The Art of Finishing

The Art of Finishing

      This week I am returning to a favorite topic of mine which is the importance of completing a painting or work of art. I have several unfinished paintings and sketches pilling up in my studio lately. They are the remnants of ideas not fully thought out, false starts, or brick walls I didn’t know how to climb. In trying to figure out what caused this to happen, I have a few theories…Maybe life got really busy, I got stuck and didn’t know how to fix a problem with composition or color, lost interest in it, etc. I call these paintings and sketches, UFOS, unfinished objects. They clutter my studio, and remind me reproachfully that I have unfinished business. What to do, what to do?

       About two weeks ago, I tried to break this trend in my work flow habits, and I returned to a sketch that I have been working on and off for about a year. Facebook reminded me of this event this week with a post about the sketch, And Still I Rise.  The sketch is called, And Still I Rise, and it is based on a Maya Angelou poem entitled, And Still I Rise. This poem describes the struggle that African Americans have endured as a legacy of slavery, prejudice, and Jim Crow Laws of the South, and the power that they ultimately exercise when they rise above it. I’m sorry to say that my own ancestors played a part in the history of slavery and plantations.

        I’ve been looking at my various attempts to finish this sketch and make it into a painting, and the below photos demonstrate my struggles to complete the painting. Some of these struggles include: breaking out of old habits of just putting things in the middle of the page, or not really thinking about art as a story to be told, or not knowing what medium and color choices to use in telling a complicated story like this one. Ultimately, I decided to limit the color palette to burnt sienna, black, and white, with tonal values, so that the focus is ultimately on the symbolic content of the painting’s story line, such as:  the slave ships, slave manacles, (all to symbolize slavery), the phoenix bird (re-birth), and the sun (which rises every day). Two other central figures in this piece include a Caucasian woman, to symbolize the legacy of slavery and white prejudice, and the other, an African American woman, in this case, Maya Angelou, who serves as a representative of the African American population. She has risen above her circumstances and refuses to be beaten. Here are a few lines from the poem, which demonstrate Angelou’s indomitable spirit:

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” (Source: Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org).

                 So why is this important? I feel that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and saw some growth happen, despite the frustration. Sticking with this sketch and making it into a tonal watercolor painting, forced me to re-think my art process and habits, and it has been helping me to define my unique voice as an artist, by making work that is content based and tells a story. It’s also been a good lesson in problem solving and determination. And I felt great when it was finally finished! Here are some progress photos, starting with the three value graphite sketch, oil painting, pastel, and finally the mixed media watercolor painting. The biggest inspiration I had in bringing this painting to a conclusion was Pablo Picasso’s, Rose Period. These paintings are limited in color and feature narratives about various characters, such as circus performers. Without the inspiration I received from this work, I doubt I could have brought it to a conclusion. All of which reminds me of an earlier post I wrote about the importance of copying master art works, in this case, they can provide new ways of thinking about value and color. I definitely want to keep studying the masters as I continue in my journey to define my voice as an artist. What about you? Do you have any tips for completing unfinished art?

 

  

Enjoy the Process

Today I am writing about enjoying the process of art, as a follow-up to last week’s post about finding your creative voice. I was inspired by this topic when I read the article entitled, Five Ways to Enjoy the Process of Making Art, by Sandrine Pelissier, on https://paintingdemos.com/enjoy-the-process-of-making-art/.  I think that learning to enjoy the process of painting is a big part of finding your creative voice, because before you can define who you are as an artist, you have to practice, practice, practice your craft whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpting, etc. You know the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” And to maintain that sort of dedication, you need to be able to enjoy the activity regardless of the outcome. For example, it has taken me about 12 years to learn how to paint in an impressionistic style, and I learned how to do it by a process of trying different types of paint brushes, various consistencies of paint and painting techniques, and holding the brush in different positions.  It also helped to look at the artwork of Claude Monet and try to copy his paintings, especially the Waterlilies series, which is kind of loose and painterly. What others may think of as “talent” has been a long-term process of practice, trial, and error. Here are some examples of my work as I was attempting to learn how to paint in an Impressionistic, wet into wet style.

From left to Right: Breakfast Blend, oil on canvas panel, 2006, Chincoteague Marsh, oil on canvas panel, 2009, Cow in Meadow, oil on canvas panel, 2014, Pathway in Monet’s Garden at Giverny, oil on canvas, ca. 1901/1902, After Monet, Jodie Schmidt, 2014, Waterlillies, oil on canvas, 1906, After Monet, Jodie Schmidt, 2014, and finally one of my more recent paintings, Jack Daniels, oil on canvas, 2017. I hope this encourages you not to give up on your art if you are struggling to improve your work.

