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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
Supplies for Travel

Art Supplies for Travel

Whenever I go away, I like to pack up a small variety of art supplies for travel so I will have choices for my creativity. I enjoy both drawing and painting but since oil paints stay wet, they’re not an alternative. Acrylics dry fast but they’re heavy; also not a easy to carry. So here are the art supplies for travel that I always include:

Watercolors are light and don’t take up much room. There are travel-sized cases of watercolor paint sets that include a tiny brush available, although I also use inexpensive plastic sets of Prang or Crayola watercolors since they don’t weight much and have tubs in the lid for mixing washes of colors. The brushes that come with these cheap sets are not good so I either take one good watercolor brush, a number 12 with a fine tip for detail work, or several smaller brushes designed for watercolors.

Derwent has nice watercolor pencils and Prismacolor makes a set of 8 premier illustration markers. and a six-well plastic palette for mixing colors. Wherever I go, I use paper coffee cups (easy to find) or mugs to put water in for rinsing brushes color mixing. For paper I like to have a small, moleskin watercolor notebook because it’s great for watercolors and for drawing. They come in a nice variety of sizes. Sometimes I take a large one in my suitcase as well, or a sketch pad with heavy paper.

I also pack up a variety of pencils, an eraser and some drawing pens, as well as a few paper towels. I often throw the entire batch of art supplies into a large Ziploc freezer bag so I can grab it and throw it into my backpack or tote at a moment’s notice

July 14, 2014 1 Comment
Sketching with Paint by Lewis Achenbach Sketching with Paint

Sketching with Paint

Sketching with paint is a wonderful skill to learn for starting a painting or as an actual technique for painting an entire picture. Sketching with paint is a form of painting loosely, just as sketching with pencils and charcoal is a loose form of drawing, only you’re sketching with a brush.

The beauty of sketching with paint is that it is a quick way to lay in a painting without being concerned about any details. For example, if you are painting a figure from a model or reference photo, you would sketch the motion (gesture) of the body and not attempt to do any details such as fingers and toes, or faces. Instead you would just be hinting at them. When sketching with a brush, you are recording visual information swiftly. The sketching with a brush may be done with a variety of stiff brushes (not watercolor brushes).

You can use one color of paint, such as burnt sienna, that has been thinned down to begin a painting and get your basic shapes down first, and then come in sketching with thicker paint to start laying in thicker colors. You can also establish where the light is coming from, sketching in your light and shadow areas with your brush. You can also do small sketches with paint before beginning a larger painting, such as the great sketch above in oils by artist Greg Dechow for a commission he worked on. Also, here is an “urban sketch” with paint by Brenda Malley.

June 18, 2014 0 Comments
art classes in Santa Monica

Four Tips for Acrylic Painting

Acrylics are very versatile paints. They are fast-drying do not have the toxicity that oils have. They are used straight out of the tube and also can be thinned with water or a medium. Artists paint on paper, canvas and board with acrylics. Here are four simple tips to help you get nice results painting with acrylics.

Tip 1: Keep Your Colors Wet and Workable

Acrylics dry quite fast so squeeze out only small amounts of paint from the tubes onto your palette, adding small amounts more as needed. To keep the colors workable, be sure they stay wet. Use a recycled spray bottle to continually spray a fine mist over the paint on the palette to keep it moist. Otherwise, it will dry out and will not be usable.

Tip 2: Palette Paper

The best palettes are the paper, wax-coated sheets that come in a pad. Avoid the ones with the thumb holes as these are awkward to hold. Best to keep the palette on the on a table where you are working. If you cannot find this kind of palette paper in your local art supply store, you can also use kitchen waxed paper.

