Saturday, June 30, 2007
oil on canvas
champagne silver frame
Making Adjustments in Your Journey
About 15 years ago I started painting out on location. I had read all about the Impressionists, and the California Painters in art school and it seemed like what I should be doing. I've always been a studio painter since about the age of eight and I have always enjoyed the still life.
I spent about five years doing nothing but alla prima location painting. In my heart, I knew that I was a better studio painter than location painter but the location work is all the rage among landscape painters so I kept on.
I became more and more dissatisfied with my alla prima work, feeling that there was something missing. The slap-dash rough look to it and the simplified compositions were lacking in depth and complexity. Alla Prima, by necessity is painterly and simplified because of the time constraints and the sun's changes over a period of time.
I started doing some studio work again and I'm glad I did. I have gradually gone back to studio work, going out on location to paint studies once or twice a week and on my travels. I still do a few paint outs each year because I love seeing my friends and painting in such beautiful places. I will often use the paintings I do on location to craft larger more complex paintings in studio.
I know that getting off the plein air band wagon is risky because it is so popular, but I need to paint well and in a satisfying way. I can't worry about that. Going out to do studies and doing paint outs, keeps my observation skills intact and helps me to do better studio work. I now have the best of both worlds and much better paintings.
Most importantly, I now really enjoy my time on location because I don't have the pressure of calling myself a plein air painter. I prefer to call myself a landscape painter. My plein air time is so much more satisfying now. I no longer get involved with the politics of plein air. Instead, I just enjoy painting at the places I love.
My point here after all of this rambling is that sometimes we need to make a change in our painting goals in order to grow and improve. Sometime these decisions may be unpopular with other artists or even your patrons. You may feel a lot of pressure from others to stay where you are in your paintings. Don't let them deter you from doing what you must to find the right fit for your work. The changes I made have paid off very well indeed.
Friday, June 29, 2007
oil on canvas
Available at High Springs Gallery
See more of my paintings HERE
Rum Island is on the Santa Fe River in North Central Florida. It is one of the out of the way locally known places, and one of the most beautiful in North Florida.
Don't you just love the name? It congers up images of Johnny Depp stepping off his Black Pearl to hide rum.
I go there in the fall and winter to paint on week days, when all the kiddies are in school. It is quiet and peaceful with the mist rising over the river. The spring color is amazing.
I am involved in a long project which I started around a year ago, painting the rivers of North Florida. At first,the plan was to work on the project for about a year but I have discovered that it is going to be ongoing for me. I discover more and more that I wish to paint on these magnificent rivers. The happy by-product of the project is that people love the theme and the paintings sell well. My desire was to show people that the real beauty of Florida is it's rivers,and natural areas, not theme parks. I also hope for more preservation efforts in my beloved state. My goal at some point, is to have an exhibition from this body of work.
I think these qualities are important if you wish to succeed as a professional artist:
Determination and perseverance- You must be willing to hang on by your fingertips much of the time. No matter how bleak things look, you must be willing to stay the course.
Flexibility- You may have a game plan that you have carefully thought out, but suddenly, it's just not going to work. You have to be willing to change your ideas and adjust your initial idea to make it work.
Self discipline- Without self discipline you cannot be a professional artist, at least not an effective one. There is no one to tell you to paint, do marketing, paperwork, be on time etc. You must be willing to work the long hours.
Marketing- You must be willing to spend about half of your time promoting and marketing your studio. I have artists tell me all the time that they don't like marketing. It really doesn't matter whether you like it or not. Just do it, or hire someone to do it for you. In any case, it must be done if you are to survive. This includes having your resume/statement/bio and images updated at all times. I can't tell you how many times I have spoken with artists,giving them heads up on opportunities, who simply are not prepared to take advantage of them.
The client is right- You must be willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy your client base. If they don't like the frame, offer another one. If they want a tiny change in the painting, do it. If they want you to do the shipping for them but you don't like going to UPS, do it anyway. Art patrons usually have disposable income and some are very demanding. If you are to survive and prosper, you must be willing to cater to their desires.
Professionalism- if you have a meeting you must be on time. If you have deadlines you must meet them. If you are working in groups with other artists you must have a time line and meet it. Some of us simply can't work with groups, and I have found that out the hard way. I can't wait for people to get things done. If you make commitments to gallery shows, or any show, you must follow through even if you regret the choice to do the show. Sometimes you must be willing to leave a group or a situation when you find it is not right for your career. Though others will be angry, you must decide what is right for you and make a clean cut. Hanging on to organizations or groups to be nice, wastes your time and theirs.
If you are an undisciplined person who has trouble meeting deadlines; who doesn't have a clear focus on what needs to be done; who doesn't have any particular theme or style to your work; who has not produced a sufficient body of work; who has no network or mailing list; has no resume/statement/bio prepared;only paints when the muse hits;is unorganized; is not prepared to sacrifice your lifestyle; You are not a good candidate to be a professional artist.
Of course there are successful artists who make all of the above mistakes, but they are the exception, not the rule.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
casein on panel
See my paintings HERE
Direction of career continued...
Yesterday I wrote about the joys of being an amateur painter. Now I'm going to write a bit about professionalism and what it really takes to survive as an artist.
