David McCullough Watercolors

I have looked high and low and, short of contacting McCullough family members, this final part of the HBO documentary on David McCullough called Painting with Words is the only public evidence of his watercolors. Unfortunately, since creating this post, the video has been removed.

A Pittsburgh, PA, native, McCullough attended the Shady Side Academy and created all of the artwork for his graduation yearbook. McCullough seriously considered becoming a professional artist and his wife fell in love with him (in part) because of his ability with watercolor. He was called to another form of creative expression but continued his practice of drawing and watercolor till the end of his life.

Throughout my years of teaching drawing and watercolor, I've met many, many prospective students want to leap immediately into watercolor without any drawing experience. When I used to say "Oh, all right," and allow students to start directly into watercolor, I would invariably run into the problem of having to teach them the fundamentals of drawing anyway.

That's why I'm including David McCullough's watercolors here. Because you can't make these sorts of paintings without an underpinning of drawing. Period. End of story.

Here's an excerpt from a 2015 Boston Globe interview with McCullough in which he talks about his paintings:

"I paint a lot. I started painting when I was about 7, and at college, I took as many painting and drawing classes as I could get away with as an English major. I draw something to put it in my mind; when I went to Truman’s birthplace, I did a watercolor of the house. I’ve always felt that everybody who wants to learn to write should take a course in drawing and painting. It teaches you to see in a different way, since you really look at things and have to analyze what you’re looking at."