Cogent watercolor painting insights to be had in absorbing the watercolors of Wendy Artin, an American artist living in Rome. “She’s very unusual because she doesn’t sketch her subject first,” says Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of the American Academy of Rome in this engrossing 2002 video.

“She watches what the light creates in her composition and she paints that effect,” Chatfield continues. “In other words, She doesn’t even paint the figure. She paints the effect of the light on the figure.”

Or to put it another way, Wendy paints shadows to reveal the form in the light. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and getting the effect is hard, Artin admits in her interview.

Wendy Artin, Arts and Minds, documentary film by Julie Kucaj of Bravo Television, Canada 2002

She made the most of a privileged upbringing, working ceaselessly at her drawing. “From candle-making to calligraphy, music dance and art, my parents put us in all the classes, bann4ed the television, took us abroad, taped up our drawings,” she writes on the articles page in her website.

“By junior high, I was drawing live models in neighborhood living rooms and statues in the Museum of Fine Arts with Andy Serbick; in high school, the highlight of my week was the muscular overlays in Anatomy with Joe Capacetti at the Museum School; I stayed awake late nights drawing.”

She earned her B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Fine Arts and French Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and her MFA in Painting, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

For a couple of years, she studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. She’s painted in Guatemala, Mexico, London, and Rome.

Last year, spectacular shows in Paris and Boston featured Artin’s watercolor studies of the classical architecture — walls, statuary, columns, bas relief sculpture, etc, — of ancient Rome. In these exhibits, her confident flourish and attention to detail, even minutiae evoke the bravura painting of John Singer Sargent – without his rainbow hues because she’s working with a monochromatic palette. Yet her black, gray, and sepia tones and palpable textures, evoke ‘color’ in her classical subjects with their theme of timeless, man-made beauty.

These Plein-air works are abstract celebrations of sharp focus photographic precision, the paint, and white paper (which Artin substitutes for light.) It’s a heady mix. Check out the watercolors on her website.


Paint a fairytale moment for the Oct. 26 group critique with guest instructor Robert Quackenbush

Longtime popular author-illustrator (of nearly two hundred books for young readers) Robert Quackenbush is our guest instructor for this month’s Marks & Splashes Guest Group Critique that’s set for Wednesday, October 26.

He’s prescribed for this session about as classic an assignment as can be tackled by a children’s book illustrator:

Create one piece of final art for a two-page children’s picture book spread for a fairytale you’d like to tell. It can be one you’re making up as you go along (doesn’t have to be written yet.) Or it can be one of the famous old ones (or not so famous) from anywhere around the world.  You can read Robert’s complete specifications for the exercise here.

Robert explains that there’s always room in the children’s book market for another fairytale (old or new) magically told in pictures. Need a video post to help get you into the fairytale mindset? Go here.

Your final art illustration can be created in any media (or a combination thereof, including digital) you choose. It’s due Wednesday, October 26.)
Robert will choose ten submitted scenes from the Guest Group Critiques October shared folder to talk about.  (We’ll cover the rest in future sessions.)

He’ll also discuss his own writing and illustration process and share some good tips gleaned from creating picture books (art as well as the text for them) for the past 50 years.
Get the full details for the October 26 live event. You can and register here.