My inspiration for Yellow Trolley
While on a trip to Berlin I took photographs of everything, including of the city’s brightly painted trains. As it would happen, after I returned to the states a gallery in Maine asked me to specifically create a painting of a train for a group exhibition. I’d never painted this subject, but I was inspired by the Berlin trains; Yellow Trolley was one of them. My most enjoyable part of painting this piece as discovering things along the way; the bus driver, for example, who was fairly hidden in the photo, as well as the signs written in German.
I spent about two to three weeks on this piece. One of the challenges was working with yellow: it’s very transparent in watercolors and I have to create colors that are darker than normal in order to obtain the right tone. I constructed several sample shades of yellow to see their appearance when dry, and then went with the best match.
I’ve created art ever since I was a toddler; I never had to make a decision about my career. In 1970 I received my bachelor of fine arts from the University of Illinois and my graduate degree in painting from the University of Minnesota one year later.
While I’m known for my watercolor and gouache paintings, I’m currently dabbling with oils but it’s difficult to stay clean and I seem to step in the paint, smear it and get it all over the place. I typically work from photographs except when I’m on vacation. That’s when I sketch plein air paintings. I often paint with palette, but I do use Naples yellow and Davy’s gray for toning down colors. Sometimes I add black to brown or blue. My students shy away from black having been told that artists are not supposed to use it. I tell them that we must be using it or else paint companies wouldn’t be selling it.
My inspiration comes from everywhere, especially when I walk, bike and travel as a car passenger. I see images that are funny, amusing and powerful in color or simply light and dark tones. My head is constantly swimming with imagery. I tell my students that everything can be transformed into a painting.
Edited by Cherie Haas, associate editor of The Artist’s Magazine.
Read about the winners of the The Artist’s Magazine‘s 27th Annual Art Competition in the December 2010 issue.
Artists of the Month are chosen from the list of finalists of The Artist’s Magazine’s Annual Art Competition.
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