Growing Pains of Creating Art

There are some paintings that flow out so easily you feel you’ve mastered art and your soul soars. And then about five seconds later the line, the mark, composition, color, nothing, and I mean nothing works. You dive and crash. All artist go through this. I refuse to be miserable by myself.

So, what can you do? I do a number of things. First, I let myself screw up and walk away. I distance myself from the project and clear my mind. For me that usually means walking or anything not involving art. Sometimes that’s enough to see the painting with a fresh eye when I come back.

If that doesn’t work, I have to go to plan B which involves going back to the basics of composition and color by reading or watching videos. YouTube has many good videos on every topic imaginable. I also put my painting in grayscale to see if the values are working. I rotate the canvas to see it from another angle. And if the painting is flat, I try to create space using perspective, value, and edge. You probably know all this but sometimes we need to hear it again and again.

Art is not for wimps. And the work can be long and frustrating. But when you create that piece, that special piece, it’s the most amazing feeling.

I wish you all the best in your art endeavors, whatever the medium. And please feel free to comment on your struggles. Again, I don’t want to be the only miserable artist out here.

“Quick Hide”

I am very excited to announce the publication of my first book for children. It has been published by XLibris and is available online and as a printed edition. You’ll find it on most major book sites including Barnes and Noble. It’s titled “Quick Hide” (There’s a Monster Inside). It is a book inspired by my grandchildren Manny and Lena. We spent many afternoons hiding from monsters and drawing them. In fact, many of the illustrations of monsters are the ones created by them. I also did the illustrations and created the characters in our image. I had a lot of fun writing the book for them and then was encouraged to formally publish the book. I am an artist but I must say I have a huge appreciation for illustrators. There’s a tremendous amount of work involved.

I truly hope you and all the children in your life will enjoy this special book.

Reworking Art Continued

On March 31 I wrote a blog article on “Reworking Art” and finished with the painting shown below.

After much thought and conferring with other artists there was agreement that the shape on the left was like a sci-fi creature. This is not what I was going for. So after more thought, editing, and the use of a drawing app, I created the finished painting below.

I am pleased with the end result. Painting is a process. It takes thought, time, persistence, and patience. And I constantly fight to work on all of these qualities.

Love to hear your comments.

Serious Art: Part 4

The canvas below is a piece I started but was never resolved.

I decided on a mainly red, yellow, and black palette to hopefully keep the colors in harmony and balance. And then fighting my fear I charged in and started to play with lines and shapes without too much thought. When I stopped and stepped back the picture below was the result.

After much work on shapes (both organic and geometric), lines, and hard and soft edges, the result is the picture below.

I will continue to study it but I am happy with it and feel it is completed.

Reworking Art

How many times have you completed an art piece and yet weren’t happy with it. I have done this so many times. And I have a huge collection of canvases to prove it.

The other day I was in my studio and saw one such canvas. I decided to do something about it. I’m going to attack these canvases one at a time and share with you on my blog. I hope it will help with your art and it will help me continue with my “Serious Art” series.

Below is the picture I want to work on and create a piece I’m happier with.

I like the colors in this picture but I’m guilty of having too many same size pieces which I have a tendency to do. And there’s not a good feel for space. It feels very flat.

The picture above was created on the Procreate program. I changed the shapes so they be more varied in size. I created a horizon line to help define foreground, middle ground, and background. I also rethought my colors. And the black lines going off the bottom of the canvas help with foreground. I am happier with this and I’ll see how it translates when I work on the canvas.

On the canvas above I used a pencil to create some big shapes and keep some smaller shapes. I also created a horizon line to establish a foreground, middle ground, and background. Just starting the transformation of the original canvas.

I’ve created different size shapes and changed the white color to a blue green. I love color and I’m trying not to avoid the use of it. The transformation continues.

Here is the canvas so far. I am happier with the result but I’m going to let it sit and revisit it later. That always gives me a fresh perspective and I’ll be able to see if more changes need to happen.

