Saturday, October 17, 2009

How to write an Artist Statement Bio

Writing an Artist Statement
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I am not claiming to be an authority here, but I do know a few things. There are many different ways to skin a cat. Sorry, PETA
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Tailor it to the Audience
You need different artist statements depending on who you are addressing. Is this to a Gallery, for the general public, or for the Internet.
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Bio/ Artist Statement
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A lot of Artist Statements will be a combination of a Bio and a Statement. It could include a picture of the artist in action, shows you have done, awards, Galleries that represent you, etc. Have you taught, or given demonstrations? Are you a full-time artist, how long have you been painting, where have you studied. Maybe you include, contact information ( online and off), phone, address, Website, Email, etc.
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The Artist Downfall
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A lot of artist are almost apologetic when talking about themselves or their accomplishments.
Play up your strong points. It is often what you don't say that is most important. Don't try to make an award won at a County Fair into a big deal. People will see through that. You can say that you are an award winning artist. Just leave it at that. It's true! You are! You just don't have to volunteer that it was at a County Fair. Have you taught art to 5th graders? Then you can say you have taught art. You get the point. You don't want to lie. On the other hand you don't want to minimize what you have done.
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Personal verses "Just the Facts Maam"
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If the Info is for a Gallery it may be more of, "Just the Facts Maam" More business like. Hopefully you are meeting the Gallery owner in person. You're going to have a relationship with the Gallery. They want to know your art process, but not endearing stories, at least not initially.

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If the info is at an art show it will be a little more personal. Hopefully you will meet and talk to your customers as well. You better, if you want to sell
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I think most people agree that on the Internet it is very important to be a little more personal, so that people can get to know you. You are just 1 of a ga-zillion people trying to sell on the Internet. You need to make them feel that they know you. It's ok to be business like, but it is easy to come across as gruff, when the person doesn't have the benefit of your smiling face. Especially when you are dispensing payment/ shipping terms and policy's, all very impersonal.




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The Statement
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Sometimes a Statement can be about , why you do what you.
and or
How you came to the point of doing what you do.
and or
The actual process of how you do it.
and or
(Your Art Theory)
Your belief of how art should be done or should be viewed
( Art Mumbo Jumbo) This never made a lot of sense to me.
I
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Sample
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Combination Bio/ Statement
click the link
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This was done for a particular art show. Normally, I will have contact information on the top. For this audience, I thought the most important thing was the shows that I have done, so I put it on top. As I didn't expect that they would take the time to do a lot of reading. Some shows will actually ask you to describe the process of making your art.
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Random Stuff
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This is some of the Information that I have on some Internet sites
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About Derek:
Derek is a full time, established, award winning artist and has been painting for over 20 years. Derek exhibits at the top ranked juried art shows in the nation. He does about 20 shows a year in 12 different states. He has been featured in print and interviewed on television concerning his art. His Baseball abstract "You're Outta Here" is displayed in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Sports Art in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prints of Derek's paintings grace the walls of 4 and 5 star hotels. He lives outside of Memphis, Indiana, which is a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky with his wife and 2 sons. He lives in a restored 1924 farmhouse and has a working studio/gallery that he built in a barn behind his home.

Why I paint:
Painting took me quite by accident. At the age of 26 I had a serious back injury. As I lay there watching TV, I happened upon PBS. I saw Bob Ross doing painting demonstrations. He is the fuzzy headed guy painting happy little tree oil paintings. I had an epiphany watching him paint a scene of a waterfall. I purchased some Oil Paint, and 6 months later I started selling paintings. I have never looked back.



Process:
I usually have a very basic idea when I paint a painting. The more I think about a painting the easier it is to get bogged down in the details, and then I can't even muster up the courage to start. If I just have a basic idea, then I am then free to paint, and let the painting just happen. I usually paint with no drawing or sketching. I draw with the paint, mixing colors on the paper or canvas. I do a lot of negative painting. Instead of painting the sky and then the tree, I will paint the tree and then paint the sky, redefining the shape of the shape of the tree. Often in the middle of a painting, I will see something happening and I have learned over the years to always go with the feeling. When this happens, an abstract may turn into a landscape or a sunset may turn into snow scene. It took me many years to get to this level of freedom. When I first started painting decades ago, my paintings were very tight and I used very small brushes. I would draw everything out first, in great detail . With each passing year painting becomes more like play.
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I hope this helps
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If it did, please feel free to comment. It's good to know that people are listening. It keeps me motivated.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Correcting a Painting - acrylic painting of fall trees

This is another repainted painting. A dramatic difference in this one. I think! When I painted this painting, I really didn't mean for it to be a super realistic painting. I actually like this painting, but it didn't seem to get a lot of attention. So, what the heck!


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What could be done differently?

Think about it before you see what I think!
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Before
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Too Many Warm Colors
Again there are mostly warm colors. The Lavender is cool, but it is a warm cool, because Lavender has some red in it
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Let's add a Greater Sense of Depth
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On the left side behind the red trees you see some light from the distant field.