Finding Your Creative Voice

Over the years I have taken in a lot of input from art teachers, art shows, art reproductions, the opinions of my buyers and custom art clients, etc.  And feedback can be good, up to a point…Listening and applying feedback from critiques and copying master art works has been a good way to evaluate old habits and see weaknesses that need to be improved. On the other hand, in the case of copying masters, such as Johannes Vermeer, Mary Cassatt, or Claude Monet, I have learned new techniques such as matching color or painting in glazes to get realism in my artwork. I have also learned what painting techniques I don’t enjoy, such as painting very tight and in thin layers as Vermeer did in his paintings.  All of these things have been serving me well. In particular, especially getting feedback from buyers and clients, helps me to  understand what things they are likely to buy.

However, after a while, I have noticed that my own vision for what I want to express in my art work seems difficult to grasp. All of these other “voices” can sometimes make it difficult to hear my own artistic voice. For example, I’ve started and stopped a poetry illustration series that I think would demonstrate a search for finding that voice for the last year or so. I think I need some way to break out of this confusion in order to define what it is I really have to say about my art work on a personal level. So today I read an article from the website, Art Bistro.com, which lists several suggestions about how to “Find Your Artistic Voice.” A few items that resonated with me included the following: 1.) Push Yourself out of your artistic comfort zone, with regard to subject matter, 2.) Take the plunge and try working on something different, and find ways to cope with the ensuing anxiety, 3.) Writing about Your Intentions for your artwork, and 4.) Remembering what subjects inspired you originally. Source: 10 Tips to Find Your Artistic Voice, 1/06/2011, http://www.finearttips.com.  This article was previously published on ArtBistro.Monster.com.

After reading this, I am challenged to pick up my pencils and brushes again to try and start making some headway on the poetry illustration series I started about a year ago. I want to make work that tells a story, not just something that I hope will sell or that imitate another artist’s style that I admire. As to how I am going to break through my procrastination about finishing this work, I think I will need to set some sort of deadline and work schedule to “just do it” as the popular slogan from Nike states.  Here is a poem excerpt by Maya Angelou, from her poem, And Still I Rise,And Still I Rise Toned that inspired my drawing, And Still I Rise, about rising above difficulties, particularly the heritage of American slavery and racism. Here are a few lines from her poem that speak to these themes:

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Source: Poetry Foundation,//www.poetryfoundation.org.

 

The Girl with the Pearl Earring and the Phoenix Legend

A phoenix is a mythical bird that is a fire spirit with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again.

Source: Wikipedia

 

I’m stealing this tidbit about the Native American legend of the Phoenix, from blogger, Julie Fan-Fei Balzer of Baltzer Designs because it seems so apropos to the struggle I am facing about how to start again on a failed painting that I started last week, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Vermeer, painted in 1665. Source: Fan-Fei Balzer, J. (January 3, 2011). Like a Phoenix. Retrieved from http://balzerdesigns.typepad.com/balzer_designs/2011/01/like-a-phoenix.html.

In some ways, beginning a project over again after you are dissatisfied with it is like a death and re-birth. You have to let go of what isn’t working in your artwork (death) and be open to letting in what will work in a new piece of artwork, (birth). This process might include a new approach to the painting or a more positive mindset. I also feel that this symbol of the phoenix that lives, dies, and is reborn is a powerful affirmation, and I feel in need of that kind of empowerment this week to make the plunge and actually get to work on starting this new painting…

It seems that this week I have hit the wall on several creative fronts, whether it’s in writing this blog or maintaining a daily painting practice and finishing the projects I start. I have a collection of unfinished paintings and drawings that has been accumulating in my art studio. The process starts out something like this, I will see a reproduction of a painting in an art book and feel excited about the prospect of re-creating it myself, begin the work, and then get stuck because something isn’t working and I can’t figure out how to fix it. Then, out of frustration, I start up another painting just to try and move forward and not let too many days go by without painting or drawing.

