Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Aint Got No Satisfaction

So, you've finished your painting and it just doesn't do it for you. What went wrong? Why isn't it a masterpiece? Well, I want you to turn that painting upside down again. Now. Stand back and forget about the subject matter. Start looking at shapes.

1. Do you have interesting negative spaces?
2. Is it bottom heavy?
3. Top heavy?
4. Or, worse yet, all centered in the middle?
5. Any tangents?
6. looking at the color distribution
A. Is the color consistent? Say, you have a bright red wheelbarrow-you could put a little
red highlight on the person's hair, a red reflection in the puddle on the sidewalk.
Color distribution is important.
B. Does one color overwhelm everything? Or maybe the yellow you picked out for the
lemons in the wheelbarrow just looks all wrong. You knew something was off. This is the problem and you can fix it.
This is all conjecture, remember.

There are probably other questions you could ask yourself. And by the way, I find this the best way to figure out what is going wrong with your basic drawing of something. Hands become just shapes that you can deal with. Look at the negative space around them. Sometimes all you need to do is copy that negative space that should look right.

Okay, now you have found out the problems in your painting. You have a battle plan and can get to work fixing everything.

*Just a side note from yesterday....I forgot to mention that you can try to get permission to copy from the creator of the image. They might say they don't care a hoot that you using their photo exactly and you are going to sign your name to it. But GET IT IN WRITING if you plan to do anything public with this painting-like sell, exhibit, pass it down in the family for inheritance purposes. I did a painting of a house from a very old postcard. I did my best to contact the company but they had gone out of business years before I came along and wanted to do a painting using their image. But, again, be sure to document it in your files the process you took to try to do the right thing. At least you can show the world that you tried. As you can tell I will give you some of my professional expertise in the commercial world of the business of selling, etc., your art. That is what I know of it. I'm not an expert on this, guys. That's why I'm not a lawyer.

**Another side note...I won't be posting any tips until, most likely, on Monday as I'm going to go help take care of my grandson and it's out of state. Plus I wouldn't be able to concentrate anyway-even if I did have a laptop to take with.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's Mine!

Well, it is mine or so I KNOW about my original images (Not this image above and I'll get into that in a little bit). That was kind of a rude title, wasn't it? But it got your attention right away, I bet.

The topic for today is keeping your art original by trying your hardest to use your own original images-photos, drawings, etc.. I know it's so easy to find a very cool picture and paint it but you have to be careful. We, as artists, are always borrowing. Borrowing from this place and that. I don't think there are too many that can paint an animal from memory, right? So, we are always having to look at pictures and who expects you to live in Africa where you could have a handy opportunity to take a picture of a wildebeest. I know we don't have one at our zoo. Anyway, that's why artists usually have overflowing files that they call "morgues" (not my idea). Depressing name but I guess you could look at it this way-dead images, images that YOU don't own. You have to respect the person who created the image by not copying it exactly and putting your name on it. It's just not fair (sound like the sand pile gang?). But it's not. The photographer got the photo of the wildebeest because he actually went to Africa.

Or how about those of you that copy someone else's painting and call that your own design (by signing it, remember?). For one thing it's kind of a rut/bad habit to get into. I know it's hard to come up with your own ideas but you can do it and you'll get good at it-WITH PRACTICE. You know you can copy a painting or someone's photo (I'm not a lawyer here but this is the way it works, I'm quite sure) if you sign your name and then give credit to the original person or magazine, etc. So for example you would put: Your name, after Van Gogh. Then that's okay. If you scroll back in my blog you'll come to the dancers that I drew out of the newspaper. I put that it was someone else's orginal idea. Get it?

Now you get to read about dummy me but I was a young dummy so I can be forgiven. That doesn't mean I didn't have to follow the rules. I didn't know what I was doing when I was a senior in high school. This was in the 1970's (don't count back on your fingers to guess how old I am) when "black is beautiful" was one of the popular catch phrases. There was a fabulous article with pictures. Did I tell you about this before? I don't think so but if I did-please bare with me. Anyway, I painted the painting that you see above of the lovely African American lady. It was quite good, I thought. So I decided to enter it in an art show. To my chagrin it was recognized from the article and rejected. Drat. I missed out on the whole art show and felt quite dumb about the whole thing.

