More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte

MoreThanLikenessIf you’ve frequented the fine art or painting section of your local book store, you’ve likely seen one of Mary Whyte’s Books. At least here in the Southern United States her books are a common sight. Watercolor Artist Mary Whyte may not be on the lips of every professional art connoisseur drawing breath, but something tells me that she will be spoken of more and more in years to come (If only by us “real folk.” Sorry art snobs. That probably doesn’t refer to you.) And in those years to come I wonder if we may one day speak of Mary as we now do wildly popular American artists like Andrew Wyeth. You know with that same reverential, wide eyed, understanding nod that makes us feel like we know at least a little something about art. “Oh yeah. that Andrew Wyeth, he’s the best.” But lets not trivialize her work. I have my reasons why I think the air around Mary’s work is rare. I may not be an expert on what makes notable artists notable in the years to come, but it won’t surprise me if Mary ends up as one of them. Who am I kidding, she’s probably half way there already.

Mary Whyte began her artistic life as many of us aspiring artists do, displaying evident talent early on, accompanied by an idealistic passion to pursue it, but thats where the similarities end for most of us. While real life and distraction often brush our grand art dreams aside, Mary persisted, was prolific and sought to infuse her work with key ingredients, namely story and meaning. Her art journey has been almost relentless in that pursuit. Ironically, she found some of those stories strewn right across her path, not because they were obvious, but because she was looking intently for them. Does art like this ring a bell? Oh yeah, thats right, Andrew Wyeth. Ok, so the styles are completely different and perhaps there are many other artists I could more closely compare her to, but both Mary’s and Andrew’s work present visual narratives that vibrate with intimacy and authenticity. Iconic artists that elevate past obscurity, past snobbish pretense and stroll unapologetically across the popular art stage, have discovered that telling meaningful stories with art, about places and lives we never knew existed, embeds those images into our souls. And when its done as prolifically and masterfully as Mary does it, a pedestal rises up to meet that body of work.

More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte is the latest of books about her work. While the other 6 books either present artistic process, instruction, or focus on a specific collection of works, this book is a larger overview of her life, her artistic journey and a good cross section of her artistic projects through the years, not to mention deftly voiced descriptions of the images, compositions and sources for her inspiration thanks to art historian Martha R. Severens. In short, its a good art read, especially for anyone ever wondering what sets apart merely good artists from really important ones.

Mary Whyte’s Website

Artist Mary Whyte’s Labor of Love – CBS Sunday Morning Video


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Sharing Skills on Skillshare

Well, I’ve gone and made myself a workshop. Aside from the Strathmore workshops I did earlier in the spring this is my first, and my first paid workshop. Its not long, about 53 minutes total running time for all segments combined. I hope you’ll go and check it out. (For Patreon supporters, this content has also been shared there for everyone at the $5 level or above.)

Here is my Skillshare workshop link and first time subscribers using this link to join will get their first 3 months for only .99 cents.

skillsharewoods

Why Skillshare?

In short, its reasonably priced and easily accessible for the participant plus user friendly for me, the teacher, making it a good workshop starting point. It doesn’t require that I design lengthy, involved classes, and likewise does not present you with a major time commitment for learning. Its right for where I currently am in this process of sharing my watercolor passion in extended format. This platform was recommended to me by several people and it also seemed a good fit for my YouTube audience who’ve been asking for paid extended content but don’t want to shell out a ton in expensive workshop fees. It also provides me the added benefit of being able to add class projects and allows students to share their projects and start up class discussions. The value is definitely there for my followers since you can also access tons of other instructional content, possibly not even related to art. Simply specify your instructional preferences and you’re presented with tons of learning options, all included for the same monthly price.

Patreon Supporters Please Note

For the foreseeable future this content will usually be duplicated on Patreon. Or I’ll provide free access to the Skillshare workshop. This access may vary depending on support level, so I’m not sure how that will play out exactly yet, but if you are a Patreon supporter and not interested in joining Skillshare for other content, wait a bit to see what I post as part of your rewards before also signing on to Skillshare.

Thanks for your support everyone and Happy Painting!

Steve
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3-Layer Watercolor Landscape Challenge w/Postings

Hello Minders,

Last week I posted a YouTube video with a simple challenge. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the video again so you can take part. I’ve also reposted the guidelines for the challenge which are simple and flexible and meant to be a quick painting starter for which you don’t need to do a lot of planning and drawing unless you want to. At the bottom of this post I’ve included a Tagboard link so you can see some of the posts from other viewers who’ve already participated. This interaction has been really fun to see and there have been a lot of great posts and ideas. So keep on painting and posting. There is no immediate deadline so as long a people want to keep tagging their posts this will continue.

Challenge Guidelines

1. It should be recognizable as a landscape with 3 discernible layers representing foreground, middle ground and background. You don’t have to paint them in any specific order. These three layers do not have to include the sky.

2. Layers can be any size, width or shape. They can contain textures, water, tree lines, fields, buildings, rock formations, or any other landscape elements you can think of. Elements from one layer such as trees or a house, can appear to break the line and overlap a layer behind it.

