Interview With Irish Watercolour Artist Mary Crowley

"[This painting] is of two wee fishing boats that are always tied up at Leenan Pier in Clonmany, Co Donegal. I love to sit at this pier and watch the fishermen working. I often am found sitting on the beach opposite this pier just watching the waves- there is something hypnotic about the sea. I love waves, their form, sound, power and ever changing colours. I often try to catch that momentum in watercolours for hours
." -- Watercolor Artist Mary Crowley

What do you know about Ireland? If you're like me, most of your concepts of the Emerald Isle come from St. Patrick's Day Celebrations : shamrocks, and leprechauns, wearing green, and for some, drinking green beer. Some concepts come from movies - whether a political history such as Michael Collins or a romantic movie such as The Quiet Man or perhaps a television show such as BallyKissangel. Not having set foot upon Ireland's shores, I must admit that my ideas are somewhat limited. I hope travel will cure me of that one day, even more so after conducting this interview.

Recently, I found these stunning works online by Watercolour Artist Mary Crowley. It was their beauty that caught my attention. I never knew watercolour could be so vibrant! Upon further inspection, I found that Ms. Crowley is an Irish native, and that these paintings I admired so much were of Irish landscapes. I knew immediately that I wanted to present her work on this blog if she would allow me to do so, and I am happy to say that she agreed.

I hope you enjoy reading about her creative process and inspiration as well as viewing such lovely landscapes of the country she calls home.

Watercolour Artist Mary Crowley

I notice several of your paintings show your connection to the sea.

Safe Harbour. © Mary Crowley

Buncrana Blue Skies. © Mary Crowley

At Rest in Urris. © Mary Crowley

I have a deep love of Water and the Sea. I even bought my home looking out onto Lough Swilly. I find sometimes the urge to paint boats water and beaches will override my need to paint waiting commissions. I can be found sitting on the rocks near my home sketching waves and rocks and tidal pools. I am so content laid in bed listening to the waves crashing on the beach in front of my home. I think it mainly comes from living on an Island.

Speaking as an American who has never had the good fortune to travel to Ireland, what do you think would surprise people like myself the most about Ireland?

I think that most Americans would be surprised that we have all the modern conveniences of other countries, but we still have a strong sense of community. There are the usual touristy things like pubs with traditional music and dance. But we also have a thriving coffee shop and cafe culture, where the owners will come over and chat and discuss local events and welcome strangers. Mainly we as Irish people still have time to stop and chat and smile. Whilst walking down the street in the town where I live, most people will smile and say hello. If a stranger looks lost we tend to stop and help them, it is this friendliness that makes Donegal people so loved.

Forgotten. © Mary Crowley

How would you describe Donegal?

Donegal has been referred to as Ireland in miniature with beautiful, deserted sandy beaches dappled along its rugged coastline and breathtaking scenery amidst its unspoiled natural environment. The scenic mountain ranges and rambling hills offer boundless routes for hill walkers and hikers, while the beaches provide excellent facilities for sailing, swimming, water sports and fishing. Our scenery is literally breathtaking and we guarantee views that will lift your spirits and remain with you forever and the ever-changing seasonal shades and skies mean the colours and hues are always different no matter what time of year you visit. Donegal is an artist’s paradise.

Malin Head Sheep. © Mary Crowley

When I noticed that you describe yourself as a 'self-taught artist,' I found that incredibly encouraging. What, if anything, do you feel is the greatest obstacle in becoming an artist when a person learns the creative process in that way? And conversely, do you believe there are advantages to being self-taught as opposed to formal schooling?

Being self taught I found that the greatest obstacle to me was frustration - my disappointment at the time taken to learn each step in the watercolour process. I wanted to paint a masterpiece immediately. I kept repeating errors because nobody was there to correct my tiny mistakes. That made all the difference to the time it took for me to learn basic techniques. Having no curriculum to follow meant I learnt in a haphazard manner. I spent a lot of time trying techniques and processes that have not been relevant to my style of painting.

Finally a major obstacle was my discovery that an ability to draw is essential as a basis for a good realistic painting. My drawing skills were zero as I had never taken art at school, consequently my progress with this is still slow.

To me the greatest advantage to being self taught over formal schooling is I can work at my own pace and because I have learnt through trial and error I have my own style. I do feel that it would have been wonderful to have been classically trained in both drawing and painting. (Sadly not readily available to me) I believe formal training in painting and drawing techniques has an awful lot to offer a representational artist.

