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Archive for the ‘Tips for Better Painting’ Category

Warm-up Abstract

Warm-up Abstract

Warm-up Floral

Warm-up Floral

Warm-up Pear

Warm-up Pear

In our Wednesday morning adult art class this week I gave a demonstration on “Loosening up” your paintings.  I took a workshop several years ago from Robert Burridge, a terrific California painter and teacher, who taught us to do these warm-up paintings.  His idea is to line up 6-8 sheets of watercolor paper and then quickly lay on several colors of paint.  They will then all look like abstract paintings.  The second step is to paint out anything that doesn’t look like whatever subject you want the painting to be.  For instance, in the floral painting shown here I filled in background and added a vase.  Then I shaped up a few of the colors to look like flowers and leaves.  This entire process, all three of these paintings, took about 20 minutes.  This forces a painter to work quickly and loose.

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Nimrod Hall

Nimrod Hall

One way that artists develop and improve their skills is by taking art workshops.  There are some really good ones available all around the United States and one nearby is a summer artist’s colony at Nimrod Hall in Virginia that has been going on for almost 30 years.   From their website, “Nimrod Hall is the sort of beautiful, rambling house that only time can build. Originally built in 1783, the main house consisted of little more than a two-story log cabin, and legend has that it was built as a stagecoach stop. Run for over one hundred years as a summer resort for people from all over the country, Nimrod Hall has a hotel register dating back to the turn of the century.”

I haven’t been to this one yet but have heard great things about it.  I am hoping this is the year I make it.  Here is the link to their site where you can learn more about their offerings this summer.

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cropped-SmallBizSpokenHeader-EHC2 I was delighted to be asked to guest blog for Elizabeth Cottrell’s “Small Biz Spoken” blog this week.  You can read my article, “The Secret to Selling Art That No One Ever Tells You” by clicking the link.  And consider following Elizabeth’s business blog.  She offers some great information to help small business owners connect online.

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SeminarEarlier this week I attended an “Art Marketing for Artists” seminar that was held in Sperryville at River District Arts Center, a wonderful co-op center there.  It was sponsored by the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center.  Marc Willson was the presenter and he provided a great deal of information that is helpful for a new artist starting out in selling their work.  Much emphasis was placed on using social media – a website, a blog, Facebook, etc.

I try to attend seminars like this from time to time to learn new ways to market my work.  As a full-time artist most people think that I spend all day painting or creating and how much fun it must be!  Reality is that I probably only spend about 20% of my time painting while the rest is spent in marketing my art and/or skills.  I spend time blogging, teaching, selling, packaging, mailing, working at Delilah’s, taking photos, editing photos, framing art, etc.  There is so much more to the business of being an artist than just painting.  And learning better ways to promote your art is just one more to add to the list.  The Small Business Development Center at Lord Fairfax Community College is a great resource for small businesses.  They have staff that have expertise in a variety of subjects that will help your business.  And the best part is they are free!

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My art students will appreciate this one.  During my art classes I try to give my students tips to help them be better painters and sometimes those tips are not just about how to put a brush to canvas.  They also include things about supplies and caring for equipment.  The one thing I say the more than any other involves leaving brushes is solution.  It is one of my biggest pet peeves.  NEVER leave a brush standing in turpentine or water even for a few minutes.  It bends the tips and ruins the brush.  It is so much better to swirl the brush in the solvent and then lay it flat until you pick it up to use again.  And when finish with your painting session clean your brushes well with brush soap and again, lay them flat to dry.  Taking care of your equipment is part of painting.  If you clean your brushes after each session they will last a long time.

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Carley, my helper

Carley, my helper

Doing Grandma's make-up

Doing Grandma’s make-up

Making progress

Making progress

Adding the wine

Adding the wine

Putting in details

Putting in details

I get invited to paint at special events from time to time.  A good friend of mine is manager at Peebles here in town and invited me to paint there for a special promotion they were doing last spring.  They had me back this weekend.  I painted a larger version of a small painting (Virginia WIne I, see it here) that I did a few weeks ago and I enlisted a helper.  Often, when painting on location, I invite kids to “help” me.  And usually they jump right in.  This little girl was  so much fun.  She helped me paint for a while and then she did her grandmothers make-up at a table they had set-up for people to try out some new things.  Adorable.

Virginia Wine II, is acrylic on canvas, 18″x24″ and is almost finished.  I still have a little more to do to it but we got a great deal done at the event.

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"Virginia Wine" complete

“Virginia Wine” complete

Step 1 - A sketch and laying in the sky

Step 1 – A sketch and laying in the sky

Step 2 - Adding distance with mountains and meadow

Step 2 – Adding distance with mountains and meadow

Step 3 - Adding middle distance - vineyards

Step 3 – Adding middle distance – vineyards

Step 4 - Adding the foreground - a table and glass

Step 4 – Adding the foreground – a table and glass

I did this painting that I call Virginia Wine for a special request this week.  It is an acrylic on 6″ x 8″ canvas.

