Who loves art supplies?!
Maybe the question should be: Who doesn't love art supplies? Because really - art supplies are AWESOME! I love cheap supplies, I love expensive supplies - I love it all.
But if you get them, make sure that you USE them. They're not doing you any good just sitting there looking pretty. And many of them WILL go bad in time.
Not an art supply junkie? Let me break it down for you: A lot of people just collect paints, brushes, pastels...all the beautiful tools of potential, but are too afraid to open them up. I know, this sounds insane, doesn't it? But, like so many things, this is often based in fear. I get it; there can be pressure to create something "good".
If this is you, forget that nonsense! Bust those things open and just CREATE. Who cares if it's 'bad'? You don't have to show anyone. You can paint over it. You can throw it away.
Or, you just might like it.
Whatever the case, you've gained experience. And you won't get any better until you start using what you've got.
Whether or not you like what you made is really irrelevant. You've won just by venturing out and making something.
Make art for art's sake.
Make art for growth.
Make art to express yourself.
It's all beautiful.
I live in Colorado, but I'm not a "Colorado girl". There is this Colorado lifestyle that people here talk about - we have tons of parks and trails in the Denver area, and of course the mountains are a short drive away. If you live here you're supposed to want to take advantage of all that stuff. You're supposed to own bikes and skis and snowshoes...but honestly? I'm just not outdoorsy - I'm a city girl at heart.
Don't get me wrong - I love sunshine, fresh air, and to look at beautiful scenery. But I don't like bugs (perhaps it's because they LOVE me) and I really don't like trekking through the wilderness with all of my painting gear!
However...I do like painting outside. If I had a backyard, I would paint outside all of the time. So this summer, I've decided to give plein air painting another chance. My BFF is an artist and is definitely outdoorsy. Happily, she found some spots where we wouldn't have to trek too far. We've gone out three times now aaaaaand...it's been awesome! We set up by a bubbling stream and paint for hours.
Which brings me to another plein air challenge for me; all of that green!While it's ever so beautiful to look at, I find it rather dull to paint. It just doesn't move me.
In the end I came away with a finepainting. I'm not thrilled with it. It's just...fine. It took me a bit to understand why I didn't like my painting: it just doesn't feel like me.
Getting to the crux of why I didn't like my painting was a huge aha moment! I don't like the painting because I wasn't true to myself.I did take somecreative license, but really, I was trying to paint what I saw, not what I felt.
So, it turns out plein air painting is fantastic! I just need to let go of the idea that I need to paint realistically - or that I need to paint what's in front of me. I need to be true to my own artistic vision, rather than being true to the actual scenery.
I can't wait to get back out there and shake things up!
Here is one of two paintings that I did - it was mostly finished, but now that it's back in the studio, I'll change it up and make it more mine.
It's been awhile since I've written a blog post... Honestly, I've found it hard to write about the current situation the world finds itself in. It's been a lot to digest. I really wanted to have some sort of uplifting message when I did write.
And I haven't had a lot of time to write. I've been busy changing my entire business model from in-person to online. I made the decision to temporarily close my studio doors as of March 17 - it was before the 'shelter in place' order was issued, but it seemed like the responsible thing to do.
I then scrambled to move my classes online, and keep people painting!
The Zoom app was the logical choice for virtual classes. I'm happy to report - after three weeks of trial and error - it's a great platform for art classes! I was surprised by how much I like the classes, and the students like them too - I've had several requests to continue online classes after we're able to meet in person again!
One thing that makes the classes so great: we're able to meet in community while keeping separated physically. We not only need our communities right now, but we need a place to vent, to release, and to process our feelings. And for me, that place is the canvas.
Maybe it is for you, too.
If this sounds like something you want and need, please join me for an online class!
Don't worry about the technology; Zoom is really easy to use! I include instructions in every class confirmation email. Also, my friend Marcia made this awesome video for people who are new to Zoom.
My online classes free for my studio members and Patreon supporters!
No space to paint? I made a quick video with advice on carving out your own creative space at home, and I made another one on choosing art supplies. (Please contact me if you need more info on ordering art supplies, or if you'd like me to put together a "paint at home" art supply kit for you.)
A big thanks to my patrons and studio members - for your concern and support through this time!
Here is the uplifting message: We will get through this together. Lean on each other (from at least 6' apart), take care of yourself, check in on your friends and neighbors. Practice excellent self-care. Be excellent to each other.
I hope you're doing well. Big, virtual hugs to you!
Years ago, someone looked at my work and said "I can tell that you're experimenting".
As an "established" artist (or so I thought) I found that insulting.
But as Bob Dylan and my mother have both said: I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
These days if you tell me that I'm experimenting, I will thank you and heartily agree. The older I get, and the more I teach, the more I know that there is always more to know.
I think that teaching what is what really has really grown me as an artist. Watching all of the different ways that painters and newbies approach the canvas is huge! People do things in ways that I would never have thought - and often they yield great results. And watching them is what got me to embrace experimentation.
And really, art is about experimentation. If you're going to experiment with anything in life, art is a safe place to do it.
Above is a detail view from my latest experiment. It's a 28"x30" oil painting. I'm just having fun with it - pushing oil paint around in a smudgy manner. Just this simple act makes me feel good.
The act of making art can be really enjoyable, to say the least. But... the experimentation part can be scary. It's easy to fall into a rut - sometimes you know that you can paint something well, so you keep painting the same subject or in the same style. This is not exactly conducive to growth.
Sound familiar? Maybe it's not an artistic rut - maybe you stick to the tried and true foods, music, and routines. Once again, art mirrors life. This boils down to: do the same thing, get the same results.
Where are you "playing it safe" in your life? And where are you free to experiment? Do you experiment with art? With the flavors you cook with? With the colors you wear or decorate your space with?