How did you get started?

Following a serious illness I started to paint, my doctors had advised me to take up something to help me relax. My Cardiologist was not impressed when I told him that I had decided to take up Watercolours, as an Oil Painter he felt oils would be much less stressful. He joked that Watercolours would cause a second heart attack!

Wish I Was There. © Mary Crowley

This does look like a glorious beach to get some sun and meditate.

Are beaches such as this one in abundance?

Inishowen, Donegal has some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland. From secluded, private coves, to long family-perfect strands and Blue Flag beaches. Nothing rejuvenates the mind and body than a stroll along an endless sandy beach and the roar and smell of the Atlantic breakers crashing on the shore. We are so lucky, Wendy you could practise your yoga happily here.

Shadow Play. © Mary Crowley

The Laneway. © Mary Crowley

The Winter Hush. © Mary Crowley

These landscapes seem like a good place for a walk. The light in all pictures is very lovely, even with the snow. Is it tricky getting the light right?

When I paint I try to relate what I see - I enthusiastically try to capture the light and atmosphere of my environs. The light is constantly changing in the West of Ireland therefore it is very challenging for an artist to try to capture it.

The Peace Bridge. © Mary Crowley

This print depicts the beautiful new Peace Bridge in Derry and The Guild Hall two of the best known tourist areas of Derry. This year 2013 Derry is City of Culture.

What happens in the City of Culture Event? Would you mind talking about that?
What would a tourist look forward to discovering  in Derry and The Guild Hall?

Derry~Londonderry was awarded the UK City of Culture designation for 2013. After many years of turmoil Derry-Londonderry is enjoying the dividend of the peace process and undergoing a renaissance, transforming physically and culturally.  Being designated UK City of Culture for 2013 enabled the city to accelerate the pace of change and provided a new story for the city to tell to the world. The Guildhall is a beautiful building and is well worth taking time to see. It is located in the heart of the city, just outside the city walls and close to the Peace Bridge.

The Guildhall. © Mary Crowley

Fashioned in neo-gothic style, the Guildhall is one of the most striking buildings in the North West and was originally built in 1887 by The Honourable The Irish Society.  The red sandstone building is of neo-gothic architecture, with Tudor overtones.

The Guildhall contains stunning examples of stained glass windows and visitors will be intrigued by its unique history and appeal.  The staircase, main hall organ and corridors give a fascinating insight into this distinctive building.

The cultural programme for 2013 featured a calendar full of big ‘cultural brands’ including the Turner Prize, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal National Ballet, and the Lumiere Festival.

The Pier to Freedom. © Mary Crowley

What were you thinking when you painted the Pier to Freedom?

I felt the woodwork on the pier was begging to be noticed, everybody steps on to the pier looking at the water. I felt the wood deserved to be painted as it gave access to the water’s freedom. I loved the colours, all around felt warm and was bathed in shades of green, even the shadows just made the pier look stronger.

Safe Haven. © Mary Crowley

The water underneath the swan and cygnets appears so much like the genuine article. How would you advise anyone having difficulty with painting water as opposed to land?  Would you mind describing a bit about your creative process in making it look fluid?

 I think I would advise anybody trying to get to grips with water, to stop looking at it as a solid colour, just find the shapes in the water and paint the tones you see.

I tend to paint water using glazes, with transparent washes. I apply my wash then let it dry completely and glaze another wash over some areas letting it dry before glazing again where needed. Sometimes an overall wash to join everything is needed to add that final depth to water.

Causeway. Antrim. Northern Ireland. © Mary Crowley

[About this work]: According to Irish legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than him. Fionn's wife, Úna, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby', he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow.

I love the causeway, I especially like it at first or last light of the day. I needed to paint the subtle effects that a colourful sky has on the rocks and columns.

Greencastle Gold Course, Co Donegal. © Mary Crowley

It has been said in jest that golf is "a good walk spoiled." Yet the scenery surrounding the golfers seems to be a bonus to the activity at hand. How do you decide what landscapes to feature in your art? Is there some particular element that catches your eye?

I am particularly drawn to light more than any certain feature, the “thing” that attracts me to landscapes would normally be the colour harmony or the intimacy of the place. Water can make me really wish to paint. I like the movement of flowing water.