On the right side you are not really getting the feeling that the field is receding all that much.
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Change the shapes
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Notice the overall shape of the red trees and the yellow in the sky. They both form a circular shape. The painting will be more interesting if we can break these shapes up into a more uneven, interesting line.
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AFTER


Original acrylic Painting of fall trees
12x24 on canvas
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What did I do?
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I added Depth
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I layered the painting in Values to give a sense of depth. Light, then dark,light then dark! I lightened the distant Lavender trees, then I put a dark row of trees in the distance. Then I defined a distant field and made it a very light value. From back to front,Light,Dark, Light!
I added some darks to the red trees, to give them more dimension.
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I changed the shapes.
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I made the distant Lavender trees much smaller. I made the yellow tree a little taller and skinner. This also helps to give a sense of depth. I changed the shape of the red trees and actually defined a single small red tree.
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I Added a Cool Blue
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That is really all it took to balance the warm and cool colors
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Having done all of this, I have to say there are no perfect paintings. There is always something that could have been done differently. You could paint for years on a painting and never actually finish it.
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Try painting a painting with your only focus being on warm and cool colors or maybe layering your painting with light and dark values. If you focus on one specific thing for a while it will then become part of you. You will then begin doing it as a gut reaction, without thought.
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This painting is in my Etsy Acrylic store







Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to correct a painting - large acrylic impressionist painting on canvas

Too Many Cool Colors
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Too many straight lines
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This painting had the opposite problem as the last painting. This painting has too many cool colors.
The changes that I made weren't nearly as extensive.
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Before
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This whole painting is almost all cool colors. Design wise there are a lot of straight lines that need to be broken up. Some straight lines are OK, but this painting has gone a little overboard. The land, the shoreline and the water itself, all form a straight line.
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After
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large acrylic impressionist painting on canvas
18x36
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What I Did!
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To break up the line that the grassy field formed, I added the trees on the horizon.
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I also added the warm yellow field. This warm are against all the cool colors really makes the painting pop. When I painted the yellow field, I brought it down to the waters edge, again breaking up the straight line that the green field formed.
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To break up the line that the shoreline made, I added some more dark bushes and reflected them down into the water.
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The bushes on the horizon and and on the shoreline, also serve as a visual stop, to keep your eye from going off the painting.
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I hope this correction series is helpful. It is often hard to correct your own paintings, as you have locked yourself into looking at the painting in a set way, and have a hard time deviating from it.



Saturday, October 10, 2009

How to a balance warm and cool colors! - original landscape painting acrylic panorama

Below is a painting that I repainted Before
This is the original painting. It isn't a bad painting, it just doesn't have the pop that it could have. It has 2 basic areas that could be improved.
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1. Light and dark values
2.Warm and cool colors
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Light and Dark
There are to many mid tones in this painting, no real dark areas. Notice the green field area in the foreground, and the background are the same value. They are also the same value as the distant mountains. This isn't giving you a sense of distance.
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Warm and Cool
The painting is almost entirely warm colors. The combination of all of the mid tones and the warm colors give this painting a very soft feeling, no pop.



Notice the foreground darks are better defined, giving more separation from the distant field. This adds a greater sense of depth.
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The Lights
Notice the light area in the sky. The light area in both painting is almost exactly the same color and value. Because I added more darks in the 2nd painting, the light area looks much lighter.
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Cool and Warm
The biggest change is in the sky. The first sky is all warm. The after painting has a large area of cool blue playing against the warmer yellow.
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I have another painting that I repainted that I plan to show you in my next posting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How to paint with creativity! - Original watercolor painting water reflections fall trees

Happy Accidents
I heard an art teacher type, say the other day, that he hates to hear someone talk about having happy accidents when they paint. The point is well taken. If you don't have any painting skills, everything you do will be an accident, I mean the total loss kind of a, you better hope you have insurance kind of accident.
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Inflexibility
The problem with a lot of academics is that they plan their painting out in such detail that there is no room for deviation. There is little chance that a happy accident can happen when you, paint in an inflexible manner.
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We are all failures!
You are going to make mistakes, everyone does. Every mistake is a, mistake, or it is an opportunity to be creative. The easy thing to do is quickly correct it. It will be your first impulse. Resist!
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Look for Ink Blots
Before you correct that mistake, look at it for a minute like an Ink Blot. What do you see? Does it look like anything at all, if it does, then make it so! If you do this, it will add a new dimension to your painting. You will find yourself doing things in a different way than you normally would have done. It will be exciting, I guarantee.
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So, was it a Happy Accident, or was it simply a mistake.
"Rocks and Trees"
original watercolor painting water reflections fall trees

7x10
$48 in My Etsy store
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At some point in the future I will photograph a happy accident, as it occurs, and show you how I dealt with it.
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My Happy Accident

I had intended for the green grassy area in this painting to go all the way down to the water. I inadvertently made the center area a little darker than I wanted. There were a couple spots where the paper was still white. The dark area looked to me like a dirt drop off and the white spots looked like rocks. So, that is what I made them. I have painted similar scenes to this before and have never had a dirt area or rocks. If not for my Happy Accident, I would have painted the same thing I have painted before,because we tend to paint what we are most comfortable with.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Artist advice - How to be an artist

Artist advice - How to be an artist
Are you an artist, or a business person. There are many artist who are technically good, but their work doesn't sell. Then there are artist who's work is just OK, and they can't stop selling.
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I often have parents come up to me at art shows and ask what advise I would give to their 14 year old budding artist. I say, "If your he or she, wants to be an artist, then he actually will be a salesman, so he should go to college and get a marketing degree and a minor in art. If his art skill are good, his marketing degree will help him be successful. If his art skills are excellent, but he doesn't know how to market himself, or talk to people in groups, and individually, he will fail.
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What does an artist do!
You have to present yourself in written and verbal form to Galleries, the general public. You might what to give talks, demonstrations, or give lessons as a way of promoting yourself.
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You need to know about price points, so that you know how to price your paintings.
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Your going to have to do research, to learn how you can cut your cost and find the cheapest supplies, outsource, figure out how to Wholesale.
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You need to know who your market is, and figure out, where is the best avenue to reach them.
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To some degree, you going to have to do some accounting.
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You may Physically have to learn how to make frames and matts. Or invest in machinery to help you make then, in order to cut your cost, so that you make more profit. If you are a full time artist, you will lose a fortune if you are having a frame shop do your framing for you. Unless they are giving you a heck of a deal.
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The toughest job, with the highest turnaround is Salesman
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Not only are you a salesman, you are selling yourself. Not only are you selling yourself,, you are selling something personal. The reason that sales people don't last is because they can't handle the rejection. When you are an artist, the rejection is worse, because you aren't selling a vacuum that you have no emotional attachment to. You are selling yourself, and it is hard, to not take it personally, when you don't sell.
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I could go on and on
So, what is my point! Nothing in the long list I have given, has anything to do with creativity and the actual producing of your art work. The sooner you start thinking of yourself as a business person, the sooner you will start to make progress with your art career. That means that you have to dedicate time to thinking about the business side as well. You have to do some research to learn whatever it is that you need to know. Study, do your homework! AH, Dad, stop it! As my son would say. You may need to take a speech class, or whatever it takes. The sooner the better.

