little too much of these days. I was lucky to spend a semester in Turkey in 2006. Without access to art books and with very minimal internet, I responded in my own way to the beauty and interest I saw around me. That was a profound experience, which perhaps made my work more individual.
Mineke Reinders. Every Memory Is Like a Dream. 35x25cm
Do you consider yourselves an American or European artist? As a person, I remain a European, despite living in the US for more than 20 years, but as an artist, this distinction is not really meaningful to me. I think regional distinctions will become less relevant as we are exposed to influences from all over the world through the internet. I really don't feel that these geographical labels are meaningful anymore.
Mineke Reinders. House In Winter. 15x21cm
What is watercolors for you? Watercolors: Paper, pigment, binder, water. I love the simplicity of this combination. When dry, it is just color on paper, but it can stay fresh for many centuries, given proper care. Watercolors is also: a little magic. One of its main attractions is that it cannot be completely controlled, so there is an adventure in every painting.
Charles Reid is an artist, teacher and author known around the world. He has authored eleven books on painting which are directed toward students at all levels. His use of beautiful clean color and his capture of light creates a look of freshness and spontaneity that immediately grabs your senses and brings you into his work. His drawing skills are masterful.
Charles, you paint equally well with oil and watercolors. Could you say that watercolor is your priority?
I learned to paint in oils and spent several years doing large figurative paintings and was admitted to The National Academy of Design . I won some prizes.
Then to earn a living for my family I became an instructor a t a correspondence school -The Famous Artists School. My wife Judith had been supporting as she had to go back to teaching school.
Charles Reid. Joseph in his Cavalry Jacket. 17x24. 2006
How did you meet watercolor media?
My supervisor at Famous Artists needed a someone to do WC figure painting and that's how I became a WC painter. I adopted my oil technique to watercolor. Starting with mid darks and darks as one does in oil then adding my lighter tones. This is the basic idea but I often start with lighter values but I never think of glazing with overwashes from light to dark.
What is your color theory? How do you manage with a limited palette to create such a colorful world?
People find my approach unique which is odd. I simply try for a final result in the most direct way possible. The more one mixes water colour pigments the tired they get so why not use them in their freshest
Charles Reid`s painting box
Do you re-paint some areas or only one attempt is aloud?
I try never to correct-if some opaque white helps- that's fine but I like Fabriano paper which is wonderful for first washes but is too soft for much correcting.
Do you always paint from live models or you can also use reference photos?
I have done lots of illustration work from photos and think thats fine . I n recent classes I've used turn of the century Black and White pictures as reference. The class has to imagie colors and the old pictures help to simplify the light - midlights.
Charles Reid. My Favorite Painters. 26x20. 2007
What is the part of imagination in your work? Do you attempt to make your audience to use it`s imagination?
It seems some good painting should leave some work for the viewer. What's the fun if everything is spelled out?
I say "Some" since so much current WC painting is done in the studio with exact reference. I don't know how these pictures are done. Some are excellent so I can't pass judgement.
How do you determine the point when the work is complete?
I know when a picture is done when I make a false stroke . In a watercolor each stroke counts and the artist should keep count of the strokes they make.
Charles Reid. Quite fresh painting from Spain.
How the audience affects you during the demonstration?
I'm fortunate to be friends of Tony Bennett and Gene Wilder and we all agree that a supportive audience is crucial .
Charles Reid. Close-up painting.
How long it take to understand the needs of a new audience in a new place?
Every group I work with has a unique personality but I just try to be myself.
Well known Chinese watercolorist Zhou Tianya is a member of China Artists Association and a Signature Member of National Watercolor Society(USA)Artistic Advisory Member of Asian Museun of Watercolor Art. he studied art at the Hubei Institute of Fine Art in Wuhanand taught watercolor and was Chair of the Art Department at Jingchu Academy of Technology in Hubei for past 7 years. Zhou has participated in more than 150 solo and group exhibitions including t the Ministry of Culture of the P. R. China and China Artists Association, American Watercolor Society, Royal Watercolour Society, National Watercolor Society and won more than 50 awards for his paintings both in China and abroad including the Bronze Medal Award of the 10th National fine art works exhibition of the Ministry of Culture of the P. R. China and China Artists Association.
What is the sources of your inspiration?
