Trending Articles

Friends of SOAR

For great posts about the business of art, check out The Artsy Shark HERE!
ArtistsBillofRights.org reviews competitions and appeals seeking creative content, listing those that respect your copyrights and highlighting those that don't. Art Matters! publishes calls to artists, and not all of them may be compliant with ABoR's standards. Visit their site to learn more.
We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.  Metadata is information such as copyright notice and contact info you can embed in your images to protect your intellectual property, save time when uploading to social sites and promote your art. Click to visit the site and learn more.

Watercolor & Ink Studies – Just For Fun

Introduction.

Hi!  I’d like to simply share a couple of watercolor studies.  

Watercolor Studies: A Pear and its shadow

Why Do Studies.

There are several reasons why I like doing these studies.  Here are a few reasons that come immediately to mind.

  • Focus:  One has to pay attention when working with watercolor.  The paint moves and I like to take advantage of the paint’s nature.  However, it can get away from me if I’m not paying attention!
  • Fun:  Its watercolor, for the same reason you have to focus: it moves.  
  • Muscle memory.  These studies help develop the skills of observation and brush control.  Doing them often enables me to remember what to do when faced with paper, paint and water.
  • Draw & Paint.  I get to work on both drawing and painting skill sets!  What could be better?

About the Subject Matter.

The subject matter was inspired by the October list of prompts by the website “Doodlewash®”.   There is a list for every day in October, just as a prompt in case you are grappling with what to draw.  

For October 20th, the prompt was “pears”; no problem, I have some pears ripening so I drew and painted one.  

But, the prompt for October 21st was “corn”.  My husband and I already ate up the candy corn.  And, we don’t have any ears of corn in the refrigerator.  What to do?

Aha!  I have a bottle of “Corn Huskers Lotion” sitting on my kitchen sink counter!  Sounds like “corn” to me.

So, tomorrow’s prompt is “barn”; I don’t live in a barn or have one.  So, what to do?  My thinking cap is on; I like this sort of thing.

watercolor studies : Corn Huskers Lotion

Adding Ink.

Oh, by the way, this month is also “Inktober™“.  I thought it would be fun to add some ink today, hence the inking around my “Corn Huskers Lotion” bottle.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the watercolor sketches.  Thanks!

#WorldWatercolorGroup #Inktober2017

 

Share

The post Watercolor & Ink Studies – Just For Fun appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Deliberate Practice Applied To Drawing Better

Purpose.

This article is about practicing smarter using strategic, or deliberate practice, as it applies to the skill of realistic drawing. I will introduce the idea of deliberate (or strategic) practice then share my views on two articles on how to draw and sketch better.  The articles are from the website “Jen Reviews”.

Clarifying Terms.

Please note that Jen Reviews uses the term strategic practice.  From what I’ve read and understand, strategic practice is the same thing as deliberate practice.  Therefore, I’ll use them interchangeably.  

Self Taught; How Do I Improve?

To explain, I am a “self taught” artist.  That is to say I am not a classically trained artist; I did not study at an art academy, school or atelier.  Instead, I read books, attended workshops and then tried to figure things out on my own.  

Such a situation is similar for lots of artists, I imagine.  We have an interest in drawing or painting and finally reach the point in our lives where we can focus our attention on learning.  We set up our drawing table or easel in get down to the business of learning and practicing.

After awhile, though, we figure out that there is more than just trying to draw something from life.  Practice, practice, practice and more practice helps, but  there is something we need to do to get to the next level.

Deliberate Practice Steps

Deliberate Practice.

Enter deliberate practice which is about targeting what you do.  A couple of years ago I read about deliberate practice, which sounded like a good idea.  To summarize, its a purposeful way of practicing.  Put another way, I figure out what skill I want to work on; identify particular exercises that improve my abilities in that area; develop a practice plan; practice; then evaluate performance.

However, how does one go about applying the idea of deliberate practice to the art and skill of drawing?

Reviewing Jens Review.

That is where Jen comes in. Who’s Jen? I am referring to the “Jen Reviews” website. The site publishes in-depth reviews of everything from how to grow blueberries to how to draw better.  While wandering around their site, I found an article on how to sketch too.

Contact With Jen Reviews.

Writers from the website “Jen Reviews” contacted me and suggested their article: “How To Draw Better”.  This was back in August.  I immediately liked the article.  There was one problem, though.  There is a ton of good information in this article backed up by science.  I am still wading through all of the good ideas!

Deliberate Practice Example

Motor Coordination Exercise.

To show you what I mean, have you ever had the problem of your eye, brain, hand and pencil not being in synch?  You think you are drawing a vertical, straight line but you look at it and its wavy.  If you get frustrated enough, you might pull out an extra sheet of paper and do some practice cross hatching.  But, do you really get better at making purposeful marks?  