One of my abstract paintings
Original acrylic geometric abstract
in MY Etsy Acrylic Store


Sunday, August 2, 2009

How to paint reflections on water - original watercolor painting trees lake


How to Paint Reflections in Watercolor
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Misconceptions!
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Water is not Blue
Water has no color, it reflects what ever is around it, be it sky, trees, or Star Trek groupies.
The color of the water may also be determined by what is under the water. If the bottom of the
stream is mud, the water may be brown, if it's mossy, it may be green.
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Water reflections are not the same value as the sky
The value and or color of the water is going to be darker than the sky. You may look at a scene and say, "They look the same to me!" But you have to make it darker anyway, for the sake of perspective and maybe to add balance to the painting. Also, just to differentiate the sky from the water
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You can see in the painting above, the darker water in the foreground focuses you eyes back up to the brighter colors, and the center of interest. If the foreground water color was lighter, your eye would go right off the painting.
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Don't Make Waves
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We aren't painting "The Perfect Storm", we are paintings still or nearly still water. We are painting a totally flat surface. The water has to be smooth, the colors need to be blended together and have a smooth appearance.
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Do
Have fresh paint ready, don't use dried up paint, you need color and you need it quick. You should never used dried paint. Every time you add water, you dilute the paint, it ends up being a lot of water and very little paint.



Here We Go
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With a large brush,wet the entire paper in one direction, when you are finished, without adding more water, go over it in the opposite direction. You are just trying to insure that the water is spread evenly


Notice the Sky is lighter than the water
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The Sky is light Cerulean Blue, the water is darker Cerulean Blue, in the foreground it is Ultramarine Blue, an even darker Blue
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In the sky I used Cadium Yellow, in the water Ochre, a darker Yellow, you get the idea here.
The colors that you use, aren't as important, as getting the appearance of a glassy surface.
If it looks like a smooth surface it will look like water.
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I painted the sky in this order
From the horizon upward, first the Cadium Yellow, then on top of it, Cadium Red, which blended and became a soft Orange. The Lighter colors to the darker colors. Then I painted the Light blue Sky with Cerulean, then over top of it with a dark Purple, which was Ultramarine Blue and Alizarine Crimson. Again the lighter color, then the darker color
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Alternate if your Bold
Use multiple brushes. Paint the yellow in the sky. Then immediately, paint the mirror, but darker Ochre in the water. Paint the Lighter Cerulean in the sky, then immediately paint the darker Ultramarine in the water, etc.
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Wet a section at a time if your timid
Wet the Sky, paint it, then wet the water and paint it. You can always re-wet an area if need be.
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Re-Wet the Water
I obviously painted in the trees and land, now back to the reflections. Now, I'm going to paint the trees, reflecting in the water. Normally, I would just re-wet the area below the trees, but I thought the water color was a little to bright. So I mixed Alizarine and Utramarine Blue and made a dark purple. I did a wash starting at the bottom, as I moved upward the wash lightened.
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Paint the Tree Reflections
You don't want the paint to spread too much, when you paint the trees. You want the paper to be just wet enough to diffuse or blur the edges. If it spreads too much you won't be able to get a shape that looks like the shape of the tree.

Add the Tree Trunks
I added some highlights to the trees. I thought the tree reflections needed to be a little darker, so I darkened them a little more, being careful to keep it soft. You want the water to be pretty much dry when you add the tree trunks. You don't want the paint spreading, the reflection of the tree trunk could then be 3 times the size of the actual trunk. Then I added the tree trunks, and immediately added their reflections in the water
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Piece of Cake
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Please add your comment. I hope this was helpful, if it was, please let me know. If something was unclear, let me know that also. Maybe I will expound on it further. Derek


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to choose a Matt for a painting

How To Choose a Matt for a Painting

Don't
1. Pick the color of your Couch, Curtain ,or your dogs Poopy box, and then use it as one of the matt colors.
2. Don't have a preconceived idea of the color you want to use
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3. Don't pick an obvious color
4. Don't try to make it match your room, focus on the painting only, not the room.
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Choosing a Color
1. When you choose a color for a matt you want to choose the 4th, or 5th dominate color. Not the 1st or 2nd or 3rd dominate color.
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2. The painting either matches your room or it doesn't. If you try to make it match the room, you will be adding a color that will overpower the painting.
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3. Choose a color, based on the painting, not on the room.
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What is the Goal
The goal its to pick colors that become invisible. When you look at the painting you won't even notice the matt colors. You chose this painting ,for that room, because the colors in the painting matched the colors in the room. So there is nothing that you can do to make the painting not match, because it already matches. What you can do, is pick colors that draw the eye away from the painting and onto the color you chose. Yuk!
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How to tell if the colors are right

Put the sample Matt's on the painting. Go to the opposite side of where you have the Matt's. Stand a couple feet back. Focus intently on the center of the painting. Because you are standing a few feet back, you will be also also see the Matt colors. Now, can your eye stay focused on the painting. If it can, you chose the right colors. The Matt colors should disappear
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If your eye is drawn to the Matt color, you chose too strong a color, or a color that doesn't quite match.
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Still having trouble? Then go to the opposite side and view the painting a couple feet back, looking over top of the Matt.
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Still Having Trouble
Your preconceptions of the colors that you wanted, are getting in the way.
Leave it to a Professional and call Dr. Phil!

