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“Ten Octaves” is inspired by the mystic, scientist, artist…

“Ten Octaves” is inspired by the mystic, scientist, artist Walter Russell’s diagram of integrating light octaves. “These octaves constitute one complete cycle of the transfer of the universal constant of energy into, and through, all of it’s dimensions in sequence. “

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Want Your Children to Survive The Future? Send Them to Art Schoo

Want Your Children to Survive The Future?

Send Them to Art School

Can you imagine a world in which most jobs are obsolete?

If not, you are most likely in for a rude awakening in the coming decades of radical shifts in employment. This is particularly true for new parents propelling the next generation of workers into an adulthood that many economists and futurists predict to be the first ever “post-work” society.

Though the idea of a jobless world may seem radical, the prediction is based on the natural trajectory of ‘creative destruction’ — that classic economic principle by which established industries are decimated when made irrelevant by new technologies.

Photo courtesy of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

When was the last time you picked up the hot new single from your local sheet music store? Many moons ago sheet music was the music industry, with the only available means of hearing pop songs being to have a musician read and perform them. This quickly eroded with the advent of the phonograph, leading to a record industry that dominated the last century and is now itself eroding due to the explosive growth of independent online publishing.

It’s hard to justify using a massive workforce of recording engineers, media manufacturers, distributors, and talent scouts to accomplish a task that a musician can now do by herself in an afternoon with just a laptop. The same goes for the millions of skilled labor and manufacturing jobs that will soon be crumpled by 3D printing technology, the thousands of retailers whose staff and storefronts can readily be supplanted by automated delivery systems, or the dwindling hospitality and transportation industries currently being pecked away by app-based sharing services like Airbnb and Uber.

Never heard of 3D printing, ridesharing, or “post-work” theory? That’s okay; you can just Google them. In fact, thanks to Google we may now add the very concept of knowledge itself to our growing list of no-longer-scarce resources. When anyone can access the world’s greatest library from their cellphone, even the long-revered skill of knowing things loses its marketability.

The Art School Solution

If preparing your kids for a world in which hard-working, knowledgeable people are unemployable frightens you then I have some good news. There is a solution, and it doesn’t involve tired, useless attempts at suppressing technology. Like most good solutions it requires a trait that is distinctly human.

I’m speaking about Creativity.

Send your kids to art school. Heavily invest time and resources into their creative literacy. Do these things and they will stand a chance at finding work and or fulfillment in a future where other human abilities become irrelevant.

Any adult reading this at the time of publication came of age in an era when parents urged children to learn a subject that would funnel straight into a specific career field. Even those parents who encouraged their children’s creative dreams did so with an addendum that we should also consider getting a degree in a practical field that “you can always fall back on if sculpture/philosophy/theater/poetry doesn’t work out”. No doubt this protective instinct was a smart one considering the reality of our youth. An arts education might promise a life of self-discovery, but there has always been reasonably assured financial stability in the high-demand arenas of science, education, skilled trades, governments, etc. Surely that dynamic won’t last much longer as more and more physical and mental human tasks are commandeered by machines and software.

Photo courtesy of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

I don’t say this to dismiss the importance of any field of study. A world without scientists or doctors or teachers would be just as broken as a world with no artists. Without programmers and engineers the very technologies that make life efficient would quickly disappear. But with the abundance of information and tools freely accessible online to a generation of youngsters equipped with computers from toddlerhood, it’s safe to assume that those who want to maintain current technology have few obstacles in learning how to do so — No degree required. The same goes for any pragmatic skill.

The arts, however, are a polar opposite to pragmatism. Cameras have long exceeded our ability to realistically and efficiently render images, but still our love of painting remains to this day. By now we know that the value of a great painting isn’t in its accuracy at rendering a view but in the artist’s unique capacity to convey a viewpoint. Even those uninterested in “fine” art are driven to make purely aesthetic decisions on practical matters such as clothing, shelter, and transportation. Our willingness to pay extra for beautiful clothes, inviting homes, and sleek cars is motivated not by functionality but by emotionality.