The sources of my inspiration — rural ethnic populations and landscapes, Tibet — as well as the creative process itself. I paint anything that interests me, from people and landscapes to animals and still life.
Zhou Tianya. St.Temple. 72x104cm
You paint merely the rural areas. Is there any difference between their life and yours?
I live in Shenzhen City, which is one of the frontiers of the “reform and opening up” of my country. Indeed, it`s one of the most prosperous and westernized cities in China. Even though there`s a large contrast between where I live and the places I travel, I think my paintings still express my thoughts, as the presentation is a conveyance of my feelings.
Zhou Tianya. St.Mountain Water Land. 110x150cm
Can you consider your style?
I try not to form a certain style. I think style is the reflection of the artist . It`s more important to find your own joy in painting.
Do you use reference photos or your own sketches?
I usually sketch on site. I also take photographs for reference. In my studio when necessary, I draw the sketch again and again until I`m satisfied with the final draft. I think sketching on site is very important, as everything I see is alive; it makes me more passionate and helps to stimulate my senses.
Zhou Tianya. Returningat Dusk. 75x83.5cm
What is the role of drawing in preparing your painting work?
I use a 2B pencil to outline the image—the level of detail depends on the level of reality I want to portray. I outline more detail if the image is to be more realistic. But too much details limit my creativity and makes me excessively careful.
Could you tell about your painting technique?
Typically, I combine wet-into-wet, dry-ondry and wet-on-dry techniques, as well as a process I call “washing”. I apply a thick coat of paint to rough paper and then gently wash it off the surface until the texture of the paper is revealed. Then I work on every detail, often several times.
Zhou Tianya. Passerby. 56x76cm
What do you attempt to control when you paint?
I try to control the overall color balance of a painting, it`s important that I control the interactions of cool and warm tones, and dark and light areas.
Your colors choice?
I use W insor & Newton Artist colors (United Kingdom) and Maimeri watercolors (Italy). In China we cannot find a large variety of colors and they`re all named differently. I never use white paint.
Zhou Tianya. Pilgrims. 76x56cm
Your paper choice?
I usually use Saunders W aterford (U.K.) watercolor paper, but I also use Fabriano (Italy) watercolor paper and sometimes a few other brands. I always choose a 300gm rough surface.
Your brushes choice?
I mainly use flat brushes to paint. I only use very small round brushes sometimes for detail. I try to stay with large flats because they help me focus on the entire painting.
Zhou Tianya. Mother and Child. 36x56cm
Do you use masking materials?
I hardly ever use masking fluid or tape, because they create edges that are too hard, which looks unnatural. I`m usually very careful to leave white spaces.
Zhou Tianya. The Passing Setting Sun. 154x46cm
What is your attitude to opaque colors?
I hardly ever use opaque colors. If I need to create an opaque effect, as for a rough or heavy object, I use transparent paint to make a thick cover. Sometimes I mix acrylic paint with water until it`s very thin and use it as an underpainting for my watercolor work. The diluted acrylic paint is just as transparent as watercolor, and it won`t be washed away.
Your advice to young artists?
Don’t let fear of failure stifle your chance for success. Observe, plan, prepare—then let go and paint with confidence. For beginners sketching from nature is an especially important exercise.
I believe that it is one of the most important interviews I have at my blog so far. Robert Wade doesn`t need to be introduced to the International Watercolor World. Here is the interview...
What does give you the most inspiration? Are you looking or waiting for it?
If we wait for inspiration it will never come! I just keep on working and occasionally something special happens while I am painting. That’s when I see it and seize the opportunity to come up with a personal reaction to the subject.
Robert Wade. Have Nun Will Travel. 14x12`
What makes a painting an Art work – technical skills or something else? If a painting only displays the technical skills of the painter, then it is just a big BORE!. Emotion and feeling are the most important elements in my work and I look for them in the work of my students and other artists.
Robert Wade. Barrow Boys.14x11`
What is the part of imagination in your work? HUGE ! Imagination begins with the first urge to paint a particular subject and continues until the last brushstroke. If we paint everything just as it is then why bother? Might as well just take a photo. Imagination is the vital component without which a painting cannot live.
Robert Wade. Golf Scotland Study. 8x10'
Did you find watercolor or that media found you? I guess it found me when I was just 6 years old. Once it had me in its clutches it has never let me go....thank goodness. I still love it as much as I ever have.
