Thursday, October 28, 2010

A little detour

Golden Prairie

I took a little side trip from my work on the adoption series which you can see on my other blog, to work on the gold skies again. I'd been wanting to go back to these for a while. They just intrigue me when the light hits a certain way and the look of the painting changes. It's like the sky in the painting changes with the sky outside. These 3 pieces are 12x12, acrylic, oil and gold leaf on canvas.

The Avocado Grove

Morning at the Lake

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Having fun on Monday

We've had some students traveling so we had a small group for class yesterday. Nancy got plenty of attention, maybe even more than she wanted. She's begun working in oil and is having a great time. I think she's doing a great job too.

Kelli let me take her photo :)

If you're in Ocala, stop in and say hello. We're in class on Monday's 12:30-3:30 and Wednesday's 10:00-1:00 at Red Swan Paint & Art.

Hope you're having a lovely Tuesday.

Monday, October 25, 2010

There's just a few faces left

These guys just speak for themselves - so much personality, there's no resisting their charm :) Go see the rest of the family at BJ Trophies in Ocala.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Pumpkin

Hi Everyone,
I like to think this pumpkin is so happy just because he is living at my house now. I went to the Farmers Market in downtown Ocala this morning and brought him home with me. He was airbrushed by Carlynne's husband (she calls him Amazing Husband, but I just call him Mark). Well it is a painting of sorts. Anyway, just wanted to share this cheerful face with you.
They have more of these one of a kind pumpkins at B J Trophies in Ocala, FL and the Farmers Market in downtown Ocala takes place every Friday morning.
Peace and Love,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For Your Amusment

Hi All,

I wanted to tell you about an incident that happened in one of our regular classes a few weeks ago. It was a particularly small class that day and as those days tend to go, there was probably more gossip and exchanging of recipes than working. So there we are, Carlynne and I enjoying an easy day in class, although not a financially lucrative one, when out of the blue, one of our students, we’ll call her “Sheila” (names are changed to protect the very guilty) said, “Can you recommend a good teacher to give me art lessons?”

Now, let me remind you, this student asked this of her art teachers in the middle of an art class! At first I thought she was joking, then realized she was not. Then I thought, Wow, “Sheila” is getting dementia, but that was not likely either. I looked over at Carlynne who looked like she had been sucking on a pickle, with her face all wrinkled up in puzzlement. Then I looked back at “Sheila” who was waiting for an answer. In that moment I felt the way I imagine a parent does when they find out their only child is shooting up heroin, where did I go wrong, what could I have possibly done to cause this?

Before I could come up with an answer, another student, we’ll call her “Rosie.” (also very guilty) said, “I have always thought Bob Ross was pretty good.” Well at that point, the middle of Carlynne’s face disappeared entirely like a deflated balloon (no kidding), and I turned back to “Sheila” to try to regain control of the situation, not to mention classroom. I said, and this is a direct quote, because I remember it distinctly, “Weeeeelllllll…… I thought that was what we were doing here.” At that point “Sheila” says, “I mean to teach me how to really paint.” Even though I knew by now that I would never regain control of this situation, I repeated myself, a little more confidently this time, “I thought that’s what we were doing.” (By the way, we also mentioned that it would be hard to reach Bob Ross as he died a few years ago.)

Then it dawned on me that “Sheila” had come in to our studio class a year or two previous, waving a wrinkled up magazine swipe, (a photo of a painting, no less). She said, “I don’t want to know how to paint, I just want to copy this for a friend.” And periodically since then, she has brought in another magazine photo that she was copying for someone else. I asked her one time if she ever painted for herself and she replied that she had no interest in that and didn’t have any wall space to hang any. So, we went along like this for quite awhile with her dropping in now and then to have us help her copy something. I guess somewhere along the line, she decided that she wanted more (hallelujah!!) but for some reason didn’t think we were capable of it. That is apparently where we went wrong.

Let me just tell you right now that we have had all ages in our classes, we have taught from 6 year olds to 90 year olds, we have taught all media in classes as well as workshops in various places around the country from drawing to pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, acrylics, oil, etc. We have had students with all types of needs, from “I just want to learn how to draw horses” to “Just show me how to fill in the colors on my craft stamping.” In addition to our personal painting, between us we have also painted three full size horse sculptures, 3 very large butterflies, and one large panel on the local library. Did I mention that we also have a book out, a real honest-to-goodness-not-self-published-book?! Yep, we’ve done it all. Well, that’s what you do when you are trying to squeeze out a living while painting in every spare second of time.