Before I get into the meat of that topic, I must tell you about my experience yesterday. I drove to another city to deliver paintings to a new gallery on the coast. It is a very nice, tiny space in a series of shops one block from the beach. Very charming and nicely situated. The owner of the gallery is very nice and approachable. Two other artists came in while I was there and we all stood in a group to talk about the gallery and possibilities for it.
All was going along nicely until one of the painters said to the owner, " I must see the work of the other artists before I will be willing to show my work here. I don't show my work with artists who's works are inferior". Frankly, I was shocked and dismayed by this attitude. The artist turned to me and said "Don't you agree?" I said "No, I never worry about that kind of thing at all. My work will stand for itself where ever I show it, either looking good or poor depending on who I show it with. I'm here to sell paintings." The third artist spoke up in support for my statement. It was a very awkward moment and made all of us very uncomfortable, including the gallery owner. The irony is that the artist who made this statement is not a well known artist with huge credentials. Sometimes we let our hubris get in the way of our good manners. This artist is not alone, we all let our false pride make fools of ourselves. I have from time to time, but I am learning.
Being a professional artist is not about glamour at all. it is about long hours, a lot of struggle and a roller coaster of up and down sales. Just about the time you think you have it made and your work is selling like hotcakes, the market falls like an elevator with cables cut.
A professional artist must paint everyday in order to keep their skill set up, must research painting and learn about painting constantly. For us, there is no option to say "I don't feel like painting". There is no such thing as waiting for inspiration.
We must market constantly, through our web sites, our galleries and our studios. We often teach to supplement our incomes. Fortunately, I love teaching , so that is not a sacrifice. Teaching gives me discipline, because I must learn a lot to teach well. That translates into better paintings for me.
Then there is the everyday studio management of ordering and unpacking frames, art supplies, storage, correspondence with many many artists, gallery dealers and patrons, travels to exhibitions and workshops.
I could go on for lengthy posts about this job. It is not the image people have of sitting around and painting what you love all day. That is only part of the job.
Yes, there are the lucky few who make it big in the art world, who have many assistants and an array of famous and wealthy clients who allow them to sit around and paint what they love all day. Those are few. Most of us work like dogs 12-18 hours a day 7 days a week while managing a family too.
But, no matter how hard or gut clenching this business is, I'd rather do this than anything else in the world.
Tomorrow, thoughts on the kind of person who is most likely to succeed as a pro.......
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
oil on canvas
See My Paintings HERE
What direction should you go in your painting journey?
A lot of that decision depends on whether you wish to be a professional painter or a hobbyist.
If you wish to paint for the pleasure of it you have a whole world waiting for you, with endless subjects, ideas and mediums. You have no boundaries at all. There is a lot of freedom in painting for the joy of it only. Frankly, I am envious at times.
It seems that most of the artists I meet want to be a professional rather than an ameteur. They may be missing the best part of being an artist. As a hobbyist your exploration of art is limitless. You can paint anything you wish to and change your mediums at will. When you don't like your paintings, you can burn them or gesso over them and start again. You can choose the matting and framing to suit your own taste. You don't have to bother with marketing or difficult clients. You still have the freedom to exhibit in local shows and be involved in local art organizations and museum docent programs.
Many people get the idea that if you are called an amateur that it means your work is inferior to professionals. I know amateurs who can out paint me all day long. Professional means you do art for a living, that you get income for your painting or teaching or writing. It is not about the quality of art, it is about making a living from it.
More on this tomorrow.....
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
oil on canvas
See my paintings HERE
Artists with established careers can have a great deal of influence over beginning and emerging artists. We need to be careful that we are nurturing them and not discouraging them. The art business is very tough as anyone with experience can tell you. Anyone who actually survives as a full time artist with no other income is considered a rarity.
Beginners are told not to have expectations of success by family, and friends. There is discouragement all around them from the beginning. They are asked about their real jobs with the assumption that art is not a real job, but merely a hobby. It is a lot to overcome.
If you are a pro, be careful and kind with beginners. They need your sponsorship and help. I like to think that someday, one of my beginning friends will make it to the top, far higher than I have. Knowing that I helped them along the way would give me a great deal of satisfaction.
Here are some ways to help your emerging artist friends.
Look for the strengths in their work and focus on that, incouraging them to go ahead in that direction. Help them a bit with marketing ideas. If you know restaurant, book shop, hair salon owners, help them get exhibit spaces.
Offer to help them install their work in framing or lend them frames for a show. Sell your older frames to them at a discount.
Let them know about upcoming shows and opportunities.
Help them with their resume,statement and bio.
Last but not least, invite them into your studio to let them see what it's like to be a professional artist.
Monday, June 25, 2007
oil on canvas
You can add a lot of drama to your painting by using values,atmospherics,and contrast. I have an obsession with back lighting and atmospherics and have studied them for years and years. I love to focus on the dark and rich color of a subject while back lighting it so that the contrast is powerful.
Many beginning painters do very good work, but everything is the same value. No contrast or drama. The next time you are painting out in the field, think about what you can do with contrast, back lighting and atmosphere to create an impact for the viewer.
This works extremely well with fields of trees. I like to have a pretty sharp focus on the tree in the painting I will keep dark and mysterious. For the rest, I like to fade them back and soften their canopies and trunks, making them gray and indistinct. Adding lots of pale light behind them. Sometimes I will hit a group of trees with strong light as in the palms behind the large tree in the painting above.
