Welcome to the first of what will be a long running series; the Blank Canvas Series – An interview with an Artist. We will interview a new featured artist every few weeks to share their insights with the Master Oil Painting Community. Feel free to write in or comment what artist you would like to hear from next.
Today’s Featured Artist: Bill Inman
Home: Muncie, IN
How Long Painting: 33 Years
Q: When you put up a fresh canvas do you always have something to paint in mind, and do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
A: To me it’s like music or books. Can you imagine, with decades of rock and pop songs out there and centuries of storytelling, that a musician or writer will somehow think of a new story or musical beat that is in any way different from what’s already been done? It seems like an impossible task.
When a song really grabs me or I finish another edge-of-my-seat book, I can’t help but be a little bit in awe at the seemingly endless creative imagination of so many wonderful people around the world! And now with YouTube the variety is expanding ridiculously fast.
Maybe for those song and book writers it’s a lot like what we painters experience – when we look around us beauty just seems to be everywhere begging to be captured in paint.
You’ve seen a sunset or looked up at the stars and felt moments when it took your breath away, right? That’s how I feel all the time. My mind is constantly whirling with ideas and images of paintings that I can create from the exquisite scenery all around me.
I’m hopelessly and joyfully captivated by nature because Heavenly Father has been so generous with us – the shifting colors in the sky at different times of day, the limitless variations of hues and textures and values within twisting trees and tangled grasses, blossoming flowers and swirling clouds.
It seems endless to me.
Look at what marvelous magic Monet performed with some simple haystacks.
After 30 years of painting I feel like there’s more waiting to be painted than I will ever have the time for.
Q: When you start a painting do you always use a reference photo?
A: Sometimes I make it up entirely – completely out of my imagination. But my imagination is fueled by direct observation of nature, like with Birdsong or Sunday Best that came from my imagination and memory.
In the videos I do for my students I now try to use reference photos for the paintings I create because it’s more instructive for them to have an image to look at so they can learn why I might change things or veer away from the photo, or why other times I stick close to the composition or details in the reference, such as with Finding Gold in Estes Park.
If I didn’t have the constraints of teaching I would be inclined to paint from life and my imagination entirely and not use photos at all. To a great degree it’s harder to paint from photographs than it is to paint from life because I have to think through what’s missing in the photo or how to adjust for missing values and incorrect color temperatures. At the same time, I’m very grateful for photography, it helps me remember details and events that I might have forgotten otherwise.
See More Work by Bill Inman: http://www.inmanfinearts.com/paintings.html
View Art Training by Bill Inman: https://www.masteroilpainting.com/
What a great idea to share the thoughts of other artists…. you are always striving to improve the content of your site. The benefit of the input of other artists inspires this student to try a little harder. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Cheryl!
My team is constantly working to bring more value to the site, and I am really looking forward this new series. There are so many amazing artists out there, including quite a few in our own Master Oil Painting community, and I’m as excited to hear from them as I am to share it on here. I completely agree with you that hearing from other artists will improve our site and inspire us to try harder.
I love your eye for color. Gorgeous.
Thank you Carol!
I continue to be amazed at how you juggle teaching, herding a gaggle of aspiring artists like us, and make a living as an artist. I am grateful for your help in these many ways.
So glad to hear your enjoying it Earl! Teaching has always been a passion, so I have no intention of slowing down, as long as my energy level lasts and Heavenly Father continues to direct me – I know we could not have accomplished what we have without His help!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift. You inspire me to want to paint.
That is what every artist and teacher hopes to hear Mary, thank you!
I have painted for may years and continue to be amazed at how much one can learn. I appreciate so much your willing to share your expertise and heart with everyone. Thanks again. I am new to your class and excited about where it takes me.
I am excited to watch your progress as well Marcea and to be a part of it! I will do my best to share what I have learned in whatever way I can think of that will be useful for you.
Thank you so much for all the time you and you’r family spend on other’s.. I have learned through you’r critiques of mine and other’s paintings… I am working on random strokes of the brush in my work and to watch out for Line’s of subjects in my paintings… Color temperature is a hard subject to explain and learn and I feel you are a Great Teacher. I thank you BILL!
