This watercolor painting titled “With Strings Attached” recently won the Bronze Award at the Arkansas League of Artists Spring Members’ Show at the Cox Creative Center in downtown Little Rock. It is on 300 # cold-press Arches watercolor paper and framed to 29 x 37.” I don’t usually paint in watercolor, and this was not an easy piece for me to create. I saw the aprons hanging in a studio at the Arkansas Arts Center, and thought they would make a pleasing composition with some alterations on my part. I tried to create visual interest and movement by varying the colors, patterns,, and sizes of the aprons and shirts. It was quite a challenge! This same piece won the Wiggins award at the MSW Annual Competition at the Arkansas Arts Center and 1st place at the Stuttgart Grand Prairie Arts Festival in 2015. The show at the Cox Creative Center will hang until April 30.
Currently on display, one of my pastel paintings was juried into the Wichita Pastel National Show in Kansas — the same piece won 2nd place at the Delta Arts Festival in Newport this year. From April to May 11, I have 3 artworks at the Conway League of Artists Show at the Faulkner County Library in Conway. In addition, a charcoal drawing of my husband’s arms will be published in the Art Coffee Table Book of Arkansas Hospice. Date of publication is unknown at this time.
If anyone is interested, I still have a few copies of my book about the Argenta Historic District Available. Contact me through my website or on Facebook.
Knowing about how to use linear perspective doesn’t mean that you have to be a slave to it. Using the principles of perspective in drawings and paintings that include buildings, posts, roads, etc. can become an internal knowledge that makes your artwork more realistic. However, some artists like to distort reality and in doing so, distort perspective as well. De Chirico is a prime example of this. Some contemporary artists do this as well: (from Artist Magazine, June 2010).
But here’s another way to use perspective creatively — an imaginary residence high up in the sky! This drawing uses 4 vanishing points — all related. The vanishing points are on vertical and horizontal lines. Try this in your sketchbook to work out your “dream house”!
These are pretty much the last of the quotations I’ve collected over the years. I’m particularly thankful for those of you who have sent me your favorite quotations. Please feel free to do so, and I’ll add them to my book of quotations.
“The painter today has a choice: to break new ground and try to do what has never been done or to paint the uncommonly common in a way that reflects insights that are personal yet unique for anyone who encounters them.” Elizabeth Mowry
“That landscape painter who does not make his skies a very material part of his compositions neglects to avail himself of one of his greatest aids.” John Constable
“Great art depends on exaggeration for expressive effect.” Skip Lawrence
“Art is the proper task of life; art is life’s metaphysical exercise.” Friedrich Wilheim Nietzsche
“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” Plutarch
“Everything is related to everything else.” Leonardo da Vinci
“Form is the outer expression of inner meaning.” Wassily Kandinsky
“The gift is not the act of painting; it is the passion to paint.” Unknown
“Drawing requires no exceptional ability, only normal vision and a degree of coordination.” Nita Leland
Hopefully, you are enjoying reading the quotations from artists I have collected over the years. Some of them associate the Divine Creator with the creative process. Some can be applied to other areas of our life than just the visual arts. Here are a few more:
“This is the real test of your emerging creativity–doing work that is neither repetitive of your previous work nor a copy of the work of others.” Nita Leland
“When your creative self calls, go with it. It is God speaking. Listen to your creative conscience, the voice of the Divine guiding you each day. it resides in your heart. Go there and roam. That is your true temple.” Lalia Copoechione
“The object of painting is to evoke emotion in the viewer.” Elizabeth Grover
“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” Emily Dickinson
“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other people’s models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open.” Shakti Gawain
“Follow your bliss, and doors will open where there were no doors before.” Joseph Campbell
“To me, the thing that art does for life is to clean it, to strip it to form.” Robert Frost
“Chance is always powerful. let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” Ovid
“Learn how to meditate on paper. Drawing and writing are forms of meditation.” Thomas Merton
“All arts are derived from the breath that God breathed into the human body.” St. Hildegard of Bingen
I have a gang of these – thanks to all who sent quotations I didn’t have. Here are some more:
“You’re not a reporter but an artist. A painting is a statement of the heart.” Ann Pember
“I don’t want it true; instead, I want a beautiful lie!” Edgar Whitney
“The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist.” Unknown
“In creating, the only hard thing is to begin.” James Russell Lowell
“If you are afraid of making a crazy mistake, then you’ll never get any bright ideas either.” Unknown
“A creative act is not necessarily something that has never been done; it is something YOU have never done.” Unknown
“Action is the fundamental key to all success.” Pablo Picasso
“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.” Andrew Wyeth
“You use the arts to see your soul.” George Bernard Shaw
“A picture is nothing but a bridge between the soul of the artist and that of the spectator.” Eugene Delacroix
“To work with nature as a poet is the necessary condition of a perfect artist.” Thomas Cole
“…it is the soul, not the eye, that sees.” John Ruskin
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aristotle
Which is your favorite?