It’s inherently human to want the objects in our lives to communicate feelings and ideas to us and about us. The constant searching for and assignment of meaning dwells in everyone, but the artist is the person who exercises this muscle regularly enough to control it. The person with creative literacy — a basic understanding of the mental, emotional, and sociological tools used for creative thought and communication — is able to find purpose and apply meaning to her world rather than having meaning handed down and purpose assigned to her. The painting student completes his senior thesis exhibit with a head full of many more lessons than just how to paint. He’s now equipped with an ability to see problems, connections, and solutions where others see only a blank surface. I assure you this ability is not limited to the canvas.

Photo Courtesy of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

I’m not saying anything new here. These qualities of a liberal arts education have been expounded by its proprietors for ages, but with major industries quickly running out of a need for worker bees it’s becoming clearer by the day that our professors were right.

In fact it’s somewhat amazing that this idea was ever in question. Humanity’s highest-paid workers have always been those who as a result of their innovations created opportunity for others to work.

There’s a reason Steve Jobs became a billionaire, and it’s not because he could program computers.

Of course history is also filled with countless stories of equally creative figures lost in the systemic grind of working for the Steve Jobs’s of the world. We’ve all known brilliant people, seemingly not made for our time, whose potential was crushed by dead end jobs after their work was rejected by the film/music/publishing/anything industries. The excuse of being ahead of one’s time can no longer apply though. We live in an age where a person speaking into a webcam can collectively raise hundreds of thousands of dollars just by telling people about a good idea. The gatekeepers are gone and they are not coming back. Our only remaining obstacle can be lack of good ideas.

It’s time for a revolution in education that reflects our new reality and gives students the necessary tools to survive it. Technological advancements will always outpace the offerings of the traditional classroom, making it entirely purposeless to force memorization of knowledge that may become irrelevant before children even graduate. Instead we should hone the skill that best ensures adaptability and resourcefulness during times of constant change.

It’s time for the creative classroom.

But what about STEM?

Does this revolution require us to toss out math or science or history? Does my ideal future classroom wedge would-be physicists into an endless curriculum of figure drawing classes?

Absolutely not!

Let children pursue their own interests and they will find their way to all areas of study as part of the exploratory process. Let the child who is in love with fire trucks continue to obsess over fire trucks. With proper guidance he will soon find himself learning civics, engineering, history, physics, chemistry, sociology, economics, and everything in between — all of his questions fueled by a simple aesthetic attachment to the pretty red fire truck.

No healthy child is born without an innate sense of wonder about their world. However, this childhood compulsion to explore is a bud quickly snipped by adults conditioned to fear the unknown. The tradition of discouraging unusual questions and behavior in children is so pervasive that we have come to view those who survive with their creativity intact as having a “gift”. What is more absurd is our amazement at the correlation of great artists and mental illness, as if the battle for self-expression which artists so tenaciously endure has no causal link to their psychic well-being.

Photo Courtesy of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

The change that will secure your children’s safe passage through the future comes when we strip creativity of its mysterious, unearthly status. Artists are not magical geniuses. We are simply people who were either privileged enough or stubborn enough to hold onto something that every living person is “gifted” at birth. Assume that your children have limitless creative potential and begin to nurture it. Assume that your children’s ingenuity is the one true safety net available in times of rapid change. Send your kids to art school and they will have exactly what they need to become anything they might need to be.

I speak from experience.

Photo by Eric Schultz, Huntsville Times

Dustin Timbrook is an artist in Huntsville, Alabama who works in many mediums and creative fields. He currently serves as Media Director of America’s largest independent arts facility, Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, and is Creative Director for the marketing company Red Brick Strategies.

He is co-founder of Happenin Records, an Alabama record label that helps finance, produce, and promote dozens of independent musical acts.

He is also founder of the Huntsville Artist Engineer Network, and co-founder of STE(A)M Fest, an annual event that promotes creativity in the STEM subjects to thousands of Huntsville students.

He has a Masters in Education from University of Montevallo, but had to fall back on his painting degree when public education didn’t work out.

Originally published at on February 10, 2015.

Sketching Main St Railroad Crossing

Sketching On My Mind

Yesterday was another lovely January day in Talent, so a sketching trip to the nearby local railroad depot was in order.