All of this stagnation has brought me to a standstill and made me ponder some deep questions, such as: “What am I hoping to accomplish with this master copy series?”, “Why do I paint?, and “Who am I as an artist?”. Recent disappointments in my creative life and in my personal life have also contributed to my doubt and stagnation as an artist. I’ve had to work hard to dig myself out of this mire I have found myself in… And I have been opening myself up to other artistic sources in blogs and documentaries, such as artist/blogger, Julie Fan Fei Blazer’s blog, and a recent documentary by musician John Mayer, called Someday I’ll Fly on YouTube, to fill the creative well inside me.  Both have shared their journeys in the creative process, talking about their trials and successes, and most importantly about their craft. In his documentary, Someday I’ll Fly, Mayer talks about creativity as a battle to be fought, which all artists are fighting, and it definitely feels like a battle this week!

I’ve also started a new weekly drawing practice, working in a sketchbook with pre-planned subjects for each day so I won’t have to think about what to draw/paint, while I am trying to get up the courage to start this painting again. I’m hoping this forward motion will propel me to jump off the diving board and start this painting after a week of procrastination.

So here is my revised version of Girl with a Pearl Earring, ca. 1665, by Vermeer, painted with Gamblin 1980 oil paints on prepared canvas. I started with a brand new canvas for this painting and focused more on checking the proportions to the original painting as often as I could. This stage is called the under painting and it concentrates on the three main values in a painting of lightest, middle, and darkest. I used a burnt sienna oil paint and mixed it with titanium white for lighter areas while adding a mixture of ultramarine blue, viridian green and alizarin crimson to create my own black. To thin out the paints, I used a non-toxic, Solvent Free  Safflower Oil Gel made by Gamblin.  When this layer dries, I will be working on blocking in the local colors of flesh tones, the blue and yellow turban and the yellow ochre coat with fur collar. I will also be delving into some of the questions I asked in this blog about why I paint and what I hope to accomplish with this master copies series.

Girl with a Pearl Earring, After Vermeer, re-do
Girl with a Pearl Earring, After Vermeer, Jodie Schmidt, 2017

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Meisje_met_de_parel
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1665.

 

 

What to do When a Painting Goes Wrong

I was hesitant to write this blog post for a number of reasons. For one, I wasn’t sure what to write about after last week’s blog, and for another, I wasn’t pleased with how my painting turned out. And so I didn’t really want to post photos of a painting I wasn’t pleased with. Despite the many hours I put into this painting, it didn’t look like the painting I was copying, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Vermeer, ca. 1665. I researched Vermeer’s techniques and palette colors online, practiced my sketching, both freehand and with a grid. Painstakingly I mixed up the paint colors and compared my color mixtures to the reproduction images of Girl with a Pearl Earring. And yet, something was off…Was it the colors, the painting techniques, or the drawing that was wrong?

So I took some time off and made some revisions to the color choices and the drawing. And I am still not pleased. I feel I have not captured the “look” of this painting. So I am giving myself permission to start over, from scratch and not try to keep “fixing” the old painting. Meanwhile, this process has made me think of the question, What should you do when a painting goes wrong? Should you, trash it, start over, cut it up into smaller pieces and create something new, make it a mixed media piece, take a break, etc? To investigate this topic, I did a google search and looked up a few articles. One article that stood out for me was, a blog post from Painting My World: Daily Pastel Paintings by Karen Margulis PSA: What do you do when a painting goes bad? Thursday, January 19th, 2012, http://www.kemstudios.blogspot.com.

The artist and blogger Karen Margulis listed a few tips for revising a painting that isn’t going in a direction that you like. Some of her tips include 1.) thinking about what things you want to change in the painting, 2.) Take the paint completely off of an area you’d like to change, 3.) take a drastic measure, such as painting a wash, and 4.) Use a viewfinder and crop out sections that you like. Source: Margulis, 2012. How about you? Do you have any tips to share about what to do when a painting goes wrong? As for me, I am starting over again from scratch, starting with the drawing of Vermeer’s, Girl with a Pearl Earring, ca. 1665. After taking time away from the painting, two things stand out for me that bother me about this painting, and they are the drawing inaccuracies and the skin tones. My version does not resemble the original girl’s features and the skin tone looks washed out instead of glowing, like the original.

Vermeer Copy Secondary Color Lay in
Girl with a Pearl Earring, After Vermeer, Jodie Schmidt.

 

Master Copy, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tutorial: How to Mix colors

Last week I demonstrated how to start a master copy of the painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Vermeer, ca. 1656. I demonstrated the initial stages of selecting a color copy reference of the painting, explained how to draw a grid, described a method of tracing by using a window and finished up with a demonstration on how to paint a three value painting including white, gray, and black paint. Today I will explain the process of transforming a three value painting to an initial color lay in painting.

