You had the opportunity to ask Billy Showell any question you wanted and some of you took advantage of this special opportunity. Below are the questions that were submitted, as well as Billy’s replies.
Again, many thanks to Billy for sharing her expertise with us!
1. If parts of a white flower are on a white background, do you just leave it alone or outline it with a thin line?
I usually do a very soft midtone grey shadow that blends into the petal but it has to be very subtle so (I) use the wet-in-wet method.
2. Who makes the “cerulean blue hue” you use in your first book?
It is a Schminke colour, but you could replace it with Winsor blue tone from Winsor and Newton. I have done this recently to make it easier for students to get.
3. Have you ever tried water-based oil paint? If so, how do these paints perform?
No, but I do plan to go back to oils soon and will definitely give them a go. I will publish the results on my website when I do.
4. I find that I have little confidence when working in a classroom situation. I feel that I shouldn’t make mistakes and have to produce a masterpiece right away. Working alone is so much more relaxing for me. Have you heard similar comments from other students?
Yes. In those situations use the classroom as a chance to gather information and practice the advice given (and) take as many notes as you can so that you can relax at home and give the techniques a go without the pressure of the class surroundings.
5. Have you found any strategies for a workspace setup that helps prevent back and neck misery?
Mmm…. I don’t like to admit to it but, yes, one can get a stiff neck and shoulder. I try to break the day up so that I don’t sit rigid for too long. Make sure that you rotate your shoulders intermittently and stretch from time to time.
6. The DVD for your first book was fantastic. Will you be doing one for the new book?
Yes. It comes out next week and will be available from my website. It has four projects on it.
7. Do you think you will write a third book?
I am working on it as we speak. It will be on flowers again but there will be many more interesting varieties.
8. Would you ever consider teaching in the USA?
Yes, I am waiting to be invited I would love to come to the US as I have only been for one day many years ago.
9. When you first started painting, have you ever torn up your painting in disgust because nothing was working right?
I would always try and keep the part of the painting that worked and discard the rest, that way when I looked back I would only recall the successes not the failures. I used to store unfinished work but now just use the back of the paper for doodles or cartoons as coming back to very old work is a bit depressing and I often find that I have improved my painting technique in the interval.
10. What subject do you find most challenging to paint?
Multi-petaled flowers are the hardest things to paint, for example Chrysanthemums or Dahlias, just because the are so complicated. I much prefer flowers with large petals so that the watercolour process is free and uninhibited.
Take a class with Billy Showell this summer!