December 5, 2013
This is a studio watercolor I just completed. All throughout the painting, I was concerned about doing too much–that’s because I was very happy with the block in phase and could have easily just left it as a monochromatic sketch. Instead, I decided to go to full color and turn it into a painting–so, I had to be careful along the way not to let things get out of control and over detailed.
The block-in phase, drawn with a brush using the blue section of my butcher’s tray palette.
Next came the darks and the depth began to appear, very tempted to stop…
Added some color, that orange was scary, no turning back now…
Almost there, just need to connect the darks to keep the flow
The finished painting with the sky blocked in and the darks unified.
This was a very challenging piece to do in watercolor, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Overall I am pleased with the outcome, but I would like to do it again, possibly 2 more times: once again in watercolor only much larger (this is only 11×14 in.), and another version in oil, which I am sure would have a completely different feel to it.
November 26, 2013
Demo in oil for a husband and wife that wanted to learn oil painting together. Private lessons make a great holiday gift for someone creative who wants to try something new.
The holiday season is just about upon us, many artists are advertising holiday “specials” on small works, giclees, craft items and commissions. I’ve always avoided all of the above, I only offer original work (no prints) and feel that it isn’t fair to the collectors who buy my work or the galleries that sell it to risk reducing its value through discounting. Of course I’ll sell a drawing for a lot less than an oil painting, but not at a mass merchandising price. That isn’t my market.
However, that’s not to say that I don’t have anything on offer for the holidays…
Introducing: The Gift Certficate!
OK, so it’s not a new concept, but the way I’m applying it to my business is a bit out of the ordinary. It can be used in a variety of different ways:
- As a gift for a budding artist or someone who wishes to advance their studies in art via private or small group lessons! Perhaps you know a friend who is interested in art but who doesn’t have the budget or the time to fit an art class into their schedule. Why not give them the gift of private or small group lessons? If you’re an artist, you can even give the gift to yourself and a friend, a great way to spend some time together learning something new that you both enjoy. I offer private instruction in all media–oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, and charcoal. I’m happy to work with artists that live in the NY Metro area in their home studios. Depending on location, I can even do some weekend and evening sessions for those artists who work during the day! For those of you that do not live in the area, another option is to work online via Face Time or Skype, or to simply submit work via email for critique–there are a lot of options available. I have a student from Maine who works with me in this manner and it’s very efficient for both of us–it keeps her on track with her painting goals and allows me to work with a student I could not otherwise assist because of the distance.
- As a gift for someone who loves collecting art! Art is so subjective, how can you possibly choose a piece of art for someone else? Giving a gift certificate takes the guess work out of giving art. It also makes giving art more feasible in terms of cost–you choose the amount you wish to spend and allow the recipient to choose how they wish to spend it. For example, let’s say you give someone a $100 gift certificate. They can either use it to purchase a small, unframed, black & white drawing in full, or apply it to the total cost of a more expensive item, paying the difference between the card value and item’s cost.
If this sounds like something that might appeal to you as a unique gift giving idea, send me an email at email@example.com. Gift certificates are available starting at $50 and can be purchased in increments of $25 from there on up. I can give you details about the program and pricing for specific items such as individual and private group lessons. Looking forward to hearing from you!
November 17, 2013
Watercolor & Grey Sharpie, 6×6 in., about 10 minutes, from looking in the mirror
Faces often intimidate artists, particularly when it comes to self portraits–you are not only revealing your technical skills but you are also letting the world know how you see yourself. However, our own faces make some of the best models–they are readily available, free of charge, and you can’t offend anyone other than yourself if your efforts are less than you expected them to be.
I don’t draw myself (or anyone else for that matter) with the intent of getting an exact likeness, but I do aim to get a correct approximation of facial structure, proportion and age. I also hope to capture the personality of whomever I’m drawing, as well as a sense of their mood and expression at the time I am drawing them. I am most interested in using the medium, in this case watercolor and a bit of ink, to capture the subject in as few strokes as possible. I do this by keying in on the features that make the person unique–the more you draw the same subject the more familiar you become with it. You get to recognize the forms and their corresponding geometric shapes and how light carves them out of the shadows.
Watercolor is a great medium for drawing faces–it’s fast, spontaneous and vibrant. If you are looking for an expressive way of capturing the personality of your subjects (including yourself) give it a try. Don’t forget to have fun with it, remember, you can’t offend the model.
October 29, 2013
10th Avenue as sketched from the picture window on the Highline
and not having a studio should not prevent you from becoming one!
I recently moved, and one of the first things people ask me is “do you have a studio in the new place?” This is prompted by the fact that for the past 6 years I have been painting in a small, unheated, unelectrified shed during the warmer months (no, I did not LIVE in the shed, I just painted there :)) In winter, I would typically paint in my car, unless it was warm enough to do a quick sketch outside, or I would simply use the studios where I teach when they were not occupied with classes.
Although there is an extra bedroom in our new space, I’ve opted to share it with the rest of the family as a media room. Why? Because where I work doesn’t matter to me, I don’t need a dedicated space, fancy lighting, or a state-of-the-art easel to practice drawing–give me a stick of charcoal and a paper bag, and I am all set!
I don’t care much for working from photos, I prefer to work on location whenever possible doing sketches in watercolor or pastel, or paintings on small panels in oil or acrylic, so having a mobile studio is far more useful than having a dedicated space in my home. Occasionally, I will create large pieces from these studies, and if I have to do those I am fortunate that I can usually find a studio that is not being used for an hour or 2 where I teach at the Visual Arts Center of NJ. My students enjoy seeing these pieces evolve and it also puts a bit of distance between me and my work which helps me to stay objective.
