Monday, November 1, 2010

John Salminen

Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a demo day featuring John Salminen.  Sweet friend and mega-talented artist, Nancy Goldman, also attended, and we soaked up many new ideas from this AWS Dolphin Fellow!  Initial technical malfunctions enabled us to have a lengthier time hearing about his background and mentors including six quarters of instruction from the amazing watercolorist, Cheng Khee Chee. Due to their style differences, I would have never guessed this influence in Salminen's paintings, but Cheng Khee Chee's words of wisdom were repeatedly acknowledged throughout the painting process along with a few techniques from another surprising influence, Bob Ross! A beautiful painting was accomplished in the day, despite the technology challenges.  Oh, how I wish I could have bid on the piece which went to the lucky bidder for a song! 

Unique tools were used including a Magic Eraser Original and a mouth atomizer.  Hardware store masking tape was a key player in the result. It constantly amuses me to hear how masters, such as Salminen, use such tools as generally "whatever brushes he gets" to produce such enviable results.  I am always eager to discover what secret brush or paint brand artists hold in their arsenal.  It actually runs through my mind that if I purchase that product (not necessarily USING it), my paintings will soar to new heights.  With an 84 color palette (ok...a slight exaggeration) and packages of unopened stuff in my closet, it hasn't happened yet!  I'm beginning to get the picture that there are a few important items:  quality paper and a handful of artist grade paints!  It has become clear that the more important ingredients are a knowledge of values, basic design principles, and color characteristics. Top that with actually cracking open some of those goodie bag tricks and practice, practice, practice to learn when and how to use them.

Even after viewing in person one of Salminen's mind-boggling masterpieces, I believe it was "Rainy Day, Times Square,"  I was still surprised to find he does 90% of his painting with a #4 brush!! 

They announced that Fealing Lin will be doing a demo on November 14th.  I can't wait to see yet another approach to this fantastically diverse medium of watercolor!


  1. J.Salminen was the Juror for WSO Spring of 2009 and all of us in the 5 day workshop were kept hopping with his demos and personal critiques. We also had the benefit and help of his wife helping with mouth atomizer instruction and taking photos of our completed paintings. He does a great workshop!

  2. Lucky you to be at a John Salminen demo. Love his work.

  3. Susan: It was a real treat to see him paint! This area has such a wealth of opportunity to view great artists. There are several clubs that host monthly demonstrating artists.

    Carrie: I was struck by how beautifully he and his wife worked together. She helped fix the technical problem, made sure the camera was highlighting his work, set up the painting for viewing,... - just kept an overall eye on things to make sure it went well. Sounds like she's an integral part of his workshop, too.

    The atomizer was great. It gave the benefits of airbrush without the technique overshadowing the painting.

  4. Give Fealing a shout out from me.. we were both with Ted Nuttall in Italy for a glorious workshop several years ago and I took her workshop in Dallas.

  5. I will be happy to tell her "Hello" from you, Nancy. Ted Nuttall AND Italy? WOW - that's a great combination!