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DO:
In the first example is a light Olive, you may not like the color, but get the concept. It is a green,but it is not the dominate green. It's an in between color. It's not yellow, but it pulls some of the yellows, it also pulls some of the lighter greens that you probably didn't notice , because of the overpowering darker greens in the painting
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The second example is just the opposite of the first one. The Matt color reads more as a light yellow, but maybe has a slight cast of Light green. It also goes with the yellow, and the green in the painting. But this color is not the dominate Yellow in the painting. It is a lighter paler yellow.

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NOT!

This is an example of a common practice. A lot of people like to use a Maroon, it does match, but you can't look at the painting without your eye being drawn to the Maroon Mat. You would also get this unappealing effect, if you had chosen the dominate, bright yellow, or the Bright green .


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Tip
I have been framing my own paintings to sell for 25 years. Even for me, it is easy to to have a certain mind set towards certain painting, which makes it difficult to find a matt that works. You just can't get past the colors that you have in your mind. If you run into one that you are having a problem with. Try all the different color groups. You may find one of those in between colors that you were totally not expecting.
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Happy matting, Derek


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Loosen up your painting style! What are you afraid of?

Loosen Up
From my experience , it seem that 3 out of 4 artist would say,"I would really like to loosen up my style." If you fall in that boat, I would like to know what you are afraid. I am not suggesting that everyone should change their style. But, I think there are many of you who would like to, but fear is holding you back.
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Reject Criticism
I think there is truth in the adage of the tortured artist. Everyone has an opinion about your work. When you put your work before the public, you are really asking the question, " Do, you like my work". Some will actually say they do or they don't. Some will infer it with a cursory glance, or just by not buying it.
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Don't People Please
There are going to be more people who don't like your work, than do. This is true for any artist. Picasso has no shortage of people who hate his work. You need to practice your best duck waddle a let the insecurities and criticism , slide off your back.
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Go your Own Way
Don't let the fear of losing sales stop you from making a change. If you come up with a different style, you can sell it in a different market . So it doesn't interfere with the customer base that you already have. If it's in your heart to do it, you should. If you don't, you will be in an eternal struggle, trying to please those who can't be pleased and unhappy because you aren't painting what you would really like to be painting.
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It's a Win, Win
What better time to do this than in a market that is down. In order to loosen up, you are going to have to get out of your comfort zone and try some new things. Even if you don't come up with an entirely different style, you will learn in the process. You will take what you have learned, and it will add a new dimension to your work.
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Since when, is more knowledge a bad thing?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to paint a Tree - original Watercolor oak tree painting

Because of the technique that I'm using here, you can use this same process in Oil or Acrylic.
Today, I am going to continue the discussion on Light and Dark values. Particularly how that relates to painting a green tree. What we don't want is a tree that is just a, Whole Lotta Green. First, when you paint a tree, you have to know how you are going to highlight the tree. Is the light source, high in the sky? In this example, the light is behind the tree, which means that the tree is going to be back lit.
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Paint in 3D, Paint in Layers
When you look at a tree, you see leaves in the back, in the middle, and in the front.
Think about this when you paint the tree.
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Don't paint what you see.
When you look at a green tree, all of the leaves look green. The leaves in the back may be slightly bluer and darker. The leaves in the front may be lighter and more to the yellow side.
Don't paint the tree like this, or it will look flat, and way to green. That's how you end up with a, Whole Lotta Green. Yuk!
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Learn the art of exaggeration

Make the darks, way darker than they really appear, this will give the tree depth. This is true of any subject matter. Always make the darks, darker than they really appear. It adds drama, and it give the painting, or tree in this case, depth.
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The Painting is the easy part
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Paint the back first
In this stage, you are going to use a dark, it doesn't matter so much what the dark is, the important thing is that it is dark enough. Don' get persnickety, use a bigger brush or a Fan brush and dab it on, loose is better. You can fix anything by adding another tree branch. Paint the entire shape of the foliage of the tree. Remember to leave a lot of space were you can see the sky behind the painting. That's the back of the tree.
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Paint the middle of the tree
Mix up a green, don't use a green straight out of the tube. Geez! If you are using watercolor, use fresh paint, straight out of the tube, not worked up dry paint. Use a lot of paint and very little water. Again,dab it on, leave at least 40% of the darks. Don't cover up all the darks! Geez! Let some of this go over the sky areas that are peeking though. Stop! Don't cover them all up. Geez! We all have a tendency to want to over do everything.
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Paint the Front
With a tree that is back lit, there aren't going to be a lot of bright sunlit leaves. But at this stage you can add a few brightly lit leaves. These will be more to the yellow side, maybe almost pure yellow,you can make these with a large liner brush or dab them on. Just a quick, small, curvy line. Don't make me say Geez, just a few. That's it, piece of cake!

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To Illustrate the Point

"Cow Wading"
Original watercolor Cow Painting oak tree water

Questions?




Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Variation - How to mix colors and improve your paintings skills

How to mix colors?
You get 2 colors, then you use a tool to stir them together, until the color changes.
Just kidding? Lighten up, art is suppose to be fun. Stop using the same colors, over and over.
Stop trying to get the exact color that you want. If you are real obsessive about the exact color that you want, you are going to continue to mix the same colors over and over. There are a bi- zillion colors and your mind can only conceive a few.
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Warm and cool colors
We are going to discuss greens, I think they are the toughest colors to master. Why? Because, there are so many greens in nature. In a summer landscape, the ground and all the trees are green. That can practically be the whole painting. If you don't have color Variation, your painting can quickly become one big blob of green. You need to have warm greens and cool greens.
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Warm Green
A warm green may be a green to the brown side, you can accomplish this with a touch of red.
It could be an olive green, you can get an Olive color by mixing a Blue, with an Ochre. Ochre, really is a yellow to the brown side. On a green tree, you can use pure yellow to highlight the top of the tree or a few leaves. It will be read by the brain as a green that is in light.
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Cool Green
Well, that's a piece of cake. A lot of greens are already to the cool side. Most people need to focus on getting more warm greens. In all likely hood, if you are looking at your painting and saying," There is something wrong, it's just so green", you probably don't have enough warm colors or darks.
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Darks and Lights
I can say this with confidence, you need more darks in your painting. The applies to every area of your painting, but we are talking about greens.
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Darks
Mix your green with a dark blue(Cooler), a dark brown(warmer),a black (cooler), a purple which is blue and red( cool, but warmer than blue because of the red).
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Lights
Do all of the above and add white, maybe lots of white and some yellow. If you are painting with watercolor, you do this by using less pigment and letting the white of the paper show through.
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I understand, but exactly which colors should I use?
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This is the question you want to ask, and also your biggest obstacle. Having someone tell you, 2 parts Ochre and one part Ultramarine, is keeping you stuck right where your are. You have to experiment with colors and explore all the different combinations that you can come up with. It will become part of you, only when you do, and discover on your own. Your mistakes will teach you what not to do. The more you do on your own, the more proud you'll be with the finished painting.
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The Example
Notice the painting below
The yellowish grass in the distance reads as Green, highlighted by the sun.
The dark trees in the back looks almost black, but reads as green in shadow.
None of the greens are straight out of the tube, they have all been mixed.
The grass, trees, and water are green, but are all slightly different greens.
There are a lot of dark areas of green
There are light green areas where the sun is shining.
You are not overwhelmed with any one particular green.
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Cloud Movements
24 x 36
by artist Derek Collins
Large canvas acrylic cloud painting river and trees
To see in greater detail , click the link, then click the painting twice


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Are you a Professional Artist Wanna be - How to be

Are you a Professional Artist wanna be? Maybe technically, you are a hobby Artist, it doesn't matter. You really have to start thinking of yourself as a Professional. Why? There are a number of reasons. How about!
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IMPROVE YOUR CRAFT
No matter the level of the artist there are always new things to try or improve upon. When your income is not dependent on art, there is no urgency to improve your skills or to make changes to your work that will make it more marketable.
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PAINT EVERY DAY
The number one thing you can do to improve your skill is to paint every day. It's easy to put painting aside when your not dependent on the income. I know that it is not always possible, not even for me. For me , the business side of art often get in the way. If you have a real job, or maybe kids, life gets in the way. Still, if you don't make it a priority your skills will remain the same indefinitely.
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TRY NEW THINGS
I have done juried art show for many years. It is interesting to watch all the other artist through the years. There are some artist who's work hasn't changed one Iota in 20 years. Then there is a group of more spirited, adventurous artist, who are always trying to fix the broken wagon. I fall in that category,I am never satisfied.
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As I am going to Art shows this years I am noticing a lot of artist with entirely new bodies of work. Some are adding a different twist to their work. Some have changed their work entirely.
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When the economy falls apart and sales are slow. I always think, if I just do this differently my paintings will sell better. This struggle, and the changes that I have made, haven't always produced immediate sales. But this process has always improved my skills, and eventually the sale have come.
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PRICING YOUR WORK
What should you charge for a painting. Well, until you start thinking of yourself as a Professional, you will never have the backbone to raise your prices, so it's a moot point.
No one else is going to see real value in your work, if you don't.
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IMPROVE YOUR TONE
I have found that when a hobby artist talks about their work, they present their self in a couple different ways.
1. The apologist: The are constantly apologizing for their prices, offering sales, and just presenting a overall tone that cheapens their work.
2.The diversionist: They don't have confidence in their work, so instead of talking about their work. They talk about their feelings. How they feel when they paint. How the painting makes them feel when they look at it.
3. The aloof artist: You are not really aloof. You just appear to be, because you are afraid to talk to people, so you say nothing.

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THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG
Do you think that when your skill level gets to a certain point, your paintings will start magically selling, when you are coming across as an Amateur. Because you are not a Professional at this point, you don't have the pressure of the market bearing upon you. So it is critical that you start thinking of yourself as a Professional. Make it a priority to improve yourself in all these areas, because they are all inter- related. If you act like a Professional Artist, people will believe you are. More importantly, you will start to believe.



Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is a web site necessary for an artist?