When thinking of Ireland, I think of the description I have heard the most: The Emerald Isle. In images, Ireland does seem very green. Do you think that description does it justice?  Do you think it is accurate?

Yes Wendy, Ireland is very green… but if you really look into the details of our landscape there are many other lovely colours present. The description is apt and probably does it some justice – we have enough rainfall to keep everything lush. The word green in relation to Ireland is covered by the song words “The forty shades of green”

[About this work]: Carrickabraghy Castle, one of the iconic sites of the historic Inishowen peninsula, is now in ruins and in imminent danger of collapse. The Castle is of great architectural and cultural value and has potential to be developed as an educational and tourism resource that could create valuable jobs locally. I for one love visiting and painting Carrickabraghey Castle.

I am selling my Limited Edition print of Carrickabraghey for €35 and I shall donate €5 for each one sold to the restoration fund.

The closest comparison that comes to mind for me as an aged, historic landmark in my part of the world would be the Alamo. It would be devastating if it began to collapse and was left to do so without any attempt to restore it. I think it highly unlikely that would be allowed to happen, because it is an icon. Do you think Carrickabraghey Castle is regarded in a similar light? Could you explain what it is and a bit of the history?

Wendy I am afraid our wee castle is just a small local castle only important to the inhabitants of this area. It doesn’t have International fame like the Alamo.

Carrickabraghy Castle is one of the iconic sites of the historic Inishowen peninsula, it was in ruins and in imminent danger of collapse. The Carrickabraghy Restoration Society hopes to save the castle and preserve it as an important ruin. I shall have to repaint my picture as they have strengthened the structure so much.

Inishowen was the land of the O’Dohertys, it has five other historic castles, but the O’Doherty Castle at Carrickabraghy is the only one at present undergoing conservation. The castle was built in the 16th century, it was occupied by the Doagh Branch of the Ó Docharthaigh. Gearalt, a member of that family, held the lordship of Inishowen from 1526-1540 and it was probably while he was chieftain that the castle was built. On Gearalt’s death the lordship returned to the Elagh Branch where it remained until the death of Cahir (Cathaoir), the last chieftain of Inishowen in 1608.

The castle is one of my favorite places to sit and paint, it has the wonderful backdrop of the Atlantic and Malin Head, there is also an amazing blow hole behind it -where the sea roars up and belches out all over the rocks, quite an awesome sight.

What do you think it is that draws you, as an artist, to paint the landscapes of Ireland or anywhere for that matter? What do you think it is about landscapes, wherever they may be, that appeal to people who have never been there?

I think that my love of this area makes me want to capture it on paper. I love capturing a delightful scene no matter where I am. Beauty always makes me want to paint.
I enjoy looking at landscapes because I feel there is a rhythmical beauty to them. The skies, fields, buildings all of these elements blend their shapes into colourful or wistful beauty. I feel it is this rhythm that people who enjoy landscapes notice, it draws them to landscape paintings.

Do you ever use your art to promote local culture or events?

During the City of Culture celebrations Craft Connects with the Arts Council got me to host Watercolour workshops in the Craft Village in Derry to try to encourage the public to take an interest in painting. Local Charity’s often use my work to raise money for some particularly good causes.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I love my watercolours- I love the act of painting. I feel so content even complete when I pick up my paintbrushes. The pleasure I receive when playing with colour is immense. To be able to articulate the creative process through painting gives me great satisfaction and joy. I often get lost for hours whilst painting as my thought processes seem to switch to a different dimension.

Thank you, Mary! It was certainly a pleasure learning more about your Art, and also Ireland!

All images are used by permission, are property of Mary Crowley, and are copyright protected. Thanks!


Interview - UK Corporate Photographer Justin Short

When I was preparing for the April A to Z Challenge earlier this year, I sought out photos I thought were evocative, and then contacted the respective photographers to ask permission to use them. For me, there are many photos I find 'pretty,' but to me, evocative is the standard to which to strive in the Visual Arts in general. (I don't claim to be an expert, or a photographer in the technical sense, because I'm neither. But I do have eyes and I know what moves me personally.)

In the process, this particular photographer, who graciously allowed me to use one of his images as the letter P, also granted me the opportunity for an interview. I'm very happy to present that interview now.

