Tuesday, April 29, 2014

300 Reasons to Celebrate!

8x10 oil on panel "Black Steps" on hold for Summer Market
First over the weekend I saw two wonderful oil painting demos at Gallery 1261. Will post photos soon but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at the acclaimed Daniel Key's beautiful still life:
Daniel Keys Still Life Oil Demo at Gallery 1261
But today I wanted to acknowledge a very happy and proud landmark---my 300th blog post. More importantly, five years ago this summer that I took the “leap” into the creative wilderness. Technically, as you may guess given the timeframe, I was gently pushed like a cozy baby owlet out of my lofty coporate nest.

Like many professionals I faced some tough choices. Do I wait out the storm? Do I “fly” in a new direction? Get a law degree? (Yes that was on my list.) As I looked for guidance I saw many articles, books, posts about “finding your true passion.” Hmm. That’s an easy one.  Art and nature. But now what?
Welcome to the Scarlet Owl Studio! The answer: An artist. Of course!
I’m sure many entrepreneurs would agree that you can do some planning, research, etc. but ultimately the only way to test the waters is to jump in. So I took a big slice of my savings pie and built a studio onto my house. That led to me teaching and painting more. Some bumps along the way? Of course. As many of you know, the art biz is not always for the faint of heart.

But here I am five years later, blogging, teaching, painting and loving art (thanks to all of you) more than I ever did. So thank you all again! his has been a thrilling journey. What's next? What’s around the corner? I don't know but we'll find out together! P.S. Happy Birthday to all my fellow Taurus artists--I know there are many!
Finally--beautiful pink blossoms outside the studio!

P.P. S. To celebrate May and my 300th post I'm giving away a FREE fine art print OR phone cover (your choice) of any of my posted paintings. To enter please leave a comment during May 2014. Contest ends 5/31/2014. Random drawing June 1, 2014. Winner announced on my blog--Good luck!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Creative Balancing Act

"Blissfully Blue" iris oil painting study 8x8 

Happy Spring Friday everyone! Many thanks to all my spring students for keeping me busy and inspired this time of  year. As a creative professional I’m so lucky to be a part of your many new and interesting art projects every week! Thanks again to each of you. (Also, my next post will be my 300th! So stay tuned for some special for that.)

In fact every week I study dozens (if not hundreds) of painting and photo references. Some online, in books, and in person. So much stimulating "eye candy" can be overwhelming at times. Even worse, this excitement can lead to jumping ahead and be tempted by the "next amazing painting" before I've really given enough time to the one at hand.

As with many creative endeavors, I was thinking this week (as sunnier weather calls to me outside the studio window) balancing hard work/discipline with boundless creative energy will likely be something I'll deal with the rest of my artistic life.

So what helps? A set schedule. Sort term and long term goals are extremely motivating. Taking breaks. Keeping an idea folder. Staying positive even when we fall short of goals. The balance is  likely a different approach for each of us.
"Singing for Spring" redwing blackbird oil painting study (on hold for SAM)
This week my short term goal was to complete at least 2 paintings and I'm happy to say that I finished both this  this iris and blackbird painting. My thanks to DPW for selecting my “Blissfully Blue” iris as one of their daily Facebook picks. I also started a larger landscape. As a reward I did take a few breaks. So here at the end of the week I feel like I accomplished a lot at the easel but I also feel ready to paint again next week. In the meantime, wishing you a warm and colorful spring weekend!

Friday, April 11, 2014

12 Fresh Primavera Painting Ideas

"My State Flower" 8x10 oil on panel
When you paint nature inspired paintings you always have new subject ideas. One of the art approaches I associate with spring is painting more high key with more delicate ethereal hues. (For more examples of high key paintings and art inspiration check out my Pinterest board: High Key Heaven.)

Vincent loved spring!
In addition to high key painting, consider all the wonderful subjects/themes an artist could capture in springtime or "primavera" (which just sounds more arty) as the Italians call this season. (Which aptly means first green.) You'll find some great examples of spring paintings on my Pinterest Board: Spring Flings.) And if you're ready to say good-bye to winter like I am here are some painting ideas for you:

  1. Spring Flowers (daffodil, tulips, crocus, lillies, pansies)
  2. Flowering Trees/Budding Branches (cherries, magnolias, lilacs)
  3. Spring (or Baby) Vegetables 
  4. Anything Parisian--as in April in Paris!
  5. Brunch/Breakfast Themes 
  6. Spring Animals (chicks, ducklings, bunnies, robins, lambs, kittens)
  7. Eggs (natural or decorated) and Nests
  8. Bonnets/Fancy Hats
  9. Rainy Day Things (puddles, boots, rain coat, umbrellas, raindrops, rainbows)
  10. Stormy Landscapes
  11. Sunlit  "candy" colors: Pinks, pale blues, butter yellows, lavenders...
  12. Things Found in a Garden (tools, birdhouses, fences, benches, statues, fountains)
Bonus painting idea: Paint one of your state symbols--here I've painted our beloved Colorado columbine. Have fun and happy painting! P.S. Most of my paintings posted between now and June will be for sale at the Summer Art Market.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Simple Joy of Painting What You Know Best

"Gleaming Goose" 8x10 oil on professional cotton panel--For sale @ SAM in June
April is a promise that May is bound to keep.  Hal Borland

Happy Spring everyone! The first week of April always has a big red star on my studio calendar each year. It marks the 2 month point (or about 8 weeks) before my favorite annual Denver art event: SAM (Summer Art Market) which is June 7/8 this year.

When you need to fill a 10x10 tent with your best possible art eight weeks goes by in a flash. For the SAM I prefer to offer a wide variety of sizes and price points to meet the needs of a variety of collectors. So one day I’ll work on a smaller daily oil painting like this 8x10 sunlit goose and other days I’ll be tackling a much larger abstract. Let's just say I'll be happily in art creation mode for the next 8 weeks.

We've all heard the creative writing tip: Write what you know.  Along the same lines, I think it makes sense to paint what we know best. Just look at art history and see how the masters captured the intimate world around them.

One of the places I know best is Wash Park--my local city park where I often take at least 100 photos a week if not more. As a result I have hundreds of reference pics of the more common park flora and fauna such as this lovely young Canada goose. OK. Maybe not the most exotic bird, but they’re easy to photograph and I love the striking dark/light pattern on their heads especially in the warm sunlight. I certainly enjoyed painting this little study yesterday.

Speaking of spring, in my next post I'll share some of my ideas for those of you looking for seasonal spring painting subjects (as I did last fall.) Wishing you all a warm and colorful spring!