Students in our Exploring kourse are currently having an amazing time. We know this because their teacher this week is Felix Scheinberger, the art professor who gave this now-famous 3-minute tutorial on professional watercolor techniques. Here, Felix talks about the romance of watercolors, how bad he is at math, and his new book, Dare to Sketch.
When you were little, your grandmother gave you a picture book on dinosaurs that, looking back, you say probably started your art career. Did you know even then that you wanted to be an illustrator?
Felix: I first wanted to be archaeologist! I later went for a fashion school career, but not as a designer. I think I’ve become the German professor with the worst grades in mathematics ever! :)
When did you start working with watercolors? Was it love at first sight, or did that relationship take a while to develop?
As a teenager, I first experimented with oil paints, with limited success. At 18, I discovered watercolor; I thought it was very difficult but I stuck with it, probably because it was reasonably priced, and I’m very happy I did this. Many designers associate watercolor with sentimentalized landscapes and it often yields strangely negative reactions. An entire generation relegates it to the technique of hobbyists. That’s not watercolor. It’s a wonderful creative medium, and I love it.
What do you do with the first page of a new sketchbook?
I use them last :) I think a good tip is not to start at the beginning. In my book Mut zum Skizzenbuch (translates to Dare to Sketch, but it’s not yet available in English), I have a chapter written about this. Almost everyone has the fear of the blank sheet, no matter how long you’ve been making art. I think it is easier to start in the middle.
What are your favorite subjects to draw?
I love drawing during travelling. When I look at drawings after I come back, it sometimes feels like looking into a diary. I always have a sketchbook with me; I feel naked without one. This is especially important when travelling. One sees the world with different eyes when one is outside of one’s usual environment. The world becomes a whole different place if you draw it. We all want to be a part in changing the world, and I see illustration as a means to this end. When I am in another country, the language, the food, the people of course, they all leave their marks in my drawings. And illustration is a mode of communication that is understood all over the world.
Do you listen to music when you draw? If yes, what do you listen to?
Everything, but I especially like listening to radio plays. Whether documentaries or literature, it’s great when you’re told a story while drawing.
What’s the most recent thing you drew?
I wrote, and drew, of course, a book about Hamburg. It’s a sketchbook of the city, the harbor, and the history. Hamburg is a great city—did you know that the Beatles started their career here? Unfortunately, the book has not yet appeared in English, but here are some pictures from it. My new book, Dare to Sketch, will be published in English! You can see it here. (Editor’s note: You can also get Felix’s book Urban Watercolor Sketching here.)
How does drawing make you feel?
For more on Felix Scheinberger, visit his website.