From Downwind of the Rabbit Warren by Cherry Scott. An interview with a watercolorist, Landon Rex Stoltzmann.
CS: So of course, let’s start with that famous “how did you begin in watercolor painting” question. I wouldn’t be doing this right if I didn’t start there.
LRS: I was always interested in art. One of the best gifts my parents gave me were watercolor lessons with a local artist. Those lessons felt so different from the other ones I took as a kid—sports, music, etc. These were magical. You had to strategize a bit if you wanted white space. Watching a snowy landscape appear on the paper was magical. I found it immensely calming and looked forward to those lessons every week. I am so grateful that my parents saw fit to give me those lessons.
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CS: Why watercolor as opposed to oil painting or charcoals or–?
LRS: Oil is fun, but not as forgiving—for me, anyway. It’s more expensive with brush cleaners and such, and the paints themselves. Charcoals and pastels are messy, which is fun every once in awhile. Watercolors are really forgiving. I can let it dry, come back later, add water, and start again. I can have either a hard edge of color or soften the edges. It gives me room to think and experiment. If I don’t like what I’ve done, I can lift the color right out of the paper with a bit of water and a paper towel. I love that.
CS: Who do you find inspiring in the world of watercolor?
LRS: My original teacher, obviously, Jack Macavoy. If I walk into a gallery, I can spot her pieces right away. She’s leagues beyond me, of course, but has a depth of ability that includes fluid pieces, and pieces with distinct and defined images. The world of watercolor has both styles—and a very wide range in between. Also, Beatrix Potter, writer and original illustrator of the Peter Rabbit stories. All of her sketches are watercolor. Gorgeous.
CS: So do you call yourself a painter?
LRS: No. I’m a storyteller. Stories come in words, in pictures, in colors and lines. I’ll never be rich from either words or watercolor pictures, but they are my preferred media and I use them often enough to at least mush them together into one and calling myself a storyteller. The difficulty is that without words, you have to accept that your viewer won’t necessarily get what you’re driving at. All you have is a title, unless you have the chance to create a visual that’s evocative.
CS: You’ve said before that you love symbology. So what is watercolor symbolic of, do you think?
LRS: Oh, I love this question. I’ve already said this, but you can make a mistake, and while you can’t completely remove the color, you can make significant changes But obviously, technique is fused with your eye and experience. The more you have of all of those, the more pleasing the overall effect is going to be. So perhaps all of that makes me think of forgiveness; all of us are being made…and remade…and fixed…and fixed some more. A modern philosophy suggests that we’re all perfectly fine the way we are and have nothing to fix, yet we all are willing to agree with phrases like “practice makes perfect” and other basic ideas that disprove that at a fundamental level. Also, we send our kids to school…so we disprove that theory all over the place in daily life. That’s also true of our character, personalities, how we interact with others, etc. Frankly, I think all the fine arts are symbolic of our spiritual lives; always striving for better, more beautiful, and closer to the Master.
CS: Do you think people who don’t practice fine arts feel like the arts are symbolic in themselves (as opposed to just one work of art being spiritually symbolic)?
LRS: I don’t know—I hope so. I do tend to think that people who practice the fine arts on a regular basis almost have to philosophize about how they spend their time. I think it’s important to know why you do it if you do it a lot. I rather suspect that people who paint, or draw or perform only every once in awhile have a better idea of why they do it than “experts” who are always in danger of burnout or excess of fear or lack of ideas.
CS: What is something that you wish non-writers and non-painters knew?
LRS: In the full-on professional fine arts world, there’s the constant swirling conversation that “creativity is not exclusive to the fine arts.” EVERYONE is creative SOMEHOW; I think most practitioners of the fine arts are in some way eager to prove to everyone that creativity isn’t just writing or drawing or coloring or whatever. I would argue that we can’t help but be creative just in basic daily survival.
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CS: This belief is also part of your faith, yeah?
LRS: What I said before about creativity comes from my belief that what the Bible says about God “making man in His own image” includes creativity. God made the world and all we see around us; we, too, were made with a creative bent that drives us to philosophize, fix things, recycle, explore…it’s endless. I honestly think we would die without creativity.
There’s more, but for that, you’ll have to read the essay book…which isn’t on the market just now. But it will be. For now, this is a preview on It’s Raining Ink. Until next time. –The Rewriter