Jump!

Jump!   How that one word changed my career as an artist.

Artists love to create. It’s what drives us to express ourselves in one form or another. It’s rewarding. It’s fun. It’s challenging. So why do so few artists succeed at being …. an “Artist?”

When I started painting again it was for fun. I enjoyed the process of choosing what to paint, and the challenge of trying to turn a 2-dimensional collection of canvas and colored pigment into something that expressed feeling, captured a moment, or was just satisfying to look at. But being an “Artist”? You know, actually pursuing art as a way to support myself?  Let’s get real.

Like many, I had grown up to believe art was something you did if you didn’t want to eat regularly. Or if you could live off of your relatives. Being an artist, a musician, a writer, a poet, these are things people living on the fringe did. It just wasn’t a realistic career path. I was afraid of taking it seriously. I kept listening to all those voices that said being an artist wasn’t a real option.

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Seeing Through Others

No I am not talking about x-ray vision, although that would be cool. Instead I want to talk about how we see art and how to expand our own awareness and appreciation.

Like most people, my view and opinion of art is filtered through the lens of my experience. I have certain prejudices based on life experience, experience as an artist, and past exposure to art. When I first started painting I was heavily influenced by an early love of Claude Monet. Impressionism was my favorite form of art and many of the contemporary painters I was drawn to painted in a loose, impressionistic style. This bias was likely formed in my late teens and early twenties. I remember one of the first big museum shows I went to was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and they were holding a Monet exhibit that included many of his Haystacks, Rouen Cathedral and other paintings. I found it fascinating and perplexing at the same time.

Many years later, long before I started painting again, I vacationed in France and was able to visit the Musee d’Orsay, Marmottan-Monet Museum, Le Orangerie, and others. Sitting in the room surrounded by Monet’s Water Lillies is quite an experience. Cézanne, Courbet, Sisley, Pissarro, Manet, Renoir, what could be better? Continue reading “Seeing Through Others”

Full Steam Ahead

New, updated website for Creative Waters Art!

My old website, and blog, was cumbersome to maintain. Recently I gave a presentation at the Essex Art League about websites for artists. In doing so I realized my own site had ground to a halt. I wasn’t posting. It was hard to navigate. Of all the things I said artists should do with their website I was only ticking off a few of the boxes.

So I rebuilt my website. It should now be easier for me to keep up to date. I have added artist comments to every painting I post. The blog should be easier to maintain.

So much has happened in the past year I want to start sharing and getting your input and feedback. So “Full Steam Ahead” to a new and improved www.creativewatersart.com. Look for me to share not only my journey as an artist and new work, but resources and ideas, and tips/things I have learned now that I am a “Gallery Manager” at the Bryan Memorial Gallery.

Thanks for sticking with me. If you have not subscribed to my blog, consider doing so. Between Facebook and my website/blog you will keep up with everything I am up to as an artist.

The Comparison Trap

After a brief visit to a couple of galleries today my wife said to me “It must be hard as an artist to be surrounded by all that art and not compare yourself to other artists.”

I work in a gallery part-time and I am surrounded by some of the best artists around, many of whom I greatly admire; Eric Tobin, Stapleton Kearns, T.M. Nicholas, Andrew Orr, Kevin Fahey, Emile Gruppe and so many others. It is a blessing and a curse. I can admire and dissect the work of other artists to try to learn how they achieve an effect or render a passage. And, I can get frustrated and wonder if I just started to late to ever achieve the same level of proficiency, to ever be “good enough” to share the same space.

She is, of course, right. It is hard not to look at other artists work and mentally wonder if I’ll ever be “that” good. I doubt there are many artists that don’t, or haven’t at some point, suffered from the same affliction. I call it “The Comparison Trap”.

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Ignorance IS Bliss!

Like most artists, when I first started painting I grabbed a couple brushes and a few tubes of paint and gave it a go. It was great fun just trying to paint something and seeing how it came out. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, and through trial and error I was able to create something that made me happy. Other people responded well, so I kept at it.

As I continued to paint I started wanting to learn more, to overcome challenges I was having. So on to the internet, websites, blogs, artist pages, and YouTube.

Well. It didn’t take long before I started learning how to mix colors. Cool.

Then, I started learning that I should be paying attention to values. So, more videos, more blogs, more learning. And then, composition. I needed to plan my paintings better to have better composition. Then edges, and blending. Color temperature, brush handling, techniques, etc. etc. etc.

Soon enough I found myself with a dizzying list of things I needed to know, and practice, in order to be “good”. What was once a fun way to splash color on a canvas became a bit intimidating.

I was reminded of this today talking to another artist. He was saying how sometimes when he sits down to paint he starts worrying about the details and loses sight of the big picture. He, like me, would focus on one part of the painting trying to get it right.

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