My name is Ron Stocke and I am an American watercolorist living in the Pacific Northwest. I hold Signature memberships from the American Watercolorist Society, the National Watercolor Society, and the Northwest Watercolor Society, as well as a member of the American Impressionist Society.
My creative interests started as a young man wanting to express myself and find a place in the artistic world. Like many artists, I bounced around with styles, subject matter, and equipment, but always came back to watercolor. It was simply the best medium for what I wanted to say in my work.
After receiving a degree in graphic design/illustration, I felt I had a good start on what might become a fun and interesting career. I just wasn’t sure which direction it would take me in. I have used my painting to work through tragedies as well as successes, record travel and memories that have had major influences on shaping me. At 51 years old, I can definitely say that watercolor has been the longest pursuit I know, and that it has benefited me at every stage. Whether you are painting landscapes, florals or portraits…
Paint the subject that inspires you the most
I started out painting more natural subject matters such as landscapes and marine art, usually with a figure or animal as my focal point. That changed after I began traveling. I remember doing my first plein air painting on a trip to Mulege, Mexico in the early 90’s. The painting was a disaster, but I enjoyed the experience so much that I keep that painting in my studio to remind me of when the seed was planted. After that, I tried to make travel part of my regular program.
At the time, I didn’t have the resources to travel to any exotic far away locations, but I could get out of town from time to time and see new and different locations. Today I’m fortunate enough to travel on a regular basis and see some of the locations that I dreamed about as a younger artist. This has had a major impact on my work and my life.
For the last decade or more, my focus has been on painting more urban subject matter. I’ve always enjoyed being in the city. It presents an energy I don’t get from a traditional landscape.
The opportunity for light and shadow, the hustle and bustle of the figures and cars as well as the strong horizontal and vertical shapes all inspire me to continue to paint this subject in different ways. Whether you are painting landscapes, florals or portraits…
Don’t be afraid to try new brands
About twenty years ago, I was lucky enough to befriend, and start working with, the owner and creator of the M.Graham Paint Company, Art Graham. Before meeting Art, I had only used the materials my mentor had used. It is easy to never change brands or materials that we were taught with.
This can be a trap we fall into and it can be what holds us back from advancing in our work. If you start to see constancy in your work, but something is not quite right, try a new paper or paint. This small change might help you turn the corner and start seeing the results you want.
When it comes to your equipment, my best advice is to continue to search for what works best for you. This may change as you develop into a more mature artist. Whether you use flats or rounds or a combination of both has very little to do with the end result of your work. Believe me, I have purchased a ridiculous amount of brushes, palettes and other materials over the years that I wish I hadn’t. But this is part of the experience of finding what works best for you.
If I had it to do over again, I would have purchased one quality brush, the primary and a few secondary colors of a professional brand paint and a lot of paper. That said, don’t go out and buy every brush that every instructor recommends. Try some out, and once you find the one that works best with your style and what you intend your work to look like, keep using it.
Spend your time working through the process of painting by painting a lot. It’s the hours, days and years spent behind the brush that teaches us how to paint, not how many brushes we have.
I look forward to the next step in my career. I have a new exhibition starting in July 2018, and I plan to start on several new series of paintings that explore new subjects, I’ll be conducting new workshops in new locations as well as familiar ones, and in December of 2018, my first book will be published.
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!