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Art for Self Esteem

When children are given the opportunity for creative, open-ended play, the imagination is stimulated and they learn to think in new ways. New ideas form because in creative play they are free to see things in different ways. They begin to rearrange things and think outside of the box they normally live in. They fantasize and dream about things, and do whatever feels fun or interesting. They exercise their curiosity as well as their visual muscles.For as long as I’ve been teaching the visual arts of drawing, painting, and animating, I’ve seen children and adults develop faith in themselves, through self expression, because each one is seeing himself or herself as unique.  (Read my full article here.)

Adults are like children in their need to express their inherent creativity. Creating art makes people of all ages feel good, and happy people have more self-esteem. I’ve had many students, children and adults, whose self-esteem grew as they became more proficient in drawing and painting.

February 13, 2013 0 Comments
Sorolla - Cut from Children on the Beach

The Color of Light

Painting the “color” of light brings beauty into a painting. For an area where the sun or light touches an object, many artists use white. But white is the absence of color, whereas light is the essence of color. Because light is warm, warm colors are used to express light. One of the ways I mix colors of light is to combine Cadmium Yellow Medium + Cadmium Orange + Titanium White. Combining these three creates colors that seem to emanate light. One of my favorite artists, Joaquín Sorolla, was a master at painting light and you can see that his Children on the Beach in this post truly glows!

When a painting glows with the color of light, this can create an emotional response in the viewer. Traditionally, light is beautiful, light is good, light represents the divine presence, etc. Feel free to exaggerate light in your painting to create beauty and warmth. Try using the colors of light on areas in white clouds, on flowers, buildings and skin. Notice how Sorolla even used the colors of light on the blue blouse in the example!

February 8, 2013 0 Comments
Modernism Modern Art

Modern Art or Modernism?

Some people don’t think of  “Modern Art” as fine art because it isn’t realistic in it’s portrayal of human, animal or nature. Modern art is not simply splashing paint from a bucket onto a canvas… it has its own history! Many artistic works produced during the 1860’s to the 1970’s express the style and philosophy of the art and culture during that era. People usually associate the term “modern art” with art where the so-called fine art traditions of the past, such as art of the Renaissance period, were disregarded for the sake of trying out new ways of doing things. Modern artists experimented with fresh ways of seeing and had new ideas about the nature of materials they used and the purpose of art. They were moving away from the traditional arts toward abstraction.

Modern ArtAlthough The concept of modern art is closely related to modernism (see orange painting above), art in recent times is often called contemporary art or postmodern art.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Modernism arose from wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in Western society  It is considered a philosophical movement with cultural trends and changes, and this where artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian and others came into cultural awareness. Some of the elements that shaped modernism were the development of modern industrial societies in concert with the rapid growth of cities, and then came the devastating horror of World War I.

Along with experimentation with form and techniques, Modernism clearly rejected the concept of realism. Interestingly, Modernism rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking, and even of religious belief.

Zen

The Zen of Abundant Creativity

Most of us think of an artist as a person who creates art, often as an occupation, whose creative work shows imagination and sensitivity. An artist has also been defined as a person who is skilled at some activity, such as a dancer, a musician, a singer, a skater, etc. My own definition of being an artist has come out of my own, lifelong experience of what happens to me when I’m in the process of creating – when the creative “flow” is unleashed. There is a unique phenomenon that occurs for me, and it is that I have the feeling and knowing that the creative force, the creativity itself, and even the skill, is coming down through the top of my head and out my hands. The first time I became consciously aware of this, and could put words to it, was when I was around eleven or twelve years old.

Once, when my stepson was eight, we were driving in the car and a jazz tune was playing that I was very familiar with. I was singing along, improvising with nonsense syllables, creating my own melody along with the music. My stepson, who is now a professional musician, suddenly began singing along with me in perfect harmony, out of the clear blue! I had never heard this child sing before, though he had been taking piano lessons for several years. The spontaneous, excellent demonstration of his creativity and musical ear told me that music was definitely his gift. He was absorbed only in the creating of the sound, without a thought.

I use both myself as a painter and my son as a musician as two examples of children who had been free of the mind, free of all thought and conceptualization, while in the inspired moment of creativity. The ability to create from this space has continued for both of us throughout our lives, which is true for many artists. Abundance, a concept generally understood via manifesting financial prosperity, is showing up throughout the universe in infinite ways; in nature, in human love and compassion, and in the creative force of life itself.

When I was teaching fine art to children and adults, it was the students who were listening to their minds who had difficulty being imaginative and who were hard on themselves. Those who allowed themselves to be free, who came to class with an open heart and a calm but playful attitude, enjoyed themselves completely and were able to tap into the creative flow without experiencing any stressful thoughts. The challenge of teaching art was not just about imparting technical knowledge, it was in showing each individual student, of every age, that he or she has access to this creative force simply by allowing oneself to rise above (not listen to) the mind and just let go. Every one of my students was able to do this, once it was pointed out.