Talent OR: Sketching Railroad Crossing Main St

Look At Light Pattern

When considering a place to sit and draw, I look at how light is falling on my would be subject.  It was about an hour before sun down so I needed to hustle and find a view facing west.  The railroad depot was on my mind since its close by and has a west-facing side.

Unfortunately for drawing purposes, the west facing side is blocked by a fence.  No matter, I decided to draw the crossing gate in front of the depot, with city buildings in the distant horizon.

Crossing Guard Shapes

Drawing the crossing guard was fun; I’d never paid attention to all that hardware!  In order to make sense out of all this “stuff”, I focused on the interesting shapes.

Sketching With Pencil

You may notice that today I’m drawing only with pencil.  I have a new book that I’m working through titled “The Urban Sketcher” by Marc Taro Holmes, Citizen Sketcher.  I’m working through the first chapter.  The first exercises are with graphite.

I think sketching with graphite (pencil) is a great way to learn something new.  Its also a great way to get to know a new subject or revisit an old one.  Its a simple, portable and readily available tool.  I like this simple, powerful instrument, come to think of it!  Pencil drawings are part of my daily workout.

Talent Train Depot

Drawing Talent Series: Different Views

I have drawn our depot before from a different points of view back in 2014 as part of my “Drawing Talent” series of sketches.  On the post I did in September of 2014,  I included a bit of history about the railroad depot building.  Just a teaser, there really was a person with a last name of “Talent”.  And the depot was sent to us by rail!

The small ball point pen study is from the west side of the depot.  The watercolor and ink sketch below is of the south side of the building.

So, I’ve drawn the place at least three times.  Could be I need to visit this subject multiple times!  I went by today and in the morning light, noticed lots of great places to draw and paint.  In time, I think I might like to do some full size paintings of this subject.

More Talent Changes

Much like yesterday’s post about the “Funky Fashion” building, things have changed at the Talent depot and railroad crossing.  For one thing, the tracks are active again!  Two years ago, there were no trains running through Talent.  In 2015, the trains started up again.  So, when sketching near the tracks, I need to be alert.  Fortunately, the train had just past by before I left for the drawing session.

Another change is that we are getting a new cafe on the south end of the depot building.  I’ve been watching them prepare the facility.  It will be called “Cantina Vida”; I look forward to its opening.  On another day, I’ll do a sketch with the cantina.

Thank you.

I hope you enjoy my sketches and Talent’s railroad depot.

Daily Habit: Drawing Talent Series


The post Sketching Main St Railroad Crossing appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Adding Wildlife to Your Paintings

People who know me know that I love painting Wildlife en Plein Air. Sketching animals and birds in their natural habitat is a favorite painting activity of mine and I always look forward to the challenge. I find that painting on location enhances my perspective and understanding of the scene that I want to capture on canvas. Often I imagine what the composition would look like if a magnificent Ram passed through my line of sight and I had the opportunity to paint him into my composition. In this piece called “Bighorn Sheep On the Edge,” I was painting Mount Shasta after a snow storm, on a pass called Military Road.

At one time Bighorn Sheep inhabited Mount Shasta and the surrounding mountain slopes near Shasta Valley. Knowing this makes it effortless to imagine that a magnificent beast like this bighorn sheep could walk by. The best time to add wildlife into your plein air sketches is at the time you find them and are watching them. You can actually capture the proportions and movement by drawing a few shapes indicating a back, head and legs on your canvas or sketch pad. These shapes help the right side of the brain fill in the rest, much like looking at clouds passing by and noticing how the shapes become objects, animals and people, etc.

After studying the anatomy of animals for quite some time, I noticed that wild animals have anatomies similar to a common cat, dog or horse. Also, if you take photos of animals and wildlife, you get study them in the studio and use them to create some of jester lines, muscles and fur that make the animal look like the one you observed in the field. When you are painting a wild animal in on canvas, one does need to understand the environment where the animal lives. However, be sensible with your choices and don’t put an elephant in a Vermont pastoral scene when a moose would be more appropriate.

Next time when you are painting on location, try to imagine a moose, elk or a bighorn sheep passing by your easel, giving you an opportunity to paint it into your sketch. You will be amazed at how interesting the experience can be.

