Tag Archives: art

My Teaching Credo

I. The most important skill an artist can acquire is how to see.

The easiest way to begin to see is to be alone, very quiet, and just observe the world around you. Don’t tell anyone else what you see. Just look and enjoy it for yourself.

When you see something interesting, begin to draw it in your mind. Notice the lines and the spaces between the lines. Notice the colors.

Ask yourself…..what is it that is so interesting to me. Now pick up a pencil. Write it down. Also write down what it feels like, this feeling of interest in this subject or object.

II. The second most important skill an artist can acquire is belief in yourself and your own ability.

You are one of a kind. You are so unique that no one else thinks, moves, sees or loves the way you do. So don’t expect anyone else to be interested in what you are interested in. Don’t expect anyone else to see what you see. And, mostly, don’t expect anyone else to love your creations the way you love them. Allow others to have their own opinions about your art. But, know that is all it is…..their opinion. Their opinion has nothing to do with you.

Follow your passion. Love your life and your art.

III. The third most important skill an artist can acquire is recognizing your emotions, your feelings. Let your feelings be your guide.

When you feel good about or feel intense interest in a subject, object, shape, color or line, go with it. Your emotion will shine through your art.  When you are excited about an idea, fascinated with a color, absorbed in ……..you are connected with your inner voice.  You can be sure of this because it feels so good.  It is you telling you that this is you…..if feels great.

Once you have a good foundation in these three skills, go ahead, focus on the established rules of good art…..your composition, color theory, etc. so that you can successfully smash them to smithereens.

Keeping Up With My Own Evolution: Belief

The painting, Persistence of Memory, captivates me.  As I wander around in it, I wonder about the closeness of the symbols in the foreground, the elusive subject of time in our reality and the distance fading away…..so out of reach.  I enjoy thinking about the ideas and questions it evokes.  It begs the mental state of “there’s plenty of time”, a glass of wine and maybe a hammock.

“Surrealism is destructive, but it only destroys what it considers our shackles limiting our vision.”  Salvador Dali

Those “shackles” are beliefs.  Only beliefs limit our  vision.  I recognize that my beliefs are constantly changing.  I love the idea that as I let go of beliefs that limit any of my senses, I experience more freedom, more love, more joy…..MORE!

Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory

Magritte’s painting, below, does the same thing.  It makes me smile.  Don’t you love a painting that is full of symbols encouraging you to think, to ponder, and to give in to silence long enough to take it in, relish it and allow yourself to enjoy it for what it is without having to put words to it, judge it or make any kind of sense out of it?

Rene Magritte’s Son of Man, a self portrait

I like to think that the surrealist painters were reaching for maximum joy by allowing their subconscious feelings, emotions and ideas to be realized physically in the form of  drawings, paintings and sculptures.

All creators, no matter what form their art takes, receive from their subconscious and reach for total satisfaction and joy.  How can it be otherwise?  Those who insist that creators must suffer for their art are barking up the wrong tree.  Only an inspired, focused journey full of pleasure can produce a satisfying result.

Skulls Are Like Chocolates

One day last October, I walked my regular route up and down the hills in my neighborhood enjoying the fall colors and the crisp, cool air.  Many homes were decorated for Halloween so there were lots of pumpkins on porches and cobwebs stretched across doorways.

As I passed one home, the lawn decorations caught my eye…..crawling out of the ground was this happy-go-lucky gentleman, his fingers clawing at  the grass as he laughed at me.  I smiled back and asked him to pose for a picture. I explained that I wanted to paint his portrait.  He didn’t object.  In fact, he even held his pose as I walked around him to get a good shot and even as I finally disappeared down the street and around the corner.

For some reason his happy demeanor begged for bright colors.  Once I got started, he was mesmerizing.  His bone structure, his pearly whites, that glint in his eye kept my brush moving around his head.  I thought dark hollows would be more appropriate but no…..he was on fire.

Phosphorescence 22"x30"
Phosphorescence 22″x30″

I have found that skulls are like chocolates.  I can’t paint just one. By the time, I got mid-way through Phosphorescence, I already had another drawing finished.  It’s so much fun to have a subject become so interesting that the ideas just keep coming.

