Wednesday, September 30

When Painting Is a Habit

Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/ 76.2 x 61 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith  2015
Not to make a distinction among the different types of painters today, as we are all worthy of respect, I would rather focus on our similarities.

Among the different types of painters today, I am unscientifically putting them in one of four categories. Again, all worthy of respect and in no particular order:

- Art Student, and by that I mean one who is actually enrolled in a school with an actual art curriculum or a "recognized" academy of art or some such.

- Art Teacher; one who teaches art or painting in one of the above-mentioned settings.

- Professional, and by that I mean one who is able to make a living entirely by the sale or other commercialization of his or her paintings.

- The Rest of Us Painters, and by that I mean all the rest of us painters.

As I said, what makes us similar? I believe we aspire to paint, or we practice painting diligently, or we paint on-again-off-again, or we join a painting club or league or society (or not), or we paint for the pure creative pleasure of it.

Whatever it is, the most important similarity in my opinion is that, for us, painting has become and is a habit we have no choice but to pursue. We must paint habitually, although the type, the style, the place, and the frequency varies as widely as the human experience.


Wednesday, September 23

Contrast is the Key to an Engaging Painting

Acrylic on Gallery-wrapped Canvas
30 x 24 in/76.2 x 61 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I know most all the painting instructors and artistic rules say what it takes to make a good painting:

Yes, it's composition.

Yes, it's drawing ability (or draftsmanship)

Yes, it's subject matter (or motif).

Yes, it's color palette selection.

Yes, it's center of interest (or focal point).

Yes, it's technique.

Yes, it's style.

Yes, it's brushwork.

Yes, yes. yes. It's all these things.

However, in my opinion, if you want your paintings to be really engaging (or enthralling or even spellbinding) and more than merely good, contrast is the key.

Wait, what?

Yes, contrast is the key to an engaging painting. Contrast is that element that catches our human eye and brain and emotion and keeps us interested.

Contrast is in color; complementary colors attract our eye and make us look. Red vs. green, yellow vs. purple, blue vs. orange when placed next to or near each other appear to vibrate.

Contrast is in value; light versus dark is an even greater eye-catcher. Black vs. white or any combination of a darker value against a lighter value keeps us engaged.

Viva la difference. How about that?

Wednesday, September 16

How to Love Your Own Paintings - Part 2

Some of my Favorite Paintngs
Hanging in my Space
Copyright Byrne Smith 2009 - 2014
Last week's painting life blog was about how to (learn to) love your very own paintings. I offered several ways that could perhaps help painters reduce doubts they have about their work and be more confident.

During the last week, I realized I had forgotten to include one thing that most painters are already doing that shows they really do love their own paintings. If they're not doing this already, it's the easiest thing to do. It will also help you love your paintings even more and will let others know you love them, too.

And what is it?  Simply to frame and hang your own paintings all over your studio and/or home!

The paintings you select to frame and hang can be ones that have been in shows or won awards or maybe they're just the ones you really love and always will be your favorites. No, they didn't sell, but that doesn't matter, not really.

You will have the pleasure of seeing your work everyday and all who enter your space will see them, too, and know you are proud of your work.

Happy painting...

Wednesday, September 9

How to Love Your Own Paintings

Blue Skies
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
 10 x 8 in/25.4 x 20.3 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
If the headline of today's blog sounds a little narcissistic to you, that's OK. That's what loving yourself is about.

Confidence in your abilities and a little chutzpah not only is a good thing, it's really important to your painting life and to staying motivated to achieve even better work.

In that context here are a few pointers on how to love your own paintings:

- If you don't like your current direction, methods, palette, medium, etc.--change one or more today to whatever does make you happy.

- Throw away every painting you've completed, but don't like, and still have in your studio; they're not going to change and will only remind you of your perceived "failure(s)."

- Paint what you're good at painting; if you paint clouds (or cats or whatever) well, then paint a lot of those--how well you painted them will be a confidence-builder and will make you happy.

- Imitation is the nicest compliment, so find several painters whose work you really, really admire and find out as much as you can about their methods; this will help your own work in all kinds of ways and give you something to aspire to.

- Finally, be the best painter person you can be--be kind, be sharing, be open-minded, be forthright, be reasonable, keep learning, and maintain a world-view for the arts.

(Just one caveat: loving your work, if taken to the extreme, is not advised as other painter people will not like you and will call you names.)

But other than that, learn to love your own paintings and embrace the painting life.