Friday, November 21, 2014

how to remove stains from your art

The latest issue of the TMS Newsletter has just been mailed out. Here is my usual Friday excerpt...

Winter weather hit this week. We have gone from a lovely autumn with above normal temperatures to snow and strong winds. I have scrambled to find my warm winter boots and dressing in many layers suddenly became a necessity. The animals are not happy about this abrupt change in the weather. Chickens love to spend their days scratching around in dirt and leaves looking for yummy worms and bugs. They don’t even like to walk across snow. This morning I swept some paths for them. J It has become time to hook up the heated water buckets! Frozen pails of water already?! Sheesh...

This week our topic is what to when our art gets damaged. Suzanne P. from Toronto wrote me with an urgent call for help. Her art had met with an accident and she was wondering if there was anything she could do to fix it.

Suzanne’s almost finished artwork was lying on a table. Her young son was walking around the room, eating some fruit and he was telling his mother about something exciting that had happened at school. Suddenly the plate tipped a bit and his fruit plopped down onto the drawing!

Suzanne quickly removed the few of chunks of watermelon and a strawberry off of her art. She dabbed at the paper with a piece of paper towel.

What was left on the paper were a few small blotches of stain, pale peach ones where the watermelon had landed and a brighter pink one where the strawberry had been.

To make matters worse, the fruit landed on a part of the drawing that will not be covered by dark pigment. The art work is almost done so it is too late to change the drawing. The white tablecloth in her still life is the area that got hit. So, hoping to cover up the stains isn’t much of an option.

Suzanne has tried to remove the colour by gently erasing with an ink eraser but the stain has penetrated the fibers. Now she is concerned that she might damage the paper if she continues to try to rub it out.

My suggestion for stains like this is to try applying bleach. I have used this a few times with much success.

Accidents do happen.

A tiny bug can land on your paper – and even a teeny weeny insect can leave behind body fluids of some kind. Goodness, a fly can poop a small dark dot onto your paper. Ever had a pencil slip from your fingers? Of course the pencil falls with the point facing downward. Suddenly you have a dot of strong pigment placed somewhere you didn’t want it that won’t completely lift off.

My advice is to pour a very small amount of household bleach into a container. I use the bleach bottle cap. Next I dip the tip of a cotton ear swab into the bleach. Soak up a very small amount. Then dab this onto your paper. Let the bleach sit for a moment and then lift it off by pressing the area with a bit of tissue. If the stain is still there, re-apply and let the bleach sit for a little longer. Have patience and be gentle.

Of course this probably only works on white paper. I would assume that you would bleach the dye in a coloured piece of paper and you don’t want to go from a coloured stain to a pure white/bleached spot. Having said that, stains would be easier to cover on coloured paper as you need to add your whites. For example, on a dark sheet of paper, Suzanne would have to draw her white table cloth versus leaving it the white of the paper.

While we can’t prevent all accidents here are a few tips that will help:

·        Cover your art when you are finished working. A simple sheet of paper or tracing vellum would suffice. If you have a cat that might jump up onto your table, go further and store your art somewhere that your cat will not be able to get to – lie it flat in a cupboard – and make sure this is a safe place, i.e. no one will come along and set something down on top of your art.

·        Have a no food or drink rule. I don’t eat in my studio and I am very disciplined with my beverages. I never place a cup of anything on a table where I have unframed art, no matter how far apart the art and the drink might be. When I am working at my drafting table (which is slanted, positioned on an angle), I place my water, tea, or glass of wine J, on a table nearby. I sip while working but my sipping doesn’t take place over top of the art. I may spill coffee down my shirt front but it won’t hit my paper.

·        Close all windows at the end of the day. I have a habit of shutting all of my studio windows in the summer or if it is really warm out, I leave them open just a wee bit. I do this to control the dampness that can get into the room (dampness isn’t good for fine art paper) not to mention any rain that may blow in during an unexpected storm overnight.

·        Don’t feed your children fresh fruit. Just kidding...

 Does anyone have a different solution on how to remove stains? I would love to hear your remedies.

File:George Henry Durrie - Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut - Google Art Project.jpg

Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut circa 1858, oil on canvas, by George Henry Durrie 1820 – 1863, (image now public domain)

Isn't this painting gorgeous? I love all of the detail. I keep seeing something new every time I look at it.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

a gift you must give your loved ones

Hey it's Friday and time for my newsletter..