So, get what I'm saying? Remember me when you are tempted to take credit for someone else's idea-IT'S MINE. There. Now you would want the same for you, wouldn't you? Right guys?

Oh, and I should add that this painting is a classic example of using bad art supplies. I mean-look at the yellowed finish all around her. I guess I wasn't too accomplished at putting on finishes either as you can still see the original blue underneath. I used a Liquitex finish and I would sure like to know how to get it off without hurting the painting. I'll have to look into that at another time. For now it's back to the basement it's going to go. Also, I used the awful canvas board and in addition to the stolen image it's warped. Lovely. Just lovely.

Yikes I just read back on this and what a blow hard I am.

How do you feel about this blog? Does it help? Is there anything I can help you with? Please let me hear your comments. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Move like a race car-VROOOM

Well, this isn't exactly one tip. It's a very cool exercise that is especially great for you (and me) tight drawing/painting types. What I want you to do is to pretend that you are on a trip to, say, San Francisco, and you're riding on a cable car. You will never get a chance to ever visit again in your life and you forgot you camera. Did I say that you have always wanted to do one of those street scenes that have lots of goodies in it? Now, you have 5 minutes, only, to draw everything you see. You want all the details-buildings, signs, people, animals, etc. Because you're a creative type I know you can do this-pick some place in your home or where ever you are and apply this little story mindset to it. Set the timer for 5 minutes and draw EVERYTHING you see as fast as you can. It's amazing how much you will get in. Remember that you need every detail that you can possibly fit in-words, the crack in the wall, the food on the plates, etc. I purposely chose some of those cluttered areas in my house and, yes, I did leave the dishes in the sink for that extra detail that will be needed. No, I'm not a slob.

Is your house pristine and do you live in a sterile environment? Then use my photos. It's better when you do it from a live area but these photos will work. I can't think of too many places that would fit that description-except a jail...hmmmm...not fun. Anyway, you can use my creative photos. You probably already know this but if you double click on the photo you can make it very large. Oh, I should mention that tomorrow we are going to talk about not using other people's photos for your own creative work and then signing it as yours-like you thought up the whole idea yourself. Here will come one of my dandy little life experiences that you can learn from. Drat. I have so many of those but I won't be stingy and keep all those humiliating stories to myself (not always that bad). I want you to see that I'm an artist that can fail and learn from my mistakes (hopefully). That way you will have hope that you can reach the pinnacle of artdom some day (will you let me know what it's like when you get there?).

Extra credit-use color for the exercise. Or why don't you try the moving transportation with someone else driving, of course!

There. All you tight types-don't you just feel free? Try not to get a headache over this. It doesn't matter. It does not have to be a masterpiece to show the world. Remember what I said...YOU CAN THROW IT AWAY.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ask yourself why you do art

Well, I'm sorry this is just a little tidbit today but I've got my midterm tonight-must study and not goof off (well, this is fun and could be considered a goof off).

Anyway, this is important. Why do you do this? Is it because you feel pressured to fulfill a talent? Is it because you love the way it makes you feel free? Is it because you need to earn money and think this will do it? What is the reason? Knowing the reason will help to guide you. If it's a negative one then you can try to figure out if there is a better reason for it behind that. When I did this quite a few years ago I had a list of about 10 things that made me realize how much it added to my life. At the same time you could be thinking about if this is a healthy thing. Am I obsessed with this and ignore my family? When I quit doing this full time in 1999 I was getting to the point that I was thinking about it constantly. It became an obsession and ceased to have joy involved in it. I was really trying to make money and figure out what people would buy (I can tell you why Van Gogh cut off his ear-FRUSTRATION). Not a good mind set, let me tell you. That's when I went to work at a dental lab for 8 years and did a little art here and there. I have to say that that long break was good for me. You get into a style rut and this freed me from that. Now I'm comfortable to do things that I like and I hope that will show in my creations these days. Doing the mosaic hearts last year brought me so much satisfaction. If you look at my horse and cat painting that I'm working on (back a few post pages) you can see that, indeed, this painting brings me joy. My 2 favorite animals in a great setting with lovely flowers. Do I care that someone might ask why I'm doing something so trite as horses, cats and flowers? Not a whit. I'm thinking of naming this "Julie's Paradise" (I would need to add my family but too late now). Maybe I could call it that and add "and behind the bush is her family".

