1. How does one tease out their “signature style”. This is a piece of advice I’ve been given in order to establish myself as an artist and for people to recognize my work (much like Georgia O’Keefe, Stephen Quiller, etc.). They have recognizable styles unique to them. They are clear and consistent, and even though they experiment and explore, one still recognizes their work/style. I love so many things (some of which I’ve learned from Jane :) that I’m finding it difficult to get clear on my unique style. Any insight on this would be very much appreciated.
In some ways, I’m the wrong person to ask this question! I have so many interests and go in so many directions! I love learning new techniques and exploring new styles and directions. I like to think that when I’m influenced by an artist I like, and try some of her technique or style, that very soon it becomes my work, as I integrate the new things into my existing style. I’ve been told, that even though I work in many different media, that my work is somehow recognizable. The colors, the feeling remain consistent whether it’s watercolor, cloth or mixed media. More and more I find myself working in a series (albeit a small, short series!) and that really helps my voice come through my art.
2. Doing your art in more than one medium, how do you organize your studio and your time? My word is “focus” this year and I think organized is linked to focus.
My time is a combination of studio work and teaching and marketing. I need to do all three to make a living as an artist, and I’m fortunate that I enjoy all three equally. My teaching is scheduled and I fit in chunks of studio time where I can, and I do work in the evening, hand stitching. Marketing (aka computer time) is usually done first thing in the morning.
3. Why do you use pencil first instead of going directly to ink? Seems like it would be easier.
With the pencil I can quickly sketch the object, getting the placement and organize the shapes. Then I can confidently use the pen to draw and capture the details. Using a pencil first takes the stress out of drawing, for me, and I’ve learned to do the pencil sketch quickly. I do enjoy ‘straight to pen’ drawings, and they can be delightfully wonky.
4. It sounds like you typically sketch “from life” rather than from photographs. Can you give any tips for capturing moving objects such as birds, children, dogs, etc. quickly? For example, are there certain aspects of a moving subject you sketch first? Are there certain things you always omit? Thanks!
When I draw a moving object, I start in pencil and as the animal moves, I draw a new drawing of that new pose, on the same page. I may have 4 or 5 or 6 drawings on the page. Eventually, most animals will return to a certain pose again, and then I’ll jump to that sketched pose. A horse in a pen, for example will stay within range and move, but return to a pose. When drawing, say koi in a pond, I use the same technique and end up with a composite drawing to create single koi, drawn from the other koi in the pond. Once I have a good pencil sketch, then ink and watercolor.
5. When you recommend creative resources to fellow artists, which resources do you usually direct them to when it comes to: Art Websites? Books? Blogs?
I always recommend Danny Gregory’s books and his blog. There are sooo many wonderful artists out there, that I occasionally do a blog post about someone I’m particularly interested in.
6. Sketchbook art and journaling is becoming increasingly popular. Why do you think this is? Or is this merely an artifact of the Web connecting all sketchbook enthusiasts?
It’s true. I really think 2011 is the year of the sketchbook! Word does spread, like wildfire, online. But I also think people are realizing that everyone can do a sketchbook/visual journal. There are so many ways to approach it, and so many playful ways to make art, that a sketchbook is a great and easy way to get creative.
7. Here are my questions for Jane. I am an avid reader of her blog…..
Where do you get all your energy? Are you the ultimate multitasker?
I’m blessed with a lot of energy and a very supportive husband. I work small. I stitch at night, while watching TV with my husband. I think I have a lot of drive, and feel a great sense of accomplishment when I’m making art.
Do you take the time to set goals and plan a schedule around them?
I don’t set specific goals. I plan my art making and life around my teaching schedule, as I mentioned above. I try to say yes to things that will forward my art career AND make me happy. I take risks, I say yes to things I’ve never done before.
How do you stay motivated?
It’s a natural state for me. And to be perfectly honest, teaching and blogging and sharing what I do is very motivating to me. I like feedback, I like to inspire others to make art and be creative.
8. I was wondering if you are self taught in watercolor or if you took some instruction? I really love your work.
Thanks! I have a degree in graphic design, and did a little watercolor in college. Since 1992, I’ve taken many watercolor classes from community center classes to classes with the pros. Since I began my watercolor journal, I’ve really simplified my approach to make it quick and spontaneous.
9. Are there any exercises one can do to “loosen up” when painting? I started painting botanicals and want to change my style but have a hard time “loosening up”. Also, how do you get in the mood to paint? Sometimes there is time but I am not in the mood to paint and sometimes I feel creative and motivated but have no time to paint.
One of my favorite things to do is draw directly in pen doing a continuous line drawing. You can look at the object you’re drawing and at your paper, but you can’t pick up your pen. It’s fun and great practice. If you use a water soluble pen, you can add a little water for shading. You’d be amazed how well you can do, and it definitely makes for loose, wonky drawings.
In the mood. For me, I can always pick up a pencil (or water soluble pen) and start drawing something I see. It can be quick or more lengthy. Doodling is also great, especially for a background in a journal.
10. Do you have a favorite brand or type of journal or do you bind your own?
I’ve used the larger watercolor Moleskine for years, and have recently gone to 5″ x 7″ individual hot press watercolor paper pages. Then I can create a portfolio or paper box for my sketches. I have done book binding, but I prefer a simple accordion fold with a long strip of watercolor paper, when I do “make” my own journals.
Thank you, Jane!
Thank you for sharing your work and so much of yourself with us this month. You have definitely taught us many different ways to observe and to create.
Readers should know that Jane is one of the hosts of The Sketchbook Challenge. If one of your New Year resolutions had anything to do with allowing yourself to live a more creative life, look no further than The Sketchbook Challenge and its hosts for your daily dose of inspiration. The Challenge began on January 1st and will continue throughout the year. A new theme will be announced each month, so be sure to visit to see how Jane and her fellow hosts tackle each challenge.
Looking for your own adventure in creativity? See the sketching classes & mixed media classes Jane teaches online and at various venues across the nation!