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Ask the Expert…Jean Cauthen

Jean Cauthen is back with her last “mini” art history lesson. We so appreciate Jean’s posts for their delightful insights, humor and intelligence. Will miss not having her art history posts but maybe we can convince her to share more with us on occasion.

Through A Handsome Salesman’s Eyes:  Portrait of Emile Zola

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Edouard Manet, ‘Portrait of Emile Zola’, 1868. Oil on canvas

Looking For love in all the Wrong Places

I once thought I found my soul-mate in a textbook salesman.  This handsome fellow stood in my office doorway, chatting about all things art and textbook selection.

Our musings ranged from Frank Sinatra, Italy, Mardi Gras, Boz Scaggs (really? you’re a fan too???), Indian food, Fairfield Porter to tabasco sauce.   It seemed our interests perfectly aligned!

I looked forward to every visit and maybe, just maybe, a life-time of free book samples.

Then one day, after a particularly lively conversation, I swiveled around and faced my cluttered bulletin board.  It was all there.  The art postcards, concert stubs, menus…laid out like a friggin’ road map.

Don’t laugh. I am not the only one to lay it all out there on an office wall.  Another to tell his story in public was Edouard Manet in his bulletin board biography of a painting, Portrait of Emile Zola.

So let’s play handsome salesman and decipher a cluttered desk and office supplies for clues into the artist, Edouard Manet and his new soul mate, the rising novelist and art critic, Emile Zola.

The thanks-for-having-my-back, Portrait.

Many painters were grateful to Emile Zola. The writer was a tireless defender of the often maligned Impressionists.

cauthenZola’s ideas on True Art challenged traditional Academy standards.  Art, he stated, should bear the imprint of its creator, be original and not cave to dictates of society.  In short.  Art should be a Manet.

And Zola said so in a skinny little blue book called  “In Defense of Manet.”

 

Manet’s portrait of Zola is a thank-you note to the sitter for this defense. In the painting, the book is tucked behind an East Asian ink well and quill (symbolizing the sitter’s occupation) and serves as the artist’s signature.

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Stopping work to chat with a salesperson.

Now let’s be honest.

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As portraits go, this doesn’t exactly put the 26-year-old Zola in the best light. Odilon Redon (1840- 1916) observed “(This portrait) is rather a still life, so to speak, than the expression of a human being”.

Here, the writer and political activist is shown at his work table.  He is thumbing through an Art book (perhaps a comely text book representative just visited?), when his blank-stare gaze has locked onto something beyond his desk.

It is a similar stare that caused the ruckus that cemented team Zola/Manet.

Whadda YOU looking at?

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Olympia, Edouard Manet, 1863, Oil on Canvas, (51.4 in × 74.8 in) Musee D’Orsay, Paris

The reason anyone would have to defend Manet and his painting, “Olympia” has to do with the fierce scandal the painting produced.  The subject (a prostitute), the spatial treatment, and the impudent ‘stare’ of the 16-year-old courtesan toppled a top hat or two while on view at the 1865 Salon.

The French, though well accustomed to gazing upon nude women in Art, weren’t ready for the nudes to stare back.

Checking bags for spray-paint

cauthenolympiastarebackNO. REALLY.  Two full-time guards were hired to prevent the spitting upon or other degradation committed to this painting.

“Before anyone knew what was happening,” writes art critic Eunice Lipton, “respectable Parisians were sweeping through the Salon’s drafty halls brandishing walking sticks and umbrellas; they were heading toward Olympia with murder on their minds.”

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In the midst of the haters, Emile Zola would stand up for painter.

You lookin’ at ME?

It only made sense then, in his This is Your Life (but okay, mostly mine) painting, Manet would include his own Olympia on the back wall.

But with a difference.

She is no longer glaring back at us, but rather, gazing adoringly at her hero, Zola.

Zola’s Sumo Angel

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Captions:Sumo Wrestler 1860 Artist Utagawa Kuniaki II (Japanese, 1835–1888)

After 200 years of seclusion, in 1850, Japan had opened its doors and the result was a fascination with Japan and its Arts.  The fascination, called Japonisme was shared by Zola, Manet and apparent in the works of their contemporaries.Short of dressing his friend in a kimono, Manet will take every opportunity to add an Eastern touch to the painting, including a glimpse of a Japanese screen on the painting’s edge and a Japanese print on the bulletin board.

In the print, a wrestler by Utagawa Kuniaki II watches over Zola.

 

 

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Further conveying the two men’s tastes in art, we spot a reproduction of the Spanish painter, Diego Velazquez’s bawdy The Feast of Bacchus (also known as “The Drinkers”).

Sealing the Bromance

Zola was not in love with Manet’s portrait and hid it away in an antechamber of his home.

Who knows?

Maybe he found the stare too empty and the bulletin board too full.

Either way, the portrait sealed a friendship and left a bond that would last far beyond a writer’s cluttered walls.

Jean Cauthen, Because it was Grassier
Jean Cauthen

Jean Cauthen is a Painter and fake Art Historian. She has a studio in Mint Hill, NC and teaches Arts and Culture classes at UNCC.  Her painting workshops in Ireland include a “Guinness and Art History” where she asks that participants keep any discrepancies to themselves and focus on the Guinness. Join her in May 2017!


