Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Feature: Laura Mitchell

Hi Everyone,
"Black, White and Red All Over" watercolor by Laura Mitchell
It's Friday Feature day again:)  This week I'm featuring Laura Mitchell.  Laura and I met through Louisiana Watercolor Society.   Her watercolors are amazing.  I wish I lived closer so we could get together and paint.

How did you get your start?  Art has always been a major part of my life.  My father’s hobby was wood carving and mother always had some form of handwork in progress.  They both encouraged me and my four sisters to develop our creativity, and all five of us pursue some form of art today.  My teachers noticed a talent for drawing in grade school and provided opportunities for me to develop it.  I received formal art training in high school and college, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from Mississippi Southern College, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1959, and a Master of Education Degree from Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, Louisiana, 1980.  

 What’s you artist journey so far?  After retiring from a successful career in education as a teacher, supervisor and administrator, I resumed my  first love of painting.  I studied at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art.  In addition, I attended numerous workshops with leading watercolorists.  During the summer of 2003 I spent six weeks in Paris, France, studying art history.  I made a commitment to pursue painting as a profession.  I became active in local and state art organizations and entered as many competitions as were available.  Three years ago I began teaching watercolor at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art.  Presently I am teaching a watercolor class in Mandeville.  I serve on the Louisiana Watercolor Society Board.
"At Rest" watercolor by Laura Mitchell
Where were you born?                Hattiesburg, Mississippi

If you could live anywhere, where would you live?   By the beach!

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?  Nestled in the woods on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, Louisiana, I spend most of my days in my studio recording the world around me.  Pursuing my passion for painting, my medium of choice is watercolor.  I often choose ordinary household items and place them in a still life format.  It is how I see and interpret these settings that give my paintings their uniqueness.  Intrigued by the play of light on objects, the reflections created in objects, the bounce color makes on their surroundings and the patterns and shapes created by my choice of fabrics, I incorporate these elements to add an abstractionism to my paintings.  I also enjoy painting my interpretation of the local natural flora which surrounds me.  I want my paintings to beckon the viewer from across the room to come closer and discover that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
"Reflections of Three Pears" watercolor by Laura Mitchell
Could you talk about your painting techniques?  My preference is to work with transparent watercolors on Arches 140 cold press paper.  I develop my drawing on a separate sheet of index or  vellum paper,  then transfer it to my watercolor paper using a light box.  I begin with a very loose, wet into wet wash to establish an undercoating of the basic shapes and shadows.  After this dries completely I progress to more defined shapes of color and value, still working wet into wet.  Once everything is completely dry, I finish wet on dry to add the final details. 

What drew you to watercolor and do you paint in other mediums?  I started seriously painting in high school and was exposed to all mediums.  In college I was drawn to oils.  After retiring I decided to try my hand at watercolor, I loved the transparency and fluidity of the medium.  I also didn’t want the oil fumes in my house!

How did you arrive at your current style?  I have always been drawn to representational paintings and it seems to be what comes most naturally to me.  I still try my hand at experimental painting from time to time but always go back to representational. 
"Amaryllis" watercolor by Laura Mitchell
Do you have a favorite artist?  From the master’s, Turner.  Contemporaries include Ann Pember, Birget O’Connor and Lauren McCracken.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?  My teacher, Martha Guthrie.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?  My dog, Max.   My art collection.  Things I inherited from my aunts, grandmother and mother.  Peace, quiet, harmony, classical music, nature.  Good friends and an artistic support group.
"Confederate Rose" watercolor by Laura Mitchell
Do you have go to paints/colors, what are your favorites?  I recently reviewed my paints ad found the majority of them were Winsor & Newton, but I do love Daniel Smith quinacridones.  You will always find new gamboges, aureolin, cerulean, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, winsor red, vermillion, burnt sienna and payne’s gray on my palette.  If I have a warm and cool of each of the primaries I can mix most other colors I need.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years?  Dream big here.
Receive my AWS signature
Be represented by a reputable gallery
Get a bigger studio
Study at the Art Students League
Live in London for a year

What is your advice to other artists who are just getting started in their careers?  It is extremely important to have a working knowledge of the principles and properties of watercolor pigments to create a successful watercolor painting.  Also, spend as much time as necessary on your drawing, if it isn’t correct from the start you will only have grief in the painting process.  I find watercolor fascinating to work with and that as much as I plan ahead there are always surprises and challenges in the process.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?  Know your craft and paint, paint, paint!
"Sunrise Sunset" watercolor by Laura Mitchell
Speed Round!