Justin Short is a Corporate Photographer based in the U.K. Included in this interview are colorful, unusual, and beautiful images from all over the world.

Commercial Photographer Justin Short

Shortwork Photography 
Charlton Park
SN16 9DF
Tel:07850 689 699


Citroen 2CV  Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

This photo had a lot going on for my eyes to take in.

I noticed the very cloudy sky overhead – I can almost hear the thunder rumbles.

The tree on the right is kind of jutting out its leafless branches in all directions. It appears that a vine of some sort has climbed it and wrapped itself around it repeatedly in a vice.

It’s sort of a bleak background, kind of a ‘haunted novel’ feeling there.

Then, in the foreground, there is this beautiful car, in a vivid shade of color. The lights are on. (I think?) The car drew my attention also due to the curvy body style, like that of another era – at least when compared with what drives around in my world.

So there is this contrast of bleak stormy sky and shiny, beautiful car. But then, if you look, there is one tire twisted to the left-hand side, as if the car were parked in a hurry. That kind of ties the background to foreground in a way I think. Action is implied in both maybe.

Of course I realize that this is my interpretation of the picture and I’m having fun with it. With so much to take in, there could be quite a story there.

What made you choose that particular parking place and day to take that photo of your car? Were you consciously going for a contrast of darkness and light? About the car – would you mind talking about it a bit? Is it a vintage car, or did I get that wrong?

I knew this location as the tree had drawn my eye previously and the sky that particular day was perfect for a high contrast shot - hence the lights on the car as well! It's an old car, I used to own two of these old Citroen 2CV's which are real characters, though not the most reliable... Using red in dark photographs is a trick used by many visual artists.

I Am Crumpet 1   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

The fog, the dewy grass, and the dog’s fur all seem to flow together in color. The fence posts and dirt do the same. Did you feel that it kind of ‘flowed’ color-wise when you took the picture?

The caption says “My dog and muse.” That would seemingly be an ideal relationship when ‘man’s best friend’ is also a muse. How does Crumpet serve as your muse?

There are a few from the "I am Crumpet" Series that get a lot of attention and this is one of them (1,2,3 and 5 are my personal favourites)

Crumpet is my best friend - she's now nearly 15 years old and we've been through a lot together, walking every day for an hour or two around the estate I'm lucky to rent a house/studio on - think Downton Abbey!  In "I am Crumpet 1" the mist and frost combine to suck all the colour out of the scene leaving a sepia style cast - coupled with the receding lines of the fence and path, and Crumpet's gaze - it's one of the most sought after in the series! 

I Am Crumpet 2   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

I Am Crumpet 5   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

I Am Crumpet 3   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

Poppy Crab Fighting   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

Who won the fight? :)

 Poppy! Who's also featured in "I am NOT Crumpet 1" on Etsy

I Am Not Crumpet 1   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

Rome 1 Ceilings of the Vatican   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

Rome 13 Classic Colosseum    Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

What fascinated you the most about the city of Rome and the Vatican itself?

Rome was an amazing city, with sculptures and amazing architecture everywhere. The main challenge facing photographers here is the number of other people/tourists, so it's either an early start or clever angles to avoid them getting in the frame. I've put quite a few more shots up on Etsy recently, some showing more of the Vatican Museum as well, with more information on the shots there too.

Lamu Donkey Beach Portrait  Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photoraphy

This portrait radiates a sense of fun.

This is Omar, a friend of mine who lives on Lamu and always has a beaming smile - and who can blame him - life here is idyllic. Donkey's are the public transport system here and much easier to understand than the London Underground - and they know their way home, even if you don't.

I thought it was interesting that donkeys provide the main source of transport, since there is only one car for the entire island. This may show my ignorance, but I couldn't help but think: Who decides who gets the car?

 Only the island's Chief Commissioner gets to use the car, and only when it's working!
Kikoy Headdress   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography
The colors are vibrant here. 

This was one of the managers of a well known hotel on Lamu island and she had an amazing smile - though this is the shot that gets the most attention from the shoot as the colours work so well alongside the background texture and framing.

I love the textural similarities of the donkey's muzzle and the wall behind, as well as the angle of the shot - I have this as a large canvas on my office wall.

 If you traveled somewhere remote, and discovered that unfortunately you left your camera and all of the equipment behind, would the travel experience itself be the same for you, or would you be too distracted with all of the missed photo opps? Does that become too ingrained at some point to detach yourself from the impulse to take photos?