This is our last post for 2016. Watch for our new series, Third Degree starting in 2017. Happy Holidays and thanks for following us.


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Ask the Expert…Ann Larsen

Question: There are problems in my latest painting that I can’t seem to solve, what should I do?

Answer: Don’t Give Up on a Painting…it Might be a Winner!

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“Clear Sailing”

How many times have you worked and worked on a painting and then just quit out of frustration because parts of it you love and other parts you just can’t get to work. So, you let it dry thinking you will come back to it later just to see if you can save it. It might sit in the corner for months or even years.

Sometimes we can save a painting and sometimes it should just be scrapped down and set aside. Recently I had just such a painting. My photographer husband and I had taken a wonderful trip to Glacier National Park and up the Icefields Parkway into Baniff National Park. What a spectacular artists landscape! This is a area that was so wonderfully captured by the Canadian Group of Seven and Canadian artist Carl Rungius.

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“Bow Lake”

After returning from the trip with studies, photos and sketches I was energized to start some larger studio pieces while my memory was fresh from the field work I had done. I quickly got my composition worked out and started the painting. “Bow Lake” (16×20) started as one of those paintings that seems to paint itself. Everything was working so well and I continued to refine and tweak the painting for several days. But, I kept thinking so much of the painting was strong, but I felt I had hit a roadblock. Sometimes this happens if I am away from the subject for too long. So, after looking at the painting until I was so frustrated with not being able to resolve it, I put it facing the wall and started on something else.

Occasionally over the next several months I would bring it out and try and resolve what was bothering me. There seemed to be no ready solution.

Then the 2016 Oil Painters of America national exhibition was coming up and I wanted to enter, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to enter. Then I remembered the “Bow Lake” painting that I loved. So, once again I propped it on my easel and began to think critically about how to resolve the issue I was struggling with.

Sometimes in our artistic development we have to work through problems with composition, value or color harmony by just putting brush to canvas, by painting miles and miles of canvas, working through problems on our own until we can do what we couldn’t do before. Sometimes we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are creating works of art and not being slaves to a scene or idea. This is what had happened with this painting. I began to give myself permission to create a piece of art. I now knew how to resolve the problem!

In my studies and photos there really was no foreground, only water with beautiful reflections. Those were the elements that had attracted me to the scene in the first place. But, the painting needed weight and to be grounded so to speak. So, I added more color, reflections and downed logs that pointed into the painting and towards my focal point. Now I was happy and felt it was worthy of entering the Oil Painters of America exhibition.

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“Fading Light”

Let me deviate a moment and talk about altering a scene to create a stronger painting. There is a wonderful painting of Bow Lake in the National Wildlife Museum in Jackson Hole, WY done by Carl Rungius. Now I can’t be certain of this, but after having stood virtually on the same spot Rungius stood to capture one of my studies, his painting has a grove of trees in the foreground. But, there aren’t any there. I believe he put those trees in, or emphasized them, in order to ground his painting, to create a better composition. Altering nature for this purpose is perfectly alright. Also, this is a good reminder that we are creating a painting, a work of art, we aren’t just recording. That is what we have our cameras for.

So, back to the subject of not giving up on a painting. Getting into an OPA National is no easy feat. They have many, many entries to go through and their shows are top notch to say the least, but low and behold the painting got in! An award in itself from my perspective. It was a great honor to have my painting hanging with such wonderful artists’ work.

Now to make my argument about not giving up on a painting because it might be a winner, I needed a piece to send to the American Women Artists National exhibition in Bennington, Vermont. To my absolute surprise and it won Best Landscape!! One of the jurors wrote me a nice note to say “… I was proud to be a part of the jury and pick your piece. It really stood above most every other landscape in the show with it’s strong design, color and in the confident brushwork. Loved it.” What better testament to not giving up on a painting than that!

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Ann Larsen, AWAM, AIS, OPS

To learn more about Ann and her beautiful artwork CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

 


Today is the last day to enter the November Art Muse Contest.

Don’t miss your chance to be eligible to win 6 months of gallery representation and be part of the Art Muse Contest Winners show at Jack Meier Gallery in Houston, TX.*

We are the only online art contest where you compete at your skill level.

Monthly cash prizes are $500, $250, $100 plus other prizes!

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*(Only Emerging and Master Class Artists are eligible. See contest info. for details.)

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Ask the Expert…Ned Mueller

Question: Are value studies really worth the extra effort?

Answer: It never hurts to work out your design as early as possible.

Just turning 76 and being marginalized with some frustrating physical issues I have just so many “great” paintings left in me and as a result I have been increasing my process of doing more value and color studies. I will mostly discuss doing the value studies as the color studies get more complicated and we only have so much time and space here to discuss things.

As an Illustration major in art school we were trained to do multiple value and color studies, comps as we called them, to work out design or composition ideas before doing a finished Illustration. They helped clarify our ideas and design and enabled us to make sure we were on the same page as the Art Director in charge of the project. I found this process to be incredibly helpful when I got into the Fine Arts and was faced with multiple choices of what I wanted to paint and get some successful results. When I am Plein Air painting I will do quick little idea/value studies to get some design ideas down on paper and especially when I am working in the studio with a more complicated landscape or multiple figure composition.

