Hi, I’m Sandra Strait, aka molossus, aka rooibas, aka myfeetshowit, from Fairview, Oregon. When I first got into social media I thought it would help if I had a different name for the various forums that I was in. It didn’t. To this day, I have ‘new’ friends who suddenly realize they’ve known me for years. I’ve also been accused of stealing my own artwork several times.
Before I continue, I want to let you know I’m holding a giveaway of Stonehenge Aqua paper for the people who comment on this post. Details are at the end of this post!
I’ve never had a formal education in art, just my 10,000+ hours of practice. I started out with school notebook paper and a cheap Bic pen as soon as I could hold one. Over the years, the paper got finer and the pens got fancier and I started using other mediums as well.
When I was drawing, people would say that my work looked like a painting. When I did oil painting, I was told that my paintings looked drawn. When I did Artist Trading Cards, using marker and acrylics, I was told they looked like miniature oil paintings. You may sense a trend here.
It’s possible that my slightly different way of doing things started when I was a child. My father was a zookeeper. In those days, the zoo didn’t have a nursery so, if a mother abandoned her babies, a zoo employee would take them home to raise. While all the other children in my neighborhood had cats and dogs for pets, I had lions and tigers.
I’m a firm believer that there really aren’t any ‘bad’ art supplies. We’ve all seen amazing works of art done by someone using toothpicks or the cheapest pens and paints. When I try out a new product I try to destroy it. That is, I push past what I know to be good technique until I see the limitations in the product. Then I try to learn how to use that product to the best of its limitations and …wait, there’s more… then I try to think of ways that I can use the tool in unexpected ways. Mind you, I’m more likely to push a cheap tool to total destruction than an expensive one. I’m a bit strange, not crazy!
About five years ago, my mother became very ill and I was spending long hours at the hospital with her. I started doing Zentangle, a method that uses patterns, and only needs a pen or pencil and a three-inch piece of paper. I fell in love with the technique because I could surprise myself as much as the viewer. I’d start drawing my patterns, and then decide what the drawing would be – sort of like finding animal shapes in the clouds.
Unfortunately, I loved tangling so much that I messed up my wrist, drawing constantly, and that’s when I started using watercolor. When I first began, I was using my non-dominant hand (I’m slightly ambidextrous) and by the time my wrist was better, I’d abandoned my old love, Zentangle, and taken up full time with watercolor. I do have to confess – I’m a terrible cheat. I frequently return to my old loves – Zentangle, ballpoint pen drawing, and mixed media, but I always come back to watercolor.
I still try to surprise myself. Not as much by starting without a result in mind, but by constantly changing the products that I use and the style I paint in. Last year, I painted a bird every week. This year I’m alternating between the quality of light and stylized paintings in the vein of Eyvind Earle and Zoltan Szabo. Right now, I don’t care for painting people, but tomorrow I may wake up and decide I’m going to paint people in court costume from the French Revolution. I just never know, and I love that.
Because I use so many color schemes and try so many brands, I’m constantly creating DIY palettes. I could just buy the cheap plastic ones, but where is the fun in that? I scour the bargain and second-hand stores and yard sales for old tins. I convert ice trays and mini-ramekins and egg plates.
I have a blog, ‘Life Imitates Doodles’ where I share my work, post art supply reviews, and tutorials, and hold art supply giveaways. Three times a week I post a list of links to art and crafting tutorials, giveaways and reviews. If any of you post art-related reviews or giveaways on your blogs or in social media feel free to let me know and I’ll add them to my list.
Though I’ve been a member of the World Watercolor Group for some time, I’ve only been a member of Doodlewash for a short time. It’s been a delight jumping in, meeting fellow artists and discussing my favorite subjects – art and art supplies.
Thank you, Charlie, for all your hard work in setting up this community for your fellow artists.
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Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!