Kyra is a 5th grader interested in becoming an artist. These are the questions she asked me. It's a little long, but several people asked to see my responses.
I tried to keep the answers short and not too complicated.
When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?
I've wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember.
As soon as I could hold a pencil I started drawing.
I started drawing members of my family and teachers.
Art was always my favorite subject in school.
I started college as a French major, but found I enjoyed drawing my books more than
reading them, so switched to art my Junior year. I'm so glad I did because if you do what you love for a living, it never feels like work.
What brushes and paints do you like painting the best?
I paint with both oil and watercolor. I like each for different reasons.
Watercolor gives such a fresh, vibrant look. When I paint with watercolor I do very
detailed drawings first. That takes a lot of time and concentration. When I paint with oil I just start painting. The oils are a little more relaxing because you can paint over mistakes. With watercolor you have to plan ahead because any white in the painting is the paper showing through. You have to paint so that you don't cover up the white. As far as brands I use several different brands of brushes, some synthetic and some sable. For paints I prefer Windsor & Newton for both watercolor and oil. For oil I use water soluble paints, which means you can mix the paint with water and wash the brushes with soap and water, rather than turpentine.
What type of picture do you like painting the most?
I like to paint everything, but probably prefer still life over landscape.
I paint very detailed so it's easier for me to focus on a close up of simple objects, rather than an entire landscape.
Are there things you dislike in some of your paintings?
Most of the time I am satisfied with my finished paintings. I think all artists could find something they would like to change or improve. I suspect that the average viewer would probably not notice what the artist would call a mistake. Sometimes I go back much later and decide to do more work on a piece. Sometimes, it's just better to start a new one.
Do professional artists use different techniques than beginners?
Everyone uses different techniques. I would say professionals have narrowed down the choices to what works best for them. There isn't a right or wrong way to do anything. Just use what feels the most comfortable and creates the effect you are trying to achieve. It is important to read and take classes to learn about technique. There are many shortcuts that can make the job easier.
What artist do you admire? What have you learned from them?
I greatly admire two artists in particular, among many. Georgia O'Keeffe and Leonardo da Vinci.
Leonardo was so much more than an artist. He was an explorer and an inventor.
He was always trying to learn more about the world and had a limitless curiosity about life. His quest for knowledge inspires me to keep learning and improving.
Georgia O'Keeffe was always true to herself. She did not let trends or popular convention limit her view of the world. She took simple flowers and painted them larger than life when no one else was doing that. She invented her own style and was a pioneer for women artists. I love painting flowers because of her work.
What watercolor techniques do you use most often?
I don't use any tricks or gimmicks. I strictly apply paint with a brush. I apply many layers of paint to achieve the color I want, rather than one thick, dark layer. I lightly wet my paper and then paint with a fairly thin mixture of paint. This would be called painting wet-in-wet. That means wet paper, wet brush. For very detailed areas I paint with thinned paint on a dry surface. That would be called wet on dry. The wetter the surface, the more the paint runs creating a blurry image. I prefer a more controlled, in-focus image.
I want to be a professional artist someday. Do you have any advice for me?
The most important thing for an artist to do is draw and paint everyday. The more you practice, the faster you will achieve success. Take classes. Read and study about other artists to learn how they work. In the beginning it even helps to try to paint like them until you can develop your own style. Go to museums and art galleries. Talk to artists. Ask questions. I would say you're off to a great start with this interview project. Good luck to you, Kyra.