If I had given the focal tree the same lighting as the rest of the painting it would not have had the impact that I was looking for. Remember,it is not about what you see in the landscape but rather about what you want the viewer to see. He/she will never be in that field to see the actual scene. It is about your vision as an artist.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Cypress on Lake Santa Fe
casein on linen panel
Here are four friends who came to my workshop on Saturday. I had every intention of getting a group photo and let four people get away before I remembered to take a photo. There were eight who came.
We had a wonderful time together. We started the day with coffee and bagels, doing tree painting exercises all morning and then stopped for lunch. It is always nice to have lunch together as a group I think. I know it uses up time but many ideas are hatched ,much information is exchanged, and friendships are formed during the lunch break.
After lunch we painted all kinds of tree bark and then got on to our final painting of the day. I did a quick little demo on painting Spanish Moss and worked on a painting in progress. The day went very fast and it was soon time to clean up and review the wonderful array of beautiful paintings we produced. That is the amazing part of workshops to me. Seeing the diversity of visions is thrilling.
Thanks to everyone for coming and spending the day painting with me. it was a thrill as always. I've not had a more harmonious group.
If you are a workshop student be sure to ask all the questions you have during the event. Don't be shy about it. For instance, at the Tree Workshop one of the students asked for a demo on painting moss, another asked me to give them some ideas on how to install paintings in frames, so I got out some equipment and showed them how to install various supports into frames and we discussed hardware. Luckily, I had a framing expert and archivalist attending and he was able to give the others much more information than I could have. I feely admit that I am a novice framer, but I do get by. I have a custom framer who does a lot of framing for my clients.
Don't ever feel intimidated by a workshop teacher. They are there to help, but they can't possibly read your mind and know whether you are getting all you need from them. It is unfair for you to expect that they will automatically know what information you want. It should always be a give and take situation between teacher and students. If you feel uneasy or uncomfortable asking your teacher for help then they need to know that they are sending an intimidating message. They may not know it at all. If you don't feel you can ask them questions without being made to feel stupid, then you are in the wrong workshop.
One of the things to remember and something that I strive to convey is that there are going to be unique approaches to painting that are a bit different. A good teacher will understand and accomodate a student who has their own vision. In fact, I feel like celebrating when I encounter this kind of painter. I have no interest in changing their vision, but rather giving them the tools to enhance their work within the parameters they have set for themselves. They must not allow their spirit to be crushed by stupid people who expect them to be like everyone else.
One other thing I insist on for myself and my students is there are to be no apologies for the way we paint, no self punishment for work that doesn't measure up in our own mind. My studio is a place of self fullfillment and safety. We must celebrate the work we do and forgive ourselves for mistakes. I give myself and my students permission to paint poorly at any given time without regret. I'm not always on my game. I wake up everyday with joy because I am a painter. I paint to the best of my ability and knowledge each day and give it 100%. If that is not good enough then too bad!!
Saturday, June 23, 2007
High Bridge Road
oil on panel
See my paintings HERE
It's a good idea to start a painter's reference notebook. I use three ring binders. Right now I am studying trees. It is my annual focus this year. I am doing research on them and doing lot of studies on index paper. Yesterday I did a study of Spanish moss because I live in the South where there is tons of it in all of the trees. I punched the study and put it in my tree notebook and I will also add a sample of the real thing. I'll buy it from a craft store though, because the real thing is full of chiggars. I also have bark,lichen, dried leaves, and many photos of tree parts in my notebook.
I will add swatches of colors I mix through the year. I add notes and materials from my research to each book. In January, when I move on to my next study I will have a very nice book of reference materials to go back to when I need it for tree painting. I have been doing these annual studies of a particular area of painting for many years. Unfortunately, doing the reference book only occured to me about a year ago. I wish I had been doing a book for each study over the last ten years.
I think study and research are very important for growth as a painter. We should never just do our routine. We need to stretch and grow each year.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Paynes Prairie Palms
casein on panel
See my paintings HERE
One of the most challenging subjects in using color is a scene with groups of trees and green grass. This looks all the same to an untrained eye.
It is lighter and warmer in temperature where the sun hits,cooler and darker in shadow. New growth is lighter and brighter. There is a world of variety in greens in any scene. You must learn to see and paint these diverse shades of green, not only lighter and darker but more blue, gray, yellow, red and combined in the same tree. Don’t forget the infinite value possibilities too.
Using these possibilities can make a typical boring scene come to life.
I live in Florida where everything is green, so learning to give greens life and zip is essential. Start a tree mixing project and mix all of the possible combinations of yellow with blue, black, white orange and red. Use cool and warm reds, cool and warm blues and cool and warm yellows.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
casein on panel
See my paintings HERE
I'm teaching my All About Trees workshop this Saturday and I'm so excited. We are going to have a blast!! I have been painting trees like mad for several months so I have tree paintings all over the studio. I'm going out in the yard tomorrow to cut branches, samples of bark, leaves and other stuff like my old palm trunk which I use as a flower stand. I'll put them all around the studio so that we have a tree atmosphere to work in. There will be ten of us Tree Huggers there.It will be wonderful!!! We will eat,drink and be merry!!!
Values in Drawing
In value drawing, you are interested in representing the changing light and shade across the surface. Line drawing, in contrast, identifies visible edges with a solid line. When value drawing, using strong lines to show edges is confusing, making the drawing look flat. Linear drawing and value drawing are two different 'systems' of representation.
