Since joining Facebook I have discovered numerous fabulous watercolour artists, of whom I was previously unaware. One such is the American Stan Miller. As well as watercolour Stan also paints with egg tempura. I am particularly enamoured of his portrait work.
Stan is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society as well as an AWS award winner. His website displays an impressive array of awards and he has also held several solo exhibitions, as well as exhibiting in many group ones. He has also featured in two books and a number of magazine articles. He teaches extensively and has also participated in what he terms travel studies, including Europe. Stan also acts as a juror. Full details are on his website http://stanmiller.net/ as well as more examples of his work. He also has a blog with more paintings and much else www.stanmillerartist.blogspot.co.uk/ .
This was a demo
9" x 13"
8" x 10"
This was also a demo
Venice Calm - 14" x 22"
Roses 9" x 16"
The above are just examples of his stunning work. Both the gallery on the website and his blog have many more.
As is my usual practice I asked Stan about the materials he uses and also his basic philosophy. The replies are closely linked as you will see.
With regard to palettes and paints Stan uses a John Pike but states `any palette or even a white plate will work'. he continues `I use a strong red, yellow and blue and do not have any particular colors that I always use. I continually try new and different colors...whatever I'm in the mood for...'
Paper preference is usually Arches in a variety of sizes. but to quote .. `I try a variety of papers, hot press,cold press, Fabriano, Strathmore, Bristol....whatever I'm in the mood for at the time'.
As for brushes, again whatever he is in the mood for, all kinds, no particular make nor size.
His philosophy is as follows:
`I tell my students to avoid formulas for painting. The idea that if one uses the brush, the paper, the colors, the techniques of the artists they most admire in the hope of being able to paint more like them is like dressing like Tiger Woods, using the same brand golf ball and clubs, trying to learn how to hit the `stinger' and other techniques he uses, in the hope that in doing this one would play more like him. Doesn't work that way. What does work on golf is: play golf about 6 hours a day for a year (use any kind of equipment you want and watch how much you improve!). Great art and great golf is 99% hard work and desire and about 1% equipment and technique Sorry for the bad news for those of you searching for easy solutions. If one wants to be really good at something one has to desire to be good more than nearly everyone else, but this means you have to work harder than nearly everyone else!'
There you have it with both barrels! My late father, a professional gardener, always said a poor workman always blames his tools. This is the same message as above couched in a slightly different way. I admit I've committed some of the `sins' Stan lists, although I'm now wiser - as I ought to be given my age - and more inclined to do my own thing. My guru Charles Reid always tells his students you shouldn't try to paint exactly like he does (chance would be a fine thing!). I still look to artists I admire, like Gerard Hendriks, for inspiration. There has been much negative comment in some of the art magazines of late, of artists who literally copy the style of well-established ones and indeed some are being promoted by galleries. I'm not talking about copying paintings BUT style.
My thanks to Stan for his co-operation and his thoughtful if pungent remarks. Having attended many demos and workshops, one of the things many students are most anxious to know are what paints, paper, palette colours etc the artists uses. They then desperately scribble down the answers and presumably spend money on them thereafter. I've done it!