Yes, this is something I struggle with and Jens Review article “How To Draw Better” explains the exercise of making deliberate, evenly spaced marks with your pencil or brush.  What I particularly like in the article is a discussion of why this exercise works.  

So, how do you to put this new knowledge into practice?  The exercise is simple and its best to practice regularly and at short intervals.  

For me, I decided that this would be an excellent thing to do with my new iPadPro and the iPencil.  Since the tools are new to me, I felt that practice would help.  What I do is practice on routinely as part of a drawing session.  You might see some marks up in the corner of a drawing.  The nice thing is that I can practice, then delete the file.  I am happy to say that I am adjusting to the iPadPro and iPencil just fine.

Lets recap:  if I were doing this exercise as a part of deliberate practice, I would have a plan.  Lets say I practice making a page of straight lines, once per day or session, for one week; two weeks and then a month.  At the end of the month interval, I would evaluate my progress.  Are my motor skills improving?

Blind Contour Drawing Example

15 Tips For Improving.

This is just one of 15 tips (and exercises) that Jen Reviews mentions.  Included is one of my favorites: blind contour drawing.  Several of the other tips have ideas that are new to me, hence the need to bookmark the article and work through the tips.  

And, this is just the article “How To Draw Better”.  Then there is the article titled: “How to Sketch – 15 Tips for Better Sketches That Come To Life”.

I would like to highlight some points.  

  • Many of the tips apply to realistic drawing.  However, several apply to any type of drawing.  The example of practicing making lines and marks is one such exercise.
  • The idea is to identify what you need to work on to improve; select an exercise to do that is appropriate; create a plan of action; do the exercise according to the plan; evaluate progress.
  • Jen Reviews contacted me and suggested that I might like the article “How to Draw Better”.  They also asked that if I liked the article, would I please mention it in a blog post. The blog post referred to was one titled “Toward Non-Objective Abstraction” dated December 20th, 2015.   And Jen Reviews will share an article I wrote that first attracted their attention.  

My Point of View.

I feel strongly that other artists may find these articles useful.  The tips may be just what you are looking for: targeted exercises that will help you develop the skills necessary to improve your drawing.

Plus, if I write about something in a blog post, I will remember it.  

Please Comment.

If you find this article useful or interesting, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.  I’d love to read what you say!  Thanks!

Deliberate Practice: Gargoyle

Share

The post Deliberate Practice Applied To Drawing Better appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

October Art Show: Peggy’s People, Ponies and Kitties!

You Are Invited!

Hi, its show time!  That is, I’m pleased to say that I am showing my several watercolor paintings at GoodBean Coffee Company in Jacksonville, OR during the month of October.  For those of you who are interested, GoodBean is located at 165 South Oregon St. in historic Jacksonville.  Let me say that you are wholeheartedly invited to see the paintings during business hours which are 6am to 6pm daily.  Please do stop by, have a cup of coffee and enjoy the paintings!

Stermer-Cox Show: People, Ponies and Kitties

About The Show.

I would like to tell you that I plan to feature watercolor paintings from my “Peggy’s People” as well as “Ms. Kitty and Toy Pony” collections.  I selected these paintings in particular because they are bright, colorful and cheerful; just perfect for the start of autumn!  As a way of explaining what I mean, I would like to give you some background on each of the collections.

“Peggy’s People” collection is about the people I see or meet.  Whether its a friend playing bass guitar, as in “Torsten on Bass”, or total strangers having a coffee break, there is a story or two to tell!

GoodBeanShow: Torsten On Bass

As an example, lately, I find the prevalence of cell phones and other electronic devises in our society fascinating.  So, five of the painting explore the theme of talking on a cell phone.

Regarding the “MsKitty and Toy Pony” collections, they are about people too.  However, in these paintings, I let MsKitty and Toy Pony tell the stories.  The kitty and pony play, pounce and visit strange lands.  Indirectly, these paintings are about our relationships with our families and friends.

Intentions.

I view painting as an act of optimism and joy.  Hopefully, I am able to convey these feelings to you in my work.

Details.

I am hanging approximately fifteen watercolor paintings of various sizes.  Each painting is an original and available for purchase.   Should you see paintings that you might like to collect, please contact me directly through my contact page.

Thank you!

Please do drop by if you are in the area.

Art Show: Peggy's People, Ponies and Kitties

Share

The post October Art Show: Peggy’s People, Ponies and Kitties! appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

From My Easel: Two “Man With Hat Series” Paintings

New Series.

Hi!  I’d like to introduce my “Man With Hat” series.