When creating a value drawing, you need to to forbid yourself to draw a line, and focus on areas of value. Start off with a contour drawing using the lightest of lines to get down the basic shapes. From there, build up the shading in the drawing, at first lightly then building up the darks.
Often the outline will join two different values, and rather than being drawn, is represented by the border between the light and dark area.
Edges are defined by a meeting of two different areas.
Use the background to help define foreground objects.As much attention should be paid to drawing the shadows and background as to the subject itself. Often these areas help to define the subject, providing contrast against highlighted areas. If leaving the background blank, consider carefully the lighting of your subject and how it will look against white.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Ormond Beach Palms
acrylic on panel
See more paintings HERE
Atmosphere in a painting is an understanding of how we see three dimensional space and how colors and values change as objects recede in space. In creating atmosphere, edge handling is extremely important. Determine when to use loose edges, and a variety of soft and hard edges to lead the viewer through the landscape. Understanding the light source is key. It is highly important. Where do cast shadows fall? Knowing the direction of the sun and consistently presenting that information to the viewer is important.
Neutral edges will tend to recede. Intense color can help to pull things forward. The value range as objects get further away will tend to decrease as more air between it and the viewer will actually change the way the light of that object hits the viewer's eye. This is due to atmospheric particles of dust and matter comes between you and the objects you are viewing. Mountains will appear blue/gray as they get further away. This same effect can be used on a smaller scale to maximize the illusion of space. The amount of detail used and the brush handling will help maximize the effect of distance. The more distant, the less detail and color.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
St Petersburg, Florida
available at Linda Blondheim Art Studio
See more paintings HERE
I had a conversation with an artist yesterday who payed me a studio visit. She has been a long time artist who for professional reasons was unable to pursue her work in art. She has now retired and told me that she is having trouble gettng started again in her art. This happens to many artists who have tried to come back instantly into the world of art after having been away for some time. Art can be intimidating and frustrating if you are not used to the work. You recall that you used to do it with joy and abandon but now it's not the fun you remembered.
You must reconnect slowly to the process. My suggestions are the following:
Make a place for art. Take a room, closet, or corner somewhere where your materials are layed out, set up and ready 24/7.
Start with drawing. Do doodles, contour drawings,studies for values,simple fruits, jars, and other simple objects.
Get a kitchen timer and set if for 15 minutes each day for a week. Work only during the alloted time. Choose the same time each day and don't miss a day. The second week will be 30 minutes a day with the same routine. You are building your confidence with these drawings and your skillset, muscle memory and so forth. The next week go to 45 minutes per day and the following week go for an hour each day.
Now you will be in the habit of making art each day and you will have warmed up, improving your drawing skills.
It will be time to move on to your medium of choice. You should go through the same routine in your new medium. After having gone through about 8 weeks of this process, you should be well into the routine of making art again.
Monday, June 18, 2007
acrylic on panel
available at Linda Blondheim Art Studio
See more Paintings HERE
Do you remember the Field of Dreams film? Kevin Costner built the baseball field and the players came. It's that way with an art studio too if you work hard at it. My studio is about 13 miles from the city. I wanted to make it a happy place for people to come. I had a dream and it is coming true. I wanted to be the captain of my own art ship. I was tired of letting everyone else determine whether I would sell and prosper as an artist. I am beginning to see progress after much hard work.
My studio is in an old concrete block building with peeling paint. It is not "retail" looking. It is small but I feel there is something special about it. When people come in they seem to be happy, staying to visit for awhile. It is my salon, if you want to use an old fashioned term.
I work hard to make it a nice experience. I think having personal contact with people and making friends instead of just customers is a wonderful way to go through life as an artist. I don't do well at gallery openings. They are stressful for me. I really love having people come to my studio instead, where we can get to know each other and spend time talking about my work and theirs.
I talk to lots of artists who say they can't have visitors to their studios because the studio is in the extra room or garage or dining room and it would not be appropriate to show it off. I say, why not? If I can show my work in an old dilapidated building miles from anywhere and have parties and students there, why not their place too?
I think people are interested in artists and their methods. They love to come and see works in progress and find out about the secret world of artists.If you take the time to welcome them with snacks, good music and good company, you will both have a wonderful experience.
If you build it, they will come.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
oil on canvas
See more of my paintings HERE
Using Directional Cues
In composition, you have many ways to lead the viewer through your painting. One of my favorites is color. I will often use tiny hits of repeated color in places where I want the viewer to go.
Let's say that you have a field with grasses and a few trees. You want one of the trees to dominate the others. Of course you will want to put more texture and refinement of brushwork in that tree, but you can also lead the viewer to it from the land as well.
If you have flowers in the field you can use a hint of their color in that tree trunk. If you have tall grasses, you can add a color to them which will lead up to that tree and on to the trunk, pulling the eye along. It can be very subtle or overt, depending on your style of painting, but in either case, the viewer will be drawn to that tree.
You are using the color as a road map through the painting, placing it here and there along the way.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
oil on canvas
Purchase through Linda Blondheim Studio
I was saddened to read that Charles Sovek has died. He was a kind and generous man who did much for the landscape painting community. He will be missed.