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat?        Any beach

Book or movie?             Book

Favorite Author?          Jane Austen

Romance or comedy? Comedy

Favorite ice cream flavor?      Mint with chocolate chips

Monday, March 26, 2012


Hi Everyone,

Today is the day for the Cook-Waller Challenge for March.  Crystal came up with the theme of "new" for this month.  I immediately knew that I wanted to paint my boys when they were newborn.  I have always loved Carol Carter's growth series where she has painted a portrait of her son every year of his life, she is currently on year 26. 

I have to say I have such a respect for Crystal Cook and her portrait abilities because I felt lost during these paintings.  I may attempt them again.  I will say that my photo reference pool was not that great.  I wish I had better pics with great lighting when they were newborn.

"Sam, newborn" original watercolor by Carrie Waller 8 x 10

"Steven, newborn" original watercolor by Carrie Waller 8 x 10
We are on Spring Break this week so I'll be back Friday with another feature:)


Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Feature: Kathy Cousart

Kathy Cousart
 Hi Everyone,

Today I have a fabulous Friday Feature:)  Kathy Cousart.  Kathy and I have never met in person but I feel like we have.  She is warm and caring and wonderfully talented.  In the last couple of years she has completely transformed herself and left one career and become a successful full time artist.  She is also currently co-hosting Artists Helping Artists blog radio show.

To see more of Kathy's work visit her website.

"Hydrangeas" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen
How did you get your start? 

I hate to admit that I needed a painting over a double mantle fireplace and just could not find anything that size.  The more I looked the more I loved oil paintings and wanted to try.  I had no idea what I was getting into! 
"Blessings" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen
What’s your artist journey so far?

 I started painting almost 2 years ago and have loved every minute.   I have been so lucky to have some of the best teachers out there who have just encouraged and guided me.  I sort of jumped into it all backwards and am learning to paint right along with blogging and the business side.  Nothing like total immersion! I really work hard and want to get all the fundamentals right and be what I would call a fine artist.   I hope one day that my paintings touch people the way that I feel when I look at a beautiful painting.

Where were you born?

 I grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina- my hometown now is Athens, Georgia.

"Hydrangeas, Cotton Bolls, and Tulips" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

 I used to say Saint Simon’s Island- now just anywhere with Husband Dave and near our two daughters and their families. 

"UGA III National Championship Bulldog Surprise" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why

I love to paint anything that has interesting light on it!  I really like landscapes but have been having fun with flowers lately.  Gotta say also that my Georgia Bulldogs (mascot) are just plain fun to paint.  Maybe because I am so new I just want to paint everything.   I do know I am alla prima- and that I like to change it up. 

Could you talk about your painting techniques?   

I paint with a limited palette of just the 3 primaries and titanium white.  I enjoy mixing my own colors and love the harmony that you can achieve with that.   I am also finding that I am learning so much more with doing that and can work on values and temperatures better.   I got spoiled painting on linen and love the toothy surface and the way my paint goes on the linen.

"Saint Simon's Island Marsh" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen
How did you arrive at your current style?

I was told early on that I needed to have miles of canvas behind me and a ton of starts.  I have really put in the time painting to learn and can see that coming together.  I hope my current style comes across as big beautiful bold brushwork with gorgeous clean color.  
"Go Dog Sic 'Em" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen
Do you have a favorite artist? 

I have too many favorites!     Who has been your biggest inspiration? I am going to say all my workshop teachers have been the biggest inspiration- Each in a different way. 
Karin Jurick  for saying early on I could do this, 
Dreama for sayng to launch where you are and find your voice. 
Leslie Saeta for the warm enthusiasm and total belief that sharing my art would work out, Carol Marine for just teaching me fundamentals in such a fabulous fun way,
Nancy Franke for teaching the most gorgeous brushwork and colors with such a fun spirit and always giving me too much credit and finally
Jim Richards-
I got to join Jim’s mentoring group and that has made such a difference in my growth as a new artist.  Having the gentle but honest consistent critiques and wonderful teaching has been inspirational and invaluable.  I feel so fortunate to have met and learned from such talented teachers…Now you see why I could not pick just one.  They have all been an important part of my journey. 
"Sunlit Hydrangeas in Window" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen
You have done a fabulous job of marketing yourself, with a new website and blog.  Can you tell us a little about that journey? 