Value study 1. Color study 1.

My failure rate goes down with this process and although it is not always foolproof, I seem to end up with a lot fewer clunkers when I do a study or two..it helps me sort out confusing areas and to get a more unified painting. I use to do the value studies in oil and sometimes still do, but now am doing them mostly in conte as it is more manageable, quicker and easier to do right on the spot. Every other month or so I will take a batch of photos and do around 20 or 25 conte value studies and then pick out the best 10 of those that I feel good about, then do oil color studies of those ideas. Lastly, I pick out the best 5 or 6 of those to take on to finished paintings.

Value study 2. Color study 2. Value study 3. Color study 3.

By the time that I have gone through this process I am pretty confident that I have worked out most of the major design and color issues and am not faced with as much doubt about what will work best. That is not to say that I don’t also dive right into a canvas and let things happen as they may without doing all of this preparation – I come up with some pretty satisfying results and am convinced that there does not need to be some formula that works for me or anyone else at all times. I do find when I am doing complicated multiple figure compositions of 5 to 25 figures I need organize it with more preliminary studies to get it to where I feel that it works well. In my teaching, in general I find most students doing value or color studies usually get caught up with detail and that defeats the purpose of doing the study in order to work out the values and shapes that make up the design. It is dependent on getting an interesting arrangement of values (darks, midtones and lights), shapes and edges for a value study and for a color study an interesting arrangement of colors (which includes values), shapes and edges.

Value study 4. Color study 4.

We need to ask ourselves questions as we work these studies out and try and remember that usually balance in art means unbalance. A good example being a large dark tree will be balanced by a small dark tree – equals become boring and so on. One usually would like to have your picture more dominant with darks, or with midtones or with lights. More dominant midtones would be balance by a smaller group of darks and so on. We usually see too much, so generally work from bigger value and shape relationships to smaller.

Value study 5. Color study 5.

As we usually see too much squint down to try and see the larger value and shape relationships and not the detail and minor accents at the start Try and think in shapes and not in line. It sometimes helps to define shapes with a line but it is the massing and relationship of values and shapes that are important. Do I have a nice arrangement of large, medium and small shapes and values, some busy, busier and quiet areas to enhance the picture?

 

 

Value study 6. Color study 6.

Do I use dark and light shapes and similar colors to move my eye around the picture and sharper, softer and darker and lighter edges to help lead my eye to where I want to viewer to go?  Am I using shapes of different color, but similar values to form more interesting or dominant shapes, and the same with lights and midtone? Can I change a shirt value and color, add a bush, a group of rocks, or take out things that will make the picture more compelling or beautiful?


Value study 7. Color study 7.

It really helps to be familiar with the subject so we can add or subtract things that can enhance or hinder the picture. Use  imagination and ideas that will make it more of our unique voice. I hope this helps you with creating studies They don’t have to take long. They are usually quite fun and often better than our more “finished” paintings. The color studies take a bit longer but can really give a heads up on resolving a lot of major color relationships and issues early on.

Visit Ned’s website to learn more about him and wonderful work.


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Only 2 months remain to be eligible to win 6 months of gallery representation and be part of the Art Muse Contest winners gallery show at Jack Meier Gallery in Houston Texas!*

*(Emerging Artist and Master Class entrants only. See contest rules for more info.)

Plus we award cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 every month and so much more.

We are the only online contest where you compete at your skill level against a small number of artists. You won’t find odds like this anywhere else!

Don’t delay, enter today!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Ask the Expert….Cheryl Magellen

Question: Any advice for artists who want to become portrait painters?

Answer: Getting Started as a Portrait Painter

 

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The Screen Printer, 16×12, oil

Generally speaking, artists who choose to paint portraits have an undying passion for painting people. Although they may paint other genres, they will find their joy and a challenge in portraying the human form. They may have particular types of people they prefer to paint—children, women, family members, ethnic groups, etc. — but the common thread among these artists is the ever-expressive face.

As long as there have been artists, there has been a need for portraiture. In most cases, the end result portrays the character and unique attributes of the sitter but the style of the artist will set each work apart. In early Egypt, portraits were done in profile, romantic portraiture was more animated, and Expressionistic portraits were more colorful and garish. The Grand Style depicts more idealized or larger than life forms, whereas prosaic style is more realistic in nature. Then there are the types of portraits: religious, historical, celebrity, nude and vanity portraiture. And, portraits do not have to be limited to people. Several portrait artists use pets as their subjects.

Portraits can range in scope from closely cropped images similar to Ivan Kramskoy’s “Portrait of Unknown Woman” (1833), to complex figurative pieces with multiple subjects as in Joaquin Sorolla’s “Seville, the Dance” (1915). When painting to please yourself, you can choose to paint as much or as little of a figure as you want, but when working with clients, you may find yourself limited by the client’s budget.

