Short comic bios
Interview with Virginia Watercolor Artist Ken Chasin|
Question – How did you get interested in doing drawing and fine art painting?
When I was 16 years old, I had outgrown my interest in playing baseball and didn’t know what to do with myself during my summer vacation. Someone suggested to me that I take up painting and learn to play tennis which I did. Little did I know that these endeavors would become life-long pursuits.
I started my adventure in the fine arts by enrolling in summer art classes at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York, I took classes in drawing and figure painting using oil paints.
Question – What Happened Next?
When I enrolled in college (City College of New York) I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to pursuit. I thought I wanted to become an architect but I was awful at technical drafting so the professor convinced me to drop out of the architecture program. I ended up settling on becoming a Math major and minoring in the Fine Arts.
Question – What About after College?
After graduating I really had only two choices what to do with my life. Since the Vietnam War was in full rage, my choices were to be drafted into the military and go to Vietnam or work in the defense industry in the Boston area and get a military deferment which I ended up doing.
Once settled in Boston, I pursued my fine arts passion and enrolled in evening classes at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. I took classes in drawing, etching, wood working and painting. It was here that I was introduced to watercolor painting. I decided to drop oil painting because it required working with toxic substances such as damar varnish and stand oil. Whereas watercolor painting didn’t and cleanup of your paint brushes was much simpler.
My watercolor painting instructor encouraged me to become a full-time artist. But after learning he was working three different jobs and I was making more money than him working one as an Associate Engineer I decided to keep my fine arts endeavors to being an avocation not a profession.
Question – What About Later?
As I got deeper into my professional career, I got more and more involved with computers and became an Information Technology Professional. I found after sitting all day at a computer I didn’t want to come home and sit more doing art work. Instead, I devoted much of my after-work hours to tennis and exercise, only occasionally doing my art work.
Question – When Did You Resume Doing Art Work?
As I approached retirement from the corporate world, I found myself with more time on my hands. At that point I started doing watercolor painting more frequently and wanting to improve.
My efforts were immediately rewarded. My painting of Georgetown, Maine harbor appeared in the 2011 AARP Foundation calendar. The painting was one of the 14 winners out of 300 entries. Over 800,000 copies of the calendar were produced and distributed. Lastly, the painting was auctioned off at the 2010 AARP Foundation Conference held in Orlando, Florida.
Question – How do you get your ideas for your watercolor paintings?
I use photos I’ve taken on my iPhone of various landscapes and seascapes in my travels around the United States. I am inspired by scenes that bring out the interplay of light and dark and have striking perspectives. Then I take it to another level and use photo editing software to exaggerate the colors in the original photo and the interplay between light and dark.
Question – How would you describe your painting style?
I would describe my style as photo-realism. I typically start a new painting by printing out a copy of the edited photo and then take detailed measurements of the contents of the photo. I use those measurements to do a detailed drawing on my watercolor paper. I typically use graphite pencils for doing the drawings and then enhance the drawing using artist pens and/or watercolor pencils.
Question – What are some of the biggest challenges working with watercolor paints?
Watercolors can be very unpredictable. Sometimes purely by accident you can achieve the exact effect you want in terms of brightness/darkness and color contrast. Other times the colors will fade on you and you have to do multiple layers to get the effect you want. Additionally, watercolor paints can be very unforgiving and mistakes can be very difficult to correct if you don’t catch the mistakes immediately.
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