Sunday, December 7, 2014

The 12 Paintings of Christmas

Hi all welcome to my 4th Annual Holiday Art Sale. The works below are all for sale at discounted prices. I'll continue to add a few works over the next few days. Check back and if one interests you please get in touch. My very best- Iain

Market and King- Chattanooga, TN
14.5" x 10.5"

The Argyle at Rothesay Harbour- Scotland
6.5" x 10"

Edison, WA
6.5" x 10"

Elie Evening- Scotland
6.5" x 10" 

Tankers on English Bay Vancouver, BC En Plein Air
10" x 6.5"

The South Tower- Notre Dame 
10" x 6.5"

Oppède Le Vieux No.2
11" x 7.5" on Stillman & Birn Alpha series paper

Harry Chong Laundry LES- nyc
14" x 9"

Under the FDR- nyc
12" x 8.5"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Painting the Costa Brava and Spain in May of 2015

I hope this note finds you well and painting. I am writing to update some previous information on my workshop in Spain next May. Due to a scheduling conflict Michael Reardon will not be able to attend which means I will be the sole instructor. This means a much smaller group and more one on one time with me. The course is limited to 12 students and there are a few slots left. If you sign up before Nov 30 you will receive a $200 discount. If you are interested please get in touch with me or you can inquire with Jackie Grandchamps, who is the tour operator, I worked with her in Provence this summer and she is very good at what she does. Jackie's email.

If you wish to travel with your spouse or a friend who is a non painter the non-painter will receive a $350 discount as well. Please see the attached flyer and for more information on the tour you can visit 

If you have not tried painting en plein air before I have written a blog post on my materials and how to pack here

I have also written a blog post about my recent trip to Provence with Jackie and French Escapade here

My very best,


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Provence Workshop 2014

The Group at Gordes

Breakfast view
Roussillon Demo

painting poppies

morning view from home base....

Ah, what can I say? Painting in Provence with a wonderful group of ladies, my wife, and a fantastic tour leader / organizer. You never know exactly how a workshop group will work out- it's an ever evolving and wonderfully unknown set of circumstance. How will the weather be, will everyone get along, will my demos go well, will it be well thought out and planned with painting in mind, and most importantly, will the attendees feel that their experience has met their expectations both in setting and instruction? With thanks to the weather aside, it is Provence in July after all, and the expertise and understanding of the spectacular Jackie Grandchamps of I believe I can say with confidence that this was one of the most enjoyable painting trips I have taken. The group dynamic was so upbeat and patient, the scenery spectacular, the food as mouthwateringly good as anything I've had the pleasure of tasting, and my lovely wife was there to experience it all and dig in and help at every turn.

Our hotel....wonderful

A workshop, no matter the setting, is a taxing adventure for the instructor. You give of yourself as much as possible and, for me at least, the most important part is that the students learn. It's not the Iain Show- it's about the adventurers that choose to make the journey with me. Our group was intimate, consisting of 9 students, my wife Noelle, and Jackie. I was able to spend time with everyone and watch them move from the first few hesitant marks through a beautiful transformation of both skill and confidence. I usually tell my students not to expect masterpieces during a workshop. The ideas and my specific approach to watercolor is usually something they are not accustomed to. In this workshop, however, the group jumped in with abandon and the results were fantastic. I think my wife said it best on the last evening.

Dancing at night
"I am so grateful to be surrounded by a group of such strong women all willing to go off to a far away place on their own, to experience new things without any fear, and embrace it all with such positive energy." I'm paraphrasing of course, but you get the idea. I am so proud to have been a part of this wonderful experience for each of you, to watch you make breakthroughs, to laugh over wine and the day's stories, in essence to become friends in such a short amount of time.

You are fantastic, you are bold, and you can all paint!

First morning's demos. One simple subject one a bit more difficult painted simultaneously. 

A very special thank you to my wife Noelle, for doing all that you did to help. I can't imagine doing a workshop like this without you and I think the gals would agree there. You are the best lil assistant anyone could ask for and then some.

The view from our balcony. That's Ventoux in the background for you bike folks.

