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Iain Stewart

Workshop: July 18th – 21th, 2019; FOUR DAYS fee:  $795

“From Sketchbook to Studio”

Iain Stewart is a signature member of both the National Watercolor Society and American Watercolor Society. His work has received numerous international awards and been included in many national and international exhibitions. He is featured in the June issue of Watercolor Artist magazine and his painting “Fife Sheep” graces the cover. Iain will also be featured in North Light book’s Splash 16: Exploring Texture. He was awarded 1st place in Watercolor Artists Magazine’s “What do Love” Competition and featured in the July 2013 issue. Gothenburg by Iain StewartIain’s painting “Thurlow Dam, Tallahassee Alabama” was honored with a purchase award in the 91st Annual National Watercolor Society International Exhibition and his work “5th Avenue in Rain” was selected for inclusion in the Shanghai International Watercolor Biennial Exhibition. Iain’s work was also featured in the March 2013 issue of the international publication The Art of Watercolour.

Iain’s paintings have been featured in many other publications including Southern Living, Cottage Living, Better Homes and Gardens, The Robb Report and the French publication Pratique des Arts. Iain maintains a studio in Opelika, Alabama and in addition to gallery work he is an Architectural Illustrator with an international clientele and teacher of watercolor and design drawing at Auburn University.

Artist’s Statement:

Pratique des Arts, Iain Stewart When on location your sketchbook not only serves as a place to record your surroundings. It becomes a time capsule taking you back to the place, sounds, conversations going on around you, the seagull that tried to steal your breakfast, standing outside a fish and chip shop warming yourself by the fryer vent on a July day in Scotland, that perfect moment when your wife brings you a lavender ice cream in Provence just as you are finishing up your work for the day. Your photographs serve as all too impersonal representations of what it is like to recall where you were. Whether you spend 5 minutes or an hour sketching you will know a place so much deeper than a tourist with a camera collecting images could in days.

For every artist there is a process and the idea of a result and over the course of teaching across the US and abroad I have noticed one constant. The more you use your sketchbook the more you get out of your travels and the better your work becomes. This is my passion. This is my joy. When involved in the act of drawing on location I become me. I know I am creating memories and rarely worry about the outcome. After all it’s only a sketch right?

My focus over the last few years has been to recapture that feeling in my studio works. I will use site photography and sketches done on location to begin the important work of editing, creating a strong composition, and thinking in terms of shape and light rather than detail and other unnecessary clutter.

In fleshing out a painting you need not be fearless but you certainly shouldn’t be hesitant or put too much pressure on yourself to perform. If a work becomes precious then the natural reaction is to protect it. This akin to putting a chain on a young bird as it begins to spread its wings and to take it’s first flight. Allow your work the freedom to soar or, if need be, fail in a spectacular fashion. No middle ground- go for it and don’t worry about the results. They will come in time.

When moving from your sketchbook to the full easel set up and all it’s accoutrement there is a sense of now things are getting serious. Why? Don’t let those little voices start. Shut them down and enjoy being in that place at that particular time. Life is fleeting. Enjoy those moments. Cherish them and they will pay you back in ways you never expect.

This is my passion. This is my joy. Painting for the sheer pleasure of the process from Sketchbook to Studio. Whether the studio is outside or indoors is irrelevant as long as you do spend as much time as possible drawing from life. To be outside amongst the elements and in full view of your subject is the best lesson in painting or drawing nothing can replace that. When you do take your work inside your studio those lessons will become more and more apparent as you spend time observing. If you take joy in the act of painting and let go of the dread of failure everything will fall in place in time and with practice. You will begin to surprise yourself. That will lead to repeating the process and around and around we go. The true beauty of this is you are building repeatable habits that will allow you to see more difficult subjects in less detailed ways. By using a sketch as your starting point you are creating a map that leads you to the final painting. Most importantly you are teaching yourself the important lessons of self critique, composition, editing, and line work.


Iain Stewart