15 Traits that Signal a Healthy Artistic Process

The question I get asked most frequently by growing artists is “How do I find my style?” I am never sure if I can offer an answer that satisfies, as what I’ve learned over the years is that we artists are often asking the wrong questions.

You can’t pick your style from a list. Your style is as instinctive and intrinsic to you as your own personality, and that’s actually a really good thing! When you learn how to listen to yourself and paint from that inner artist, you will start creating your deepest and most authentic work.

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Free to Fly: Letting Instincts Lead the Painting Process

The giant “canvas” sat against my studio wall for months before I finally mustered the nerve to touch brush to paper. I had never painted anything larger than the standard “full sheet” of watercolor paper, so a piece of paper that was 20 inches longer is a big stretch for a watercolor artist! Just setting up a piece of paper that large takes time and effort, as wet the paper, then stretched it over a wooden frame, stapled it and allowed it to dry, tight as a drum. The investment of time added to my anxiety about messing up that big, white expanse of paper.

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Angela Fehr Comments
Guide to Working Larger in Watercolor

When you’re working in watercolor, a large painting is usually quite a bit smaller than what’s considered large in paintings on canvas. The largest common size for watercolor paper is 22 x 30 inches, so that’s one limitation. Watercolor brushes are scaled for smaller size paintings as well, and even palettes usually have small wells that won’t accommodate a large brush. All reasons why watercolor painters tend to work small.

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How to Keep Painting When Nothing Is Turning Out

There are times when I’m painting and nothing turns out. Nothing. The painting process feels off, my brush is clumsy and awkward, and the most promising beginnings turn into ugly, gauche messes. It feels like everything I thought I knew about watercolor has failed me, I’ve lost any skill I might have had and NOW WHAT?

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Plein Air Painting Workshop in Tobin Lake: Recap

When I was first approached to teach a 3 day plein air workshop in Tobin Lake, Saskatchewan, I said no. First of all, I was too busy, secondly, I usually teach 2-day workshops, and finally, PLEIN AIR? I don’t really qualify as an expert; I hardly ever paint on location. However, the organizer, Roberta, doesn’t give up easily, and somehow she talked me into coming to this beautiful lake resort area for a three day workshop, which ran last week. I’m glad she did!

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Why Plein Air Painting?

For many years, I refused to consider adding plein air painting to my artistic practice…I knew only that my plein air paintings showed the essence of my lack of skill more than the scene before me, and that didn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

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Angela Fehr Comments
Watercolor & Walking Tour in Italy, October 2020

It's absolutely a dream come true to be able to invite you to come and paint with me in ITALY! When I travel to teach and paint, I get to see the world and connect with students who love adventure as much as I do, and this seven night excursion into northern Italy will be our chance to see and paint some of the world's most beautiful views...together!

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A Series of Bad Decisions

All I ever wanted as a new painter was to paint something that looked like the picture in my mind, and every time my brush touched the paper, I was either moving closer to the dream or further away. And it was so hard to know! 

I’d put down a brush stroke and be stricken by doubt and immediately dab it up again. My left hand held the brush to apply the paint; the right hand, a wad of paper towel to lift it out again. So much uncertainty and fear of getting it wrong! 

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Angela Fehr Comments
The Easiest Way to Create Your Most Authentic Art

“I teach myself to paint every day.”

I think there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding professional artists. We have a level of skill other artists aspire to, and we often present our work with confidence and pride. Mistakes aren’t as visible, leading to the assumption that maybe we didn’t make any (ha!) and so often this leads to the idea that we’ve “arrived” at some place of achievement where doubt doesn’t enter, where struggle is past, where we are just able to do exactly what we plan to do in our work.

And maybe that is true for other artists. I can only speak for myself, and, having painted in watercolor for twenty-four years, I am still teaching myself to paint.

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Grandma's Hands

Authenticity in art comes from being “in the moment",” being present with what is happening on the paper and trusting that if I place the brush stroke that feels right, right now, the next step will reveal itself in the process. Maybe life is much that way as well.

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Bad Photos Make Great Paintings

Some of my favorite landscape paintings came from the worst reference photos. I can still remember the days of film cameras. We had a vintage Pentax and I wasted so much film trying to figure out the shutter speed and aperture, and when the photos came back I inevitably found myself with a handful of washed-out, bland images! I think this is the stuff we get to tell our kids,

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What Makes a "Heart-Led" Landscape Painting?

Is a landscape painting just a picture of a place? Or is it something more?

In landscape painting, our desire is to do something more than a photo can achieve. If you’re a landscape lover, you have a deeper goal than just showing the appearance of a scene:

  1. We love the process of painting - it’s just fun to paint!

  2. We want to express ourselves. In painting a landscape, we show OUR point of view, our experience -our feelings about a place, the memories attached to it.

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Art is where our spirits collide.

Fanna gave me permission to share a bit of our exchange as she purchased my painting, “If You Can’t See the Forest, Let Go of the Trees,” and the story behind the painting. Her email was so meaningful and I’m so honoured to be able to share part of it with you.

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How to Become a Loose Painter.

“Well, I guess I’m just not a loose painter.”

You’ve tried. You love the loose, intuitive style of watercolor artists like Jean Haines. You’ve followed tutorials and watched videos, but when you try to paint your own loose painting, you quickly fall into your usual habits. Detailed copywork of your reference photo, tight pencil sketches and muddy overworking seem to be an intrinsic part of your personal style, and you feel like it might just be the way it’s meant to be for you.

What style is for you? Can you choose your style, and when should you give up on pursuing the style you yearn to make your own?

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Is Your Painting a Fun Road Trip...or a Red-Eye Flight?

I think a good road trip is a lot like a good painting session. As we planned our Arizona vacation, many of our friends who had wintered in Arizona had advice on where to go and what to do. We did research, and made some plans, but once we set out, flexibility became essential from the moment we left home, as we started our trip with a canceled flight that tripled our travel time. Once we finally touched down, picked up our rental car and hit the road, we were not solely bound by the map and our game plan.

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