I thought I’d start out the New Year by sharing with you some of the quotations about the making of art that I’ve collected over the years. They mean something to me, and may be meaningful to you as well. Some of these are anonymous (meaning I don’t know where they came from), and some aren’t. I have given the author’s name where I can. So here goes:
“Painting the verb, the act of doing it, is more important than painting the noun.” Gerald Brommer
“When you watch children paint, they are not concerned with end results at all. They’re just thrilled with the process of expressing themselves. I think all artists need to step back once in a while and remember to enjoy painting and not be so concerned about end results. Art is about expressing yourself. The end result is just a bonus.” Sandra Meyer
“Every artist should be afraid of doing a painting where people don’t do anything; where people don’t react; where they say, ‘Well, that’s a pretty picture’ and move on.” Dean Mitchell
“Landscape is a medium for ideas…the various details in a landscape painting mean nothing to us if they do not express some mood of nature as felt by the artist.” Robert Henri
“The whole fact is that art and science are so closely akin that they might well be lumped together.” Robert Henri
“Do not let beauty in the subdivisions destroy the beauty or the power of the major divisions.” Unknown
“Paint the things that mean the most…the things you’d grab if the house were on fire.” Unknown
“Never let reality stand in the way of imagination.” Elizabeth Grover
“Art is just another language for praying to God.” Unknown
“What we need is more sense of the wonder of life and less of the business of making a picture.” Robert Henri
MORE WILL FOLLOW IN SUBSEQUENT POSTS — WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?
This is how I started that last pastel painting, “Cloudy Sky.” I did an underpainting with grayed-down watercolor trying to keep it simple and only about 4-5 values. When that dried, I began to apply hard pastels over the underpainting.
At first, I thought about adding a road in the foreground, but soon discarded that idea since my goal was to simplify and soften the landscape. My sky was shaping up fairly well because of the watercolor underpainting. The clouds seemed to have some motion.
I worked mostly from top to bottom, trying to keep the mountains in the distance by relating their values close to that of the sky. I divided the middle ground into a separate plane and made the foreground a little warmer so that it seemed closer. I wanted especially to get a feeling of distance while still keeping it soft and moody. The tree in the foreground (my center of interest) was completed with little strokes of several greens and purples, with a little yellow ochre.
And this is the final version as shown in my last post. All in all, I had about 5 layers of pastel atop the original underpainting. Purples and greens are muted, but there’s a suggestion of a road with a fence in the farthest plane. Yellow ochre is used as an accent.
Does it help to see how the painting progressed from beginning to end? The biggest problem is knowing when to stop!
PAINTING FROM PHOTOS
The photo is the beginning, not the end. We use photographs as inspiration, to save time, and a vehicle for our thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Ever since the camera came into being, artists have used photographs as a tool: Vermeer, Holbein, Van Dyke, Caravaggio, Ingres to name a few. They didn’t use the photograph as an image to be copied, however, but to change it in some way to make it unique to themselves, such as exaggeration, distortion, adding several images to make a new composition, changing values and hues. We must do the same.
The photo we’re using doesn’t have to be perfect, detailed, or colorful. The photo is for REFERENCE, only, not for DUPLICATION. I keep a “morgue” of photos I have taken or torn out of magazines and newspapers for easy references. As the late Maggie Price suggested, sometimes it’s a good idea to use a less than perfect or detailed photograph because then the artist must fill in with his/her own ideas.
Most of the photos you’ve seen have too much detail. The values in photos are also darker than the original scene and do not have the subtle nuances you can see in a landscape. It’s always much better to paint from life for this reason. Learn how to make drastic changes by simplifying, flattening the space, finding a different viewpoint, using different hues, values, and textures, and adding or subtracting shapes and emphasizing the mood. Above all, try out different versions in your sketchbook. The more you change the photo, the more you make it your own.
Having gone to one of Skip Lawrence’s workshops several years ago, I remembered an exercise that he does like “scales” every day before beginning to paint. It is an exercise in different kinds of contrast: contrast of value, contrast of hue, and contrast of intensity. I can’t see how he does it every day, because it took me 3 days to finish mine! However, I don’t work hours at a time.
This is usually done in watercolor, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in any medium. First of all, I sectioned off a half sheet of watercolor paper into 9 equal spaces – three across the top and three down the edge. Each of these sections is about 5 x 7″. I separated the sections with narrow artist’s tape and wrote the particular problem above each. Across the top the sections are high key, middle key, and low key (light values, middle values, and dark values only). Down the left side are contrast of value, contrast of hue, and contrast of intensity. Then I proceeded to paint contrast of value in each key with monochromatic greys. Below those, I started to paint the different keys in contrast of hues (color) but decided to make it a little more difficult by using a color scheme from the color wheel: analogous, double complement, and complement and 1/2. Below those, I painted with contrast of intensity, meaning that I had to gray down all but one dominant hue. The first I did in a semi-triad color scheme, the second as a split-complement color scheme, and the last as a complementary color scheme. This took time and a lot of thinking, but it was well worth the effort, since I learned so much from the exercise. My results are below. If you want or need more information about this, send me a comment, please.
Sometimes we find ourselves at a hiatus. We’ve run out of ideas and have not been creating for a spell. This is the time to explore fresh experiences in art– use new and different materials, use new and different subject matter, and look at our subjects from different angles. What subjects have you never tried before? Interior scenes, fish, old people, old family photos, gnarled hands, rock patterns, fabrics, toys, masks, crowds, death and dying, roots, nightmares, trees that look like people, mothers and children, Bible stories. The list could be endless. Pick one thing and draw different versions in your sketchbook every day until you find something that excites you.
What different angles and formats have you not tried before? Looking down, looking up, upside down or from the top– something from the back, a vignette, a silhouette, a panoramic view, or a detailed closeup.
What fresh materials could you try? Encaustic painting seems to be popular right now. I’m interested in trying silverpoint drawing. I’ve spent a lot of time with colored pencil and pen and ink lately. At one time, I made several collages. Maybe I’d like to do some printmaking one of these days, and ceramics has always interested me! “So much to do and so little time!”
One other thing you could try is to place new subjects in unrelated settings. Take four subjects and four settings, and cross-match them. For instance, apples and oranges on a theater stage, peppers on a beach, animals at a card game, books scattered all over the lawn! So try some of these ideas when you have “artist’s block.” You’ll get all creative and excited about doing art again.