I would like to share an update regarding Jackie whose story was featured in last week’s newsletter. Jackie took my advice and did some domestic art this week. She decided to have some fun with the theme and she dashed off a quick sketch of a toilet bowl brush as a warm up. J  After that she settled in to some serious drawing choosing a favourite tea pot as her subject, one which had belonged to her grandmother. Yeah Jackie!!! You go girl!

I like tea pots and having one that was from my grandmother’s kitchen would make it even more special.

This brings me to the topic of this week’s newsletter...what the dead leave behind...

Have you ever inherited something?

Perhaps after an estate was settled you found yourself having to deal with your mother’s old sofa or your aunt’s huge chest of drawers that was so heavy no one could move the darn thing. Sometimes inheriting someone’s stuff isn’t what we want or need.

BUT what if you discovered something in that chest of drawers – like a hand written book of poems your aunt had laboured over, or perhaps a never before read play that your uncle had dreamed of seeing performed on stage.

Wouldn’t you pounce on that thing like it was a treasure and wouldn’t you sit and savour it?

What if you came upon a sketchbook that belonged to your grandmother or you discovered a little oil painting that your great grandfather did – and no one knew he had ever tried to paint!

Our passions and hobbies reveal something special and unique about ourselves. That is why it is so wonderful to discover something that is left behind by someone we loved or perhaps someone we never got the chance to know.

The thing is, you probably think that not many people care or even notice your passion for art.

Perhaps your spouse seems indifferent. Perhaps your children don’t pay much attention when you tell them about an art course you just took or they don’t really listen when you talk about something new that you are working on.

But that would all change if something happened to you. And something is going to happen to all of us some day.

So here is what I want you to consider...someday someone will care about those sketchbooks of yours, those sheets of unframed drawings or the paintings you have stashed under the bed or in a closet. They will care and you can leave them a greater gift by the actions you take now.

Leave behind notes. Document your efforts. Scribble your thoughts in the margins or the borders of a piece. At least record the year in the front of your sketchbook.  Sign your work. If your signature on your art is difficult to read, print your name on the back.

I have inherited a painting which depicts my grandfather, done when he was a toddler. Unfortunately the work is unsigned. The portrait is very good and was obviously done by an experienced painter. It must have been a gift as I doubt my great grandparents would have paid someone to paint their young son. They wouldn’t have had the extra income. This would have taken place in the late 1800s and the story around this piece of art is no longer known. It all remains a mystery which I feel is a loss for the generations that have followed.

So again, sign your work. And why not leave a paper trail of some kind?

Need more convincing?

Well, have you ever gone through a stack of old photos and wished someone had taken the time to write down on the back who exactly is in the picture or where this holiday trip took place and when? This sort of knowledge is the gift you can consciously choose to give your future grand children or great nieces and nephews.

Write down what inspired you to draw that flower or what it was about that view that you simply had to turn into your next landscape painting. Consider keeping a creativity diary to help those that will read it someday to understand who you were and why you attempted to capture what you did with your pencils or brushes.

Our art is permanent and it lives on after us. It can and probably will be handed down through generations. It also tells a bit of our story. I write this today to encourage you to be part of telling a better, fuller story. Help those that come after you. They will be so grateful.

There is no time like the present. If you put this off you will probably forget. Why not spend a couple of hours this weekend going through your sketchbooks and your art. Make sure you have things signed and dated. Start writing some notes.

Another idea would be to invite family members to join you. Plan a date when you can get together to have a fun time going through your stash of stuff. Bake some cookies, brew some tea and then go through your art memorabilia together – and don’t forget to make those notes. Don’t expect the people you show your art to, to remember all of the stories you share.

And once you have documented all of your art perhaps you should move on to those old family photos...might have to brew more tea and bake more cookies first!


Here is a painting by one of my favourite painters:

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Tea Pot (copyright public domain) painted between 1902 and 1905.

A simple tea pot, some fruit and a lovely cloth make great subject matter.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Stuck and don't know what to work on next?

November 7th, newsletter excerpt:

This week’s topic because it touches on something that probably most artists deal with at some point – the uncertainty of what to work on next.

Jackie, from somewhere out in internet land, wrote me an email detailing her situation. Here is an excerpt that reveals where she is at right now:

“Back in September I got real excited about setting aside time for my art. You wrote about this in the newsletter and I decided to go for it. So Wednesday night is my night. At first everything was terrific. I told people that Wednesday night was my art night and I scheduled it in. I looked forward to Wednesdays a lot.

The first few weeks I was busy settling in, organizing my work space, getting my stuff out from storage. Everything felt great. That didn’t last. My problem is I don’t know what to draw. I come up blank every week.