Hope this was helpful to you. I know this process really gives me direction. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for signing into my blog.

Serious Art: Part 3

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve been working within a limited genre of abstract painting in order to strengthen my voice and body of work. Below is the next picture in this process.

I started by painting a lot of shapes using a limited palette of white, black, yellow ochre, gold, and alizarin crimson. At this point I step back and try to edit. As I’ve said before, I have a tendency to introduce too many shapes and too many of the same size. Below is what I accomplished.

This is already so much better. Less busy, better composition, palette, and variation of shapes. Again I use DrawCast in my editing process. I continue this process and finally I get the result below.

This painting is 11″ by14″ and titled “Pot of Gold”. This is mainly acrylic but I’ve added some tissue paper and pen. So it’s a mixed media. It is looking for a good home and could be yours for $175.00.

I do believe this process has made my work more cohesive and stronger. As always if you have questions or comments you can go to my contact page. Thanks for your support.

Serious Art: Part 2

It has been a little more than a week since I decided to take my art in a more specific direction. I’m focusing on abstract in a minimal palette, at least for me. So I took out two 12″ by 16″ canvases to work on a diptych, hoping that would force me to work within the confines of genre and palette. Below is one of my first efforts creating some basic shapes, marks, and generally playing with the two canvases.

At this point, I stepped back and took a good hard look at what I liked and what I thought needed to be removed because it did not help the composition. I have a problem at times creating to many little shapes and creating a busy or fussy composition. So I’m trying to create large, medium, and small shapes in a good proportion. After much thought I came to the image below.

You can see I downloaded this image to DrawCast. It helped me work on this piece without wasting time and paint. It gave me direction. But I wasn’t finished yet. I continued adding and subtracting. The following images show the steps and the evolution of the final piece.

And I finished with the image below.

I hope you enjoyed this process. The evolution of a piece always amazes me. What I start with can be so different from where I start. As always I welcome comments and any questions or thoughts you may have. Thanks for visiting.

Serious Art

I haven’t posted anything lately. I’m going through a kind of crisis. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I love many areas, genres, mediums, etc. in art. I get bored easily. One day I’m into portraits and the next an abstract or something else. But the serious artists I follow strongly advise to get very good at one thing. Find your passion. Something that you would enjoy doing for a long time or forever. How does one find the one genre that speaks to them enough to do it over and over but keep it fresh. If I had the answer to that, I’d be happy and rich. Oh, so you thought I had the answer. Well, I do have some ideas.

  1. Go to Pinterest or other sites and see what interests you.
  2. If you have a Pinterest account, look at it carefully. You have selected ideas that draw you in and interest you. There’s usually a theme that runs through your choices.
  3. What area are you good at. No use to reinvent the wheel or have to start from square one.
  1. What makes you different from other artists?

Okay! You think you’ve finally figured out the direction you want to go in. It’s still not set in stone. Give it a period of time to work in the area you’ve chosen. Maybe six months or less. Then step back and reevaluate your choice and your work. Keeping a journal might help as you go through this process. If this is not a good fit, try again going through these steps.

Make sure this is your passion. Try not to choose something because it’s popular and do not choose a path because other people think you should. Feel it in your gut. This is not an exact science.

Narrow your artistic voice as much as possible through

  1. Subject
  2. Medium
  3. Color
  4. Area

This allows you to find the clients that will buy your work and will allow them to find you. If seascapes with red rowboats are your passion then people who had red rowboats on the lake will want your work. It will remind them of their childhood or just a happy memory. Get to know your client and in doing so yourself.

I have written this as much for myself as for you. I am going to go through this process. My hope is that my upcoming work will be more cohesive and limited in terms of style and palette and in turn become stronger giving me a voice. I will probably do a series which will help me stick to one artistic voice. We will see what develops in the coming months.

Please feel free to leave comments. I know there are artists out there that feel my pain. Would love to hear from you.

