Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Catching up on my reading
In Emotional Content: How to Create Paintings That Communicate Gerald Brommer discusses the differences between classic, intellectual and romantic approaches to painting. The key question is "What do you feel?" for the artist who wishes to paint more expressively. Select and edit your subject, making mini-thumbnails to record your impressions. Brommer emphasizes the importance of sketching to explore the subject, using color and temperature dominance and tonal values and textures. Watercolor collage is used in demonstrations. A sense of place, mood, weather and season can all contribute to the emotional content of your work. Brommer's books are always filled with useful tips and techniques.
Seeing the Light: An Artist's Guide. by Betty Carr shows you how to create depth, form and atmospheric light in watercolor and oil paints. Carr is adept at both, as you can see from this beautifully illustrated book. Supply lists are detailed for both watercolors and oils, including advice on plein air necessities. In both media there are exercises and step-by-step demos that are clear and easy to follow. Carr advises you to learn to think in three dimensions, to observe light on form and to use value sketches to help you see light and shadow on a subject. She recommends simplification of shapes and value patterns. This is a good book withi lots of information and helpful tips.
Carol Cooper's book, Watercolor: No Experience Required, is an easy guide to getting started in watercolor. The supply list is basic and very good, except that it allows cheap pan colors, which I don't think is a good idea, even for beginners. Also, the beginner doesn't need so many colors; a maximum of seven should do the job, if they're the right colors. A workspace layout is shown that could be helpful to the beginner. There are numerous well-done illustrations, including hands-on photos. Demos are simple and doable. Subject matter includes landscape, flowers, still life and textures. Composition is given very little attention, but the section on color, though brief, is clear. This is a good basic book that doesn't confuse beginners with fancy techniques and tricks.
Watercolor Secrets by Charles Reid is the work of a master painter. The book is filled with many sidebars of tips and tricks for Reid's spontaneous style of painting and is lavishly illustrated with sketches from his watercolor sketchbooks. His distinctive, personal approach is clear throughout in subjects of all kinds, both indoor and plein air. His supply list is brief, but more than adequate. This beautiful book is not for the beginner in watercolor technique, but it's a joy to behold.
Painting Crystal and Flowers in Watercolor by Susanna Spann is filled with her stunning artwork and many mini-demos throughout. The book includes a detailed list of supplies, but it's clear from the beginning that this book is not for the spontaneous watercolor painter. The primary subject is special effects in still life using watercolor. Design and color are touched upon, along with painting from photographs, marketing and exhibiting. The strongest point in Spann's book, in my opinion, aside from her magnificent artwork, is her emphasis on doing thumbnail sketches to plan paintings.
John Lovett's The Art of Designing Watercolors is subtitled "All you need to know to create more powerful paintings." The book contains demos and many illustrations throughout with an emphasis on design. From the "hows and whys of design" to tools of design (the elements and principles) and design tools in action, Lovett covers the essentials very well. Only one page is designated for supplies, so beginners need to look elsewhere to understand the basics. However, this book is a good one for an artist who needs to understand how to incorporate structure into pictures for more effective expression.
Work Small, Learn Big!: Sketching with Pen & Watercolor is an International Artist Publishers' collection of preparatory studies by seventeen artists from around the world. The book is a compilation of sketches backed up by photographs and slides, emphasizing the importance of these preliminary works to the execution of fine artwork. There are numerous illustrations and step-by-step demos. Each artist has distinctive choices of materials and media. Styles range from loose and spontaneous to highly detailed with many notes. Selling tips and artists' bios are included. One of the most important messages in the book is that "Mistakes don't Matter" in the sketchbook.
Thanks to George Bussinger at McCallister's Art Store for making these books available for review.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
New Creative Artist Reviews
Many thanks, too, for five-star reviews on Amazon.com by Judy Galford, Sharon, Massachusetts; Pauline H. Healey, Fort Myers, Florida; Joan Barnes, Lima, Ohio; Kate Eglan-Garton, Indiana; and Roy Boston, New Zealand.
