I’m so excited to introduce everyone to painter Elizabeth Boudreau! You can find Elizabeth’s work in her Etsy shop, Whimsical Weasels. You can also follow her on Instagram.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
Sure! My name is Elizabeth Boudreau. I’m a working artist in Athens, GA, creating illustrative wildlife paintings. I graduated in 2017 from the University of Georgia with my BFA in Drawing and Painting. Since my childhood growing up on a farm in the state of Washington, I have always held a special relationship with animals. In my adult life, that relationship has turned into one of creativity and compassion.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is travel. I love to see the world, visit obscure corners of the globe and experience the wildlife and culture. Many of my travels have resulted in projects during and after the trip. An example that comes to mind is my Costa Rican field guide book, created almost entirely during my stay and displaying the creatures observed in person. This past summer I had the joy of visiting South Africa, where I was spoiled with wildlife! The result: 72 art cards to result in one large composite poster.
You see, I love drawing and I love animals. It’s heartwarming to have the chance to pursue my passion.
What is life like in Athens, Georgia? Any favorite spots that inspire you?
Life after graduation here is a creative journey! I spend most of my days in my studio, creating personal and custom pieces. The area has many artist-friendly venues that showcase and bolster the careers of young artists. I recently developed a great relationship with Trio Athens, a gallery that shows and prints for local creatives. It’s also fun to see quirky art projects pop up around town, like knitted gnome trees that hide around unknown corners. It’s the spunk like this that keeps my love for Athens burning strong!
What is the process like behind creating your animal paintings – do you sketch, then paint? How do you go about finding references?
Typically, I begin by lightly sketching out the basic shapes of my subject, creating a composition that feels right. After the main sketch is laid down, I boldly delineate the subject in preparation for my favorite part…COLOR! My primary medium is gouache, sometimes layered with watercolor or marker.
The true delight in painting for me comes from troubleshooting. I adore the feeling of satisfaction when a troublesome area suddenly resolves with a resonating ‘ding’ from the light bulb in my mind. It is a constant process of layer, step back, observe, tweak, move on. It is so satisfying to see a piece come to fruition.
References for me are a staple, helping me create anatomy and structure in my figures. Most of my reference material comes from photos during travel.
What are some of your favorite art products/materials?
Oh, there are many great materials floating around! I will list below some staples in my studio, materials I heavily trust:
Any exciting paintings, projects or upcoming events in the works?
Yes! The studio is in full swing right now preparing for the DragonCon art show! This is my first year participating and I am very excited. A few commissioned pieces are in the works and always ready for more. I love to create and see the joy my art gives others.
It’s my pleasure to introduce painter Anne Ward! Please enjoy the interview and leave a comment at the end to let us know your thoughts. I encourage you to check out her website and subscribe to her email list.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
I’d always dreamed of being a painter. I remember hours spent sitting and looking at Time Life books with paintings by Impressionists. When I was about 11 years old I had a paper route so that I could earn money to buy the items needed for sketching that I read about in books I checked out from the library. I filled the walls of the room I shared with my sister with my endeavors. I was so lucky to have family and friends who championed my work. My Aunt Peg gave me my first set of oil paints when I was 15. I was beside myself with glee. To this day she still has my earliest paintings up in her home. I have 5 brothers and sisters and when we were growing up we didn’t have a lot of spare income, but my father worked at an airline which allowed us all to fly for free. My parents really valued travel and exposure to museums so I was incredibly fortunate to have seen so much of the world at a young age. I studied art in high school and continued on to UCLA where I chose to get a degree in history…but I was always drawing and painting whenever I had spare time.
After college I was so lucky to get a job working for a movie writer/director named Lawrence Kasdan. I was responsible for running his office, reading scripts, being on the set and being a gatekeeper to the busy demands on his creative time. I worked on a few movies in my time there and lived for nearly a year in Santa Fe working on a movie called Wyatt Earp and a year in Paris working on a movie called French Kiss. It was an incredible opportunity to deeply understand what goes into the creative process on a large scale. I taught my boss to learn to use a computer (this was indeed a LONG time ago!) so that he no longer wrote his scripts in longhand form on legal pads. I learned so much about focus and creative dedication and fun from him. All the while I worked there, I was saving money to support my dream of taking time off to finally learn to paint. I was still reading art instruction books and after 6 day work weeks on location, I would spend my Sundays studying art and painting. I sold my very first painting to a film coworker in Santa Fe and I was so thrilled.
