Saturday, August 1, 2015

Artist on Artist Interview with Yvonne Hemingway

Today it gives me great pleasure in presenting New England Watercolour Artist, Yvonne Hemingway. 

I first discovered Yvonne Hemingway's watercolours on Facebook through the Quintessential New England: Paintings by Facebook Artists. I was immediately drawn to the intimacy of her works, the sense of light and, her choice of subject matter; flowers, insects, and birds; all things great and small found in well loved gardens. Her watercolours are wonderfully delicate yet bold and, very pleasing to the eye.  

And now without any further adieu here is Hemingway's interview along with selected works. 

Artist on Artist Interview with Yvonne Hemingway 

Yvonne Hemingway.

Polly - Hi Yvonne and welcome to the AoA project, it's a pleasure to have you here! Ok, let's get started ... how are you doing today!?! Can you give us a little introduction about yourself and what is your earliest memory of when you knew you were an artist? 

Yvonne - Hi Polly – Thanks so much for including me in your artist interviews. I enjoy reading your posts and seeing the lovely art you have created, and am so inspired by the talented artists you have featured. 

 For as long as I can remember, I have loved to draw, which may have had something to do with my mom also being an artist. My earliest memories are of drawing horses and other animals. When a teacher in grade school told my parents that I had artistic talent, is probably when I first began to think of myself as an artist. My pursuit of being an artist would later get me into trouble in other classrooms though, when I would get caught drawing instead of listening to the teacher’s history lessons. 

 In college, I started out taking art courses, but got discouraged because what was being taught at that time was all about abstract art. Today, I have some understanding and appreciation for abstract art, but at that time it was like a foreign language, so I pursued a degree in business instead. I have been working full time in an office setting since then and have continued to draw and paint as a hobby. 

 Over the years, I have had the opportunity to take classes and workshops with some wonderful artists who have helped me improve my skills and grow more confident as an artist. Two years ago I was invited to exhibit with four other area artists, and that was the push I needed to spend more time on my art and seek out more opportunities to show and market my paintings. I love painting with watercolors and have used them exclusively for the past 30 years, but lately I find myself gravitating toward oils and plein-air painting. I just finished a 3 day oil painting workshop with Charlotte Wharton here in Massachusetts and am looking forward to a 10 day oil painting holiday in France in August. It is my hope (and plan) to become a full time artist in the near future.

'Portland Rose Garden'. 20" x 23". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2013.

PollyOh! A 10 day oil painting holiday in France sounds wonderful - lucky you!! Can you tell us a little bit about this painting adventure; is it a workshop?, how you're preparing for it (any tips)?, how did it come to be? etc.  

Yvonne - Oh - yes I do feel very lucky to be taking this trip. I have never traveled overseas, and this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I will be attending a workshop in the Dordogne region of southern France with a wonderful painter from Flower Mound, Texas - Nancy Medina. I found Nancy through the online art venue FASO where we both have our website. I loved her style of painting and her warm, bubbly personality, and felt this would be the right trip for me. 

 We will be staying at an artist's retreat called Le Vieux Couvent which is a restored convent with a painting studio, gardens and pools. The owners are an artist couple who will cook for us and provide transportation to the surrounding villages each day. Nancy paints beautiful flowers and country landscapes in oil, and has planned a busy, exciting schedule for us that includes painting in the gardens or studio in the mornings, and sightseeing, shopping, and dining later in the day. We plan to take watercolors and a sketchbook when we are out traveling, and just do some journaling if we want to. I plan to spend a lot of my time soaking in the atmosphere, culture, and enjoying the local people and their language. And of course drinking wine and taking lots of photos too!  

 As far as planning and tips - Nancy has done most of the planning and has kept in touch with helpful tips and advice. Nancy will provide the oil paints and solvents which she will ship ahead of time. I have been researching and shopping online to find a wet painting carrier (RayMar Art), small watercolor set (Sakura), and watercolor journal. I found a great 5" x 8" Pentalic watercolor sketchbook with a handy travel paintbrush attached on Amazon.....Love It! Luckily, I already have my passport, and now I just have to figure out how to pack as light as possible, so I can bring back lots of souvenirs. Can't wait for the adventure to begin!