Transitions Between Planes
When you are painting landscapes there are basically three planes in the painting, fore, middle, and background. Of course there are subtle planes between those but those three are standard. As the planes receed they become softer and cooler due to particle in the atmosphere between you and the distance you are viewing. Sometimes you will need to have a little trick to transtion between these planes. Let's say you have hot bright color and contrast in the fore and middle ground but want to soften and gray the background as a way to showcase the main element. In this case you may not have a real distant vista to use successfully, but instead, the planes of the painting are much tighter and closer together. This can cause an abrupt disconnect between the fore and background which may seem odd or too overt.
In this case, I like to use a transitional element in the painting which pulls the cool color of the background into the middle ground of the painting. It can be a tree trunk, a bush, grasses, or whatever seems appropriate. It acts as a bridge between the hot bright foreground and the soft cool background. A way for the viewer to travel back through the painting from one contrast to another.
If you look back at yesterday's blog painting you will see the cool tree trunk in the middle left side of the painting.
Friday, June 15, 2007
acrylic on panel
Available through Linda Blondheim Art Studio
Highlighting With Acrylics
My paintings are all about contrast and light. That has always been a focus for me. I love rich color and light. I discovered quite early in my acrylic painting study that contrast and light were going to be a problem with traditional painting methods.
I use a layering process to paint with acrylics, not a blending process. It is quite different from my oil methods. For one thing, acrylics are quite thin and have no body if I don't use layering. I do use the gel medium but that only helps so much. Blending is quite difficult and unsatisfactory for me and I spent a few frustrating years trying to make them behave as oils. I finally realized that they need a different approach. I lay down the basic flat shape and then start a process of layering with multiple values and colors to bring the painting to life.
When I got to that skill level, I discovered that the paintings were lacking in the crisp contrast which is necessary for my happiness. They were still flat and fairly dark. Of course they had dried darker, and that is one thing I still hate about acrylics.
My first solution was to adjust the values to a higher key and this helped, but I still lacked the intense contrast that light in the field requires.
I finally discovered that by using pure white either a warm white of a cool white, depending on the light situation, I could intensify the areas of strong contrast I needed to pop the light where I needed it. It works quite well. I simply decide where I need the brightest light on objects and put it there with white. I leave it to dry and then go back with glazing medium and an appropriate color, mostly glaze and very little pigment, which stains the white the color I need it to be without darkening it.
The above painting was finished this way.
I'm sure all of you advanced acrylic painters are laughing at my struggles, but it takes me longer to learn things and acrylics are my second medium. I was absolutely thrilled with my discovery.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
oil on canvas
Available at Comfort Inn Gainesville, Florida
I have had a frustrating week. My web site publishing software was somehow corrupted and so I had to purchase new software at 149.00 yikes!!!! I am waiting for it to arrive. Naturally, since this is a much newer version, I won't have a clue how to use it and will be further frustrated. "I'll think about that tomorrow", as Scarlett would say. In the mean time I continue to pick at the current commission, hoping to finish it up within the next two weeks.
Motivation to Paint
I had an interesting discussion with a fellow painter recently about the process of painting and what master painters do differently than the rest of us mere mortals do. His feeling was that they step back from the painting if they are unsure of what should happen, until they are settled in their mind first. In other words they are mentally preparing for the painting as an athlete would do before an event; visualizing the finished painting in their mind.
My feeling is that master painters simply have a higher skill level, perhaps through hard work, perhaps through natural ability,and most have hard work and talent combined. Lets face it, some painters are just better than others. No big mystery. I believe that if you put me up against a master painter and we both visualize and step back to plan, the master will leave me in the dust all day long.
This discussion led to why we are motivated to paint. I am motivated by the process of painting far more than the finished result. I have no need to be a super star or the latest and greatest. I believe my motivation is joy. I know that there are ambitious painters who dream of being the next Richard Schmid or Daniel Greene. Fame and fortune motivate them.
It took me years and years to understand what really motivated me to paint. When I was younger, the ambition and ego were a big part of the motivation. As I have matured as an established artist, I am grateful to have outgrown the hubris of youth. I learned that there is a difference in healthy self confidence and phony ego. I don't care nearly as much about the "I'm better than you" nonsense that used to matter to me. In fact some of my best artist friends can leave me in the dust. At one time they could not have been my friend because secret jealosy would have prevented me from befriending them. There will always be better painters than I and always be painters who don't paint as well. Looking back, it seems so silly to care at all about the pecking order.
Have you thought about what your true motivation is to paint? If you can discover it,you will increase your painting time and your joy.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
oil on panel
See Linda's Paintings HERE
Warm Up with Color
You all know how obsessed I am with warm ups for painting. I think it is always a good idea to warm up, either with a small study painting or some sort of exercise. I also think using color mixing as a warm up can be very useful.
I like to put out 3 or four colors to warm up. One day I will put out 3 cool versions of the primary to make all of the possible combinations. The next time, I will put out three warm. On another day, I will focus my mixing on analogous, tertiary,triads, and so forth. Other times I will try unusual palettes for tonal work.
I believe color mixing practice is good and something that most pros no longer do. Some of us get into ruts after a time of being a professional artist, using the same palette for years because it is comfortable.
Mix it up now and then and take some new risks.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
oil on canvas
Purchase from Linda Blondheim Studio
Use a Color Wheel
Get yourself one of the nifty little color wheels that Jack Richeson & Company sells, if you are unsure about using color. They are very small and will fit in any paint box for quick referencing.