After being in Paris for over a year I left my film production job to begin my dream of taking time off to paint. My parents had given me an outdoor easel and my boyfriend at the time urged me to bring it along on a weekend trip. We were in a small village in France. I must have worked easily 15 hours on that tiny attempt to capture light! By the end of the weekend it was pouring raining and a man with one arm held an umbrella for me to finish, people had brought me food and welcomed me into their homes, children had helped me with my clumsy attempts at speaking in French. I was hooked. The way an easel connects you to people and nature and the environment is such a special privilege! I realized that if I could do this I would live the happiest life ever. I quit my job in Paris, I returned to LA and within two weeks I had magically met a group of painters who had dedicated their lives to this ‘plein air’ thing. It was a somewhat unusual pursuit at the time to find people devoted specifically to plein air and I spent hundreds of hours outdoors learning from these generous artists.
So while I’m mostly self taught, I was so lucky to have been exposed to incredible painters who taught me exacting ways of seeing light. I began showing paintings and was fortunate to gain a following of collectors who supported me. I went through a divorce and painting was my anchor. With two children I realized that I had to figure out how to squeeze in painting. One of my mentors and a painter I greatly admire is Dan McCaw. He suggested that I should ‘always paint in my head’ when there wasn’t time to actually paint. Such good advice. I could be mentally prepping for the moment when I actually had time to paint. I read an article by another art hero of mine who eventually became a dear friend, Peggi Kroll Roberts. She described raising her kids and painting and setting up still lifes and painting small between loads of laundry. I began setting up my easel in the kitchen at night after the kids were asleep. While I didn’t have time to chase the light outdoors in true plein air fashion, I could grab whatever was in the fridge and set up ‘problems’…impossible color combinations or green on green, pink on pink etc. It forced me to see/question assumptions about colors and figure out where the actual chroma belonged. I was obsessed with taking the same objects and painting them indoors and then outdoors at various times of day to understand how light can transform even ordinary objects. Doing this allowed me to better understand color.
Now I am happily remarried to painter and author Ian Roberts. We share a studio and I am always inspired by his approach and patient allowing of a painting to progress. He is an amazing painter. Before anything heads out the door we discuss what might be popping out or distracting from the whole of the picture plane. I am dyslexic…so when I see a painting I see an abstract pattern of shape and color…Ian sees the ‘underneath’ of painting in the form of composition so I really am blessed to have that influence.
My children are older but I still set up still life on the back porch so that I can paint from life while also preparing meals. I am SUPER inspired by our beautiful garden and the vegetables and flowers we grow. My second love is pattern. So I have been making patterns to accompany my paintings and experimenting with putting them on bags, totes and fabric to use in my still life paintings. I love the idea of art being useful in the world so that even if someone can’t afford an original painting they could have something beautiful like a coffee mug that makes their day happy. I also have a few images that are reproduced and available online at Pottery Barn. Also, as a means of using my art to be of service in the world, I made an app that pairs my paintings which an intention for the day. It is free and has a simple meditation included to create more calm in a topsy turvy world. Its called i-intend on iTunes and has been downloaded by thousands of people around the world.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m SO inspired by pattern, light and color. I’m obsessed with infusing my work with the the joy and wonder I feel in our garden. I think that beauty is such a stabilizing force and I am always in pursuit of it. I find there is truth, integrity and absolute joy to witness things growing. It is humbling and powerful to feel connected to the growing cycle of things in the yard. A tiny seed becomes a carrot in 120 days. Amazing! A grasshopper that perfectly matches the color of a leaf on a lemon tree. That’s magical! Things that could easily be missed given the ‘important’ distractions of my phone. I’m inspired by bringing that experience of how I feel in nature to the walls of someone’s home. I’m using our daughters and the arrangement of light in our dining room as the backdrop for a painting I’m working on now. I think its important to use the truth of the things I love in my life as elements in paintings. I’m going to be incorporating more of my patterns into my paintings. I’m also inspired by painting on the Ipad and using it as a tool on days that I don’t have time to be in the studio. A daily practice of creating is so critical to my work.
