5 TIPS FOR RECOGNIZING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
By Scott Burdick
Follow the thread of your interests wherever they may lead, no matter how impractical or unrelated they may seem at the time. It's a good sign when you have no idea what the end will hold.
Study your work.
Learn to recognize what has worked and thank your lucky stars, but don't get complacent. Search out your mistakes and constantly strive to improve.
Tune out the rest of the world.
The struggle for self definition can only be fought from within. You must have enough confidence to ignore both compliments and criticisms if they run contrary to the vision your imagination hold up before your eyes.
Never consider whether or not the subject will be "saleable."
Regardless of how "hot" a particular subject is at the time, if it stirs no emotion within you to start with, it will never come to life for you matter how technically well done it is. If, however, you're genuinely excited about a subject, you're bound to find someone else who is as well.
Don't avoid subjects you've seen someone else do.
Through the long history of art, just about everything's been done and redone. If you're true to your vision, your rendition can't help but reflect your unique viewpoint.
One of the toughest parts of being an artist is learning to strike a balance between the demands of your daily life and the private time necessary to develop your own personal vision.
Break Out of a Painting Rut
By Scott Burdick
Your job as an artist is to strike a balance between the interaction with the world around you and the private time necessary to develop your own personal vision. This approach will allow you to draw inspiration and understanding from the infinite variety of nature, while letting your connect with your unique, inner creativity. This mixture of opposites will be different for every painter and every painting. If you find yourself in a rut, try experimenting with the mix. If you've been operating in isolation for a while, maybe you need more outside inspiration. Conversely, if everything you paint seems to come from some external source, consider letting your imagination be the guide for a while. If your paintings seem to be repeating themselves, then get out your sketch pad, French easel or camera (Sargent used to go outside, set up and simply paint whatever randomly happened to be directly in front of him as a break from his extremely thought-out commissions.)
If you're feeling you're simply "copying" reality, lock yourself in the studio with nothing but your brushes and see what evolves. (Leonardo da Vinci sometimes got ideas for paintings by staring at cracks on a wall, thus freeing his eyes from the literal and allowing his mind to fill the abstract patterns with images from internal sources.)
No two artists will approach a painting in exactly the same way. This is both the wonder and challenge of making art.
Many online art magazines offer regular subscriptions and free email updates including art tips.
4 PLEIN AIR PAINTING TIPS from the Artist's Magazine:
With spring finally here, it's time to get out of the studio. Here are the thoughts of four plein air artists on painting outdoors:
Joseph Paquet: "Plein air painting forces you to simplify. You have to establish a hierarchy of what's important and what needs to be subordinate. When I'm working outdoors, I always start by freezing the effect of light by locking the shadows in place at the proper value, character and shape."
Mary Deloyht-Arendt: "I'm more inspired when I paint outdoors it's very stimulating. You see so much more on location than you do when working from photographs, and you get a much better understanding of shapes, forms and colors."
Peter Adams: To "get the feeling of the light," he squints his eyes to move the image out of focus. Then he covers his paper with large, general masses of color. "I'm always thinking about my highest value, my brightest, more intense color. Then I start to refine things, moving all over the surface rather than finishing one section at one time."
Joan LaRue: To increase the enjoyment of working outdoors, pare your equipment down to what you need, not what you want. Beyond the materials, your success outdoors may come down to determination and the willingness to take risks. "Don't say, 'I can't do this,'" she advises. "Don't let fear of the unknown and fear of failure keep you from reaching out."
For more on painting outdoors, see A Passion for Plein Air in the May issue of The Artist's Magazine.
6 Tips for Creating Abstract Art
Abstract art is difficult, confusing and downright strange, but it can do wonders for your artistic imagination.
By Tom Zeit
Abstraction isn't the most popular artistic mode around. Sure, it has a loyal (and growing) group of practitioners, and it makes up a large portion of what's hanging on the walls of fashionable New York art galleries. But many artists and appreciators tend to keep their distance, perhaps because they're intimidated by it or because they don't trust those snooty galleries. More likely, however, they haven't had much exposure to abstract art, and as a result they just don't know what to make of it.