The Beginning.

I started this series last spring as part of a demonstration for the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO).  Because my painting process takes awhile I didn’t finish the painting during the allotted time.  Instead, I worked on several versions in different stages to show the audience how I build my paintings in layers.

Man With Hat Series: First, From Easel

From My Easel.

Well, its six months later and two of the versions are done.  I’d like to share the images with you “from my easel”.  I take a preliminary photograph of the paintings from the easel just to check the composition and decide if I like it.  Once the paintings are removed from the backing board, they go into the “ready for the official photo” pile.  After the official photo, they go into the inventory and are part of my portfolio.

What Took So Long?

I would like to explain the six months between start and finish.  I wanted to think of ways to modify and change the composition.  Four or five identical paintings would get boring for me and probably for you.  So, I let ideas incubate and figure out how to change them.  Coming soon (or not so soon), I have one that I’m calling “Irish Coffee”; another with a dog; and the third is different mainly in the handling of color and tone.  It may yet change too!  Just to give you something to look forward to!

Why A Series?

Idea Managing.  One of the problems with creating paintings is that you (I) sometimes want to put too many ideas into one painting.  And, when the creative juices get going, I tend to think “what if I did this or did that?  Would it work”?  Hence the beauty of working with a series of paintings.  You get to play with ideas and plumb the well of creativity.  They don’t all work out, but by allowing crazy ideas to bloom, something special just might happen.

Overcome Fear Of Starting.  The other really valuable lesson in working in series is that you embrace starting all over again.   I think this is a particularly critical mindset for watercolor painters.  Its easy to overwork a painting trying to get it perfect. In this way, I let go of the idea of perfection and move on to the next painting.

OK, that’s a little bit mis-leading…I always try to create the best painting I can.  But, perfection is not the end state.  Rather, I want to get to a unified state; no more strokes needed.

Ready To Come Off The Easel.

That being said, I just thought it would be fun to show you the series as the first two are ready!

New Series: Man With Hat; Contemplating Kandinsky

Share

The post From My Easel: Two “Man With Hat Series” Paintings appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Classically Trained Artist

What Is “Classically Trained”?

Hi! I have been thinking about what makes an artist classically trained. Have you seen that term on a biography of an artist or musician? And, what does that mean?

John Stermer: Classically Trained Artist

John Stermer, Classically Trained Artist

What a funny question, don’t you think? To explain, I have been helping my sister prepare for an upcoming showing of my Dad’s artwork (artist John Stermer of New Mexico). On Dad’s biography, he is described as a classically trained artist.

Story time!

I remember when I was about twelve years old telling one of my teachers that Dad was a “classically trained” artist.  The teacher asked me what does it mean to be a classically trained artist.  I had no idea, but, then, I thought I knew.  So, soldiering on, I promptly gave an answer, rather than say “I don’t know”.  As I recall I mentioned something about how Dad composed a painting.  I have a vague idea of referring to the Greeks, Romans and maybe even Leonardo da Vinci.  Well, Greek and Roman art is sometimes referred to as “classical”, isn’t it?

The point was that I did not know what I was talking about (oops).

No Repeat Performances, Please!

Well, if we are doing art shows and are going to be where interested people asking questions, I figure knowing terms is a good idea.  Remembering my past experience, I thought I would look up “classically trained” and see what it means.

Does Anyone Know The Answer?

Oddly enough, the best answer I could find was in an article about musicians on the website “Slate.com”. Here is what the author, Tony Green wrote (again, talking about music)

“Here’s the problem: Few people outside of music students know what that really means. To wit: extended study and mastery of a complete system of techniques, pedagogy, musical knowledge, and repertoire. In the piano field, according to O’Riley, it commonly includes beginning, intermediate, and advanced material by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Liszt, Shostakovich, and other composers. It also implies a mastery of specialized techniques, performed from the easy to the most challenging tempos, as well as a thorough schooling in music theory, harmony, and composition.”

Apparently, there probably isn’t a definition of what a “classically trained artist” listed in your closest dictionary.  But, I think this one will do.  To summarize, I figure one needs to have been through a rigorous extended period of education to be classically trained.

Dad’s Case: Classical Training.

So, lets take the case of my Father, artist John Stermer. He had a formal and rigorous period of study at The Art Students League of New York in the late 40s and early 50s. For six years he lived the life of an art student totally immersed in art and art classes. He followed this period of training with an additional year in Paris, France at the Academie Le Grand Chaumiere.

Classically Trained Artist: After the Practice

When Dad left these art schools to work in his own studio, he had learned and mastered how to draw and paint.

