This week’s spotlight is on my amazingly talented friend Dawn, who you have seen a comic from, and she is also the inspiration for Dayna’s character in my Tuesday serial. I asked her some questions, she had some answers, and I’ve got some of her beautiful work to scatter throughout. Enjoy!
1. What made you start painting, and what brought you to watercolors in particular?
I have to chuckle when I hear someone ask me that since it seems that I’m always getting asked. Back in college, I actually preferred oil paints and pencils since they were mediums that were forgiving when you make mistakes. Watercolors on the other hand I absolutely hated even though I did take a few classes. After graduation with no job or money for new supplies, I decided to use what I still had left over from my various classes which ended up being watercolors. It was probably out of necessity or some unknown challenge that I gave myself that I started using them more and experimented to see what I could do. What started out as a love-hate relationship with a very unforgiving medium, I’ve found myself enjoying pushing the envelope to see what all I could do with it.
2. Who are some of your inspirations/mentors?
My mentors have always been fellow watercolorist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and hyperrealism painter Denis Peterson, both whom I’ve been friends with for several years now. As far as what inspires me, there’s a wide variety of things. Natural elements to classic vehicles but I think what will always bring me back to painting is anything dealing with European or Asian culture. I had told Quixotic Magazine that it’s the complexity of symbolism, philosophies, and stories that they have which are a wonderful challenge to portray in a painting.
3. What is your normal process when working on something?
My normal process? It usually starts with me trying to figure out what I want to do which usually consists of going through all of the photo references and such I have saved on both my hard drive and external drive. Once something causes my muse to smack me upside the head, I start pulling together what images I want to combine into the final design. This usually ends up consisting of as less as 3 images for reference but I’ve actually gone up to 19 before to refer back to while working. My screen normally looks like a jumbled mess by this point but for me it gives a basic lay out for what I have in mind. Then the line work starts which usually ends up with me erasing a lot as I try to get everything to work with each other and make sense on paper. The painting is relatively simple and is just a matter of layering. It’s when I start using a size 000 brush when it becomes a test of patience (for the non-painters out there, a 000 round brush is the smallest brush size that you can buy in art supply stores which is usually used for fine detail work. The smallest size that can actually be ordered is a 0/20, Anything smaller, you have to make yourself).
4. Which is more satisfying: hard, complicated pieces, or something short and sweet?
Between the two, I think my more complicated pieces are more rewarding. Of course that’s when I don’t have a mistake in it that only I can see. The smaller pieces normally end up being left for experimenting with a style I don’t normally use or quick portraits where I can get away with using one or two colors.
5. Where can someone buy your paintings and/or commission you?
I’m in a few locations within Sacramento, CA right now: Blue Moon Gallery, Sunlight of the Spirit Books & Gifts shop, and the new Artist Connection (I Street). Occasionally I have pieces at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center in Elk Grove and Pence Gallery in Davis. The best way to keep up with where I am at any given time and know what pieces I have at certain locations would be following my Facebook page. As far as commissions, it’s best to contact me through Facebook or email me to discuss things. There are times when people ask if I’m able to do something and what their requesting I’m not able to do but I am able to direct them one of my fellow artists who are better suited for the request. So don’t be afraid to ask.
6. Any advice to aspiring artists?
My advice is to experiment and a lot of practice. I constantly get told by people that my work has inspired them to try watercolors for the first time but they’re not that good with them. I just advise that you practice the basics first and know that you’re not going to paint a Mona Lisa your first time. Mistakes are going to happen. If, while working with watercolors, you find you don’t like one particular method or find that something doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to try something that will work with your style. If you discover that mixed media is more fitting with what you’re wanting, go for it. Just never be afraid to try something new and remember to practice.