Study time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Relax, dig deep and let it happen!

As I was in church today I pulled out my sketch book fully intending on working on a photo of my daughter, Gracie, when she was little. I thought I'd get warmed up (you know, with the circles I talked about before). Well, I ended up staying with the circles because pretty soon I started to see a bird forming. Then I went with that. I wanted you to see the end result. I've also included a few other of my "free" sketches. Actually I do have to relax a lot to do this but sometimes it kind of hurts in a sense. I don't know if you know what I mean but it's like something inside takes over and I have to let that something flow. I guess you can call it like a trance (no! that's toooo icky) or just into an artist's zone. I'm still listening to church but I am doing something.

As you can see in the others it almost looks like I changed my direction part way through the sketch. This often happens with the most imaginative ones. Notice also the different perspectives. If I sat down to do a snowman I would do like any 2nd grader-plop plop plop-3 circles in a row. In this snowman sketch it just came out of I don't KNOW where! The same with the other sketch. I think I started out with cloud like shapes. NOW this is where you really get to know me. See how I like to pull out of the design groups of people/creatures? Notice that they are so close and cozy? Even loving? Well, that's how I really am. I'm a cozy type of person and I absolutely love my family. I have always encouraged our children to be close. I hope that radiates from all of us. I know my husband is that way.

Back to the bird......I, also, never would have chosen this view of a bird. I wouldn't have felt like I could do it without a picture (contrary to what nonartists believe-no, we can't draw everything without a picture.....whoops! I gave our secret away. Sorry, fellow artists).

The lesson in all of this is that if you let it flow you will find abilities in yourself that will take over if you will only let them.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rubbing Alcohol-an acrylic painter's best buddy

Okay. This isn't complicated at all but something good to know. If you like to use acrylic paints and make a mistake it will come off very easily with rubbing alcohol. It the paint is very thick try scraping it first to get some of it off. Since it's acrylics it should kind of pull and snap off as it's essentially a plastic. Then use the rubbing alcohol to get the rest. It it won't scrape then you'll have to go over and over it. Be very careful not to let it drip on the rest of your painting. Of course, if there are oils on top you will have to use a paint thinner to get that layer off first. Mistakes aren't fun but without them we would never learn. I had an art consultant, Laura Stamps, that said she used to keep a notebook to write down all her mistakes throughout the year. Then at the end of the year she would review it and see what she had learned. I think this is an excellent idea-trouble is that I would be going into my second volume by the end of the first month. I should be almost perfect by now, shouldn't I? Hmmm. Well, not so, not so.

Okay, so I have to explain the pic. While going through old family photos I came across this one that's a real gem. It's 17 year old me, my brother, John, and niece, Melissa. This is before I became a rich and famous artist! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!!! Fooled you on that one, didn't I? Well, I am telling the truth that it is indeed me before many many years of all my mistakes AND successes. If only I would have had the wisdom that I have now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I explain my Underpainting method with examples