Now, do understand that I am not meaning to imply that one ever learns all there is to know about drawing and painting. Rather, he had a robust set of skills that enabled him to create and work on his own terms. He knew everything from selecting materials (paint, canvas, boards); preparing the materials, like stretching and preparing canvas for paint; constructing and creating a painting; creating an appropriate frame for the painting; and how to show and market your artwork.

My Case: Self Taught.

Now, lets compare classically trained Dad with me. I am a “self taught” artist, which I think it a bit of a misnomer, but it’s the best we have.  What I mean is, that I learn from lots of artists, though mostly on an informal basis.

For example,  I take classes and workshops from time to time. I read books, blogs and magazines. And, from the information and examples I see, I create my own work. However, I feel like I learn from every artist whose work I see or study. In effect, they are “teaching” me; I don’t learn in a vacuum or dark studio with no outside influences. Put another way, I have silent teachers and mentors all around me; they just don’t know it!

Self Taught: Stermer-Cox

Which is Better, Classical or Self-taught?

After studying for over 15 years on my own, I’d say, it all depends on your circumstances.

The More Direct Path.  I am inclined to believe that the intensive education available through classical training, say at an art academy or atelier, is difficult to match on my own. It helps to have masters and fellow students to learn from; the community is invaluable! I would imagine that there is a synergy in learning when people who share your excitement about art surround you.

The More Indirect Path.  When you are on your own, you have to wrestle with the “how” and “why” by yourself.  The skill set of knowing materials and how to approach drawing and painting is learned almost by trial and error.  Therefore, I consider “self taught” to be a more indirect path. It will take awhile to learn how to solve the problems of creating art.

Its All Good!

In the end, though, I would hope we (classical and self taught artists) arrive at a similar place. That is to say, our own individual path of creating art that connects with other people is what we strive to achieve.

Just my thoughts; what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2005/07/classically_lame.html

Share

The post Classically Trained Artist appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Sketches: Watercolor And iPad From Our Road Trip 2017

Travel Sketches

Hi!  As promised, its time to post travel sketches from our July 2017 trips.  
Travel Sketches: Truck With Coolers

I have wanted to share with you my sketches from our recent trip down to New Mexico and back. As I look at my travel sketches, though, I see they are mainly filled with subjects like picnic tables, tree trunks, water bottles and that sort of thing. What I end up doing when we travel is drawing and painting subjects around the campsite.  Even so, I think I’ll share them anyway.

Travel Sketches: Laufman CG, near Milford CA

No Big Scene Sketches

I don’t draw or paint the big grand scene and I have been wondering why. Perhaps, I might say, it is because everyone else does the grand scene. But, more likely, it is because I’m busy being a tourist and looking at things.

Travel Sketches: To Hickison Petroglyph CG

Our Routine

Here’s what happens.  In the morning we go out and look at things while the air is cool.  This means that there is usually a lot of walking and driving.  Then, in the afternoon when my husband and I are back relaxing at the campground, I pull out my watercolors or iPAD and start to work. And, as mentioned before, I seem to resist the grand landscape and focus on the smaller things around me.

Travel Sketches: Watercolor Bottle

Consider The Water Bottle

But, maybe this is a good thing. The lowly water bottle is pretty important to successful camping, especially in the summer when temperatures climb to the 90s and 100s plus (degrees Fahrenheit). Have you ever studied your water bottle? It is not so easy to draw; it has lots of bumps, curves and interesting shapes. And if that water bottle is shiny, then you have even more shapes to look at and consider while drawing.

Our Route East

 

Sketches: The Road Trip Map

So, lets go back to our trip from southern Oregon to Albuquerque NM, the subject of this posting. Our route was southeasterly. We went through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, back to Utah, then down to New Mexico.   We stopped at Telluride for the “Ride Music Festival”. Then, proceeded to Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado); Hovenweep National Monument (Utah); Aztec National Monument (New Mexico) and then Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, (New Mexico).

Travel Sketch: Picnic Table, Hovenweep

These last four stops were all about the great Ancestral Pueblo migration. The dwellings and history are just fascinating!  I came away with a sense of awe and wondered, what are my personal symbols?  I haven’t figure out an answer yet; maybe they reveal themselves as I continue to draw and paint.

Travel Sketch: Alcove House

Family And Tedeschi Trucks Band

After being a tourist, we went on in to Albuquerque, NM, to visit family and see the Tedeschi Trucks Band in concert. It was a wonderful visit and musical event.

OK, that was just way to lukewarm.  I love my family and its great visiting them. And, I find the Tedeschi Trucks Band to be EXCITING to watch perform live.  It was such a fun, positive experience!

