Books, Publishing, and the Creative Life

Posts tagged ‘watercolor painting’

The Art of Seeing With Joyce Hicks

Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision. It is the seeing of the thing that makes it so. –Charles Webster Hawthorne

Joyce Hicks bookJoyce Hicks, my favorite watercolor artist has just released her first book: Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes: Transform Ordinary Places into Extraordinary Scenes.  I eagerly awaited Joyce’s book and was fortunate to receive a review copy from the publisher.  However, I’d already purchased a book before the review copy arrived, because I couldn’t wait any longer.

Art is my escape from writing and publishing.  When I can’t stand one more minute in front of the computer screen, I head for the studio and let watercolors soothe my spirit.  There’s something magical about watching wet paint blend on fine cotton paper, granulating and flowing into extraordinary colors and shapes.  I can choose to control it, or not.   I can paint an actual scene or let the paint go where it will.

Joyce Hicks has a special gift for transforming scenes.  She will detect special elements in an ordinary looking barn surrounded by overgrown bushes.  She snaps an unremarkable photo and then uses paint, brushes, and her imagination to create a captivating scene.

Isn’t that what great writers do?  Both the pen and the brush capture our imaginations.  We change scenes to fit our own view of the world, and sometimes we’re able to transmit that magic to our viewers and readers.  That’s why we work so hard to perfect our technique in writing, art, dance, theater, and all other creative endeavors.  What we end up with isn’t always pretty, but it’s real.

In her book, Joyce says, “ I think the art of seeing has been lost because there are so many distractions in today’s world. It is pure joy when we really begin to see and feel beauty, and if we slow down enough, maybe we can attempt to describe it.” Joyce’s tips for artists fit any medium of self- expression. (I have added the parentheses)

  • Perseverance and determination are traits far more important than any talent you may possess.
  • The most common mistake artists (and writers) make as beginners is to follow the natural tendency to try to say too much . . .  Doing so leads to confusion and overshadows the piece’s main message.
  • Fear of failure blocks the way to bold, confident statements.
  • It is not enough to simply want to paint beautiful pictures; you must also arm yourself with necessary skills and knowledge. . .
  • As your skill and experience grow, you learn to eliminate unnecessary clutter from your work.
  • If you want to create a work of art, exaggerate  your feelings for the subject and paint (or write) ideas instead of things. . . . use your imagination to uncover hidden potential.


How-to art books contain photos of the artist’s work with demonstrations and instructions. I’ve seen many how-to books that leave out vital steps in the process.  Either the publisher had to eliminate steps to save space, or



the author doesn’t want to reveal her special secrets to the masses.  Either way, an artist finds those demonstrations hard to follow.  I’ve sent back several art books  because I was unhappy with the demonstrations.

Not so with Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes.  In this book, Joyce shares twelve of her finest paintings and shows exactly how to recreate them.  The goal is to help each artist develop confidence and find a personal style.  Her teaching reflects deep concern for readers and fellow artists.

About Joyce Hicks

Joyce Hicks May 20

A demo for this painting is included in the book.

Joyce instructs national and international workshops and acts as judge and juror for watercolor exhibitions. Her paintings have received wide recognition through various shows and awards and she is a Signature Member and three time award winner of the prestigious American Watercolor Society. Numerous books and publications have featured her paintings and written articles about her work. She resides in a light-filled Texas home with her husband Larry and little dog, Sassie.

Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes is everything I hope for in an art book.  If you’re a watercolor artist, I recommend you place this book at the top of your list.  If you’re considering watercolor, Joyce’s book will inspire you.  

About Sammie Justesen

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A recent review of Dialogue for Writers

What I left with after reading Sammie’s book is a brain swimming with ideas she has generously shared based on her years of experience in all aspects of the industry. She shows us, not just tells us, with style, humor and an easy, comfortable voice. Her examples bring the points to life. Sammie indeed practices what she preaches, and shares with us as reader and writer a fun to read and handy compilation based on experience and insight.   –Gin Getz, author of The Color of the Wild and The Last of the Living Blue



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