Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

It’s My  Birthday!
I am celebrating my Birthday today!  I am celebrating my life as an artist and celebrating  all of the beautiful art in our world.  Art that has brought so much joy to millions!  Without art, our world would be Bare and Boring!
Take some time out for You today -- and smile.  Did you know that a smile to a stranger can light up their day?  
Here’s to art and artists all over the world.  Here’s to celebrating our lives every day and bring Joy to millions.  

And, thank you, for joining my Blog.


"My Dad"
10 x 8, Oil on Board

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday's Lesson

Getting Started
Let’s start with something simple -- Hopefully by next week I will have someone help me put a small painting video on this blog!
The challenge for most artists these past years is keeping our creative souls alive and functioning.  Again, painting and drawing for the joy of art!   Vincent Van Gogh is my true hero here, as he painted every day -- just to paint.  He drew, he painted, he wrote letters -- he let every part of his creative soul stay alive -- even though he had only sold one painting in his entire life.  And, as we know, his brother, Theo, was an art broker!!!!
It has taken me a long time to find my “soul” again and to rediscover the “joy” in my art -- it’s been a long road, and here I am.  Every day is a new day - a day to live as you would like -- so, why not be happy and have fun -- you deserve it.

Hey it took me over ten days to finally unpack my suitcase that I had placed in the kitchen on the floor.  My cat, Ollie, thought it was his new bed -- and was a little surprised to find it gone -- he did give me a "look".  Nonetheless, it is time to get some great paintings going and I am ready -- are you?
I had to go back to the basics, to rediscover my own art!  It is a great journey and it haas made my art stronger and better.  
I have been offered a One-Woman Show in Shibuya, Japan in September 2012.  And I have been asked to be in two prestigious galleries -- more on that later.  I have turned down a few very large commissions so that I can paint for me, and I am excited to see where that will take me.
Come join me on this journey and paint with me.
Take three colors in paints -- black and white and a neutral grey -- Gamblin produces a torrit grey every year with his left over residues and has a competition.  It is a great way to work on your values and composition -- it builds a great foundation for your painting -- in fact, Vermeer and other master artists used to block in their paintings with just the greys and then add the color later.  
Put on a timer and paint for thirty minutes and see what happens -- you will know the strength of your painting by your values!  
I will post mine in the next few days.  Here is one that I painted with the torrit grey and the gallery loved it!  It also sold quickly.  

Remember the six values of light -- Direct Light, Halftone, Highlight, Shadow, Cast Shadow and Reflected Light.
10 x 8, Oil on Board

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finding Your Own Art

We are all “Info” Junkies -- we love to learn -- learning is what keeps us motivated and using that information is what makes us grow.
The “McDonald” mind set is evident throughout our world -- we want it NOW!  We are all seeking the “short cut” !
In art, and in everything, there are no “short cuts” to greatness.  What makes anyone great is practice, studying and believing in yourself.  A ballet dancer starts at a very early age to learn the ballet positions, a golfer - how to hold the club, a singer learns how to read music, and an artist -- well, there is a lot to learn, starting with basics such as colors of paints, brushes, what to paint on, composition -- the list goes on.
It has taken me a very long time to get here -- and yet, today, I feel as if I am just getting started -- again.  I have a very unique and beautiful collection of books that I have learned so much from reading about the artists that came before us.  You should see how many incredible books I have.   The ones that did not have the internet to exchange ideas or look up subject matter, or copy someone else’s works.  The artists that did not have cameras to take all of the amazing photos that we can now do with digital cameras (love them).  
These artists broke through their own fears and found their way to paint.  Yes, they learned from a master teacher and one another, and yet each one found their own art in their souls.
And each one of these artists can teach us something -- Modigliani, Renoir, Monet, Sargent (everyone knows his work), Cassatt, and of course, Vincent -- read about their lives and their struggles to find their own art and their style -- and, here we are now recognizing their “genius” in their art -- and guess what -- we recognize their “style” because that is what made them famous!
I encourage you to find your own style -- yes, learn from one another, take workshops, and then find your own “Authentic Art”!
I can feel my art growing in the direction that I love.

"My Brother's Boat"
12 x 12, Oil on Canvas

Friday, September 16, 2011

Looking With Loving Eyes

Look at everything with “Loving Eyes” -- seems simple -- right?  
Children look at people, things, and do so with innocent and loving eyes and therefore they see the beauty in all of it.  We can all learn a lot from children -- especially since we have been conditioned (sadly enough) to see what isn’t working, instead of what is.
When you look at a person, look at them with loving eyes and you will see their beauty shine.  
Take these eyes into your studio, into the galleries and especially use these eyes wherever you go.  Only see the good!!!!
When you look at your own work -- look for the good -- look for what is working!  There have been many times when I have overworked a painting -- okay, lots of times -- when I questioned myself and then, of course, found things in the painting that I did not like -- and forgot to see the beauty and the things that were working!  Trust me here -- I have lots and lots of paintings that were wiped out several times and now have found their way to the floor, then the closet, then the garage - - paintings that had merit, but I didn’t see it and then I ruined the magic by trying tooooooo hard!!!!
When I teach and do painting demonstrations I say this:  No one cares how you got to the painting, or how long it took -- what they care about is what they SEE!  
When people look at a painting they see the end result -- they can feel the magic in it and see the love that is in it -- when the painting loses its magic, well, they see that too!
Again, the best way to paint is from life -- Here is a small study that I did as a practice piece for a painting demonstration.  I did this painting in thirty minutes -- I was setting up the model and the lighting and the design so that the painting demonstration would be fun and entertaining and informative, and, of course, come out great!
As I was painting the study in my studio, I didn’t stop to question myself, my technique or my colors -- I just painted what I saw in front of me -- the model in a beautiful dress with a scarf on her head -- I painted with loving eyes -- and after the thirty minutes, I stopped -- she had to leave and I had accomplished what I needed !  
And, my studies are just that -- studies!  Aren’t we all students in life?  
The idea here is to JUST PAINT!!!!!  and use those LOVING EYES!
The next time you go out -- look at everyone and everything with “Loving Eyes”.  It is the way that the world should be!

