Monday, January 31

A Lecture on Manet


Quite unexpectedly, which can be the best way sometimes I think, I attended a lecture on Edouard Manet last Saturday.

I had not the slightest intention of doing that, but about 11:00 a.m. I happened to be on Twitter and saw a tweet from MFAH (Museum of Fine Arts Houston). MFAH is one of the Twitter accounts that I follow. The brief tweet—of course, they’re all brief—was promoting a lecture at the museum that afternoon.

It being a winter day, I thought, why not?

The lecture was one of a series on Impressionism. As you may know, I’m always up for learning more about Impressionism and the Impressionists. This was the third in a series of eight or so, which runs through March at the MFAH. The lectures are timely since the museum will host an Impressionism exhibit from February to May with many famous paintings of Impressionists from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The lecturer was Dr. Nancy Locke, an art professor at Pennsylvania State University, and not surprisingly from her introduction, an expert and scholar on Manet. The title of the lecture was “Manet’s Figures of Modernity.”

The lecture focused on Manet’s work in the 1860s and 1870s including his famous paintings, Lejeuner sur l’herbe and Olympia, both which shocked the Salon establishment at the time. The talk discussed how Manet adapted to the modernism of the time in Paris, among other things, including Manet’s ubiquitous model for many of his paintings, Victorine Meurent, and his family, wife Eugenie and sons.

I learned Manet never exhibited with the Impressionists, but he was discussed in context with Fantin-LaTour, Monet, Berthe Morisot among other painters of the era.

It was very informative and an unexpected and enjoyable way to spend a winter weekend afternoon. My compliments to Twitter and MFAH. Artists should take advantage of any and all educational opportunities offered at local art museums, galleries, and such.

Happy Painting.

Until next blog…

Friday, January 28

Start with a Limited Palette

Garden's Edge
Acrylic on Paper
Copyright 2011
A couple of blogs ago, I showed you my go-by reference photo for the acrylic painting I have been working on for what seems like months, but, in fact, has only been a few weeks.

That blog was about using primarily red, blue, and yellow along with the occasional green and, of course, white.

In my painting those are exactly the acrylic colors I used—ultramarine blue, vermillion, and primary yellow along with permanent green and, of course, titanium white. What I like is the strong colors of the flowers along with the varied greens of the vegetation.

These vivid colors were accomplished with this limited palette. That is the key point I wanted to make in the several blogs on the subject.

You should strive for a limited palette. If you must, lock your other colors away for awhile so you won’t be tempted to use them. Go do it right now, put them out of sight.

As I said, it is tempting to go for the mixed color in the tube. But remember, the paint manufacturers are in business to, what? Sell paint, of course.

In order to become the artist you want to be--you know, the artist with the wall-powerful paintings and whose work everyone wants to see—start with a limited palette.

Happy Painting.

Until next blog…

Monday, January 24

Watercolor AND Acrylic!

My Watercolor I'm Re-working

Just a short bloggie today.

You know I paint in watercolor and acrylic, right? Well, I want to let you in on what I’ve recently discovered.

Since both mediums are water-based, you can easily mix-and-match them, so to speak. What I mean is that you can re-work an original watercolor with acrylics.

Those tedious, tedious watercolor applications can be easily corrected or painted over and improved!

A break-through, for me anyway.

Today’s image is one of my past watercolors that I’ve shown you before.

This week I’m re-working it with acrylic. When I’m finished, I’ll show you the results.

Also, don’t forget to follow the second week of the Australian Open this week.

Happy Painting (and tennis watching).

Until next blog…

Wednesday, January 19

Painting Primarily with the Three Primaries

A Reference Photo
In my last blog I blogged about primarily using the basic three primary colors—only—for your paintings.

Today, I’ll tell you why.

In keeping with the back to basics theme, I’ll keep it short and sweet, as they say.

Simply, there are three reasons for painting primarily with the three primaries—red, blue and yellow:

They’re (almost) all you’ll ever need. All other colors come from these three. Mix and match them as much as you like. Lighten them, darken them, neutralize them. Add white and you have many, many more combinations.

Color harmony. This is actually, I think, the most important reason. Using these three you won’t make mud unless you try to. Because there are only three, that means two are always combining in one direction or the other on the color wheel. They will always “go” together. Compare a painting with a limited palette to one that isn’t, and you’ll see what I mean. Color harmony makes all the difference.

Cost. This is probably not a factor for most painters at all, but if you only need to buy a red, a yellow, and a blue (along with white and maybe the occasional green), then you’re bound to be saving some money.

Today’s image is a reference photo for my current acrylic in which I’m using a limited palette—the three primaries, plus white and permanent green.

Happy Painting.

Until next blog…

Thursday, January 13

Back to Basics - Painting with 3 Primary Colors


After a couple of blogs in which I talked about painting the way you want, I thought I’d better get back to business. That is, today’s blog is a little more practical, at least I hope so.

You probably already know about the three primary colors—red, blue, and yellow, right?

These are the only colors you’ll ever need to paint with, no kidding—with a caveat or two that I’ll throw in later.