What have been some of your favorite exhibitions that you’ve been featured in and why?
I once had a solo show based on a line in a book by Eckhardt Tolle about ‘spacious stillness’. That really is how painting feels to me. Its a wordless expansive feeling. The show was a series of outdoor still life paintings and some landscapes and moments where I had felt spacious stillness. An elderly neighbor who was no longer able to travel remarked ‘Thank you for taking me on that journey’. I was so moved by that. I’m always honored to show work at Marcia Burtt Gallery in Santa Barbara. Marcia has been one of my art heroes and part of me still can’t believe that I get to show my work alongside hers there! It’s also an honor when I have shown work with the California Art Club at their juried show. So many amazing painters.
What has been your experience with art associations? How can they be helpful for artists and their businesses?
I have been involved with the California Art Club which was founded in 1909. There are wonderful opportunities to go on paint outs and gain exposure to new ways of thinking and approaching work. When I was very new to painting, the club offered so many opportunities for exposure and submitting to shows. I think clubs and art associations are so valuable because making art can be a solitary endeavor. Its so important to find the people who inspire you along the way. I used to keep a binder of paintings I’d seen in magazines as ‘reminders’ of what made me really excited about painting. It helped me to figure out what and how I wanted to paint.
What have been a couple of your favorite projects and commissions over the years?
One of my favorite experiences was getting to help chef and restauranteur Suzanne Goin choose some of my paintings for her house. I love having the opportunity to do that and find images that resonate for people in their homes! I really admire Suzanne and all that she has created so that was a special experience. I also did a commission for my friend Laurie David of some of my kitchen counter/garden paintings. A lemon, an avocado and a radish…it was so fun to paint things I love for her beautiful home. Recently a dear friend and collector bought a large number of paintings of mine and Ian’s for her home. That made me so happy to imagine all those little snapshots of my life together in one environment.
Hello Everyone! It’s my joy to welcome back one of The Art Spectrum’s own, contemporary artist Melissa Mary Jenkins for a giveaway of one of her paintings! Melissa appeared on The Art Spectrum back in June of 2017, you can read the interview here. This month you have a chance to win the painting below! Followers of The Art Spectrum also have access to this exclusive coupon code to use in Melissa’s Etsy shop: ARTSPECTRUMCOUPON for 15% off.
“Beneath the rust and grime which dulls the shine of our weathered hearts, joy patiently waits to be rediscovered.”
John Mark Green
Joy has been resting patiently for years under the weight of chronic illness but I have rediscovered the shininess of joy underneath the rust of fatigue and pain. As I continue to heal, I have been able to snowshoe and cross-country ski around our our farm yards and forests, and I have been struck by the rusty-burgundy colour of the dogwood trees surrounding me.
This painting began with layers of rusty-burgundy-pink with bits of white and grey. Pastels, charcoal, India Ink and pigment liner form the final layers.
*Paper is cold pressed 140 lb watercolor paper
*Painting measures 5×7 inches
*Signed and dated on the back
*This is an original painting, NOT a print
*Frame not included
Here is an update from Melissa:
This past Autumn I began to heal from Chronic Lyme Disease and a co-infection called Bartonella. As I feel the “fog” lifting, I have had a reawakening of sorts. I am completely and utterly inspired by my natural surroundings and have rediscovered the vibrancy of color in the farm fields, forests and pine trees surrounding our old stone farmhouse. I have begun to sketch outside and take daily adventures with our puppy Mylo. I have learned to pinpoint the lines in nature and translate this movement into abstract landscape paintings. I feel as though I have finally “come into my own” as an artist. Instagram still plays a very important role in my art journey, but I feel that it plays a different role in my life. The connections that I have made have taken precedent over looking for inspiration in other people’s artwork. This has been a turning point in fighting off the ever-invasive “imposter syndrome”. I feel as though the perfect way to describe my work is as follows: Inspired by natural surroundings, my paintings reflect the fluidity of the seasons and the movement of my soul in nature.
