Lynn McLain: Keep Your Eyes on the Road

Rolling Stone (watercolor, 22×20)

Road Chatter 8 (watercolor, 30×22)

A rusted manhole cover may not scream “art” to most passersby, but it can send me scrambling for my camera and itching for my palette. My goal is to portray the ordinary, even the mundane, in unusual and compelling ways. To do this, I rely on a simple approach to design and composition that can be applied to any subject.

Road Chatter 3 (watercolor, 22×30)

The key is to zoom in, focusing on unique textures and spatial relationships–crucial conceptual tools in developing a good painting. Dramatic lighting is equally important in a work like this, and you may need to use your imagination to get just the right effect. By starting the painting in an abstract manner that eventually emerges as realism, I’m able to get a paradoxical mixture of spontaneity and control in my painting approach.

Road Chatter 1 (watercolor, 22×30)

I use lots of washes as well as a salt-and-spatter process that creates a variety of textures. The salt is added at various stages, and I sometimes spatter at different intervals as well, as the effect you get depends on the wetness (or dryness) of the paper. This approach may continue through the drying process and is used on each element of the design.

Road Chatter 7 (watercolor, 41×29)

“Drawing with a pencil was a constant pastime when I was a child. In art school, I majored in fashion illustration and design. The training in drawing was invaluable,” says Ann Pember. After receiving a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art (Boston) in 1968, Pember worked 12 years as a freelance commercial artist. When she and her husband moved to the Adirondack region of New York state, she started a second career as a full-time painter in watercolor in a studio on the shores of Lake Champlain. She is the author of Painting Close-Focus Flowers in Watercolor.

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