We may be recovering from holiday feasts and a bit of eggnog, but this week we chat with Russ Petcoff!
Q: Russ, Give us a day in your life! Where are you from? When do you create? What else fills your days?
A: I am originally from Dyer, Indiana, which is outside Chicago. I currently live in Haymarket, Virginia, which is west of Washington, D.C.
I try to create something every day. That’s where my birthday sketches really come in to meet that goal. I’ve done them daily since April 13, 2019. I began doing them while taking People Drawing People. I wanted a way to practice my people drawing skills.
During the weekends I try to do an Urban Sketch or two. Usually do them when I have a free moment while waiting. Always looking for something to catch my eye. I try to make art a daily habit. If I stop, I might lose the momentum. When I’m not sketching or working, I enjoy spending time with my lovely wife, Lisa, who’s my biggest supporter.
Q: How did your creative journey start?
A: When I was in high school, I used to draw the heads of the cartoon characters in the funnies. That’s really all I ever did back then. About two years ago I began watching Bob Ross videos. It blew me away how simple he made art. Who knew one could paint “happy little trees” with a one-inch brush? Since I didn’t need so many oil paintings, I took up sketching. Saw urban sketches on Instagram and really enjoyed their simplicity, energy, and color. The first class I ever took from Sketchbook Skool was Urban Sketching. Really learned a lot about how fun and simple sketching is.
Q: How do you fit art into your life right now? Are you involved in any other creative activities?
A: I participate in local Urban Sketchers chapters in Fredericksburg (Virginia) and Washington. Also working with a couple of people to get a USk chapter running in Manassas, which is near where I live. I recently had an Urban Sketch—my first one—appear in an art gallery show. It was at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory in Manassas. I never thought they’d select my sketch, but they did! I was incredibly humbled to be a part of it because of the level of talent of the other 10 sketchers in the show.
Q: What has your creative practice taught you?
A: Anyone can draw. Wonky lines are part of an individual style, and the artist should embrace their style. Learning to write one’s name doesn’t come naturally. We all must learn how to do it and eventually get the hang of it. Also, don’t let anything get in the way of creating art if that’s what one chooses to do. I initially hated my wonky lines that I now embrace. I don’t let my color blindness keep me from working with watercolors. I have an idea what the color of something should be, but it’s always and adventure. As my wife encouragingly likes to say, “It’s blue in your world.” The color-blindness is why I hashtag my art with #ColorEludesMe. To me, that’s a badge of honor. I’ve overcome that limitation.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a brand new artist or someone who’s just recently joined SBS, what would it be?
A: Don’t be discouraged. Draw something every day. Embrace your style. Have fun and experiment. The most important thing is to always post one’s art in the SkoolYard or other social media platforms. The sketching community is a caring one that will be a great encouragement.
Russ has given back to this community so much and we’re excited to watch his creative habit continue to grow!