The one I like is their Pocket sized Color Wheel/Mixing Guide. On the back, it has illustrations of color relationships, Complements, Split Compliments,Triads,Tetrads,Monochromatic,analogous,achromatic,color and light,color and distance explanations. The front has color definitions and a 10 gray scale.
We can all mix color, but are you actually thinking about it while you go through the process? Color is very complicated and can get you in a lot of trouble before you know it.
Monday, June 11, 2007
oil on panel
I got a box full of fabulous art supplies from my new sponsor www.chartpak.com
I am going to use them for a few drawing classes I have lined up:
With charcoal,graphite,and colored pencil
We will explore all of these mediums and the fundamentals of drawing. This is a great class for beginning painters who want to improve their drawing skills.
Breakfast, lunch, and all materials are included.
Intermediate Still Life Drawing
January 12, 2007
9 AM- 5 PM
Charcoal, graphite and colored pencil
We will use all of these mediums to explore the art of still life drawing. We will combine mediums and explore texture, value, light,lost and found lines, negative space, and edges. We will also do some perspective drawing.
Breakfast, lunch, and all materials are included.
Don't Worry About It!!!
You are going to have circumstances which will be disheartening or frustrating when you paint for a living. Sometimes you think you have gone to a venue with what you consider great paintings, only to find that the gallery only wants certain of the paintings. They send back paintings which you think are excellent subjects and that will be sure sellers, keeping others that you don't feel as strongly about. Or, you are rejected from shows or paint outs, when you feel that your work is strong and an excellent fit. Or, everyone else around you is selling like mad and you don't sell a thing,even though your paintings are a popular subject and are well framed.
That is just the way it goes. Rejection is difficult always and we never outgrow the pain of it. I have no idea why this happens, I wish I did know why. I allow myself a good pity party but then I move forward, determined to paint better and to have more success the next time around. It makes me just work harder. I don't pretend to like it or not to care. I care deeply when I am rejected. I'm just too stubborn to give in and lose.
One of the things it took me years to understand, was that my work is different. It doesn't fit in the category of traditional realist painting or in the abstract modernist category. That makes my work less marketable than some others' because it is not mainstream in either group. I'm not going to try to be somebody else, so I must be willing to be more creative in marketing than someone who fits safely in either of the categories. This means a few rejections and so I accept them.
Never give up. There is a market for your work no matter who you are and how you paint. Tastes are very diverse and so you must keep putting your work out there despite rejections. If rejection is too painful for you, art is a bad business to be in, unless you are doing traditional painting genre's like portraiture, animals, or other subjects that are pretty safe.
Get up every day with renewed determination to succeed and you will eventually find your way.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Paynes Prairie State Park
casein on panel
Yesterday I had such a good time at my Studio Picnic!!! I was surprised at the steady crowd all day. Since it is summer, I had doubts that people would come but they did. I had people from Vero beach Florida to Valdosta Georgia. They came in groups of 1-6 people and as they left, others would arrive shortly after. That is the best way for me to spend time with friends. The stars of the day were my painting puzzles. What fun we had!! People had puzzles all over the studio, putting them together and then choosing their favorites to take home. Of course they all said they were for their children or grand children but I know better. These folks were having a grand time with them. I got an email later from a friend who had decided she may have to keep them and would I be making more soon? They cleaned me out! Now you know what I will be making this summer while it is hot outside.
The hot dog, baked beans and potato salad were a big hit too. Just right for a summer meal.
I have made some goals for myself in terms of marketing my art and am on a five year plan. Who knows if I will be successful? There are no guarantees. When you are forming plans and goals you must first understand what specifically you really expect and want to achieve. It is not enough to say, "I want to be financially independent" or say "I want to sell my paintings." First you must understand what your comfort level allows and what you genuinely feel will bring you a sense of happiness and satisfaction, while paying your bills. We all want to sell our paintings and secretly wish for a patron(s) with an open checkbook. A very few find that kind of patronage, while the rest of us look on with envy.
I don't think you will know what course to take until you figure out what you really want. Are your goals realistic or pie in the sky? I've had more than my share of that pie, believe me. Take a good hard look at what you really want and then try to find the way to set a course.
At one time I thought I wanted to be a gallery person. I tried for a year or two and discovered that I hated being a shop keeper. I felt totally confined and had difficulty keeping my painting schedule. It just wasn't really right for me. I did not like keeping retail hours. I moved my studio to a building behind my house and have been as happy as a clam ever since. My artist friends all scoffed and said that people would never come out here 15 miles form the city on a dirt road, but they do! They love coming out to visit and I have far more visitors than I did in a retail space. They come because I make their time here special, like the honored guests that they are.
Yes, I made a mistake and did not succeed in a retail space, but I learned something about what I am really comfortable with, so it was worth the mistake.
Take some time to figure out what you really want and need for success before you make your plan and consider that your wants and needs will change as you go along. I think one to five year goals are more realistic than ten or more.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
purchase at Ice House Gallery
When you paint on location you must think about why you chose a location. What was it about the scene that drew you to it? Remember that the viewers of your painting will most likely not have the opportunity to see your location. It is your job to create the scene for them. That doesn't mean copying nature but instead, creating the essence of beauty that you find there. It's perfectly all right to move objects around a bit to get a better composition. If you feel overwhelmed by the vastness use a viewfinder to narrow it down. Do 5 minutes of pencil sketches in various compositions in tiny formats to help you choose the best one for painting. It will get you in the mood and warmed up.