Soooo back to the classroom. We finally got enough info out of “Sheila” to know that she was asking us to finally teach her how to paint. Our weekly classes are designed as studio classes and all students working in all media come together for what we think is mutual benefit. Everyone is working on their own project and we serve as guides to help them achieve their own personal goals. I’ll admit right here that I used to be a snob about art, but over the years working with so many students has taught me that everyone has a need for creativity and it takes as many forms as there are people. I have even seen people who started with paint-by-number and became very excited about learning to really paint. We also have many students who have been with us for 10 years or more and are very fine artists in their own right, doing high quality original work. In fact we are getting ready to teach a two part workshop that will help those advanced students learn about the business side of art because they are ready to sell their work.

If you live in our area and are interested in learning more about our classes and workshops, email us and we will forward info to you. I’ll sign off for now as I still have to deal with “Rosie” and her recommendation of Bob Ross.

Peace and Creativity,

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I have always told students that when they introduce a new medium into their work, it feels like going back to kindergarten. I am now back in kindergarten. I have worked with most media but have never gotten seriously involved with oil paint. The solvents don't like me and the feeling is mutual, difficulty breathing, rash, etc., not pretty. I have decided to paint with oils and not use any of those nasty solvents. At one point a few years ago, I tried the water-miscible oil paints and was less than thrilled. These paints are not exactly water soluble but can be used with a small amount of water and cleaned up with water before they are dry. After painting for years in acrylic, the water-miscible oils were, in my opinion the worst of both worlds.

But I have always loved and I mean LOVED the way that oil paints blend like nothing else on earth. Well, now I am using blending mediums to mix and using vegetable oil for clean up. It works beautifully and I am a happy artist. I am reading everything I can get my hands on about oil paint as I have nothing in my extensive art library on this medium. I have downloaded info from sites such as Gamblin (a very good site by the way) and Carlynne has loaned me several of her books on oil painting. There is nothing like having a new media to get you really excited about your artwork.

One line in the Complete Oil Painter by Brian Gorst, really stopped me in my tracks:

"Good painting is an art, not a science, and cannot be fully learned from any book: it is a combination of skilled craftsmanship, creative bravery, and determined trial and error."

Don't you love that-- CREATIVE BRAVERY?! I love that phrase and nothing was ever more necessary than this for quality artwork. And how true is it that good painting is a combination of skilled craftsmanship, creative bravery and determined trial and error! We were just talking in class about the role of "talent" in art. The jury is still out as far as I am concerned. I feel the same way about talent as I do about UFO's. There might be life on other planets, I am very interested in finding out, but I have not seen any proof yet. Ditto talent.

For me, quality work comes about in any field in two ways, having a profound interest in the work you are doing and practising. I always tell students that if there was a shortcut, I would have found it by now. Talent is just a word.

I wish you Peace and Creative Courage,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting Unstuck

There are times when you hit a brick wall. I guess this is one of those times. I'm working my way through it though. This canvas has had a landscape painting on it twice now. The sky is gold leaf and that hasn't changed at all. Everything below that however has changed multiple times. It started out with a red base coat, palette knife work put the landscape greens down and it just wasn't working. I took out a nice big brush and painted over all the land with another layer of red. Again, with some knife work and brushes, putting in the greens and yellows of the prairie. Again, hated it! This time I took out a nice big palette knife and smeared red on top - again. There's a wonderful rough texture going on, I like that part and when I put the red on this time the knife skipped here and there and left wonderful peeks of greens coming through. I may have an inch of texture built up on this thing by the time I'm done but that's okay. I'm liking it a little more each time I paint over it.

This is one that I thought was done. Funny how our vision changes with time and it's not something the eye doctor can fix. I took it out again and studied it.........

and this is where it is now..... gessoed over and new color washed on. When I did the gesso layer I left some of the original blue showing through, I liked the texture in that area. Now I'm building up layers of color and sanding in between to bring back some of the contrasting color.

I don't know where these pieces are going to end up but that's part of the fun. When I'm stuck and can't figure out where I'm going I drag out old canvases and play with them. I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a great weekend,