Sunday, October 15, 2017


Becoming a Master Painter

Mastery of drawing and painting is achieved by daily effort over a long period of time, likely 10 to 20 years. One does not necessarily need a live mentor but one must have structure at some point. Short of attending a classical atelier, the right materials and a superhuman work ethic will take you where you want to go.

The desire has to burn so deeply that one will dismiss all other distractions other than those that support the Path. One's focus must be very narrow and pointed, while including a vast and varied array of important study materials covering many art subjects.

One must first learn basic skills: composition (how shapes relate to one another), value relationships (the darkness or lightness of tones), linear perspective, atmospheric (or aerial) perspective, and volume. There is so much good information online that one is not required to purchase instructional materials in the beginning of the journey.

Sadly, if one pursues an art degree in many universities today, they may not learn the basic skills needed to become a successful or highly-skilled artist. Mastery doesn't happen at the doctorate level either. Often, the attitude is, "do what you want." If a dentist or lawyer took that attitude, he or she would not be very successful.

I've been painting for a long time, jumping from one subject to another, painting in different styles.  Save for teaching myself the basics, I've meandered quite a bit. I wish I had had a mentor 30 years ago.

My copy of  "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer

I now know where I want to go and I have the structure to get there. In my heart, I was aware of what I really wanted. And I knew it would be a solo path.  If I win the lottery, I won't hesitate to move to Florence, Italy and study 10 years in an atelier however.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

International Giveaway Coming

I had a national US giveaway recently and I had promised one for my international friends. So, the international giveaway is coming soon.

I would ask that you be a Facebook friend. Friend me here:

To make you eligible, I will ask you to either share a blogspot post from here or either a a Facebook post when I decide what the heck I'm going to do.

The way this works is I write down the name of each friend who has shared my post on a slip of paper. My husband draws the name. It was a lot of fun the last time. I only wish that everyone could have won. If I were wealthy enough, I'd give everyone a painting or a print. That would be a dream come true for me.

Doing Dad Stuff

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Some of My Latest Paintings: Need Feedback

This is the first day in three that I could actually browse the net. So, I am taking advantage of the situation and adding photos in one blog post.

Needed Feedback
: While definitely impressionism, my style is evolving, right from under my feet with a mind of its own no less. Instead of my fingers or even a painting knife, I used a different instrument to execute the following three paintings. While I used broken color and mixed mostly on the canvas, the works are not as pointillistic as my other works. I would like to approach non-co-op galleries in about a year, so I must execute a body of work in a consistent style.

You do not need to be an artist to comment. I'm really interested/need to know what everyone's opinion is. You can help me decide if this style is one I should continue with. Thanks!

What do you think? I would greatly appreciate any response and/or advice. These paintings were from my trips to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, my favorite painting spot.

Hazy Golden Hour at the Refuge
24 x 24, oil on canvas

Two O'clock Sun
24 x 20, oil on canvas

Four O'Clock Sun
30 x 24,oil on canvas

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sketch After Pierre-Paul Prud'hon: Head of Divine Vengeance

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (April 4, 1758 – February 16, 1823) was a romantic French painter known for his excellent draughtsmanship and his well-executed allegorical paintings.

Prud'hon was also considered eccentric and unorthodox in his drawing method. No one has quite figured out his method as he would stump between layers of hatches, often obscuring his marks. He never crosshatched though a few marks may suggest he did. But upon closer inspection, the hatches going in a diagonal across previous marks were laid down after stumping and in subsequent layers. Therefore, his marks were not technically crosshatched; his method was too deviant for crosshatches to be considered. Additionally, most of his marks seem to be applied parallel or diagonal to the planes of form.

Prud'hon's drawings transmit an inner light, a great luminosity. He allows a few hatches to show here and there which portray the individuality of the artist.

I copied one of his drawings in an effort to learn a little bit about how Prud'hon worked. I acquired blue Ingres paper made in Germany, some Contes in black and white (grades HB, B, and 2B), a chamois, a putty eraser, and stumps and tortillons.

I first did a graphite drawing, then I outlined the drawing in a hard black Conte. I used the chamois to remove as much of the Conte as I could. I wanted a ghost image but ended up with a darker outline. This problem prevailed throughout the drawing. Perhaps I should have added padding under the drawing? A lighter touch? Or maybe I should make my own softer crayons.

At any rate, I was happy with the drawing and I learned a great deal. One of the things I learned is that I need to loosen up, let my personality come through a drawing despite the fact that I'm "copying." I also learned that Prud'hon's method is more like painting that drawing. I pushed the Conte around a lot with the stump. Drawing is also like painting in that it is a series of corrections.

Copying drawings from the Masters will be a life long adventure for me. Drawing is just as important as painting.

Prud'hons "Head of Divine Vengeance
Black and white chalk on blue laid paper - the blue has faded to a tan
My copy of Prud'hon's "Head of Divine Vengeance"
Black and white chalk on blue Ingres (laid) paper

Monday, May 23, 2016

Morning Ritual: Quick Sketches

I sketch every morning. I've been doing so for over a week now. I am doing gesture, contour, and mass with contour drawings.

Quick figure sketches, 30 seconds to 10 minutes, really teach one how to see. I will continue to sketch daily for the rest of my life. I absolutely love it and I can only begin to recount how valuable daily sketching is. I saw great improvement last week when I attended a figure drawing session at The Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, GA.