'Birds of a Feather'. 18" x 24". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2014.  

Polly - That's wonderful, I wish you a great with your trip! I'm curious, what was it about watercolour that attracted you to it?, and how would you describe your style?

Yvonne - What attracted me to watercolor at first was that it didn't involve chemicals, odors, mess and long drying time! Having a toddler around the house made it difficult to leave materials and wet oil paintings anywhere but under lock and key. So, I decided to take a watercolor course being offered through our local school system.  My first few attempts were filled with frustration and I was ready to give it up. Luckily, I was trying out this transition with a good friend who talked me into taking another course at Worcester Art Museum with instructor Bill Griffiths.  We learned a lot in his classes, and as I started to feel more comfortable with the medium, I began to appreciate it's unpredictable nature and the variety of properties each pigment offers, i.e. transparent, staining, opaque, sedimentary. Now I love the spontaneous effect of flooding the paper with water, adding color and seeing what happens!

My style is based in realism. Detail and bold colors are important to me, as well as trying to capture the essence of the atmosphere and the effects of light and shadow on the subject. I'm attracted to a variety of subjects, but find I am most drawn to the beauty and luminosity of flowers in their natural habitat.  

'Tiger Swallowtail'. 16" x 18". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2014.

Polly - Can you tell us about your studio space; where is it, what is it like, how do you keep it, etc? 

Yvonne - Like many artists, my studio space is a spare room in my home. While it is not the ideal studio, I feel lucky to have a whole room I can fill with all my art materials and have a private, peaceful, convenient space to create.

 The "creating" area of my room is in front of the windows with a drafting table set up for watercolor painting and a watercolor easel next to it. This way I can choose between standing or sitting while I work. It also allows me to work on more than one painting at a time, as well as switching to oils, a new medium for me, on the easel. Finding space for all the materials involved with the actual painting as well as the framing and marketing supplies can be a challenge. I try to keep things organized on shelves, bookcases and file cabinets, but most of the time it's more important (and fun) to be painting!

 Naturally, I dream of someday having an open, spacious studio with great natural lighting and wall space to hang my finished paintings. But for now, I'll enjoy the space I have, and work hard to make the dream a reality!

Hemingway's studio space. 

Polly - Do you have any studio rituals; do you listen to music, or audio books, or something completely different?

Yvonne - Before I begin painting, I like to spend a little time looking at some inspiring art work; sometimes from Plein Air Magazines, or from some my favorite art calendars that I've saved over the years. This helps get the creative juices flowing and makes me eager to get to work. I have some favorite music that I like to listen to - usually piano music by Joe Blanchard ....who I discovered playing at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, MA, and also guitar music by Chris Lonsberry, a friend of my brother.

'Nelson Farm - Sterling, Mass'. 15" x 17". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2014. 

Polly - Can you tell us who are some of your favourite artists and why? 

Yvonne - My favorite painter is John Singer Sergeant. Though he is best known for his oil paintings and portraits, he was also a gifted watercolor painter and produced over 2,000 works in this medium. The MFA Boston had an exhibit of over 100 of his watercolors in 2013. I had never seen a show of just his watercolors before, and was so blown away, I had to go back a second time and really observe his use of color and brush work. What I love most about his paintings is his vivid use of color and his fluid, spontaneous style. 

 After seeing that exhibit, I felt inspired to paint something in his style and using what I thought was his color pallet. I felt so “in the zone” working on that painting, and it turned out to be one of my best works, winning several awards. (Guardian of the Gardens) Winslow Homer has also been one of my favorite watercolorists. 

Some modern day artists that I follow online and/or have studied with are Fabio Cembranelli, Thomas Schaller, Annalein Baukenkamp, Dreama Tolle Perry, Margorie Glick, Nancy Medina and Charlotte Wharton. 

Hemingway's Watercolour Journal.

Polly - Oh yes, Sargent's and Homer's watercolours are excellent! I'm curious; what has been the most challenging aspect for you as an artist?

