How Encouragement and Inspiration Lead to Better Artists

Meditation by Betsy Dillard Stroud, watercolor; art relationships, art encouragement, Betsy Dillard Stroud, Artist's Network, Watercolor Masters and Legends

Meditation by Betsy Dillard Stroud, watercolor

Teachers Influence Your Artistic Legacy

All my life I’ve been blessed with the best teachers I could hope for. First, my uncle Herbert with his Ph.D. from Harvard in English philology honed my skills in reading, writing and grammar. He also insisted my parents find a painting tutor for me and, thus, at eight years old I painted my first oil—an unrecognizable mish-mash of paint.

Nevertheless, when I cried that my painting was so ugly and my teacher’s was so beautiful, he replied, “But, darling, yours is a Monet.” He took me on my first trip to Europe, which was life changing.

To show my appreciation, I have written a book about my uncle and have included him in others. Recognizing the important relationships in my life was essential for my book Watercolor Masters and Legends. I wanted to thank the great artists who encouraged and inspired me. They are all beacons of light who helped show me the way.

Knowledge | Naomi Brotherton

Corner Store Closing Time by Naomi Brotherton, art relationships, art encouragement, Betsy Dillard Stroud, Artist's Network, Watercolor Masters and Legends

Corner Store Closing Time by Naomi Brotherton

Take a look at Naomi Brotherton’s “Corner Store Closing Time.” Brotherton explained the basics better than anyone I’ve studied with. She taught me about a thirsty brush, how to get in and out of a sky in 30 seconds, water reflections and “mud.” She made the ordinary look extraordinary.

At 97, she is still painting and just did a demonstration for the Southwestern Watercolor Society in early April on her famous “night” scenes. With great sources of light, her nightscapes are filled with mystery and intrigue. Usually, her subjects are simple yet they exemplify great skill in painting.

Growth | Morton Traylor

Self Portrait by Morton Traylor, Taxco Hillside by Gerald Brommer; art relationships, art encouragement, Betsy Dillard Stroud, Artist's Network, Watercolor Masters and Legends

Self Portrait by Morton Traylor

Morton Traylor was critical for my growth as an artist. With Traylor, I crossed that ambiguous gap between realism and abstraction. His quiet demeanor, obvious skills in teaching and painting (he was a student of the sculptor Rico Lebrun) made every class exciting. He would scoot me out of a painting rut and give me the courage to experiment.

One day as he looked at one of my drawings, he held out his hand and said, “Welcome to the world of modern art.”

The drawings I did in Traylor’s classes led me to Ed Betts, the next teacher who was pivotal in my learning.

Recognition | Ed Betts

Bait Wharf (Perkins Cove) by Ed Betts; art relationships, art encouragement, Betsy Dillard Stroud, Artist's Network, Watercolor Masters and Legends

Bait Wharf (Perkins Cove) by Ed Betts

Above is one of Betts’ representational paintings. The strength of it is truly amazing. Yet, it was my abstract drawings from Traylor’s class that Betts loved. He would show them to a class of skilled painters—which at that time, I was not one of them.

Throughout the years, until his death, he continued to appear in my painting life. I remember him showing my art to a workshop class and saying, “I want to see her paintings in 15 years.” Almost 15 years to the date, I got my signature in AWS; and two years earlier, I won a High Winds Medal; and both times, Betts was one of the award judges. 

Encouragement | Gerald Brommer

Italian Hilltown by Gerald Brommer; art relationships, art encouragement, Betsy Dillard Stroud, Artist's Network, Watercolor Masters and Legends

Italian Hilltown by Gerald Brommer

Praise and encouragement are essential to push you forward as an artist. The last teacher I’ll mention is Gerald Brommer, who said, “You always need someone to push you along.”

Taxco Hillside by Gerald Brommer; art relationships, art encouragement, Betsy Dillard Stroud, Artist's Network, Watercolor Masters and Legends

Taxco Hillside by Gerald Brommer

Brommer’s whole persona is one of encouragement and passion. His exercises are all imaginative, designed to stimulate and excite one’s creative spark.

As the first artist who broke open the collage world to the watercolor world, his contribution is unmatched and invaluable.

Honor Your Teachers

In the book, The Four Agreements, by Luis Ruiz, one of the agreements is: “Don’t take things personally.” This tenet is so important for all of us. To develop and become more knowledgeable, we must learn to listen in order to grow. Honor your teachers for they do influence your life. Remember to thank them. Their legacy is legend.

Meet Betsy Dillard Stroud

Betsy Dillard Stroud has been painting since she was eight years old. A former art historian, Stroud received her M. A. in art history from the University of Virginia. She is a signature member and Dolphin Fellow of the American Watercolor Society in New York; a signature member of the National Watercolor Society in California, the Rocky Mountain Watermedia Honor Society in Colorado and the Western Federation of Watercolor Society; Stroud is also a Royal Scorpion and life member of the Arizona Watercolor Society and a former president of the Southwestern Watercolor Society headquartered in Dallas, Texas. She is an acclaimed painter, winning many awards including the High Winds Medal in the American Watercolor Society in New York and, most recently, the 2014 Dr. David Gale Award in the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies. Learn more by visiting her website, BetsyDillardStroud.com.

Want to learn her masterful techniques? Take her Artists Network University on-demand course, Painting Abstraction in Watercolor! 

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