Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ilya and Olga...

Ilya Repin is, in my opinion, one the the greatest painters ever...

He was a master of color, composition, theme, expresion and I could go on and on. I have mentioned before and I will probably say again, find the artists that you love and aspire to be, and study and emulate their art. If you can go to the museum and study it and make sketches of their work in person, so much the better.

You can see Ilya's work (and most other artists) at Olga's Gallery online at http://www.abcgallery.com/R/repin/repin.html Very detailed site, a bit rough around the design edges, but great content.


You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.
Brian Tracy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Would Andy Do?


An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have.
Andy Warhol

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Going back to the start...

Everyone has a teacher that touched their lives.  For me it was my first Art teacher, Mr. Downy.   I'm not entirely certain I would be on my current path, were it not for the start he gave me.

I hear him still in my head: "A great artwork has shadows that go to black and highlights that got all the way to pure white and all values in between.  THAT is what makes it interesting."

I'm currently in a post show funk and in spite of that, I'm still working (albeit a bit slower than usual).  That being said, this photo fascinated me for the black BLACKS and the WHITE highlights.  I'm not discussing the obvious jacket and hair, note the models lips, the WHITE highlight and the deep pure black of the crease where the lips meet.  So I'm off to start a detailed pencil drawing of this portrait.

What are you roots?


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bustin' your creative slump...

What are your tips for overcoming creative slumps?

I don't have specific things I do... what DOES help though is looking at other artwork and visiting the museum.

And during a slump, I once doodled this image in a few minutes with only office supplies (sharpie, yellow highlighter and ball point pen).

The one thing I know and try to keep in mind.  A slump is usually more of a "chrysalis", rather than a "slump".  While I'm not creating, something is gestating inside and when I do resume my work, it is always stronger for the break.

I really would love to hear from you all about your tools, or opinions and feelings about your slumps.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

What color is black?...

I'm finishing a comission right now of a black standard poodle. I've posted this picture, to discuss the nature of representing "black" in art. If you paint a large swath of black, it visually goes flat and dull. (see the silhouettes of the large rocks or the shadowed side of the rock in the foreground of the photo).

Black is not the absence of light. Black is all the colors mixed together. (when painting forget everything you ever learned about physics as it applies to light). To make "black" have energy and vibrancy, i.e. "aliveness" mix in all colors.

Be bold with your art, be unafraid... its only a canvas, or a sheet of paper. If it is a failed experiment gesso over it and start again.


Only with absolute fearlessness can we slay the dragons of mediocrity that invade our gardens. George Lois

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Contagious Client Enthusiasm....

I found the past week that after the ramp up to the show, and the great turnout for the show, that I was going thru "post-show blues."

I do have several commissions lined up and one is due and I am completing the work. I emailed the client to ask if I can hang the work and look at it for a couple of week. It gives me a chance to step back and observe the work. Sometimes I find small things to rework and others I just enjoy the work.

The response I got in my email box was positively jubilant. She explained how excited she was and also how much she'd been talking about me and the portrait of her dog Buck, and as I read how excited she was for the work and my art, I found that my blues were lifting and her enthusiasm for the work transferred to me.

Not only was one email from an excited client a great way to shake off the blues, but it put creative wind back in my sails.... If you are an art lover, please send an email to an artist that you really enjoy and let them know. Even if you aren't a patron, there is no better feeling (for me at least) to have people I don't know give me positive feedback about my work... (and thank you to all of you that have done that).


Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.
Bo Bennett

Sunday, June 7, 2009

And the critics say...

The BEST part of my opening, was listening to people discuss the work amongst themselves when they didn't realize that I could hear. To listen to their honest take on each piece was invaluable.

I also adored seeing so many emotional responses to the first "sight" of certain works. There were lots of giggles for instance to "And...?", the yawning Siamese.

All the things I internalized in the creation of this show were verbalized by my guests.

1. When I am insecure about a work, be it the "I'm afraid I'm going to mess it up and should stop now", or the "I don't like the direction this work is taking"... it shows in the line and the energy of the work.

2. (I am paraphrasing Picasso) If you want an exact like-ness, thats what a camera is for. Art is more and goes beyond photo realism. I need to take that next step and listen to my instincts--be bold with line and color (see 1.)

3. I do great with the eyes and expression and when people look at my work they feel "something". (this is the highest compliment I think I can get, and lets me know that I'm on the right track).

There was much more feed back these where the top and what I hope you take away from this is, listen to your gut. If you look honestly at your work, you will see the areas for growth. And then get a group of strangers and friends together and listen to how they respond to your work... at the end of the day that is why we do it, isn't it?


The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all Mark Twain

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lessons from an opening...

Lessons Learned last night:

1. Make a huge sandwich board and position your most charming and outgoing friend at the door to invite timid folks in. Most people thought it was a private affair and didn't enter until invited.

2. Hound the media to post your press releases.

3. I said this before, plan twice as much time to complete tasks AND complete anything you can ahead of the event. (in my case also plan half as much food)

4. Baked brie is a favorite and while I brought WAY too much food the brie was wiped out even though I brought 2 wheels of it.

5. Ask for help. I did, and I have amazing friends.

6. Thank your gallery, treat them to goodies if you can, and thank your guests and gallery staff (in my case they all stayed 2-3 hours past their normal shifts to allow for my show).

7. Even when another event in the same area calls and give you unkind verbiage during your show, maintain your grace and good humor. (I just chalked it up to having good work if the other artist felt threatened enough to stop her show to call me and complain that my show was infringing on her attendence).

8. If you like the venue and the show has gone well, don't be shy about asking to come back next season/year etc.

Tomorrow I will post what I learned from the amazing criticism I received. (feedback IS a gift).


What distinguishes modern art from the art of other ages is criticism. Octavio Paz

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Finishing for opening tomorrow...

If it were not for the last minute and deadlines, I wonder how many works of art would not exist.

"The Cats Who Keep Us" Feline Fine Art opening, during First Friday in June at:

The Cat Hospital of Portland Gallery
8065 SE 13th Ave.
Portland, OR 97202

June 5th, 2009 from 6-8pm

You are invited, bring a friend.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baroque guitar, Baked brie, wine and you....

You're invited to art, a lovely repast, and lively conversation in a charming gallery this Friday from 6-8PM.  

The opening of the "Cats Who Keep Us" show in the gallery of the the Cat Hospital of Portland at:

8065 SE 13th
Portland, OR

Part of First Friday.

You can see a preview of the show and have a URL to invite your friends at: 


The sale of any artwork or commissions booked from this show, a portion goes to help animals in need.


A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  ~Leopold Stokowski