Step One: Use Three Value Painting as a Guide to Identify Lights and Darks

Now that the painting has three values, white, gray and black I can use that as a guide to finding the lights and darks in the painting. I began the initial color lay in by trying to break down the main colors I see in the color reproduction of, Girl with a Pearl Earring. The seven main colors I noted in this painting were: Blue, Yellow, Yellow Ochre, White, Black, and a light flesh tone. I got the idea to do an initial color lay in from the book I mentioned last week, The Complete Oil Painter, by Brian Gorst. I laid out these basic colors from Liquitex Acrylic Paint brand on my palette: yellow ochre, titanium white, ultramarine blue, napthithol crimson, burnt sienna, ivory black, primary yellow. I added tomato red to my palette as a substitute for alizarin crimson. Using a palette knife, I began mixing up the colors I wanted using large amounts of paint to make nice large piles of paint, which I call a color string.  I began the painting by starting with the darkest value which was a bluish black in the background of the painting. To create this dark value, I mixed ultramarine blue and ivory black.

After I had established the darkest value and painted in the background area or negative space, I started painting in the middle values such as the blue turban, the gold robe, the light yellow scarf, and the fairly light skin tone. For each color, I mixed up two values one was darker and the other was lighter. To make lighter values, I added small amounts of white to the pre-mixed initial local color. And to darken a color, I added ultramarine blue or burnt sienna. I reserved using black for the darkest colors. Periodically, I sprayed the canvas and the palette with water to keep the paints wet, so they wouldn’t dry out. I saved the lightest lights for last, such as the whites of the eye, the fur collar and the highlights in the eyes and mouth. To keep the edges between each value soft, I painted quickly, using two large brushes with light and dark values painted right next to each other and allowed them to “melt” into each other. This technique is called painting wet into wet, and keeps the painting from having harsh outlines. After I had painted out all the white areas, I began painting in the shadowed areas of the painting, including the face, the turban, the scarf, and the robe. Important: Remember to wash out your brushes in a water jar every time you switch colors and use a paper towel to dry off the paint brush so it won’t get too watery. Also, make sure that the paint doesn’t dry on your brushes and be sure to clean each brush thouroughly in water after you complete a painting session.

Step Two: Take a Break from Painting

This next step of taking a break, may seem counterintuitive, but I find it helps me to be more objective about a painting’s progress. After I completed the initial painting session, I took a break for several days to get a fresh take on it. When I returned to the painting, I wrote down a list of things I would like to change and I checked the facial proportions to be sure that the drawing was correct. In the next session, I corrected things like proportions, added shadows with a glazing technique,  and tried to make more accurate color matches. To help obtain more accurate color mixtures, I researched Vermeer’s palette and painting techniques. And to create the glazed shadow areas in this painting, I used a Slow Dri blending medium by Liquitex in my darker paint mixtures to thin out the consistency of the paint.

 

Master Copy Tutorial: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Last week I talked about the importance of copying the work of the old masters and this week I am going to give you a step by step tutorial about how to get started. I have several master copies in the works, but I am choosing to focus on Vermeer’s well-known work, Girl with a Pearl Earring, circa 1656, according to Maritshuis, 2014. If you wish to read more about this painting, you may visit the following link: Details: Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665, Mauritshuis. Retrieved on 9 December 2014. This citation is from an article about Vermeer’s painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, which I found on Wikipedia. The original painting was painted in oils on canvas, but to save drying time, I used acrylic paints.

Step One: Make a Grid from a Photocopy of a Master Copy

My first step in creating a master copy of Vermeer’s, Girl with a Pearl Earring, was to locate a good print copy which I could use to create a grid for the initial sketch. Creating a grid helped me to make sure the proportions of the head were proportionate to the copied image. I photocopied an image of Vermeer’s painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, from the book, Vermeer, by Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. After I made the copy, I created a grid, measuring one inch from the horizontal and vertical edges of the printed copy with a ruler. After I measured out the markers for the grid, I drew vertical lines to create the vertical axis. Then I drew horizontal lines for the horizontal axis.  Each box on the horizontal lines of the grid should be numbered starting with 1, and the vertical boxes should be labeled A, B, C, etc. After that, I created an exact duplicate of this grid on a clean sheet of sketch paper. Note: it is very important to ensure that you have the exact amount of boxes on both the vertical and horizontal axes on your grid copy as the one from the original, or the proportions may be incorrect. Also, be sure that when you draw vertical and parallel lines that your ruler is perpendicular to the picture plane and doesn’t shift, or it make affect the measurements of the one-inch boxes.