It’s infectious.  One by one, these skulls have materialized.  I know their thoughts, amusements and intentions.  I’m excited about their futures.

I have one final skull in the works.  David Bowie just died in January.  I’ve enjoyed watching tributes to him by Lady Gaga, Madonna, Elton John and Jimmy Fallon.  And, so, my offering will be a paean to David Jones, Bowie and Ziggy Stardust.

Picasso On Imagination

Pablo Picasso said “Others have seen what is and asked why.  I have seen what could be and asked why not”.

In my imagination, I see a group of artists lounging around Gertrude Stein’s salon in Paris discussing what is real…..what is reality…..what is imagination and creation.  I see Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Salvador Dali, Maurice Princet and Ernest Hemingway with Gertrude and her brother.  I see them pouring over Henri Poincare’s book, Science and Hypothesis looking for details about the fourth dimension.

I imagine a lot of standing up and pacing and arm flinging with emotion as these subjects are analyzed, scrutinized and thoroughly discussed.  I can imagine Picasso saying “Everything you can imagine is real”.  I love this visualization.  And, then Braque says “Real discoveries are made beyond the limits of knowledge”.  Gosh, doesn’t that sound like something Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla would say?

In their cubist paintings, Picasso, Braque and Chagall created images that on first glance look fragmented;  but as we look closely, they have actually shown ALL of the subject, from all angles.  The painting above, Le Reve, shows the woman full face and in profile.   Picasso said he was painting not what he saw but what he knew was there.  At that point, the rest is left to the viewers imagination.

Chagall said “I upset in order to find another reality”.  Did he mean for him to find another reality or to challenge us to do it.  I’d love to sit down with him, well with all of them, and ask “What did you think about Einstein’s Nobel Prize research and how much did the scientific discoveries of your time influence your lives and art?”

I love to read about the lives of these people who were instrumental in changing our world’s reality.  I love the idea that we, too, can use our imaginations to discover and create our own reality.

In Progress

I am plugging along on a painting and pleased with its progress.  It’s pleased with its progress.  I know this because it all but said “ta-dah” as I stood back a ways and checked it out.  I get to a certain point and get anxious to be “done” and start something new.  But, one thing is for certain:  a painting is not done until says it is.

I’ve realized through the years though that once a painting is finished, I lose interest in it.  My enjoyment comes in the doing, in the painting, in the mystery of not knowing what it will end up being.  In this case, there is no question it will be a pink rose.  But there is the potential of it being much more.  It could evoke an emotion or a feeling or a memory of a feeling.  It could draw you in closer only to divert your attention to something lurking in the background.  There’s really no way to know until it’s through with you.

pink rose 001

It’s occurred to me that everything is in “progress”.  Everything in life is always unfolding and expanding. And, it is in the becoming that we find the fun…..the joy.  It’s our job as the creator of our life to lighten up, relax and listen and enjoy the progress.

Ruby Red Rose

I’m constantly amazed at the places, people or objects that catch my eye and beg for their image to be captured in paint.  I can look at sunset after sunset and marvel at its’ beauty but seldom feel it’s speaking to me.  Others, can’t get to their brushes fast enough.  I admire mountains in the distance with their snow capped peaks but have little desire to paint them.  Maybe it’s just because I’m near sighted.

This rose looked back at me when I looked at it.  It gave off an inviting vibe.  It said:  Come on, get involved.  You’ll get lost in my curves, hills and valleys.  It felt juicy…..a lot like a tomato.  The rose scent was warm and full and I couldn’t resist painting her.

final ruby red 001 Here she is.  February 8, 2015.  She’s pretty proud of herself.  I am too.  The Ruby Red Rose  22″x30″

Where Do You Find Your Inspiration?

If I wait for inspiration to strike….it will be a long time between paintings.  So, I have to go outside.  Go for a walk.  It never takes long once I look up at the sky, along the mountain tops, scan the trees and catch sight of a bird or two for my mind to relax and begin to wander and to wonder at all of the colors, the shapes, the soft edges and the hard ones. They point me in one direction and then another.  It’s an eye exercise and a brain exercise.