Please feel free to add your opinion. I am just giving you information to think about.
I am right 95% of the time, so there is always a small chance that I could be wrong about something,somewhere, at some time.
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I just think that with the advent of blogs, the necessity to have a web site has been lessened.
The whole point of a website is so that people can find you and your work. Right!
Two weeks after I started my blog, my search position on Google catapulted. I can be found much easier now that I have a Blog, than when I had a Website.
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I had a website for ten years and never had a sale on it. I wasn't really trying to sell on the Internet. My web site was really targeted toward the customers that I had at my art shows. Everyone at the show wanted to know if I had a website, but none of them ever bought anything from my website. They wanted to see the art in person, that's why they go to art shows.
After a website has been there awhile and not updated, it gets down graded by Google.
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The PitfallsAlign Center
It is possible to have a kick butt website, that is not SEO friendly. Each page of a Website has a title. The person that builds the site needs to manually give each page a title, and add a description of that page ,using Keywords that describes your product. Will the person that builds your site, know what words are the best keywords for your product? Did the person that built your site do this? You'll probably never know. This is done in the background of the programming, it's not something you can see.
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Is your site really fancy, does it have music, scrolling pictures or words, or other such niceties.
These fancy professional looking things, all slow your website down, and frankly are totally unimpressive to most people. They are to busy being annoyed that the page won't load, to notice how impressive your site is. Goggle downgrades sites like these,precisely because the pages load too slow.
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If you have a website built, what are you going to do when you sell, and your Website becomes outdated. How are you going to add new work to your site. This is the problem you will have if someone else builds your site. If it needs changed a lot. It could be a money pit.
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Online Stores
Are you selling your work on some of the online stores like Ebay, Etsy, Yessy , etc. ... If so, I don't see the point of having a website where you are selling the exact same product. If you are selling totally different products then that makes sense.
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The good thing about the on-line stores is that they are already optimised for SEO. After all, if people can't find your work there, you will leave, or you won't sell, and they won't get a commission.
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The second thing, is that it is easy to add new products and revamp your store whenever you deem it necessary.
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Thirdly, the on-line stores already have shopping carts. There is absolutely reason to have a Website that doesn't have prices and a shopping cart. That's just making it too difficult for someone to purchase from you.
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Using Your Website as a Hub
Why?
If your not actually selling from a Website, why have it?
The number one, easiest way to be found on the Internet is a Blog, not a Website.
Because you update a Blog often, and because it is already optimized for SEO,(Keywords).
If you are using your Website as a hub, just to point people to all the places you can be found on the Internet, why not use a free blog instead.
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But I want to keep my name.
www.I'm famous.com
I commonly hear people say that they have a web URL that they want to keep so that people can find them. At one time would have agreed with that. My old site was artistderek DOT com. I gave up that name and someone else has it right now. I just Googled Artist Derek. I came up in the number 2,3,4,5 position on the first page. Nowhere on the first page was the person that has the URL , artistderek DOT com. So who is better off? Every day a couple people find me by searching for Artist Derek Collins. That's the goal, so you can be found. I just Googled Artist Derek Collins, there are 9 spots on the first page, I had every spot but 1. Do you have a website? Google yourself, how easy or hard you are to find?
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What should you do?
1. Start a Blog today
a. A hub to send people to all the places you sell art
b. so your customers can get to know you.
c. It will elevate your search status.
Website?

1.Use one of the online stores as a website and drive traffic to it with a Blog and whatever else.
2.Use one of the services that will let you build your own Website, like Godaddy, then use a Blog and whatever else to drive traffic to it, so that you can update it and have full control over it.
3 Already have a website? Then start a Blog and drive traffic to it.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

What kind of watercolor paper should I use?

I am glad you asked! You probably think I'm going to talk about brands and Archival quality, and nothing but the best. You would be wrong. I don't find the different brands to be all that different. The only caveat would be that some brands have whiter paper than others. Having a really bright white might be important to you, especially if your doing a snow scene. But even then it is not critical.
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Hot Pressed, Cold Pressed or Rough
Hot Pressed is smooth, Cold Pressed has some texture, Rough has a lot of texture.
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Hot Pressed

The paper is smooth. So it doesn't absorb a lot of water. The water sits and floats, on top of the paper. When you wet the paper, it makes it very difficult to get the water even on the paper.
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It also dries faster and not as evenly. I am sure you are aware that watercolor can be hard to control. If you use Hot Pressed, smooth paper, you are just adding another element that you have to try to control.
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The up side to the smooth paper is that is is much easier to put fine line detail work, because of the smoothness of the paper. If you are doing a lot of wet on dry, sharp focused realism, then Hot pressed could be your choice. If you want to paint wet on wet, then stay away from Hot pressed. If you are an inexperienced painter then that goes double for you.
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Because the hot pressed doesn't absorb as much water, it is harder to get intense colors. Since it doesn't absorb as much water, by default it is absorbing less pigment. Hence, less color saturation. I like intense colors, so it is an annoyance to me. If you want intense colors you will have to build it up in layers. I am a professional artist, and even I have to work harder to control the Hot Pressed Paper, especially wet on wet

Here is a painting that was painted on Hot Pressed Smooth paper.


Notice the Red, how it appears to be sitting on top of the Blue
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This painting was painted on Cold Pressed paper

Notice the red in this painting, how it merged and mingled with the blue.

Also how much freer and more impressionistic this painting is.

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Cold Pressed

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The amount of water that you have on the paper is critical when painting a watercolor. Cold pressed paper has some texture, little grooves in the paper. These little grooves cause the water to spread. This may not make sense, but this is what makes Cold Pressed easier to control than Hot Pressed.

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Listen closely! Remember, Cold Pressed absorbs more water. The water doesn't sit on the top, like it does with Hot Pressed. The key is that is absorbs the water more consistently. So while the watercolor will run, it will run in a more consistent manner. Making it easier for you to predict what will happen. Then all you have to worry about is the amount of water on your brush. Trust me on this one.

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As I said before, because it absorbs more water it absorbs more pigment, allowing you to get more intense colors more easily. Cold pressed is the number 1, selling paper, there is a reason for that.