FINDING YOUR STYLE AND YOUR CLIENTS

In today’s world of contemporary portraiture, it is difficult to find an artist who works in a style that is totally unique. Whether intentional or not, each piece of art produced will have some similarities to the work of another artist. What we want to do as artists is to find the subject and style that works best for us. This certainly does not mean we can’t experiment or change, but it is helpful to have at least one thing about our work that sets it apart. This can be as simple as using a similar framing style, using the same light source or body position, using the same color palette, or by obscurely placing the same symbol or item in each of your paintings.

Ask yourself, what style of painting are you interested in producing? Do you enjoy tight, photorealistic styles, or loose, impressionistic styles? Totally abstracted portraits and figures? If you aren’t sure how you would like to draw or paint your subject, do some research to seek out artists who paint in a style or method that appeals to you. Try duplicating sections of their work to see how they were able to get the effects they did.

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                                                The Antique Dealer’s Daughter,  18×24, oil

Most people who have been classically trained to draw will more than likely continue to paint realistically, but realism is not the only way to paint. Sometimes being less realistic and more creative in your painting style may lead to more decorative artwork that would be desired by persons who don’t care to hang a portrait of someone they don’t know in their home or office. Or, if it is someone they do recognize, perhaps they want the painting to portray the character of the person rather than their likeness. Character sketches are a testament to this. The clients who publicly sit for character sketches seldom expect the finished work to look just like them. The upside of abstracted portraits is that they are sometimes easier to market because they are more generic. Clients who seek these out may be looking for a particular color scheme that goes with their decorative style. Painting a repetition of the same color harmonies may lead to multiple sales, as well.

The upside of realistic portrait painting is that it is a field of study that is highly respected. Many top awards are honored to artists who are successful in their craft and these artists are sought out to do commissions for people from all backgrounds and artists can make a decent living if they are among those chosen artists. Other artists may also choose to purchase paintings from these accomplished artists.

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Crew of Four, Private commission, 18×24, oil

Finding those clients can, however, be quite challenging without extensive marketing efforts. Popular thought on who buys realistic portraits of recognizable people suggests locations where family history is of value. These commissioned works become treasured family heirlooms, made to be passed down from generation to generation. The lives and accomplishments of the subjects portrayed turn into stories to be told over and over, throughout time. Another group of clients may come from the business and professional world—presidents, CEOs, professors, and other distinguished persons, and clients who commission these works will more than likely be found through referrals.

If you are new to portrait painting and don’t yet have a body of work, choose a location where your chosen subjects might be found and ask a few people if they wouldn’t mind sitting for you for the practice. This is a great way to build your portfolio, and there is a chance you might end up selling a finished piece. Just make sure you get a good quality photograph for your portfolio before you let it go!

Lastly, if you are painting the subjects you have chosen to focus on, your sales will probably come from the same group of people who are providing you with references. For example, if you visit religious organizations to gather reference materials, this will also be your target market. Leave business cards on bulletin boards, advertise in their newsletters and talk about your art with people who are gathered for a public function. Offer to display one of your paintings in a prominent area.

If you truly love painting figures and faces, you will be motivated to find new and interesting subjects and figure out ways you can make your paintings stand out from the rest. The important thing is to keep painting. Remember the saying: “If you build it, he (they) will come.”

Visit Cheryl’s website to learn more about her and her work.


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There are only 2 months left to enter and be eligible to win the opportunity to be part of a gallery show and 6 months of representation at Jack Meier Gallery in Houston, TX.

Don’t miss you chance to compete at your skill level against a small number of entries, win $500, $250 or $100 and much more!

We are the only online art competition with a prize package that offers gallery representation and a gallery show.*

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*For Master Class and Emerging Artist Winners.
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16 Creative Paintbrush Storage Solutions

What artist doesn’t have a huge collection of paintbrushes? From old favorites to brand new shapes you’re simply dying to try out. Here are 16 different ways to store them in your work space.

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Artist Haidee-Jo Summers is the October Judge for Art Muse Contest.

This month we are giving away her DVD “Vibrant Oils.” Simply enter the October contest to be eligible. Winner will be selected by random drawing.

Don’t miss your chance to win $500, $250, $100, 6 months of gallery representation, a marketing consultation, art supplies and more!

Click here to enter today!

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Ask the Expert…Kim VanDerHoek

Question: I want to paint more expressively but how do I loosen up?

Answer: Failure is the Best Teacher

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“Underbelly” Oil on 48″ x 30″ Canvas

Perfection. The word brings to mind overly manicured gardens at historic French villas, straight lines that you’re not allowed to color outside of and predictability.

When you are learning to paint you struggle for years just trying to make your stuff look like stuff. You spend time trying not to make mistakes, hoping you’re doing it right and figuring out how to make your stuff look darn good.

One day it dawns on you that your stuff actually looks like stuff! Then you spend a whole lot more time (a lifetime, in fact) trying to make your stuff look as amazing as possible.

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“Fly with Me” Oil on 16″ x 20″ Panel

The path I’ve found most effective is to embrace destruction or deconstruction. Every studio painting I’ve worked on this year has almost been wiped entirely off the canvas. What seems to happen in this, I do some sketches and color studies, then I transfer my idea to a larger canvas, I block in all my big shapes and then I passionately hate every single inch of the painting.

