An intimate conversation with Dai Wynn, artist.
Q. Do you specialise in oils or watercolours?
A. I paint in both media. I like small watercolours for their immediacy, and oils for larger canvases with depth and texture.
As a regular contributor to Pinterest, I have noticed a huge amount of interest in my freehand pen and ink sketches. I believe in fine draftsmanship and my watercolour paintings are based on ink “cartoons”* which add complexity of detail to subjects containing architectural forms. I rather like black and white “sketches” in their own right, so I have photographed my “preliminary” freehand drawings and have posted them in many forums. It seems people label them “Drawings”, or “Inspirations” or simply “Art”. Needless to say, a majority of my pen-and-ink sketches are now fully fledged watercolours.
* I use the old definition of cartoon which “described a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, fresco, tapestry, or stained glass window” rather than a modern two-dimensional animation, according to Wikipedia.
Q. Do you paint “plein air”, that is, in the open air in front of the subject?
A. No. Given that a majority of my landscapes are of exotic locations, mostly in Europe, it would not be possible to transport easel, canvas, paints and brushes to suitable sites, often swarming with tourists. Let alone spend several days at each location. Besides, I find the best compositions contain an element of ephemera. A fleeting shaft of sunlight, a short-lived cloud formation, or a brief sunset which can only be captured quickly in a photograph.
Q. Do you use stock images as subjects?
A. On a very few occasions, I have used images found on the Internet. However, 99% of “reference photographs” are mine, and I pride myself in having stood in an exotic location, composed the photograph, enhanced the image in my home studio and painted it. While I take great care in photographing scenes of interest, I am always surprised by the small percentage of my images which are suitable for painting. So, I can say with hand on heart, that I truly own copyright.
Q. Do you exhibit your work in galleries, art shows and art fairs?
A. Yes, I have exhibited oils on stretched canvas at community art shows with mixed success. The curatorial quality in these shows varies greatly, with great variation in hanging space, lighting and respect for artworks. Nevertheless, most people want to see the artwork “in the flesh” so to speak, and no amount of written description will suffice.
Q. Have you had success with sales online?
A. Yes. Interestingly, online art websites vary greatly in a great number of respects. Some are focused on fine art and display quality images, but have memberships in the millions. Others tend to emphasise craft rather than art. Most make money from the use of the digital image which can be printed on almost anything. A very few try to replicate the bricks-and-mortar gallery experience by building the perception of professionalism, even to the precise nature of packing and shipping the artwork.
Q. Do you frame your artworks?
A. No. Framing an artwork is a very personal experience. Generally a frame must match a collector’s décor. It must not dominate the artwork, but it must not jar in its surroundings. It is not unusual for a frame to cost as much as the artwork itself, so it is not something to be discarded at a whim. A frame also adds bulk and weight when shipping an artwork and, if a framed watercolour is protected by glass, it is also subject to breakage in transit. A wooden frame may be subject to a quarantine inspection at an international border, then fumigated or heat-treated if disease or insect infestation is suspected.
So, it is easier, safer and less expensive all round if an artwork is framed by a collector.