MESSAGE FROM ERIC
2020 Message From Eric:
Eric will be sharing his expertise and insights into watercolor painting to help you grow as an artist and find your own style. He will happily address any of your questions and talk about his own experiences gained since he started on this journey over 30 years ago.
Every month a new article will be published. You can also sign up to receive MESSAGE FROM ERIC as part of our Artists Newsletter HERE.
If you have a question that you would like Eric to answer, just send it to email@example.com with “Message from Eric” in the subject line.
January MESSAGE FROM ERIC
WHAT IS AERIAL PERSPECTIVE?
Aerial perspective is a natural phenomena — something that happens in nature. Even though a painting isn’t entirely dependent upon natural effects, in fact, it is preferable that it does not mimic nature, we artists draw upon principles of natural phenomena.
As objects recede from our vantage point, they become lighter in value and bluer in color. I believe it is because the yellow light spectrum drops out first with the blue rays remaining. This is most evident when standing on an elevated plane and viewing successive hillsides as they recede from our vantage point. Of course, this is easy to do in the Pacific Northwest.
As in all painting, we artist draw from nature for inspiration, but we are not beholden to it. I’ve seen many beautiful paintings where aerial perspective is not taken into consideration.
The only exception that I know of where this principle does not apply is in clouds. The white of the cloud tends to get warmer as it recedes from the viewer. The same probably applies to snow, but not having been around that much snow, I’m not sure. Nature always throws in some funny twists.
I was asked in a recent class if aerial perspective applies to other than landscapes, such as a still life set up. I am not aware of it being considered in such a way, but I don’t see anything wrong with it, and possibly it could work.
Keep your brush wet!
February MESSAGE FROM ERIC
WHAT TO DO WITH THAT BAD STROKE
I have recently become more aware of how to deal with those troublesome strokes – those shapes that appear on your painting that aren’t quite right. You may, of course, simply “erase” them with a brush of water, or at least soften them, but I have recently started to appreciate them.
Yesterday I had two awkward sky shapes, and my gut feeling was to get rid of them. However, I thought maybe they were really there for a purpose, and I should refrain from any correction at that time. I am glad I did, because I came back later and the strokes that followed on top mitigated the awkwardness; in fact, the troublesome strokes, after the additional strokes were overlaid, were exactly what I needed in that portion of the painting.
In other words, what appear to be erroneous strokes may be exactly what is needed. Our intuitive impulses need to be honored; if the stroke feels right at the time, regardless of how it may first appear, it will most likely be correct.
Keep your brush wet!
March MESSAGE FROM ERIC
I am writing this from my latest workshop in the country of Belize. Ann and I are discussing future workshop locations and I thought I might share with you how we determine them. We have several criteria that we feel need to be fulfilled:
Painting scenes of the local culture is comfortably and safely accessible with minimal distractions, preferably right outside the door of our lodging. This gives the students an opportunity to have a break in their room, should they want to, on a painting day.
We generally schedule several days off, so we appreciate a lodging location that offers plenty of cultural experiences: restaurants, shopping, and sometimes excursions.
Our lodging needs to be safe, clean, and moderately priced. We also choose a location that has the opportunity for several other painting locations within a 45 minute taxi or bus ride.
So as tempted we may be to look at resorts, they generally do not offer us the painting material of the local culture without a bus trip. They are also expensive.
So as you can see, we put a lot of time and energy into finding locations that we think will give our students the best painting and cultural experience.
Come join us in Switzerland, September of 2020, or in Belize in January 2021!
Keep your brush wet!
April MESSAGE FROM ERIC
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of traveling to Houston and picking out the award winners for an international show: WASH (Watercolor Art Society of Houston). I selected the show online several months previously and in conjunction with the final awards judging I conducted a week long workshop.
The workshop attendees were a delight and the new friendships made it very special. Southern hospitality and grace were displayed freely.
One afternoon I took the workshop attendees to the show and shared my award selection process. I think some of the students were surprised that some of the more realistic paintings, while getting into the show, were not award winners; and that some of what may appear to be less refined were selected instead.
Painting is never meant to be a replication. It is an interpretation of life before the artist. An understanding of design is paramount, and unfortunately, many realistic paintings lack this time honored discipline. Also, subject matter and a refined technique can hide a lack of design discipline to an uneducated eye. A superficial technique can easily be accepted through the influence of commercialism and the media.
The unknowing public can easily be fooled that a painting copied from a photograph represents reality.
So as I select award winners, I am looking for those artists who have the courage to paint with an appreciation of design concepts, even though their work may appear somewhat less refined than others. I am looking for artists willing to take risks to more deeply express themselves, over a slavish replication.
Paintings that hint of copying a photo— by hand, by a projection process, or a computerized digital interpretation—will have points taken away in my judging process. I want to see the artist’s interpretation, not a camera’s or a computer’s.
I want to honor those who are using their own sense of design, but I also want to even the playing field between those who draw freehand and those whose refined paintings are a projection of an image on the watercolor paper, traced and filled in. (This is the Elephant in the Room few competing artists want to talk about. Many influential artists come from a commercial background where projection is widely accepted — time is money!)
Some may interpret this to mean I don’t appreciate realism and detail in painting. On the contrary I do, but I want to see it well done with an appreciation for design and with freehand drawing.
I think it is possibly time to have an international show where no mechanical devices are allowed in the painting process. It may be time to even the playing field. I believe the great watercolorist Milford Zornes felt the same way. However, it would have to be on the honor system, and that could be problematic.
Keep your brush wet!