The fresh air must go in and clear out all of the stalled thoughts just like sorbet and vodka between courses.  Because suddenly, everything seems fresher and more appealing.  I’m more receptive.

pink inspiration and finished yellow rose 008 pink inspiration and finished yellow rose 001

I made the trip down to the local Flower Patch shop.  They always have a good selection of beautiful roses.  I was looking for reds or pinks.  These were great for my purposes.  But the big surprise was the red berries.  I love them.  They provided the polka dots I’m always on the watch for.

pink inspiration and finished yellow rose 009

The walk did the trick.  The trip to the Flower Patch more than filled the need for reds and pinks.  I’m inspired.  Where do you find your inspiration?


The Fry Zone

I’ve started painting again.  I took my time gathering all of my supplies from nooks and crannies in the garage and basement.  I had forgotten that part of my life…..the brushes and tubes of paint, of course, but the staple gun and boards the wet paper is stretched on and dried…..the boxes of resist, graphite powder, sketch books, art books and things I don’t even remember using.

Another thing I had forgotten:  the fear of the blank white paper.  Like writer’s block, it can be paralyzing.  I’ve heard of a teacher telling a student “Put your paper on the driveway and run over it with your car tire.  Now, it’s already ruined.  Paint your heart out”.  So, mentally, that’s what I did.

Else and Bob and pink rose 003

Two sessions of sketching and painting and my brain hurts.  It’s fried!  I’m so out of the habit of serious focusing.  Don’t laugh.  The Fry Zone is a real place.  Haven’t you ever been there?

The Yellow Rose

Several days before Thanksgiving, I bought some beautiful yellow roses to use as centerpieces on the table.  It took a couple of days for them to unfold.  Slowly they made their way from compact buds to full flower.  I kept taking pictures of them, moving them around in the sunlight.  With each move, the light bounced around and kissed the petals in a new way and cast intriguing shadows.  Wow!  They were inspiring!

Since I’ve started blogging, I’m taking a lot more pictures…..of everything.  It’s as if I’ve got to somehow document everything I’m doing.  At first, when I noticed this, I thought it would wear off or at least slow down.  But not so far.  In this case, I’m glad I did.  It’s fun, for me, to see how The Yellow Rose progressed.

1152015 paintings 001 1152015 paintings 019 1152015 paintings 020rose and blogosphere 002

This is the finished The Yellow Rose.  January 22, 2015. Watercolor 22″x30″

final rose 003

I often wonder just what it is about a subject that inspires the artist, the writer, the sculptor, or the inventor.  I’ve had friends tell me that an idea “struck” suddenly…..out of the blue so to speak.  We use so many phrases like let’s brain storm to come up with an idea.  You know, blue meaning sky, ether; storm…..weather, electricity, lightning, thoughts.  Then there’s the whole light thing.  It’s light and lack of light that defines shapes and how we see them.

Actually, what we need to fully investigate these deep thoughts and musings is a glass of wine and a few philosophical friends.  Probably a Pinot Noir.


Why Keep All The Books?

I’m a book collector.  Every room in my house has a bookcase with no more room on the shelves.

Book collector sounds serious.  It’s not like that.  I’m not talking first editions, just areas of interest.  The books I’m reading are stacked on end tables, night stands and desks.  The ones I love after reading go on a shelf.  The ones I don’t go to the Salvation Army or Amazon for resale.

I can look at my books and recreate my life.  When my kids were babies, I was into parenting and health books, cake decorating and gingerbread house making.  Cookbooks are a huge section.  They include my idols:  Paul Bocuse, Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Pollan, and Jacques Pepin.

The art and quilting section, the religion and alchemy section and the novel section have all become a reference library.  They’ve passed their active studying phase and are now waiting for the occasional use.  Then, there are the “how tos”.  How to make wine, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour dough and canning are subjects everyone is passionate about.  Right?

In the past,  if I had a question, I went to the shelves.  Today, I google.  It’s so immediate.  So the question:  why keep all the books?  The last time we moved, I got rid of stacks of books including two sets of encyclopedias.  It’s not like I’m not trying to thin the herd.

The thing is that I use them.  I love holding them in my hands, turning the pages, even smelling them.  I love paper.  I love ink.  I love the fact that like anything you’re passionate about, you can lose yourself in a book.  Your imagination is sparked by reading a book.   Your life is enriched just by reading a book.

“Books can be dangerous.  The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.”–Helen Exley