Friday, June 08, 2007
oil on panel
More about Painting on Location......
Alla Prima is all about the light really, at least it is for me. It's not the time to dawdle along. You can take your alla prima paintings back to the studio to use as references for serious large format paintings. You must learn to think quickly and set up quickly in order to get the scene that attracted you to be there.
I am always amazed to see painters who bring out their entire studio to paint on location, They have bags full of equipment, big chairs, huge umbrellas, food,coolers, etc. to do a painting for a couple of hours. By the time their equipment is arranged and they are finally ready to start painting, the scene is no longer what it was.
This is the gear I take to the field:
Folding garden bench for sessions longer than two hours. I like to have it to sit for a spell when I get tired. If the painting session is less than two hours, I leave it in the car.
Bottle of water
That's it. I put whatever panels, paint,solvent,brushes,and paper towels in the pochade box. I put my sunscreen and bug spray on me at the car. I wear a hat. I am no longer willing to do paint outs from June-August in Florida so I don't really need to drag the umbrella around with me. During the hot months here, I paint from 7 AM- 10 AM or after 6 PM.
I do have lots of things in my resource box in the car but there is no need to drag everything out to the field with me.
Painting on location uses tremendous amounts of energy and takes great stamina. The less I have to drag around and take time setting up, the less I have to use my energy for anything but painting.
More on painting on location tomorrow........
Thursday, June 07, 2007
oil on panel
I was dismayed to read an article in the Art Calendar Magazine this month, focusing on Florida. The writer has lived in Florida for two years and talked about Florida as some sort of paradise for artists, inviting one and all to move here and set up shop.
In fact, Florida is badly over saturated with artists and festivals and cannot possibly support all of the artists it already has living here. I always find it greatly disturbing when someone moves to a state and considers themselves to be an expert on the art market there after a short time. Then to add insult they invite all of their friends to move there too. Does it ever occur to them that the native artists might suffer for the smaller market share as a result?
As a Florida native, I feel somewhat Territorial about my beloved state and am not anxious to share my piece of the pie with the rest of the country. I have worked hard to develop a market in Florida and feel that I give my heart and soul to it's culture, history and beauty.
Florida has a substantial older population and many of these people are downsizing and cutting back on art purchases as the move into extended living developments.
Wouldn't it be better for artists to work hard at developing markets in their own state and region? Every part of the country has beauty and a rich heritage which should be promoted by artists. I can only imagine how much the California and SW artists resent the current plein air trend to jump on their band wagon.
I have a couple of new activities in the studio you may be interested in if you live in north Florida. Email me if you would like more information.
Painting With Friends
This is an open studio session
on Sunday afternoon from
2- 6 PM the first Sunday of
each month at my studio.
Bring what you wish to work
on in a four hour session. I
will have bottled water or
lemon aide available and
crackers for munching.
be happy to give critiques or
painting advice, but this is not
a formal class. I will be panting too. I will have
still life materials for a painting
from life set up. Drawing,
pastels, acrylics, watercolor,
oils, casein and gouache are
There will be many photo
reference books and lesson
books to follow if you wish.
Studio Fee: 20.00
Let’s Make Art Pins
Linda Blondheim Art Studio
August 4, 2007
9 AM- 5 PM
Breakfast and Lunch Included
This is a really fun camp using colored pencil, markers,acrylics, and ink to make fun art pins on Mat Board.
Pins make a great gift!!!
Every theme and subject is possible, from miniature realism
All materials are included. Just bring your imagination.
More on Painting on location....
I keep a full studio set up in my car at all times. In my case, I have a full acrylic set up and a full oil set up. I have a pochade box for each. I prefer the Guerrilla Box made by Judson Plein Air. I have tried others and of course the Open Box M is beautifully made, but I love the Guerrilla Box because it holds everything I will need to paint in one box. I don't like having all of the extra bags and equipment to carry around. It is also the sturdiest Box. We all have our favorites.
I use one of the office supply file boxes on wheels for my carry all box. It has a collapsible handle. I also use a large cardboard box without lid in the car for my "things", like duct tape,clamps,shower curtain,rolls of paper towels, cans of extra solvent,sun screen, bug juice,bottled water,painting supports, an extra box of paints that I might use occasionally but don't want to keep in my pochade box, extra brushes,a jacket, an extra pair of socks and anything else I might need. This box never comes out of the car. It is very convenient.
More on outdoor painting tomorrow.....
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
oil on panel
Battling the Elements When Painting on Location
Location painters have more problems to overcome than studio painters. We must contend with poisonous snakes, insects, and in the southern coastal states, alligators. Then there is the traffic, curious bystanders, rain, cold, fog,smoke,extreme heat and wind. Ideal conditions for painting are rare.
Here are a few ideas to make your painting experience more comfortable.
I like to keep a plastic shower curtain in the car for rain. I can throw it over my easel if a sudden shower comes up. It will save my easel, paints and painting in a pinch. It's a good idea to paint in a place with deep overhangs on roofs,porches or gazebos if weather is threatening.
