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David Williams - October 2023

How and where did your art practice begin?

David Williams - October '23 Spotlight Artist
David Williams - October '23 Spotlight Artist

I remember drawing, coloring and painting as a kid. My parents encouraged me and even enrolled me in some extra weekend or summer art classes. Both my dad and grandmother were amateur oil painters. I started "real" painting with oils probably at about 10 but by my teens had moved to acrylics since I didn’t like the slow dry time and cleanup of oil. I painted a bit in high school and then more sporadically during college. When I resumed painting in my fifties, I found that my decades old acrylics (which I kept!) were in bad shape and ended up shifting to watercolors.


What draws you to your specific/preferred medium?

I love watercolors because it is alive. It flows and moves and will surprise you. Sometimes the best parts of a painting are those "accidents." I have a methodical mind and watercolor requires planning. It cannot be entirely controlled. Working with watercolor is a lesson in acceptance and letting go.


What challenges does your medium or process present and how do you adjust for or react to those challenges as they arise?

Watercolor often does its own thing. And as careful as you try to be, each brushstroke can be an adventure with color flowing into and altering already painted areas. When this happens, evaluate the result. The best response may be to let it be. Watercolor must be thought out because there is less room for adjustment than in other mediums. So think and plan before you dive in. But be ready for surprises and a wild ride.


Where do you draw inspiration for your forms/designs?

Inspiration comes from everyday life. When I see something that catches my eye, I snap a picture. Luckily we all have a camera on our phones so I no longer need to bring a dedicated camera along for source material. You can find me sometimes walking down the street or a path with my head on a swivel. I use a wide range of subject matter so nothing is off the table - I have quite a few paintings of alleys, construction sites or "found" still life (that is, I did not arrange the objects but found them in place on the street or perhaps a store shelf.) I am looking for something a bit unusual or a different viewpoint. The question is "How can I make this look compelling?"


How do you plan your pieces and how do you decide when they’re finished?

Planning and design is essential for watercolor. Most of my work is done in my home studio from photos. I pull them up in Photoshop to examine their potential. Cropping is usually needed to zoom in on the most interesting section. I like to have more than one photo from the same location so I can combine the best elements from each (or even introduce objects from a different location altogether.) I do a number of small pencil sketches to check the idea. Sometimes I will also paint a half size painting to see if the choices I am making will work. I paint quickly using a three step process (light values, midtones and darks with details). This results in a fresher and more exciting painting. The joke is that a painting is always finished 30 minutes before you think it is. So I try to stop before I believe it is done and reduce the fiddling and fussing. Checking the next day, I may find small adjustments to make.  Or a painting will sit for a number of months before I realize that it can be improved and how. Sometimes it means repainting the scene from scratch.


Upcoming events/sales/where can your work be purchased?

I have a number of my varnished watercolors in the Art Hub gallery on display and for sale. I am in several group shows, participate in multiple outdoor painting events (plein air) and also will be in a few solo or featured artists exhibitions each year. Artwork is always for sale at these events. Check my website at williamswatercolors.com/events to see which shows are happening now or coming up. You can also buy directly from my website or contact me for commissions.


What role do places like Art Hub play in having an art practice that is also a business?

Art Hub provides exposure to an additional set of potential art collectors. Whether it is visiting the gallery, taking a class (I teach a number of watercolor classes at the Art Hub) or just wandering in to check out the place, these are all opportunities for people to see my watercolors on the wall. Just to be known and noticed as an artist by new people is a positive.  A gallery space which actively sells artwork offers helpful outreach beyond hoping to be discovered on my website. www.williamswatercolors.com

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