Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Twelve Day #9 (my favorite (mostly art) magazines)

The poppy seeds I planted have loved this winter, are beautifully germinated and now starting to stretch out. If we don't have a late freeze, there should be lots to paint in April. Here is a late bouquet of zinnias from my summer garden that I painted from a photograph. If you are interested, you can buy this here

Day 9 of twelve days:
I have subscribed to many  magazines over the last twenty to thirty years . Most of my favorite ones have been art related. Sadly, many magazines start out strong with great visuals and wonderful information in their articles and then dwindle in content. In my "down-sizing" mode, I have maintained subscriptions to only the following titles, which seem to also be consistently good.

My favorite is the quarterly magazine: "The Art of Watercolor ". This is published in France and has consistently out-of-this-world-beautiful visuals and most often, great content, You can learn more about this here,

Almost as consistent is the magazine " International Artist Magazine". This magazine also features a quarterly contest which often has wonderful new work. You can find more here

Some of the articles in the Professional Artist magazine have kept me subscribed (link) but I will think about it when the renewal subscription notices start to arrive.

My favorite for motivation and self-direction remains Oprah's "O" magazine. I start at the end and read to the front....If you read this, you know why.  Martha Beck's monthly article is often my favorite regular feature.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Works in Progress and Twelve Days #8 (making a Still Life Set up Box)

For a little while, I will post little paintings that are learning exercises (because that is the best I have right now). Some of these are only a little better than a wipe (hopefully, as I progress and have learned from these, I will paint over them). This is a study working on texture, reflection and color change of similar colored objects. Do you feel like you are leaning to the left????

Day 8 of my twelve days shows how to make a set up for displaying and lighting a still life like this one.

It is helpful to have a a directed, isolated light source when you are painting a still life set up. An idea for making this set up for your home space as a hobby or learning painter originated from a workshop I attended. You need two like-sized boxes (I bought two new 12" square boxes from Walmart). One box, you make into its "box-form". The second one open only to create an "L" shape. Temporarily attach the "L" to the box with duct tape and test its height for where you want to use it. When satisfied, permanently attach with your favorite super glue. Drape the "L" frame with one yard piece of fabric attached to the sides with bull dog clamps.

Light the box with a concentrated clip-on light from the hardware store and a halogen bulb. You can clip the light to the "L" or to a free-standing light pole.

The cheapest light pole can be made by attaching "L" brackets to the bottom of a 2 x 4 x your desired height piece of wood.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Little Red Hen and Twelve Days #7 (teachers)

Here is the last of my "back up" chickens...These are paintings that I can use on days when everything is a wipe.... I am writing this before I paint today, so perhaps this will be a "good" painting day...
If you are interested, this little painting is available here

Twelve Days (#7)
I think teaching has been lifelong for me. The eldest of five, I  often helped with sibling homework.  As a pediatrician, one of the job perks was teaching: adolescents to respect themselves; young moms to discover and value the individuality of each of their children; and teenage moms who had never been read to, exactly" how" to read to their babies etc . Now,  I teach adults to begin to paint. When my students get to my level or further, I feel quite accomplished. Teaching adults is a new challenge. Seems that you mostly have to teach self-kindness and nurture a willingness to T-R-Y.

So here are my thoughts about what to look for in a good teacher. See what you think.
The best teachers are those that are interested in "you" as a student so they need to know
1. what you want to accomplish
2. where you are in your learning curve
3. what this class means to you and
4. maybe most important: how hard you want to work (after the class)

The comments that have been recently published from a prominent workshop teacher about "older students who are not about to make art their profession and...want to learn and enjoy themselves" may be accurate about some of that teacher's clientele. Personally,  I don't think there is anything objectionable about older students (often women) learning (and enjoying)  a workshop circuit. Workshops afford interesting travel, good facilities and, most importantly, the participants in these workshops are some of the nicest people in the world.  However, I would guess that in these same workshops there are painters who want to learn to paint. As one of those wanting to learn, I like instructors with a "no talking" policy and a commitment to doing their best for each student. I have had the great fortune of teachers who are above excellent My favorites are: Susan Tustain- Harrison (she has a new workshop coming up and this is rare (link),  Joseph Fettingis (link),  Karin Jurick (link) and Carolyn Anderson (link).
If you decide to invest in a workshop, or even a course of local instruction, try to answer the questions above so you know what you want from the experience. Then go to learn, not to be the best, not to achieve   "hangable paintings"  (there is "wine and design" for that) and please don't try to impress the teacher.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Little Puppy Study and Twelve Days #6 (Marketing Resources)

This little painting was done on the back of a failed painting on 140 lb cp Lanquarelle paper. Recently, I use mostly 140 lb cp Fabriano paper. Lanquarelle paper is lovely and soft and very white. However, it doesn't lift to white. Fabriano lifts beautifully to white, but sometimes lifts something you wish would it wouldn't have. Trying the different papers  to see what works best for you is worth it.

