Don Stewart has created an astounding amount of art in his life.
For over 20 years it was art for the illustration field and nearly 100 of his paintings have been published as book covers for clients like HarperCollins, Macmillan, Moody Press, Pocket Books and Scholastic.
Countless paintings have also been published as illustrations for magazines, advertising, children's books and textbooks.
In addition, Don is a pioneer of digital painting methods and those, along with his digital paintings, have been featured in five consecutive editions of The Painter Wow! Book.
Since 2006 Don has devoted himself to fine art and he is equally accomplished at painting people, landscapes and still lifes. His fine art has been exhibited and is held in private collections.
Don teaches both online and off. He hosts the ArtistChronicle channel on YouTube. As well as offers classes and workshops in drawing, colored pencil and oil painting in North Carolina at Sawtooth School for Visual Art, Forsyth Tech Community College and Guilford Technical Community College. Don holds a BFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Illustrator, Norman Rockwell, painted from life for around 20 years before he began using photographs. His advice was to paint from life until you can function completely without photographs - and only then use them. I've done it backwards, it seems.
As an illustrator I painted almost exclusively from photographs. It was unavoidable when you coupled painting realistically, like I did, with tight deadlines. Most illustrators do it and I see nothing wrong with it. It's even become more acceptable in the Fine art world.
But upon my return to fine art, in 2006, I decided to adhere to Rockwell's advice. So for a six year period, all of my Fine artwork was from life and not from photographs. I even started a blog (since retired) to document that time.
These days I'll draw and paint from photographs only when the work is large or a subject isn't able to be still for extended periods of time. Yet even in those instances I try to at least render part of the artwork from life, or render studies from life for reference. But I overwhelmingly prefer to create an entire work of art from life, without the use of photographs.
Drawing and painting from life is the traditional fine art method, after all. Besides that, though, I find that all of the detail replicated in photographs gets in my way as an artist. Without them, I'm better able to edit out the irrelevant details and see the essence of a subject. Also subtle tonal and color shifts in a subject are an essential part of their essence and photographs simply don't get those right.
I draw and paint a variety of subject matter, because what is more important than the subject itself, is whether or not something awakens within me in response to it - something I can then strive to convey in a work of art.