To all who are reading these words, please take the time to send an email to your favorite author or write a review on a book that has meant a lot to you. You have no idea how much it means to an author to read these reviews and know that his or her book has become an influence in the life of another person. This is what keeps us going. Thanks a thousand times.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Intermediate Watercolor Class
Baby-sitting the Little Artist
Friday night I promised her a pajama party with popcorn before bedtime We got into our jammies and I popped the corn. We sat on the floor next to the coffee table in the family room. I intentionally left the TV off. We giggled and talked for awhile, then she said, "This is a very quiet party." We agreed that it was nice to have a party where you could talk to each other.
It's amazing what an interesting conversation you can have with a three-and-a-half-year-old without the distraction of television. As a general rule she doesn't watch much TV. She loves books more than anything. The promise of a trip to the library or a new book from the bookstore is the highlight of her day. I showed up on Thursday night with Babar and the Wully Wully and a collection of Curious George stories. Before the weekend was over, I had read Babar three times and all nine or ten of the Curious George stories. She snuggles under my arm and sits very still most of the time, until the action picks up in a story. Then, she'll pop up and cover her mouth or eyes or throw her arms up in response to the story. Sometimes she whispers encouragement to the characters or repeats a phrase after I read it. When she was younger, I sometimes abbreviated stories. I can't get away with that any more. After one or two readings, she knows what comes next and corrects me if I change a single thing.
We had a delightful weekend together, but I have to admit that the squeaky kitty voice nearly drove me up a wall. Thank heavens she doesn't use it in normal conversation!
Sunday, August 27, 2006
American Art Review
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
"No rest for the wicked!"
Started a new watercolor class on Monday with 25 students. Most of them are returnees from previous classes. Four of my beginners have joined the class and there are a couple of newbies. We talked about the continuum of design from realism to non-objective painting. I had found some good examples of abstract design artwork to show them. Then I taught them about making grids to get their drawings in the correct proportions on their paper. Critique was fun. They're getting more and more consistent with their finished paintings. They seem to be doing more paintings and are improving accordingly.
The beginner class wound up today. I feel bad about not taking them to the next level, but I can't do two classes per week on a regular basis. So this one just comes up during the summer for eight weeks. Four of the ten in the class have moved into the intermediate group and the others say they'll be working on their own until next time.
Our son leaves in the morning and I may have to spend the day gaining strength for the baby-sitting marathon. It isn't that long, but I'm not in the routine anymore and a three-and-a-half-year-old can be unpredictable. But, I'll manage. I just may not be able to blog for a couple of days.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Okay, okay, here are the Shoes!
By popular request, here is a detail photo of the shoes I bought for my book-signing. I'm surprised at how many people mentioned this in their emails about the photos. This is the only photo that shows the shoes. The shoes are cute with a wood-stack 2-inch heel--dressy, but very comfortable. I hope everyone is satisfied now!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Books & Co book signing
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The Book Signing
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Shopping's not my bag.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Then I talked about perspective in shadows and how they are harder-edged and darker at the base of the object and become gradually softer and lighter in value as they move away from it. I stressed the importance of establishing at the start where the light is coming from. In plein air this involves careful observation and being aware that the light is changing as you work. You can paint your shadow pattern first in neutral monochrome and then glaze the colors on top. If you're working from photographs or sketches, careful observation is equally important. And if you're changing the light source, you must be constantly aware of how that affects every aspect of the subject. We also talked briefly about how shadows help to describe the surface of a subject, where hard edges suggest corners and soft edges indicate soft contours. This is true of any subject from figures to landscape. Shadows are key to the illusion of reality in your picture.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Shreveport Book Signing
Friday, August 11, 2006
The New Creative Artist BOOK SIGNINGS
Thursday, August 17, 7 p.m., Books & Co., 350 E Stroop Road, Kettering, Ohio. I'll give a brief talk on the myth of talent and area artists will be present to sign the pages on which their artwork appears in the book.
