“When painting I use my own photographs and when working on a canvas, I am recalling the sights, smells and the sounds that were surrounding me at that time. Although the pictures form the basis of the subject, my mind remembers where I was at the time and is able to give the painting a life. My father painted for years and now all his children have his works gracing our walls. We are lucky we are able to daily see the memories he created and Mom’s quilts keep us all warm on cold winter nights so you see that it seemed a natural progression to use a paint brush.”– Lorraine Vatcher
Q. What medium or mediums do you work with?
A. Although I work with oil and watercolour, I prefer acrylics. They are, to me, the most forgiving because if you don’t like something all you have to do is wait until an area is dry (which is only a few minutes) and then paint over the section that you don’t like. You don’t have to use solvents to clean up or to thin the paints and there is a great deal of control in the paint. If you know how to use acrylic paints, they have the same intensity of colour as that of that oil paints. I have had so many people say to me, “You just can’t get that vibrant colour with oils!”. I do but it really comes down to knowing how to use the product.
Q. How long have you been an artist? How did you get started?
I started painting in 2001. My husband had kindly given me a painting kit for Christmas and my mother-in-law had been asking me for years to paint a picture of her family home (she had a lot more confidence in me than I did). The first picture is hidden in a closet; then I tried the homestead piece. I can definitely say that it is certainly not my best work of art, however, I can say that the bug hit me around that time and I have been painting ever since.
Q. Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
A. Although I consider myself more self-taught than trained, I have taken many courses and work-shops with noted artists and I read art instruction books continually. Training by instructors is good and gives a person food for thought because it opens your eyes to different ways to accomplish goals. Plus it gets you out in a circle of artists which gives you even more inspiration. I always feel more spirited after a course, even if I do not adopt the techniques the instructor has shown me. But I would have to say that it is practice which means more than anything. Painting even for fifteen minutes a day will make the world of difference in your painting.
Q. Do you have any favourite art supplies you would recommend?
A. Rather than recommend a brand, I would stress to get yourself artist grade supplies, not student grade. I don’t want to come across as a snob but cheap paints, brushes, and canvasses make cheap paintings. The brushes do not apply paint properly, the paint does not cover properly because it has not got enough pigment in it and the canvas simply does not give you the ground you need to properly paint what you want. There are many name brands out there which can deliver good to excellent artist grade quality. When you go to buy paints and brushes, get only the absolute necessity in good quality rather than oodles of cheap stuff.
Q. Do you work with specific styles or subject matter?
A. My style is definitely realist but my subject is far-ranging. The most important thing I look for is good composition, whether it be in still life, scenery or portraiture. I do not want to get stuck into an area of painting that I have grown tired of and by constantly changing my subject matter, I inject a new energy into whatever the subject is that I am doing at the time.
Q. Can you recommend any books, videos or other resources that will help new artists?
A. Four books I would recommend are: Classic Still Life Painting by Jane Jones, The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium by Phil Metzger, The 5 Essentials in Every Powerful Painting by Ramon Kelly and Color Harmony in Your Paintings by Margaret Kessler. These four books have so much to offer all painters, new and seasoned.
Don’t forget to frequent the library for all the information you can get. There are not only art instruction books, there are art appreciation and art history.
One other resource is to get together with other painters. I meet every Thursday with a group. We rent a large room with lots of natural light and stay there all day. The phone doesn’t ring for us when we are there and we don’t have to think about anything that may be pressing us at home. We critique each other when asked and are brutal with each other, however, not in a malicious way. Even though we ask for advice, we know our own minds and many times just follow our own instincts but because we are all artists, we get inspiration from each other.
Q. How do you get ideas to create a piece? What inspires you?
A. Ideas are all around, with even the simplest of subjects. Many times we just have to open our eyes.
My camera is my companion at all times and if I see something which captures my imagination, I use it so that I may go back to the images to get all the concrete information required. I take many images in as many different angles of light as I think will assist me. I have been taking photographs since I was in my early teens and back then learned what made a good photograph. Now most of the images I take are for future paintings so I try to arrange them to my own purpose. The inspiration initally is from whatever the subject is, as I see it at that moment. When I compose a picture now, the flash does not go on because I want all the nuances of natural light to touch my subject.
Q. Are there any artists who have inspired you and why?
A. My father never had training but he painted scenery that was special to him. He did inspire me but not because I ever watched him do a painting. I saw the finished product and admired what he was able to achieve. I cannot remember a time when I was not creating something. Because I was always creating clothing, knitting yarn, cross-stitching and embroidering, photographing, etc…, I just figured that one day I would try to do it. That, of course, did not mean that I figured I would be any good at it, just that I would like to give it a try.
Q. Do you have a website you would like to share?
A. Yes I do; it is http://www.lorrainevatcher.com. If you should decide to do this painting (click here to view the painting) , I would love to hear from you and get a picture of your work. In fact, if you have an opinion at all, I would love to hear.
Q. Finally, do you have any last words of advice for beginners?
A. There is no age restriction on art. If you are reading this, you have not wanted to stop learning. The best advise is to practise and don’t be afraid to take a critique. I know that the pieces we produce are our babies but if you really want to improve, learn to listen to good advise and learn to discard what is not good advise…it takes time.