3. Layers can be any color but work on good foreground to distance scale and Aerial Perspective (closer objects are warmer and more contrasty, the more distant they are, the cooler, less detailed and lower their contrast).

4. Draw it out on your paper ahead of time if you wish but you don’t have too. Just start painting if you prefer.

5. Painting from reference such as photo reference is fine but keep it quick and simple and try to paint more than one.

Have fun!

***Share your work with me and other Minders on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with hashtag #tmowatercolor I’ll be monitoring the hashtag on all three networks and looking for my favorites.***

Click below to see the Tagboard gallery of other participants work so far. Tagboard doesn’t always bring in every post perfectly so I apologize if it somehow missed yours. I will try to refresh this board from time to time.

tagboard pic

 

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Rose Botanical Workshop Now Open

Hello everyone. Week three and the second part of the Strathmore Online Workshop is under way. We’re working on a realistic botanical painting of a rose. In this one we’ll get into a good bit of subtle blending and glazing. Hope to see you over there.

rose_bot-low

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Watercolor Basics Playlist Guide

I’m often asked by beginners if I have any order or steps to viewing my videos. Well, not really. I started my channel as a way to post random tips and techniques and its a scatter shot approach. But now, almost 2 years later, I have enough videos that I can kind of direct you to the basics, at least in a more useful way. YouTube Playlists make this easier. So i’ve gone back and rearranged one of my first ever playlists in an order that might be helpful for first time watercolorists. Its not comprehensive mind you, so may not teach you everything you need to learn from start to finish, but it definitely has plenty to get you moving and I hope you beginners (or anyone wishing to review) find it helpful.

Here is a synopsis of the episodes, numbered as they appear in the playlist.

Materials

1-5: These 4 videos deal with picking your basic supplies. What you need to know, useful tips and even my own personal favorites as you gear up to paint.

Control

6-10: I call these the “control” videos because they teach you basic control of the medium, how to spread, apply and blend watercolor paint. The techniques in these 5 videos will make up the mainstay of what you need to know and practice to paint with confidence.

Misc. Techniques

11-15: 4 videos on other miscellaneous but important techniques to learn in your painting development. Here the videos get a little more random and far from being all inclusive. This section will hopefully expand as time goes on.

Brushes

16-19: These 4 videos demonstrate features of specific brushes that might be helpful in deciding what brushes to buy and use.

Color

20-23: 4 videos dealing with colors and color mixing. I’m just getting started on this section of videos, so look to see this part of the list expand in the future.

Inspiration and Motivation

24-26: 3 pep-talk videos to inspire, motivate and get your artistic enthusiasm moving forward. These were produced very randomly, so more may surface in the future as I think of them.

If you think of other videos on topics you would like to see covered that might fit well in this beginner’s playlist, I’m open to suggestions. I will open the comment section in this post below so feel free to leave suggestions.

26 Video “Basics” Playlist

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Sketching Fail? Yes and No!

fail_sketchIf you saw the video in this post, my remarks beg a simple question – “Did I fail?” Well, for me the answer is yes and no. Many who commented on YouTube were gracious and said they thought the building sketch turned out great. And while I appreciate that, there is a deeper teaching moment here. If you’ve watched my other videos, you’ve heard me say it before. “Embrace failure as a teacher.”

Was the Sketch Good?

This is a different question than, “Did I fail?”  Ask 10 people differing in skill from master to beginner and you’ll get 10 different answers. Its really far from the point of failure or success. So… what am I saying? What is my teaching moment? I thought you’d never ask.

Set Goals and Reach High

When you’re learning (and that includes 100% of us), study other artist’s work. Reach for ambitious standards. As you do, you will quite often say with me, “this was a failure”. Get comfortable with it. You’ll say this a lot if you’re learning. And others may never understand what failed. So be it.

Set Failure on it’s Ear

Once you’ve come to terms with the failures, its time to redefine your work. This takes some analysis. As a beginner, you may not even know how to fix what you’d like to fix. Keep learning everything – technique, color sense, media control, process. Bit by bit you’ll understand what you can do differently. Redefine your “fail” in instructive terms just as I did near the end of this video. It was an awesome day, with awesome weather, and an awesome subject. The bonus? I learned something and I’ll always remember what it was when I look at that sketch. I tried a process that did not work well for me. Next time I’ll try again only differently.

Will I fail again? I’m counting on it!

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How to Pick Great Watercolor Paper

Watercolor loves great paper. You’ll improve your chances of getting good results by buying top quality paper from the beginning. Its a myth that beginners need to use cheap or student grade papers for practice. Use and practice with the best. Choose reputable name brands, 100% cotton, acid free, handmade or mould made papers and you can’t go wrong. Experienced artists will often paint on surfaces other than watercolor paper, but if you are a beginner, its best to stick with actual watercolor paper until you gain more confidence. Other surfaces can act more unpredictably.

Here are a few of the best and most popular top grade papers available. (others may exist)

Arches
Arches Video

Canson — Moulin Du Roy

Strathmore — 500 Series

St. Cuthberts Mill — Bockingford & Saunders Waterford

Fabriano – Artistico
Fabriano Video

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Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Video Introduction to the Mind of Watercolor Series

The Mind of Watercolor Web Page

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