Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Color is Like Cooking

6x6 oil on linen Cactus Color Study for Larger Painting
Color is like cooking. The cook puts in more or less salt, that's the difference! (Josef Albers)

Two of my favorite color strategies are color dominance and color complements. I could easily spend the rest of my studio life exploring just these two endless color journeys. I have a tendency to include the entire spectrum when I paint (that fresh palette is just so darn tempting!) so having a color game plan gives me focus.
"Green Finch" 6x6 oil on linen color study (note the warm toned canvas)
In this little house finch study for example I made the green the dominant color pushing every shape, every line, etc. toward green (warm and cool). Be brave--choose an unexpected color for your subject such as a red seascape, orange snowscape, violet portrait, etc.

Using a complement color pair is another almost no fail way to insure your colors look brighter, richer, cleaner. (I took some cues from  "Mother Nature" for my magenta and emerald prickly pear cactus study above.)
Did you think chocolate or cake first?
Remember the goal with these strategies is color first, subject second. To use Albers cooking analogy imagine you're baking a cake for a chocolate contest. If you really want to win you're going to add chocolate chunks, dark chocolate ganache frosting, chocolate shavings, cocoa power dust, chocolate mousse filling--You get the idea (and now I want cake...)  

Speaking of contests, color dominance or complement pairs can help give your work that extra “punch" when you need your painting to quickly get attention such as a juried competition or in a thumbnail size.

Ever wonder what colors you use too much/too little of? Color Explorer is a free color analysis program that allows you to "extract" the colors from your image (or painting). I found it fascinating to upload some of my  favorite masterpieces (such as a Van Gogh, Bonnard, O’Keeffe, etc.) and look at the color tendencies. Thanks and have fantastic week finding color in your world!  

Friday, February 22, 2013

When Art Goes to the Birds

"Jazzy Junco" 6x6 oil on linen panel

Please click here to bid.

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.   Emily Dickinson

As many of you know birds are one of my favorite painting subjects. So last weekend I was thrilled to visit the Woodson Museum touring Birds in Art exhibition at the Colorado Wildlife Experience. The quality of the show was top notch and I had many favorites (I posted a few on my Feathered Friends bird art board on Pinterest.)

Sometimes wildlife art (for me) while technically amazing can be a bit stiff, but I was impressed by the variety of interpretations, styles, and media. If you love bird and/or wildlife art I can’t recommend the beautiful Birds in Art catalog enough. Also, if you enjoy bird art, I highly recommend Tim Wootton's Drawing and Painting Birds book.

After seeing such an inspirational show, I’m also very motivated to work on a larger scale bird painting this year so I can enter next year in the meantime today I posted a little alla prima study of what I think is an Oregon Junco in fresh snow--It’s a fairly unusual bird to land in my little city yard so I spotted it right away.

Speaking of websites I’m excited to announce that my new Scarlet Owl Studio website is just about ready to launch—in the meantime you can get a sneak preview here. My original art website has served me well for many, many years but it was time for a spring makeover. And next time I’ll return to my thoughts on color dominance. See you then!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Brazen Brushwork and Paint Parsimony

10 Brushstroke Pear Exercise--6x6 oil (collection of the artist)
One of my 2013 goals to enhance my painterly brushwork. Another is not to be such a paint miser. If you have this tendency you know how hard it is to squeeze out several inches (gulp) of fresh paint all the time. And I'm surrounded by a dozens of paint tubes so there's really no excuse.
10 Brushstroke Bluebird Figurine 6x6 oil on panel (collection artist)
The further irony is that I’ve always personally preferred oil paintings with bold expressive brushwork and “chunky” generous paint.  The good news is that there’s a very helpful exercise to that will help you with both brazen brush work and paint parsimony. It’s what’s typically called the “limited stroke” or “limited brushwork” exercise.

I painted three 6x6 inch panels with simple subjects (these aren’t the Grand Canyon but they could be) and a 10 stroke limit or par for any of you golfers out there. After just three small paintings I was already thinking about my brushwork in a very different way. What else did I learn?

  1. Remember Jaws?  Well, for this, we’re gonna need a bigger brush! And more paint. Bigger Brush. More Paint. Just keep saying it…
  2. Use the canvas (in this case I toned with a warm quin gold acrylic wash) to your advantage. Consider what canvas shapes might stay “unpainted” and work as part of your overall composition. (Master paintings like Richard Schmid, CW Mundy, etc. will often use the "raw" canvas in their overall design.\)
  3. Find the 10 most important shapes and paint those. What details can you leave out?
  4. Paint rather than draw (or outline) your shapes. Feel the form with your brush.
  5. Vary your brushwork—push, pull, twist, stab, etc. to get the most out of your brush.
For more info practicing your brushwork check out this previous DPW “limited stroke” challenge.  Popular teacher Peggi Kroll Roberts also offers a DVD demonstrating limited brushwork and I hear  this is a student favorite exercise in her workshops.  In my next post we'll chat about the power of color dominance as well as the Woodson Art Musuem  Birds in Art touring show which came to town.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Colors are Like a Box of Chocolates

"My Sunny Valentine" 8x8 oil on archival Ampersand baord

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone and a special birthday shout out to anyone with a Val Day birthday like my Dad!

Ever since I’ve returned from the beach I’ve needed a “mid-winter” color pick me up.  So I treated myself to some fresh oil paints—which is almost as exciting as a box of dark chocolate.  Almost.
After shopping around online for a bit (budget: $100) and finding a “discount shipping” code I chose an special promo Daniel Smith Quinacridone oil paint set. The 11 juicy colors span the warmer side of the color wheel from the deep yellow orange Quin Gold (a rather hard to find pigment) to a new violet Quin Purple.