Sunday, September 10, 1-4 p.m., Watermark Gallery, 115 Water Street, Tuckerton, New Jersey. Area artists will be present to sign their pages in the book.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Art of the Press Release
My publisher has a PR person who was given my bio and information on The New Creative Artist. He told me he has an extensive media guide and there is a procedure for putting out publicity on a new book release. I have no idea what this means. So to be on the safe side, I decided to send out some publicity of my own regarding my book signing next Thursday, August 17. I reduced my original list to about forty newspapers and sent press releases on the signing, including a background of the book and a brief bio. I should have sent them out about a week sooner than I did, but couldn't get to it in time. Nevertheless, I'm hearing reports that notices are appearing here and there in the suburban and small-town papers. There was also a brief notice in the Dayton Daily News this morning. I targeted one arts writer in that paper with a more detailed package, but I haven't heard from her. The Shreveport artists have gotten more publicity than the author has in her own home town so far. Well, maybe there will be something over the weekend. Ya nevah know.
I'm getting excited about the event, working on a brief "audience participation" program that should be fun. Then I'll sign books and the artists will sign the pages their illustrations appear on. We did this with the original book and I frequently had students in my later workshops who treasured their books and took them to demos and workshops so artists in the book could add their signatures. So far, seventeen artists have said they'll be there and I expect a few more than that.
Richard Schmid wrote:
May each painting you do from that sacred place include an expression of gratitude for the extraordinary privilege of being an artist. . . ."
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Still, the library hasn't lost that warm-and-cozy feel it had when I first started taking our kids there more than forty years ago. The library was housed in a small building near the old Centerville High School. It had no parking to speak of. But we visited regularly for years, especially in the summer when the kids participated in the summer reading program. Eventually, the system grew and a new library, called "Woodbourne" (for the area in which it stood), was built just five minutes from our house. We stopped going to the Centerville library. Apparently, they didn't miss us. As the community grew, a huge new library was built just south of town. Most of the libraries' events are held there. The libraries operate as Washington/Centerville Library, Washington being the township area surrounding Centerville.
Libraries have been magic places to me since I was a child. We couldn't afford to buy many books, but a library card was free. Our father took us often until we were old enough to ride the bus and go by ourselves. I made a great many bus trips to the Dayton View Library through the years. Now it seems that the library is one of our Little Artist's favorite places to go. It must be in the DNA.
Artists signing books in Shreveport
Reviews of The New Creative Artist
Monday, August 07, 2006
Watercolor with ink line
The ink lesson was fun, too. I took some India ink (permanent, lightfast pigmented ink) and several tools: a crow-quill pen, a bamboo pen, a broad-nib pen, a piece of mat board, some flexible bamboo sticks from a placemat and a 1/2" flat synthetic watercolor brush that I use only for the ink. First, I taught them what I learned about using ink with watercolor: You use watercolor lightly to tint ink drawings or use ink lightly to enhance watercolors. You don't let the two compete for dominance. I don't know if this is an actual "rule," but it seems to work.
It doesn't matter which you put down first, but the first layer should be dry before adding the other medium. I like to do a loose, splashy watercolor and add light, feathery lines using the flexible bamboo stick. This gives a fresh, spontaneous look to the watercolor. If someone prefers to do a detailed drawing, then they make a better picture if they just tint areas of it, rather than trying to color inside the lines.
Those who tried the ink-and-watercolor technique had great fun with it and did nifty paintings. Some of these folks have struggled finish paintings that satisfied them, but they were well pleased with the results of the new technique. The variety of work in this class--subject matter, techniques, colors--continues to delight me. Each student is growing at his or her pace; they have, for the most part, given up comparing themselves with others and have started to see how they are progressing on their own.
One student had a big problem with shadows this week, so that's the lesson for next week. Stay tuned. It's the last class of this session, but we're going right into the next session the following week, with the class more than half full already. It's a great group and they enjoy each other tremendously. One student brought pineapple-upside-down cake to share today. It was sooooo good.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
North Light Book Club
The book club bulletin looks great, too. I'm psyched.
I quickly designed a correction notice and started printing it on 4-up postcards. Only this time the printer decided it didn't like the postcards. It took forever to get them printed. Oh, bother. But it only took a minute to print the labels. Fortunately I had saved the file I made for the first mailing. (Sing a song of bees & hunny.) I went to the post office late this afternoon, bought more stamps and mailed the correction notice.
I'm praying fervently that I didn't make any mistakes in the press releases. I'm afraid to look at the file. I sure wish I had taken my own advice, which is somewhere in my web site articles on marketing: Always have someone else proofread your copy.