Underpaintings, the solid base. I wanted to return to the underpainting topic again because I feel like they are so magical. Until I used them my paintings seemed flat and lifeless (to me, anyway). In this entry I thought it would be very useful to discuss one of my most successful paintings/prints: "America's Favorite City". It's actually California Street in San Francisco. I'm sure you guessed that. I really went to town on this one but it took some careful planning. I noticed and you will also that there are quite a few white buildings in this painting. I thought I would give each one a different u. p. (thanks for the break...I can't type underpainting over and over as my poor cracked and sore finger tips from the dry heat in Utah are furious today and the typing doesn't help at all). Okay, now, I can really get picky in my planning and this accounts for my prices. I put a lot of serious thought in everything I do. Look at the white buildings that are located about midsection. I gave them a red orange o. c. Moving back in perspective I used yellow ochre, pink, orange, etc. Now, in the foreground there is so much boring boring pavement. This o. p. actually looked like molten lava. Now I want you to know that that's why I love acrylics because after I laid in the o. p's. I began with very think layers on top-being careful to allow a little touch of the o. p. to show through. As you can see the white buildings definitely are stars in their own right-plus the pavement is far from boring. Later in the painting I used oils (remember oils on TOP of acrylics-not the other way around).

Okay, so I added another one of my paintings at the top of this blog because I remembered that I had a picture of it before (with just u. p.) and after (finished). This is "The McCune Mansion"-a gorgeous old mansion in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. I've posted this before but many of you probably didn't see it. It just illustrates my technique perfectly. So, I had to include it.

You can cleverly lead the eye back in perspective by using sequentially cooler and cooler u. p. colors. I did that with green trees in another painting. I started out with red and ended up with a purple. It really works, you guys! But you have to have patience and use a little planning. The benefits are enormous (and I really like to get the job done fast in everything I I had to make myself hunker down and focus).

Oh, just so you don't think I'm the genius that thought this up I want you to know that my art teacher, Robert Rumel, suggested the brilliant u. p's. years ago. I just took that and ran with it farther than I think he thought I'd do. Thanks again, Robert!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yes, you can freeze them!

This is a great idea for those of you that don't know it already. Just put your oils in a plastic container with a lid and pop them in the freezer. Then when you want to paint next time take them out to defrost. I often put them on a heat vent for about 10 minutes or so. Putting them outside on a sunny day works also. Just be careful not to forget them as they will not be as good if they are baked. If you forget them over and over, of course, they will be not great at all. But I do this all the time. It's so great and my oils last a long time. It doesn't work with acrylics because they are really a plastic and, well, it just doesn't work-let's just leave it at that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You Get What You Pay for, you know-Buy Quality Materials!

Buy the best materials that you can afford. I can't stress this enough. You may not like the painting of the beach ball today but someday someone might and they'll be very sad if the paint was not artist quality and that it's painted on a canvas board that warped. Think forever or as close as you can get to that. Also, when you use good quality materials it makes you feel like you really have a purpose in this venture-what you're doing is important to you and the world. It makes you sit up straighter and feel confident in what you're doing.

Be careful to get paper that is acid free. The only time I give this some leeway is in doing doodles. You know doodles can happen anywhere. They could occur in the phone book, your school notebook, etc. You get what I mean about this.

During the '70's when the "black is beautiful" movement really picked up steam "Life Magazine" ran a fabulous article with the coolest photos ever of gorgeous African Americans. I was in high school and decided to paint one of a young woman. Well, even when I look at it now I think, "dang but that's a good painting...even if I do say so myself" BUT the tragedy of that painting is that: 1. I used a cheapy canvas board
2. I used a bad finish
I do get points for using Liquitex acrylics, my favorite and still is. Too bad it doesn't look all that great now.

As a side note I would never say that this is an original painting and take credit for the image of the woman. I would love to show this in my post but I don't want to get in trouble with copyright infringement. How about if we talk about that tomorrow, okay? It's study time around here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

That Dirty Little Devil-the TANGENT!

