Ink & Wash Viewing for Inktober

I don’t really have an ink and wash play list on my YouTube channel so I thought I would create one here of sorts where you can see at a glance the episodes I created using ink and wash technique with a brief description allowing you to pick and choose what you might like to watch.

My latest episode. This video capitalizes on the technique of fully rendering the subject with pen and ink needing only limited spot color from watercolor. Done with dip pen and pen brush in a hot press watercolor sketchbook.

A recent episode using ink and wash for a bird painting. The dip pen ink work here was more limited and relied heavily on watercolor technique to complete the painting. This was done in a cold press watercolor journal.

This video shows me doing a head study for what I hope to be a larger finished painting. The ink was minimal and actually added later to the watercolor study, which is a technique used less often but no less valid.

These three videos were all part of a sketching and painting trip I took to Charleston, SC. All use varying amounts of ink line but relied more heavily on watercolor painting for color and shading.

This Mill is a small journal ink and wash piece I did for one of my watercolor journals. I did most of the rendering in pen and ink then added color back in the studio.

In this episode I talk about minimal gear needed for outdoor location sketching then do a quick ink and wash tree sketch, a technique perfect for catching quick sketches on location. This video demonstrates the technique of adding ink after painting.

The first YouTube video I did on ink and wash. This journal painting uses a middle of the road approach dividing the rendering between ink line rendering and some simple color.



Seeing Beyond Bob Ross

bob_rossLet me start by fully acknowledging the debt of gratitude the recreational art world owes Mr. “Happy Trees” Bob Ross. He got people painting who never would have dared pick up a brush on the best of days. Why? Because he made art technique accessible. He deciphered the complex with “light-bulb” art moments and gave aspiring painters…wait for it…a formula. Aah yes! The notorious painting “formula”, heralded by hobby “fun” artists as genius and scorned by the high brow “fine art” snobs as cliché and misleading.

Fun Art vs Fine Art

Bob understood that art technique that was entertaining, easy to digest and accessible to the masses absolutely had to be dispensed in a formulaic way. Its the secret to his success. His simple formulas for painting clouds, mountains, trees, shrubs and water, launched many beginners past the early, likely-to-give-up, frustration stages, landing them gently on the garden path of enjoyment. Fun art, yippee! And for many recreational artists, this is more than good enough. So be it. And why not? Art can be fun at all levels not to mention very satisfying and therapeutic. However, for the artist determined to journey on in their development, and there are many, the inevitable question becomes, “what next?” At this level, the art snobs are right. Mr. Ross can only open the door and teach you baby steps. For the more serious student, Bob’s lessons can be a bit misleading by treating subjects as generic rather than striving for a unique artistic vision.

The Fork in the Road

When I started my YouTube channel just over two years ago, I never expected to find the high level of formulaic indoctrination that art instructors like Bob Ross would leave behind. Artists like Terry Madden did the same for watercolorists, in my opinion, reinforcing the idea that all levels of art development can be had through clever, but simple tricks, hacks and formulas. BUNK! It just isn’t the case! The artist who may have mastered all of Mr. Ross’ techniques, for example, soon discovers the fork in the road with one path moving forward and the other looping back on itself like a cul de sac.

Art as a Journey NOT a Destination

Ask any accomplished artist (painter, photographer, actor, musician, etc.) how they did it and most answers will boil down to one thing primarily – embarking on a journey of self instruction and discovery. A serious art student never stops being inspired and learning from other great artists, but eventually they begin to learn things that are unique to them and cannot necessarily be taught by other artists, first mastering their medium, then finding their own sight and making discoveries on their own. Generic formulas fail in such cases. Many formal art schools recognize this and cut to the chase by forcing students to rise in their artistic development through practice, some critique and self reflection. Sadly this often does not entirely work either, especially for teaching them how to master the medium. The answer, for an artist seeking to go farther, lies somewhere in between technical formula and individual artistic vision.