The motto of the week will be my closing of this post before more photos and a bit of fun. Trust Jackie. I think for the next workshop I do with her in Spain next year (see info at the end of this post for more on that) I should have t-shirts made with that specific monicker. Jackie knows where she is intimately, and, more importantly, knows how to get you to the very popular locations at the right time of day so you can see them and then whisks you away to something even more charming and off the tourist trail leaving you space to paint at leisure without worry about jockeying for space with camera toting tourists. As any plein air painting workshop instructor will tell you, easel space for a group can be a serious concern, but Jackie somehow knows how and when to put you in a specific spot and have you back in the van just as the tour buses start pulling in. Her choice of where to base ourselves was perfect. Very few tourists and we had the place to ourselves. Those decisions became more apparent as we moved through the week. The restaurants, the painting locations, and how she interacts with a group is something an instructor rarely comes across and something I will not soon forget. Trust Jackie!

Poppies demo

So here are some pics.....enjoy! Remember you can join Michael Reardon and me in the Costa Brava next May with Jackie. We are limiting the group to 10 students per instructor instead of the normal 14 to keep that intimate feeling I was just describing. Go to to sign up.

Small group demos... No.1

Enjoying the Lavender 

Small group demos No.2

Sunset from the Balcony

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Painting in Spain with Iain Stewart and Michael Reardon

Hi all- just finalized plans on a "duo" workshop with Michael Reardon aws, nws in Spain next year. This is a really good chance to see two watercolorists painting similar subject matter, but in our very different and unique ways.

The trip takes place May 19-26 2015 and will find us painting and sketching along the Costa Brava and in Barcelona. It's not very often that we workshop instructors offer this type of workshop and should prove to be a great learning experience and one heck of a good time. Pretty much all inclusive, except for a couple of meals we will take on our own. The workshop is offered by Jackie Granchamps of French Escapade who is celebrating her 10th year of offering European tours. I'll be in Provence painting for one of Jackie's groups in a couple of weeks. I'll definitely be posting about that one soon. 

Cheers all,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Plein Air Kit..what you need and what to leave behind. Traveling light.

Painting in Amsterdam 2013

Hi all-
Readying myself for a longish jaunt to Europe to teach / explore / teach / visit family and generally miss as much of the Alabama summer as I can. I will be teaching two groups on this trip and thought that a blog post on what I carry might be of some interest.

The main thing to keep in mind when setting out for a day of painting and exploring is you will be carrying your bag the entire time. (those of you that are coming with me for the France and Scotland workshops don't need to worry as much about this as we'll have vans to ride around in)

My big plein air bag with easel et all weighs in at around 15lbs. I have a smaller bag that I use for only sketchbook work that is about half that. Pics to follow.

Another thing to keep in mind is weather conditions will change, pack a light weight raincoat, a hat with a visor is a must, and bring along sunscreen, bug spray, what have you, so that you are going to stay as comfortable as can be.

I'm pretty good at finding the shady spots with a view, and from trial and error, have learned that the more comfortable you are the longer you will work. The longer you work and the more comfortable you are the better your paintings will be.

So here's the list with pics....

1. Pencils... I carry a few in a little soft case with a zipper. I keep my pencils, eraser, sharpener, and two travel brushes in it. I keep the sharpener in a zip lock bag so the graphite wont get everywhere....believe me it will.

Bag zipped and ready to go....

Tape for stretching paper, eraser, sculptors tool for getting a good tight connection with paper and board, various pencils, and I usually keep a snack in my bag incase I get nippish. The pencils I suggest are HB, No.2, B, and 2B. I also have a stash of old Berol 314's which you can't get anymore. All of this, excepting the tape, and in addition to the sharpener and travel brushes, knife (see later) go in this bag. Everything where I need it.

I use a Craig Young palette. It's not really on the light side nor inexpensive, but it holds a good amount of paint and I have grown to love it. If you're looking for an alternative to this one my suggestion is the Winged Watercolor Pallette by

I use that one too and it's fantastic. Lightweight. Inexpensive, made from recycled materials et all. Be sure to carry a zip lock bag to put your palette in when moving from location to location as you don't want mucky water getting in your bag.

Brushes- I can do 99% of my paintings with 3 brushes. I use an Escoda Optimo No 14, (a good alternative for that is the Escoda Prado No.14), an Escoda Perla No. 14 round, and an Escoda Perla No. 6 round. I also have a Neef squirrel mop No. 4. Recently I've added the flat brush but it's not necessary. Remember....only bring what you need. 14 brushes are way too many to carry all day.

I use a worn out old bamboo roller brush holder. Bring a rubber band to hold it together the strings always break on these guys. 

I use a Faber Castell collapsing water container and keep a rag in the ziplock bag to soak up extra water.