But that's a shame, because those who shun abstract work are missing some of the most exciting and expressive artwork there is. Of course abstraction presents a distinctly different way for artists to convey their ideas, but that's not all. It also expands your imaginative abilities, because it forces you to think about your ideas in ways that don't mimic the objective world, and it requires you to see in unfamiliar ways. There's no better way to exercise your imagination than to set it free from the boundaries of our everyday visual experience.
Look inside, not out. Instead of turning to your surroundings for images to depict, concentrate on your own feelings and experiences and see what they suggest.
Visit the masters. As an exercise, break down a masterwork into individual shapes, ignoring the details, to get a sense of how the picture is composed. Redraw the shapes yourself (or assemble them in paper), then try rearranging them altogether.
Start in black and white. For beginners at abstract work, it's often easier to concentrate solely on shapes and composition before moving on to working with color.
Focus on space. First and foremost, the abstract artist has to deal with the arrangement of space. Try to see each element as a part of the overall balance.
Make it big. When artists lack confidence, they tend to work small. Don't be afraid to start with big shapes so you can stand back and evaluate them.
Doodle. Whether on paper or in clay, whether completely open-minded or with a vague idea in mind, begin with simple doodling and you'll get a glimpse of where your ideas might lead.
This feature is also from the Artist's Magazine online at:www.artistsmagazine.com or a magazine subscription can be ordered through the guild with a group savings rate.
Tips from Bill Williams, artist:
Draw and paint from life
Five important elements in art are: Light, Shadow, Cast Shadow, Reflected Light, and Negative Space.
Cast shadow is darker than a shadow on the object in a still life
Use a mirror to look at the composition
Leave the darkest and lightest areas to the end in pastel
Measure and draw for accuracy. It is important to start off right, harder to do over and correct an artwork later.
Try mixing your own gray tones from complimentary colors
Sap green and alimazon crimson make a great brown
Alimazon crimson and ultramarine blue or raw umber and ultramarine blue make good darks.
Don't sign an artwork too soon, but go back and perfect it
In landscapes, leave some details out of the shadows if the artwork is too busy, focus on the contrasts by squinting your eyes to see the image you are looking at, and your artwork.
A dark backdrop will help highlight a lighter object
Use good materials
Artist Susan Miller gave a Life Drawing class to guild members May 8, 2003.
Here are some tips from the class:
Practice by tracing figures in magazines, using a few strokes to designate form, will aid in adding figures to paintings.
The Axis line, or center/focal point in a figure should be integral to figure drawing.
Figure drawing is the translation of a three dimensional image to a two dimensional surface.
Try to utilize the whole paper in figure drawing, and try to use big sheets of paper.
Use a Kabob stick to measure, because it is more accurate than a pencil. A transparent window grid can also be used.
Check both horizontal and vertical lines when measuring.
Always start with gestures, warm ups, 90 percent looking and 10 percent drawing.
Draw everyday, even if it's only 10 minutes.
"Artists draw not because they can, but because they must"
Create Contrasts With Complements
In 1839, chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul published his book On the Harmony and Contrast of Colors. In it, he argued that the brightness of colors didn't only depend on the strength of their dyes. Some colors' intensity diminished when placed next to another: hence, the law of "simultaneous contrast." To achieve maximum color contrast, place complementary colors side by side.
Complementary colors are any two colors of the spectrum that, combined in the right intensities, produce white or nearly white light. For example, red absorbs green (blue and yellow), yellow absorbs violet (red and blue) and blue absorbs orange (red and yellow). The final color would be white.
Color expert Nita Leland advises her students to differentiate between complements and near- or close-complements: "Placed side by side, true complements enhance each other and may appear to vibrate. When mixed, they neutralize or gray each other. Both effects depend on whether the colors are true complements. If the color vibration isn't quite as intense as you expected, or the mixture turns out to be brown instead of gray, your colors are probably near-complements."
Use these sketching dos and don'ts to guide your work.