Step Two: Create a Duplicate Grid and Transfer it to Canvas with Carbon Paper

Next, I located my first set of coordinates on the vertical and horizontal axes, on my grid copy to start drawing in the edge shape of the portrait, i.e. A1. The artist, Thaneeya McArdle, gives an excellent description of this process with detailed visuals of the grid method at https://www.art-is-fun.com/grid-method/?rq=draw%20a%20grid. To complete the portrait, I moved on the next grid coordinate, and so on. My next step was to trace the completed grid sketch onto a clean sheet of sketch paper, using my window as a light box. I taped the original sketch to the window with masking tape, then taped a clean sheet of paper on top of the original. Then I traced the image to the cover sheet. The traced image was then transferred with a pen to canvas paper, using carbon paper, with the dark side taped face down.

Step Three: Paint a three value underpainting in Acrylics

Are you still with me? I know it sounds like a lot of steps…Don’t worry I am including some photos of this process to help jog your memory. So now we move on to the fun part, the painting itself. To break down the light and dark values, I consulted a well-used book from my art library, The Complete Oil Painter, by Brian Gorst, which gives a detailed demonstration about how to paint a monotone underpainting. I mixed up three values from darkest to lightest with Liquitex Acrylic paints and a palette knife using Burnt Umber, Titanium White, and Ivory Black. The darkest value was applied to the background, while the middle and lighter values were painted on the figure. Intermittently I sprayed the palette and the canvas with water from a spray bottle to keep the paints wet so they wouldn’t dry up, especially while I was mixing them. I also stepped back every so often to view the painting from a distance and be sure that the drawing in my painting was accurate, and made corrections as needed. These values will give me a roadmap of where to put light and dark values when I get into the color portion of the painting. They help to simplify the lights and darks without the difficulty of color matching. Next week, I will paint a “limited color lay in” with the local color

Meisje_met_de_parel
Photo copy, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer ca. 1656
Vermeer copy with grid
Photo copy, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer ca. 1656, with grid 
Vermeer paper copy with grid
Copy of Grid with pencil on sketch paper 

 

Vermeer Copy Light Box
Traced image of grid using window as light box

 

carbon paper trace 1
Carbon Paper used to trace image to canvas

 

Carbon Paper tracing, complete
Carbon paper tracing completed

 

Jodie Schmidt after Vermeer three value
Three Value Underpainting in Acrylic 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Should Artists Study the Great Masters? What can be learned from copying master artworks and other things I didn’t learn in College.

Many years ago when I was an undergraduate Art student at McDaniel College, I asked one of my art professors, “Will it help me to be a better painter if I study the masters?” She said that it would, but declined to tell me how it would help. At the time, unfortunately, I didn’t take her advice. Perhaps it was because I didn’t truly understand why it was a good idea to study the works of Caravaggio or John Singer Sargent. Lately, I have been asking myself the question, “How can I be a better artist?” because my artwork has seemed lacking in something, but I am not sure what is is.

My employment background as a Library Assistant has shown me to the wonders of the internet and how any question can be researched and instant results to your search inquiry on Google, can answer your questions in seconds. And so, I started doing Google searches over the past few weeks on how to be a better artist. Lo and behold, several article results flashed on my  Samsung galaxy phone screen and one of them by Magic the Gathering, Artist and illustrator, Noah Bradley, caught my eye, 21 days to be a better artist (even if you’re terrible), (2015). Here is the website link, if you would like to read more: https://medium.com/@noahbradley/21-days-to-be-a-better-artist-48087576f0dd.

Ok, so back to the question, “Why should Artists study the great masters?” In the above-mentioned article, Noah Bradley, 2015,  speaks about the importance of copying the masters, which he terms, “master copies”. In these exercises, he explains that an artist chooses an artwork by a dead artist and attempts to replicate it. He includes a website link, entitled, Week 1: Master Studies-Noah’s Art Camp, with a step by step art tutorial decribing how to copy the masters and gives a bit more explanation for why we should copy dead artists’ work on this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQfF-P70V2Q. In the video, Bradley also mentions that copying the art work of “golden age illustrators” (i.e. artists who worked betweeen the 1880s and 1920s),  is a good place to start. Source: Week 1: Master Artists -Noah’s Art Camp, http://www.youtube.com, and Art Cyclopedia, Artists by Movement: The Golden Age of Illustration, 1880s to 1920s,

http://www.artcyclopedia.com/history/golden-age.html.   Today, I did some additional research on the topic of master studies and why they are important undertakings for artists.

