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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > July 19 > Drawing from life

Drawing from life

Roger de Muth documents how his journey from professional illustrator to full-time artist has influenced his watercolours, including details of his plein-air painting kit and why he loves the Urban Sketchers movement
Utica, NY, Blue House, watercolour, 17X22in (43X56cm)

I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. As a young child, I traced images in children’s books and recently found one of my childhood books with pencil tracings around the characters in the book. In some ways, I’m still doing the same thing today at the age of 69.

In 7th grade I got out of detention to work on my teacher’s bulletin boards. That was enough incentive for me! It paved the way for me throughout high school and beyond. During high school I helped to build floats for parades, backdrops for school plays, and make posters for elections. I continued doing the same while a student at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. I designed large outdoor sculptures and worked with mechanical engineering students who did the lighting, and made the mechanisms move. It was incredible! What a great learning experience.

During the late 1960s I had the opportunity to design a poster for one of my teachers at Rochester Institute of Technology for a ‘foam-in’; it was called ‘Foam follows Function’. The quadrangle was completely filled with CO2 foam and students got lost inside the billowy clouds of foam. The poster led to an internship with the teacher in my junior and senior years of college. It was extremely worthwhile to work on actual jobs while working as a student – it made me more serious and focused. My goal was always to earn a living from my work so having an internship helped set the stage for life after graduation.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the July issue of The Artist full of practical features by our top team of artist-contributors to inspire your own drawing and painting. Learn how David Taylor captures light effects in watercolour, perfect your brushwork with Hazel Soan, paint a summer rose in five easy stages, and street scenes full of life and colour. Enjoy demonstrations on how to create depth in your landscapes, use pastels to express texture, paint a backlit treescape in acrylics, and how to develop compositions from original reference material. Robert Dutton and Judi Whitton offer advice on how to avoid overworking and make the right choices to ensure successful compositions, while Martin Kinnear explains how to manage colour for visual design purposes. There's also a wealth of information about competitions to enter, exhibitions to see, special offers, art world news, courses and holidays and advice on promoting your own work. Whatever your preferred subject matter or medium, there's something for everyone and plenty of ideas to try in your own work this month.