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farmlandWell, I’m going to teach an art class again — thought I was finished with that, but guess it’s in my “blood.”  Beginning September 15 (Thursday) from 1:30 – 3:30, I will be teaching a class on how to compose a work of art at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center in Maumelle.  This is a seven week class, and will include examples, critiques, information, exercises, and perhaps occasional homework.  Students will use their own materials, as well as materials provided by the instructor.  I’ve had many years of experience teaching this subject, both in high school art classes, children’s classes, and adult classes.  A lot of the lessons will be based on the blogs I’ve shared on this site.  Cost is $45, and there is a maximum of eight students so call MSWC as soon as possible, if you want to register  (501- 851-4344).   I’m looking forward to seeing you and sharing my understanding of composition and design principles.



Other art organizations available to Arkansas artists in the central region include the Arkansas League of Artists (ALA)and the Conway League of Artists (CLA).

The web site for the ALA is  The Mission Statement on the web site reads:  “The Arkansas League of Artists is an organization formed to promote fine arts in Arkansas. The League is a growing membership of artists and art enthusiasts who gather to learn from one another by exploring new techniques, working in new mediums and sharing their collective knowledge.”  The group meets the last Tuesday of each month except for December at 7:00 PM at the North Little Rock Community Center.  Programs include demonstrations and lectures, and each member may bring  an original art work to the meetings to be voted on by those attending.  Each winning piece is displayed for a month at local banks as “The Artist of the Month.”  In addition, several exhibitions are hosted throughout the year.  The 5th Annual Juried ALAart show is scheduled for September 12th – December 27th at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in the Arkansas Studies Institute.  The organization also awards scholarships to high school students and to the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School.

The Conway League of Artists meets at either the Faulkner County Library in Conway, or  the Art on the Green (a local art gallery and studio) the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7 PM.  On the web site at, it is stated that the “Conway League of Artists is about creating visual art. We’re artists of all types: students, teachers, professionals, hobby painters and creatives who just want to learn and talk about art.  We have painters, sculptors, potters, photographers, and illustrators…  and a wide variety of media.”  There are several exhibits held in Conway areas yearly and ongoing displays at banks, the library, and other Conway businesses.  The meetings include demonstrations, information, and member voting for the “Art of the Month”.

All four of these Arkansas art organizations are active, involved, and inclusive.   Dues range from $20 to $30, and are well worth the price for the degree of encouragement, inspiration, and education derived from membership.  If you’re not already a member of one of these groups,  think about joining — membership will  greatly enhance your creativity and confidence.



The making of art is a solitary profession.  It’s not like teaching, where you try to impart the  love of learning in impressionable young minds, or working for a company as  manager, supervisor, or general flunky.  No, you work alone at a table or easel, placing on canvas or paper what is in your mind, your heart, and your soul. Conversation gets in the way of the creative process.  So it’s only natural that an artist sometimes craves the presence of other artists for comradeship, inspiration, and/or advice.  We take workshops, attend weekly groups, and join art organizations.

Art organizations serve to support a particular medium or theme and furnish information, exhibit opportunities, and friendship to its members.  I belong to every art organization possible: Mid-Southern Watercolorists (Signature membership), the Arkansas League of Artists (Signature membership), the Arkansas Pastel Society (charter member), the Conway League of Artists, and the Pastel Society of the Southwest in Texas (Signature membership) and the Colored Pencil Society of America.  If there was a colored pencil society in Arkansas, I would be a member of that group as well!  I’ll give you a short overview of each of these Arkansas organizations.

Mid-Southern Watercolorists was organized in 1970 by five Arkansas artists who desired to educate the public about the values of watercolor.  Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month at 7 PM at the Arkansas Arts Center except during the summer months. An educational program follows a brief business session.   Several exhibition opportunities are held during the year as well as workshops and demonstrations that increase expertise in the medium.  Members hail from Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma,  Arizona, and Mississippi as well as from Arkansas.  The organization holds one juried membership show and a juried open show each year with major awards.  I am currently the Regional Advisor for the Pulaski County area. 

The Arkansas Pastel Society meets on the first Tuesday of each month (except January, February, and July) at 6 PM in the Education Building of St. Vincent’s Infirmary.  It was founded in 2004 by a group of pastel artists who saw the need for a regional society to promote pastels as a medium and as a means of networking with other pastel artists.  APS is a member of the International Association of Pastel Societies whose objective is “to celebrate worldwide the expanding presence of dry pastel as a major fine art painting medium,” and to “provide a strong voice for pastel artists and the luminous medium of pastel” (from the APS website). Scholarships are granted to deserving art students, demonstrations and workshops are held periodically, and a National Exhibition as well as member exhibits are held yearly.

(Discussion to be continued on the next post).









Here are some more suggestions about how to finish a painting.  I’ve made notes for years on things to remember about creating art, but I can’t remember where they came from!  This is from some book I’ve read and it pertains mostly to watercolor:

Five steps to finishing a painting:

1. Lighten anything you don’t like. Scrub out an area, or use opaque paint to cover.  Check to be sure it makes sense.

2.  Adjust your values. Should they be deeper? Check values under both bright and dim light. With watercolor, you can apply two shades darker than you want because of the lightening when the paint dries.  Remember to adjust other values in the painting to agree.

3.  Evaluate your texture – sometimes adding shapes to the background makes the texture better balanced.  Most paintings need a coherent pattern of texture. Don’t let everything be the same size. Break up space in larger paintings by using color gradations and abstract color and pattern variations. Use spattering or dry-brushing at the end. Clean up accidental textures. Be sure to consider whether the painting’s overall texture pattern leads the viewer’s eye toward the focal point or away from it.

4. Surprise your viewers! Add unexpected (arbitrary) color or a foreign object. Try switching media or adding collage elements. A visual pun might do the trick.

5. Unify the painting. Make sure that cool paintings are really cool and hot ones are really hot. Eliminate white in the wrong places. Look at the painting with a mat around it. Put the painting away for a few days, then take it out and look at it again with a fresh eye. You’ll be surprised what you find out!



Believe it or not, it’s important not to just go off willy-nilly with your compositions, even if they are non-objective.  Sure you’re creative, and have all sorts of ideas, but sooner or later, you need to analyze what you are doing.  The best time to do this is before you start, and during the process.  Here are some tips:


1.  What appeals to me about the subject I am going to represent?

2.  What emotion grabs me when I look at it?  How can I express these feeling through my work?  In other words, what is my goal?

3.  What part of the subject should be emphasized to maximize the impression I want to achieve?

4.  What colors and key (light, middle, or dark) best suit the mood I want to impart?

5.  What will identify this work as clearly and uniquely my own?


1. Have I achieved my goal?

2.  What is the shape of the overall format? L-shape, triangular, cruciform, horizontal bands, serpentine, etc.

3.  Are the objects connected and flowing from one shape to another?

4.  Is there variety in value, color, texture, or shape?

5.  Where are the hard edges? the soft edges?

6.  What is the dominant color or temperature?

7.  Where is the darkest area? the lightest area?

8.  Where is the center of interest, and how did I lead the eye into it?  Can the eye move around all over the painting, or is it stopped in certain places?

9.  Is the painting balanced – either symmetrical or asymmetrical?

10.  What did I do well? What needs more work?

11. What have I learned from this painting?