The dark side of my brain whispers, “That’s it, you lost it, you can’t paint worth a damn anymore. Hang it up. Sell off your equipment and go back to work as a graphic designer.”

Then my stomach reminds me that it’s lunch time and I’m “hangry.” I get very “hangry” (that’s hungry and angry mashed together in case you weren’t aware) and tend to be negative until I’m fed. After eating I remember that I love painting, it’s my compulsive obsession and I don’t want to be a graphic designer again. So I take a look at the painting.

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“Shelter” Oil on 24″ x 24″ Canvas

I still hate every inch. I plan on wiping it off first thing after dropping my kids off at school the next morning.

However, I refuse to let it be a complete loss. I plan to experiment with it before wiping it off just to see what I am able to learn by pushing paint around. More specifically, I plan to destroy parts of it by breaking edges, scraping away large areas with a palette knife, drawing on it with a pencil, slapping thick paint through passages where I see a sharp line and using tools can only be found at a home improvement store.

Why not, right? I was going to wipe it off anyway.

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“6th Street Bridge Reflections” Oil on 24″ x 24″ Canvas

And that’s when it happens – the interesting stuff, the stuff worth keeping, the stuff that makes the painting worth looking at – the fun stuff. The more risks I take the more interesting the painting becomes until eventually I don’t hate it anymore and I don’t plan on wiping it off anymore.

To do this I have to be willing to fail spectacularly. I have to be willing to sacrifice passages of the painting that I like for the good of the whole piece. It can not be precious or I won’t take any risks.

Do they all turn out well? No. I wipe off my fair share but, at least in the process I learn something from each one.

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“Entity” Oil on 16″ x 20″ panel.

One thing I keep in mind is this, every single artist I admire has painted a lot of truly horrible paintings. Most of them are never shown in a museum or printed in books, so, what we see of their work is only the best. Ask any living artist you admire and I guarantee they will tell you that yes, they still paint bad paintings, maybe with less frequency than when the first started out, but they still make some.

So, the next time you’ve spent hours working on a piece and find you hate every square inch of it, take a break, eat something and then see how far you can push it and what that painting will teach you. You might be surprised at what you learn.

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For more information about Kim and to see more of her work visit www.KimVanDerHoek.com

 

 

 


Win a set of M. Graham watercolors simply by entering the October Art Muse Contest.

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Why enter?

Art Muse Contest is the only online art contest where you compete at your skill level for monthly cash prizes and the opportunity for 6 months of gallery representation with Jack Meier Gallery in Houston, TX.

See exactly how many entries are in the contest each month on our website. We don’t hide our numbers.

Increase your reach and following. We promote our winners and finalists on all our social media channels each month.

To enter visit www.ArtMuseContest.com

The winner of the M. Graham watercolors will be selected by random drawing announced on November 9th, 2016.

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Ask the Expert…Debra Joy Groesser

Getting Your Work Out There – Tips on Entering Juried Shows

by Debra Joy Groesser, CEO/President American Impressionist Society

Why Enter Juried Shows Anyway?

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“Gone to Check the Lobstahs” 1st Place Signature Award Winner at the Plein Air Artists Colorado National Juried Show

There are juried art shows out there for all experience and skill levels. Entering a juried show can take some courage, as not everyone who submits work will have their work accepted. Knowing and accepting that going in, juried shows can be a great way to get exposure for your work. Juried shows can offer:

-Exposure to galleries, collectors and the media (all but one of the galleries I have ever been represented by found me through a juried or invitational show.)

-Discounted advertising opportunities with show media sponsors

-A way to build your resume

-Awards and recognition

-Sales potential

If any of these are part of your career goals, then juried shows may be worth your time and money. A word of caution: you will not be accepted into every show you enter. You will face rejection (in fact more often than acceptance usually) and must be prepared to accept that it is a part of the process and your growth as an artist. More on that later.

How to choose which shows to enter

Choose shows that are appropriate for your skill level and quality of work. You may be ready for national shows or you may want to start with more local or regional shows. National shows are normally much more competitive than local or regional ones.

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“Breezy Morning, Ephraim Beach”

Make sure your work fits the show’s criteria (examples: plein air, impressionism, a specific medium such as oil or pastel). If you enter an abstract or non-representational piece in a show which is for realism or representational work, your work will be disqualified for not adhering to the show criteria.

Check out the reputation of the organization or organizer sponsoring the show – beware of scams – talk to other artists who have been in the shows you are considering.

Larger shows often have online catalogs of previous years’ shows so you can check out the type of work that is accepted. This will really help you get an idea if your work is a good fit for a particular show.

Check out the number of entries vs the number of accepted works (if that information is available). Some shows may accept up to 50% or more of the submitted entries. This year, the American Impressionist Society received 1349 with 140 accepted (about 10%). The higher the percentage, the better your chances are of being accepted…if you enter your best work!

