Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brandon Schaefer and I’m an artist focusing mostly on drawing and watercolor painting. When it comes to drawing, I love to draw animals and wildlife with pen & ink on toned paper. For watercolor painting, nothing beats going outside and finding an interesting landscape or subject from life. I also share my art journey on my YouTube channel and website.
How and when did you get into art?
I’ve always enjoyed art and I started drawing when I was 5 years old. I was heavily influenced by Disney animated movies and cartoons and I would draw many of the characters I watched. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be animator when I grew up. That didn’t end up happening and I didn’t pursue but I’m happy with the choices I’ve made with my art.
How has your practice changed over time?
It has changed a lot over the years. I mainly drew throughout my childhood and only ever tried painting once I was in college. Only then I began to pursue painting and art a bit more seriously. I decided to learn watercolor painting but this phase lasted around 1-2 years. I then moved onto acrylics in search of more bold colors in my work. I used acrylics for about 4 years before trying oil painting. Once I tried oils, I was hooked. I used them exclusively for about 4 years as well. Eventually, I decided to take a trip for painting but I wanted a lightweight, minimal travel sketching setup and for me, oils didn’t do it, so I began relearning watercolors for plein air painting. Eventually I stopped using oils altogether and went back to watercolors where my painting journey began. I also started using pen & ink about 2 years ago and love it as well.
What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?
I think the best art advice I’ve been given is to simplify your subject. As artists, we love to observe everything around us and see all the little details. And I think we love to overthink, over-complicate, and overwork our pieces sometimes. So for me, I always try to remember and go back to simplicity within my work and my life too. Less is more. Let the viewer fill in some of the details with their imagination. I think that makes it much more fun for us and those viewing our work. And it gives us a challenge and something to strive for.
What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?
I’ve found that experimenting with my art and the process is one of the best things to do. For example, last year I tried adding a splash of watercolors in the background of some of my pen & ink animal drawings on toned paper. This combination really brought an entirely new look to my drawings and opened the door to trying other techniques as well. Experimentation has helped me to evolve with my art and my style.
What is your favorite Strathmore paper?
The Strathmore Toned Tan and Toned Grey sketchbooks and papers are my favorite to draw on, no doubt. I almost never use white paper anymore because the toned paper just makes the process much more fun and easy.