An Unusual, Momentary Phenomenon

“I?ve been trying all of my life to be an artist, in one way or another,” says watercolorist Lois Salmon Toole. However, it?s not always been easy for the Chagrin Falls, Ohio, artist to find the time for her artwork. Married right after college to a businessman whose job required moving every two or three years, Toole?s artistic talents came out mostly in the posters, program covers and labels she designed for the clubs and organizations to which she belonged.

Poised On the Edge (watercolor, 28×21) was a finalist in the 2000 Art Competition.

Toole?s desire to be an artist could have been extinguished by these interruptions in her art if it weren?t for the inspiration that constantly surrounds her. “Inspiration can be anything that moves you, something to which you have a subjective reaction,” says Toole. “It could be the way light strikes a person, a tree or the coat of a deer. It might be the pose of a child, a cloud formation preceding a storm or the intense look of my grandson bending over something he?s painting&#151there are just so many things. It might be like Poised on the Edge was: an unusual, momentary phenomenon or sight.”

Toole?s 2000 Art Competition finalist painting, Poised on the Edge, may never have been created if the watercolorist didn?t closely watch the world for brief instances of inspiration. “I was delivering a painting to the upper floors of the BP building in Cleveland and I got to see these wonderful little balconies you can?t see looking up from the street. The glass of the building kind of wraps around, and the sun was setting at the point where the edge of the building meets the Terminal Tower, one of Cleveland?s landmarks. It was quite a unique sight, that sunset.”

Toole maintains that her ability to find inspiration is not a matter of an individual gift, but merely the way an artist sees the world. “Artists look at things differently,” she says. “Take faces. When my husband looks at a face he sees an identity. I see shapes and shadows, color and character lines. He?s much better at recognizing people than I am, because I?m looking for something different.”

Of course, it could be that Toole finds as much inspiration and motivation in restrictions and distractions as she does from the world around her. The constraints of watercolor taught to her by her college professors didn?t discourage her, but enticed her to develop her own method of painting. “I was taught the classic approach, which was to put the paint on the paper, if it?s not right, all is lost, throw it away. Never put wash over wash, because it can become muddy. A watercolor should look like ? you should always ? you should never? there were too many shoulds and always&#151it was too inhibiting. Too intimidating. And now, in fact, I like to joke that all my paintings are the corrections of mistakes”.

After several years as a commercial artist and freelance illustrator, John Budicin took the opportunity to pursue his dream of becoming a plein air artist when his primary employer moved out of state. Today, Budicin goes out almost daily and paints directly from nature, mostly scenes within 30 miles of his home in San Bernardino, California. He teaches painting workshops each year in all parts of the United States and recently completed a workshop in Tuscany and Umbria, Italy, that was sponsored by the California Art Academy and Museum. He has written for numerous art publications and his work was reproduced in 200 Great Painting Ideas for Artists (North Light Books). He is represented by Trailside Galleries in Scottsdale, Arizona; Galerie Gabrie in Pasadena, California; American Legacy Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri; and Riverbend Gallery in Marblefalls, Texas.

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