At first, I just avoided this by sorting and organizing some more. I have a very tidy work space now.
I picked up a book at the library and it freaked me out. I realized I really don’t know much about composition. I bought an art magazine and now I am even more confused. When I look at the art, I just can’t relate. The subject matter is either bizarre or so loaded with hidden meaning that I just don’t get it.

 I used to really like drawing and want to get back into it but I am completely stuck. I don’t have any idea on how to come up with art like I saw in the magazine. I know I need to practice my skills but I just don’t know what to draw. Maybe I don’t think like real artists do.”

Gosh we are so hard on ourselves aren’t we? Don’t you just want to give this woman a hug?! Consider yourself hugged Jackie. Seriously, receive a large dose of compassion here.

So maybe you are a bit like Jackie. You have hit a wall or you are feeling confused and maybe even a little down because you are sure you are not made of the stuff that ‘real’ artists are. Can I just say that we have all been there? Because we have. Welcome to the club! :-)

So first up, be really kind to yourself. Brew up your favourite tea and take a few deep breaths. Put on some lovely music. Everything is going to be okay...

Next, pat yourself on the back for giving this art thing a go. Jackie deserves lots of hefty pats as she not only made a terrific plan back in September, she executed it and she is still hanging in there despite hitting a serious rough patch. Here we are in November and rather than throw in the towel, Jackie is reaching out for some help.

I can often predict when a person is going to reach their art making goals simply by assessing their determination. One woman described it to me as being too stubborn to give up. Call it whatever you want, determination, perseverance or stubbornness, if you want it bad and you are willing to keep at it, you will be amazed at what is possible. I believe Jackie is someone who is going to make it!

So, what to draw??? Jackie, draw anything! Seriously, it is that simple. Get out of your head. Stop over thinking this. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Composition is something that you can worry about down the road. In the mean time just get back in the saddle and pick up your pencils. (I can tell you that you will naturally get better at composing pictures as you hone your drawing skills and you create drawings. It will come, just be patient. And the book knowledge that is scaring you will be there when you are ready to tackle it.)

The important thing here is that you spend your Wednesday nights re-connecting with what you find joyful in art making. Let’s get you back into drawing.

Subject matter – To get your feet wet, why not work fairly small, quick and simple?

I repeat, simple. Keep this simple.

Go to your kitchen, grab anything, an onion, a banana, an apple, a head of garlic, the salt and pepper shakers, a coffee mug, grab a fork.

How about a cherry and a spoon? :-)

Grab the candle and candle holder off of the dining room table. How about the cat’s favourite squeaky toy?

Want to draw fur? No problem, snap a pic of the cat’s leg and go practice fur and a paw (you don’t need to do the whole cat right now if you don’t want to).

Go to your closet and grab your favourite high heeled pumps or if you hate high heels, grab your running shoes instead or your favourite boots. Draw your watch, draw a lamp.

Grab a few marbles from the children’s play area (Ever notice how many coloured pencil artists draw marbles? Oodles do.) Grab some building blocks or some other toys.

Want to practice fabric folds? Go grab a bath towel and hang it from a hook or the back of a chair. Go for a walk and find a couple of leaves to draw.

If you think I am kidding with this list, I am not. This is how I started drawing. One Christmas holiday I drew the candle and candle holder that sat on my coffee table. I really enjoyed the experience. Of course I used my eraser lots but at the end of the evening it actually looked like a candle in a candle holder. The next morning I drew my favourite coffee mug. The next morning, another mug...if I can do this, anyone can!

Allow me to state the obvious here: There is beauty in simplicity and in the stuff of everyday life.

I suggest simply drawing what is in your home.

Don’t fret about the conceptual art that seems bizarre or not relatable to you. Forget about it. Human expression runs the entire spectrum from hyper realism to the surreal and everything beautiful and twisted in between. A lot of the art that gets into art magazines and wins in competitions is hard to imagine in a ‘regular’ home. Don’t let that be your only standard of greatness or relevance.

Let loose and have fun. Try it all. Perhaps the only way to know you don’t want to draw animals is to spend a night trying to draw the cat. If you are too locked into perfectionism, work in a sketch book at first.

The goal is to get drawing. You are not trying to create finished pieces for a solo show in six months. (and if you are reading this and your goal is to get finished pieces ready for an upcoming show, well ignore that bit, keep doing your thing :-))

Over the centuries many artists have painted everyday subject matter. I personally love Flemish still lifes from the 16th and 17th centuries which depict items such as pewter beer tankards, cheese, fruit and bread.