The post Adding Wildlife to Your Paintings appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.

The Building Formerly Known As “Funky Fashions”

Sketching Local Building

Yesterday I took advantage of some afternoon sun and went out to sketch a local building.  Because it was afternoon, I wanted to draw something that was facing the west.  What better place to work on than the place formerly known as “Funky Fashions”?

Building Formerly Known as Funky Fashions, Talent OR

“Drawing Talent”

I’d like to give a little backstory to our subject building.  I live in Talent, OR.  Back in 2014, I thought I’d start a series of watercolor and ink studies I called “Drawing Talent”.  One of the first places I drew was “Funky Fashions”.

Cheerful Consignment Shop

“Funky Fashions” was owned by my neighbor Lisa; it was special.  It was a sweet consignment shop right down town.  It was also on my morning running route.  Most days I’d pass by and note the cheerful window displays.  Lisa had plants and a bench out front.

First Drawing – Spring Cheer

The first time I sketched the building was in May of 2014.  It was a brilliant, sunny spring day.  While I was sketching, Lisa came out and sat on the bench, enjoying the afternoon light.  Naturally, I went over and chatted with her after I was done.

Building Closed

Almost two years later, the shop sits closed.  It is no longer “Funky Fashions”, except in spirit.  Lisa has retired and moved on.

I’d say the shop area looks vacant, but it may not be.  The windows are curtained up.  About a week ago it looked like someone was doing something to the interior.  Its not the cheerful place it was.

Winter Sketch

In the soft light of winter, the building almost looks dormant or asleep.  It is waiting for a new occupant to breath life into it.  Like many of the business buildings in Talent OR, tenants come and go.  This is only one of several buildings that have changed since I started my drawing Talent series.

Traffic Has Changed

You might notice that the signage in front of the building has changed.  This is due to the re-routing of traffic in our historic downtown.  There used to be a stop sign in front of the “Funky Fashions” building; now there is different sign.  The stop sign is a block north.

Tree City

On a positive note, there is a newly planted tree in front of the building.  Talent is a “tree city”.  We like trees and they do a good job growing here.

It was fun re-visiting the “Funky Fashions” building.  I am including both watercolor and ink drawings – almost an after and before!  I hope you enjoy them!

Funky Fashion Building, May 2014



The post The Building Formerly Known As “Funky Fashions” appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Nix Perfection; Flawed Is Good

Thinking About Perfection and Seth Godin

Perfection…is it a good thing?

Perfection in the Flaws - Piggy

I was fixing my second (or was it third?) cup of espresso this morning.  Into my head popped the thought that I bet Seth Godin’s blog posts aren’t perfect everyday.  I wonder what his percentages are; how many times does he hit it out of the proverbial park?

Maybe because he posts most days, he gets pretty darn good results.

Hmmm… the espresso was nearly perfect.  It was good enough.  :)

Its About Me

So, how does this apply to me and what’s the point?

First I thought about this blog.  I get wrapped around SEO (search engine optimization) requirements.  I have Yoest SEO plug in and tells me things about SEO and how to improve my blog.  It’s like a high school multiple choice test – I try to get a near perfect answer.

But do you care?  And, why do I care?

Hmmm, maybe if I work on writing daily or most days.  It doesn’t have to be long or perfect; just thoughtful.  Maybe that would be a good idea.

Writing My Stories

I believe in our world, it’s a good idea for artists, including me, to be able to tell our stories.  And, tell them in an interesting and personal way.  It helps people have a way into seeing our work.  That’s why I care.  And, the best way to get good at writing is to write and do it often!  Oh, perfection is not the point.

Problem with Perfection In Artwork

What does this have to do with painting?  I think that when I try to achieve perfection, I risk losing the freshness and poetry of painting.  I risk a powerful way of communicating directly.

Somewhere along the way, I heard a story that Japanese master ceramic artists will purposely ensure their pieces are not perfect.  They allow the hand of the artist.  Beauty and individuality is found in the imperfections.

Flawed Is Good

So, there we are.  I’m not in the perfection business.  Maybe not even in the near perfection or almost perfect business either.   Perhaps art and beauty are in the flawed business.  Works for me!

