• Maintaining Your Personal Style

    Dancing with Yupo

    Like most artists, I enjoy taking art workshops and classes from time to time to hone my artistic skills as well as for the camaraderie of being around other artists.  I am currently taking a class in which the instructor often asks us to study and paint in the style of another artist.  There is much to be learned from this approach, but it can also be uncomfortable to work in a style that is different from your own especially if it is different to an extreme.  When this happens, I often find myself rebelling against the proposed project or wondering if there is any value in trying to work in an alien artistic style.

    Most recently, we watched a video called "Dancing with Yupo" in which the artist uses a full sheet of yupo paper, a very large brush, and an abundance of fresh paint to create very loose, expressive paintings.  Her technique of slapping gobs of paint on the slick yupo surface without any initial drawing or compositional planning other than a reference photo is a huge departure from my own carefully planned, meticulous style.  

    I usually work from detailed drawings and frequently mask out areas I want to remain white before applying paint to the paper.  My largest brush is a one-inch Langnickle, but I usually use much smaller brushes.  I like painting on the glossy surface of yupo, but my intent is always to restrain the paint.  I allow it to mix and flow in limited areas, but I always impose boundaries.  If my paint crosses those boundaries, I wipe it off and try again.. My style is all about control, control, control!

    So I ask myself, what can I learn from this exercise?  Will this violation of my personal style be worth the frustration or will it be a waste of my time and money?  (Watercolor tubes are expensive!) 

    I have doubted before -- on a project using Doak spray paints and pressing a variety of grasses, and leaves, and fibers into it, for example -- and yet I was quite pleased with some of the results I obtained.  But this time I think I may forego the assigned project and stay true to my own style.  As much as I admire the looser style of many watercolor artists, I like my own, unique style too much to abandon it so completely as "Dancing with Yupo" would require.


  • Designing a Business Card


    With more leisure time to paint comes a new problem--what to do with the many completed paintings?  I have already filled every room in our house with my paintings; I have given many away to family and friends; I have donated to raffles, fundraisers, and other good causes.  But with the freedom to paint almost daily, my inventory of paintings has increased so much that it has now prompted me to think about marketing my artwork a little more ambitiously.

    So yesterday I decided to redesign my outdated business card.  Since our move to Oregon has inconveniently placed me a state away from our tech-savvy daughter, I sat down at my computer yesterday to tackle the task by myself using my long-neglected Photoshop Elements program.  My basic knowledge of how to use the tools and layers of Photoshop is pretty minimal.  I was off to a poor start, staring at the editing screen helplessly for about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get a photo of one of my watercolor paintings onto the blank background layer.  Finally, I pulled out a book I bought years ago, How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 8, and read about using layers.  An hour or so  later--voila!--I had completed a simple digital business card!   (Okay, I know that was slow, but it's a new skill for me.) Today I took my digital file off to a printer and ordered a batch of new business cards.  

    The lesson of this story is that you are never too old to learn new skills.  Too many older artists don't take advantage of computer technology to  make their lives easier.  Don't be afraid of your computer!  It's your friend.

  • Launching My New Watercolor Website

    Thanks to Doteasy's website builder, I am about ready to launch my new watercolor website at susanescobar.com.  Through this website, I hope to be able to share some of my artwork with a larger audience.  Please excuse any glitches as I am learning by trial and error.  As I learn more (using Doteasy's helpful instructions and videos), I hope to improve my website.   For example, I hope to organize my watercolors by category so that viewers can easily find the subject matter they are most interested in.  But that will come with time.  For now, please enjoy my online gallery and blog!