Always Learning

January 1, 2015

Recently in my Saturday watercolor workshops, I told my students that if they ever wanted to go to a local museum to see a show, or to an art supply store, that I could easily be persuaded to join them.  One of my watercolor workshops students took me up on it, emailed me and made a date to go to a small, local, private museum, the Irvine Art Museum.  We went last Tuesday afternoon.

Mt San JacintoMt. San Jacinto, by Phil Dyke, one of the pieces in the Westways Cover Art show a the Irvine Museum, through 1/15/15

This small museum is “Dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930)”.  The show they have up now is of cover art from Westways Magazine, the monthly magazine of AAA. Up until 1981, Westways’ covers were all original artwork of landscapes, commissioned expressly for the magazine.  These works of art for the magazine covers are as wonderful as they are varied.

Many of the artists that were engaged to do the works are known California artists, including many of the California Plein Air watercolorists:  including Phil Dyke, Maynard Dixon, Maurice Logan and Rex Brandt, along with other plain air masters and illustrators.  For me its always just plain fun not only seeing the actual works, but also studying each piece, working out how each artist composed their painting.  And when I’m with students, talking about how the paintings were made, what the artists did to create their artwork.

For me, seeing original art is a ready-made lesson, where I get to study not only the images, and the techniques and visions of each artist.  My real excitement is seeing if I can figure out how the artist painted the image, particularly with watercolors and gouaches simply because its my chosen medium.  In general its fascinating to work out because in watercolors, you have to build a painting specifically due to the transparency of the paint.  The more I can glean from how each artist paints, the more it feeds my own work.  When I go home and paint, usually using the imagery I know, I try applying the techniques and colors I’ve just seen, and see if I can incorporate their colors, the economy of their brush strokes, and how they use dry brush over wet on wet.  I sat in front of this Phil Dyke piece of Mt. San Jacinto, marveling at the broad under-painting of the shape of the mountain, and then those very few, specific brush strokes that essentially show the mountain extrusion from the ground.  Wow.  

Want to see some of these treasures?  Just googlewestways cover art“.  Here’s a brief bio for Phil Dyke, too.  And if you can, go see the paintings in person.  There’s another one of the Grand Canyon that’s simply remarkable!  Thanks for calling, Lori!

Happy New Year!

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2 Responses to “Always Learning”


  1. Thanks. I will check this out some more. Happy New Year!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Kay Rosoff Says:

    Interesting, Jillsie!


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