On Judges and Jurors: The judges (who give the awards) are nearly always publicized. The juror or jurors (who score the works and whose scores determine the pieces accepted in the show) are usually anonymous in the larger, national shows. There are several reasons for this. When jurors’ names are publicized they are sometimes contacted by artists who are not accepted into the show, expecting to get an explanation or a critique. Occasionally they are openly criticized on social media (please don’t ever do this!). Although jurors are usually paid a small stipend, they are not paid to do critiques in addition to jurying. Some people enter shows based on who the judges and jurors are…they try to “paint for the judge” thinking if they paint the subjects or style the judge does it increases their chances of acceptance or awards. This is just usually not the case. In my experience, you have a much better chance of acceptance if you enter your best work regardless of who the judge or jurors are.

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“Gentle Cascade”

You’ve chosen a show to enter…now what?

Read the show prospectus carefully. Note deadlines and follow the instructions to the letter. Avoid having your entry disqualified because of careless errors or omissions.

Nearly all shows use digital images for their entry submissions. You will need high quality photos of your work…use a professional photographer if necessary. Your photos must not show frames or any extraneous backgrounds…only the image of the artwork itself. They must be in focus and oriented correctly. The jurors have a very short time to view each image and they have to score your work based on the image you submit. If they can’t see the work clearly, it will hurt your score or could even disqualify your work. Make sure your image is sized correctly according to specifications for the entry system.

Fill out the application and make sure all your information is entered correctly.

If you are entering a show sponsored by an organization, where membership is required to be eligible to enter, be sure to pay the membership fee before submitting your show entry. These type of shows usually require a show entry fee in addition to membership.

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“Last Light-Olivia’s Overlook”

If you are entering a show that will be held in a gallery, work will almost always need to be for sale and must be priced according to your established sales prices. Do not overprice your work because you don’t want it to sell. That is not fair to the hosting gallery or the organization sponsoring the show and can put you at risk of disqualification. If you sell a painting that’s been accepted into a show and then pull out of the show, you risk being ineligible for subsequent shows.

Submit your entry well before the entry deadline. The majority of entries for juried shows usually come in during the last week prior to the deadline, many on the very last day. For shows using online jurying systems, once the deadline has passed and the system has closed, it cannot be reopened to accept late entries. Inevitably problems can and will arise at the last minute, so it’s best to plan to submit your entries a few days ahead of that final deadline.

Enter your very best work and again, double check your entry before you submit to make everything is complete and correct.

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“Woodland Water Lilies”

Jury Results – Elation or Deflation

This is the nerve-wracking part of entering juried shows. The waiting and anticipation is hard! Every show will list notification dates for the jury results. Mark that on your calendar and note if the results will be posted online or if you will receive an email notification.

If you are accepted:

Note shipping and delivery instructions and dates on your calendar. If you don’t ship your work to the show on time, you risk disqualification from that show and subsequent shows.

Make sure to include any crate fees, return shipping labels, bios…whatever is required.

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“Granddaddy Willow

What if your painting sells before the show? Usually the gallery hosting the show will handle the sale and take their commission according to the show prospectus. Normally, you will be required to send the painting to the show regardless. Again, adhere to the rules as stated on the prospectus to avoid possible disqualification from future shows.

Try to attend the opening reception if at all possible. This is a great opportunity for networking, meeting gallery owners, collectors and other artists. There’s a higher chance of selling your work if collectors can meet you and connect with you.

If your work is “declined” – the dreaded “rejection” letter

This is the hardest part…hands down. I once heard OPA Master Neil Patterson say: “If you’re accepted, you’re not necessarily as good as you think you are, and if you’re rejected you’re not as bad as you think you are. Just keep painting the best paintings you can and eventually you will be accepted.” It’s true!

Don’t give up. It took me 13 times entering the Oil Painters of American National Juried Exhibition before I was finally accepted. Persistence, hard work and perseverance do pay off. The only way you will never get into a show is if you quit trying and not enter. The only way your last rejection will be your last is if you never enter again.

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“Reverence”

Personally, I take each rejection as a personal challenge to try harder, to make my next painting even better than the last. Do I get down and discouraged? Absolutely! Go ahead and have a pity party for a few hours or a day, but don’t let it overwhelm or defeat you. Above all, be gracious and be professional…refrain from complaining to or about show organizers, judges and jurors about not being accepted.

Know that in EVERY show, there are always a lot of deserving works that do not get in. Every show has limits as to how many pieces they can accept. Every juror or panel of jurors is different. Every show you enter a particular painting in, you are competing against an entirely different group of paintings. Most artists, myself included, have experienced having a painting rejected from one show only to win an award with the same painting in another show.

Bottom line…juried shows can be a great way to get your work out there. It takes courage and you will have disappointments along the way, but it’s all part of the process of growing in your work and your career. Be patient, keep trying, keep working hard and growing…and don’t give up.

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For more information about Debra Joy Groesser and to see more of her beautiful artwork CLICK HERE.

Debra is CEO and President of the American Impressionist Society. For more information about the AIS including their national art show CLICK HERE.

 


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Ask the Expert…David Grossmann

Question: How do I simplify my painting and not get distracted trying to include every detail I see?

Answer: Hold on to that initial spark.