As I painted it I tried to take photos because several of you have told me that you enjoy seeing how the paintings develop.  So here you are:

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Storage Box for Wet Panels

Storage Box for Wet Panels

I was recently asked why I paint on panels rather than stretched canvas.  The answer is that I use both but I do prefer panels for several reasons.  When I first started painting I always used stretched canvas mainly because I didn’t realize there was any other options.  I had just started painting on my own, without instruction, so I relied on what I found at the art supply store.  As I read more and studied painting I learned about panels as well as other supports for painting.

Storage Boxes for Wet Panels

Storage Boxes for Wet Panels

Ray-Mar Wet Panel Carrier

Ray-Mar Wet Panel Carrier

Stretched Canvas

Stretched Canvas

Canvas Panels

Canvas Panels

I have nothing against stretched canvas and I still use it mostly for larger paintings.  But when I began daily painting about 7 years ago I turned to panels out of necessity simply for the need to store so many wet paintings.

Stretched canvas is anywhere from 3/4″ – 2″ in depth while panels are about 1/8″ – 1/4″.  At that time I was painting something new every day so having a hundred wet oil paintings lying around the house did not work.  Storage became an issue.

With panels I devised a storage box system using plastic tubs and bolts where I could store many paintings in one storage box.  I made storage boxes for each size I use regularly – 8″x10″,  9″x12″, and 11″x14″.  These boxes allow me to store up to 25 paintings in one small space without concern of damage.  Oil paints can stay wet for several months so having a safe place to let them dry is important.

The other reason I prefer panels is  for their ease of use when traveling or painting en Plein air.  Painting outdoors presents its own set of challenges so having a way to transport wet canvas easily makes it more enticing to paint on location.  There are several good wet canvas carriers available on the market.  I prefer the Ray-Mar Plein Air Wet Panel Carrier.  They are not expensive and hold up well.  I have had mine for over 10 years and it’s as good today as when I first purchased it.  And they come in a variety of sizes too.

And lastly, just for the number of blank canvases I keep in my studio for use, it would be difficult to store so many stretched canvases.  They take up about 3 times as much space as panels.  So for me panels are the best option.  Plus I enjoy the firm support of the canvas as I am painting rather than the give you feel with stretched canvas.

Hope that makes sense and clears up that question.  Soon we will discuss the different types and brands of panels.  That is a whole other thing.

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Set-up to Paint

Set-up to Paint

Sketch

Sketch

Sky and Distant Mountains

Sky and Distant Mountains

Distant Trees and Meadow

Distant Trees and Meadow

Foreground Greens

Foreground Greens

Sunflowers - Painting about 90% complete

Sunflowers – Painting about 90% complete

View from Easel

View from Easel

Beauty in Sunflowers

Beauty in Sunflowers

Yesterday I had the most wonderful morning painting “en plein air” at Oxbow Farm.  There is the most beautiful field of sunflowers there that just needed to be painted.  I tried to take step by step photos to share today of one of the paintings that I did.  When I work outside I can usually get a painting about 85-90% finished and then after a day or two of letting the paint “rest” I will complete it in the studio.

I call this “Oxbow Sunflowers 1“.  It is an oil on canvas measuring 9″x12” and is available framed for $275.

Being outside and painting sunflowers was such a treat after painting all the ball parks I have been doing the last few months.  It was a nice break.

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Nancy Demonstrating Stage 2 in the process - Cow

Nancy Demonstrating Stage 2 in the process – Cow

Nancy's Cow after the 2nd Stage

Nancy’s Cow after the 2nd Stage

Nancy demonstrating a full body painting - Sheep

Nancy demonstrating a full body painting – Sheep

Nancy's Demo Sheep

Nancy’s Demo Sheep

My Donkey at Stage 2 in the Workshop

My Donkey at Stage 2 in the Workshop

I think the best thing an artist can do for themselves is to study artists whose art they admire.  Taking a workshop or class if it is available is a great way to hone skills and develop as an artist.

This weekend I got to do that with a wonderful animal artist, Nancy Bass.  Nancy’s art is beautifully expressive and has layer upon layer of color that makes the animal jump off the canvas.  You can see her captivating work here on her website.

Each day of the workshop Nancy demonstrated her unique process with the eleven artists in the class and then helped us individually as we attempted her technique.  Nancy works in layers so we had to work a drawing and under-painting the first day of the workshop.  Then the second day she showed us how she begins laying paint onto the subject and explained that she sometimes lets it dry and layers 4 or 5 times.  It is a process of patience.

It was an intensive weekend of painting…..and concentrating….and developing into better artists.  It was interesting to see the style and work of each artist in attendance and getting to know some new artist friends from around the state.

Thanks Nancy for sharing your talent with us!

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