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Rough Pressed

It is really a lot like Cold Pressed, just more of the same. The grooves are deeper. So it requires boldness. You will have to be willing to use larger brushes as it will absorb even more Water and Pigment. It does allow you to add more texture in your paintings. Not for the timid. Cold Pressed is still the safer choice, as it is more versatile and the fine detail work will be easier because the paper isn't as rough. Rough might be the choice for more abstract or splattered impressionist paintings.

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If you are wondering what kind of paper you should be using, the answer is Cold Pressed. It is the most versatile of the three. It bridges the gap between Rough and Smooth, and gives you the best of both worlds.

If you are a new or frustrated watercolorists, please switch to Cold Pressed now, Before it's too late.

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I beseech you!




Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Develop Thick Skin - How to be an artist

I often say, I didn't know what depression was until I became an artist, or maybe when my kids became teenagers. It is hard not to take your art personally. When you are selling, you are on a high. When you are not selling, you can't even see the top of the mountain, because of all the haze around you.

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It is a roller coaster ride sometimes. You have to have a thick skin. There are people who just won't like your work. That's a given! If you take your work to Galleries, some of them won't like your work. If you do juried art shows you are putting your work out there for people to judge. And judge they will. You become invisible, there as so many tents with artists, that you become invisible. People will stand right in front of you a say what they don't like about your work.

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I don't hear a lot of negative comments anymore, but when I was starting out I certainly did.

Some of these comments can actully help you, if you can take your bruised feelings out of the equation. There are always things that we can improve in our work. Art is an aspiration. It is a lofty place that we are attaining to get to. Always out of our reach, like a Mirage in the Desert.

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Listen to comments and learn though them. Don't let them become distractions.

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Develope a thick skin!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eagles, Deer, Hawk, Crow, and Egret - My fishing trip

I went fishing yesterday with my oldest son. Male bonding! It was quite the day. I had a new Battery that apparently is a bad battery. An old Battery that also tuned out to be a bad Battery. My connector for the oars had broken off. Why would I need them anyway! I have 2 Batteries for my trolling motor. So we spent the entire day paddling a 14 foot boat across a 400 acre lake.
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We saw 9 deer up close and personal. One was eating moss out of the water. We saw an Eagle dive down to the water to scoop up a fish. Two 2 crows trying to steal food from a flying Hawk.
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Buzzards flying around, maybe they thought we wouldn't survive the heat.
A Wild Turkey, Squirrel, and a variety of birds.!
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And then, the most amazing thing of all. We were fishing about 18 feet from the bank. There was an Egret that was walking down the shoreline. He stopped right in front of us. He just sat there looking right at us. When we caught a little fish, we thew it at him and he would eat them. At one point we thew one that landed 5 feet short of him, in the water. He gave one big flap of his wings and pounced in the water to get it. Amazing!
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I only go fishing to provide food for my family. That's what I tell my wife, anyway. With all that drama, we did actually catch a lot of fish. Have to fill the freezer up for winter.
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The art can become an all consuming thing, it is good to get away from it occasionally. "All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Principle of Three - How to paint Trees

Notice the Body: The deep darks of the trees leaves are almost black looking
Notice the Soul: The deep shadowy olive leaves
Notice the Spirit: The bright yellowish green leaves
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The Principle of Three

The Principle of Three, is a basic teaching concept that I have come up with. I believe that you can apply it to your work in a multitude of ways. 3 values, 3 hues, 3 sizes, three objects, 3 color gradations, etc.. This is the first installment


Body, Soul, and Spirit

Let me rephrase that. Dark value, Mid-value, Highlight. The dark value is the body. Think of it as a silhouette of an object, a body without life. It tells you what the object is, be it person or thing.

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The mid- value is the soul. It give the person or object, a Soul, or life as it were. It helps to describe what specific type of person or object something is.

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The Highlight is that which give the person, or object, individual personality.

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A lot of people who find my paintings on the internet, are using searches like: How to paint grass or How to paint Clouds. When you ask How to paint anything, in a Landscape painting, the answer to your question is always the same. Body Soul, and Spirit! If an object is really small you may not always be able to get all three into that small space. If the object is large, it always needs to have a Body , Soul, and a Spirit.

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If you give every object three values, it means by default, you are also giving it three different (HUES) colors. If you do this, to each object, you will be improving that object 6 different ways. Three values + Three Hues. Learn to focus on one object at at time. Don't let the vastness of the painting overwhelm you.

When time allows I would like to show you 4 or 5 different ways to paint a tree. That will be my next step by Step Demo.
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Do you have a preference! Would you like to see a tree done in watercolor or Acrylic?


Friday, June 12, 2009

Unfold - Illustration Friday- Original acrylic modern landscape painting

The Topic Is UNFOLDING
On the website Illustration Friday
Where a topic is interpeted through Art
This is my interpetation of the topic Unfolding
Click the link to see other artist entrys
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This is a picture in time, drama is happening.
A story is unfolding.
What do you think?
Is this a storm that is coming in?
Is this a sunset on a cloud filled day?
Is there any wind or is it fairly calm?
Is it unfolding or has it unfolded?
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This is the Day that Hurricane Ike hit us in Indiana. We had blue skies all day and no rain.
But we also had 90 mile an hour winds,for 3 hours straight. Nearly 1 million people without electricity. Ours was out for 3 days.
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This is the view from my house. I painted this in the evening as the storm was moving out. The winds were still 40 miles an hour. I held the canvas down with one had as I painted this painting with the other. Drama had unfolded!
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"Beautiful and Terrible"


Art of Child- original watercolorAceo painting of a boy fishing

"Little Fisherman"
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It was thissss big Grandma, I swear.
Give the kid a break, the fish look bigger in the water.
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This is my entry for the website
Where a topic is given and different artist express the topic through art or written word
Topic this week : ART OF CHILD
Click the link to see what other artist submitted



Thursday, June 11, 2009

You might be an artist if !

