Sunday, December 25, 2011

Look Up!

Just a Christmas related tip to all of you artists!
You never know where there will be something interesting
to paint or draw!
So look up as well as around you and
SEE what is there!
Merry Christmas and here is to a New Year
of wonderful creating!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Schedules for artists - HA!

OK, so people who work for a living start at some time on the clock and quit at some time on that same clock. How little that has to do with my life as an artist.

I used to feel embarrassed when people asked me if I painted every day. Now I just say no and I've figured out how I mad spurts! I get some things going and suddenly I can't do anything BUT work on them, paint them. I think about them when I'm cooking dinner, about to go to sleep, daydreaming out the window at my computer desk. But they consume me until they are finished. Then I don't have anything to do that remotely resembles a painting schedule.

There is a point where suddenly it grabs me that I haven't been creating new work for a while (a few weeks? a month?) and I get itching to start the next work. And I do.

Just don't talk to me about a painting schedule. I don't have one, never did.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Get more than your feet wet!

To what main characteristic do I attribute success? The persistence factor. That is, NEVER give up.

This leads me to consider that when we really step into an area with both feet and live in that realm, possibilities and ideas just are not hard to come up with because we immerse ourselves in what we have chosen to do. It is, to me, one of the key ingredients of creativity. You can't just skim across, you have to get in and swim! (I'm hopelessly addicted to analogies as you see!).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Good composition

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Here you can see the elements of a good compositional set-up. It was done by one of my students before she started her painting. There is good variety of the major things one needs to be aware of. Good tone or value variety, good differences in shapes and sizes and good colors as well! There is also a good arrangement of these shapes such as the lighter bowl against the dark rooster. If the bowl were against the background, it wouldn't show up so well since it is close in tone to the background.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Always be on the lookout


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I took these photos when I was in my local mega-sized hardware store. I carry my camera with me at all times because I never know when such an opportunity may come up for a painting idea. These were so beautiful! Don't know if I'll ever paint them, but you get the idea. Stay on the lookout! Noticing possible subjects for a painting is your stock in trade!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Keep Sketching!

I admit that I don't sketch as often as I think it would do me good.
I tell all my students to do it to sharpen their perception of visual shapes and compositions.
I was going through my sketch books yesterday and found this one.
My excuse for not sketching more is that I draw a lot in the studio warming up to do new paintings.
I'm hoping that counts!
But one can always be better at noticing things and then doing a fine job of rendering them.
I show sketches to my students that have been made by the masters. Cezanne is one of them.
His sketches are scribbly and messy.
But look where they led his masterpieces.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When there is a ridge line you don't want

Here you see three images of parts of a recent painting of mine.
There were some areas I needed to change and when I painted
over what I didn't want, you could see the leftover part underneath
as a ridge line. It caught the light and so you could see it. It's
sort of like having your underwear stick out from your clothing
when you don't want it to show!

The first photo here is where I have taken #220 sandpaper
and knocked back the ridge so it wouldn't show. You can see
the old line underneath the other paint now, but it no longer is
a ridge of dried paint.

The second photo is a longer shot of the same area. It was
a tall wine cabinet and I had it too tall!

The third photo here is showing the ridge line next to a woman's
shoulder in the same painting.

Go to my blog at and you can
see the whole painting which is nearly complete now!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tone and color drill

What is this?

On the right is a tone chart done by one of my students.

The black cloth is velvet and that's about as dark a tone as something can get!

To the left and right of it you see parts of a fabric chart I made. It has various colored rectangles that the student has to identify regarding their tones.

What is tone?

How light or dark something is.

Is the tone of something the same thing its color?


These are drills I do with my students to learn the difference between the two.

That red on the left is pretty dark in tone, but it is not the # 10 on the top of the chart.

This is seen by comparing the black velvet right next to it.

When figuring out the tones of things, you can't do it in a vacuum.

You have to relate one to the other and then come up with what they are.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What haven't you been using lately?

Like many of you, I have worked in a number of mediums.
Among them are oil, pastel, water color, charcoal, ink and so on.
I have made jewelry using a variety of materials such as silver, copper, polymer clay and stained glass.
I have done print making doing etchings as well as woodcuts.
I have painted huge wall murals.
Who knows what else I may have done and left out here!
But I have found myself doing a lot of my work in oil over the past few years
and so here you see my water color palette and a few of my many
brushes looking abandoned.
They were until recently when one of my students asked me to teach them
watercolor basics.
Hmmmm, now they are looking very interesting again!
So keep your creative juices flowing by not working only in one medium.
Most of the great masters did this.
I have been reading about Matisse recently and he is a remarkable example of applying
his creative self to many media, even colored paper.
Let me know what you think of this in your own experience!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Painting from Photographs

I just spent the last many weeks putting together a series of lessons about what a person has to know in order to successfully make paintings from photographs. A few words here and there to my students about this didn't really get all the points across.

Maybe I'll have to post some of the information here.

Let me know if you are interested!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Paint Small!

These paintings are all 5" x 7". If you have never
tried painting in a small format I suggest that you
try doing it. You can see from the variety of
subject matter that you can do simple or
complex with these little pieces. You can also
explore subject matter as well as styles of painting
(abstract, realism, impressionistic, etc.) and not
have it take a long time. Thus you can learn rather
quickly some new painting paths you might like
to explore.
Such panels can be purchased, but you can also
make your own. I buy a large sheet of masonite
and have a friend cut it up for me. Then I prime
them with gesso layers, sanding between each one.
Two layers seems to work fine.
Have fun!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sharing student work

A few posts ago you would have seen the lacy part of this
napkin. Now you can see how well the student painted it
It is very important to be able to show the subtle variety
of tone changes in order to fully render form on a two-
dimensional surface. That is what this student has done by
careful examination of each change of plane and the
appropriate tone for that part of the fabric.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Using a ruler is sometimes OK

The first photo is of the canvas on which I am doing the
preliminary drawing. In the lower corner you can see the
image I am working from.
I use a ruler when I need to really get long perspective lines
right, or else I can be in a situation after applying paint where
I have to make a lot more adjustments. Moving paint around
is messy! So get it right at the very beginning.
HOWEVER, I do not use a ruler once I am painting. I follow
the drawn lines carefully with my brush, but because I am
not using a ruler, there is life to those lines. They don't look
In the second photograph, you can see the image I am using.
I took the photo and had it blown up into a color copy that was
large enough for me to see what I needed to see! Then I
decided the composition needed some changes and so I added
pieces of paper around two edges to add to the image. You can
see the scribbled part that looks like a border.
After doing the above, I made a grid on the painting that is
proportionate to the canvas and started drawing!