A really interesting question. I find that I'm always looking at scenes with a "photographers eye", and seeing how the light's changing as well as the subject - after a few years it becomes second nature. I do "go out" without any camera (or phone) with the intention of purely looking and appreciating, rather than attempting to capture the scene with a camera. Otherwise you can miss what's really going on around you - as a photographer it's critical you see and understand the light, rather than purely look at the scene..

Highland Cattle 1   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

Would you mind talking about these beautiful creatures, and the large structure behind them? What is it like, taking photos of them specifically, and on the grounds of such a pretty building?

That's the main house on the estate and it does make an impressive backdrop. I love these Highland Cattle and they've got used to me after many years wandering around their field at odd times of day and in odd positions. They can be a little grumpy, but I've never had any trouble from this bunch - yet!

Pig Me! Pig Me!  Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography
I am noticing that you really seem to have a gift to capture the personalities of the animals that you photograph.  In this photo, one pig is clearly climbing over all others to get near you, as children might do.

`Do you find generally that animals enjoy the attention in a photo shoot much like people do?  Do you feel that they often show the same degree of curiosity as humans do? (Even if, of course, they don’t understand exactly what is happening.) Have you ever taken animal photos and been surprised by their reactions to you?

I love photographing animals - I do corporate head shots quite a bit, and animals are generally much more fun - but you have to get to know their environment and behaviour to make sure you're in the right spot at the right time. That's true of Crumpet in the Cotswolds, lions in the Masaii Mara and eagles in Scotland - planning ensures you're more likely to capture the moment.

Elephant Study   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography
Giraffe Study   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

Did you actually get to walk around ‘up close and personal’ with the animals for these shots? What was involved? Did you get the pictures that you wanted to take? 

It's all about the access you have to rangers/trackers, cars, the animals themselves and time. The less time you have the more risks you take to get the shot. I often hide under the car for low level shots of large animals, though both the shots you mention were from evening walks with my friend/guide.

Has there ever been a time when ‘getting the shot’ meant risking danger, but in the process of getting the shot, you forgot about the risk?

Absolutely. I've been lucky enough to have access to vehicles and reservations parks in East Africa which gives you the time to learn how the animals react and prepare. Some of the wildlife is not that friendly - some can get hungry and see you as lunch. I've spent a long afternoon stuck under my car avoiding the attention of a lone young bull elephant - I think he was just playing, but I was terrified!

Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

I liked this children’s portrait - for me, I think mainly because it shows the child in action and happy.  I have heard people comment that when having their pictures taken, they don’t ‘pose’ well.  Do you think there is an advantage in taking pictures without forcing a pose, and what do you focus on instead when bringing out someone’s essence in a portrait? 

Even when posing it's important to keep your subject relaxed so they don't look forced. Moving around and chatting about them normally gets them thinking of other things, rather than worrying about how they look. I do prefer more natural "environmental portraits" and I shoot weddings in a reportage style rather than poses if I can.

Horse Abstract 2    Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

Close and Close Up 1   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

How do you try to see the world, and how do you think that shows up in your photos?

I try and look at the world around me from different perspectives, lying down or pearing up at sculptures in Rome, or horses in France - and find new angles that interest me. The horse abstract is one of my personal favourites, though nobody has bought one yet! I treat the Highland Cattle Series as you would human portraits, with sympathetic lighting and close framing, which gives them more character.
Poppers   Photo © Justin Short @ Shortwork Photography

What inspired your Poppers project? 

I was playing around with some animatronic eyes from another project, and decided the little round "dog chews" really "came alive" when I put a single eye on them. So I bought a load of them, and started playing with different set ups. They're about to be used by a T-shirt company for a new range this year! It's important to me to try out new ideas and keep pushing myself, technically and creatively.

Thank you, Justin! I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about you and your work!

All images in this interview are used by permission, are the property of Justin Short, and are copyright protected.


Interview With Artist David Lloyd

Houston artist David Lloyd's sketches struck a chord with me on sight.

At first, I was at a loss when I tried to find the words to identify what it was that drew me to his art in that way.  I felt the connection, but couldn't quite point to why his work triggered something both familiar and emotional within me.

Then I knew.