Getting out there and painting is what will take your work to the next level. A state-of-the-art studio is nice to have, but it isn’t necessary, even if you are a professional. Develop your skills and talent, and you can work anywhere!
October 14, 2013
Watercolor Sketch in Moleskine watecolor notebook, Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morristown, NJ
One of the challenges all artists face is what to do with unsold work. While there are always pieces that are special, adding to one’s own private collection is not typically the goal of most artists who sell their work professionally. If you teach, as I do, you can multiply the collection of small studies an demos that accumulate rather quickly.
I’ve found the best way to manage is to paint fewer paintings and to do more work in sketchbooks. Switching to watercolor as my primary medium for sketching has made this very easy to do. I simply carry a watercolor kit–Winsor Newton Field Box, Moleskine Watercolor Notebook, pencil and small bottle of water–with me wherever I go. I keep it in a small backpack in my car. Whenever I see something that interests me, I pull over and paint for a half hour or so. I also take it with me whenever I am in the city and can squeeze in an hour or so of sketching on my way to appointments, workshops, etc.
Since beginning this process of sketching on site in watercolor in April of 2013, I’ve already filled three and a half Moleskine notebooks! Each one is a small diary of images that bring back very clearly the other things going on at the time–it becomes a very personal process.
I’ve had several people ask me if I would ever sell my sketchbooks or produce ones specifically for sale. My answer is no–the whole point of doing them is to get away from doing work that is primarily for sale. The sketchbooks I carry with me are filled with memories that belong only to me, while they are not disclosed on the pages, I look at them and have immediate access to past thoughts and experiences. As for creating ones specifically for sale, that defeats the purpose of practicing–everything we do does not have to be for sale! These days, I reserve my paintings in oil for a few select exhibits at galleries and the Salmagundi Club, or for commissions (which I rarely accept). I prefer to derive the majority of my income from my teaching, I believe that taking this approach keeps me on track to becoming a better artist, which means more to me than commercial success or public recognition.
September 22, 2013
Pear & Apples, pastel drawing on construction paper
I draw far more often than I paint, focusing on studies and sketches on paper rather than formal paintings on stretched canvas. Working on paper rather than canvas really appeals to me for the simplicity, cost savings and ease of storage.
However, it goes beyond that for several reasons. I am fortunate in that I have a steady, although modest, income from teaching. This allows me to stay focused on developing as an artist, rather than on selling paintings. Of course I need to produce work for the galleries that represent me to sell, but I have always preferred to produce less and ensure that I am only offering the best I can to collectors. The only way I can do that is to continuously practice and experiment freely, learning new media, exploring new subject matter and taking risks rather than becoming formulaic. Drawing for me is the best way to do this, it is my favorite part of the painting process. Most galleries do not have an interest in showing or selling drawings, but they are integral to the development of a successful painting.
Second, I want to ensure that i don’t contribute to the current trend of producing paintings for the sake of producing paintings. I have become very tired of the competitive environment that has prevailed lately via social media outlets. We now have competitions and conferences that are no more than popularity contests and networking events. There has become so much emphasis on marketing, and so little on building skill. While venues such as Facebook and Twitter are certainly useful in promoting student and collector awareness, there has to be something worth creating awareness about first. So many artists seem to be in such a hurry these days to get their work out there long before they are truly ready. This has created a flood of amateur-level artwork and formulaic teaching practices . I prefer to spend my time honing my skills and teaching the basics rather than producing a glut of cheap paintings and mentoring a horde of students who paint exactly the way I do. I teach my students the foundations of drawing and allow them to build confidence and skill over time and at their own pace–not everyone was meant to be a professional artist, accept that and enjoy it as a hobby if it doesn’t come easily.
Becoming a better artist takes a lot of effort, patience and dedication. Drawing from direct observation is is the best way to develop your ability to see form and value, the building blocks that enable you to master any media. Don’t neglect the basics in search of the short cuts, there are no short cuts. Practice and and understanding of the basic concepts of drawing–form, value, proportion and perspective–will allow you to become the best artist you are capable of being.
August 30, 2013
Master your understanding of perspective this fall with “One, Two, Three…Perspective!” at VACNJ
Mastering perspective puts an artist at an advantage, regardless of what subject matter you choose to paint. A command of one, two, and three-point perspective guarantees that you are in control of your drawings and paintings. An understanding of atmospheric perspective allows you to create paintings with depth and a true sense of space. Understanding how color can enhance perspective is necessary in order to make forms recede and come forward. Without a good background in perspective, paintings often look amateurish and tentative.
I am offering a course at the Visual Arts Center of NJ in Summit called “One, Two, Three…Perspective!” It’s a great way to build an understanding of perspective from a painter’s point of view. In the class, we don’t use tools like t-squares or rulers to make rigid lines, the focus is on understanding the gesture involved in creating accurate, dynamic drawings of landscapes, architecture, small objects in the still life and the figure. Each week, we solve a different problem using perspective. The course is well suited to all levels, and is offered from 9:30 to noon for 10 weeks on Thursday mornings. For those of you who are on a waiting list for my watercolor class, why not consider taking this course first? It’s a great way to build the drawing skills you need to work confidently with watercolor. Then, you can register for my watercolor class in the winter and start out with the drawing skills that are needed to work effectively with watercolor.
To register, call the Visual Arts Center at 908-273-9121 or to view my entire course offering, click here.