With that, I’ll leave you with a flawed, but hopefully poetic painting of Piggy.  I painted him with watercolor and drew in ink.  He’s one of my daily paintings.


*Mr. Seth Godin is a blogger, author and public speaker.  He talks about marketing and entrepreneurship.  Mostly, I like his writings because they apply to lots of different situations.  I can relate.

Oh, there are some people who are and need to be in the perfection business.  Rocket scientists come to mind.  Not me though; I don’t need to be perfect!  Phew!  I sure try sometimes!  😉



The post Nix Perfection; Flawed Is Good appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Daily Habit – Watercolor & Ink Drawings

Habit for 2016

Greetings!  I would like share with you my ideas about a daily habit I’m adopting this 2016.  My intention in this post is to outline the why, what and how I’m going to establish this daily habit.

Daily Habit Watercolor & Ink Study


I follow artist Myrna Wacknov’s blog titled her “Creativity Journey”.  At the beginning of the year, she wrote that she intends on doing daily iPAD drawings.  The purpose is to improve her ability to use digital media.  I watched Ms. Wacknov do daily drawings before and was impressed by her results.

What I’m Doing

After reading Myrna’s post, I had the idea to form my own daily habit.  I thought I might do daily watercolor and ink studies.  That’s most days for a year, or longer.  That’s the point of a habit, isn’t it?  You make a good habit part of your daily (my) routine.

Why A Daily Habit?

The easy answer is that I’ve seen the positive results that happen when I stick to a daily habit.  To explain, years ago I wanted to start a personal exercise program, one I could stick to and would be good for my health.  I decided to develop the habit of running every day.  With trial and error, I settled on a morning running habit.  It helped that my life and work encouraged a morning running routine.  What I discovered was that establishing a daily habit helped me move past procrastination and distraction.  Plus, I improved my running ability.

Daily Habit; Painting While Camping

Why Watercolor and Ink?

I have good reasons to select watercolor and ink studies as my habit.  My big reasons follow.

  • I like doing watercolor and ink studies when my husband and I travel and camp.   I want to have a strong habit of doing these studies before we go anywhere.  In that way, I’ll make sure I do them!  The study from Kershaw-Ryan State Park is an example of a study done on a camping trip.
  • I agreed to do a demonstration of watercolor and ink  drawing for a local art society.  I better be prepared!
  • I like doing the studies!
  • I want to resume my “Drawing Talent” project, that is getting in the habit of doing regular watercolor and ink studies of my home town- Talent OR.  (See the railroad depot  below).

Daily Habit: Drawing Talent Series

My Plan

Be simple and direct.  I figure that’s the best way for me to adopt a good habit.  My plan is to do, as a minimum, one study per day in one of the empty watercolor journals I have laying around my studio.  That way, I fill the journals.  And, I feel free to experiment.  Oh, and yes, one needs to have a way to hold oneself accountable.  So, here’s the plan.

  • Pick a subject for the week.  I’ve been using simple still life set ups.
  • Start out working in gray.  Move to color studies.
  • Toward the end of the week, do a painting on good watercolor paper.
  • Keep a spread sheet tracking daily drawings.
  • Have fun.

January to Date

So far, my plan’s been working for January.  I think I have missed a day.  When I miss one, then I can always catch up.  Or, start again the next day.  Skies won’t fall if I miss a day.

I think this is an important point to remember when creating new habits.  If a day is missed, I need to make sure I don’t feel like I’ve failed.  I just resume the habit the next day or as soon as practical.  I define success as most days.

Daily Habit 4 Jan 16

Tracking Results

This past weekend, I was feeling frustrated about my work production.  I was feeling like I haven’t been doing anything.  Not true!  I have lots of drawings and paintings to support my work.

However, I didn’t have any tools that I could look at immediately to see how much work I’ve been doing.  Solution?  I set up a spreadsheet that I will use to track my daily effort.  And, I can see how the dailies fit into my larger plan for 2016.

Next – Draw & Paint!

So, there’s the idea and plan.  I’ve included a few of my watercolor and ink drawings to show that I’ve started working.  If the habit becomes ingrained, I figure you might see a year end review blog post!


