January 2015 Artist of the Month | Amanda Dicken

Congratulations to our January Artist of the Month, Amanda Dicken! She was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition. Her painting, Dad, is below. Keep scrolling to see what Dicken has to say about art and life.

Raleigh, North Carolina ~ www.artbyartmanda.com

Dad (watercolor and pen on paper, 18x22)

Dad (watercolor and pen on paper, 18×22)

Both my parents were artists, so I grew up in a very creative house and knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an artist. I studied art in high school and college, took a figure drawing summer session in 2001 at the New York Art Academy and studied art abroad for a month, traveling to Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France in 2000. Other than that, I’ve been learning on my own. My studio is stocked with oils, acrylics, pastels, charcoal, watercolor, Micron and Prismacolor pens, Plaster of Paris, colored pencils, and other assorted materials I’ve experimented with over the years. Once I get an idea for a piece, I have to make it in some form or another, whether 2-D or 3-D.  Portraits and figure drawing have always been my main focus, though I have worked in landscape and pet portraits when necessary for commissions. I am moving to Charleston, SC in the next couple months, and would love to open a studio there, not only to produce and sell my art, but also to teach kids and adults both conventional and unconventional ways of creating portraits and other subjects in a variety of mediums, including my own style.

I always start with photographs. Photographs are important because I use them to showcase the life I had growing up, as well as the lives of my relatives, from the 19th century on up through the present. Once I decide on a photo, I determine what size paper I need and trace out the drawing in pencil. I love the lines that contour drawing makes, and my pencil rarely leaves the paper as I create the details and shapes of the face and figure. Usually after a few attempts, I’ll have a workable drawing, which I’ll then trace over with a Micron/Prismacolor pen (either 01 or 005), erase the pencil, and do the background in a color suited for the subject, in either acrylic or watercolor. The acrylic tends to make the figure painted in watercolor stand out more. My watercolor palette rarely gets cleaned, with these colors and their mixtures in continual use for each portrait: Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Chinese White, Lamp Black, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Winsor Red, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Viridian Hue and Alizarin Crimson (all Windsor & Newman). I love watercolor because just adding water to a color I mixed three weeks ago for another portrait suddenly comes back to life. The colors are mixed according to the shades and tones I find in the photo, and sometimes I add extra pen lines for added shading. Depending on the size of the work, each piece usually takes one to two weeks to finish. “Dad” took about two weeks.

My dad has always been a huge inspiration for me. I wanted his portrait to show both his attitude and style, and luckily I found a picture my mom had taken of him that did just that.


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