Good art is the result of hard work and dedication. It only happens when the artist finds his or her own story to tell and then learns to do so with his or her own unique language.

I am an artist and writer who works in watercolor, oil and acrylic, and I teach private class in and around Northern Virginia, as well as workshops across the country and abroad. My blog is part behind-the-scenes insight into some of my paintings in progress, some recent writings, and a few complimentary lessons for you to take and learn.

My goal as a visual artist is to be creative and an interpreter of light and how it affects form and color.  As a poet I try to relate to the world around me and to strengthen my connection to the many small gifts I would overlook without taking time to write.

My goal as a teacher is to help my students learn to interpret the world around them — not to promote the belief that the goal of art is the perfect rendering of a subject. One of my core messages is: art is a creative process and is not just the sum total of the work we sell. In this era of digital cameras, iPads and smart phones, I caution artists to look — really look, both inside and outside — for the subject matter and not to remain fixed on the frozen images on the screen. Try to light the artistic fires, really make a bonfire. Otherwise, our work will be lacking everything but technique.

I am finally at the point in my art career where creativity and expressiveness are more important to me than my ability to represent things correctly. What I am working on must come from my desire to say something or to react to something, and not look like something. My concern is to let my inner creative voice come out on the paper, canvas or in my writing and to not be concerned whether what I am doing is following the pack of accepted traditional painters or writers. I want to tell a story, express a mood or reaction, and expand the boundaries of my creative efforts. Today, I paint, teach, and study art and all of these efforts make my work more expansive and personally expressive. 

Don’t be afraid to stand out and say this is me this is what I believe.

I began my painting with Skip Lawrence in his Laurel, MD, studio in the mid 1970s. I am fortunate that he was my first teacher. He stressed creativity, color, design, shape making and the need for the artist to be an individual and to tell their own story. He also introduced me to the world of great artists and wonderful watercolor painters. At the time, I really had no recognizable talent as a painter; he lit a fire in me and for that I am eternally grateful to him.

Now, some forty years later, I absolutely believe in and promote the ideas that were instilled in me during my three years with Skip. I continue to study the work of the great artists and have taken lesson with some fabulous oil painters and teachers over the last several years.  I thank Roger Dale Brown and Mark Hanson for their wonderful paintings and insightful teaching.

Art is not just about safety, sales, number of students, or awards won. Art is about creative expression and personal vision combined with the trained eye and hand. I am still in the process of becoming an artist and I am continuously fighting to lose my fear of putting myself in the painting and writing and my fear of the rejection of my ideas. I am striving to paint my own art and I am struggling with finding and using my own creative voice.

Welcome to my blog! Visit often. Stir things up in the comments. Learn. Buy a painting. Enjoy.

— Steve Fleming