Tip 3: Clean the Brushes while Painting

It’s important to keep you brushes clean while working with acrylics. Keep two pieces of paper towel handy – one beside your water jar and another in the hand not holding the brush. Two good habits to develop are 1) with the first towel, squeeze extra paint off your brush before you rinse it – every time you rinse; and 2) whenever you rinse a brush, blot it on the second towel that is next to the water jar. These habits keep the water cleaner and the brushes cleaner so your colors won’t get muddy and gray on the palette from the brushes;

Tip 4: Glazing with Acrylics

Glazing is the term for applying a transparent and very thin layer of paint in oil painting and acrylics. Glazed layers are painted on top each another and each layer must be absolutely dry before the next is applied over it, preventing colors from mixing. This also allows the colors beneath to show through. While painting a glaze, spread the paint out thinly with the brush. The glazing technique is used build create depth as well as to modify colors in your painting

May 28, 2014 3 Comments
Rubens Horse

Entranced by Peter Paul Rubens

When I recently visited the Prado Museum in Madrid, I was utterly entranced by the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens, which I’d only seen in books before. Rubens, who I love more than even Rembrandt, is known for how he captured the feeling of light on skin with more brilliance than anyone else in the history of fine art. I could just feel the life in the people he painted with his gorgeous, flowing style.

In his day, Rubens’ palette of colors and the way he mixed them were unlike what the other artists of his time used. For example, he painted with brighter red and yellow and portrayed more reflected light (highlights) than the other painters. He also concocted an original, quick drying medium which he used for mixing his colors in order to make his paint dry quickly.

Rubens was not only one of the most prolific painters in history, he was also one the fastest painters ever known. Many of Rubens’ panels were completed in one day, most often painting wet into wet rather than in the conventional oil painting method of his day of building a painting in semi-transparent layers of paint called glazes. This was more time consuming as each layer must be dry before applying the next. Rubens, however, painted rapidly as if sketching with the brush, creating a luscious realism in a loose style.

May 21, 2014 0 Comments
At the Theatre by Mary Cassatt - www.PrivateArtCoach.com

What is Impressionism?

Impressionism was a painting movement that began in France in the 1860’s. Its unique style was defined by an artistic concern for and delight in representing visual impressions, with the focus on the changing effects that light has on color. The idea was to catch the spirit of the subject, as in the above pastel painting by Mary Cassatt, “At the Theatre.”

Impressionist techniques included painting brush strokes that were small and thin, though visible, and heavy with paint that was applied wet into wet. The subject matter was ordinary. Impressionist paintings often portrayed the passing of time and included movement and atypical visual angles.

Another interesting technique used by the Impressionists was that they avoided using black paint and instead mixed blacks with complimentary colors. Although impressionist painters were ostracized at the time, their emphasis on the play of natural light and vibrant colors has made Impressionism very popular ever since. Some paintings from that period have sold for tens of millions of dollars – artists such as Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, van Gogh and others.

In present time, “impressionism” is also a term used to describe an artistic (or literary) style that strives to portray a feeling or an experience – instead of trying to accomplish a perfect representation.

May 14, 2014 1 Comment
Seated Model - Henry Yan

Loose Brush Strokes

If your paintings seem rigid and constrained, you may want to try a looser style such as in this painting, “Seated Model” by Henry Yan. Painting loosely, sometimes called “painterly,” means that brush strokes are visible and meaningful. Loose brush strokes can bring softness and excitement to colors and the outcome can be surprising. The presence of brushstrokes in the finished work is not by chance, but something very important to the work of art. With diligence and practice, in time you will loosen up the way you paint. Loose brush strokes are easy to learn and here are some things you can try which will help you loosen up:

  1. Use lots of different kinds of brush strokes (repetitive strokes are boring for the viewer).
  2. Vary the size and direction of your brush strokes.
  3. To hold the integrity of the painting, don’t blend the brush strokes with each other.
  4. Keep the strokes of your brush loose-looking and unrefined (produces a feeling of motion and freedom).
  5. Once you lay the paint on, leave it (don’t scrub it onto the canvas).
  6. Paint with large brushes as much as possible.
  7. Do not add details or do lots of refining (makes the painting unexciting and leaves nothing to delight your audience).
  8. Use lots of thick paint, which creates lovely, light-reflecting texture. So what if some gets wasted!
  9. Using a brush with a long handle, stand back from your painting and make quick, free strokes on the canvas.
  10. Paint the whole painting at the same time, cycling around it, and do not focus on any one area (the total painting is significant).
  11. Don’t fix every inaccuracy or error (every good painting has fantastic mistakes that the painter chose not to fix).
  12. Keep your intellect out of the process of painting (paint with your feelings, not your intellect).
May 10, 2014 0 Comments