I started blogging after Karin Jurick’s workshop when she told us to and I listened.  Great way to meet other supportive artists and to learn from them.   A few months ago, I decided it was about time for a website and actually built one myself on iWeb.  That helped me make a lot of design decisions and get organized as to how I wanted it to be.  That was a really good process to get me ready to really move ahead and go with WordPress.  I like that the website and blog are combined and that it looked clean and easy to navigate.   It was important to me to be able to manage it and I have been really happy with WordPress. 

"Shrimp and Grits" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen
What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

I take care of two Moms and need to know they are fine and then I feel free and able to take that time for me to paint.   Once I know they are good- I don’t think I am too picky- just want to get in time painting and will paint anything-anywhere.    I really work hard to carve out that time at the easel. 

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
I tend to like higher key paints and colors.  I am not talking about bright loud saturated colors but soft lighter pale colors that all just look so gorgeous next to each other.  There is that harmony thing I was talking about with mixing your own colors. 
"UGA Golf Course 9th Green" by Kathy Cousart oil on linen
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

That my husband and I are both retired and able to travel a bit. 
That my art career has gotten to where my paintings fall consistently into the fine art category. 
That I am in at least one big Gallery and my paintings just fly off the walls.
That I am good enough to be in some shows and gain recognition as a big girl artist.  Ex:Perhaps asked to join a plein air group like PAP-SE.
And that I am good enough to be able to teach and mentor/give back some of the fabulous things I have learned.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career? 

To have fun and be honest with where you are with your art.  I try to use my blog to share things I am learning along the way.   I think art is like golf in that your fundamentals need to be really sound to build off of then.  Make sure to get those correct and learn from good teachers who can zero in on your weaknesses. 

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist? 

That with hard work I can become a really good oil painter and do something with this.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate!

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Sunny Beach!

Book or movie? Book

Favorite author? Anything Art related

Favorite movie? Any movie with daughters-girl time!

Romance or comedy?  Romance with some comedy

Favorite ice cream flavor?  Turtle Tracks

Night owl or morning person?  Morning

Cake or Cupcakes?   Cake- I make this killer triple layer chocolate mocha cake with real whipping cream

Thanks Carrie- I enjoy your Friday Features and happy to be one :)

Thank you Kathy you are an inspiration:)


Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Bunny

Hi Everyone,

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  I had a busy few days.  Thursday I was a feature artist at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, I did my first painting demo, I'll talk more about this on Wednesday's post.  My fabulous in-laws came in to town to watch my boys and help me out this weekend.

I did find time to paint this guy.  I really love this painting.  It's so Springy and happy!  I'm working on a companion piece so I'll have him finished soon.

"Spring Bunny" original watercolor on paper 6x6
Just a reminder I am having a workshop April 23, 24, and 25 in Montgomery, AL for details CLICK HERE.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Feature: Sandra Busby

"Big Ted on Beethoven" by Sandra Busby
Hi Everyone,

I will admit to you that Friday snuck up on me this week:)  Anyone else feel like March is flying by?  Without further ado I will introduce you to my feature this week.

I met Sandra through blogging:)  We became fast blogging buddies.  She is delightful.  Her spirit and fun come through in her blog and her art.  She has truly been on a journey and has come out on the other side painting her passion and it shows.

To see more of her work visit her blog

 How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

My friend and I used to draw all the time when we were little.
We’d make comic strips, draw people, make posters, collages... We would sometimes draw for hours!

Once I became a distracted teenager, my life took me in other directions and unfortunately, I didn’t pick up a pencil again until I was 35!
It was then that I realised how foolish I had been for not keeping it up.

A year later, armed only with the basic knowledge and an Artistic itch, I enrolled on an Arts Foundation Course, which I did from home. I completed it within a year and it was probably the best decision I’d ever made where my art is concerned. 

With a view to obtaining an Arts Degree I then enrolled on to the second year.
But unlike the foundation course, I soon began to feel stifled as though I was being held back rather than pushed forward.
I found it very difficult to paint subjects as dictated to me by the course and even harder trying to copy styles that didn’t come naturally to me.

After thinking long and hard about it, eventually I decided to withdraw from the course and that was probably the second best decisions I’d ever made where my art is concerned!
Free to paint as I liked, I began to discover how ‘Sandra Busby’ paints and quickly began to realise my own style.

Of course there are pro’s and cons to both going to Art College and being self-taught. Having done a little of both, I only know which suited me.

Where were you born?

