We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Laurin McCracken. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Laurin below.
Laurin, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. I’m sure there have been days where the challenges of being an artist or creative force you to think about what it would be like to just have a regular job. When’s the last time you felt that way? Did you have any insights from the experience?
I was an architect for almost 50 years. The year I turned 60, I took some watercolor lessons and discovered that I could paint.
For the next few years, I painted on weekends and evenings while I continued to run marketing and strategy programs for large architectural firms. Over a period of about 4 years I transitioned into painting full time.
First let me say that I had a spectacular career as an architect. I worked with some of the largest and finest architecture firms in the US, I worked on some great projects and I got to see the world. I have flown more than 6 million miles on American Airlines, with many trips to Europe, Japan and the middle east.
Now, my 20 year career in painting is a constant joy. The cares of the world fall away when I pick up a brush. Earlier on, I started entering competitive exhibitions as a test to how good my work was, I got in almost every show I entered and won many awards. It was not long before I had signature memberships in 16 watercolor societies. It has been a meteoric experience and it keep getting better.
Today I continue to travel around the world and have opportunities to teach and learn from watercolorists in China, Russia and all over Europe.
Laurin, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My 50 years as an architect taught me a lot about how to be a successful watercolorists. One assumes that my realistic style of painting comes from my years of drawing. That is not true. I ran the marketing departs of large firms and did not have a drawing board for almost 40 of those years. It is my marketing experiences that have helped me the most. I understand positioning and sales. I can talk to editors and get myself published.
My painting style is the result of how I see the world and my experiences in traveling the world.
I see the world in with higher level of visual acuity than most people. I see the veins on a leave in a tree where most people just see the limbs of the tree.
Early on I was painting large colorful, award winning, floral paintings. Then, I realized that the world is full of floral painters. I had leaned in my marketing career that it was important to differentiate what you do, but what was that to be?
A senior magazine editor told me, after reviewing my portfolio, that it was obvious that I had seen a lot of great art in my travels.. He recommend that I think about the art that I had seen that had most effected me. That was the work of the 16th and 17th Century Dutch and Flemish still life painters. I went back studied those painters and their work in depth and today I am a realist watercorlsist that paints in the style of those talented still life artists.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
One of the great benefits of being a watercorlsist is that I get to meet a lot of very talented and generous people. The art community can be a bit off-putting and protective of their work. The opposite is true in the world of watercolor. Watercolorists are eager to help each other, either by showing someone how to do a specific technique or by offering serious critics to help a fellow painter to improve.
One of key things in selling ones art is to create art that is desirable to a select group pf collectors in the market. My Dutch still lifes have attracted a large audience. I am now painting commission pieces for families that have collections that they want recorded. Through this effort I have continued to meet delightful, highly educated people that love and respect good art. This effort has allowed me to archive my earning goals in painting.
How did you build your audience on social media?
Social media and all of the traditional media outlets have a central role in marketing and selling ones art.
One of the things that many artists miss in their marketing effort is positioning themselves. Getting their work and their story out in front of an audiences that buys art. This has traditionally been done in the print press and that is still a viable option and should be part of an artist’s overall plan. However, today, through social media and the internet in general an artist can easily reach a much broader and larger audience.
I post my paintings, my awards and other accomplishments on Facebook. This has given me recognition geographically far beyond what I could have oden in print media. My paintings are probably better known in China than in the US.
While my web site is really an on-line gallery of my work and that is all I want it to be at present. It serves as a place where people can go and see a lot of work and become familiar with it. In that regard it has worked very well for me. Of course, I also have links to articles, exhibitions, as well as copies of things I have written and things that have been written about me and my art. I also post upcoming workshops and other events.
I count on other entities with whom I have relations to use the Internet and social media to promote my work. For instance, I have a close relationship with the Daniel Smith Paint Company, the Escoda Brush Company and the Fabriano Paper Mill. I create videos such as demos and testimonials for them to post on their web sites and on-0line media. I find that many more people will see my work on those sites than they will from my web page.
- Website: Laurinmc@aol.com
- Instagram: Laurinmc@aol.com
- Facebook: Laurinmc@aol.com
- Linkedin: Laurinmc@aol.com
- Twitter: Laurinmc@aol.com
The photo of me is by Michael J. Mooney I took all the photos of the paintings.