Some reviews of Melissa’s work:
“The canvas is just stunning and the customer service was impeccable, beyond expectation! Melissa sent me previews and snapshots of her progress which made me appreciate the hard work and care she puts into each custom creation! It was wrapped so nicely and securely, and even included a personalized note and gift tag. Really special! Highly recommended! Thanks Melissa!”
“Melissa was a joy to work with. She began to paint immediately. She answered my questions quickly and cared that the finished product was what I wanted. My beautiful, original painting now hangs above my bed.”
“SO IN LOVE WITH THIS PAINTING! Melissa is a unique artist and is very gracious to returning customers. Thank you again!!”
“I am soooo pleased with the service I received from the boutique owner. This was sincerely above and beyond! The package was soooo nice. A lot of attention to details! And the piece of art is gorgeous! Thank you so much!”
I’m so excited to introduce Annie Tarasova from the DreamyMoons Etsy shop. Annie is 21, from Australia, and has a beautiful and successful shop. You can follower her on Instagram and watch her videos on Youtube.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with your art and business?
I have been drawing, reading and creating ever since I was very little. All throughout high school I knew I wanted to go to university to study either art or design, however at the very last minute I changed my mind at the fear of too much competition in the art and design businesses. Instead, I went on to study health science. It was wildly interesting, however after two years I realized something was missing. I didn’t have any time to express and explore my creative side – the side I treasured the most since childhood. I felt like it was leaving me.
I took a break, started traveling, and opened my Etsy shop DreamyMoons which very successfully took off and filled my life with more purpose than ever. I made a difficult decision to leave Uni to follow my heart and intuition. I knew that I needed to pour all my energy into creating.
How has social media impacted your business?
Social media made a huge impact on DreamyMoons. Before opening my Etsy shop I already had a following as I absolutely loved expressing myself through photography and videos. I am so thankful for the audience I already had on Instagram that followed every bit of my journey and supported my business from the beginning. I feel like nowadays there is no better way to promote your business other than on social media – it is what we check if not every day, then most days.
I draw my inspiration for my art from our beautiful Universe. Through my art I am exploring the divine connection between us and the world around us. I am very interested in astrology and celestial bodies – I find it unbelievable that we live on a blue ball rotating around a star in nothingness. My artworks often contain stars, planets and moons.
I wanted to create something more than just a calendar. Year of Growth is a 2018 lunar calendar which shows what phase the moon is in every day of the year. Most importantly, the reason why I chose to call it “Year of Growth” is because every month has it is own goal and/or intention, whether it is meditation, spending more time in nature or writing. Each monthly goal is designed to help your journey to opening your mind and heart.
I travel. That is just as important to me as painting. I can not stay creative and productive if I am home for a long time. I have this crazy urge to travel. It is the best feeling coming back home from a trip, feeling fresh and inspired and motivated to make things happen. It really helps that my partner is a photographer – if he is away for a job overseas, he is able to take me. Travel is a break from expressing myself on paper, however not a break from creativity. I still love to take photos and film videos and share them on my social medias.
I’m excited to share these 10 awesome Skillshare classes with you! I have partnered with Skillshare to offer all of my readers a free trial of their Premium account, for an entire month! Imagine how much you can learn in that time! After that, a Premium account is only $10 – that’s cheaper than a Netflix account at this point.
“Thank you Ana for creating such an informative and helpful class. I’ve watched this class several times ….as every time I watch it, I learn a bit more about the brands and types of watercolors (I’m still a newbie to this medium in many ways). You inspired me to purchase Jess Greenleaf’s Explorer Watercolor panset which you designed with her (Greenleaf and Blueberry). I can’t wait to start using them ! Always looking forward to your next classes Ana. A pleasure to watch and learn from you !!!” – Sharon Rego
“I learned so much from this class, mostly intuitive, and hard to find information. Ana is an excellent teacher; watching her and listening to her talk about the different paints was so informative.” – Meg Cupman
Sandra Bowers is a Freelance Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer based in BC, Canada. In this classshe covers basic techniques to help get you started with watercolor painting. You have the materials down, now to the techniques!