I was born in the seaside town of Eastbourne, East Sussex on the South-East of England.
Now I live in a village just a few miles inland from there.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

Hmm… that’s a difficult question!
I’ve had all sorts of romantic ideas in my life of living in a country full of sunshine and culture. The bottom line is I would miss home. So, I choose to just visit other counties instead. I LOVE travelling! :0)

If I could live anywhere in England, as long as my family could come along too I would probably choose somewhere like Cornwall. It is one of the most beautiful parts of England situated on the tip of the South-west coast.
If I could live anywhere abroad and take my family, I would choose somewhere like New Zealand.

One thing I could never live too far away from is the Sea. Though it is 16 miles from where I live, I can still ‘feel’ it. Any further away and I immediately feel its absence. For some reason it just has to be close.
"Single Malt, No Ice" by Sandra Busby
 What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I seem to go through phases. I love painting glass – in fact anything that catches the light. I particularly love to paint these things against a really dark background, which really emphasizes the lights.
More recently I have been drawn to painting in a more vintage style with subjects and medium to suit. I’m quite settled on it to be honest.
I tend to bore easily though and so every so often I might decide to do something completely different in an entirely different medium!

I almost always prefer to paint subjects that I feel some sort of connection too.

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 

Hmm… Okay – let’s talk about oils then, since that is the main medium I am working with at the moment.

So, I work in layers. Firstly, having stained my canvas with a dilute wash, I transfer my basic outlines to the canvas. Then, I will start with a monochrome under-painting. This establishes my darkest areas and allows me to see in advance if something’s not working.

Next, I work from background to foreground, beginning with my darks. This is where I try to make the most of lost edges. Sometimes I can get the effect I want in just one layer, but other times it needs several layers. Sometimes I need a layer to dry before I add the next and sometimes I work wet in wet, depending if I need to blend areas or not.

I try to work transparently as much as possible, i.e. without the use of white. I don’t know why – somehow I feel that the painting looks less ‘chalky’. Of course white has to come in to it in some areas, but because I don’t use it much, it really sings when I do use it.

So, the lights come next and then once the whole painting is dry I might add further glazes in certain areas to bring more depth of colour.
Finally, I add detail and the brightest highlights.

My best friends are Liquin, Glaze medium and my Fan Brush with I couldn’t do without!
"Sherlock Wilson" by Sandra Busby
 You seem to really enjoy your bear paintings, could you talk about the personal significance?

Well, who doesn’t love bears? ;0)
It all started with a list of things that I wrote, of things I wanted to paint. Bubbles, glasses, marbles…
On this list was my Dads teddy bear, which he had kept since he was four.
It was coming up to Fathers Day and I decided it would be a lovely idea to paint the bear in a portrait style as a gift to him.

Whilst I was thinking about it, I decided that it would be nice to paint the bear in a vintage style, like the Old Masters used to use to paint portraits. I suppose I thought that this style would suit the bear’s age.
So, I painted him against a really dark background with a third of him disappearing in to the gloom.

I fell in love with the style as I painted and so decided to paint a whole series, which is currently in progress. Each bear is painted in what I consider to be my own take on the vintage style, with a contemporary edge - and I just love surrounding them with interesting objects :0)

How did you arrive at your current style?

Well, having withdrawn from the course, I quite literally rebelled!

I had spent a couple of years being told to ‘lunge’ at the canvas, to ‘throw’ paint around... I was so sick of the word ‘loose, loose, LOOSE!
I had begun to feel that so much emphasis was being put on imagination and ‘looseness’, and so technical ability came a very poor second!

Don’t get me wrong – I love loose paintings. I mean, who doesn’t love the work of Jean Haines and Shirley Trevina? But, that is their style. Try as I might, it just doesn’t come naturally to me.

I began to feel that I was being urged to follow a fashion – a trend. We were all trying to follow something that someone else had started.
The way I see it, with that comes the danger of becoming lost amongst many Artists, all doing the same thing. Fair enough, if it does come naturally and it is who you are, then fabulous! You will stand out regardless! But I was most certainly one of those who were lost.

When I withdrew from the course, I began painting things from my list of things ‘I’ had wanted to paint in the way ‘I’ had wanted to paint them. I began with glass.
I loved the freedom of being able to paint as neatly as I liked.

From that moment I have never felt the need to loosen up. This was just something that I had been made to think I should feel as an Art Student.
By Sandra Busby
 Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Well, yes I do. Rolf Harris!

