Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Art At The Library

You can see my work in person at the Blount County Library, Cusick Street in Alcoa through the month of November. Four of my paintings are on display there at the Bookmark Cafe.  A waterfall and two of my geranium still lifes in oil, and an acrylic painting of boats are hanging out with some other nice works by local artists. Be sure to stop by to see these.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Happy Holidays!

It's that time again. We all seem to get caught up in a mad rush this time of year. Do you still make time for art? With the rounds of shopping, parties, and visits with family and friends we often put our artwork on hold. I know it's difficult to make time for ourselves in all this crazy rushing around. Make the time to create. Combine your artistic creation with family time. Decorate a gingerbread house. Fingerpaint with the kids. Design your own greeting cards. Make Christmas ornaments for the tree. Start a new tradition. You'll be glad you did.
 
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and may you get to slow down and enjoy it to the fullest! See you in class.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Getting a Likeness: Portrait Workshop

Just a reminder about the upcoming portrait workshop. This is a drawing session with a live model. The class will be held in Knoxville at the Turkey Creek Hobby Lobby. Date and Time: Wednesday, September 4th at 3 PM.

The Purpose  of the class is to increase your understanding of proportion in the human face and figure and to introduce you to quick sketching from life. While you can learn to paint without good drawing skills you must draw well to achieve greatness as a painter. I will give a short demonstration before we begin with several short poses to loosen up. Longer poses will follow so you can do more detailed drawings. Call me at 865-765-5479 for more information and a supply list.

Labor Day Schedule:

All art classes will be at their regular times Labor Day week. All the classroom locations in Maryville and Knoxville are closing early that day but that won't affect our painting lessons. We can paint then go enjoy the fireworks.

Have a safe and Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dissecting The Scene: Painting Water

My students frequently hear me say “Paint from back to front.” This means we paint all the objects in back first. Each object in your painting may be made up of many layers and it is usually best to paint from back to front on each of those layers. How do we determine what these layers should be? Well, to do that we have to do something I call “Dissecting the Scene”.

To dissect the scene you have to learn to look at a scene or photograph in a certain way. Ask yourself what is farthest away from the viewer, or you in this case. If you are looking at a landscape the farthest thing might be the sky. As we move closer, the next thing would be the clouds in the sky. Then comes that flock of birds flying up there. The next closest might be mountains in the distance, or trees across the skyline. Proceed forward getting closer with each object in your painting. You get the idea.

Water gets a little more complicated because of its transparency. Suppose you want to paint a shallow river. Keep in mind that the farthest thing away from you in transparent water is the bottom of the river. I'm not counting that distant part of the stream where the water disappears around the bend. The water that is close enough to see the river bottom is what we're talking about here. It has multiple layers with objects suspended throughout. I'll list a few.

  1. River bottom.
  2. Rocks on the river bottom.
  3. Shadows cast by the rocks on the bottom of the river.
  4. Shadows cast on the rocks by the objects floating or swimming on or in the water: boats, leaves, insects, fish and so forth.
  5. Shadows cast on the rocks and river bottom by objects above the water such as rocks, clouds, trees, buildings, docks and flying birds.
  6. Objects swimming or particles suspended in the water.
  7. Currents and waves in the depths of the water. Different levels of the river have varying visibility and you can often see the currents. Surface waves reflect light through the water too.
  8. Surface of the water.
  9. Waves on the surface both crest (top) and trough (bottom or valley).
  10. Shadows cast by the waves.
  11. Highlights on the crests of the waves.
  12. Reflections on the surface.
  13. Shadows cast on the surface.
  14. Things floating on the surface such as boats, leaves, and fishing floats.
  15. Objects that stick out of the water above the surface and stretch down through the depths. This includes fish, cattails, tree stumps, logs, and reeds. These things may go all the way to the bottom and are painted differently at each level.

So you can see there are many layers to our subject, even more than it seems by this list. Each object in the water should be painted in multiple layers too. I usually paint water in seven or more layers not counting the rocks and river bottom because I like the water to look wet, deep, transparent and mysterious. I love the transparency of water so I use lots of glazes. Now, we can simplify this a little but the more layers the more real your water appears. It really isn't as complicated as you might think. Just paint what you see and start at the bottom and build up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Art Show Readiness

Getting ready for your first art show can be both scary and exciting. There is a lot of information to swallow so I will break it down into easily digestible bite-size pieces for you. This subject will take several articles over a period of time. So bear with me and watch this space.

So you think you're ready to put your art out there for all the world to see? I'm so proud. I knew you could do it. The first thing to consider is this. Do you have enough work for a show? Unless I am sharing booth space with other artists I never show with less than ten original paintings. I prefer twenty. The more work you have to sell the better. That applies to sculptures and photos too. If your work is very small you will need much more. If you work well under pressure and deadlines spur you on, you can enter your show before you have all your artwork finished. Some people have to do this in order to motivate themselves to get their work done. I confess I procrastinate whenever possible so I need that fast approaching show to push me. Once I'm committed to doing a show I knuckle down and get to work. I hope you have more self discipline.

