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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ready for the Dallas Exploring Creativity Workshop

With the slide returns out of the way, I turned my attention today to packing materials and books for shipping to Dallas for my workshop next week. Looks like there will be twenty-five participants in the workshop, which is actually called "Adventures in Art, Color & Creativity," a little cumbersome for a title. This is a revised and updated version of my creativity workshop based on my new book and other activities I've done in workshops here and there. I love doing this workshop. There's such a great variety of activities and experimentation all within the range of skills of anyone from beginners to professionals--you just take it to your own level and go up from there. It's a chance to try new things, and no way can you make a "mistake." We all need this kind of permission to play sometimes. It isn't about who makes the biggest or the best painting, but about learning strategies to become the best you artist you can be one step at a time.

I shipped nearly fifty pounds of stuff in two boxes--and that doesn't include the books that I had North Light ship for me. I didn't have room for the handouts, so I'll collate them tomorrow and send them priority mail. I used to haul all this with me on the airplane, but since 9/11 it makes sense to ship it and avoid the security issues. Sure makes handling my luggage easier. I just ship everything back at Office Depot by UPS as soon as the workshop is over.

I gave my watercolor class a special project while I'm gone. I'll write about it when I get back and see what they've done with it.

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The final task for The New Creative Artist

Closing the book on The Book, so to speak. North Light returned all the artwork for the book several weeks ago, but I was in the middle of an attack of shingles that seriously hampered my productivity for nearly a month. Meanwhile, everything else piled up, as well, including bills to pay, my student exhibit at Hithergreen and preparation for a creativity workshop coming up next week in Dallas. Everything seemed to pale in comparison to the job of returning the slides and transparencies to contributing artists. They have been so patient, not nagging me to return their slides. Even though I turned the book in to the editors in September of 2005, we were still juggling illustrations for space and suitability up until the book went to the printer in January or February, 2006. The production people needed the originals for comparison during production. But I finally decided last week to put everything else aside and get the slides returned. More than 400 slides were submitted by 65 artists. I had requested no more than five from each artist. Some artists sent as many as 38 and 29. My policy is to select five of those and ignore the rest. (Please remember, there isn't any advantage to overloading the author, in case you're asked to submit a specific number. It's just an extra burden for the author, who may not appreciate it.) I haven't counted how many were actually in the book, but every artist who submitted had at least one and several had two, three and four. I checked in every slide or transparency against the Art Log I had submitted with the manuscript. Then I sorted them and put them in my alphabetical files. I checked each artist's slides against the permission form they had signed to be sure all the slides were there. Then I printed an insert to place in every package. (I had too many left over, so I guess some didn't get into the packages.) I had already printed mailing labels, so I processed each envelope, selecting one of two sizes of envelope and cutting pieces of cardboard to protect the envelopes from folding in the mail. I stamped each one "Do Not Bend," put on a return address label, weighed it, applied postage and sealed it. Three from Canada and several oversize pieces had to be processed at the post office. The job took me two-and-a-half days of continuous work. It's nerve-wracking work. You might ask why I didn't get help to do this, but I did that once and a slide I had checked in personally turned up missing. I hate it when that happens. Well, it's done, now I hope the PO doesn't lose any of them!

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Americans in Paris at the Met

Charley Parker has a great article about the current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Read his article and check out all the links. Delightful!

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Creative quilter's site

Cathy Jeffers has a new web site. I love her colorful, creative quilts and fabric pieces. "Lexis at 13," shown here, is included in Chapter 2 of The New Creative Artist. I've always loved quilts. My mother and grandmother collaborated on many while I was growing up, following traditional patterns. In recent years quilters have elevated the once humble quilt to fine art with their original designs and exciting colors. And even earlier quilts are now getting the appreciation they deserve for the ways individual quiltmakers selected colors or altered patterns to express themselves. Google Art Quilts for links to the work of many talented contemporary quilters.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

More on cropping

Cropping can be a useful project when you're feeling blocked or don't have much time to paint. Last weekend I cut 60 small mats in assorted colors from scraps I begged from the framer. The openings ranged from 2" x 5" to 6" x 10" with 2 1/2" borders. I gave each student in my watercolor class two mats to play with on their old paintings.

This is a great way to train your eye to see design. Just a small nudge one way or another can make a big difference in a composition. Isolate areas that work, so they aren't diminished by the stuff that doesn't. You can cut out the cropped parts and mat them or just use this as an exercise to strengthen your design awareness.

My Logan mat cutter makes it easy to create small mats without measuring. I'm sure you can do it with the less expensive models, but I like the squaring arm on the 750 that assures correct alignment. I haven't cut mats for several years and thought it might bother my arthritic hands, but that didn't seem to be a problem at all.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Here's a link to photos of the "Beginners & Beyond" watercolor exhibition. Scroll down for a closer look at some of the paintings.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Great turnout for the opening

artists in showYesterday's opening of the Hithergreen watercolor class exhibition was a great event. Twenty-two class members were present and I counted at least fifty-four guests in my photos. There were many more that I didn't photograph--I'm guessing there may have been more than one hundred people through the show. Vernie decorated the refreshment table and everyone contributed homemade sweets and snacks, plus cider, coffee and tea. Our visitors took their time to enjoy the artwork and food. I think it was a big day for most of the artists to see their work being appreciated and highly regarded. One artist sold a painting and we all celebrated her triumph.

