Featured Artist

Bob Holmes, Millington, IL

I grew up in the town of Newton, Iowa. I started drawing at a young age, was recognized, and was rewarded by praise for my realistic depictions of objects. I copied cartoon characters from Peanuts, Tumbleweeds, as well as comic book heroes.

In high school I took most all of the art classes that were offered. However, when i started college i began as a History Major. At the time I lacked confidence in my skills mainly because of what I saw other students being able to do as well as lacking the creative aspect. I was a good copyist but that was as far as it went. I switched to an art major in my second year. I moved to Illinois after college to accept a job of teaching Middle School Art as well as coaching various sports for the school.

I taught Middle School Art for 34 years and teaching watercolors was one of the mediums I chose to teach to students. I have taught adult classes in oil and watercolor and still do so on occasion. However, after having taught for so many years I would rather find a painting group in which I could just paint along side others and offer advice and critiques if I were asked. I no longer want the responsibility for someones else's education. I'm more than willing to share my knowledge, just not in the formal setting of a classroom.

I have always had a love of the landscape. Landscape paintings have always caught my eye whether I see them in someones home or a place of business. When I look at a landscape I imagine myself being in that place taking in the atmosphere and being in the moment. I can distinctly recall a field trip during an early elementary grade when I saw a group of people out drawing and painting in a city park. I remember then saying to myself, that would be fun and something I would like to do. When I paint a subject I try and capture the light and atmosphere of the subject. I want the viewer, as with myself, to imagine themselves within that landscape. I feel this can only be done by recreating the light which in turn creates the mood.

I have always been inspired by Impressionism and the many artists who worked in that style. Among watercolorist I would say my biggest influences are Andy Evansen, Joseph Zbukvic, Frank Eber, Trevor Chamberlain, and Ross Paterson. For landscape painting in general I'm really impressed by the teaching and paintings of oil painter Phil Starke.

My biggest advice for watercolor beginners would be to find a mentor whose work really impresses you. Now that can be someone local or someone whose nationally known. If you can afford attending a workshop with a professional artist, that is, someone who makes a living at it, do it. If the artist has published books or created videos, get them. Study the materials and attempt their methods. Don't worry about your own style at first. Learn how to handle the medium. Experiment with it. Paint to practice and not to create a painting. If you create something that you feel is worth keeping, great, but at first it shouldn't be your biggest motivating factor.

Don't be in a hurry to enter in shows. Not getting in a show or not winning an award can be disheartening, especially at first. Allow time for yourself to grow and paint, paint, paint. If your drawing skills are lacking and you're trying to create representational work then you need to work on that as well. Look for local drawing classes either through community colleges, park district programs, etc.

Have faith and don't be afraid to fail. Many times I've had to take a leap of faith while working on a painting. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Either way you learn from it. I have redone many paintings. If you've done something once, you can always do it again.

An artists role in society depends on who you ask. Some feel an artist role is to affect social change, some feel its to create new and never before seen works, some feel it is to express deeper personal meaning, and some would argue it should do all three. I have a University education and have taken several workshops from nationally known artists. From a technical standpoint I have learned more from the workshops as well as from books and videos. The University education helped me to understand the reasons and purposes behind the various historical styles and movements.

I think that artists owe it to themselves to make themselves happy in what they do first. If that means creating work to attempts to affect social change, or to create a new art form, etc., more power to them. However, it doesn't have to. If you create work that's simply meant to brighten your world or bring happiness someone else's, it is not any less worthy. Let time decide who makes it to the museums or art history books. For me, I'm content trying to make my next painting better than my last. 

"I have seen, and created, paintings where the subject was interesting but poorly executed. And I have seen paintings where the subject was simple and made interesting by the execution of it."

I'm retired from teaching so now my days are what I feel like doing. Usually I'm up between 7 and 8 am have breakfast and coffee, read through newspapers online, check emails and social media and then either go into my studio and work, or go out driving to take photos for reference material, or run errands. My wife is still working so I try and have supper on the table when she gets home. Afterwards I'll either go back in to my studio to paint or mat and frame artwork or I will sit down with my wife to watch a favorite show of ours. When the weather is nice I will head outside to paint rather than go to my studio.

Currently my biggest sales are through local art festivals during the summer months. I have a website maintained by FASO, bholmespaintings.com. The Watercolor Addicts gallery is a second online gallery I'm associated with and I have a few works in the Galena Center for the Arts local gallery located in Galena, IL.

Honorable Mention, Prairie Center for the Arts Plein Air Competition, Schaumburg, IL
Acceptance in to the Art of the Heartland National Juried Show and Competition.
FAV 15% recognition in the FASO Boldbrush Competition for August, September and October.

First Place, Prairie Arts Festival, Schaumburg, IL
Second Place, Art in the Park Festival, Ottawa, IL
Southwest Artists Landscape Award, Art of the Heartland National Juried Show and Competition.
FAV 15% in the FASO Boldbrush Competition for March and May.

Ottawa Art League
Southwest Artists
Illinois Watercolor Society
Transparent Watercolor Society of America
American Watercolor Society
American Impressionists Society

Visit Bob's Watercolour Addicts' Gallery