Diane Wallace, here. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, art is a verb in my world (Follow me on my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest). First, a shout out of thanks to Charlie O’Shields for inspiring us watercolorists to walk the walk in his World Watercolor Month Challenge and the new World Watercolor Group. And personally, thanks for asking me to be a guest doodlewasher.
A latecomer to serious painting, like others, I have drawn and painted all my life. Fascinated by horses from an early age, they were my main subject. Born and raised in Philadelphia, it’s hard to fathom where I even saw my first horse. But as a child (a long, long time ago) western television shows were prevalent, and my bag of plastic horses was a constant companion.
In my later years, after moving to Medford, New Jersey, I worked at the stable where I boarded my horse, making them easy target practice for my paintbrush. Soon, I was painting stall signs, then sweatshirts, and eventually commissions of horses, then dogs, then houses, people and it’s been going on for about 15 years. Can you guess the recipient of my first award at a juried show?
While my bread and butter work continues to be commissions done in watercolor, my real passion is loose and juicy painting. Mostly self taught, but inspired by my late mentor, Dan Hines of Medford, New Jersey, to loosen up, I have kept my palette limited. Using Daniel Smith’s Cadmium Yellow Light, Pthaylo Blue, Quinacridone Rose and Quinacridone Sienna, I am pretty comfortable knowing exactly what they’ll do. Occasionally I will visit the untouched tubes in my cabinet, but they just don’t seem to play as well as my favorites.
My greatest supporter, my husband, often gifts me with wonderful art supplies, including my “Butter Brush” a #16 Kolinsky Sable that I swear can do anything with, including have a painting just fall off the hairs. No matter what I am painting, I usually take a moment to ask for guidance before I start. This moment of meditation, prayer or whatever you would like to call it seems to center me and let my brain know it’s time to start the joy. When I paint commissions, I ask my clients to give me three words to describe the person, pet or home. Writing them on index cards, I tape them over my desk before starting. After my initial meditation, I take a moment to contemplate the words given and ask that I can incorporate them in some way into my painting.
Just for giggles, I will occasionally play with acrylics, but the resultant mess in my hair, arms, clothes and studio usually send me right back to my easy-to-clean-up watercolor.
Fascinated with writing, perhaps caught while working as support personnel in the newsroom of a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper in my earlier years, I started blogging about my experiences as an artist. The fun, the inspiration, the frustration, (just say the word matting and I can feel my body tense) the stories behind a painting. Coming of age as an artist at a later date in life did not make computer skills an easy transition. Most of my early frustration occurred when I quit my money-making job and started trying to set up a website, a Facebook page, a blog, Instagram, Twitter, Artfinder, and Pinterest.
For inspiration, I have taught myself to listen to my gut, or the little voice that catches the interesting view. Normally inspired by nature and animals, I can be stopped dead in my tracks by a sight, sound, smell or ray of light. If I can’t grab a picture, I’ll try to get it down in my constant companion sketchbook as soon as I can.
No one will ever confuse my sketchbooks for art journals. They are, instead, workhorses for my life work. Showing them proudly to anyone who asks, they are proof positive I am doing what I love. Drawing is a passion and I love to teach people how to draw by seeing, versus drawing shapes first.
Always looking for something new to do with watercolor, I spent years trying to replicate the look of tooled leather. As those paintings took upwards of 100 hours, I was smitten with loose painting after taking a class with my above mentioned mentor. My 30 paintings in 30 days challenge in January of 2015, consisted of experimenting with watercolor in spray bottles, stencils and birds. While I didn’t always quite know what I was doing or how it was going to come out, 26 or them sold to people who seemed to appreciate them. My next challenge is going to be incorporating people into my paintings.
Believing my eraser is the best teacher I will ever have (it teaches my heart, head and hand which IS the correct line), I am not afraid to make mistakes. They are not all masterpieces. Practice makes for fun. The minute you mess up a painting you are free to try something outrageous, even if that means covering the paper with gesso to start over on a new and different surface. Make with abandon…there are people who wouldn’t have a job if you didn’t use the paper they made.
While “arting” is who I am, I did a lot of financial work in my previous lives. That work has served me well. As an artist I have made a business plan, keep good records of inventory, have a production schedule, (so I don’t forget to sign or photograph a painting) and work hard on developing personal relationships with those who have chosen to give my paintings their forever walls. Professional development includes, marketing, workshops, goal making and keeping track of numbers such as sales figures, expenses, followers on various social media. All time consuming, but important for me to measure progress.
A prolific artist, I have found new joy in gifting art to causes that touch my soul. The rewards have been great in newfound friends and a reduction in the piles of paintings that can quickly accumulate, and some new collectors. My World Watercolor Month paintings are all card-sized and will be turned into cards for a non-profit called Bringing Smiles to Forgotten Seniors.
Our recent move to Sarasota, Florida has provided a whole new slew of inspiration. Turquoise has been dominating my palette. Didn’t use a lot of that in New Jersey. Joining the SRQ Plein Air painters, I have met some local artists and I must admit to great excitement in having a new, larger studio in a week or so.
Live, love, art. It’s all about the joy for me. Love to share my work, couldn’t live without “arting”. Love to teach people how to draw, paint, or even take time to help someone understand the color wheel, or explore their creativity. To me, the best part of being an artist is the pleasure I get when sharing my gift. Meeting people I would never have the opportunity to otherwise, and hopefully touching a part of their creative hearts. Maybe even yours.
So, nice to meet you dear doodlewashers. Ending my guest blog, as I do my own, with the perpetual question, “Did You Art Today?”
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!