We will discuss gallery shows at another time. For now let's talk about art and craft fairs. You will need work that you can sell for a variety of prices. In general your larger works will have larger prices than smaller pieces. Your smaller art will usually be less expensive. It is a good idea to have some lower priced products to sell in your show. Prints can help with this. You may also want to sell other products such as cards, t-shirts or other items printed with your designs. This can increase your sales dramatically without too much work on your part.

Now that you have your products, you have to choose a show. Fine art shows are probably going to be more successful for you than craft fairs. There are all kinds of opportunities for showing your work in most areas of the country. Many are part of larger festivals and will be better promoted, thus drawing bigger crowds. You can find out about them through art and craft magazines, your Chamber of Commerce, local media, craft stores and artist groups. Remember to search online for art shows. There are all kinds of events happening all around you. Depending on the type of work you do you might find that home and garden shows, pet or horse shows work well for you. If you do fantasy art there are fantasy and sci fi conventions too. It's okay to think outside the box. Generally the best shows cost more to enter but the sales will likely be better for most artists. If you have to pinch your pennies don't ignore the smaller shows. They tend to require lower fees. These can be great starter shows and after you do your first you will be ready for the next one. Your greatest resources for finding out about shows in your area are your fellow artists. Ask around. Many shows are annual events and artists who have exhibited in previous years can tell you which ones are worth entering.

Some venues available to you will be indoors, while others will be outdoors. I can't say that I have a preference for one over the other. Indoor shows will require less equipment and you don't have to worry so much about the weather. I've shown indoors and out. I had lots of fun, met wonderful people, learned a lot and sold some art at both.

Now that you have picked out a show you that interests you it's time to enter. Call, write or email to request an application. These days you can often apply online. Show officials will want to see samples of your work especially if the show is a juried show. You will have to send photos or slides of your art. You might have to send digital photos on a CD or DVD. Unless your art is photography, your best bet is to have a pro take your photos. If you choose to do your own pictures make sure they are the best photographs you can make. Photograph your paintings out of the frame under natural light without flash. Do it outdoors in the shade! Make sure the paintings are facing straight toward the camera. Square up your corners and fill the viewing area. Use a plain background for 3D works. Sculpture can be shot indoors with strong directional lighting if color and glare are not a problem. Use an image editing program to straighten and crop your photos. Small works may be scanned instead of photographed. Your local office supply store or print shop will do this for a small charge. The nice people at the store will put your photos right on your jump drive or SD card. They can also burn them to a CD or print them for you. While you're there check out all the wonderful products they can make for you to resell such as prints, calendars and note cards.

Next fill out your application, pay your fees and you are on your way to the show. Enter early so you have plenty of time to get ready. There is much to do and I'll tell you more in a future article. Until then keep up the good work and I'll see you in class.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Art of “Seeing” Continued: Catch the Accidental Strokes

The most important thing in learning to paint is learning to “See”. It's vital that you “See” what's in front of you not only what's in your head. You can only paint what you see and you must “See” every detail. When I talk about “Seeing” I mean something a little different than ordinary sight. Most of us see in a very passive way. We go through life looking at things and observing very little of the world around us. An artist must be aware of more. We “See” details of line, value, color, shape and space that the average person misses entirely. The better you develop this mode of “Seeing” the better artist you will be. I call this “developing the Artist's eye”.

As artists we should take in everything. This means your canvas as well as your subject. “See” all the details of your subject whether you are working from photos or life. “See” what you are painting and “See” the painting itself. “See” what is really happening. Be totally aware of each brush stroke. Often the brush, the paint, the hand, the mind and the Universe will conspire together to create amazing beauty. This happens seemingly by accident. It's tragic to wipe it out of existence with your next stroke because you missed it entirely or saw it too late. Don't get me wrong. There's more where that came from, but the one that got away still got away!

I see this in class all the time. I tell a student “That's perfect. Don't touch that spot!” Sure enough they go right back in there and cover it up. Sometimes they do it before I can get the sentence out of my mouth. They don't see where I'm pointing. Other times it almost seems like some gremlin of perversity knocks the hand at just the right moment to destroy that beautiful stroke. Slow down. Pay attention. Don't get carried away with covering the canvas. Stop, step back often, look and “See”. As you get used to “Seeing” in that special way you can speed up a little but always be aware of what you are doing and what kind of marks you're making. Make the stroke then look at it. How does it support the overall design. Change it or keep it then go on to the next stroke.

Pay close attention to the photo or scene and all its details. Just make sure you study the painting as well. “See” what's really there. Often the accidental effects are better than what you intended. If you are too focused on the plan or the outcome you may miss something that is better. Don't be afraid to go off in another direction in response to those happy accidents.