Greetings from the state of Maine! I’m Jay Vance, and I live here with my wife on the Atlantic coast (follow me on Instagram!). Maine is a beautiful state with unlimited scenes to interest artists. I live within walking distance of these opportunities: coastal sights such as the Portland Head Light House and fishermen’s shacks and homes reflected on the water; Portland’s architecture with old brick buildings and cobblestone streets; and landscapes which include fields, tumbled-down stone walls, and magnificent forests.
I came to drawing and painting relatively later in life than many artists who began when they were children. My training is in teaching. I have both a B.S. and an M.Ed. from the University of Maine. After retiring from coaching football, and on a whim, I signed up for a beginner’s watercolor class. I thought it might be interesting to see how watercolors were used. It was like magic! My teacher was so supportive, and I loved creating images. I was hooked! I took several more classes and began reading every art instruction book I could get my hands on. Some people who have influenced me are Robert Wade, Claudia Nice, Peter Sheeler, Alphonso Dunn, and Judith Kinsman.
I might confess that the blank page intimidated me for a long time. I didn’t want to make mistakes. But my technique continues to evolve, and happy “mistakes” are now part of it. Reflection is an important part of my learning. When I finish a piece, I usually display it in a place where I can see it throughout the day. I always find those mistakes and make mental notes.
All of my paintings begin as sketches done in pen and ink. I prefer .005 and .02 Micron pens but sometimes work with a Lamy Safari fountain pen. I’m actually using the .02 more than ever because I now feel the .005 line to be rather “timid”. I have used both Winsor & Newton and Daler-Rowney watercolors. My favorite paper is Arches 140 lbs., cold press watercolor paper.
I have found that my process of sketching with pen and ink first and then applying watercolor washes works well when I am depicting weathered surfaces. Edges and shadows are accomplished by the ink sketch, and color is the final consideration.
Sketching with pen and ink on watercolor paper enables me to create textures that I would not be able to create on smoother paper. The texture is created by using the “tooth” of the paper. This technique works well when the subject is especially rough, such as the bark of a tree or shingles and bricks.
Sketching and painting have given me ways of expressing myself that I never had before. I now take the time to actually appreciate the world around me.