I am trained as an architect and, as such, approach painting design with a very similar sensibility. I feel that I need to communicate the vernacular of place in a way that is deeply personal to me. I embrace a dialogue between the real and imagined- seeking a way to allow myself to express my personal feeling of being in a certain setting rather than being confined by the reality of it. That ebb and flow, the back and forth, are what I find important and are my motivation for all of my work.
Iain Stewart is a Scots born watercolor artist and a signature member of the American and National Watercolor Societies among other state and international entities. He has also recently been inducted into the Whiskey Painters of America.
His work has received numerous awards in international competition and hangs in many corporate and private collections.
Iain is a sought after watercolor instructor and juror and has been published in numerous books and periodicals. He has a 3 DVD set of instructional videos and is planning to shoot another set available in 2022. Iain has just finished his first book on painting; En Plein Air- Light and Color, Walters Foster Publisher.
Iain maintains a studio in Opelika, Alabama, and in addition to gallery work, is an Architectural Illustrator with an international clientele and teaches watercolor and design drawing at Auburn University’s School of Architecture.
Iain Stewart is a signature member of both the National Watercolor Society and American Watercolor Society. His work has received numerous international awards and been included in many national and international exhibitions. He is featured in the June issue of Watercolor Artist magazine and his painting “Fife Sheep” graces the cover. Iain will also be featured in North Light book’s Splash 16: Exploring Texture. He was awarded 1st place in Watercolor Artists Magazine’s “What do Love” Competition and featured in the July 2013 issue. Iain’s painting “Thurlow Dam, Tallahassee Alabama” was honored with a purchase award in the 91st Annual National Watercolor Society International Exhibition and his work “5th Avenue in Rain” was selected for inclusion in the Shanghai International Watercolor Biennial Exhibition. Iain’s work was also featured in the March 2013 issue of the international publication The Art of Watercolour.
Iain’s paintings have been featured in many other publications including Southern Living, Cottage Living, Better Homes and Gardens, The Robb Report and the French publication Pratique des Arts. Iain maintains a studio in Opelika, Alabama and in addition to gallery work he is an Architectural Illustrator with an international clientele and teacher of watercolor and design drawing at Auburn University.
When on location your sketchbook not only serves as a place to record your surroundings. It becomes a time capsule taking you back to the place, sounds, conversations going on around you, the seagull that tried to steal your breakfast, standing outside a fish and chip shop warming yourself by the fryer vent on a July day in Scotland, that perfect moment when your wife brings you a lavender ice cream in Provence just as you are finishing up your work for the day. Your photographs serve as all too impersonal representations of what it is like to recall where you were. Whether you spend 5 minutes or an hour sketching you will know a place so much deeper than a tourist with a camera collecting images could in days.
For every artist there is a process and the idea of a result and over the course of teaching across the US and abroad I have noticed one constant. The more you use your sketchbook the more you get out of your travels and the better your work becomes. This is my passion. This is my joy. When involved in the act of drawing on location I become me. I know I am creating memories and rarely worry about the outcome. After all it’s only a sketch right?
My focus over the last few years has been to recapture that feeling in my studio works. I will use site photography and sketches done on location to begin the important work of editing, creating a strong composition, and thinking in terms of shape and light rather than detail and other unnecessary clutter.
In fleshing out a painting you need not be fearless but you certainly shouldn’t be hesitant or put too much pressure on yourself to perform. If a work becomes precious then the natural reaction is to protect it. This akin to putting a chain on a young bird as it begins to spread its wings and to take it’s first flight. Allow your work the freedom to soar or, if need be, fail in a spectacular fashion. No middle ground- go for it and don’t worry about the results. They will come in time.
When moving from your sketchbook to the full easel set up and all it’s accoutrement there is a sense of now things are getting serious. Why? Don’t let those little voices start. Shut them down and enjoy being in that place at that particular time. Life is fleeting. Enjoy those moments. Cherish them and they will pay you back in ways you never expect.
This is my passion. This is my joy. Painting for the sheer pleasure of the process from Sketchbook to Studio. Whether the studio is outside or indoors is irrelevant as long as you do spend as much time as possible drawing from life. To be outside amongst the elements and in full view of your subject is the best lesson in painting or drawing nothing can replace that. When you do take your work inside your studio those lessons will become more and more apparent as you spend time observing. If you take joy in the act of painting and let go of the dread of failure everything will fall in place in time and with practice. You will begin to surprise yourself. That will lead to repeating the process and around and around we go. The true beauty of this is you are building repeatable habits that will allow you to see more difficult subjects in less detailed ways. By using a sketch as your starting point you are creating a map that leads you to the final painting. Most importantly you are teaching yourself the important lessons of self critique, composition, editing, and line work.
Select Awards / Exhibitions / Publications
- From Pierre Loti Hill- Istanbul “Art Appreciation Award” (2nd Place) at the 2015 Mississippi Watercolor Society
Grand National Exhibition
- Thurlow Dam- Tallassee, ALaccepted for inclusion in the 2015-16 Shenzhen Watercolor Biennial.
- Apse End- Notre Dame accepted for Shenzhen / NWS small image exchange 2015
- Chestnut Vendor- Istanbul “Dorothy Brown Award” at the 2014 National Watercolor Society All Members
- St. Andrews Boatyard- People’s Choice Award 2014 Signature American Watercolor Exhibition. Fallbrook, CA
- Watercolor Artist June 2014- feature article and cover art
- Thursday Afternoon Decatur Street- First Place Watercolor Artist Magazine “What do You Love” competition and
feature in the July 2013 issue.
- Delancey to the Williamsburg Bridge- 2nd Place The New York Society of Renderers cover competition.
- 5th Avenue in Rain- selected for inclusion in the Shanghai Zhujiajiao Watercolor Biennial at the Quanhua Watercolor
Art Gallery in Shanghai, China.
- Thurlow Dam from Fitzpatrick Bridge- Purchase Award. National Watercolor Society 91st International Exhibition
- Into the Quarter- 3rd Place International Watercolor Society’s 1st Annual Art Competition. Izmir, Turkey.
- The Art of Watercolour No. 10 March 2013- Feature Article
The Art of Watercolor No. 20 Sept 2015- Following in Sargent’s Footsteps. Article.
- Splash 15- 16 North Light Books
- From Photos to Fantastic 3 DVD Set – North Light Books.