Thank you!


The post Daily Habit – Watercolor & Ink Drawings appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

“All events are aligned, united; time is not linear, the effects are sometimes produced before the…”

“All events are aligned, united; time is not linear, the effects are sometimes produced before the causes, there are mysteries. Reality is miraculous. It is magic”

Alejandro Jodorowsky 

After a whole month of contemplating Egyptian and alchemical…

After a whole month of contemplating Egyptian and alchemical symbolism, painting and stippling until my arm was on the edge of disjointing, I’m finally finished with “Solar Flight”, commissioned by the loveliest and most insightful of individuals. It’s an amazing process to co-create with another like mind to bring a new art piece into the world.

The concepts depicted center around the concept of metamorphosis. The Egyptians placed a strong emphasis on the scarab, a symbol derived from the dung beetle. They observed the beetle rolling it’s ball across the sand dunes and equated it with the sun, rolling across the sky. The sun, sinking into the sand and rising out of it again the next day, was at the center of Egyptian thought. Beetles would emerge from the dung ball, seemingly out of nowhere and the idea of abiogenesis, or spontaneous generation emerged.

The lotus flowers in this piece also contain strong symbolism. There is a Hindu belief comparing our consciousness to lotus flowers. The flowers, or our consciousness, are floating on a sea of waves. As we become more enlightened our flowers open. We look around and notice our surroundings, realize that we are riding on waves and see the patterns in our existence. My painting depicts blossoms in three different stages of opening.

Staying Motivated ~ Creatively

One of the differences between being an ordinary artist and an extraordinary one is that an extraordinary artist has the ability to stay motivated and passionate. In fact, the most important attribute that helps a person become a successful artist is not whether they have talent, but whether they can stay with it and sustain their motivation to paint.

Creating art is not easy. It requires constant focus, a huge amount of discipline. and a strong ego to weather feelings of rejection, anger, frustration, discouragement, and occasional self-loathing. As an artist, your goal is to produce quality art consistently and at the same time deal with others opinions about your art and what you should do to get better. As a result, artists can become unfocused, stressed and worried that their art is not good enough, and if it is good enough, they feel inadequate about marketing it.

Learning how to motivate yourself is one of the most important skills you can learn to deal with the negative aspects of being an artist. It is also one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself. If you really want to achieve success as an artist, you have to create it. Wishing and dreaming isn’t enough. You have to make it happen.

Since all motivation comes from within, it is important to be aware and understand the personal skills and practices you have developed to come creatively alive. Writing in a journal about the discoveries and successes that you have motivating yourself will become a resource for future times when you feel stuck. Remembering what you already know is a powerful tool to free your artistic spirit, and allows you to create great works.

Desire is the heart-beat that keeps us motivated. Desire is the fire that ignites passion, and passion is what helps us to overcome obstacles that can get in our way of staying motivated. It’s important to take time to think about all you desire – activities, feelings, goals and desired outcomes. Ask yourself “What do I desire?” and write it down. Then do what you desire. When you understand what you desire, you have an ally against elements that will stop you, and your motivation will stay alive.

Tenacity helps artists stick to their goals. Top artists find ways to show up. They work through the boredom, and embrace the daily practice that is required to achieve their goals regardless of what their emotions may be shouting out to disable their motivation.

Look inward and believe that your voice has purpose and meaning. Remember that it is worth your time and effort to express your point of view to share with others. This practice can be another strong source of affirmation that sustains motivation.

Fall in love with the daily practice of painting and marketing. Think of what the world would be like if other great artists did not motivate themselves. What pieces of art would not be created or available to be seen in galleries by generations of people. Think of your artwork being available for your great grandchildren or for others who love art. Acknowledge the things you find beautiful and paint for others to enjoy. Believe that your view of the world has purpose and meaning, and that it’s worth the time and effort to share what you see.

If you want to become a significantly better artist, you just have to fall in love with the process and activity of creating art. Build an identity of being an artist who does the work rather than merely dreaming about the results. Begin the process of becoming extraordinary and highly motivated. Think of the viewer, your audience, and how you will add to their lives as you inspire and transform how they see the world…through your eyes.

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