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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
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
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 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. You can also mist your painting to keep the paint workable/wet.

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. His paintings actually glow, which the finest art books do not capture.

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. To read a good analysis by a present day artist on how Rubens painting and used medium, please see this article.

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 Claude 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