Heading West

Eventually, we had to return home to Oregon so we headed back west.  First stop was Homolovi State Park in Arizona, another Ancestral Pueblo site.   It is near Winslow, a major railroad hub. So many trains! And, naturally, Winslow is referred to in the lyrics of the Eagles song, “Take It Easy”.  Oh, we didn’t see any flatbed Fords.

Travel Sketches: Juniper Hovenweep

After Homolovi, we drove to Las Vegas NV, Fallon NV then home. Outside the temperatures were rising and we needed to get back to our garden and southern Oregon…only to be greeted by more heat.

In Summary: Sketches of the Small Stuff

So, what you are seeing here are drawings and watercolor studies of things around the campground. Picnic tables offer interesting challenges in perspective. And, tree trunks are marvels of organic form, besides beautiful and gnarly.  As stated before, I can’t resist the opportunity to draw water bottle.

More From Our Trip At Travel Website

Note:  The links to The Ride Music Festival and Tedeschi Trucks Band (first link; second is to their site) are two our sister website On The Road Again, The Travels of The Stermer-Cox’s.  My husband Robert is the webmaster and author of the articles.  He offers a different perspective altogether, happily!  I invite you to click on the links and check out our other website.

How was your summer?  Do you like doing sketches when you travel?  And, are you attracted to the big or small scene, or perhaps both?

Travel Sketches: Space 30 Hovenweep

 

 

Share

The post Sketches: Watercolor And iPad From Our Road Trip 2017 appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Still Life: “Coffee Cup With Rabbit Netsuke”

Still Life For Suzanne.

Greetings!  I’d like to share with you my latest still life painting:  “Coffee Cup With Rabbit Netsuke”.    The setup is a sort of homage to my sister Suzanne.  She likes rabbits and she gave me the coffee cup.  Yellow and red are her favorite colors.  I don’t know about other artists, but sometimes I like create arrangements with gifts from a friend or family member.  In this way, the still life paintings take on extra meaning to me.

Still Life: Coffee Cup and Rabbit Netsuke

Working On Still Life.

In spite of my discussion on brand in the previous blog post, I continue to work on paintings from life.  On the one hand, I figure I haven’t gotten all there is out of still life painting.  That is to say, they are challenging and I learn in the process.  On the other hand, so to speak, I figure if Paul Cezanne did still life painting, perhaps it might be a good idea for me to do them too.  I may yet figure out my own style or brand!

Artist Stefan Baumann’s Advice.

Continuing on with my reasoning I’d like to refer to artist Mr. Stefan Baumann recent newsletter.  He encourages the reader to work on still life painting as a way to develop one’s style.  Mr. Baumann also reminds us that there is so much insight to be gained about ourselves as artist from the practice of painting our own still life arrangements.

I respect artists like Mr. Baumann and carefully consider his advice.

Painting From Life

Just to clarify, this is working from “life”, not from photograph, memory, imagination or other sources.  Drawing and painting from life has an entire set of challenges all its own.  For example, just looking at the subject then your paper, and back again takes practice to do effectively.  One learns to be disciplined in stance in front of the paper or canvas.  Wrestling with the nuances of light and color, well, I suppose that might take a lifetime to investigate.

But, back to my little still life.  I hope you enjoy it and I rather suspect you will see these same objects in other paintings.

Thank you!

I would like to send a huge THANK YOU to artist Ruth Armitage.  She generously included one of my paintings in her blog posting “Owning Contemporary Fine Art”.

Share

The post Still Life: “Coffee Cup With Rabbit Netsuke” appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Its That Darn Brand Thing Again! On Defining My Brand

Introduction: My Own Brand, or Modus Operandi

Lately I’ve been thinking about “brand” as it relates to my own artistic style or modus operandi (MO).  Why do I avoid defining my brand?  Choices; there comes a time when we can’t do it all.  I have come to realize that if I don’t focus on a brand or MO, I risk confusion, among other things.

To explain my thinking, I’d like to share a story then explain my situation.  Finally, I’ll invite your feedback on the cohesiveness of my own “brand” as it applies to three of my paintings.

Artist Brand: MsKitty, Toy Pony and Blue Bunny Blues

Musician John Mellencamp, And His Brand

This June, my husband Robert and I attended a John Mellencamp concert. We had a wonderful time; Mr. Mellencamp and his band put on a great show. He had the energy and sound that we like about John Mellencamp.

You see, we were not sure we were going to like the show.

Brand: Voice and Energy

I think a little background is in order here. My husband and I grew to appreciate and enjoy John Mellencamp’s music in the 80s and 90’s. So, when we saw that he was coming to one of our favorite venues, we immediately purchased tickets.   Then, a few weeks later, he released his latest music album. But,  this did not sound like the John Mellencamp we knew! It seemed that his voice was different and the energy was not there. What happened; were we going to like the show?

