Update: Winter Art Courses I am Teaching

I wanted to share with you that I am teaching art classes at a variety of locations this winter! My first venue is at the Adams County Arts Council, where I will be teaching Classic Drawing and Introduction to Pastel. Both are beginner classes, but Classic Drawing focuses more on value than color mixtures, which I focus on in the Introduction to Pastel course. Click here to learn more about these classes, https://www.adamsarts.org/classes/.

I will also be teaching at the Delaplaine Art Center in February. Here is a link for that course: https://delaplaine.org/instruction/classes-workshops/.

Discussion: Does natural talent exist?

As an artist, I often hear comments such as, “You’re so talented,” or some variation on that theme, whether it is a comment that is posted online or an in-person encounter.  I’ve gotten this remark from friends, family, strangers, etc.  And while it is always nice to hear such ego-boosting compliments, I feel the need to pull back the curtain on the mystique of the talented artist’s conception. In fact, when others interpret my completed paintings and drawings as evidence of a natural talent for art, that I was born with, my facility with drawing and painting has been the result of a systematic and long-term method of continuous practice, sometimes on a daily or weekly basis. This process is composed of some of the following ingredients: a strong passion to master drawing and painting skills, bloody-minded determination not to give up on art, and more often than not, failure. Not everything I draw or paint is successful is a masterpiece, and I am learning that that is ok; it is just part of the process of learning.

And perhaps most importantly, I grew up with parents who were very supportive of my pursuit of art education. For instance, my mom was the first one who introduced me to painting when she enrolled me in a watercolor class at the age of 9. I’ve been hooked on making art ever since! In fact, this summer I have embarked on a long-term drawing challenge to improve my drawing skills and I am realizing there is still so much I need to learn, and that I need the discipline to get better at my craft.

With regard to my weekly drawing practice, I have been working on a drawing challenge since June of this year, called, 100 Faces in 100 Days. In this challenge, I practice drawing on an almost daily basis. I focus on sketching celebrity portraits with paper and pencil, keeping the drawings simple so that they can be completed in about 45 minutes.  Some days, the portraits seem to come together almost magically and I have very few drawing errors to correct, but, on other days like today, I really struggle to get things right with the portrait measurements. On days such as these, I make a lot of revisions to the drawing, erasing, measuring, and standing back to compare my drawing to the reference photo, until I am happy with the result, or the kitchen timer dings. And this phenomenon is nothing new. As an art student at McDaniel College, I had a lot of ups and downs, with paintings and drawings. Some were successful, others were not.

 But, to return to my initial question, does natural talent exist? Although I am not a scholar or even a cognitive scientist, I theorize that many factors play into whether a person is able to show exceptional skill in drawing or painting or any other impressive level of aptitude in a given domain. For example, in specialties such as singing, playing an instrument or sports, etc. I think it is a combination both of one’s environment, (the conditions you grew up with), specific personality traits, such as a strong work ethic, and a strong desire to master a subject, and perhaps, introversion, since the practice of the fine arts and performing arts is often a  solitary pursuit. I think if I just relied on my innate talent, (whatever that may mean), I wouldn’t grow artistically, because I would feel that no effort was required on my part to achieve growth. The question of where natural talent comes from has been discussed by Kauffman, (2013), who states that there has been an ongoing debate about whether natural talent exists or not.

Kauffman, 2013, states that in ancient time’s people believed that individual talent was linked to divinity, and that interest in this topic took a scientific turn in the nineteenth century, with the publication of the work, Francis Galton’s Hereditary Genius, which was published in 1869. Source: The Complexity of Greatness, by Scott Barry Kauffman, 2013. For example, Kauffman (2013), states that  Galton made a study of “eminent lineages” and based on his findings, he theorized that talent was passed on to families from one person to another (Galton, 1874). According to Kauffman, 2013, Galton also acknowledged the importance of not giving up easily, but he discounted the significance of the environment as a determining factor of personal greatness for the individual, specifically with regard to celebrated scientists. The basis of Galton’s theory was that individuals were born with talent (Kauffman, 2013). On the other hand, Alphonse de Condole, (1873), “a French-Swiss botanist”, made the assertion that environmental factors play a critical role in the creation of exceptional talents, such as political conditions, religion, economic, social, and cultural factors. ( Source: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-complexity-of-greatness-beyond-talent-or-practice/) and www.wikipedia.org.  

Other theorists, such as the 18th-century painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, argued that art students should not rely on their talent alone to produce great art, but that they should practice their craft diligently, (Kauffman, 2013).  The contention about where skill or natural talent comes from has continued to be debated and studied among Scientists, scholars and researchers even as recently as the 2000s. For example, According to Lynn Helding, author of, Innate Talent, Myth or Reality?,  2011, the topic of greatness was more recently discussed by Psychology Professor, Anders K. Ericsson, who teaches at the University of Florida (Helding, 2011). Ericsson studied both the quality and amount of time it requires for an individual to achieve greatness in a specialty (Helding, 2011). In addition, some of the research he published on this topic was published as recently as 2015, in his article entitled, The effects of experience and disuse on Crossword solving, published in the periodical, Cognitive Psychology. Source: https://psy.fsu.edu/faculty/ericssonk/ericsson.dp.php.  His studies into this topic have formed the basis for “the magic number 10,000 for the number of practice hours that it seems to take for anyone (including “so-called prodigies”) to attain a level of mastery at such high-level tasks such as tennis, golf, chess, piano, and violin. This term is also known as “The Ten Year Rule of Necessary Preparation.” (Helding, 2011).

