Interview with Lee Hammond: More Than a Teacher

Being an art teacher is more than just sharing drawing and painting techniques. It’s about guiding people and being a mentor and role model. Sometimes I lose sight of that because I’ve been doing it for so long. It just seems natural. I forget that my teaching, due to my instructional art books (find them at here), has a much farther reach than just my studio.

From time to time, I get email inquiries from art students all over the world. That’s when you know you’re doing something right. When someone from Africa says they’re using your methods to make money for their families, or a child from Europe contacts you about a school project they’re doing, the magnitude of teaching sets in. I love knowing that people all over the world are enjoying art because I have inspired them, and perhaps showed them something they never thought they could do.

Recently, I received two enquiries from art students who had selected me as a topic for their art studies. They sent me interview questions, to learn more about how I do this for a living. One student was particularly interested in my floral art. I figured if they were asking, maybe more people had the same questions, so I will share them with you.

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Advice for painting flowers, by Lee Hammond | ArtistsNetwork.com

I use color and details to hold the viewer’s attention in my floral drawings.

Interview Questions for Lee Hammond

1. What inspired you to begin painting, and why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
I was born wanting to draw. Who really knows where that comes from. I guess each of us is born with a desire and skill for a certain task. Both of my older sisters were artists as well, so watching them as I grew was very inspiring. I’ve drawn every day of my life. As for it being a career, that was not planned. I just took opportunities as they came. I did other things professionally, such as law enforcement and retail, but art always entered into it. That’s how I became a police sketch artist, and now own a studio and art supply shop.

2. Do you identify with a particular art movement or artist? If so, who and why?
I’ve never been a trendy artist where I followed certain techniques or other artists’ methods. Early on, I loved the realism of Rembrandt and Michelangelo, so I’m a natural realist myself. How I draw just came naturally to me.

3. Where do you gain inspiration for your work?
I seem to be inspired by life in general. An artist sees things differently. I’m always attracted to color, lighting and shadows. All subject matter is fair game for me. Each day is an opportunity for creating.

4. Which materials do you primarily use for your floral paintings and drawings?
I’m lucky to teach and use all of the mediums. But, for my floral drawings, I prefer to use colored pencil for color, and graphite for the black and white. I also like to use pastel in conjunction with my colored pencils, and find that using suede board or velour paper gives me the soft pastel-like look I crave.

5. Were you taught to paint/draw in the style you paint/draw in, or did you gradually develop these techniques yourself?
All of my techniques are self-taught. I have attended college, and taken various workshops throughout the years, but I slowly developed my own style, which I now teach.

Tips for drawing flowers, from Lee Hammond | ArtistsNetwork.com

Drawing flowers realistically is all about capturing the edges.

6. When choosing to paint/draw, do you take a picture of the subject and draw from that, or do you prefer to paint/draw from the object itself?
I find that drawing from photos is best for me. It allows me the time to really study my subject and take my time while drawing or painting. I also taught myself photography so I could successfully take the type of photos I want for my art.

7. When initially drawing a flower, do you draw the outline freehand or use more precise grid lines?
I usually create my initial drawing using a projector. This allows me to size the image properly on my drawing paper. I get the basic outline and placement, and then freehand the details before I begin the rendering phase.

8. What kind of effect do you intend your paintings/drawings of flowers to have on the viewer?
Nothing makes me feel better than seeing someone looking at one of my pieces and hearing them just say, “Wow.” Most will comment on the colors first, then they see all of the small details. I try to make my artwork hold the viewer, so they want to keep looking.

9. Is there anything you like/dislike about your work, or want to change?
Not all pieces of art are going to be perfect. You must realize that as an artist you’ll never quit growing and learning. I’ve learned to not get frustrated when things don’t come out as I thought they would, knowing that the next one may be amazing. That is what keeps it fresh and fun! I enjoy seeing my work evolve and get better with each passing year.

10. Do you have any other general tips for anyone wishing to draw flowers?
I always tell my students to just go slow. Don’t rush it. If you do, you miss all of the details that make subjects look real. Flowers require a lot of observation, so you can see how each petal overlaps. It’s all about making those overlapping surfaces look real by correctly analyzing the edges. It’s always about depicting the edges well! Look for the cast shadows, and the lighting on each petal.


 

Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!

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