AHA!  A Thought Pops In My Head!

It was while thinking about this concert that I had an “AHA” type moment!  This is all about “branding”, and it applies to me and my art.  Just as Mr. Mellencamp’s voice and energy are his brand, I need to define my brand and focus!

On Brand: Still Life with Egg Cup and Rabbit Netsuke

The Kewl Payntur Case

Here’s a “for instance” scenario. Let’s call the artist “Kewl Payntur” just for fun.  Kewl Payntur might be me or any artist you might know.  Over time, our buddy Kewl builds an audience of people who like his or her particular art.  There is something about Kewl’s work that speaks to the audience.  Mr/Ms Payntur can surprise, challenge and engage the audience as as he/she evolves, as long as the “certain something” is still there.  The “certain something” instills a type of cohesiveness about the body of Kewl Payntur’s work and that it helps the audience identify and define the artist’s work.

Tormented?

So, what is the lesson being taught or tormented over? Deciding on a “brand” or style.

Two Styles! (Or maybe three?)

I wrestle with what I define ought to define as my “brand”.  Usually, I think of my brand as being a stylized, abstracted, designed approach to the subject.  In other words, I am not trying to paint from life and I purposely want you to know it.  My intention is to stylize, distort and have fun with my images.

Problem Defined.

OK, fine, so what’s the problem?  Well, I like to paint from life too. From time to time, I focus my efforts on creating paintings and drawings that achieves a degree of accuracy and likeness.

To rephrase the problem, what does having two different styles do to my brand as an artist?  Do I confuse my audience?  And, what does this dichotomy have do to achieving a degree of mastery in either approach?

Its About You: Confusing or Cohesive

So, this really is about you, the viewer.  Would you like to help?  I have posted three of my paintings and all of them include a rabbit, just because I like rabbits.

What do you think, is my “brand” identifiable?  Even if you can’t articulate it, do all three look like they were done by the same artist?  Or, do you find the collection confusing?

On Brand: Garden Bunny

Post Script:  John Mellencamp’s Voice Endures

By the way, to me, Mr. Mellencamp’s brand includes his voice and energy.  His voice has matured, but it still has the special something that I recognize as the “John Mellencamp” voice.  So, it was a good concert.

Post Script, Again: Travels

In my last posting, I spoke of traveling adventures.  Robert and I did go on the road to New Mexico and we are back home.  We had a good trip and I have started working on my blog posting.  I hope to have something to share with you soon!  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Share

The post Its That Darn Brand Thing Again! On Defining My Brand appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

About An Artist’s Vision Plus New Three Minute Egg Paintings

Artist Vision:  How To See.

Greetings!  I’d like to share with you two of my latests pieces in my “Three Minute Egg Series”.  Furthermore, I’d like to talk about how I come up with my artistic vision for a series, using my current paintings as an example.

The Good Question.

A friend and collector of mine asked me a tough question a couple of months ago.  She had seen my earlier paintings and blog posting about my three minute egg series.  The question was how to see and understand my paintings.  I immediately thought “Oh, I need to do an artist’s statement for this series”.

Artist Vision: Three Minute Egg Project

Time Out!

OOPS!  Please stop!  Before you read any more, I’d like to ask you to please just look at the paintings.  Without analyzing, allow yourself to have a first impression; a first reaction.  It doesn’t matter if you like them or not, just allow yourself to respond in your own personal manner.

Vision: About Relationships.

Now then, back to what the series is about; the artist’s vision.

When I start thinking about an artists statement or vision, I start remembering relationships and stories about the subject.  For example, I did not enjoy eating eggs when I am a child, though three minute eggs were the least offensive.  That being said, I was always intrigued by the egg cups.  The particular eggs cups we had were ones that my parents purchased when they were living in Spain.   To me, they were exotic, interesting and special.

Still Life and Project Set Up.

Now, lets consider the set up of the three minute egg still life.  I knew I was going to be going from realistic to abstract when I started this project.  You might remember that the first seven completed were part of a workshop I attended with artist Gabriel Lipper.  (Paintings 8 and 9 were done after the completion of class).

So, the set up.  I looked on line at still life set ups from some of the Master’s of still life, like Chardin.  Then, I considered what I had laying around in the kitchen.  Time is a theme I had been wanting the explore so the kitchen timer was selected for the still life.  Eggs shells are one of my favorite subjects because I feel the need to study how light falls on the curved shapes, so they were in.  Timer plus eggs suggests three minute egg in my mind.  To complete the set up, I added a spoon and napkin.

Design: Like A Puzzle.