I like “quins” because they’re powerful, non-toxic, and highly transparent which means they mix cleanly and glaze well.  Quin Gold, Quin Rose, and Quin Magenta are some of my pet pigments for floral painting.  And I love using Quin Gold to mix interesting greens. (I tried the Quin Red in today’s sunflower painting.)

In my next post I’ll show you my results of a very challenging “limited brushstroke” painting exercise…Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Part 2: The Happy Collector

"Winter Wings" 8x8 oil on linen panel

Please click here to bid 
 Collectors are happy people. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
In my previous post I shared a few tips and views regarding buying art online. Here are a few more thoughts to help you get started --or enrich with your existing art collection.

Tiny Treasures
Small affordable paintings are a great way to start collecting particularly if you’re not ready to invest or have the room for a larger piece. For one, they’re much less expensive to frame. You can also display petite paintings without a frame on bookshelves, mini easels, or picture ledges that you can find at places like Ikea. 

Flip through any chic interior design magazine and you’ll often see attractive groupings of paintings.  You could arrange them by theme, artist, media, style, etc. For example, I have still life paintings in my kitchen, landscapes in my guest bedroom, etc. Here are some additional tips from HGTV about creating your own gallery wall.

Follow Your Favorites
Like many artists, I keep a close eye on artists whose work I greatly admire. For a more significant art investment, I also try to see the work in person if it’s practical at galleries, festivals, museums, their studio, etc.  If you follow an artist long enough I think you’ll feel pretty comfortable when the right painting comes along and if the price point makes sense. 

Peace of Mind
Be sure to read the art description carefully—check the size, media, etc.  If you’re not sure if the painting is original be sure to ask.  Also look for a fair return policy (most artists offer some kind of return or exchange).  Most artists enjoy talking about their work so feel free to write if you have questions. (Note if the artist has a gallery agreement they may refer you there for the final purchase.)

Finally, whether you’re buying art to enhance your home or as an investment, I absolutely believe you’ll be happiest in the long run if you acquire art you love and the best original art you can afford.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Painter's Perspective on Buying Art Online

Some of my favorite daily oil paintings from 2012

Since both artists and collectors stop by I thought I'd share some about buying art. Specifically about buying art online. I'm an artist but I’m also an online art “collector” myself. In the past few years, for example, I’ve bought original paintings (this is my personal preference) from sites like eBay, Etsy, and Daily Paintworks

Before there were so many options, I purchased art art festivals or galleries.  Certainly, those traditional outlets remain viable for art purchases especially for higher price point artists. I personally know many "master" level painters who continue to sell primarily through regional galleries. 

But today the largest “art gallery” in the world is right on your laptop. You can quickly search online for original art by size, color, subject, medium, theme, style, etc. 

Also, many artists now have blogs or websites making direct communication with them much easier.  This may seem obvious to those of us who shop on Amazon every week but in the “art world” this is a fairly recent business model. That being said I understand that buying any “luxury” item that you can’t experience firsthand (while more common than ever) may give some collectors pause.  So let’s take a closer look at buying art online.  

Why Buy Fine Art Online?
I believe buying directly from artists (when possible) is one of the best ways to support the art and creative community if that’s important to you. And let’s cut to the chase. Buying “direct” from the artist is often a super value. Galleries and festivals can be expensive so artists can usually "afford" to offer their work online at a significant savings. For example, I purchased a small unframed painting from an online artist whose work I know would be double—if not triple—the price at a gallery. 

No Red Dot Regrets
I’ve never been much of an impulse buyer (OK sometimes dark chocolate) but when shopping for art keep in mind that many paintings are literally one of a kind creations. I'm not a "factory" as I like to say--I can only offer so many quality paintings in a month. This uniqueness adds to the value of the art you buy if that’s important to you. Plus the Internet is open 24/7 so if it’s a painting you really want—don’t hesitate too long before making your choice. Some popular online artists sell their new works within hours of posting. 

I'll be back in the next few days with more thoughts about buying art online--in the meantime happy art collecting!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

For all the Weekend Painting Warriors

"That's So Raven" 8x8 oil on gallery wrap canvas

In January artist Leslie Saeta (who many of you may as the host of the Artitst Helping Artists) kindly featured a 30 paintings/30 day challenge on her blog.  Artists were also encouraged to have a “theme” for their postings which added even more interest to the challenge.

I know the dedication and commitment this consistency at the easel takes so I want to offer a big kudos and congrats to artists who participated. In fact one of my favorite painters in the challenge, Lisa Daria, has painted every day for over 1,000 days!

I really wanted to join the challenge but unfortunately I was traveling away from my studio in January. However, the more I read the blog the more I wished I had found a way to participate. It's really worth checking out all 30 days when you have time--there's a huge variety of painting styles and art subject matter to be inspired by (and also purchase.)

Thankfully starting this weekend Leslie has generously extended the "challenge" by allowing artists  to post paintings on her very attractive blog on weekends. I'm very happy to have this "second chance" to share what I'm working on and in turn discover new artists who are also actively painting. If you're more of a "weekend warrior" painter (and there's nothing wrong with that!) this is also a great chance to post on a regular basis.

Thanks again to Leslie for sharing your blog and helping support the online art community. Happy painting everyone from my studio to yours.

P.S. I just had to post a raven today for Super Bowl Sunday for all my raven (bird or football) fans and Baltimore friends.