I have a collapsing water carrier. This is a Vapur brand. It works well. Either that or I'll bring a bicycle bottle and use that.
Keep your sharpener in a ziplock bag.....keeps the muck out of your bag.

A small spray bottle for misting your drying paintings

If I'm traveling in the States I'll keep the knife on me for sharpening pencils, opening beer bottles, and note the corkscrew. Very handy. Overseas I usually leave this behind as I don't want some overzealous airport employee to purloin it. The travel brushes are by Escoda and I keep them in my "out with only a sketchbook" set up.

I use a Stillman &Birn Alpha series sketchbook. 9" x 11" or so. I also keep a smallish 9" x 6" one for when I want to really travel light. As you can see the paper accepts watercolor very well.  

For going back and working from the day's photos or touching up your paintings I bring along an ipad and transfer my pics to it at night.

Other sundries and necessities for the bag. I keep postcards of my work, my biz card, gum, a small camera with extra batteries, lip balm, sunscreen, some cash, and something to snack on. The Tide Marker is fantastic for getting spatters of paint off of your shirt or pants in a pinch. I don't typically carry a DSLR camera as they are heavy. If my wife is with me on a trip we bring the big camera and she carries it. Nice of her no?

I keep a 11 x 16 masonite panel in my bag for stretching paper unless I am using an Arches watercolor block. I will pre cut Arches, Saunders Waterford, or any other paper I use and keep them in a bag along with this board so they stay protected. Gator board is also a fine alternative to masonite. Lighter too. I use velcro tape to make sure my board will say on the easel. I don't like bulldog clips as I find they get in the way. 

Bring a hat with a visor. If you are in a particularly hot part of the world bring a lightweight scarf or hat with better coverage. War Eagle by the way.

Keep your paints in a ziplock bag as well. ONLY bring what you need. Fill your pallette the night before so you're not lugging around paint all day. It's heavy. I've flown with these in my carryon bags and have had no problems yet. Still- put it in your checked luggage if you are worried. There's an art store in most cities around the world. I have my "go to" colors listed on my website and primarily use Daniel Smith colors.

Here's the whole set up ready to go. I use an Eric Michaels travel easel

Bag fully packed and open- remember to bring a lot of paper towels. Unroll them and bring at least 5 or 6 sheets per day. I happen to be a Viva man, but Bounty or any other good paper towel will work. Avoid paper towels with patterns. You don't know where that ink came from......

Packed and ready to go. Everything fits- this is a Timbuk2 messenger bag. My advice on choosing a travel bag for painting is take your easel etc to the place where you are buying the bag and see how it fits. Is the bag comfortable? I know a lot of painters that use carryon bags with wheels. I do a lot of walking around in the rough stuff so they don't tend to work for me. 

Here's my sketchbook only bag. Very light, very comfortable. I'll either use this or a regular backpack... It just depends on how I feel. If I'm in a big city I tend to use this one. I don't like having my zips exposed in crowds. Any comfy messenger bag will do. This one is a Brooklyn Industries bag and it's sturdy and fairly bomb proof.

So there you have it. All my stuff, ready to go. If brass palettes are your thing, I'm currently having Efrain from Iba Co. palettes create a smaller version of my Craig Young. It will be for those days I want to keep things as light as possible, but still paint in my sketchbook. It's tiny. About the size of an Altoids tin. If you haven't checked out his site click the link above. I sent him detailed drawings of the exact palette I wanted and he's crafting it now. Hope to have it next week.

If you want a similar palette for about 8 bucks check out this link on how to make a palette out of a real Altoids tin. They work great. My only suggestion is to spray the interior with a porcelain white paint so you can see your colors.

Still, it's good to keep in mind, the materials do not make the artist. I use high quality paints and paper and the new Escoda synthetic brushes are fantastic and fairly inexpensive. Use what you have on hand as much as possible. Practice fitting everything in your bag and setting it up. Lastly and this is very important. Keep a couple of mylar bags or something waterproof for keeping your finished paintings in. I typically work at 1/4 sheet size on site and that makes everything much more manageable. When I was in Turkey last year doing demos for the IWS I just had that little grey bag with me. I was asked if I had everything I needed for my demo and I said sure. They couldn't believe it all fit in that small bag. Less is more- comfort is king- paint like there's no tomorrow. Cheers all.

All of the materials I have here can be purchased online. I use Daniel Smith  or Blick for most of my materials. If you have an amazon prime account search for your materials there as most art companies have a portal site through amazon. Free two day shipping! 

Demo in Turkey using materials that all fit in the little grey bag.