So, yesterday my sister, Carrie, and I worked on fixing her blog to bring it up to professional standards (we're just learning and trying so hard). Her blog, in case you're interested, is (they do faux painting, murals and general painting). Anyway, the object was to get a nice picture of her and her husband on there. We found an older one that was just perfect except for the fact that it looked like a balloon was growing out of her head when we cut off a lot of unnecessary junk on the side of the image. We decided that it would be better to leave the balloon there and Photoshop out the other distracting stuff because they balloons are fun in it. The point of this whole long drawn out story is: tangents. A tangent is something that is comical or just awful/icky feeling in a composition. You know. Haven't you all seen a picture where it looks like someone has a hat on their head but it's really the light fixture up above? Or it could be just that someone's hand is right next to the edge of the picture and it creates tension. It would have been better if the hand would have either gone off the edge of the image or pulled back away from the edge. Sometimes these tangents can be so subtle that you really have to hunt for them. But they can ruin a lovely painting because they make the viewer uncomfortable. They probably wouldn't pick that as the culprit of their uneasiness but something is definitely not quite right about it. If you have a composition that's just not working look to see if you have a tangent somewhere.

I've included a few of our family treasures in this post. We have an ongoing joke at our house. It's the "Bad Picture Album". My mom and I started it years ago. It's a collection of the worst photos that we or others (we take contributions but we are very strict about them being truly bad) have taken. There are some lulus in there. The 2 featured today are definitely tangents. The first is of my mother (she has a lot of the pictures in the album) taken by my stepfather. At first glance it looks like she has a Hitler mustache but we realize that it's really the plant. The other picture taken at Yellowstone looks like the deer is carrying her baby in her mouth. These are not purposely taken. They just happened to work out that way. I bet you have some of them yourselves. Okay, so they're the comical kind, right? I can think of one picture of mine that has a tangent but it's not a crucial problem. Look on the left of "Grace-Afternoon Nap". See her hand? Her knuckle is right on the edge. I decided that it wasn't that big of a deal and didn't warrant me redoing anything (which would have been a nightmare) and it's been a very popular painting. The tangent really only happens when it's in a frame-like at my house-so you won't see it....nanny nanny na na.

Okay, get my point here? Paintings not working? Paintings not selling? Could be the tangent's fault.

Now I really really have to get to my studying. I have a midterm next Monday and I want to study during the day because I love watching the Olympics at night and don't want to miss. By the way....Zacke Lund in the Skeleton is one of my best friend's nephew. Root for him, okay? He was the one that was kicked out of the 2002 Olympics when he was at the top of his game because of using Rogaine. That was awful and very unjust. He is a gem.

Oh, by the way. That really is an awful picture of my mother besides the tangent. She really is a pretty older women. Sorry, Mom but she's 93 and won't really know. Actually I think she would think it's funny.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Underpaintings Can Make Life a lot Easier!

All of you that are terrified of a white canvas...I'm talking about all of us that are artists. We've all been there in the studio or at school (even scarier) and sat for the longest time without thinking of a thing to paint. They should play the Jaws theme while we're looking at it. Don't do this to yourself! Put an underpainting on it first. It can be almost any color. I like to use brilliant colors and usually the complimentary ones. This does take bravery as it's hard to visualize what to do with it and makes it a bit tricky to paint over. If you aren't that brave put down a pastel of that or do like the masters and use a brown underpainting. Just get something on there right away. Now-no subject matter? How about the doodles? What have we been talking about these past few days? The doodles can give you the best and most original ideas.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Turn that Painting UPSIDE DOWN!

Well, this is a real life saver sometimes. If you're painting isn't working out or just doesn't have pizazz-turn it upside down and you will be able to see what's not working. Are the colors presented in a consistent way, is the composition too dominant in one area, is it top heavy, etc.? You will be able to see it almost every time. Also, you know how it's hard to get something right sometimes. If you look at it in a totally different way you'll see it. A face turned upside down isn't really processed in our brains as that. Our brain sees shapes. So paint or draw the shapes around the troubled area. Then when you turn it around you'll be so surprised to see that it looks so much better and maybe, even, just right.