In my youth, we often visited my grandparents during the summers and holidays. Sometimes my parents would send us to stay with them for a couple of weeks. We played croquet or makeshift softball in the backyard. We played board games and card games with my grandparents. (My grandfather loved Skip-Bo. It was his game of choice.) In many ways, as my grandmother said more than once, she and my grandfather were like a second set of parents for us. We were so lucky to have that kind of bond.

The time with them was invaluable and I believe their love and encouragement did much to make us who we turned out to be.

My grandparents  kept a large collection of Reader's Digest Condensed Books around, and we read a lot when we were with them. Many of those books were written in the 1950s and 1960s. If you are not familiar with Reader's Digest books, they are (or were) illustrated every so often within each condensed book. and each volume would contain three or four books. I would say from reading those books that sketch illustration was very common in those particular decades. 

I enjoyed the fact that in the way the illustrations were drawn, the gestures and postures of the characters were suggested, yet the reader had some leeway in deciding what the characters might actually look like in the flesh. Some aspects were hinted about much more than defined. I read so many of those books, and even as a young adult, I appreciated that the stories were illustrated. (Which may be why I enjoy picture books both as literature and as an art form to this day.)

 In this interview, David Lloyd discusses paintings as time machines, taking us back to another time, evoking a memory. In style, his work certainly does that for me. Additionally, I cannot help but notice the freshness and a unique sophistication to his work.

Artist David Lloyd


What catches your eye in a scene that makes it something you want to sketch?

Light, first and foremost.  Subjects, no matter how inherently interesting, are not worth painting if they are not lit well.  Light is key.  As for my choice of subjects, that is based on a combination of my own interests and my best judgment of what my audience enjoys.  With my representational work, especially, I cannot afford to be passionate about every subject I paint.  But I do try to ensure that at least some viewers will be.

There are so many styles of painting and illustration. What made the sketch appealing to you? What do you think makes it interesting to viewers?

For me, sketches are a release valve.  As you may know, I make my living painting larger, fully rendered paintings for galleries.  This can be a tedious and stressful process accompanied by heightened expectations.  By comparison, sketches are raw, down to earth, and almost immediately satisfying...a real joy to do.  I think viewers appreciate sketches for the same reason.  I think they show an artist at his least inhibited, most relaxed, playful, and experimental.  It is a bonus, too, to have work that can be offered at a fraction of the price of gallery works.  There is nothing quite like owning original art, and sketches help make it financially accessible.

Do you remember when you realized that you had an interest and a talent in art?

Like most of us, I've been making art since childhood.  But I also learned early that while I had a natural interest, I didn't exactly have a natural talent.  I remember being very competitive about it with a cousin of mine, who was much more skilled than I.  We'd copy what we saw in comic books, and mine were always worse than his.  That must have really gotten under my skin, because here I am.  Of course, talent is a tricky term.  I believe less in talent and more in the repetitive building of skills and good habits.  I've always had the will to create art, but have worked my entire life to improve technically...a pursuit that continues to this day. 

The Train


Green Vespa
You have sketched various types of transportation. Do you have a favorite car to sketch? What interests you about transportation as subject matter?

If I had to pick a favorite, I'd say the Airstream travel trailers.  Not only because of their fantastic reflections, which are a lot of fun to replicate, but also because of what they represent.  I love traveling by highway, and there is no more stylish and romantic way to go than in one of these.  Though I am not a motorhead, per se, I do love looking at vintage cars, especially the quirkier models.  I find it remarkable how emotionally connected we are to our machines.  I don't suppose anyone could fully relate their life story without recalling some of his or her more memorable cars.  I know that when our family album comes out, attention is always paid to the dozens of cars mounted on those pages...each sparking numerous stories and delineating the various eras in our family history.

Foyer and Staircase

Dining Room with Decorative Plates

Dark Study
What do you look for in your creative process to create a sense of atmosphere? 

Light, again!

What makes a room interesting to sketch?

My studio, my life in general, is an absolute mess.  My interiors, though real places, are essentially fantasy pieces...any room that I can imagine myself spending a quiet moment in will do.

Are the scenes that you sketch completed exactly as they appear to your eyes, or do you imagine for instance a bookcase where there actually isn’t one and put it in your sketch? Do you use props in your sketches?