If you are a beginning artist, or maybe just an adventurous one, you probably love to:

a) roam the aisles of your art supply store (or its equivalent online) scanning all the colors available to purchase and buying at least one per trip

b) collect as many colors of paint as you can afford

c) use all of your colors in your "masterpieces"

d) all of the above

I am guilty of d), and I admit it. If you are doing any of these, stop it!

I’m not sure when one stops being a “beginning” artist, but I did this (d) for the first three years of painting. And, just so you know, although I think of myself as adventurous, deep down I know that I’m really not, but that’s OK.

But I digress, back to the three primary colors.

Start with the three and practice, practice, practice using them exclusively. I suggest an ultramarine blue, cadmium red medium, and cadmium yellow light.

The caveats are this:

1) in oil or acrylic painting, you’ll need to add titanium white to lighten the hues

2) in oil, acrylic, or watercolor, you will eventually need to experiment with different blues and yellows to achieve the right shade of green you need (especially landscapes) and/or you can add a Hooker’s green to jump-start the process.

Other than that, you’re good to go.

The key to this, like a New Year’s resolution, is to be diligent and don’t cheat. Use only these three colors, and none others, for the next three months or until the colors in your paintings match your motif.

Now that I’ve told you what to do, next blog I’ll tell you why.

Happy Painting.

Until next blog…

Monday, January 10

Paint The Way You Want To Paint

Adobe Afternoon
Acrylic on Canvas
Copyright 2008

I’m following up on my last blog, which was a follow-up of my previous blog where I suggested that painters should go with the flow of paint and their own personal vision. (If you can follow that.)

I said rather loudly it’s OK to paint the way you want.

I asked you to ponder if your artwork was:
- some other artist’s work (style, technique)
- how you THINK your art should look or should be

I wondered if your art were really your own if you were taking or had taken art classes or art lessons.

I did not mean to give (or leave) the impression that I don’t support art education in all realms, from art history to fine arts to specific techniques and genres. I support education for all in whatever field of endeavor, especially art, and far be it from me to cast aspersions on art education.

My presupposition about art education is that all types, genres, techniques, and styles are equally relevant in art schools. It’s wise to learn different techniques, to study the masters’ paintings, to try different mediums as part of an educational curriculum, process, or art class.

That does not mean you should have to to paint the way any other artist paints. Does it? Paint whatever way you want to paint, and let it be your own creation.

Artists and painters, I believe, should create whatever vision they conjure for the viewer. They should not be constrained by any particular style, general consensus, by critics, by anyone’s moral compass, by ethics, or mores of society. I do acknowledge the gray area of artistic content deemed acceptable in society and who decides because of legal, ethical, or other constraints. But that is the subject of another blog for another day.

And it’s beside my point, which is to simply to encourage artists to paint the way they want to paint.

(Today's image is an acrylic of mine that I painted the way I wanted to.)

Happy Painting.

Until next blog...

Thursday, January 6

"Is It Really Your Art - Is It Really?"

At The Plaza
Pastel on Paper
Copyright 2008
I guess I’m starting out 2011 with a challenge to myself and to you.

I’m following up on my last blog to discuss more on why I think it’s really important for you to be true to your own style as an artist.


And, yes, I am yelling by using ALL CAPS above. I’ll calm down, but you shouldn’t. I see what has happened here.

Art is your passion, or at least it’s right up there on your list. You spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about your art, learning about your art, practicing your art, actually creating your art, telling others about your art, showing your art. If it’s not your full-time job, it might as well be.

Isn’t that nice.

The question I have for you is, “Is it really your art?”

“Is it, really?”

Or did you learn how to draw, paint, etc. at art school? Do you or did you or are you now taking art lessons? If so, then I wonder how much of what you’re producing is really your art.

Or could it be that it’s merely your rendition of: 1) some other artist’s work (style, technique), and/or 2) how you THINK your art should look or should be?

Ponder that, and I’ll get back to you to discuss this some more in the next blog.

(BTW, today's image is a pastel I did a few years ago when I didn't know how my art should look or be.)

Happy Painting.

Until next blog…

Monday, January 3

A New Year's Art Blog


What will the art year bring?

I have high hopes. I’m hoping my technique and creativity will find a following, even if it’s only a few like-minded people.

I’m not out for fame or fortune, although a little of each would be fine. To be sure, I’m not expecting either.

No, I’m trying to look at the big picture; that is, the big and long picture. I’m realizing that the works of most artists are appreciated (truly appreciated) only after the artist has long passed. There are obvious exceptions, but generally speaking, that’s the truth of it.

Not to be discouraging, but that’s what makes living and painting in the here and now more challenging, don’t you think?

That’s why as painters, I and probably you, too, should toss our art inhibitions out the proverbial window and go with the flow of paint and your own personal vision.

Then live with it. Nurture it. Encourage it. Grow it.

But don’t try to change it.

In other words, let your art be what it wants to be. You will then find true happiness and contentment.

Happy Painting in 2011.

Until next blog…