The Formula for All Things Art

Bob Ross was a genius for sure, but only because he discovered those simple formulas, and then, for the enjoyment of others, sacrificially sought to teach the masses in order to get a brush in their hand. His goal was not to create great art but to create joy through learning the process of painting. Who am I to argue. So what am I saying after all these words? Art development starts that way, by learning techniques, processes and yes, a few tricks and formulas. Granted, it can happily remain there for many, but eventually, for those who wish to move higher, one must look beyond the generic tree, cloud or mountain. Art development becomes a journey of improving vision and perception. Its a process of discovering how to look, see and express that sight through a shape, a color, a composition, a subject, or a harmonious relationship that you never noticed before. Artistic seeing isn’t instantly learned. Its progressive and ongoing. Formulas are artistically blind. Seeing requires more intent looking and looking improves when the vision is repeatedly expressed as art. Though not an easy formula to define, THIS is the next step – look, see, express, take a fresh look, repeat. If I could leave behind as a legacy a formula that artists would follow, this would be it. I still feel like I’m in the beginning stages of this step myself, but oh what a ride! The developmental dividends are huge, and for me, thats as fun as any “fun” art anyone else every invented.


Gear Obsession Intervention

funky-design-icon_GJpDk6Uu_LStop it alright! Just stop. The madness and the addiction has to end. Ok, no it doesn’t actually. Not completely anyway. I’m addicted too and as addictions go I could do a lot worse, but I wanted to sound semi serious for a split second.

What in the Sam Hill am I talking about?! Our beloved art gear! We’re all obsessed aren’t we? Yeeesss, don’t deny it. I can see the 500 questions on the tip of your tongue right now. What brush is that? What brand? What size? What paint is that? What paper is that? Where can I buy it? What hand soap did you use before you started?

No Mo FOMO

I get it. Especially you beginners new to watercolor (or painting in general). You need info, not platitudes and fortune cooking sayings. BUT! in your journey to discover more about watercolor, or any medium, don’t let gear obsession take over your developmental fears. There’s actually a clinical term for this you know, its called FOMO (fear of missing out) and it takes many forms. If that fear takes over, you start missing out on the real skill development fun. I am the first to admit, I love to obsess over gear sometimes, but more because I love to get new stuff and try it out. However, if you let gear obsession feed the lie that you can’t paint really well until you have the exact, right stuff you’re missing out already. Thats right, you’re already at the point you feared. Moving forward in your artistic development is NOT gear related as sure as I’m sitting here on my plump little behind.

Obsess Over This!

Find out just enough about the materials you need to get “decent” brushes, paper and paint and then get to painting. Go ahead and obsess over gear if its for curiosity and experimentation’s sake and you have the money to do so, but not because of FOMO. Far better to obsess over mastering that next cool technique or skill. Master painters can take the materials you have and think are crap and paint you an unbelievable painting, and if they used their preferred gear for the same painting, I doubt you could tell the difference. They can tell because they have the experience to notice subtle differences, most of which play to their preferences and not the results.

Understand me well. I’m not saying gear makes no difference at all, but it makes far less difference than you think. The question I should get but rarely do is, “why are you using that brush, paint or paper.” A far more instructive question than, “what is that?”

I Did a Doodle and I Don’t Care!

hand-drawn-abstract-background-vector-illustration_MkTCJGuO_LHave you doodled lately? Well you should and regularly at that. I saw a Stefan Bauman video (below) a few months ago and it struck a cord. Like most people, I think a sketchbook is just a sketchbook, right? Something you draw in and use to try to improve through practice or just draw anything that strikes your fancy. Simple. Or is it? Actually, there is a lot of negative psychology associated with regular sketching in a sketchbook. What do I draw? How often should I draw? My sketches look terrible. Shouldn’t my book be a gallery of my best drawing work? blah, blah, blah. Welcome to the doodle sketchbook.

I’m convinced that all artists should have a sketchbook that they set aside for inconsequential doodling. Let me ‘splain. What happens when you doodle? You’re usually doing something else like talking on the phone or listening to boring conversation right? You don’t think much about what you’re doodling, you just draw. What happens when you’re done? The envelope, back of the napkin or edge of your note taking eventually goes in the dumper. Who cares? Enter the doodle sketchbook. Have at your disposal at least one sketchbook designated for “who cares” doodling. Not a really nice or expensive book just any old cheap drawing pad. The drawings can still be purposeful or directed towards specific subjects or practice like any regular sketchbook, the difference is, its more like a scratchpad you keep around but assign no artistic value. You aren’t trying to create great art and you don’t care about the results. This is KEY. In fact, If you’re intimidated by sharing your work, you should probably just tell yourself in advance that this book won’t be shown to anybody. That frees you from the hesitation of getting started or the angst of having your work judged. Bottom line? Your drawing will improve day by day because you’re more likely to draw. No kidding. Keep the book in tact and when you reach the last page you might be amazed at how far you’ve come.