It would seem that being able to allow the creative flow is an enlightened state. I was recently reading about Zen, a branch of Buddhism that developed in China during the sixth and seventh centuries. A central element of Zen meditation is to free the mind of all thought and conceptualization. Zen stresses the importance of the enlightenment experience and the futility of rational thought, intellectual study and religious ritual in attaining this.

And Boheme Magazine (“An Online Magazine of Arts, Literature and Subversion”) defines a true artist as “the revolutionary who participates with Divinity in the act of creation and the mechanics of human evolution. It is always an artist of some type – painter, writer, philosopher, teacher, scientist – who advances the enlightenment and progress of humanity.” I believe that every artist has been blessed with the ability to tap into the divine energy that already moves through us. It’s simply a matter of changing one’s perception of what creative abundance really is. The zen of being an artist is to simply let go of the mind and let the divine light of the Creator flow through.

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Experimenting with Fantasy Art

Who doesn’t enjoy traveling through worlds beyond our imagination? Fantasy is the opportunity to travel forward and backward in time and even to new universes. Wonderful imaginary creatures and humanesque beings can be the answer for subject matter if you have become bored with your art. Why not bring the fantastic into your work and give your imagination a chance to play in new realms? Experimentation is the key. In other words, be open to anything. You can combine animal types to create a new animal, combine human with animal, or combine several or even many creatures into one new one. To bring fantasy into your artistic bag of tools, it’s important to begin with the spirit of play, to be willing to be playful about coming up with ideas. One’s “style” of art created does not have to remain static; it can be changed continuously or periodically. Keep the excitement for your work by experimenting all the time! Keep your doors of perception open and have fun with it. Here is a website with examples of art by excellent fantasy artists for your enjoyment. Fantasy is in your heart!

October 22, 2017 0 Comments
Creativity-Artistic Ability

Creativity and Artistic Ability

Creativity and artistic ability are two different subjects. Creativity is a natural gift that every living person is born with. Babies engage in creative play, children pretend they are princesses and super heroes, adults create meals in the kitchen and decide what clothes to put together for the day, etc. So being creative is a basic human quality.

When someone says something like, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” what they are really saying is that they don’t believe they have artistic talent. Some people are born with the artistic ability to make art without much thinking, some people stress out if they’re asked to make art, some people learn the how-tos and then their artistic skills improve.

The important thing to remember is that creativity is in you, no matter what you think. Creativity is in you no matter what degree of artistic ability you have. If you’re interested in learning how to draw or paint, make jewelry or do arts and crafts or write poetry, just know that you have already achieved the first step just by virtue of being a human – you have creativity.

To develop artistic ability, first is choosing what you’re interested in creating, and then finding someone who can teach you the basic steps. Developing artistic ability is like learning how to ride a bike, as cliche as that sounds, because at first it may seem difficult… but with practice it gets easy and natural. In truth, the creative challenge is really to surrender to the learning curve so your inborn creativity can find its expression.

June 13, 2016 0 Comments
Learn to Draw at Any Age Beginning Drawing

“Am I Too Old To Learn To Draw?”

It’s never too late to become skilled at something new. Adults are often intimidated by the thought of learning new things. For example, when I was 50 I began to learn how to line dance. After a couple of years it became easy. I have had many students in their sixties and seventies who wanted to learn how to draw, even if they’ve never thought they had any natural talent. Learning to draw doesn’t mean you have to be a skilled “traditional” artist. The significant thing for someone embarking on a new educational journey is to move toward it with patience and allow yourself to surrender to the progression of learning. In art, as with academics, there is a learning curve; a process.

I have many new students whose goal is to learn how to paint, however, I’ve learned over the years that the more understanding of drawing basics, and the more practice in drawing that a person has, the easier and faster it will be to learn to paint well. For painting is really drawing with a brush. As a beginner, when you study how to draw, have patience with the sequence, with the process of gaining agility. Understand that it’s perfectly fine to be a beginner (at anything!) and enjoy every little step; from learning new ways to hold a pencil, to learning how to see the basic shapes of something you want to draw, to refining and shading.

Beginning DrawingOne great way to learn to draw, and my most fabulous teacher made me do this over and over, is to copy drawings out of books or from internet searches. I drew many eyes, ears, noses, feet, hands. I copied many figures and horses (my favorite). There are many wonderful how-to videos on YouTube and some great ones on this website. Have fun looking for resources.

