Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Secrets: 6 New Art Tools for Under $20

In summer I like to make the “process” of painting as relaxed and enjoyable as possible while still being as productive. This means I'm always on the hunt for "new and improved" painting helpers and art supplies. I've come across some very affordable (most under 10 bucks) artist "accessories" recently and wanted to share them with you. Enjoy and happy summer painting!

A New Take on an Old Colorful Favorite
If you’re like me you have a few color wheels in your studio. Recently though I came across this interesting “color harmony” wheel (seen above). This version includes pigment names as well as a neutral gray (not white) background. You can order here on Etsy for about $15. (Watercolorists you may also find a detailed Quiller color wheel helpful.)

Centurion Linen Pad
Linen is my favorite oil painting surface so thanks to my artist friend Dan for showing me these handy professional linen canvas pads (avail. in oil primed or acrylic gesso). The very portable pads come in a variety of standard sizes. (Note you can always adhere the linen to a hard surface later.) Great for studio or outdoors! A 9x12 pad with 10 sheets is just $19.99 currently online at Jerrys.

New Gamblin Solvent Free Medium
Thanks to Gamblin, I paint almost 100% solvent free in oils. I’ve used their Solvent Free Gel (in place of a medium such as Liquin) for a while now and am very happy with it. I just tried their new solvent free medium (thinner than gel) and so far it's great too and helps make summer painting a breeze!
Portable Brush Cleaner
Need more a compact brush cleaner for plein air?  How cute is this compact super lightweight Guerilla Mighty Mite (which comes in in 2 sizes). Fill this Winsor Newton Solvent Free brush cleaner and I'm good to go for convenient toxic free brush cleaning indoors or out!

Zipper Mesh Brush Bags

You know how long painting brushes sometimes don’t fit in a conventional bag? These Creative Mark mesh bags help you organize your supplies on the go and they're stronger than your typical plastic grocery zip bag. Best of all my favorite the longer brush bag is under $2.00!

Art Tools on Tablets
I've used a couple of artist  apps for a while now on my iPad: ValueViewer and AccuView and find them extremely helpful. Recently I also added Jackson's Art Grid--another very useful app which allows you to easily crop and grid over a photo you take as you work or one you already have. 

P.S. For more info about my upcoming Denver painting classes and art workshops please visit my website.

Friday, July 10, 2015

You Can't Steal a Gift

Student "master copy" of Edgar Payne landscape (acrylic on canvas)

You can’t steal a gift. Bird [Charlie Parker] gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it.” Dizzy Gillespie

I'm back from my beachy summer break following June's Summer Art Market. It was a super busy sunny (rain free!) successful weekend! Thanks to everyone who helped and supported me--art shows take a village! Special gratitude to my collectors for ongoing their support of SAM and the Denver art community.

Coming Soon! Fall Painting Classes and Workshops
Back in the studio I've been putting together some really interesting new fall classes and workshops which you can find on the my website. Hope to see you there!

I'm particularly thrilled to be joining the Park Hill Art Club (PHAC) as a Thursday morning painting instructor starting September 17. Thank you again PHAC for inviting me!

My student Michele working on her version of a Wolf Kahn landscape.
If you're a Denver artist and not yet a member be sure to check out this very established and active group of almost 300 artists (you don't need to live in the Park Hill area to join). PHAC offers high quality affordable classes, workshops and other painting events.

Lately several of my students have been working on "master" copies (see Anita's lovely Payne landscape posted today). So wanted to share some thoughts about why a master copies are so helpful to artist. (Along these lines have you read Steal Like an Artist yet?)

In many ways the act of creating a painting is problem solving. For an artist viewing a great painting by a master artist is visual gift. One that helps us "solve" the same puzzle we're about to tackle.

Yes, I often work from photos. But the more I work with other artists I also find that painting (copying) another painting vs. painting (copying) from a photo reference is more relevant experience. It’s “apples to apples” or more specifically it’s “paint to paint” rather than “pixels to paint.”

Here are 10 questions you may find helpful while reviewing a masterwork (or a painting you simply really love.)

  1. How do you think the artist started their painting? Why?
  2. What colors (and even more specifically what pigments) did they use and why?
  3. What attracts and holds your eye?
  4. Why do you think they painted what they did?
  5. How have they created form?
  6. How did they arrange their values? Is there a dominant value?
  7. Where do you see hard edges? Softer edges?
  8. What design elements and principles can you find?
  9. Consider the paint application and brushwork--Is it heavy, thick, thin, washy?
  10. What do you like best? Least? Finally what elements could you incorporate into your own painting?
Thanks everyone--Have a sunny safe summer weekend!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Best Art Event of the Summer!

"Love, Peace, Owls" 18 x 24 mixed media on canvas
Happy June everyone! It’s finally here....June 13 & June 14 is Denver’s big annual Summer Art Market (SAM).

I'm happy (and proud) to say it's my 14th year as a SAM artist! While it's hard work (almost daily prep since April) it's still my favorite weekend of the year!

I know summer is a busy time for everyone but please be sure to stop by if you’re in town and say hi—SAM is free and a great family outing as well with music, food and kid’s activities.  Here’s the detailed info:

What: Summer Art Market—over 250 fine artists!
Where: 2nd and Grant (near Speer and Broadway in Denver)
When:  June 13 and June 14 (Saturday  10A to 6P and Sunday 10A to 5P)
Where to find me: Booth 146 (on 2nd just west of Grant)

I may be a little biased but I really do think variety and quality of original fine artwork is amazing from traditional oils to contemporary sculpture! And there are price points for everyone!
"Copper Canter" 18 x 24 mixed media on canvas

"Growing Strong" (detail) Mixed Media/Collage 20 x 30

Getting ready for SAM---paintings and more paintings!
Speaking of pricing better get back to framing, tagging, etc. (you can see my living room staging area above) with just days to go. Here are a few of the nature inspired acrylic mixed media paintings I’ve been working on.  Have a great summer week everyone--hope to see you this weekend!