So, see this painting up above? Well, it's just half of it. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was bugging me about the feet. When I turned it around I realized that the feet were just right but the color wasn't. The black boots blend into the shadows too much and it makes the feet look too big. I tried to lighten the boots to no avail. So, I realize now that I need to change the color. I'm thinking red or light blue. The red would be good (but kind of unrealistic, don't you think?) as it's a warm color and would stand out from the cool shadows. Although the light blue might work out just as well because it would lighten it up. Grrrrr. These types of problems can really be a challenge. This painting was a prize winner (I think I got second place in the Murray art show) but didn't make it to the top. It could be that one thing that's just not right-the shoes. I'm going to talk about the "one wrong thing" another day.

By the way-these are my sons, Charlie, Kip, and Cliff. Actually it was really 3 strange men that I took a picture of at the closing ceremonies for the 2002 Olympics here in Utah. They were so cute but I got to thinking that the painting would mean more if I put someone in it that I know. These are not perfect portraits, by the way, as I wasn't going for that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's Okay to Give Up but Reconfigure if you can!

It's OKAY to throw away your painting if you don't like it. As artists we always hate to do that. It's like you have to chop off our arm to part with one. This is another tip from my art teacher, Robert Rumel. I learned how to do this. In fact there are probably some garbage men with some of my paintings that I put on top of the trash (or they may have squished them and called it good). My sister was working on a painting of a swamp in the south and got sick of it. She put it out for trash but changed her mind. When she went out there it was gone! But you do have to be careful. Consider whether you can cut it down and save some of the good elements. If it's canvas it can always be re stretched. Back to the garbage men's paintings-There's one that I did of my husband in high school with his old Rocket car. I wish I could get it back and save that part. It was just the scenery we didn't like.

Another thing you can do is cut it up into smaller pieces and use what you've done as underpainting. That works out quite well because you will get some elements that you like and you might want to include them in your new painting. Or you can just paint over the whole thing but you have to be careful if you do. You can't paint over acrylics with oils. It will peel off. So, you would have to continue with oils (you can paint over acrylic with oils just fine as long as they are a nonslick finish type).

Tomorrow I'll tell you about one painting I did resurrect. That will be my tip of the day as it includes some new ideas.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Always Think of Yourself as an Aritist!

Always consider yourself an artist. Don't doubt as to whether you are or not. You create, don't you? My best teacher, Robert Rumel, always had us start our art class with a blank piece of paper. On it we had to write "I am an artist" 10 times. Then do circles all over it in a conscious way. This was called our affirmations. It affirmed that we are, indeed, artists. Sometimes it needs to be drilled into our heads-by ourselves-our worst critic.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Doodle and Sketch!

Hi every creative person out there. I just thought as I was an art teacher for 11 years I should share some of my wisdom...daily, if I can.

Try to sketch as much as possible. Keep the sketches (even the ones that you do in the phone book) if they are cool ones. They're so fun to look back on and they will give you ideas for other projects. I used to bribe my young art students to bring their "doodles". I put an envelope in the back of their sketch books so they could save them. The prize was chintzy, candy, but they loved it. It also was a good way to measure how they were feeling-I cared a lot about them. I hope they still have those sketch books as they will be there are a lot of great drawing exercises that we did.

Oh, the type of pen I use is one that will sketch. Don't use a heavy duty gel pen. Don't use a pencil because it forces you to draw freely and that way your sketches won't look overworked.

Do you have any great art tips? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! So would other artists who are always searching for the right ideas to improve their art. These tips could be for any type-such as painting, photography, sculpture, etc. You get the idea, right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What I do in church when I should be listening (I am I am)

So, here you go. Here's what I do to help myself listen better. Honestly I really do pay attention a lot better this way as I don't fall asleep. Plus I have these nifty little pics in my sketch book (that Cliff gave me....thank you very much, Cliff). I've been working on my painting downstairs in the dungeon but here's something new to all of you guys-even though some of these are actually fairly old.

Oh, I need to add that these are not perfect perspective and resemblance wise either as they are what they are....SKETCHES...get it?