If you are lucky, somewhere along your art journey, you find a special person who is always sharing her time and energy and knowledge with you. I have been extremely lucky to have one of the very best watercolor teachers in the world, Sandy Maudlin, teach me for 5+ years (I began taking weekly classes from Sandy in April 2003).
If you take lessons from Sandy you learn about composition, you learn about values, you learn that color gets all the attention but it's the values that do all the work. She tells you the same things over and over because, dull-headed and stubborn and, well, beginner, you, you think you can just play with those colors and get a good painting. You need to hear it again and again:
"Stop petting the paper."
"Put the brush down."
"Step back and look at where you are."
And best of all:
"I'm proud of you!"
She gives you honest critiques (you know when she walks by and says, "Well, that's interesting!" that it's crap but she's not going to say that! ha ha). She tells you the truth and mixes the "what you didn't do's" with "what you did right's" enough that you never feel like you've been attacked or not gently moved into a better position for the next painting.
In other words, she is the best and I recommend her to everyone. If you want to learn it from someone who not only is an award-winning artist but a fantastic teacher (and those are so hard to find), look her up, go to her blog, send her an email and find out if she'll teach you. You won't be sorry!
Oh, by the way, you won't just get instructions said and written; you will get new and improved information about paints, paper, brushes, and the latest workshop teachers and what they can offer you because she takes workshops from great artists and shares their latest techniques and styles and information, too. She introduces you to artists like Stephen Blackburn, Janet Rogers, Nicholas Simmons, and Carol Carter by hosting them for workshops in her studio. She tells you which artists really get her gold star for their knowledge so you can take a workshop from them. She lends you books on art and sometimes makes you something handmade for Christmas :) and always has a smile for you when you walk into the room.
In other words, it doesn't get any better.
So this is a love song for my watercolor teacher, Sandy Maudlin. I hope she knows how much she means to me and how much she has taught this little bird along the way.
And if I screw it all up, it's on me because it's not because I don't know better!