Eric Dull is passionate about his work. He has turned that passion into an art career producing commissioned works, creating pieces for personal use and even hosting classes and workshops from a working studio. And when you see what he’s up to, you’ll want to pick up a brush and get your art on, too.
“I’ve been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember,” he says. He focused on art through high school and college, earned a BA in illustration from Cleveland Institute of Art, then focused on freelance illustration and design for a few years after college. Then, in 2007, Dull found the projects he was doing on his own — mostly wildlife art and the occasional historical painting — were sustaining him enough to make a living.
Today, Dull has clients in 30 states and five countries, creating pieces for their private collections. “Someone will see my work on the Internet, and contact me to do a piece for them. Usually, they have a specific idea in mind, and I work with them to get just what they want,” he explains.
He paints a lot of songbirds and wildlife. Often, he’ll be asked to paint a “life bird.” That’s what an avid birdwatcher calls it when he spots a bird he’s never seen before but has been pursuing and admires — usually something rare.
Because Dull paints from nature and real life, he goes on lots of reference missions — armed with camera and sketchbook — to gain images and ideas to use in later works. “It’s tricky, and I have to work fast, but I really enjoy getting out and gathering material that way,” he says.
He most often uses a dry-brush technique, which lets him provide great detailing with watercolor paint. Because the method is so intricate, it can take up to five days for Dull to paint a small, 8-inch by 10-inch watercolor. “I’m known for including so much detail, it’s the way I prefer to work,” he says.
The Broken Road Creative Studio opened in Grafton in January of this year. So now, when he’s not working on a piece, Dull opens up the studio to students trying to get in touch with their inner artists. “I keep the classes fun and lighthearted,” he says. “I love to watch the process unfold for people who might have stifled their desire to create art.”
But he reminds them not to take it too seriously. “The minute it stops being fun, take a break and come back to it later — otherwise the creativity gets lost. Art should always be an enjoyable process.”