Artist Vanessa Rothe, who is currently the California editor of Fine Art Connoisseur, has been painting from the young age of five. “I would paint with my father on silk, using Sennelier water-based dyes. I loved the colors, as well as how they could mix and create new colors.” From then on, Vanessa always had a sketchbook in hand or watercolors in her pocket.
Growing up in an artist community in Laguna Beach, Vanessa mostly used watercolors. These days, however, she works more with oils. “I love their rich, buttery texture, and how they can blend so easily,” says Vanessa.
For Vanessa, inspiration is everywhere and in everything. “I find so much beauty in this world and see it with an artist’s eye. Even the most mundane, banal objects carry so much beauty. A rusted copper pot and the patina greens, a woman’s pose while reading a book under a lamp, a simple still life with apples…But mainly I adore sunlight and its effects on subjects in the outdoors. I find that I’m most attracted to the landscape and nature.”
A versatile artist, Vanessa works both on location and in the studio or at friends’ studios. While painting on location, Vanessa’s painting routine and method is dictated by the light and rushing to capture the sunlight on a subject. In the studio, however, Vanessa likes to start her painting sessions with classical music and a latte to sip on. “I tend to put enough paint on my palette that I don’t have to stop in the middle of the painting to replenish, as it can break concentration,” says Vanessa.
Vanessa cannot recall a time when she wasn’t inspired to paint. “I’m so honored to be an artist and to paint, to have commissions and exhibitions. Even as a professional artist who does it for a living, the act of painting is so enjoyable, pure, and exciting,” says Vanessa.
While she likes to explore a variety of subjects, Vanessa’s favorite things to paint are landscapes and how the sunlight plays on the land and casts shadows from trees. She also loves to paint Paris city scenes. “I am currently challenged and intrigued by the many shades of gray in this wonderful city that is still one of the capitols of art,” says Vanessa. “I think of the many painters the city has influenced over the years, writers, and musicians, and it simply adds to the intrigue.”
Sennelier Paints, the makers of the paints of the French impressionists, recently sponsored Vanessa—a big honor for an artist. Her work will be featured this week in the event Realism without Borders at the Scottsdale Exhibition Gallery, where her work will appear alongside that of Russian impressionists.
When she’s not teaching, painting, or at an exhibition, Vanessa is home with her husband Tommy and two little boys, Logan (8) and Perry (6). “I am a working mother who has found a lucky and unique balance between work and family,” says Vanessa. “I find that my world of art and teaching enriches my family’s life and I’m very lucky to be able to do both, as I’m so passionate about my work, but it’s so important to me to be present and a good, caring mother.” In her free moments alone, Vanessa likes to spend time with fellow artists, read French novels, plan travels, and look at famous artists’ books or works for inspiration.
For those artists just getting started, Vanessa recommends studying and mastering the core fundamentals—value, composition, color, and perspective. “Make sure you have a true understanding of these and how they work for every subject and then practice until you can do them well,” says Vanessa. She also suggests spending a full year just drawing and to learn value in grayscale before working in color.
Vanessa’s book, The Art School Approach: Still Lifes & Florals is a great resource for artists new to the art of painting.
As inspiration, Vanessa shares this quote from one of the masters, Michaelangelo:
“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”
Like every artist, even he had to start at the beginning, and it took him years to learn. So practice, practice, practice!
To see more of Vanessa’s work, visit www.vanessarothe.com.