 

In Open Winter Spaces, 40x30 inches, Oil on Linen Panel, small
In Open Winter Spaces

 

My friends and family have been swept into the recent fad of tidying. They are tidying their clothing, their freezers, their toy car collections. By tidying, mostly they mean eliminating. They are slowly purging through their possessions, asking each object as they go, “Do you bring me joy?” Often, the answer is no, so out goes that shirt, that frozen meatloaf, that broken plastic car.

I am sort of like that when I compose my paintings. I wander through the landscape until something strikes me, something catches my attention and brings a spark of what I might call joy. Much of the remaining process is about holding on to that initial spark. Anything that detracts from the feeling that I hope to convey gets eliminated.

 

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Sketches for “Aspen and Shadows on Bright Snow”

Once I know clearly what I want the painting to be about, I do several pencil sketches to finalize my composition. The concept and the composition are what will make or break the painting, so it is better to invest the time into really understanding what I am aiming for than to launch haphazardly into a vague idea.

 

My sketches are just enough to cement an idea in my mind. They are scrawled, like my handwriting, and usually illegible to anyone besides myself. I first draw a rectangle, then inside the rectangle I arrange and rearrange the main elements of my composition until I feel my idea is visually interesting. Usually I break down a scene into three to five elements, and when I arrange these elements I play a game with myself…the rules of this game are that no spaces should be the same, no shapes should have the same volume, and each value should be distinct.

Aspen and Shadows on Bright Snow, 7x12 inches, Oil on Linen Panel, small
Aspen and Shadows on Bright Snow

This process helps me be more objective about what I am composing; many times after sketching for a while I decide that whatever struck me initially about the scene does not translate well into a composition. Then I move on until I hopefully find something else that does translate well.

 

October Undertow, 18x24 inches, Oil on Linen Panel, small
October Undertow

All of this so far has been about my process working outdoors. My studio paintings unfold in a similar way and are often based on the smaller paintings I have completed on location. Usually I combine thoughts from several of these small paintings when I am shaping ideas for my larger compositions.

 

 

I think of my paintings as visual poems, and much of that has to do with simplifying, pairing down an image to its essence so as to best convey emotion and to allow viewers to step into it with their imaginations unfurled. A beautifully, thoughtfully composed poem carries depth and life in ways that abundantly descriptive prose cannot; we are built to love elements of mystery that draw us beyond what we can see or describe. Brevity often allows the space that our imaginations need in order to step in and engage.

The idea of simplicity has become central not only in my approach to art, but also to the rest of life. Some of the most influential advice I have received was from one of my mentors, Jay Moore, when he told me to live simply and focus on relationships. Simplifying creates space for the pursuit of what makes life meaningful and fills us with that spark of joy.

davidgrossmannpaintingTo learn more about David and see his portfolio of work CLICK HERE.

 

 


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Ask the Expert – Buddy Odom

This week’s post is from a different perspective, it’s written by Buddy Odom husband of artist Kathie Odom. Buddy writes for Kathie’s blog and he does so in the form of letters. In this week’s post he writes to a friend and examines what he feels being a supportive spouse to an artist and wife truly means.

Dear Matt,

We often get so caught up in the hurry of life that we forget to ask about the things that matter. But after our lively conversation over drinks last week, I was reminded how good it is to simply catch up with an old friend.

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You were very curious about my relationship with Kathie. And you often seemed puzzled over the amount of time and effort I invest into the pursuit of her art career. Most striking to me was your statement as you were leaving, “Well, I guess it’s my wife’s turn to do her thing now!” I think I was misunderstood. Right or wrong, here are some truths:

-­‐ Yes, as soon as Kathie and I married, I gladly took on the burden of financial provision for our family.

-­‐ Yes, we worked hard to find a vocation that intersected with my passions.

-­‐ Yes, I found a great measure of personal satisfaction upon finding that job.

-­‐ And yes, even while shelving her creative gifts for almost thirty-­‐five years to raise kids and send me into my new found mission, she deeply enjoyed watching me thrive!

I can see, Matt, how you might think I have allowed Kathie to now “have her turn” in this rocketing art career of hers! And I can see how it looks to watch me champion, promote and support her in every way I can think of.

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But her new path was not mine to give. Plus, this cheerleading of mine was not born out of a need for equity or fairness. Instead it began with an honest look at two things.

First, I started to look at my own ignorance. (I mean this word in the truest, not meanest, sense of the word). I ignored several things that were perfectly within my vision to see, mostly Kathie! I was so consumed with good things that I quickly began missing this young woman with whom I made vows. A few years ago after her career started to blossom, she asked me, “What were you thinking when you married an artist?” Frankly, I had no answer for her because I was busying myself with the pursuit of a wonderful life. You know… three kids, two cars, one house and a full belly.

Secondly, Kathie conveniently hid behind this wonderful life we had (have). But it was easier, much easier for Kathie to not paint. While extraordinarily demanding, it was somehow simpler to be the generous and kind woman who loved and encouraged a family and worked odd jobs while neglecting that once-­‐fascinating and forever-­‐stimulating joy of creating! Sure, she kept her juices flowing and hands busy with productive endeavors, but something was missing.