“Ana Victoria is a super talented artist but she´s also a huge teacher. I´ve watched so many online art classes and she is the only one who made it looks like the easiest thing to do in the world and I really got it. I´m so happy I found her. <3” -Carmen M.
“Fantastic class and teacher, clear and unhurried explanations and a lot of real time examples. You do not feel she is rushing to get the class over with like some teachers. I have learnt so much from this class.” -Caron S.
This classis taught by Melissa Lee Shaw, an illustrator and watercolor painter from Northern California. It’s the perfect class for beginners who’d like to start painting portraits and need to learn how to mix colors for skin tones. Here is one of her sample projects where she asks students to paint a portrait using the techniques they’ve learned in the class:
“I think this class does a great job of breaking down how to mix skin-tones with watercolor and how to color skin-tones in general. Before this class, I had no idea how to color skin, despite looking up several sources before this, but now it is starting to make sense to me 🙂 It is not overly complicated at all and I think this class gives you a great tool-set to experiment and play with coloring your own skin-tones in your drawings :)” -Mikayla K.
“Very helpful, I have been trying to master skin tones in watercolor for awhile now. The instructor shares the best colors to use and demonstrates step by step how to get the desired finish. I highly recommend this class.” -Karen E.
This class is taught by Elisa Choi Ang, a drawing and painting teacher from Singapore. She enjoys sketching and painting her life, as well as teaching others how to do the same. Her class teaches students to narrate their life through watercolor and ink sketches.
“Just what you need to start sketching right away! Not too much information for a beginner to get scared to draw, not too much instruments needed to make it harder to get and take everywhere. I’ve dreamt of such a course for ages! Thank you!” -Elena D.
“This is a really great class for anyone who is nervous about starting a habit of sketching from life. I took this class because I want to do this more, and I am going on a vacation this summer that I am really hoping to capture in a trip sketchbook. With the tools that I have learned in this class and the confidence from Elisa’s kind words, I’m sure I’ll have a nice sketchbook from my trip (as well as before and after 🙂 ).” -Sarah D.
This class is taught by Olga Shevyakova, a graphic designer, part-time illustrator, part-time styled photographer. She takes her students step by step through the process of how to scan their watercolor paintings, edit them in Photoshop, and vectorize them in Illustrator. Very helpful for artists who would like to make prints of their work, or sell on platforms like Redbubble or Zazzle.
“This was a very simple and very helpful technique on how to give your own artwork new life in digital format using Photoshop and Illustrator. Great Job. Well worth watching and taking notes.” -Mary T.
“Easy to follow and gives step by step instructions. The transcript is much appreciated. I’ll need to look at it when I actually open Photoshop and give it a try. I learned new techniques although I’ve been digitizing my watercolors for sale on Etsy for months now! Thanks, Olga! I look forward to taking more classes from you.” -Anna K
This class is taught by commercial illustrator Amarilys Henderson. In the class she goes over the basics of brushes to use in watercolor painting so that her students will be confident in approaching their work. Amarilys’s cheat sheet for brushes:
“Thank you for the short and very informative class. As someone who is starting with watercolor painting, I found the descriptions and practical demonstrations very helpful. Looking forward to watching your other watercolor classes. Cheers!!” -Atul K.
“Super useful class to get acquainted with your material. One size doesn’t fit all! knowing the performance of the brushes make for better choices when painting. Thanks Amarilys!” -Diana S.
“Peggy Dean is a phenomenon! Her skills are awesome, her positive energy is contagious, and her teaching style is fun and practical. I’ve taken every one of her courses, and can’t wait for the next one! I highly recommend following her on Instagram as well, as she post so many inspiring works of art.” -Greer D.
“This was a great class! I’ve taken several of your other classes but this is the first lettering class using an actual brush that I’ve taken. It was very instructive and I like to see your examples in real time. It gives time to actually see the letter formation. Thank you for an eye opening experience!” -Sharon M.