More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte

MoreThanLikenessIf you’ve frequented the fine art or painting section of your local book store, you’ve likely seen one of Mary Whyte’s Books. At least here in the Southern United States her books are a common sight. Watercolor Artist Mary Whyte may not be on the lips of every professional art connoisseur drawing breath, but something tells me that she will be spoken of more and more in years to come (If only by us “real folk.” Sorry art snobs. That probably doesn’t refer to you.) And in those years to come I wonder if we may one day speak of Mary as we now do wildly popular American artists like Andrew Wyeth. You know with that same reverential, wide eyed, understanding nod that makes us feel like we know at least a little something about art. “Oh yeah. that Andrew Wyeth, he’s the best.” But lets not trivialize her work. I have my reasons why I think the air around Mary’s work is rare. I may not be an expert on what makes notable artists notable in the years to come, but it won’t surprise me if Mary ends up as one of them. Who am I kidding, she’s probably half way there already.

Mary Whyte began her artistic life as many of us aspiring artists do, displaying evident talent early on, accompanied by an idealistic passion to pursue it, but thats where the similarities end for most of us. While real life and distraction often brush our grand art dreams aside, Mary persisted, was prolific and sought to infuse her work with key ingredients, namely story and meaning. Her art journey has been almost relentless in that pursuit. Ironically, she found some of those stories strewn right across her path, not because they were obvious, but because she was looking intently for them. Does art like this ring a bell? Oh yeah, thats right, Andrew Wyeth. Ok, so the styles are completely different and perhaps there are many other artists I could more closely compare her to, but both Mary’s and Andrew’s work present visual narratives that vibrate with intimacy and authenticity. Iconic artists that elevate past obscurity, past snobbish pretense and stroll unapologetically across the popular art stage, have discovered that telling meaningful stories with art, about places and lives we never knew existed, embeds those images into our souls. And when its done as prolifically and masterfully as Mary does it, a pedestal rises up to meet that body of work.

More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte is the latest of books about her work. While the other 6 books either present artistic process, instruction, or focus on a specific collection of works, this book is a larger overview of her life, her artistic journey and a good cross section of her artistic projects through the years, not to mention deftly voiced descriptions of the images, compositions and sources for her inspiration thanks to art historian Martha R. Severens. In short, its a good art read, especially for anyone ever wondering what sets apart merely good artists from really important ones.

Mary Whyte’s Website

Artist Mary Whyte’s Labor of Love – CBS Sunday Morning Video



Sharing Skills on Skillshare

Well, I’ve gone and made myself a workshop. Aside from the Strathmore workshops I did earlier in the spring this is my first, and my first paid workshop. Its not long, about 53 minutes total running time for all segments combined. I hope you’ll go and check it out. (For Patreon supporters, this content has also been shared there for everyone at the $5 level or above.)

Here is my Skillshare workshop link and first time subscribers using this link to join will get their first 3 months for only .99 cents.

skillsharewoods

Why Skillshare?

In short, its reasonably priced and easily accessible for the participant plus user friendly for me, the teacher, making it a good workshop starting point. It doesn’t require that I design lengthy, involved classes, and likewise does not present you with a major time commitment for learning. Its right for where I currently am in this process of sharing my watercolor passion in extended format. This platform was recommended to me by several people and it also seemed a good fit for my YouTube audience who’ve been asking for paid extended content but don’t want to shell out a ton in expensive workshop fees. It also provides me the added benefit of being able to add class projects and allows students to share their projects and start up class discussions. The value is definitely there for my followers since you can also access tons of other instructional content, possibly not even related to art. Simply specify your instructional preferences and you’re presented with tons of learning options, all included for the same monthly price.

Patreon Supporters Please Note

For the foreseeable future this content will usually be duplicated on Patreon. Or I’ll provide free access to the Skillshare workshop. This access may vary depending on support level, so I’m not sure how that will play out exactly yet, but if you are a Patreon supporter and not interested in joining Skillshare for other content, wait a bit to see what I post as part of your rewards before also signing on to Skillshare.

Thanks for your support everyone and Happy Painting!

Steve