In another article entitled, “Copying Paintings of the Masters and Other Artists” by Lisa Marder, November 24, 2015 on Thoughtco.com, she states that there are several concrete benefits to copying master artworks. Marder, 2015,  also observes that although the practice of copying master art works was once a popular teaching method in the academic artworld, this practice has fallen out of favor because today’s culture is more attuned to creating “original” artwork and avoiding the dangers of copyright violation. Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/copying-paintings-of-the-masters-2578707. She lists several benefits of copying the masters, (i.e. artists who created artwork prior the 18th century”),Marder, 2015. According to Marder, 2015, some of these benefits include: 1.) Learning to see things more accurately by drawing, and 2.) Building a foundation of artistic techniques with which to inspire your future work, such as composition or color choices. Souce: https://www.thoughtco.com/copying-paintings-of-the-masters-2578707.  For further reading on this subject, she recommends readers to peruse the article, Today’s New Old Masters Outshine the Avant Garde, Huffington Post, May 24, 2015 by Brandon Kralik.

Stay tuned for next week’s art blog when I will give you a step by step art tutorial on how to copy master art works! For now, I am attaching some photos of master copies that I have been working on by Mary Cassatt and Mead Schaeffer. The first master copy is entitled, Sara in a Green Bonnet, by Mary Cassatt, ca. 1901, and the second copy is The Count of Monte Cristo, by Mead Schaeffer, 1928. These works are painted with Gamblin 1980 oil paints on canvas.

Making art a Habit

Well, here I am a week after I said that I was going to start a daily sketchbook…It ended up being very difficult to make time for it, and unfortunately, I only got to work on it one day out of seven.

 

I also started thinking that perhaps my topic for last week’s blog about doing what you love and making it a habit, may not necessarily correspond to the prompts in the sketchbook I was thinking of using for this project. The sketch prompts in this book tends to focus more on still life and architecture, and less on portraits, which is something I really want to get better at doing. So I have decided to make a slight topic change. I am going to be posting photos of my oil and acrylic portraits in the process.  Here’s a youtube video that inspired me to finish my work and to make this topic change: Finished Not Perfect, by Jake Parker, at https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=finished+not+perfect+. I felt that the speaker hit the nail right on the head with his mantra of “Finished not Perfect.” I tend to struggle with perfectionism and find it hard to bring projects to a close because of my high expectations for the work.

I’d also like to alternate my own work with master copies to try and push my art making abilities forward and try to break some old habits in my painting practice, such as putting everything in the center of the page. This is an idea I got from the artist, Noah Bradley’s, article: 21 days to be a Better Artist at https://medium.com/@noahbradley/21-days-to-be-a-better-artist-48087576f0dd#.bzzgdsrp6, mentioned in last week’s post. Bonus, Noah Bradley includes a link to a youtube video where he teaches you how to make master copies of artwork!

So once again, my change of topic will be posting weekly portrait paintings and sketches, alternated with master artwork copies. My goals will be improving the level of my artwork with regards to drawing accuracy, composition, and harmonious color choices. And another important goal will be making sure to complete each work and post the results before moving onto other projects. Time management will be a crucial part of reaching this goal. Here’s an article that I have read about time management, which I plan to re-read. It’s called: Five Ways to Make Time for Art by Julie-Fei Fan Balzer, http://balzerdesigns.typepad.com/balzer_designs/2012/12/five-ways-to-make-time-for-art.html. She lists five ways to make art more of a priority in your schedule, and I am going to try the first two to help me in this quest of making more time for art, and getting really good at portraits, being sure to complete each piece.  The first two suggestions Balzer mentions are using a crockpot for cooking and limiting computer time. Let me know if you have any time management tips for making art that you’d like to share! Here are some portrait paintings that I have been working on this week…An acrylic painting of Emily Dickinson, which illustrates the poem,  Hope is the Thing with Feathers and a master copy of a Mary Cassatt oil portrait, Sara in a Green Bonnet, c. 1901.