This class is taught by Julia Henze, a freelance illustrator, letterer and urban sketcher living and working in Bergschenhoek, The Netherlands. Her class is for artists who aren’t sure where to start with urban sketching in ink and watercolor, or want to continue to practice. Some of Julia’s work:
“Love her breakdown of how to get the proportions right. I always forget to do that or it never really crosses my mind when I’m actually making the attempt to sketch something. It’s easy to follow and very encouraging.” -Grace T.
“I loved that we got to watch you draw/outline/paint along with us. Drawing buildings has always been such an intimidating task for me, but the way this class broke it down made me feel much more comfortable and confident about giving it a shot!” -Katie M.
“I think this was the most amazing class. It was hugely inspirational and changed the way I thought about mixing colour. It made me far more experimental.” -Lesley G.
“This class was so much fun! It’s really practical and the projects are so colorful and encouraging for beginners and for anyone who might be a little intimidated by watercolors. The Intuitive Mixing Exercise is very practical, fun and yields incredible results. I’m gonna make a habit of doing it whenever I feel stuck or un-creative, it’s sure to get you out of the dumps! Thank you Yasmina! You are a wonderful teacher and I’m looking forward to taking all your other classes.” -Lucia S.
A few weeks ago a friend was telling me about this crazy new paper called Yupo paper – I know, sounds like a dog-sitting service or something – but really, it’s so fascinating! Yupo paper is actually a 100% synthetic paper that’s waterproof and recyclable!
So, I decided to walk into the local art store this week and grab myself a 5×7 pad of this stuff to try out. The first thing I noticed was how strangely smooth it was – it didn’t quite feel like plastic, but it also didn’t feel like paper either. If you have as much fun touching different materials as I do, you will love this stuff!
I also learned just from my own research that Yupo paper doesn’t tear, which is awesome! It means for the clumsy person like myself, you don’t have to worry as much about your expensive piece of watercolor paper tearing after you do that clumsy thing you’re so good at doing. It’s also supposedly very durable, built to last lifetimes, and you can wipe it clean if you need to during your artistic process.
You can also:
Die cut with it.
AND it comes in different gradients of translucency, or super hard white.
Use virtually any medium on it.
Some things I learned from trying it out myself:
Ink sticks REALLY well to it.
Watercolor takes awhile to dry (I mean, it takes awhile to dry on regular watercolor paper too, so that’s nothing new), but when it does dry, the colors are insanely vibrant.
Watercolor looks a little different then it does on regular watercolor paper – it’s got inky, cloudy quality that I’m finding hard to explain.
It doesn’t buckle at all, like watercolor paper does.
So, without further terrible explanation of what the stuff is and how much I loved it, here were my results!
Yupo paper can be purchased in most art stores, and I would definitely recommend buying some if only just to test it out for yourself! Because I love Amazon Prime, and I know there are a lot of people out there that love it as well, that’s probably the top pick I would go with if you’re just wanting to test the waters. You can buy a pad of Yupo 5×7 paper for only $6.79 on Amazon! Here are some other options you can find on Amazon – these are all Legion brand (that’s the one I tested) but there are other brands out there:
If you’ve ever used Yupo paper please leave a comment about it! What mediums do you use on it? Do you ever use the translucent one, and why? Is it better to get a pad or one of the large rolls? If you have pictures or a shop, please leave your link with your comment!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
I’m just an artist approaching her 40s with a lot of wanderlust and a rekindled desire to return to making art into play. I have a creative job (that I love—senior graphic designer for my local Girl Scout Council) so I spend a lot of time looking at art as work. Work that I genuinely enjoy, but work nonetheless, and it bears the sometimes tiring and stressful mindset of “this is something I have to do to be an adult and pay the bills.“
I missed doing art for fun. I had kind of forgotten how to do art for fun. Before my current design job, I did a lot of freelance design and illustration while working other full-time jobs. If I was doing art, it was saddled with the baggage of needing to make money on it. I never really made art just for myself anymore, I was always creating for the client or for what I thought my audience wanted. And while I had once thrived in this mindset, it just wasn’t working for me anymore.