As far as tools go, I have quite a few drawing media to choose from: graphite pencils, charcoal (yuk - too messy), Conte crayons, a Tombow ABT dual brush pen No. 899, and various other tools. You can sketch with anything that makes a mark, including children's crayons or oil paint. Supports include an imported Ingres laid paper and various sketchbooks accepting different or most media.

I am compelled by the beautiful human figure and could spend the rest of my life drawing it. Arguments erupt on Facebook forums regarding nude renderings. There is a subset of the ignorant who believe nudes are not art, that such renderings are pornographic. Such small minds should disengage themselves from art forums, and never visit a museum (I don't think they have) nor art gallery.

Quick morning sketch, May 23, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

NEW PAINTING: Study of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

I love architecture. From new gold, brick and glass buildings in Dallas, Texas to gothic cathedrals, I find inspiration.

Monet was in awe when he painted his Rouen Cathedral series. He captured the effect of light on the facade of the Cathedral at different times of day including sunset:

Monet's "Facade at Sunset"
The first stone of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Ga was laid in the late 1800's. A fire in 1898 destroyed much of the structure but the the Cathedral was quickly rebuilt and opened in 1900.

While the Cathedral enjoys an active congregation, it's a draw for photographers and tourists also. There are self-guided tours available though I have not yet entered the Church. However, I knew I would paint the Cathedral and probably more than once, maybe a series!

While driving the squares of Savannah during the golden hour. I saw the spires reaching into the sky from a few streets to the east. Upon turning down E. Harris Street, I had my first view of the Cathedral. I was amazed to see the Cathedral awash in sparkling lemon light, lowering into cobalt blue just as in Monet's Rouen Cathedral, Facade at Sunset. A few minutes later, the lemon deepened into a tangerine with a deeper cobalt blue splashing the bottom half of the facade.

I painted a "study" of the Cathedral today.  A lot of detail has been left out and my drawing is not perfect. Even so, the painting was somewhat difficult.

My aim was to capture my emotional reaction to the scene and I believe I accomplished that goal. I do wish to execute a more detailed painting of the Cathedral...if I can do so without the process becoming a mechanical exercise. It might be best to do a detailed drawing as a work of art if I want detail.  At any rate, I will be painting this lovely Cathedral in different lighting situations.

Study of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
12 x 12
oil on gallery wrap canvas

Friday, May 6, 2016

Passion, Immortality and a Dose of Death

Have you ever wondered why Creatives tend to fall into depression, commit suicide, become addicted to drugs, and have that temperamental personality stigma? The following diatribe is my opinion where I answer the above questions with some caveats.

Innate Creatives, and that includes scientists and inventors with a high IQ, are wired different than noncreatives. But how so? Can't anyone learn physics, writing, guitar, acting, painting or become a surgeon? Yes, anyone can...up to a point. But Creativity or giftedness cannot be taught.

Creativity cannot be taught. Giftedness is innate.

People have aptitudes toward different pursuits. Some people are very gifted. And some people are prodigies.

Detail of "Artemesia"
(Artemesia was executed in acrylics including iridescent Aztec gold and pearl shimmer. Here is an example of an expressionist piece I needed to do which started from a live figure drawing session incidentally. An artist has to follow her dreams...which are often little inklings tickling the brain.)

You can bet if you pursue playing guitar, painting, etc., like a mad dog that you have great aptitude at the very least. If you continue such passion throughout life, you are likely fulfilling your gift.

A gift does not wish to lie down, to be forgotten.  That wiring, I spoke of...forsaking the act of creation causes mental anguish. Creating can be difficult but it is more difficult to be lazy; laziness can lead to a whole subset of personality problems including depression that leads to substance addictions and/or suicide.

When an artist creates they are Becoming. They create themselves though their work. Herein lies a secret: when an artist creates, they are Truly alive; when an artist is not creating, they are dying. With a caveat called focus, a healthy artist is constantly flying in a universe of ideas with many more tickling the brain on a subconscious level.

Doesn't this living and dying stuff sound like some kind of addictive behavior, some kind of friable and histrionic personality disorder? It does on the surface. But what I am describing is a gift that can only be fulfilled with passion and Will. You can't achieve immortality without a relentless drive. You have to manifest the subjective universe (realm of the astral/imagination) into the objective universe (the "world"). Apotheosis is not handed to anyone.

The majority of Creatives who say they cannot create, and become depressed, is because they are not creating. You see, inspiration comes from sitting with pen in hand to write, making a mark on a blank canvas, strumming that guitar, or writing down a mathematical problem. Inspiration lurks in the subconscious 24/7.

Considering addictions, I do believe that the creative brain is wired for addiction. I can't say whether we are born with that predisposition but I think it's possible. There are endorphins released when we create and those same endorphins are released through the intake of some substances. We create greedy little neurological pathways in the brain screaming for an endorphin rush. At an early age, we find great pleasure from drawing or other stimulating activities. We become hardwired to need and want an endorphin flow. Creatives can succumb to overeating, alcohol and drug addiction versus fulfilling their creative passion.  And that will surely become a infinite nightmare of despair and an unfulfilled life. The ouroboros has then fallen from heaven.

What about those "Hollywood types" who die from drug overdoses or the famous artist who is an alcoholic? We think of them as self-indulgent fools who haven't a clue. Well, in some cases, these addictions show what people choose to do with their money and I am not here to judge lifestyle choices that do not impact me or my family. But a lot of disposable income can present its own problems when paired with an addictive personality. Remember the wiring for endorphins; the brain wants, wants, wants. While it is sad to witness other's self-destructive behavior, the loss of real genius, by whatever means, Prince, Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison for example, are true tragedies.