I do not intentionally add objects or rearrange the scene, though I often edit things that interfere with the composition, like awkward angles, clutter, etc.  I rarely depart from what is presented to me, though I am a great believer in simplifying as much as possible.  I am not freakishly interested in accuracy but I do try to get a fair representation.  I do not use props, unless I'm doing still life.

 What influences you as an artist?

As far as style is concerned, my initial influences have kept me on a path from which I rarely deviate.  My style is rooted in impressionism, and that's probably where it will stay.  I do still look at my contemporaries, but mostly to admire their creativity.  A patron of mine once insisted that an artist must look around and see what others are doing.  I think that's only true if the artist really wants or needs to.

How would you describe your art? 

A fellow artist once referred to my work as telegraphic, and I think that is an apt term.  To some degree I am a minimalist, seeking to find the most direct, efficient and straightforward ways to portray my subject.  But these moments of clarity are often interrupted by the occasional abstract shock, or subtle, whimsical passages easily missed if the strokes are not inspected.  To me, a successful work should look like it is struggling to hold itself together...as if the elements have materialized just long enough for you to admire them, and that it all might fall apart at any moment.


Gray Paris

Would you mind talking about ‘Gray Paris’? What inspired that painting? Where in Paris was it sketched?

I visited Paris in the year 2000 and came home with ten rolls of film.  I sort through them from time to time.  I came across this photo and was drawn to the combination of people and traffic, especially that white compact car.  I also liked the typical gray weather and thought it all added up to a great version of Paris.  We were just wandering about when the photo was taken so I have no detailed notes about the location.  It is so typical, it could be anywhere...I suppose that is, in part, what makes it a successful painting.

Have you sketched Houston landscapes?

Very few.  I have been asked to do more...perhaps I will in the future.

Do you have a favorite sketch that you’ve done? Why is it your favorite?

I have a small, relatively simple landscape that I kept for myself for no particular reason.  I framed it and happened to situate it in such a way that I see it every day.  I've grown to love it and I could never let it go.  The piece is nothing out of the ordinary, but my relationship with it, perhaps out of sheer repetitive exposure, has elevated it.  Precious few pieces stay around long enough for me to get so attached.

Great Dane

Tabby Cat Birding

Are animals difficult to sketch?

My answer is going to sound like a lecture, but here goes:

In theory, good technique renders all subjects equal. A good representationalist will trust his training and will look past his subject, especially if he feels intimidated by it.  If you understand the principles of your medium, subject and difficulty are not related.  There is no difference between rendering a tree, a boat or an animal when you consider that they are all created with color, edges, shape, tone, etc.  I submit that a painter could paint a perfectly described scene without understanding at all what she was looking at.  It is an obstacle, in fact, to know a subject as anything other than shapes, colors, values...when your psychology says to you "this is a dog...this is going to be hard" you've already made your first big mistake.

Retro Typewriter

Rotary Phone
What draws you to nostalgia as subject matter?

As with vintage cars, these objects have the power to evoke forgotten or buried periods in people's lives.  Reminiscing is a sensation like no other, but not something we often intentionally initiate.  Paintings are good catalysts, helping people recall meaningful periods in their lives.  Simply by asking someone to look at an object for a moment, they can be transported, reconnected.  In this way, a manual typewriter is really a time machine.  In my paintings I rarely feel the need to add context...the object itself is powerful enough...an empty room...a car...a rotary phone...because everyone has their own stories they project into the painting.  I do not need to dictate...I merely provide the stimulus to let the viewer make his own connection.  I am not a storyteller, but I like to think that I build great sets.

Any upcoming shows or exhibitions you want to mention?

I am taking time off from shows.  It is an exciting but very draining process.  For now, I'm letting my galleries handle things while I focus on making better paintings.  You can see what's new at Edward Montgomery Fine Art in Carmel, California.

 What do you like the most about what you do?

The opportunity to achieve a peaceful, meditative, creative state of mind on a regular basis.  And the commute.

 David, thank you so much! I really appreciate your time and thoughts for this interview. I especially appreciate what you said about not being intimidated by an image when trying to paint it. Speaking for myself, I had not thought of breaking it down in that way, and I genuinely appreciate your perspective!

In addition to Edward Montgomery Fine Art listed above, David can be found through The David Lloyd Gallery on Etsy or you can stop by his blog.

All images in this interview are used by permission, are property of David Lloyd, and are copyright protected.