"Reflecting Light"
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YOU MIGHT BE AN ARTIST
Would you like to have numerous people criticize everything you have ever created.
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Would you like to sit for 2 days in the pouring rain, in a tent filled with paintings.
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Then, you might be an artist!
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Would you like to work for yourself, so that you can work additional hours for no pay.
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Would you like to sell a product that everyone thinks you are charging too much for.
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Then, you might be an artist!
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If you have paintings in every room of your house, on your refrigerator, leaning against every wall, and filling up a studio.
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Then, you might be an artist!
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Do you believe the thing you just made, is the best thing you have ever made.
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Do you lack the ability to give up!
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Then, you might be an artist!
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Would you like to know how God felt, when he created the world, and then stepped back and said "It is good!"
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Then, you might be an artist!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Artist Joke - Plagerizing

" Gathering Storm"
Original Aceo Watercolor barn Painting


This is a true story that heard a few years back, I promise.



There were these 2 artist who were good friends, they were both painters. There was this third artist who was always stealing their ideas. They would go to a show and see that this artist was there. At the next show, they would see that the artist had painted new work that looked like their new work. He always undercut them and sold it cheaper.



There was this big show in their area. Neither of the two artist, were able to get into the show. So, they got together and went to the show, just to check it out. As they were walking around the show, they saw that the Forgery artist had gotten in the show. They were walking toward his booth, when they heard music blazing and a troop of people marched past them, and into the Forgery artist booth.



He had won a major award! The one artist looked at the other artist and said, "Let's go see which one of us won.



It's true, I swear!

Monday, June 8, 2009

How to improve your painting skills- Put yourself out of business

8x10
Paint, Paint, Paint! Paint every day. It is really good advice. You've probably heard this often. I will tell you why it is important. When you paint infrequently, here is what will happen. You will paint, what you know! Maybe you have a certain thing that you think you can sell. So that is what you paint. You paint the sure thing. Every time you sit down to paint, you paint in this same vein over and over. If you are selling your work, you might be painting only when sales dictate that you need to paint, to replace what you have sold.


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Here is what will happen if you paint every day.


When you paint every day, you will get to a point where you have more work than you need. Now, what do you do? You have now disciplined yourself to painting on a more regular basis. So now, you have the luxury of putting more thought into your paintings. Come up with some different perspectives, use some different color combinations. Paint a different style to sell in a different market.


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There is a saying in the business world. Put yourself out of business, before someone does. The idea is that you have to be an innovator, so that you continue to bring in new customers. A little tweak to your art could bring in a totally new client base and broaden your works appeal.


Who knows, you may come up with the next hot thing!


Friday, June 5, 2009

How to paint a watercolor landscape painting - step by step

Here is a painting demonstration, step by step. This is all watercolor, except the white tree trunks, which is acrylic.

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This stage is just background, be real loose with it. You are going to paint over it anyway

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The road is already finished. I used three different values/colors for the road, from to back. I put them on wet and let them blend together. When it was pretty much dry, I painted the dark tire tracks in the light area (dark against light). In the foreground where the road was dark, I used a damp brush and lifted the lighter area out(Light against dark). When I painted the dark area of the road I continued with that color along the back edge off the road, creating a shadow where the road and the grass meet.

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When you paint trees, think of them as having 4 parts. They have a top and a bottom, a back and a front. The back is darker than the front. The top is lighter than the bottom. You can see on the trees on the left, that I am starting to make the bottom of the trees darker. This will set them down, (attach them to the ground) and give them weight.

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I have added some even darker, redder foilage. I have continued to make the bottoms of the trees even darker. Notice the really dark bush on the left. I put it there, to contrast against the light road (dark against light).

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It looks like I did a lot in this step, but I didn't really do that much . The final details just really bring it to life. I added the orange and white tree trunks. A brighter orange against the dark trees (light against dark). White tree trunks against a darker green value(light against dark). Are you seeing a pattern here? Some brighter green bushes against the dark base of the trees (light against dark). Finally with a fan brush, some dark grass textures (dark against light)

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Now that we are done, I would like you to pay special attention to the road. I painted the road in step 2. I didn't do anything to the road in the subsequent steps. Notice the Light area in the road. Notice in each step, as I add dark values the light area appears to get lighter. This illustrates the importance of making your dark areas really dark. The darker the darkness, the brighter the light.

There you go, a piece of cake!



Monday, June 1, 2009

Paint Like a recovering Alcoholic - Paint with Purpose


No, I am not making fun of Alcoholics. Their mantra is "One Day At A Time". We would all do well to live with that kind of mind set. Why worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble to keep you busy. The past is done and gone. Just focus on one thing, today. Think about this when you paint, focus on one thing.
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I have given a lot of suggestions. It's too much to digest all at once. When you set down to do a painting, plan to focus on one thing, and one thing only. On this painting the focus is going to be on, Texture, Lighting, creating a sense of depth, etc. Make it a simple goal. Then do your best to exaggerate it, to the best of your ability. If you focusing on (Values) lights and darks, then make the darks, darker than you ever have before. Push yourself, beyond your comfort zone. If you have a simple goal, you have a better chance of reaching a outcome that you are happy with.
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If you focus on the whole painting, there are just too many things that you can be unhappy with.
"One Thing At A Time"