To understand what you see in front of you, it might be good to realize that I like to design my abstractions.  Thinking of a tapestry or a puzzle, I am concerned with how the pieces fit together.  I select and create a scheme to be the backbone structure.  Then, I arrange my shapes, searching for something that captures my imagination.  I play close attention to the light and dark pattern I create because it helps direct the viewer around the painting.

Still Life Objects: Like Family and Friends.

So, what does it mean?  Think about your family and friends.  When you’re taking a group picture, how do you arrange yourselves?  If you’re all getting along and happy, you might stand close to each other and be fairly equal in rank.  But, maybe someone is having a birthday or something extra special.  Perhaps they stand a little bit higher or forward from everyone else.  Then, there is the shy person who tries to hide behind friends.  One must not forget the class clown who does things like stands on their heads or makes a silly face.

Well, organizing a still life is like arranging friends.  And when I work in a series, I arrange and re-arrange my buddies, or subject matter.  I paint them different colors; change sizes; change layouts, and generally experiment.  The more I work, the more ideas come into my mind.  I’m also learning how color, shape, size, line, direction, texture, that is to say the elements of design, work together to create mood.

Artist Vision:  Evolves with the Series.

Lets think back to the beginning: what am I saying?  Right now, I would say that I am exploring a still life motif that is linked to my memories of childhood and the three minute egg breakfast.

In time, the series may start to take on a different meaning to me.

Artist Vision: Three Minute Egg V9

What Do You See?

Back to you.  I asked you early on to just look at the paintings.  Do you remember the first things that came to mind?  Did you immediately see the eggs, timer, spoon and napkin?  Or was it just a jumble?  Now that you’ve read my account of how I developed this painting, look at the painting again.  How do the paintings feel to you now?  Do you see more?  Does the subject speak to you?  How about the paint?

More Later This Summer and Fall.

These are paintings eight and nine in the series. The plan is to create more later this summer and fall.  I would like to invite you to see the earlier paintings in the blog post “Deconstructing a Realistic Painting Toward Abstraction”.

Hopefully, I have given you a way in so you may see and enjoy my paintings.  Please do come back and see how the next paintings develop.

Travels Around The West.

I will be taking a break from studio painting as my husband and I travel around the West.  I hope to share drawings and paintings from our travels over the next few weeks!  In the meantime I do hope you are well.

Warm regards,

Peggy

Share

The post About An Artist’s Vision Plus New Three Minute Egg Paintings appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Tangents – What Are They and Why Care?

Off On A Tangent.

Tangents – what are they and so what?

Tangents - just me thinking

Purpose.  My intention in writing this article is to explore and perhaps shed some light on how the word “tangent(s)” is used in drawing, illustrating, painting and photography.  I would like to share with you how this topic came up in conversation.  Then, I’ll talk about the definition of tangent as it applies to artwork.

To illustrate the issue, I will include some examples of tangents in my own work and suggest some possible remedies. Finally, I will list some references and links for further study.

Summary.  Tangents come into play when designing two dimensional artwork such as drawings and paintings.  They are created when two objects, such as a line or shape, touch but do not overlap.  Because they can be visually awkward or ambiguous, tangents tend to draw the viewers attention.  By learning how to identify tangents, the artist can either avoid them altogether, or use them to advantage.

Tangents As A Topic Of Conversation.

Banquet Discussion. The topic of “tangents” came up over dinner while I was attending the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s Spring Convention. I can’t remember who brought up the topic but the gist of the story was that a fellow artist missed out on the top prize of a juried competition because of a tangent in her painting.

What? My little brain cells clicked into alert mode. But, what if the tangent was supposed to be there? And, what is a tangent?

I Know or I Think I Know.  I thought I knew what a tangent was and so did my table mate. However, she described a tangent that wasn’t anything like what I thought a tangent was. Could there be more than one tangent, perhaps two tangents, at least? We discussed the problem for a while and, failing to resolve the issue, went on to discuss other matters.

Gray Matter Spinning.  Well, you might imagine my little brain cells would not let the matter rest. What was the definition and who was right? Did I know what I was talking about?

Ignorance Is Not Bliss.  In a way, no; I did not have a clear idea of what I was talking about when it came to tangents.  Too many vagaries, from not being able to see the painting, to not knowing the definition of tangent as it applies to art.  Time for researching definitions and looking for examples.

Definition.

In geometry, a tangent is a line that touches a curved surface but does not intersect it.

Lets put this another way: tangents are two things, (lines or shapes) that are touching but not overlapping.  They are pretty much the same in artwork as they are in geometry.

Why Do We Care?  When it comes to looking at realistic images, we seem to like a visual order to things.  And, in the case of tangents, we like to know which shape or line is in front and which one is in back.  We like our spatial arrangement to be established and recognizable.