For wind, keep duct tape, bungee cords, large spring clamps and weights in your car resource box. Weights are easy to make with gallon jugs of water or sand or take a large PVC Pipe and fill it with Quick-crete. Before it sets, put a large eye screw in one end. Lots of art festival artists use these weights for their tents and they are great to hold a French easel or pochade box down in high wind. The bungees and spring clamps can keep your canvas or panel on the box and also keep your palette where it belongs.
For critters, I wear long pants and heavy rubber shoes. Keep an eye on where you are standing and be sure you are constantly checking the area around you if you are in swampy areas with poor visibility. Be sure to use repellent with Deet as an ingredient, and don't use perfumes or aftershave on painting trips.
More on Outdoor Painting tomorrow.......
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
oil on panel
More on Still Life
Still life teaches you many things. Spacial relationships between objects, negative space, composition, values,color mixing, drapery, textural changes and of course, any time you can paint from life it's a good idea.
After you gather your materials it's time to try out different compositions and possibilities. Each time you get a pretty good composition, take a quick digital photo of it. Print out the compositional image in grey scale to have a good reference for reading values. You may also want to draw around the bottom of objects on a piece of craft paper. You will have a map for that good composition you can roll up and keep for the future. You never know when you will want to do that exact set up again.
The great thing about still life is that it "aint goin nowhere". You can work on a painting for weeks and your scene will be fresh and new each day. You may have to change out fruits and veges every week but that's easy to do. I discovered quite by accident that artichokes dry perfectly in still life set ups. I have one in perfect condition that is now about two years old.
The other great thing about still life painting is that it teaches you much needed discipline. That is the best part for me. As a landscape painter I am used to moving trees, changing light and doing whatever I want to with my paintings. Still life requires much more discipline and builds technical skills that landscape work would never do. My still life paintings are not all that great, but they teach me a great deal about painting. I don't do them hoping to sell, so they are my study discipline. Occasionally they do sell, which is nice bonus.
Monday, June 04, 2007
acrylic on panel
Many of you know that I do a lot of product testing for various paint and art supply companies from panel and canvas makers, brush companies and paint manufacturers. Several of these companies are my workshop sponsors as well.
I am proud to have the following companies who support my students with samples, catalogues and discount coupons. I hope they know how grateful I am for their assistance.
Chart Pak, Inc.
Jack Richeson & Company
Judson Plein Air
Central Florida Office Plus
Today I got a nice box of paints, both oil and acrylic and brushes by Grumbacher courtesy of Chartpak, Inc. and I am anxious to paint with them and share them with my next workshop students on June 23rd. Oh what fun we will have!!!
Let's Talk About The Still Life
Unfortunately, I have had little time with still life this year. It is a genre that most landscape painters ignore, and that is unwise. Still Life separates the "men from the boys" as the old sexist statement goes. I think it is a very hard subject to do well and very complex. I suggest you look at Daniel Greene's Still Life and dream of his finesse. HERE
Here are a few ways to study this subject. First, gather many weird and not weird objects to keep around the studio. Lots of textures like glass, pottery,baskets,statuary,toys,organic materials like plants, tree parts, fruits and vegetables, shells or anything else you might like.
You will need a table or pedestal of some kind with various cloths to cover it. You should also have a goose neck lamp which is adjustable. I like to take a decent sized cardboard box and cut two sides off leaving two adjoining sides and the bottom intact. That makes a nice skeleton for a cloth drape,for nestling the objects inside.
More on Still Life Painting tomorrow......
Sunday, June 03, 2007
oil on panel
Learning Your Subject Continued....
You will have the urge to skip the fundamentals and go on to large paintings but don't do it. To save yourself time, do your research drawings and paintings in a small format, like 4x6 inches or 5x7. Use a variety of surfaces, like index paper, mat board, Masonite, canvas or linen to get a feel for different surfaces.
Start a notebook for your topic and add to it as you go through the study. After you have done this work you will be ready and confident to start larger more serious work. Working through a series on a subject you are very familiar with will be a real pleasure.
Continue to add to your notebook as you work through the series. It will be a nice addition to any exhibition you may do in the future. Museums and galleries love having documentation and studies to show with an exhibition and it just might get you a nice exhibition if you send your notebook with your proposal.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
This Week's Ebay Painting HERE
oil on canvas
Learning Your Subject
When you get really interested in a subject spend some time researching it before you start a series of paintings. Let's say you want to paint palm trees. The first thing I would do is start looking at varieties, their habitats, the bark, trunks, fronds, fruits and other interesting arboreal information about them. You can do this at a library or on the Internet. Yes, it will take time but you will really understand your subject before you start painting it.
The next thing to do is get out the trusty sketch book and pencil and start breaking down the subject into small parts of study. Go out to arboretums or botanical gardens, find the palms and start sketching sections of the trunk, fronds, fruits and so forth. Pay close attention to the way fronds connect to the trunks, how the trunks grow into the ground, the patterns,textures and other parts.
More on studies tomorrow........
Friday, June 01, 2007
oil on canvas
Silver or Gold Frame
I travel a lot and as I drive along, I see fantastic scenery. I have tried to train myself over the years to memorize the basic scenes for later painting opportunities. If I have a chance to pull off the road I will add a quick photo.
When I get back to the studio I make pencil sketches of the compositions and then choose the one I like the best.
Then I get started on a quick small color study. After a couple of those, I am ready to do my larger format Memory Painting.
It is a great way to paint scenes which would have been impossible on location do to traffic conditions.