1. Don't worry about making mistakes. "I strongly urge you to work in pen and ink, not pencil," says artist Keni Davis. "Initially you may struggle with not being able to make corrections or undo your work. You may even be tempted to tear a page out of your book because the sketch didn't work out exactly as you expected. But if you're bold in your approach and not overly concerned about little details that don't measure up to your expectations, you'll find that as you continue to work in your sketchbook, you'll look back on earlier pages and discover you've made great progress."
2. Do work in public as often as possible. "It's a great confidence builder to have people openly admire your efforts as you sketch," Davis says. "On those rare instances when someone offers criticism, refuse to be offended; the experience will help you grow."
3. Do get something down on paper quickly. "The sight of a pristine sketchbook can be terribly intimidating," says artist Alice Kale. "Once you get a few things down, including the inevitable mistakes, it's much easier to work."
4. Do sketch regularly. "Learning to draw takes time and practice, and no effort to learn is ever wasted," says Kale.
5. Don't let your sketches get out of control. "Use a viewfinder to narrow the scope of your subject," says artist Cecy Turner, "then draw boundaries (a frame) on your paper before you start. Try to fit your composition into that frame. Otherwise, your drawing can grow and grow, and you won't know where to stop."
6. Do make several thumbnail sketches of the same scene with different horizon lines or from different viewpoints. "Making several different thumbnails will sharpen your creativity, and you might even end up with a better composition than your original idea," says Turner.
GET YOUR ARTWORK NOTICED
AND GET WELL-DESERVED INK
As a former Los Angeles Times columnist and a marketing consultant for artists and art schools, Mary Carroll Moore has learned what works—and what doesn't—when promoting yourself as a pastel painter. Successful artists, who get interviewed regularly and whose work is widely known, often have one essential item on hand: a marketing package. This package is a collection of written and visual materials that show off an artist's accomplishments, availability for commissions and shows, and the unique niche the artist's art fills.
Using this type of marketing package, Moore has secured features for her clients in national art magazines and other media outlets. And it's not just journalists and art magazine editors who need to know you. Galleries often ask for this information as well, and most artists scramble to put it together at the last minute. Why not do it now? Then you'll always have a press package on hand, ready to send whenever you want to expand your art business.
Here are seven items that Moore says are must-haves in the package:
Brief cover letter (customized for each recipient)
Artist bio or professional resume (one to two pages)
Artist statement (one page)
One or more full-color postcards or greeting cards of your paintings
Business card with your name and studio phone number
Selection of 10 to 20 images (slides in sleeve or CD slide show)
For media (interviews) add: 5x7 black-and-white head shot
Juror's inside scoop:
"Generally there are three reasons a painting is not selected:
There is evidence of one of the following: a lack of drawing skills; random use of color rather than a knowledgeable or original approach; reliance on gimmickry; or lack of control of paint, shape or edge by accident rather than intent.
The work is too derivative of a source (a teacher, a cliché, another artist's work, a photograph, etc.).
The slide is of poor quality (bad lighting; extraneous matter included in the frame such as the mat or a wall; bent, taped or overly thick slide) so that the work couldn’t be judged adequately.
About Paper Purchasing
Michelle Taute explains how you can make your next trip to buy paper more productive with these five simple tips:
Be prepared to talk about your style and technique. It’s more helpful for a salesperson to know that you use broad, expressive strokes than that you paint realistic landscapes.
Touch as many different papers as you can. “We advise people to go with their gut instinct or first impression,” says Katherine Hyde, a manager in the paper department at New York Art Supply. “It’s almost always right.”
Buy three different kinds of paper and give them each a test run. “It’s important to forget the expense,” Hyde says. “Don’t be afraid to experiment before going into your first masterpiece.”
Make sure the paper you choose is acid-free. This will help ensure that your artwork ages well. Inexpensive paper isn’t a bargain if it means your painting surface prematurely yellows or deteriorates.
Read the description on the paper package. “It will tell you the specialty of the paper,” says Mario A. Robinson, an artist in Lakewood, New Jersey. He recently tried a new stark-white paper, for example, that’s extremely bright. Its ability to reflect light helps him achieve a background glow
experienced teacher can help you get the most out of this wonderful medium. After 20+ years of watercolor painting experience, Joe Garcia has learned more than a few tricks of the trade. Here are some of them:
Palette Trick: A new plastic palette may resist paint. Use steel wool or a very fine sandpaper to buff the mixing area.
