Tony Sheets Watercolor West Demo

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Yesterday, my watercolor teacher who ya’ll know I love so much, took our class on a field trip to the Watercolor West Annual Juried Exhibition in Orange County and to learn from a wonderful demonstration by Tony Sheets. So cool.

Imagine being so good at your art that you could literally be in flow in a theater in the round with award winning artists (and a handful of rookies like me) all around you – explaining what you’re thinking even as you’re painting – with your every stroke magnified on a screen behind you!

Before he started his painting demonstration, he shared with us a wild and vivid dream he had where he was “visited” by his deceased father (famous Californian artist, Millard Sheets) which inspired a series of horse paintings he shared via Powerpoint.

Then, for his actual demonstration, he did something very cool. He painted the same scene – a boy flying a kite in one of his favorite childhood haunts, Barking Rocks on the Mendocino Coast: one representational and one stylized. Same artist – two totally different approaches.

As a screenwriting instructor, I well know that virtually any writing assignment I could come up with would get as many different genres, tones, themes, characters, situations and variations as there are screenwriters in the class but it was so good to be reminded that just as different artists approach the same material with their unique styles, we, as artists, can have just as varied a range of interpretations within our own sensibilities and abilities.

So often in Hollywood, we get pigeonholed into being this kind of a writer or that kind of an actor. It’s insane. I’ve never heard of a Michelin three-star chef being limited to preparing one kind of ethnic cuisine or a fashion designer being forced to stick to one palette of colors or type of fabric! As artists, growing and changing and experiencing different moods and challenging other points of view, if we’re not pushing our comfort zones and stretching our skills, then… are we still creating art?

The other thing I found wildly humbling (and inspiring) today was Tony Sheets painted two entire paintings in about the time it takes me to get my paints and supplies out! LOL! Wow.