 Below I include a banner from one of Mary Pratt’s retrospective exhibitions this year, this one at the McMichael Collection. At the beginning of her career she was a busy wife and mother of four children. Over the next fifty years, she became one of Canada’s most distinguished painters. She has carved out an incredible art career all while painting subject matter from her everyday life – cold cream on her face, jars of preserves, basting a turkey, bathing a baby, the supper dishes on the table.

Mary Pratt - January 18  to April 27, 2014 McMihcael Canadian Art Collection

Why not grab the cold cream and take a selfie? Get out your paints or pencils and make some art. Now I didn’t say depicting cold cream over top of skin was going to be easy! Ha. If your skills are rusty or you are a beginner, it might be best to stick to the jam jars. :-)

Thanks Jackie for a super question. I hope my advice to just draw anything and everything helps. Please take time to celebrate what IS working. You set an intention, you are keeping to your schedule and you are showing up. All of this is huge by the way. You just need to give yourself permission to not make high-falutin’, highbrow art.

You can so do this. Congratulations on your determination! :-) Let me know how things go!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Guilty of garish colour?

I was teaching a class here, in my studio, on Halloween a few years ago. I donned a special hat to greet my students. J I remember that the pumpkin was surprisingly heavy – hurry up and take the picture. LOL 

The Challenges of Colourful Art

This week I am responding to a question from a reader that is struggling with super colourful subject matter (she wishes to remain anonymous). 

Specifically, she has been working on some landscape sketches and drawings this fall and she is feeling a bit overwhelmed by the foliage colours. She thinks her efforts are garish.

Her question was if I had any advice on how she could approach fall foliage.

This is a great question and it doesn't just apply to fall foliage. Colourful subject matter, whether depicting a busy market of vendors selling astonishing fabrics, rugs and colourful jewelry or perhaps a garden scene filled with brightly coloured flowers offers up some unique challenges.

Here are my suggestions for embracing colourful challenges:

1)    Simply embrace the colour, in all of its boldness and brightness. Just go ahead and depict it. Turn off the voice in your head that judges the work as garish. Sit with the piece for a while. Before making any changes, see if the colours might start to grow on you.

2)    If you think that all of the bright colour is creating a chaotic mess, make sure you have established a focal point. Give the viewer’s eyes a place to enter the picture and compose it in such a way that there is a path to visually travel around the scene. For example, if creating a landscape, chose a particular tree or small grove of colourful trees as your focal point. Place your brightest colours here. Subdue other areas as needed or soften the edges of adjacent trees.

3)    You can adjust the intensity of the piece by deliberately toning down the bright areas. Try dulling down some of the super bright areas that are not your focal point. Fortunately it is always easier to dull down a bright area rather than brighten up something you have already made dull, so work bright first.

4)    You can make the areas that are in strong light the brightest and dull down the areas in shadow. When viewing a scene, it is harder for our eyes to see bright colour in shaded areas so simply reflect this fact in your art.

5)    Limit your palette. If you are feeling compelled to throw in every colour in your pencil box, rethink this. A great way to get control of your colour is to limit yourself to fewer pencils or pastel sticks, etc. You will create with better colour harmony and the piece will have a more natural flow.

6)    You do not have to depict everything you see. Edit out some of the colour variations (there are an awful lot of them in fall foliage). Try limiting the colours you create and not just the pencils you use.

7)    Have a look at how other artists handle brightly coloured scenes. You may be surprised at what you see. Many contemporary artists work very bright and bold, unapologetically so. Years ago their work would have seemed unskilled and ugly. Today our minds are more used to busy images.

Below is a picture of one of my favourite paintings, Tangled Garden by J.E.H. MacDonald completed in 1916, (if you are ever in Ottawa, the original is hanging in our National Gallery. I urge you to go see it, as well as all other works by the Group of Seven).

At first glance it can seem a busy, chaotic garden mess but look at it long enough and it becomes a visual feast.

This is an example of a painting that can be immediately overwhelming, creating a desire to look elsewhere. But, if you really examine the image you can start to make sense of it all.

Obviously there is a lot going on with regards to all of the blossoms and plants but you can see that MacDonald has controlled his use of colour carefully. There is an amazing amount of colour harmony going on here.

Try and imagine the impact of Tangled Garden if you could see it full size –  47.8 inches x 60 inches (121.4 cm x 152.4 cm).

(with regards to copyright, this image is now in the public domain)

Bottom line, don’t be afraid of colour. Explore. Experiment.

