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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

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Classes at the Grants Pass Museum of Art! Fall 2017

Art Classes for Adults!

Anatomy & Structure of the Face

with Bobbi Baldwin
Friday, Oct. 13, 9 am – 4 pm
You will learn from a hands-on demo and lecture by Bobbi Baldwin, who has taught this same lesson to plastic surgeons. The morning will be an in depth study of how to think about the anatomy and structure of the face in simple terms of physiology and drawing skills. Bobbi puts this lecture into common sense terms, teaching you how to think about the structure, measure, shape, and shadow in ways that you haven’t thought to do previously. The afternoon will be for you to practice what you have learned. It is a must, for all who paint or draw. You don’t want to miss this.
$85 for workshop
Optional lunch purchase for $10

Paint Like Henri Matisse

with Kristen O’Neill
Saturday, October 14
1-4 pm
  •  All materials provided
  •  Leave with an acrylic painting
  •  Learn about Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Matisse
  •  Study a master’s work, a time-honored tradition to improving your art skills
  •  Have a fun afternoon!
  •  All skill levels are welcome
$30 per person, includes all materials

Advent Boxes

with Georganne Anderson

Introduction:
Saturday, October 14 10:30 – Noon
Decorating the box:
Friday, October 20 10:30 – 4:30
  • Includes Lunch
Saturday, October 21 10:30 -4:30
  • Includes Lunch
All materials will be supplied EXCEPT your own personal touches.
You can create almost any theme from Disney to Dickens.
This treasure will be something your family will keep for generations.
$165 per person

Needlefelting:

Witches & Pumpkins

with Corbin Brashear
Saturday, Oct 28
12:30 – 3:30 pm
Come and learn the fundamentals of needlefelting as we create these whimsical witches and pumpkins. Perfect for seasonal decorating, waldorf nature table, or just plain fun. This fun and easy fiber arts workshop will explore the techniques and materials of needlefelting, a dry method of felting which uses a special needle, loose wool and a foam surface to create 3 dimensional sculptures. This class is perfect for learning the basic fundamentals and will well prepare you for future fiber adventures. Open to all levels, adults and kids ages 8 and up.
$45, includes all supplies.

Paint Like Edvard Munch

with Kristen O’Neill
Saturday, Nov. 4
1 – 4 pm
  • Leave with an acrylic painting.
  • Learn about Munch and his influence on Expressionism
  • Study a master’s work, a time-honored tradition to improving your art skills
  • Paint any Munch painting you wish.
  • Have a fun afternoon!
  • All skill levels are welcome
$30 per person, includes all materials.

How to Paint Snow

with Kristen O’Neill
Saturday, Dec 2
1 – 4 pm
  • All materials provided
  • Create your own painting of a winter scene
  • Learn about color theory (warm & cool colors)
  • Have a fun afternoon!
  • All skill levels are welcome
$30 per person, includes all materials.
Art Journaling:  Recipe for a  Perfect Holiday   with Karen O'Brien

Art Journaling:

Recipe for a

Perfect Holiday

with Karen O’Brien
Saturday, Dec 16
10 am – 1 pm
In this class we will learn how to begin our own art journal* with simple supplies. I will share plenty of ideas and approaches to begin filling your journals. We will create a journal spread in class focusing on the holiday season.
All you need to bring to class is:
  • Blank journal that can handle water media: 90-140 lb paper
  • OR
  • Old book : thin spine, no larger than 9″ x 12″, no shiny, slick or glossy pages
*What is an Art Journal? It’s a place to record your thoughts, memories, and emotions through images, art and words.
Why do it? It is an easy way to use your creativity every day. It can be done with simple tools. It is portable, requiring very little space to do it. It can be used to document life, travels, plan you art, express your feelings, test out new art products and techniques. It can be personal – only for you, or you can share it with others.
$45 per person. Includes some materials. (List on website)

RGAC Fall 2017 Catalogue and New Exhibits

 October                        3 2017 artblast Alx Fox    
Detail of DARK MOON IN AUTUMN by Alx Fox

NEW EXHIBIT! 