So you are never too old to learn to draw. All you need is the desire, paper and pencil, an attitude of gentleness with yourself and some free time. Remember that it takes time and don’t be in a hurry. Give yourself the gift of learning how to draw and… enjoy!

 

October 12, 2015 0 Comments
Blog - Craftsman

Dimensions of Creativity

We humans are magnificent, creative beings that have a fundamental human urge to do something well – for its own sake – as part of our natural makeup. Doing something well includes increasing skillfulness and keeping our attention on what we’re doing rather than on ourselves. Whether a graphics artist, a physician, a musician, or even parents or politicians – each one immerses himself or herself in a “craftsman’s” effort. When we’re in the process of creating something or doing our best to accomplish something good in life, not only are we aware of the physical/material elements of what we’re doing, but we apply our individual ethics and values as we challenge ourselves with personal ideas about what good work really means.

Being skillful at something holds many dimensions, such as the mechanical technicalities we employ and the passionate energy that we require to do good quality work, be it creative arts, professional activities, or what involves our interest in daily living. To an unexpected extent, our personal craftsmanship leads us to a place where we can discover things about ourselves through our effort and intention for making things, creating accomplishments.

For people who enjoy creating art, we lose ourselves in the process; and that is the craftsmanship that becomes time-transcending and blissful and the outcome is not as important as the process, the “doingness,” itself. Making the most of what we are doing, developing our skill for the love of it, is a natural energy and inherent in creativity.

September 23, 2015 0 Comments
printing art

Make Prints of Small Paintings

To make prints of your painting, begin by scanning your small 8×10 inch canvas painting at 600 dpi. This will enable you to have enlarged sizes printed, like 11×14 inches or 16×20 inches. If your printer can manage larger paper up to 19 inches wide, you could scan a larger original. An 8×10 painting that has been scanned at 600 dpi can be converted into a 16×20 print at 300 dpi, the quality standard for printing for producing a clean, sharp reproduction.

After you have scanned your artwork, save the original scan as your “master copy.” Then use Photoshop, if needed, to fine-tune the levels a bit. For example, acrylic paints may reflect the scanner’s light, turning black into grey, so you can adjust the colors a bit darker to compensate for the fade. Once you have your adjusted 300 dpi version in PhotoShop, save it as a jpeg and a pdf (you never know which one a printer will require).

Some printers print with a laser printer so as to be of better quality, however, printing has come a long way. For example, for gallery quality reproductions I found this site online as one example that uses watercolor paper and a new type of inkjet printer for fine art. Some printers print on canvas paper as well. To sell or give your fine art as gifts, you can offer framed, matted or unmatted.

October 17, 2014 0 Comments
20180911_142708 Horses in Art

Horses in Art

Horses have naturally been depicted in art all through history, recurrently portrayed as the horse in battle until modern times. The Renaissance horse paintings during the 4th century included some exceptional portrayals of horses. In 1482 Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to sculpt the largest equestrian statue in the world (which,by the way, was never completed until it was replicated in the late 20th century). Private Art Coach Fort Bragg, California (707) 813-4854Because the beloved horse is no longer important either as a type of transportation or as a war tool, horses are not seen as frequently in modern times. In recent history they are primarily associated with fox hunting, racing, the old west (cowboys and native Americans), and pulling carts, etc. Presently, the field of equine art has gotten very expressive and creative and can be very colorful. Beautiful works of art are seen of horses with wings and unicorn horns, sometimes together. Fantasy equine art is very popular and quite gorgeous.

 

August 26, 2014 0 Comments
Doodle

Doodling

I find doodling to be a creative outlet. When I doodle, I am drawing in an unfocused way with my attention occupied on other things. My doodles can be uncomplicated drawings with some meaning, they may be brainstorming, quickie designs for jewelry or paintings, or they may just be abstract or curly shapes. People like to doodle silly cartoons of people they know, famous comic book characters, made-up imaginary beings, geometric shapes, landscapes and flowers, textures and wandering patterns.

Growing up, I was called a daydreamer by my teachers; I used to doodle in my school notebooks and even the margins of my textbooks, mostly because I was not interested in class. To this day I doodle when I’m on long telephone conversations and when I’m in seminars.

I kept journals for many years and doodled in them. Sometimes I go back in with acrylics or watercolors and paint the doodles, which is a fun way to get myself to re-read my notes. Doodles can be a source of ideas for later drawings and paintings, so I keep a chunky file of doodles I’ve done that I liked, torn out of old notebooks or off of other pages of notes and doodles. Doodling can alleviate boredom or keep me busy while waiting for a meal in a restaurant, waiting for the train or a flight. And I even doodle in the airplane. How about taking a sandwich to the park and doodle for an hour as a treat for yourself?

July 27, 2014 3 Comments