Tina Bohlman has been painting since the early 1970s. For the first 20 years of her journey in watercolor she participated in an average of 30 competitions per year! The math on my napkin here tells me that is 2 or 3 competitions per month and 600 for that 20 year period. And that was only the first 20 years!
This type of experience is priceless and shows up in Tina’s work. Long time members of The Watercolor Gallery may remember Bohlman’s Morning on Exchange Avenue when it was featured. That work inspired me both to try plein air art but also to change the world as I see fit for my art. Tina’s experience pays off in her paintings as she can take an everyday street scene and turn it into something truly wonderful.
Tina was nice enough to sit down and answer some questions for all of us so let’s get started.
Tina, how did you get started in watercolor?
“As a child and throughout school, I loved art and would use anything that would make a mark; watercolor (Prang brand!) oil, acrylic, pen & Ink, graphite, block print….you name it! Then, in the early ‘70’s I attended a 3-day watercolor workshop lead by a wonderful Oklahoma watercolorist, Hollis Howard. I had no idea that this medium could do so much with so little effort! From that time on, I was “hooked”.”
How have your tools changed from when you got started until now, and what are your favorite tools currently?
“Mr. Howard insisted that everyone use “only the best” materials in his workshop; from the beginning I have used Arches Watercolor Paper, professional grade tube paints, and quality “rounds & flats” for brushes. I have experimented with various paper brands, but always return to my favorite, Arches 140# and 300#, Cold Press and Rough. I started with Winsor Newton watercolors and still use 1 or 2 favorite colors, but in the past 5 years, I have mostly Daniel Smith in my palette. My most effective tools (other than brushes) are an eraser, tissues & a red or green plexiglass “value checker”.”
How do you prefer to work? Plein air, from a photograph, from memory? At a desk, outdoors, in a closet?
“I prefer plein air. My ratio of plein air to studio is about 70/30. Nothing compares for inspiration and capturing light and emotion. When on location, I take a photograph of the scene/panaorama at the beginning and again at the end, usually including my completed painting still on the easel. Back in the studio, I use my plein air piece for color & emotional reference along with the photo to help with accuracy of objects (trucks, animals, people, etc.).”
What has been your favorite painting or painting experience?
“My husband and I try to take at least one vacation every couple of years to a tropical climate – we’ve been on 4 cruises to the Caribbean and 2 trips to Maui, Hawaii. On each of these trips, instead of a camera, I painted in a watercolor sketchbook. I “go on vacation” over and over again just by looking through my sketchbooks.”
Perhaps you could recommend an artist or two that inspire you?
Learning from artists like Tina Bohlman is absolutely vital for any aspiring artist to gain the knowledge and wisdom that only time can buy. I can’t thank Tina enough for all that she does, including filling out this interview. Tina takes the time to share her work through a great blog, on Facebook as well as through her website.