IN THE MAIN GALLERY

Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind:

Eleanor Erskine, Alx Fox, Zelpha Hutton,
Keith Johnson, and Dan Tilden

September 29 – November 10, 2017

Johnson Keith Landscape                  in Transformation and Balance

Keith Johnson, Landscape in Transformation and Balance,

Reception: Friday, October 20, 5:00-8:00 pm

Artists explore the classical idea of the elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. Described as the simplest essential parts of all things, the four elements have fascinated artists throughout history. Printmaker Eleanor Erskine, sculptor Dan Tilden, and abstract painters Alx Fox, Zelpha Hutton, and Keith Johnson creates artwork reflecting this concept of the natural world.

IN THE ROGUE STUDIO

The Fall catalog is out! Also see our Fall classes our website!
Adult Classes and Youth Classes

ADULTS

Instructor Alx Fox’s paintings are currently in our main gallery exhibit!

Intuitive Abstracts with Alx Fox
Saturday, October 28, and Sunday, October 29, 10am-2pm
Acrylic – All skill levels are welcome.
Loosen up and have a painting adventure. Join award winning painter and instructor Alx Fox for an exciting workshop that will bring freshness to your art. Create a more vibrant and exciting painting as Alx teaches various blending techniques and use of materials that will add texture and interest to your art. Use outside the box tools and techniques. Learn layering and imbedding methods to create interesting effects.
Register Here >>

Rogue Studio Life Drawing Sessions, Uninstructed life drawing
Tuesdays, October 17, 24, 31, November 7, 14, 21, 6-8:30pm
Drop-in Tuesday evenings for two and a half hours of moderated uninstructed life drawing sessions in the Rogue Studio.
Register Here >>

YOUTH

Young Artists’ Studio ages 7-11 with Jenny Calaba
Wednesdays, October 4, 11, 18,25, November 1,8, 3:30-5pm
In this exciting workshop young artists will get their hands in clay, explore printmaking, create colorful mosaics, and much more!
Register Here >>

Follow Rogue Gallery & Art Center

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Facebook     Twitter      Pinterest      Instagram    Website
Please “like” Rogue Gallery & Art Center on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Forward this message to a friend
Call the Gallery for more info: (541) 772-8118

Check out more fun activities at: www.roguegallery.org

The Rogue Gallery & Art Center is the Rogue Valley’s premier non-profit community art center founded in 1960 to promote and nurture the visual arts in the Rogue Valley. The Art Center showcases emerging and established artists, presents fine crafts by area artisans, and offers a broad range of visual art classes and workshops for all ages.

Rogue Gallery & Art Center is located in downtown Medford at 40 South Bartlett Street. The hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We are open every third Friday until 8:00pm.

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

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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

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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

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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

 

 

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Open Studios: How Art is Made - Grants Pass

Get inspired by 23 artists in 18 studio locations throughout Josephine County. Artist’s whose studios are located south of the Rogue River have their studios open on 9/23 & 9/24. The next weekend, 9/30 & 10/1, artists whose studios are north of the Rogue River have their studios open. Both days the studios are open 10 am – 5 pm.
Tickets for the event are $20 per adult. The map of all the studio locations is the ticket. And for the first 150 tickets we have an Artist Guide Book, featuring photos of each artist’s work, and their artist statements. It is a 52 page, 6” x 9” book.  Attendees can visit as many studios as they like, over the course of the 4 days.
We also have a Preview Exhibition in the Grants Pass Museum of Art from 9/20 through 9/28. We have an artist opening (everyone is welcome!!) on Wednesday, September 20th from 5 – 6:30 pm. Admission is always free at the Museum.
 Open Studios How Art is Made Grants Pass and Josephine County this September
Check out the Facebook page with posts about each individual artist. https://www.facebook.com/openstudiosgp/

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”.

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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!

 

 

 

 

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