When the spatial arrangement is not clear, we have visual ambiguity; space collapses and the image looks flat.

The Fix?  Creating space by either shifting the line or shape or “pushing back” one of the elements by using aerial perspective (softening edges, muting tone, or moving color toward blue).  I will elaborate about spatial relationships and fixes below.

Examples of Tangents
Note, the bottom two examples are supposed to be of a simplified shape of a person (head, neck shoulders) and a shape of a tree. Just to clarify; thanks!

 

A Bit More Discussion And Elaboration.

Issue For Realism.  As I understand it, where this “touching but not overlapping” becomes a problem is in composing representational two dimensional art pieces.  That is to say, if I want to paint a realistic picture, tangents are something to be aware of and concerned about.   Because, you see, the tangents imply that the two shapes or lines are on the same plane.

Space!  Put another way, its all about spatial relationships. The issue with two dimensional works of art is that we are trying to depict a three dimensional world on the picture plane.  If the two objects are on the same plane in life, then the tangent may not be an issue.  But, what if they’re not on the same plane; what if one apple is deeper in shape than the other?  If they’re touching, but not overlapping, it creates an ambiguity.  The illusion of three dimensional space collapses and the image looks flat (as mentioned earlier).

Phew!

Creative Intent.  So, what if I like to collapse the illusion of three dimensional space?  Well, then, that’s me and part of creative intent.  And, when I create then collapse space, the result is not particularly realistic; its expressive, stylized or stylized.

A Word Of Caution.  I would suggest being clear in your design that your intention is something other than traditional realism.  Why?  We are still concerned with communicating to our viewer and we want to invite the viewer into our world; include them in on the joke, so to speak.  And, back to tangents, they can confuse your viewer.

Back From My Tangent!  Sometimes writing about issues we face while drawing or painting feels like waving in the air; its hard to articulate and communicate what I mean.  Naturally, this is where examples come in handy!

Example One:  Man With Hat.

It didn’t take me long to find some examples.  I just had to look at my “works in progress” and recent painting.  So, lets take a look at some examples from my “Man with the Hat” Series.

Yes, I have some “tangent” issues.  Consider my first example.  I had an idea to add a tree behind my “Man with the Hat”, insert a few leaves and title it “Last Leaves of Autumn”.  Seriously, it was my intention to have one leaf practically touch the face of my gentleman with a hat.

Oh, just to explain, I composed this design BEFORE the WSO convention, the discussion and research on tangents.

Still, I noticed something was awkward.  When I transferred the design to the painting, I added some space between the leaf and the shape.

Tangent, Example 1

Sidebar:  Watch Adding New Things At The End!

Trouble! Which brings me to my next insight.  I get into trouble when I add things to compositions AFTER being finished.  Its an “upsetting the apple cart” type situation.  When something new is added to a picture, its like adding a new subject at the end of the story; its jarring.  Then, you have to start “fixing” the composition.  It might have been better to start a new drawing altogether.

Multiple Tangents!  And, that’s why this next variation on the “Man With The Hat” has at least three tangents that have to be dealt with.  This is a “work in progress”, so I have room yet to adjust before I complete the painting.

Tangent Example Two:  Man With Hat and Dog.

Here goes example two.  First I decided to extend the tree branches behind the man.  Second, I had an idea to add a dog.  I’d seen a man with a dog at a bus stop and was inspired.

Nice ideas, but the composition was already fairly well developed so now I have tangent problems to fix.

More tangents

Isn’t composing fun?  Its all about problem solving!

References.

I found some interesting sites on the web that have more articles on tangents.  Cartoonists who rely on line work have a particular problem with tangents.

Empty Easel: Avoiding Tangents:  9 Visual Blunders Every Artist Should Watch Out For.

Schweizer Comics:  The Schweizer Guide To Spotting Tangents.

Monkey Lunch:  Tangent Slide Show.

Control Paint.com:  Avoid Visual Tangents, (video).

Conclusion.

Remember back near the beginning of this article and the dinner conversation I talked about?  Well, my friend and I were both correct.  Tangents crop up in pictures in many different ways.  However, once you understand what they are, you can identify them and use them to serve your own pictorial purposes.  Isn’t that wonderful?

I hope you have enjoyed this article on tangents as they apply to two dimensional artworks.  My intention was to shed some light on the subject, provide some useful information and share examples.  If you were like me and were not certain about the usage of tangents, now you know a bit more!

Please enjoy the next wonderful piece of art you come by, and, maybe, see if you can find a tangent or not!

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Share

The post Tangents – What Are They and Why Care? appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.