If you are interested this little painting is available here

Twelve Days #6
I think marketing is made easier by great paintings. Great paintings happen by lots of work and lots and lots of not-so-great paintings. I don't think there are short-cuts. So first, paint.
It is fabulous, however, to be able to "pay for your habit" and afford the materials, (especially materials for the "learning paintings" (i.e. trash)).
Some of the marketing resources that I have found helpful include:

1. "Open Your Studio" by Melinda Cootsona (link) This is a step-by-step book about having a successful open studio

2. old, archived "podcasts" from Artists Helping Artists (especially those with Dreama Tolle Perry)(link)

3. A great little book: "I'd Rather be in the Studio" by Alyson Stanfield (link) When I looked to add this link, I found that she also has free podcasts that make be as good as her book.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Little White Hen and Twelve Days #5 (Munsell Color Wheel)

This little chicken is available here

Day 5 of the twelve days
Color fascinates me. Perhaps the gradual loss of my vision makes an understanding of this more urgent.
I have a chart of Hilary Page's "visual compliments" (Color Right from the Start by Hilary Page) hung above my painting space. I have come to understand that visual compliments are "light" compliments which are slight shifts from the "mixing" or "physical" compliments that are described by the more customary triadic color wheels (these have red, yellow blue primaries and the compliments (e.g. red plus green) make a neutrals (black-grey-dark brown).
 I found the book "Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green" by Michael Wilcox (which I leant and have not had returned) added to my understanding of how I was making muddy colors (read if your colors are not what you want)

In "Color Harmony in Your Paintings" by Margaret Kessler, the Munsell color wheel is well described. The Munsell Color Wheel makes sense of all of the fractured pieces of information above. Munsell used five primary colors: yellow, red, violet, blue and green. This makes a different five color pentagon color wheel: different than the hexagon primary and secondary colors of the conventional color wheel. Consequently, the Munsell wheel shifts the compliments to be more visually accurate. More interesting to me, is that mixing these shifted compliments creates more beautiful neutrals and semi-neutrals. In Kessler's book, she further describes the use of the Munsell color wheel which is also amazingly helpful for color mixing, classification and color planning in a painting.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Series Sketch #8 and Twelve days #4 (great gadgets)

My original goal for this series was to use a lot of water and experiment with texture. The exercises you have seen (and there have been many throw-aways) that I like have had 1. a large value range (all have the deepest darks) 2,  well-rendered eyes and beaks and decent bird shapes 3. the drips matter:  the color, size and direction and 4. soft edges are needed. I have begun to use what I have learned to scale up and try other subjects....
This one is for sale here

My twelve days had best continue or Christmas will have arrived...
The most useful ready-made gadgets or tools that I love this year include:
1. a view catcher by color wheel company (link).  This great tool allows you to visualize your set up in a correct size rectangle and then use the rectangle to help make placement marks and block in.
2. "memorized" style planes of the head model  (link). This is invaluable to understand poorly lit photos or begin to understand simplifying the head.
3. table top paint on easel by Karin Jurick's guy (link). A fabulous easel that is always my students' favorite to borrow.
4.  table top photography tent kit by CowboyStudio (link). You see this in use every day that I post a small painting.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Series Sketch # 7 (lion cub) and Twelve Days #3 (fav teaching dvds or web casts)

As I was searching for source photos today, I came across this cub from a trip to the National Zoo in DC. I wondered whether the same abstracted watery paint application could work with this little guy. I quite like it. To compensate for the lack of dark values, I used a warmer (orange) color to bring the head forward.
This can be purchased here

For day 3 of my twelve days, I will share my favorite teaching dvds or webcasts. My goal is to grow with a more painterly style. Therefore most of the artists that I learn from paint in this manner. My favorites include: Alla Prima Portraiture by Rose Frantzen, Gesture Portraits II by Jeffrey Watts,  the teaching videos on (especially those by David A Leffel, and an on line demo with Joseph Zbuvick by Color Your Life with Graeme Stevenson (link). This last link may inspire you to see other parts of this series which I always want to have time to do.....