I suppose it is because he has been around since I was a child. He was a TV entertainer and he used to paint with a huge paint brush on a wall. His catch phrase was ‘Can you tell what it is yet?’  I was totally in awe of him.
Of course he does fine art too and more recently he did a lovely painting of the Queen.
Not just that though – he seems to be a lovely, genuinely good man – and oh, his lovely Australian voice!
He is in his 80’s now and is still going strong.

My favorite of the Old Masters is Monet. I just love his paintings :0)

As for who has been my inspiration, well I get inspiration from SO many people!
Of course I get it from my family who are constantly re-assuring me that I am good enough! But I also get masses of inspiration from the blogs I follow.
Often, if I am having a confidence melt-down or an unproductive week and I feel bad about that, I will find that several other people have posted on that very subject.

I have learned so much from other people’s blogs; we all seem to feel the same insecurities about our work from time to time. We all make mistakes and we all struggle with sharing work that is not our best. I have learned that it’s normal to feel this way, it is normal to make mistakes and that is what has stopped me from hanging up my apron.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Hmm… Well, music!
Though sometimes on a sunny day I can feel quite happy just listening to the birds singing, most of the time I listen to music. It keeps me painting for longer.
Also, I seem to be much more productive during the spring and summer. I always feel happier and more positive and of course the days are so much longer.

More recently, I have started to sketch at least one simple thing a day.
Because I can spend a long time on just one painting, it can sometimes be weeks before I pick up a pencil. So, I decided that this is a great way of stretching my creative muscles and exercising my drawing skills between paintings.
Honestly – now I have started this – I don’t know how I managed without it! I have suddenly woken up to how quickly we can become rusty and how important sketching actually is and I don’t intend to stop any time soon :0)

Do you have go-to paints/colors and brands, what are your favorites?

I like Winsor & Newton paints. I used to use cheaper brands thinking it really wouldn’t make any difference, but once I signed the contract with a Gallery, I thought it was only right to move on to a better quality paint.
Now I have tried them, I realise that there really is a difference (though not in all pigments). And though I might try an alternative brand of the same quality, I wouldn’t go back to using the cheaper paints. It is true – you do get what you pay for.
"Ted's Bear" by Sandra Busby
 What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

Hmm... well, some are big and some are more realistic – At least then in five years I can look back and see I have reached some of them! ;0)

Assuming you mean all art related things:

  1. To have a solo exhibition – HUGE dream :0)
  2. For my bears to be displayed on a Gallery wall and to sell! WOOHOO! :0D
  3. To enter a competition and not necessarily win, but to do well in it
  4. To fill up lots and lots of sketchbooks and lose the fear of sketching in public
  5. For my husband to strip out my art room and re-design it with me - HUGEST dream, lol ;0)

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

·                     First of all, don’t expect to be good right away. It’s like riding a bike – at first, you fall off! It takes lots of practice, so don’t get disheartened when you make a mistake. Just learn from it! I still make lots of mistakes and I still learn from them – as do even the most accomplished Artists. It took me a while to get that!
·                     Try to draw something simple every day. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can see an improvement of hand to eye-coordination!
·                     Never throw away old work. It’s a good way of judging your progress :0)
·                     And most importantly - NEVER see an unsuccessful painting or drawing as a failure – but rather as another valuable lesson learned. And most definitely don’t see it as a waste of time.
by Sandra Busby
 What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Don’t be afraid of the dark! And by that I mean darks.
If your darks aren’t dark enough then your lights won’t sing. It’s interesting that the darker the darks, the lighter the painting can seem!
I used to be afraid to be bold, but paintings can too easily look wishy-washy without wonderful, rich shadows!

Oh, and sketch! Something I have only recently embraced :0)
"Codi" by Sandra Busby


Chocolate or vanilla?

Vanilla – YUM!!!

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat?

Sunny beach! There is no place I’d rather be other than under the sea :0)

Book or movie?

Both – except I don’t get enough time to read, so it will generally have to be a film

Favorite author?

Helen Fielding and J K Rowling! I love comedy and I LOVE magic!

Favorite movie?

Bridget Jones – Hilarious! And what woman can’t relate?
Harry Potter – Just magical in every way!
Grease!!! Classic! And John Travolta is just gorgeous!!!

Romance or comedy?

Comedy – No contest!

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Haagan Daz Pecan Nut and Caramel. Mmmmmmmm…

Night owl or morning person?

Neither! I need my sleep!
But - I am trying my hardest to train myself in to becoming a morning person!

Cake or Cupcakes?

Either!! If it’s yummy, sweet and it’s likely to give me a heart attack, then YES PLEASE!!!