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


  1. Laura certainly does beautiful watercolors, Carrie. Thank you fro introducing us to her work!

  2. Another great Friday feature- I always enjoy learning about new artists! Laura does gorgeous work. Thanks Carrie!!

  3. I'm not sure if they are French-horns or Sousaphones, but those brass instruments are fantastically good, you could almost get an oomp-pa-pa out of them. The 'Black and White and Red All Over' works even better than the newspaper gag.

    Thank you, Laura; and thank you, Carrie. Another winner.

  4. Wonderful interview, Carrie....thanks so much for introducing me to this wonderful watercolorist.

  5. Your interviews are never disappointing to us. Laura Mitchell's work is wonderful. thank you for sharing.

  6. Carrie, thank you for sharing these great interviews with us. I love learning about other artists. It is interesting how I learn something new from the interviews despite being a blog follower of the interviewee. Also, loved your last post on painting a portrait every year of your child. I have 3 boys, I don't know if I could do this.

  7. Laura's work is so realistic, it looks like photographs. great interview, Carrie. Have a good week! xo

  8. Thank you for the Friday features. I enjoy reading about each artists approach and seeing their work. Very inspiring indeed.

  9. As collectors of Laura's paintings, we are pleased other artists and collectors are having the opportunity to see her outstanding use of watercolor to express what is interesting to her. Whether her visual reflections center on what is found in her home, refrigerator, or garden, she uses composition, color and light to create an image one never tires of comtemplating over and over again while trying to determine "How does she do that?".

  10. We have always been proud that Laura is our sister. We're happy that so many others are discovering and enjoying her work. Annette