That is so encouraging to hear and so appreciated Dawn! I am grateful for my family and their selfless efforts to help this all work. I could not dream up a more wonderful family to be a part of – I am truly blessed – or a more wonderful art family to share with and learn from. Thank you to all of you as well for being so good and generous with one another
Thank you so much for EVERYTHING you do to help us and teach us with your sharing your knowledge and paintings. So glad you are doing Monet and love the reference photo and you painting of it, to me is most helpful. Guess I am a visual person! (I know I am). I learn so much from the Q and A even when not my own painting. I probably need to find a grey scale thingie to help me out. When my son was in 3rd grade the school nurse called to say he had flunked his eye test and was upset because the other kids hadn’t. So I said no problem will come up and give the test to him so he will feel comfortable. My son and I went sailing the the eye test and agreed on everything we were so pleased and proud of ourselves. He went back to clas happy as a lark and they informed me I was color blind! Am still laughing I was 30 yrs old and had no clue I was but I am color blind. Had eye doc check it out and am. The mild form when it gets to pastels in light pale grays blues and greens so my daughter used to love to ask us what color something was and giggle her head off. I always buy matching clothes from the same company so I know the colors match! It don’t thing it makes much difference in my painting but might and am not worried about it. I think am more confused trying to convert colors to black and white and gray shades and know they have charts out there somewhere, would like to buy one. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!. Thanks again
So great to hear from you Patty! I have two professional artist friends who are color blind – Nathan Salano and Dan Woodson – who have both achieved phenomenal heights with their work and careers. Robert Moore at the Broadmoor and Trailside Galleries is also color blind and he is one of the top selling artists I know. So color blindness need not stop your success – push forward and follow your instincts and you will succeed! Great story by the way, thanks for sharing…
I can never thank you enough, Bill, for the impact you have had on my life as a painter. Six years ago when you agreed to let me come to your studio once a week was the opening of my painting reality. You nurtured, nudged, and taught me so much in that year. You gave me confidence and permission to be myself using my own style, yet helped me understand artistic principles that I needed. You are still helping me grow as an artist through all your videos and teaching. My heart leaps with joy how much your notoriety and business has grown. I think God has honored you for all the extended lessons and guidance that you have been willing to give to your students. Now, as you are partnering with your family, your growth touches many painters. Thank you again for teaching me to paint, to love my art, to clean my brushes, to focus on my strokes, to acknowledge the use of color, to include lights and shadows, and so many other things. You’ve impacted me for a lifetime.
Thank you Sandi, you have been an incredible blessing to our family as well – your kindness is contagious!
I have no training at all in paining, but I do paint although it is not by any means professional looking. Could you give me a great place to start…classes I could take…books I could read..etc? Thank you, your work is stunningly beautiful and I enjoy seeing it!
So sorry I missed your post Kathy until today.
There are some incredible resources for artists today! If I had to start with one book, and I wanted to master representational painting, I would start with Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima II Everything I Know About Painting – and More. It is one of the best resources for painters.
I am also a huge fan of videos and DVD’s – especially if you can find some that are more than just a quick demo. Start with artists that you admire most and see if they have videos available. I would practice with that artist’s method for 6 months to a year or 2, then take some time to follow your own instincts and experiment and practice for a while. That will give you some time to really zero in on what appeals to you about how that artist works and also what you don’t like as much. Then either go back to learn more from that artist with fresh, more informed eyes, or look for an artist that might be more in line with the newer informed understanding you have.
I still like to watch other artists paint because I never know what insight or technique will grab my attention and improve how I approach my art. My whole desire is to improve – to get better and better my whole life. I am an eternal student. 30 years of painting full time and I still feel an intense desire to learn more and climb higher – to make paintings that truly touch others’ hearts and inspire their minds, and I don’t feel I’m anywhere close to that yet.
If you are anywhere near Arizona, the Scottsdale Artists School is a fantastic place to take workshops from many of the top artists in the country. Never take a class just to take a class – make sure the artist is someone who’s work you really resonate with. There is too little time to waste any – if nothing is close to where you live, save up until you can take a week-long workshop from a top tier artist – I would also read reviews and comments by attendees to see if they are not only a skilled artist, but also a skilled teacher (a day or two in a workshop often is not enough to really get a grasp of what is being taught – a week works out much better if it is possible).
Don’t become a look a like – learn from the artists you study with, but follow your own instincts and imagination when it comes to your style or direction in painting. There is not any one best way to paint or best artist out there. There is a multitude of possibilities – never limit your own with someone else’s thinking or rules!
This is great. I will share. Can we have an interview with Curt Walters next?
Curt Walters is a fantastic request Valerie! I love his work. I loved living near Santa Fe in the 90’s and studying his originals in the Alterman Morris Gallery. We will definitely reach out to him.
Everything I see, I see as a painting. I love nature and most everything. I am all over the place about what I want to paint! I just joined your group and cannot wait to start to paint!! I need to learn most everything! I don’t know anything about composition or color mixing. I just love trying! I don’t think I will ever run out of ideas of what to paint because God has set the standard pretty high when it comes to creating,color,composition. Of course, He is the Master Painter!!
Great sentiments Alice! I feel the same way, I will never run out of things to paint – we are surrounded with so much beauty – God has richly blessed us. I hope you find plenty of useful information here that will help you progress in your journey.