The Product Is In The Practice

Diligence brings to light the works of Andy

Annelise Suber
Art Reporter

As a double major in Art and Computer Science, Andy Christianson has a knack for diligent study. After spending years honing his skills in pencil, charcoal, and watercolor, this artist has developed a particular eye for everyday scenes – still life and landscape to be exact. While taking a look at his recent watercolors, we chatted about Andy’s inspirations, realizations and advice about art. Excerpts follow.

Annelise Suber: How did you get started in art?
Andy Christianson: My dad was into art. When I was six, he bought a ton of Bob Ross videos, and got really into painting. I grew up with him painting as a hobby in the garage. In high school I started taking classes, doing drawing and sketching, and I liked it enough to take community college classes. By the time I got to Principia, it was clear I wanted to major in art. It’s my passion. I’ve been doing it for so long, there aren’t really words to describe it.

AS: Is there a subject you’re drawn to?
AC: I lean towards landscapes. With landscape, there’s space, there are atmospheric conditions, shadows and lighting. You can also find that that in a figure, but it’s the elements working together, certain spiritual connections, in a landscape that make it interesting. We’re used to seeing them everyday, and there’s a certain beauty we acknowledge in a good landscape. If you do it right, it feels real.

AS: How has your style has changed over time?
AC: Yeah, when I started drawing I was less skilled in anatomy and proportions, so I’ve definitely improved in sketching, painting and graphic design since high school. After color theory, I’m better at not being nit-picky. When sketching, I tend to erase and draw until it’s perfect, but with watercolor, once the paint is down, it’s down. I’m inspired by Impressionism–the way Impressionists simply used light and color to create the forms of people moving on a busy day.

AS: Whenever you’re creating art, do you have a specific goal in mind?
AC: It depends. I draw still life objects a lot, and usually I try to get as close to reality as possible. In order to be good at art, you have to be able to first draw what you see, and then that allows you to build from your experience and move from painting a still life to painting a landscape from your imagination. That’s one of the reasons why I practice drawing still life so often. I have a sketchbook and I try sketch on a daily basis. Art requires study, just like any other knowledge or skill.

AS: Has art helped you make any realizations about yourself?
AC: With art, you want it to be a certain way, you want it to be perfect on the first try. One important idea is that life and art don’t always go the way you want them to, but you can still find meaning and appreciation in them. Sometimes the message doesn’t come from the art itself, it comes from you–-from within, not without, and that happens in unexpected ways.

AS: What advice would you give to beginning artists?
AC: Practice everyday and be willing to let go. Even if you throw something together on your first day and you hate it. Sometimes the practice is more important than the product. One time I was painting in class with another student; I thought her painting was great, but she thought it was below average, so she ripped it in half. I realized that you don’t really gain anything from expecting everything to be perfect the first time. If you want to improve, it’s not about making it perfect, it’s about successively becoming better and better.

AS: How would you define art in one word?
AC: Feeling. Or communicative…I’ll go with expressive, that seems like a diplomatic solution.

— If you are an artist interested in being featured next issue, please contact the interviewer at Annelise.Suber@principia.edu

Image courtesy of Annelise Suber

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