I should have a web page ready in a couple of days and will put a link on my blog and web site.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Ready to open the show

Six or so students showed up to finish hanging the show--cleaned the glass, straightened the paintings, etc. The show looks great. There are nearly sixty paintings from about twenty-five artists. Quite a few in the class had never picked up a watercolor brush--or any brush, for that matter--before taking my "Watercolor for the Terrified" class. It's amazing what they've accomplished. Others have greatly improved their basic skills since joining the class and all are beginning to grasp the rudiments of design and composition. People seem to think that a seniors' watercolor class is some kind of "art therapy" group, but this is a lively, challenging and growing bunch of people who have the potential to become every bit as good as they could ever wish to be. A passer-by watched me arranging paintings on Wednesday and said, "Those aren't beginners. I had to do black-and-white studies when I took your beginner class." I waved at the paintings and said, "So did they." Every artist was a beginner once. The ones who succeed do so because they want to do it and believe they can.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Preparing for a watercolor exhibition

adjusting frames

hanging the show

My class brought in most of their paintings yesterday. It's amazing what a nice frame and mat can do for a watercolor. No matter how often I say that, new painters don't believe it until they see it. This is one of the reasons it's good to have an exhibition like this one. I could hear the buzz from the room as soon as I entered the building. They were admiring their work and helping each other to put the finishing touches on pieces that needed wire or backing. Then they hung their pieces temporarily to keep them safe until the hanging committee does the final arrangement on Friday.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

This is a first exhibit for most of the class, but I'm as excited as they are. I was pleased to see that most have signed up for the maximum of three pictures, so we should have 50-60 on display. I've printed posters to distribute around the center and they'll each have a few invitation postcards to send or hand out. The nametags and title cards on the artwork match the invitations. It's fun to put together something like this with clip art and some templates I've made for various formats.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society collage demo

I had a beautiful early morning drive yesterday through the countryside from my home near Centerville to the Cincinnati Art Club at the foot of Mt. Adams. The back route I took winds through historic Lebanon, Ohio, a visual delight, especially as the old trees are beginning to turn color. One of my students (Vernie) accompanied me and we enjoyed the drive, which I had timed perfectly to allow for leisurely setup at 9:30 before the meeting began at ten.

Oops! I missed a turn going through Eden Park and ended up climbing Mt. Adams, a series of narrow, winding, confusing streets. I knew where I was, but couldn't figure out how to get where I was going! I figured out that I should be heading down instead of up. When I finally got near the bottom of Mt. Adams we asked a workman and found we were about two blocks from our destination. We arrived at about two minutes before ten. The meeting hadn't started, but I felt rushed as I began the demo shortly afterwards. Not a problem, as it turned out, with such a receptive audience.

What a great group--around sixty people attended, not bad for a midmorning, midweek meeting. I eavesdropped on the meeting while I was setting up and was impressed with the announcements of several members accepted in prestigious shows and the many awards they received. The group was very attentive, many taking notes and others asking good questions as I went along. I confess to being a bit off balance at the start, probably from the late arrival and rush to set up, but I soon hit my stride. It's easy when you love what you do and have an appreciative audience. paper collage eagle

My collage demo is a summary of what I teach in my workshops, from a brief history of paper collage to introduction of new materials and techniques. Some in yesterday's audience have tried collage, but few were aware of the newer products that are available. I took collage charts I've made and many samples of materials and techniques, in addition to some of my smaller collage works.

What I love about collage is that anyone can do it with just a few simple materials. Collage can be a craft or fine art. You can produce small collage postcards or big collage artworks. Collage can be a great blockbuster or a major medium. My book, Creative Collage Techniques is a comprehensive course in collage from beginning to advanced techniques.

Check out these links to collage projects on my web site:
Magazine Collage
Rice Paper Collage
Nature Collage

See also some of my collages on my web site.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Cropping--Surprise! Surprise!

In watercolor class today we spent the first part of class discussing the details of our first exhibition and reception. The class is so responsive to helping and all want to have a good show. I helped some folks decide which paintings to have framed and others to determine mat colors and sizes. Nearly everyone worked on current paintings, so we had a critique, as usual, at the end of class. I spoke briefly about how no painting is really a failure. You can keep working on it to see what new techniques you can learn. And you can also find interesting compositions within the painting that might be worth developing, just by sliding small mats around the picture and cropping to isolate little compositions. We found several lovely landscapes in one artist's throw-away painting. So don't give up on your pieces just because they haven't measured up to your original vision. Somewhere in that composition there might be a little gem.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Quilter's Muse Virtual Museum

Thanks to Pat Cummings for her online review of The New Creative Artist. Be sure to bookmark her site for links to quilting and other fiber-arts sites and much more.

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