Happily, things changed. I was able to trade up to an in-house design position, with the luxury of a 9-5 schedule and an income that I can modestly live on. I suddenly had free time! To do my own art! But I didn’t, at least not right away, because it still felt like work. I’ve been spending the past couple years figuring out how to experience creativity and art as play again. Learning how to get away from the idea that my art has to make money, or be for someone else to enjoy. I’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s still a constant battle to keep myself out of the “work” mindset.
What does your creative thought process look like to create your work? What are your favorite materials to work with?
As part of my current creative journey, I’ve been discovering more about what I like to paint, and what kind of processes and techniques are actually fun for me. I love to play with color palettes and form, so bright flowers and beautiful landscapes have been a great source of inspiration, and I look for scenes with distinctive shapes and colors. I start my paintings very loosely and create large areas of color to map out my composition. I start light and work darker as I start to fill in smaller shapes and define details. And as the final step, I add line work in ink, watercolor, or white gouache. I use the forms as a guide, but I also let my lines travel with the flow of the paint. I love doing detail work and intricate lines, and this method lets me enjoy the process of mark making rather than worrying about where the lines go. It’s as ok to line outside of the colors as it is to color outside of the lines.
Watercolor is my favorite medium because it lends itself so well to creating both big lush, organic strokes and delicate, intricate lines. The portability and easy clean up are also a plus, and I like to carry a little watercolor kit with me in case inspiration strikes.
What has been one of your favorite creative projects or works of art that you’ve made and why?
“Sitka Tidepool” – it is one of the first paintings that I did in this style, and I was really pleased with how it came together. I love the deep, vibrant color palette and the variety of shapes and textures that I got to paint. As a younger artist I was frequently basing the success of a piece on how photo realistic it was, or how closely it matched my reference material. That perfectionism really held me back as an artist, it made me afraid to experiment, I’d get frustrated if I couldn’t meet the impossible expectations I was placing on myself. With this painting, I consciously gave myself permission to just play and have fun with it, and not care if I messed it up. I used my photo reference as inspiration rather than limitation, and as a result, I was really able to lose myself in the joy of painting and creating it. When I look at it, besides enjoying it visually and aesthetically, I remember the experience of painting it.
Do you listen to music while you create? What are your current favorites?
I’m almost always listening to music, or lately audiobooks and podcasts, while I paint. Some artists that are currently in heavy rotation in my playlists are BOY, Miner, Sara Hartman, Dessa, Mike Doughty, and the Decemberists. I’m a Spotify addict because I listen to everything from the 60s and 70s rock that my parents introduced to me to indie/alternative folk to contemporary pop. I usually like something a little more upbeat when I’m painting, something that makes me feel energized.
It is my pleasure to introduce Taylor Mason from the Mason Makers Etsy shop! Taylor and her husband Ryan are both designers living in Portland, Oregon and run their Etsy shop together, please visit their shop and their website to show some love after the interview! You can also follow Taylor on Instagram @taylormasondesign.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
I am a graphic designer and painter living in Portland, OR. Art has always been fascinating to me, as a kid I played movies in the background and poured over library books, trying to replicate the sketches I studied. I was in love with the magic of creating, to see a pencil sketch come to life and create an illusion on paper was mesmerizing to me.
Today my passion for drawing and painting has only continued to progress. I love painting in oils and gouache. I primarily create landscapes and animals from my travels. I love plein air painting as well, there is something peaceful and challenging about being in the middle of nature and attempting to capture the light and colors in the moment.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your oil paintings? What draws you to painting in miniature?
My inspiration for my paintings comes primarily through my travels. Locations such as Wyoming, Maui, Canada, California and Montana offer sweeping fields, large open skies, mountains, desert plateau’s, lava fields and rainforests. There is so much variation in nature and I find inspiration everywhere I visit.
I decided to paint in miniature when I ran across interesting wood rounds in a craft store. I like how small they are and how painting or staining the edges can mimic the frames of larger classical paintings. I’ve also found that people enjoy owning smaller, more affordable pieces, in contrast to larger commissions.