Robert Wade. Marocco Gossip In TheSouk. 19x29"
Many of your figurative painting are made on location. Do you use your memory or sketches to paint groups of people that are constantly moving? On location I just invent the figures from my mind. (Here’s IMAGINATION at work!) People are never just sitting or standing right where you want them to be so it’s essential to do what the camera cannot do, put them in just the right places in the composition.
Robert Wade. Marocco. Light In The Souk.19x29"
I have noticed that you indulge to use opaque white sometimes. Do you have your own attitude to this matter or you are just relaxed about using white when it is necessary? A little white gouache can often just bring out and strengthen a highlight that may have been lost when painting. I’m a traditionalist, but as J. M. W. Turner used everything at his means to produce any effects that were important to the success of his painting, why not?. Isn’t that the most important thing? We shouldn’t ask “HOW ?” rather we should ask “WHY”?
Robert Wade. Grey Morning Staithes NthYorkshire.14x19"
Do you plan your work when you start a painting or you are just enjoying the process?
By failing to plan we are planning to fail ! Would an airline pilot ever take off without having created a flight plan? If he did then I wouldn’t want to be a passenger on that plane! If I have a pretty good idea of what my painting is all about my chances of success will be much brighter and I’ll enjoy the painting so much more.
Robert Wade. The Ship`s Painters. 19x29" 1980
Do you have some “must” colours in your palette? I couldn’t paint without Cobalt Blue and Raw Sienna.
Robert Wade. Gungha Din.12x9"
What is most important for successful watercolor painting: paper, colors or brush? Do you have some favorite brands? Waterford Rough is my current choice of paper and it allows me to have some degree of control over textures and brushstrokes. Of course the choice of colors on our pallet is critical, mine has evolved over a lifetime in watercolour. However I am not locked in to these hues, if something new comes on the market I will always try it, just in case it contains MAGIC! Brushes are personal, just find some that seem to belong in your hand. The synthetic white nylon brushes are available at a fraction of the price of Kolinsky Sable and are really the only brushes that I use these days.
Robert Wade. Singapore. The Sweeper.19x29"
Have there been some changes in watercolor world for the last 60 years? Have there been any changes for you personally?
Unbelievable changes in communication and teaching. Video and DVD for instance. Today we can sit in our studio and watch Charles Reid, John Yardley, David Curtis and practically every fine watercolorist in the world at work. Wouldn’t it have been incredible to see John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, John Sell Cotman and all of the old “greats” showing us just how they worked?
Robert Wade. Jerusalem. On The Via Dolorosa. 19x29"
There is a very impressive statement on your FB page: “Self employed for 60 years” that sounds like a dream for many artists. Do you have any advice for those artists who just want to be full time artists?
First and foremost “GET A PAYING JOB!!!” if possible in the Graphics. A regular income enables us to eat, feed and educate our family and enjoy the security of knowing there is money in the bank. Currently the Art World is at its lowest financial ebb for many years.... and I have been around in that world for a very long time now. In painting, apart from a chosen few, it’s a hand to mouth existence. The Financial rewards are few, but the personal rewards are great and beyond monetary estimation.
Robert Wade. Morning Lght On The Charles Bridge. 14x19"
In which countries in your opinion is the watercolor media the most developed and appreciated? Nowadays watercolor is bigger than it has ever been. It’s still miles behind in the acceptance of Major Galleries and that is a battle we’ll probably never win. However there are more wonderful watercolorists spread around in so many countries of the world and constantly increasing in number. Almost every day I discover yet another talented wielder of the brush and to me it’s so exciting to have been part of the spread of knowledge to the eager students of this most wonderful medium of all. America, United Kingdom and Australia have been to the forefront for many years but now China, Japan, India and many Asian countries have come into the Western style and with their traditional influences are right up there and raising the bar! Collectors and the art public are not slow to recognize quality work and the exhibitions of the leading aquarellists are very well attended in every country where the medium is practised.
RobertWade. China 1992. Washday. Guilin. 19x14"
When you teach watercolor painting what are the most important tips you give first of all?
First and foremost understand VALUES, without which a painting cannot exist. Drawing is also so important, the better you can draw then the better you will paint. In conclusion, PAINT, PAINT, PAINT! Constant playing with the medium will bring you confidence, touch and a better appreciation of the magical qualities of our beloved WATERCOLOR.