As long as you are drawing or painting, it is all good! :-)

This was a great question and I hope my ideas are helpful.

If you have something that you would like my ‘two cents’ on, just send me an email.

Anyone else out there love the spooky art of illustration legend Arthur Rackham?!!! I have a book on his life and this week I have been delighting in revisiting his brilliant work. Such a master of drawing and such gorgeous use of line!  His work is definitely appropriate for Halloween.

Rackham, Fairy Ring, public domain

You are going to have to look closely in order to see the faces and fairies. I suggest you look for examples of his work on the internet or look for work he illustrated at your local library. I am a huge fan of Rackham trees! :-)

Friday, October 24, 2014

How does your art look on the wall?

In my newsletter today, I talked about the events in Ottawa this week and I shared a bit of my personal perspective. Here I shall continue on with some of the contents of that newsletter and the topic is lighting.

Lighting can be a big concern for artists. When we are seeing colour, we are actually seeing light waves being reflected off of a surface.

Imagine how yellow sunlight warms up the colours in a room. Think about how it affects the subject matter being painted as well as the colour of the paper or canvas. Now imagine the effect if the studio were lit only by fluorescent bulbs.

Admittedly this can be a complicated subject. An in depth discussion would take into account how the colour temperature of light bulbs is measured in Kelvin units, how brightness is measured in lumens and how there are colour rendering index ranges to consider. BUT we aren’t going to go there! J

Let’s keep this simple...

First up, diffused natural light is considered the best light for an artist to work under. For many centuries, large windows that face north have been considered the ideal studio environment. This is the direction from which sunlight is always indirect, regardless of the season or time of day. This constant, relatively cool light prevents changes in the light-dark patterns on your subject matter (whether a still life or a studio model).

Imagine how important light entering from windows was for artists prior to electric lighting. Ever tried to do anything by candles in a power outage? In Rembrandt’s day, you would need an awful lot of candles and lanterns to properly light up a studio in non-daylight hours!

Of course not all artists are fortunate enough to have large north light windows. Perhaps the light is blocked by a tall building close by or perhaps light from a north window is competing with strong afternoon light from a west window (you can use heavy drapes to block this light but not everyone wants to do this). Or maybe you have carved out a space to work in the basement and large windows are not an option. Perhaps your only hours to create art are in the evenings, after the sun has set. Don’t despair...

A great way to achieve consistent lighting is through artificial light.

Artists can choose to use light bulbs that emit a warm light or a cool light. Light bulbs can also be purchased that emit a spectrum of light similar to daylight.

A combination of lighting is the easiest way to go and is often the most effective. For example, you can use one type of bulb in overhead lights and then use a different type of bulb, for balance, in a desk or floor lamp.

But here is something else to consider...

I suggest that a very important issue is location, location, location.

Where will the artwork hang once it is finished?

Have you ever noticed how artwork created under bright lights seems to lose its intensity when hung on a wall in a room with low lighting?

Take whatever you are working on right now and test this. Move around the house holding your art up against various walls. Can you see how the different lighting arrangements in your house changes how much detail you can see in your art? Perhaps the colours don’t glow as much.

Living rooms and dining rooms are usually a lot less bright when compared to our studios. Hallways often have no source of natural light.

See how your art work looks in the evening, after dark, when artificial light is all that we have. You may be quite surprised to see how much your art changes.
Most art collectors hang art in homes that are not lit like professional art galleries or studios.

Also, to preserve the integrity of the pigment colours, remember that fine art should not be hung in areas of direct bright light.

Therefore, keep in mind that you art work needs to look great under normal circumstances not just in a fabulously lit studio.

My own studio makes us of a combination of lighting sources. I have many windows in my studio and they face south, west and north. I have halogen track lights overhead and I also have a desk light clipped to my drafting table that has a daylight spectrum bulb in it. I find this bulb really helps create a nice light in the room when I am working after dark. Sometimes during the day I have to keep this light off as it can skew how I see my work. I also have a floor lamp and a table lamp so my studio offers lots of lighting options.

This is a picture of me during a studio tour and I am holding up a work in progress. I chose this picture as you can see the west facing window behind me (one of two) and my drafting table is facing a south facing window. I position my table here as I love the view of the forest, not because of the light. J

There is another south window on that side of the room and two north facing windows across from where I am sitting. You can see one of my track lights in the ceiling. I have eight moveable lights on two strips down the center of the room and finally you can see my desk lamp which as I said above has the daylight spectrum bulb in it. My laptop is on my drafting table so I could work from my reference photo of peas in a pod. The pillow dangling over a lower bar of my table is a cushion for my feet while I work – in case you were wondering!