How did your series on Maui come into being?
My Maui series came to be through my trip to Hawaii last spring. I’ve visited the island several times, but on this trip because I’ve been more focused on painting landscapes, my eyes were more attuned to noticing details I hadn’t before. One thing I enjoy is the variety of climates in a relatively small area. Visiting volcanoes, rainforests, coastlines and wildlife provided me with an abundance of inspiration, and led to this series.
Can you speak to the creative partnership between you and your husband?
I met my husband Ryan through the graphic design program at our university. His humor and love for drawing really captured my attention. Today we enjoy sharing creative time side-by-side, sitting at our desks in the evenings as he draws comics and I sketch or paint. We also enjoy creative days outdoors where I paint en plein air and he sketches beside me. Ryan challenges and encourages me on a daily basis, helping me with my compositions and not letting me take shortcuts. I’m thankful to have a spouse who values creativity just as much as I do and enjoy pursuing our passions together.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
I just participated in Art Appreciation Day along with 20 other artists at Ball Creek Elementary School in Conover, NC and I got to show and talk about my art with several different classes. I encouraged the kids to ask questions and several asked me when I “started” being an artist. My answer to that is that I have always been an artist at heart. It is something I cannot turn off.
I remember as a child going up to our attic with the drop-down ladder and looking through my dad’s old sketch books. He drew when he was in the Navy and was a creative person. I always loved to draw. One year for Christmas I asked for an art kit. It was like lighting a jet engine. I loved playing with the drawing pencils, paper and paints. However, I wasn’t encouraged to pursue art. My mom later told me it was because she didn’t think I could make a living at it.
I went to college as an adult for graphic design and graduated with a BA. During college I could not get enough of the art courses. I never really worked in graphic design, more desktop publishing, administrative and promo. I even became a published writer. But I continued to create on the side as I raised my family. About six years ago after losing my job I worked as a subcontractor for a silhouette artist friend who had developed a line of pet silhouette ornaments.
I assembled them and they sold very well seasonally. I still sell those ornaments today. It was that experience that showed me what great and in-demand market pets are. I am an animal lover myself and I started experimenting with not only selling those ornaments online but developing my own line of art and artisan gifts. I have a strong animal focus.
About three years ago after running my Etsy shop and my Amazon handmade shop I felt it was time to jump off the cliff and quit my day job, set my writing aside and pursue art full-time. I’ve done a lot of studying to learn how to market what I do and each year I gain a little more knowledge and grow my business a little more which includes teaching classes locally.
Included in that development is working with glass. I’ve always been fond of working with recycled things into my work so I began playing with recycled wine bottles. Eventually it led to getting a dual-media kin which can do glass and ceramics. And though I do some ceramics, they are usually small pieces like jewelry and I tend to gravitate more to glass. Last year I got a grant in order to take a course on making fused glass boxes.
I have also started experimenting with 2-D art and prints and am working on developing products for art licensing – getting my work on products. These are both new ventures so it remains to be seen how well I will do. I love learning new techniques so I’m always trying out new mediums. Most of my work now is animal themed or glass, but every now and then I will work in something else just for the creativity of it.
What does your artistic process look like for a painting? What materials do you like to use?
I am fond of acrylic paints and mixing medias. Most recently I have experimented with acrylics, alcohol inks and colored markers. Before creating a work, I usually have an idea in mind I want to go with, then I research images, sometimes taking my own pictures or finding them online. I don’t use the images directly but may study them and draw my own based on them. Then I plan out the design on canvas or paper figuring out where the components will go and how I will get them on there.
Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what do you like to listen to?
Sometimes I do but not always. It tends to be classic rock: Moody Blues, Elton John, and an eclectic mix on Pandora….
Are there any current or future projects that you’re excited about?
I am in a new artist co-op gallery in Hickory, NC called Trade Alley Art. I like the challenge of creating a new work or works for the displays so that keeps me on track for creating. Also, coming up for new designs for art licensing is one of my goals for the new year. The Christmas season tends to get really hectic, especially the on-line sales, so once those die down I will have time for more creating and planning.