Salt Controversy: When salt is used on a watercolor paint-
ing, the pH level of the paper is slightly lowered when salt dissolves and is absorbed into the fibers. Some believe that salt shortens the life of the paper and consequently the art.
Painting Clouds: When painting landscapes, remember that a cloud has a top, a bottom and sides--and it casts a shadow.
More Realistic Skin Tones: When painting portraits, use warmer color mixtures for the cheeks, nose, eyebrows and chin. Blood vessels are closer to the surface in these areas.
Mixing Colors Without Granulation: Directly mixing a warm primary with a cool one might cause granulation or uneven mixing. Instead, try glazing one of the colors over a dry wash of the other color.
In the Business column Marques Vickers explains that the Web is a powerful sales tool for artists, but only if used effectively. He gives six ways to maximize your online presence:
Personalize your Web site. There are millions of artists worldwide, so the more you can communicate a personal vision of your art—your unique story—either verbally or visually online, the better.
Exhibit your art wisely. No matter how clear and detailed your image is, it will lose much of its definition once it’s displayed on your Internet page, so design it wisely and be sure that whatever background you choose flatters your work.
Make sure your site loads quickly. Your initial page should serve as a contents page, so it should load on viewers’ screens within eight seconds or less.
Keep it fresh. Update the content on your site routinely, which will give people a reason to return again and again.
Make your site easy to navigate. Make sure that your links actually connect to where they are supposed to and your viewer doesn’t have to waste too much time figuring out the focus and contents of your site.
Allow for interaction. Adding a guest book, message board, blogging mechanism or response forum to your site often extends the time a viewer stays on a Web site and motivates a return visit.
By Vicki McMurry
More than any other tool at your artistic disposal, color has the potential to command the eye, quicken the pulse and elicit a response from your viewer. Here are a few color tips I’ve discovered in my own quest to master color:
White-- When you mix Titanium White directly with another pigment on your palette, the resulting mixture frequently has a bluish cast. If you don’t want this, try glazing the other color over the white instead. I frequently do this when painting clouds.
Yellow-- Cadmium Yellow Light has a cool temperature. When surrounded by warm colors, this coolness vibrates. You can exaggerate this vibration by darkening the surrounding colors a notch. This will help make the yellow pop.
Orange-- I prefer lightening my darks with oranges instead of reds or yellows. Red is rarely light enough, but yellow is frequently too much of a leap. Orange is light enough and provides a warmth I instinctively gravitate toward.
Green-- Some time ago, galleries were telling artists that green paintings didn’t sell. This may have been because decorators were also avoiding green. Since then, greens have made a comeback. Cutting an entire color from your palette to adhere to fashion is a risky thing to do; it’s best to understand color and use it when it speaks to you.
by Bert Dodson
Human beings are natural storytellers. We make stories out of virtually everything, including our own lives. Storytelling is a method we use to make sense of the world, as well as a point of deep access to our imagination. Part of the work of the imagination is to surprise us. We start drawing a character or two, and they begin to tell us a story—we get pulled into a drama of our own making. We look at our picture and wonder what might happen next. So as we create, we are sometimes the storyteller and sometimes the audience. This is a useful strategy, a trick really, for making pictures that tell tales. Here are a few others:
Stories are told through the orchestration of elements: Establish a hierarchy of importance among the elements in your picture. You make something important in a variety of ways—size, contrast with other elements or degree of sharpness and/or detail.
A good story leaves some things unexplained. By “unexplained,” I mean using such visual devices as obscuring, distorting, juxtaposing in odd ways or radical cropping. These devices require the viewer to actively fill in the gaps with his or her own imagination.
Believable fantasy is grounded in authenticity. Some realism in a drawing allows the viewer to more readily accept the fantastic elements.
Details enrich a story and make it more real. A select few details are crucial to the story, while enrichment details add believability and interest.
The anticipation of an event is sometimes more intriguing than the event itself. Consider depicting an event at the moment before the main action actually happens.