Questions From Kids At The Albany Museum Of Art
Our EXQUISITE MINIATURES Touring Exhibition is currently at the Albany Museum of Art in Albany, GA. In addition to the crowds of adults that view our miniature paintings at these museums on the tour there’s usually school groups and art camps that directly involve kids with our exhibition. Below are some questions we received from kids attending a Spring Art Camp at the Albany Museum of Art and we thought we’d share our answers with everyone. (Part two will be posted next Wednesday)
- Why did you paint the “Barnyard King” and “Barnyard Challenger” as two pieces rather than one long painting?
WES: I painted the “King” in 2013 after visiting the Museum of Appalachia near my home. This rooster was one of several critters I felt inspired to paint. A year later, I painted the “Challenger” both to have a second rooster painting for a different show and also to eventually end up with a set of rooster paintings. To add more thoughts I’d say that these were painted as simple portraits. If I had wished to illustrate the competition between the two barnyard roosters, it would have been much better to do the painting as one long painting and I just may do that in the future!
- Are you self-taught artists?
WES: Technically no. I learned a lot in art during high school and even took private lessons my sophomore year. I then attended college where I studied both graphic art and fine art. I ended up with a BA in both fields. That said, I still consider most of my current abilities to be self-taught both through practice and studying how other artists work. All my “art business” knowledge and expertise in miniature art and miniature art history is self-taught.
RACHELLE: I met Wes right before I was getting ready to start college for art and that same fall I started taking classes from Wes along with a group of other students. In addition to my year of college classes, I also sat in on many of Wes’ other classes that he was teaching in various mediums so I learned a lot from him and the other students. Like Wes, I consider myself self-taught in miniature painting.
- What makes some of your paintings more valuable than others? Do you go by size, content, or how hard it was to paint?
WES: This is TOP SECRET information so we can’t tell you! Actually, we mostly tend to price by difficulty and rarity over size. Some paintings take 2-3 times as long to do and are far more challenging than others so these get priced higher. If we plan to never paint a subject again, or feel the composition was just too unique, we’ll price the painting more. Size influences price only somewhat. Our one-square-inch paintings will forever be only $595. This is due to a promise we made our collectors many years ago, as a way of blessing them and making sure some of our artwork could always be affordable. We never raised the price once we made that promise. Slightly larger paintings also are priced higher as well as paintings that may have received several awards. Our first miniature paintings painted in 1997 were priced at only $75. You didn’t ask, but the most we ever sold a miniature painting for was $2,500. Counting award monies and the sale price, the most we ever made from one miniature painting was just shy of $5,000!
- Do you take photographs of what you are going to paint?
WES: Yes, we both work almost entirely from photographs we have taken. Sometimes friends and collectors give us photographs to paint but we prefer our own. One of the most fun parts of our “job” is going out into the woods, zoos, aquariums, etc. to get inspired!
- How did you get inspired to make the subjects in your paintings?
WES: Partially answered this one above, which is by going places both old and new. Sometimes we’re inspired just looking out our studio window by a bird on a branch or something funny a squirrel is doing. We’re also often inspired by the light or colors in a particular setting more than the subject. I would also point out that both of us would say we’re additionally inspired just by the process of painting. It doesn’t matter what we’re painting. It’s just fun to do it! Starting with a white background and then end up making marks that looks like something is joyous!
- Do you draw before you paint?
WES: Yes, almost always for both of us with Rachelle doing a bit more drawing than me. Complicated subjects like boats, buildings and groups of animals tend to have more drawing. We use a really hard (4H) pencil to lightly draw what we do so it doesn’t smear. Mostly, I make a few general outlines of my main subject. Just enough to help me know where things are but not enough marks to mess up my painting washes. Some of my landscape paintings have no drawing at all underneath. Any “drawing” is done with the paintbrush. We both find it easier to “draw” the tiniest of lines with our brushes vs. pencils. Since we mostly work in opaque watercolor, our pencil lines pretty much disappear after just a few washes of color.
- How long have you been painting?
WES: I did a lot of painting as a kid so I’ll have to say 40+ years. I’ve been a professional artist (Making a living from it) for 27 years.
RACHELLE: I also liked to draw as a kid and used to paint with my granny. I have been painting full-time for 25 years.
- Do you research your animals?
WES: Yes and no. Sometimes something we see just inspires us, so we paint it. Other times, we go into the wild looking for a particular critter to watch and photograph. We don’t do as much sketching as most artists particularly now that we focus on miniatures. We also use the Internet to learn about animals and their behavior. That can be both good and bad. Sometimes, the Internet is wrong but the good news is that there’s always somebody out there that helps us when we need it. Rachelle and I both love bird watching and keep lists of the birds we’ve seen in our yard, in our lifetime, and on particular expeditions. We use a variety of field guidebooks to help us learn more about what we encounter in the wild.
~ Special thanks to David Griffin, Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Albany Museum of Art, and to the kids of the art camp for enjoying our show so much! ~