Bluebirds & Dogwood (in 12 steps)

Here is a breakdown of how I approached my latest painting. The painting itself was a request, and for guidance I had an idea of the color palette and that it should be calming. I also knew it should be fairly large, and in landscape orientation. So I first drew a number of sketches, to get a general idea of the composition. Then it was time to paint. I chose a 15″ x 30″ canvas and paint the edges (1 1/4 inch deep)

Step 1: Blocking in the background.
For the background the initial step was just to get color on the canvas. You can see in the photo below that first I blocked in a lot of color in the general color family I wanted for the final result, but without worrying at all how it looked. The photo below shows the end of that block in and the start of step 2.

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Step 1: Background Block-In

 

Step 2: Working the background for atmospheric effect.
For this step I worked with the same color palette I used for the blocking in of the background, but now started applying final color in blotches using a 1″semi-soft synthetic brush that let me blend the splotches as I went. As I worked I would adjust the colors, lighten some areas, and go back over areas to soften or adjust the colors and values. I kept my sketch handy to inform me where I would be putting elements on the canvas so that the background would compliment the focal points. I keep the corners darker and light in the center to draw attention to the middle of the painting and keep attention from leaving at the edges. Continue reading “Bluebirds & Dogwood (in 12 steps)”

Finding Your “Style”

About a year ago I was slightly obsessed with figuring out what my “Style” was. I had read that to be successful it was important to develop a unique style. An artist that is recognizable by their style of painting is, so they say, worth more, since buyers know what they are buying and what they can expect from that artist in the future. At least I think that’s the theory. Wikipedia states it like this: “The identification of individual styles is especially important in the attribution of works to artists, which is a dominant factor in their valuation for the art market, above all for works in the Western tradition since the Renaissance.”

Regardless, I was struggling to figure out what my “Style” of painting was, or should be. Should I paint in an Impressionist style, like Monet? A realist, or photo-realisitic (or hyper-realistic) style? Something in between? And how would I stand out? What would set me apart from the thousands of others painting in the same artistic space? Continue reading “Finding Your “Style””

Taking Stock

It was 2 years ago this month, sometime in the 3rd week of December as I recall, that I decided to try painting again. That first painting, which you can read about here, got me to pick up the brushes and start my journey back into art. It was a year ago in January that I started this blog. So I thought it was a good time to take stock of where I started and how far I’ve come.

I remember distinctly thinking, when I painted that first Triptych as a Christmas gift, that if it worked out I would keep painting, and if it was a disaster I could just go back to my photography hobby and graphic design to satisfy my creative itch. Here I am two years later spending more time painting and making a bigger commitment to improving, painting, and sharing what I learn as I go.

In January of this past year, when I started this blog, I set out to have long and short-term goals. I decided if I was going to be serious, I needed a plan. Part of any good plan is to review progress towards those goals.

So how have I done? In the banner above, and the larger montage below, you can see some of the paintings I’ve created over this past year. Most, not all, can also be seen on this site on my Paintings page. Along the way I’ve learned from many, through lessons, workshops, painting side-by-side with other artists, reading, and learning from anywhere I could. It takes time, and more time, to practice what I have learned, but I am quite happy with the results. Not only have I met goals this past year to display my work publicly, I have participated in plein air events, regional art shows, and hung my work in a number of public settings. I have sold work, developed this website, created a youtube channel and posted videos, created a Facebook page, and an e-newsletter. I have painted a lot, made lots of new friends at the Essex Art League, met new artists, learned more than I anticipated, and had a ton of fun.

Where I have fallen short of goals is mostly in getting myself out there. I need to work on expanding my email newsletter list, and I need to post more often, both here and on Facebook. I need to polish my video and editing skills, and post more to youtube. And I need to practice more, draw more, paint more, learn more and find new outlets for showing my work.

Its been a great two years. I’ve been bitten by the painting bug. I will be revising my plan, updating my goals, and working harder on my craft. Look for a future post on planning and committing to my art. I’m thankful you’ve found this blog, and invite you to share it along with my Facebook page and YouTube Channel with anyone you think may be interested.

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Mixing Color Values Exercise

Colors can really affect one’s perception of values when painting. And mixing colors to match values, especially in acrylics where colors dry darker, can be intimidating – especially when you are just starting out. This is one of the challenges when first starting to paint, learning about values, and then learning how to both assess and mix different color values without a lot of trial and error and re-painting.

There aren’t a lot of exercises on directly mixing values. Most information out there tends to be about the use of a 9-value scale (or 13 or some other number) that you can use to assess values, but not much is out there about how to practice reading and then mixing different values using different colors.

So I decided to put my own exercise together. My criteria where that it had to be quick to do and easy to assess.

What I put together is a simple little exercise that anyone can use both to strengthen their ability to read and mix values in different colors, but also as a simple warmup they can do each time they sit down at the easel to get in the proper mindset. Both the exercise and the setup is simple.

In addition to this blog post, with instructions below, I put this exercise into a youtube video as well. You can view it on my channel here: Value Exercise

Continue reading “Mixing Color Values Exercise”

Put Yourself Out There!

When you first start painting its easy to never feel you are ready to share your art. You tell yourself “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have enough experience”, “I can’t compete”, or “I don’t know what to do to get my stuff in front of people”.

Its easy, and understandable, to be hesitant, self-conscious, even insecure (if we are being honest.) After all, you know you still have so much to learn, and that your work doesn’t yet live up to your standards. Well guess what. It probably never will. The pursuit of art is a lifelong pursuit. There is always more to learn, more to master, new techniques, changing interests, etc. etc. etc. Artists are never satisfied.

If you wait until you are “ready” you run the very real risk that you never take that step. You never reach the level where you are comfortable going public. I’m here to tell you – do it anyway.

If you think your “art” is not ready, or not good enough. You are not alone. From what I can tell every artist, regardless of experience or skill, feels that way to some degree. Don’t believe me? Artists as famous as Claude Monet destroyed many, many paintings he felt were not worthy. Perhaps they were not worthy when measured against his own high standards, but do you doubt for a moment that any one of those destroyed paintings would today fetch millions in the art market? Or be coveted by those that appreciate fine art?

So don’t wait. Take that step. If for no other reason than you can’t pile them up in the basement any more, and you have no more family members and friends you can give them away to.

I’m going to give you a bunch of suggestions of how you can get your stuff out there below, but before I do here is one more example of why you should not wait until you think you are ready (or good enough or whatever). You can skip it if you want, its the piece in italics below. Continue reading “Put Yourself Out There!”