Make no mistake, Matt. While this life together is not completely ironed out, both Kathie and I are living with no regrets. And we know this crazy life cannot be settled with simplistic rules of fairness. Meanwhile, we want to live vibrantly today while not knowing what tomorrow holds. But (and this is a big but), there are longings deep within one another that need a lifetime of careful and intentional conversations to uncover.

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The poet, Rainer Rilke, puts it this way: I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Clearly, there is a celebration going on over Kathie’s quiet success. Her oil paintings continue to evolve as do her relationships within a vast art-­‐loving community. She is not hiding as much… and I am, thank God, not quite so blind.

As you know, I am one proud husband that will follow her anywhere she wants to go. But I must remember. She is a book written in a foreign language.

Man, I love this book,

Buddy

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To learn more about Kathie and Buddy Odom click here.

 

 

 


 

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CLICK HERE to enter the August Art Muse Contest – To be eligible simply enter the August Art Muse Contest.

Three lucky artists names will be randomly drawn to win a Craftsy online class ($39.99 value)!

Craftsy offers online classes of all types including painting, drawing, photography, quilting, sewing, jewelry, gardening, cooking and much more.

Featured

Paul Kratter – From Sketch to Finish

Question: Painting plein air can be challenging. Do you have any suggestions for getting the most out of plein air sketches?

Answer: From Sketch to Finish.

One of the most overlooked aspects of plein air painting is the thumbnail sketch. This seemingly simple step can solve so many early problems in both composition and design.

When I arrive at a painting location I will wander around looking for a unique point of view with four to six strong, graphic shapes. I don’t get my paint kit out, but rather just take my sketchbook with me. Once I’ve decided on a subject, I determine the format – whether it’s rectangular, horizontal, square, or panoramic.

Morning At The Pond, Sketch w

Next, I sketch in an outline of the outside format (a square for instance) and determine the horizon-line, or eye-level. This is a very important element to establish. As I sketch in the main elements using a ballpoint pen, I’m looking for three values, which fall into categories: black, white, and grays.

I use a crosshatch technique to create my values. Overlapping different directional lines creates a value pattern. I may also darken the outside lines of specific shapes to strengthen the graphical work.

Morning at the Pond 9x12 oil w

As a former illustrator (22 years), I see the major elements as graphic shapes. I try to simplify them clearly, looking for hard edges. In the paining, I’ll lose or soften edges, but not in my sketch. This is also the time to edit elements from the scene. I ask myself what’s important to the composition? Does this shape help tell a story or compliment the scene?

Glory Days, Sketch w

If there’s an architectural element, I work out the perspective and the shadow pattern on the building. This can be really helpful as the shadow often changes with weather; I can refer to my sketch for the shadow shapes. Organic elements like trees are important and need to be designed well. I give them specific, well designed shaped, keeping in mind their unique characteristics.

The whole process might take five to ten minutes, but it solves so many issues before I pick up a paintbrush.

Now, I get out my painting kit. I redraw my composition in pencil on my board, just so I know where the elements belong. I then use thinned burnt-umber oil paint to block in the painting. I may make slight adjustments, making sure my perspective is correct.

The View Between 12x12 oil w

Now I’m ready to paint. At this point, I ask myself what is going to change the quickest that I must capture first. It might be a long shadow. It might be the sky or the reflections in the water. I might paint these areas completely and work in other areas later. I prefer to block in the whole painting first, but that’s not always possible.

Using a fairly thin oil wash in the shadow areas, I block in these darks first using large, bright brushes. I’ll mix my colors on my palette in one general area shifting colors slightly to give them more interest. The next step is to block in the major light areas, using more opaque colors and slightly thicker paint. The goal is to have a harmony of color and capture the light of the day. These areas are mixed separately on the palette and I use a clean brush for each major color.

In Good Company, Sketch w

Next, I’ll block in the major light areas, using more opaque colors and slightly thicker paint.

At this point, my canvas is covered and I always step back to see the overall look of the painting. This is a critical step. Again, I ask myself, what adjustments do I need to make in value and color? What jumps out that I need to fix? It’s easy to fall in love with a brush stroke or a passage of color, but stepping back let’s me see the whole painting.

The last step is refinement of shapes. I’ll go back to the shadow shapes and refine color and value. In the light areas I’m building up a thicker, more opaque paint using directional brush strokes. I soften the edges of the trees and add sky holes.

In Good Company 12x16 oil w

I may add some texture with a palette knife and/or add smaller details, like telephone poles, fences, or tree branches. Sometimes the sky is done last (if it is a small area) and I’m careful to keep it clean. Often, I scrape my palette and add more white paint so the color is clean. Stepping back frequently during the last stage allows me to get a better overall view of my piece.

The thumbnail sketch may seem like a quick exercise to get to the finished painting. I find it to be an essential aspect of the process and critical to the success of my painting.

Garnet048To learn more about Paul Kratter visit his website by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Adobe Spark-20

CLICK HERE to enter the August Art Muse Contest – To be eligible simply enter the August Art Muse Contest.

Three luck artists names will be randomly drawn to win a Craftsy online class ($39.99 value)!

Craftsy offers online classes of all types including painting, drawing, photography, quilting, sewing, jewelry, gardening, cooking and much more.

 

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