I invite you to to experiment with something in your world. It doesn't have to be a big thing - you don't need to make grand, sweeping changes. Just shake things up a little bit, and see how it feels.
Let me know how it goes!
You know what's wonderful about painting?
Well, okay, there are loads of wonderful things, really. But one of them is that a painting never has to be finished. (This is a double-edged sword because it means that a painter might not ever finish a painting.... but that's a topic for another time.)
I'm always surprised when people tell me they gave their old paintings to a thrift store or gessoed over them (basically painted them white). There are things that can be done to transform them! Many paintings that were at one time considered complete, or perhaps just unresolved, make great backgrounds.
While this is particularly true for abstract paintings, there are also ways to transform landscapes or other representational paintings using elements of the original painting.
I decided to offer a class with a few techniques to help you spruce up or completely change your old paintings. This class is not about improving your painting (you can come to a Freestyle Session and I'll help you with that.) This is about taking your painting and turning into something different.
For example: In the painting above, adding the trees and the hill was a simple fix once I turned the in the right direction. ("Before" on the left, "after" on the right.) Voila! My abstract paint pour became a background for a simple landscape silhouette.
In the pictures below, I painted over sections of each image to create new paintings. By painting in some negative space, I created a new background and brought the old background forward. Pretty cool, huh?
These are just a couple of things that can be done to turn an old painting into something new.
If you're in the Denver area, grab some of your old paintings and join me - I'll help you breathe new life into your old canvases!
We meet on Saturday, Feb 22 at 1pm. Click here to save your spot! Or click here for a full class calendar.
I have a secret...
Two of my most recent paintings aren’t really mine!
Okay that's not exactly true...
These two paintings are actually the “extra paint” canvases from my oil painting classes. After each class everyone who has paint left on their palette scoops it up with a palette knife and smears it on one of several canvases. (It's fun to do, and we end up throwing away a lot less paint with this closing ceremony!)
Normally I just let whatever happens happen with the "extra paint" canvases. Which is easy to do because most of my classes use acrylic paints - acrylics dry very quickly, so it's east to leave alone.
But oils… Well that’s another story. Oil paint dries very slowly, especially when applied so thickly.
So here’s my secret: after my oil painting students have smeared their extra paint and have gone home, I grab a brush and start playing with the piles of paint!
I can’t resist getting in there and moving that luscious, wet oil paint around. I do this in part because I just want to play, but honestly a bigger part is me wanting to make sense of the mess on the canvas; to bring order to the entropy. But not too much order… that’s one of the challenges with art; having enough tension between chaos and calm.
I suppose that's life too, right? We want enough going on to keep things interesting, and periods of rest to recharge and reflect.
And when I think about it, these paintings are also about making the best of what you've got. I added no new colors to these paintings - I just used what was left for me.
Life hands you chaos? Put it in order! To much order? Go shake it up a bit!
This is what I left on the canvas after yesterday’s abstract class.
I wasn’t feeling at all upset or angry when I painted it. But looking at it reminds me of how I feel about the world right now... angry, frightened... like I’m being swallowed up.
This is what is so great about painting: all of that crap that is below the surface - that you’re walking around with every day - can come out on the canvas instead of leaking out and poisoning you and those around you.
Full disclosure- I edited the pic to intensify the reds. Don’t you just love technology?
I have a confession: I have never shopped on Black Friday. Not. Even. Once.
I'm not fond of crowds or malls or getting up early. And... I'm really not a fan of the consumerism culture. Black Friday has always seemed like a greedy, grabby, pushy affair - not at all what the holiday season should be about.
So, five years ago I decided to invite people to my studio on Black Friday to paint, eat and enjoy some community. Just some creative people - and maybe people who don't know if they're creative but want to be - hanging out, painting and enjoying some good food.
Lo and behold, there were others out there like me! The event was a success, and I've been holding it every year since then.
If this sounds like something you'd like to do, I invite you to join us! Sign up online and show up anytime between 10am and 2pm. Bring a snack or beverage to share, if you like.
This event is free for studio members and Patreon patrons! Studio members can reserve their spot at DenverArtClass.com using their personal discount code. Patrons, email me and I'll put on the list.
Can't wait to paint with you!
Looking at the title of this post, I'd like to say that when I paint I listen to my inner guide... my intuition. And yes, I do that too, but right now I want to talk about what I listen to with my actual ears.
Really it varies depending on my mood. If I've been super busy, I like to paint in silence; I find it very soothing. Also, it helps me to sort things out when I have a lot on my mind. Painting can be like a moving meditation - it takes just enough of my attention that I don't fixate on my thoughts, which means that I come to solutions more easily. (No overthinking!) Other times I listen to music. Usually jazz with no words. Bebop, preferably.
But my favorite thing to listen to when I paint is an audio book. I don't do it often, because just like when reading a good book, I like to get lost in it. I also like to get lost in my painting, so combine the two and I could be "gone" for the whole day - or night!
Right now I'm listening to Alice Walker's Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart. The book is about a woman's rich inner life and her spiritual journey. The writing is full of symbolism and metaphors and I'm finding it the perfect companion for the big triptych in my aspen tree series.
And yes, I believe the book does influence my painting. I love art influencing art! (Which is why I prefer jazz to other genres when painting.) These paintings might take an entirely different turn if I started listening to fluffy pop music while painting. Not necessarily bad, just different. As soon as I started painting while listening to this book, the paintings took a dark, mysterious turn. I love that.
The above painting is a detail view of one of the paintings in the triptych There are three layers of paint so far, with many more to go. It will be interesting to see where the book takes the paintings.
What do you listen to when you paint? Or cook, or do whatever creative thing you do?