Five Questions For David R. Smith

Joining us for the first time this year is watercolor painter David R. Smith! David will be teaching his ‘Watercolor Journey’ workshop with us from July 12-18, 2020. He began his artistic journey studying Chinese Brush Painting in the United States and China. A decade later, he was introduced to Western style watercolor painting and was amazed at how enjoyable and forgiving it was compared to working on rice paper. Ever since, he has been hooked on watercolor painting, and has become a popular artist and instructor nationally, as well as a sought-after juror.

With over 20 years of experience as a public school teacher, David is skilled at breaking down complex concepts and skills into easily learned chunks to help students find success. As much as he loves to paint, he has found sharing his watercolor passion through instruction even more gratifying.

Q: How does your personal art practice fit into your life?

DS: Presently, I have a pretty busy teaching schedule, which has it’s unique scheduling challenges, and have little time in my personal studio. Since I’m traveling a lot, I try to work on my drawing and compositional skills while on the road in a sketch book or with different iPad apps. Though I miss my studio time, I love exploring the world, meeting new people, and sharing my passion for watercolor. When I do have a block of time that I can be in the studio, I make a priority list and find time to develop my skills through study and play.

Q: What are some of your favorite tools for creating your work?

DS: One of my favorite tools is the spray bottle. I love to spatter water periodically while painting to keep things loose and to help create the unique textures and interminglings of color that are unique to watercolor. Some other unique tools that one might find helpful are; a White Pastel Pencil – great for drawing on your painting, Packing Tape – great for masking large areas of white paper, and Fritch Scrubbers – great for lifting or softening edges.

Q: How has your work evolved over time?

DS: I’ve titled my web page The Watercolor Journey as I’m still very hungry to learn and develop my skills. All my paintings that have earned international awards and recognition have been completed using a process of preserving the whites of the paper with masking and then layering glazes of colors to develop my values. I love the end result, but actually prefer a more spontaneous approach to painting. Therefore, though I still incorporate the masking approach, more of my paintings are being developed with a more direct approach one might use when painting plein air.

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time?

DS: How many paintings I work on depends on the result I’m after and how complicated the pieces are. When preparing for a workshop, I typically have one or two going at a time. I allow one painting to dry as I begin the next stage of the second. However, if I want to develop a complicated painting that might be incorporated into an international exhibition, I typically put my undivided attention into that one piece.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop.

DS: When I plan my workshops, I think “What would I want to learn if I were a participant?” I then develop a series of paintings, along with reference photos, drawing guides, and outlines, that I feel will introduce folks to the most valuable painting approaches and techniques, given the time that we are provided.