Yvonne - Sometimes, finding the time, motivation and inspiration to be creative can be a challenge. Staying connected with other artists and being involved in local art groups helps me stay focused and motivated on improving my art, and my life as an artist. The “business or art” can also be challenging and take up much more time than I want to give it. But…the effort seems to be worth it, as I have made so many new art connections and opportunities that have inspired me to paint more, which have led to learning more and improving my skills.

'The Guardian'. 26" x 20". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2014.

Polly - Yes, finding time, seems to be the great challenge for many artists; I'm curious who has been your greatest support with your artistic endeavours?

Yvonne - I would have to say my mother, who is also an artist, has been encouraging and supporting my artistic pursuits for as long as I can remember. My high school art teacher, Richard Pelletier encouraged me to go on to study art in college (should have followed his advice), and played a roll in my receiving some local ribbons and consignment work. In more recent years, my sister Susan Richard has been a great support as well as many friends and relatives, especially a wonderful group of artists I feel fortunate to paint with every week.

'After the Storm - Cape Neddick, ME.' 21"x 30". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2012.

Polly - If could own one famous work of art; what would it be and why?

Yvonne - There are so many that come to mind, it would be hard to choose just one. I would love to own any one of Winslow Homer's pastoral scenes; "Noon Time", "Boys in a Pasture", and I especially love "House on a Hill". I'm drawn to these paintings because they speak to the viewer emotionally about that time and place in a very simple, true to life way, and his handling of light and composition are superior. 

 Although I'm not a great fan of Van Gogh's art, I have always been drawn to his painting "Irises". At first glance I am drawn to the subject matter of flowers, the dynamic composition and wonderful colors. Then, knowing this painting was created during his last year of life while in an asylum in France, I sense he is trying to tell us something about his state of mind at that time. I'm sure there have been many interpretations of this painting: to me, the white iris seems to represent his feeling of isolation with the dark flowers and leaves representing his feeling of being overwhelmed by outside forces reaching toward him trying to destroy or hurt him. I was surprised to learn that the 3 top selling works of art at auction are Van Gogh's, with Irises being number one at $53.9 Million in 1989.

'Small Works White Flower Series. 8" x 10". Framed - Watercolour on 300# Arches Paper. 2015  

Polly - If you could spend the day with someone, dead or alive, famous or not; who would it be and why?

Yvonne - Hmmm ..... I can't really think of one person in particular, so I will just say a day in my favorite place (the seashore) painting with one of the many talented artists I follow on the Quintessential New England site.

'Easter Lilies'. 20" x 24". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2014

Polly - Where can we buy your art?

Yvonne - I am mostly selling my work online and at local exhibits/venues. I currently have a painting on exhibit at the New England Watercolor Society's Regional Show being held at the Cape Cod Creative Arts Center, 154 Crowell Road, Chatham MA 02633 (508) 945-3583. 

 For more info visit, and an exhibit of 25 paintings at the Townsend Meeting Hall Art Gallery located at the Townsend Public Library, 12 Dudley Rd., Townsend, MA. for more info: 

 My website is: and, I also sell from my Etsy Shop at

Summer Rodies. 25" x 19". Watercolour on Arches Paper. 2015

Polly - And lastly, what words of wisdom do you have to offer to young and, aspiring artists?

Yvonne - Well, at this stage of my artistic journey, I feel I still have so much to learn and can only share some of the knowledge I have gained from other generous artists and by trial and error. For me, I have found I have grown most as an artist by being involved in an art community; whether it's Art Associations, Online Venues, Plein Air Painting, Art Meet-up Groups, Painting Workshops - they have all lead to relationships with other artists whom I have learned so much from and challenged me to seek out new creative ventures and work harder at my craft. I think that if someone has a passion for art, they should find a way to fit it into their life. Not everyone is able to follow the path of "Full Time Artist", but by feeding that passion whenever possible, it can grow into something more than a career and add to a rich and satisfying life.


Polly - Thank you so much Yvonne for this wonderful interview and for sharing your beautiful watercolours with us!! I wish you the very best with your artistic endeavours and have a lovely time with your painting trip to France this month!!

And thank you to everyone for taking the time to read Hemingway's interview and viewing her works!! Please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.

'Artist on Artist Interviews with Polly Seip' / Yvonne Hemingway -August 2015.