Inception to Final Product : Abstract Landscape

So you’re ready to start a new creation. That can be intimidating and there are many ways to go about this. Sometimes I find a photo I like or a scene I sketched in plein aire and want to finish in the studio. Other times I start by mark making on a canvas and see where it takes me. On this occasion I felt like taking a photo containing a landscape and break it into abstract shapes to create an abstract landscape.

I took this photo in Florida. I was drawn in by the shapes and thought it would be a good starting point to play with and see where it took me.

The shapes I outlined in red interested me so I went to DrawCast to play with these shapes and create others.

Here is my initial effort. I’m trying not to think too hard but play with shapes and colors.

I’m continue completing shapes and colors till I’m satisfied. I really like the feel and pallet of this piece but remember this was done on DrawCast. Recreating the marks and pallet can be challenging. And I did not create this on standard canvas sizes which I already warned you about. So I have not made my job any easier. (Moral: Don’t do as I do)

I decided to use a 16″ by 20″ canvas and make it work. I gave it an orange under painting and recreated a sketch using a pencil, making sure my focal point(house) was where it belonged in the composition. And other shapes created a composition that brought one into the picture and kept you moving around various points of interest.

I continued adding my pallet understanding that colors and shapes would need to be tweaked.

At this point I’m not happy. I need to decide on a dominant color and I don’t have that yet. I play with colors and go with a blue/green picture.

I am more satisfied with this but there is another problem. The red patch of land is getting much more attention or is fighting for attention with the focal point which is the house.

Here is my solution to the problem. The red field was changed to my dominant color and used the red to enhance my focal point. You can see I also added marks for interest and to add my personal touch.

I always welcome comments and hope you find this as helpful to you as it was for me.

This picture is looking for a good home. It is 16″ by 20″ and done in acrylic. The price is $275.00.

Painting From a Photo

In the beginning god created Adam and many artists start by creating art from a photo. We see something in a magazine or from a previous pic we’ve taken. We search and search for that perfect composition. Let’s face it, we can rarely go on location to take or sketch our masterpiece. And that’s fine. It’s a starting point. But many beginners take it too literally. I want to give a few pointers that may be helpful when approaching a piece this way.

Once you find what you think is that perfect pic, really look at it. What drew you to it? Was it the color, composition, style, line, subject, etc. ? If it’s color then you know what palette you want to use. Whatever the reason this should give you direction for your work. Why do you want to recreate this particular scene?

Composition is always important. It’s what takes us into, around, and through your work and hopefully keeps us there for more than 5 seconds. I must say, nature has done an amazing job creating but sometimes a tree or house or whatever is not in the right place. As an artist we have options in order to correct and improve the scene. Few photos have perfect composition unless taken by a professional photographer and even then you may want to change the photo to make it your own.

Make sure the dimensions of your photo is the same as the canvas you’re using. Different dimensions will definitely mess up your chance of success. It changes the composition and that’s never a good thing. If you’re determined to use another dimension, I strongly encourage you to do many value sketches before starting the canvas. ( Remember value is how light or dark an object is. So a value sketch is done in a gray scale.)

We do not want our work to look like a photograph unless you’re doing a photo-realistic work. We do not want to create each leaf and blade of grass. Relax. Pretend you’re looking at your work from a distance. ( Squint your eyes and paint different values of your palette.)

Here is a still life I set up and photographed. I love flowers and the colors. But there are many things about this picture I don’t like. The flowers are not placed correctly in the photo. And there are objects in the photo that take away from the composition. The keys and stray papers do not help this pic. There’s lots to adjust.

Here is the final picture. You can see I’ve made adjustments to the original pic. The placement of the flowers as well as the arrangement of the flowers has been altered to help the composition and interest.

I hope this has given you some help when creating art from a photo.

I would love to hear from you and any feedback you have on this topic or if you have questions on other challenges in your art.