Once you have a handle on your lighting requirements, you might want to consider the colours of your studio walls and how they change the light in the room. Artists familiar with the concept of bounce light – reflected light that is bounced off of coloured surfaces – choose to paint their walls specific colours. For example some choose neutrals like a gray-green. Others go for a neutral white to accurately reflect the hue of the light onto the contents of the room. 

My studio was very dark when we moved in so I painted all of the dark woodwork trim, including my dark brown, stained plywood floors a specific shade of white. It was a lot of work but it made a huge difference. I also had to install the overhead track lighting as the room had no overhead lights.

If you need more convincing of the power of light to change the look of your art, take one of your pieces outside and snap a photo in natural light (a lightly shaded area works better than strong direct sunlight). Next, take the same piece of art and photograph it while lit by an incandescent bulb. Finally, photograph your art being lit by a florescent light. Now compare your photos. You will be amazed. 


A bit of trivia for you:

Light changes from warm to cool depending on the time of day and where on the planet you are located.

Sunrise and sunset light is warmer because it goes through more of the earth’s atmosphere as it skims the horizon and the atmosphere changes the temperature of the light.

Sunlight at noon is cool.

Locations with intensely blue skies can create the effect of even cooler light because light is bouncing off of the blue sky and mixing with the pure sunlight.


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Friday, October 17, 2014

Productive like Picasso?

October 17th, TMS Newsletter excerpt:
This week I have a free ebook to tell you about. If you are interested in cp techniques or doing portraits, stay tuned. I also have a complimentary kick in the pants for you. J If you have been reading my newsletter these past months you will have noticed that I am rather fond of offering taps to your rear – done with love and good intentions of course.
Rather than a kick, let’s think of it as a gentle nudge – a gentle nudge to not get complacent.

We all do.

Let’s assume you have been carving out time for art this fall. Perhaps you have been making progress but art making has still been a bit more hit and miss than you would like.
Just how much art could you churn out anyway? Ever thought about it?

Sometimes it crosses my mind when I see someone I consider super prolific.
I think the following numbers put Pablo Picasso in the super prolific category.

Consider this:
It is estimated that Pablo Picasso made over 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics, 18,095 engravings, 6,112 lithographs, 3,181 linocuts, 7,089 drawings plus 4,669 drawings and sketches in 149 notebooks, 11 tapestries and 8 rugs.

Does this seem humanly impossible to you?
Heck, I would be stunned to churn out a couple hundred sculptures, one or two rugs, just 1000 lithographs, and a few hundred ceramics.

Picasso said "What one does is what counts, not what one had the intention of doing." Ouch.
Having all of the best intentions in the world doesn’t yield art, not if we don’t act on those intentions.

I do not have goals to master carving or to create sculptures. Nor do I wish to invest the time required to become an accomplished potter or rug maker. I am content to stick to my fine art. But what about filling 149 notebooks like Picasso did, with well over 4000 drawings and sketches?
Obviously it isn’t about the exact numbers. What speaks to me here is that incredible productivity is possible – at least more output than I am currently producing.

This week I have looked back over the past twelve months and I have examined what art I have produced. I looked at the number of pieces, the style, the size and the complexity of the work. Following this assessment, I set new goals for the upcoming year. I set a number that stretches me, especially when I take into consideration the hours that I invest in the business side of things. I won’t be in Picasso’s league but I really like how having this new number feels.
I invite you to do the same.

Have a look at your sketchbooks, your stack of canvases or other finished pieces. Are you amazed at how much you have accomplished or are you perhaps a bit disappointed? Don’t despair. The gift of the next twelve months can bring many new accomplishments.

Set some goals and post them (so you don’t forget).

May Picasso inspire us all...

 "A jug fills drop by drop." (Gautama Buddha)

Now for the ebook I mentioned. The author of the ebook is coloured pencil artist Nicole Caulfield and here is the link:
At this stage of her career, Nicole is choosing other subject matter for her art and as a result she didn’t finish her portrait book (see her comment regarding it not being edited etc.). Still, I share the link here as there is a lot of great content in the ebook and if you are interested in doing portraits, this is worth checking out. Nicole’s section on creating the right lighting for a person’s pose is very helpful.

Even if you are not keen to do portraits, I think you will find her personal coloured pencil technique interesting to learn about. You can also have a look around her website and visit her facebook page for her latest kitsch work.
our meadow at sunset