Study for Painting Demonstration
20 x 16 Oil on Canvas

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Painting Commissions

How thrilling it is to have collectors commission me to paint something special for them.  It is indeed a great Honor!
My cousin, Dave, whom I have never met, commissioned me to do a special painting of his wife, Sue, for a surprise gift for their 45th wedding anniversary.  And, he flew me out to Chicago this past weekend to unveil the painting at their party.
Since I had never met either of them, there certainly was a challenge to make sure that I captured her essence.  The photo that I worked from was taken by Dave while they were visiting Mesa Verde.  The memories of that vacation brought smiles to their hearts, and that is what I captured in the painting.
The true test in delivering a “surprise” painting is -- did Sue love it???  And, thankfully, yes she did.  We unveiled the painting in front of over thirty people at their party and the smile on her face said it all - she loved it.
And, that is what a commissioned painting is all about -- having the collectors love it!

Here is a photo of Dave and Sue Leonard and me with the painting.

Delivering The Commission
20 x 16, Oil on Board

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Lessons

This is the start of my Friday Artist’s Lesson, and I welcome feedback and questions!  And I will be adding videos to this blog!
It does take courage to be an Artist -- courage to dig deep inside yourself and find your creative self.  Here is a part of the speech written by Marianne Williamson and spoken by a true hero, Nelson Mandella:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?.......”
Take some time and read the rest of this amazing speech -- it is a beautiful reminder to honor ourselves.
And, as artists, the privilege to use our gifts is why we are here!
Basics! Basics! Basics!
Even the most “seasoned” artist has to remember the Basics!  As in anything, there are certain basics that we must learn to hone our skills!  In Golf, you have to learn how to hold the club, how to stand, how to swing, etc.  And with the basics, the natural talent will open up and grow.
First, learn your trade!  Read books about art, go to museums, study art, study the work of people that you love.  If you take me to a museum, you would gladly pay me for my knowlege -- I have done my homework over the years, and I can tell you so much about so many artists -- not all of them, of course, the ones that I have learned from and loved.  And that list keeps growing every year as I open up my mind and heart to NEW!
And that is the key word here -- “NEW”!  New means learning from other artists, learning their techniques, and then taking that information and make it your own.  Study the masters -- that is why they became masters!   We all learn from one another, and then we need to find our Voice in our art.  
This is why the basics are so important -- they are the foundation of art, of anything, really.  Without a good foundation, a house would eventually fall down.  In art, the basics are drawing and learning composition.  You can have the best ideas and yet without a solid background in structure, 
Draw -- draw every day -- it is the basics of all art, including sculpture, glass blowing, making stained glass, and countless other forms of art!  Draw your foot, your hands, your face in the mirror.  If you have children or a spouse, or a cat, dog, fish -- draw them!!!  Draw from life!!!!  There is no substitute for life -- photos are flat -- and since we are magicians creating a three-dimensional form of art -- it is so much better to see it in life.  You truly get to feel it, see it and capture it your drawings.
One of the original masters of art, Rembrant, who is still revered to this day and copied by so many artists, used to draw himself in the mirror, and paint himself as well.  And that is how he learned to become a great painter -- and how much are these drawings and paintings of his worth today?
Monet, known as the Impressionist Master, first learned how to draw and paint the traditional way before he had the courage to embark on his own style -- a style we all know and love!
Set up a still life, or just draw a Pot!  Drawings eggs with different forms of light is a great way to learn how to draw!
Start with black and white so that you can see and capture the values of light.  Charcoal is fun to use, as well as conte crayons, and the most simple item to use is a standard pencil!  Carry a sketchbook with you and a pencil, and when you have those extra minutes while waiting for an appointment or someone, do a sketch.  Some of my best sketches were done in 5 minutes while my son was watching television.  It makes you look, react and just draw.
Take workshops and classes and learn from others.  If you only learn one thing in each workshop or class, well -- think of how much you can learn!
You don’t need to show anyone your sketches or drawings -- they are learning tools.  A lot of times on an airplane, I will sketch other passengers -- usually they are 3/4 profiles and are done quite quickly!  
Here is the Six form of light -- when you see them, you are seeing things as an Artist!  Sometimes they are subtle, yet they are all there.  That is why changing the lighting is a great way to grow.
Direct Light
Half-tone -- between the Direct Light and Shadow -- which makes the object turn
Cast Shadow
Reflected Light
and the final light -- the Highlight
When you have a drawing in which you can see all of these values of light -- you now have a drawing!
When I first knew that I wanted to paint, I just wanted to paint.  I found an artist who was from Russia and I asked to be his student.  He was very traditional and insisted that I could only draw -- with one color -- like black on white paper!  I was insistent that I wanted to paint -- well, basically -- he told me that I had to learn to draw -- and so I did.  Below is a sketch that I did in my first year as an artist - it is done with conte crayon -- from life -- 5 minutes.
Remember to have fun -- make it easy -- put some music on and have a sketching party where you draw one another!  Draw on napkins in a restaurant for fun!
Happy Drawing!
Next week, I will have a video of me sketching.  Until then, have a creative week.  As you can see, the paper has been creased -- this drawing has been with me for a long time and yet, I still love the simple lines.