P.S. Want to paint this summer? There are still some openings in my next group class (Painting Nature and Florals) which starts on Wednesday, June 24. Please visit my website for more info. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Top 10 List Just for Artists

I’m going to share that in college I had three big celebrity crushes: Han Solo (I mean Harrison Ford), Don Johnson (I mean Sonny Crockett) and David Letterman...
College Era Dav--Maybe he's reading my letter??
So I’m a little melancholy painting in the studio this morning after watching Dave’s last show last night. My crush on Letterman was so well known that my friends wrote a letter to him (on my behalf) proposing marriage to him. (Sadly, I did not get a reply.)

I have fond memories of gathering around my little color Sony TV with fellow students to watch Dave even if we had an early exam. So in honor of Mr. Letterman I’ve put together my own artist themed (of course) Top Ten List…Ladies and gentlemen here we go... 

Top 10 Best Things about Being an Artist
10. Wearing a teal beret (and maybe even a red cape) to the Costco seems perfectly reasonable.
9.  When someone says: My child is a wonderful artist--You really DO want to hear about it.
8. What happens at the art supply store…Stays at the art supply store.
7. Everyone wants to be your Pictionary partner.
6. You think something “sketchy” doesn’t sound well that bad.
5. Your somewhat “eccentric” collection of bones, rusty cups, and old string is perceived to be “charming” and “artistic” by friends and family.
4. You CAN draw a straight line.
3. You know there's way more than 50 shades of gray. (Thanks to my friend and fellow late night fan MR for that one.)
2.Your artistic license doesn’t require a photo.

And the number one best thing about being an artist...
1. Your “non traditional” schedule allows you to stay up late and enjoy the same crazy shows you watched in college!

Thanks for all the memories Dave—you'll be missed! P.S. My next upcoming group class starts Wed. June 24. For more info please visit my website. Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Just a Walk in the Park

"Canada Violets" 9x12 oil on linen
Happy May everyone! May’s an extra special month for me. It marks the Kentucky Derby (my favorite sporting event), my birthday, my mother’s birthday, return of the farmer's market, and so many other colorful spring events in the city.

This morning I had a marvelous May morning teaching my first “Color Confidence” class where there were a great new group of students willing to explore color with me! Thank you again ladies for joining me--I look forward to painting with you! For more information on my Denver summer art classes click here.
Even though early May in Colorado can be a little rainy remains one of my favorite months to explore local parks. I'll always find some regulars like this handsome wading Canada Goose I painted this week. (FYI, I'll be taking this painting like most of my spring paintings to the Summer Art Market in June.) But I also enjoy the return of lilacs, quince, iris, robins, red wing blackbirds, red buds, singing warblers--and all things springy!
Gosling--still yellow and fluffy!

Here's a few pics of of spring around the Mile High city this past week. Enjoy and have a spectacular spring week in your creative space!
Tulips--pink and floppy like a Derby hat!

I love the color range in morning lilacs.

It must be spring if the warblers are back!

 P.S. If Spring is your favorite season you may enjoy my Spring Art Board on Pinterest.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Where Creativity is Contagious

"Enchanted Adobe" 8x10 oil on gesso panel

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on!” – Albert Einstein

Happy Friday everyone! Despite today's gloomy Rocky Mountain spring forecast, I think of Spring as the perfect time for renewal, growth, and creativity. An ideal time to learn something new just for yourself…

Speaking of creativity thanks to all my spring students! Some of you are new and some are “old” friends. To each of you, thanks again sharing your creative time with me through all the seasons. 

Since it's almost May I started to make some summer travel plans this week. Each year I try to visit to a place I've never been before (more on the place I've picked this year in an upcoming post.)

But it's also nice to return to places that you've grown fond. That welcome you back. For me (like many artists) that's always been New Mexico. Which is thankfully just a state away...

Santa Fe is a special place where I've always felt the creativity is highly contagious.  This cute adobe home is just off windy arty Canyon Road. (I'm told only low level traditional adobe structures are allowed in this area.) 

Better stop day dreaming and get back to painting. Wishing you a wonderful spring weekend! For more info about my painting classes or upcoming workshops please email me or visit the studio website

P.S. Love New Mexico? Check out my Land of Enchantment board on Pinterest.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's Paint--It's Blossom Week!

"Peaceful Paint" 8x10 oil on Gesso Panel (SOLD-Thank you!)
To me, horses and freedom are synonymous. 
Equine sculpture Veryl Goodnight

This is one of my favorite weeks in Denver.  It’s the week my four ancient crab apple trees come to life turning cotton candy pink. I always look forward to "blossom week" and this year it’s even about a week earlier than usual.
April apple blossoms in my yard

If you’ve been following my last few posts, you saw I was working my way around the color wheel with some fun mixed media work but today I woke up in an oil mood.
Pink blossoms are also tasty!
I have thousands of reference photos (I take photos at least a few times a week) so I look through them quickly to see what grabs my attention. What am I looking for? Typically 2 things: Intriguing shapes and bold value changes. Note that as much as I love color it’s not the main factor.  

I selected this photo because a bold dark/light design supports allows for more personal color interpretation—and for me that’s the best part of painting. 

For more information about my upcoming May color art class (for oil and acrylic painters) please email me or visit the Curtis Art Center website. Wishing you week full of creative blooming!