 However, since the well known and wealthy author and motivational speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, coined the phrase, “the 10,000-hour practice rule,” he frequently gets the credit for this theory and not Ericsson, or the eleven researchers “whose own deliberate practice, spread over more than a century, provided the data for the theory.” Source: http://scholar.dickinson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=faculty_publications. Innate

Talent: Myth or Reality, Lynn Heliding, 2011, Mindful Voice. Journal of Singing 67, no. 4, pgs 451-458.

The question of whether natural talent real continues to be debated on discussion threads in Quora and Reddit, which are some forum-type websites, in which users can type in their questions and get responses to them from other community members. Users ask such as: “Does natural talent exist or are all skills learned?” cited in www. Reddit.com, in 2013. In addition, this question is much like the nature or nurture question, frequently discussed in academic psychology courses. Students and scholars alike have questioned how environment and genetics play a role in determining how an individual, “turns out.”

However, we may never know the exact percentages of how much genes or environment can affect individual outcomes, or even if there is some type of gene that gives people an advantage in subjects such as math, athletics, music, or art. But one thing I know for sure is that  I am going to keep practicing and not give up my painting and drawing practice because I want to continue to grow as an artist. What about you? Do you think greatness is a skill that is solely learned by deliberate, ongoing practice or are some individuals born with some type of gene that gives them an advantage others do not have?

On that note of practicing your art, I want to add that I am now teaching two beginner art courses, at the Adams County Arts Council, and at the Delaplaine. The beginner courses I am teaching at the Adams County Arts Council are Classic Drawing and Introduction to Pastel. The first course is for beginning artists or those who want to refresh their drawing skills and focuses mainly on constructing simple shapes and forms. The second course, Introduction to Pastel, combines basic drawing skills such as shape and form and introduces students to color theory and pastel techniques. To learn more, please visit http://www.adamsart.org. I am also teaching a pastel course, Getting to Know Pastels, at the Delaplaine Art Center, in Frederick, MD. It’s the same course like the one at the Adams County Arts Council, but it has a different title. To learn more, visit www.delaplaine.org.

Note: This drawing is a copy I drew based on a sketch created by Steve Pearce in his book, Drawing Still Lifes, published by Walter Foster, 2013, pgs. 8-9. I use it solely for teaching beginner drawing techniques in my Classic Drawing course.
Note: This drawing is a copy I drew based on a sketch created by Steve Pearce in his book, Drawing Still Lifes, published by Walter Foster, 2013, pg 7, and also from a virtual art tutorial, How to Shade with Pencil for Beginners, Rapid Fire Art, http://www.youtube.com . I make use of this sketch when teaching my Classic Drawing course to explain how a light source acts upon an object to create value.
Note: This is a copy I sketched from a you tube tutorial, Gettin’ Sketchy, 30 Minute Drawing Excercise, Lemon, The Virtual Instructor, http://www.youtube.com. It’s an extra excerise I make available to my pastel students when and if, they ask for a longer demonstration for shading than I can provide in class.
Note: This drawing is a copy I drew based on a sketch created by Steve Pearce in his book, Drawing Still Lifes, published by Walter Foster, 2013, pg 23. The wine and cheese sketch is a final project in my Classic Drawing course.

Author’s Note: To read more about Professor Anders K. Erickson’s fascinating studies into “deliberate practice and expert performance” go to: https://psy.fsu.edu/faculty/ericssonk/ericsson.dp.php.

Here is an example of a technique excercise in which I teach students how to shade a sphere with blending and linear marks. It is from the beginner pastel course, Getting to Know Pastels. It’s based on several different books, one of which is from a favorite text, Enclopedia of Pastel Techniques, by Judy Martin, 2018.
Here is an example of a technique excercise in which I teach students how to shade with a monochromatic value scale, (one color plus black or white to modify it), using soft pastels and pastel paper ,and how to mix colors in a color wheel. These excerices are from the beginner pastel course, Getting to Know Pastels.

How to Make Time for Art: Tips and Strategies

This week I would like to talk about one of my greatest struggles, and that is, making time to create art. It probably seems ironic for me to say that since I think of myself as an artist and art teacher, and I make art for art shows, clients, and I studied art in college. However, sometimes the things I want to do the most, such as painting and drawing, seem to be the most, difficult to make time for in my schedule. So many things battle for the competition of my time: everyday stuff like laundry, cooking, balancing my checkbook, or other activities such as marketing my art classes or time-wasters like internet surfing and excessive social media use on Instagram or Facebook, etc., etc. All these need to get done, but if I am not careful they can crowd out too much of my time. And if that isn’t enough, I have been battling with artist’s block and self-doubt about my abilities to succeed as an artist, (whatever that means), ever since I have taken my art to a more professional level, by showing at art galleries and art fairs. My standards for making art have really skyrocketed, (and they were already ridiculously high) since I now feel the pressure to try and please others by making artwork that “sells.”

However, in all this, I have lost my joy in making art, and don’t even know what it is that I want to say with my art anymore. This period of my life reminds me of another time period, when I was a senior at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, studying art. I was in my final year at McDaniel and taking an art studio thesis course, where I had to make artwork that demonstrated something I wanted to say and write an artist statement to support that work. After I got that assignment, I felt paralyzed with indecision.

It took me two weeks to come out of that episode of artist’s block, and I really wasn’t sure what I would do during that time, as I felt that everything there is to say about art has already been saying and that everything has already been done in the thousands of years of art history. I felt I had to come up with some really “original” idea and I looked everywhere I could think to find inspiration: art magazines, art books, etc. I finally found my inspiration in the songs of singer/songwriter, Sting, which seemed an unlikely solution to me. I decided to try and illustrate the feelings in some of his songs like Lithium Sunset, by using myself as subject, and color as a way to express emotions. The crisis was solved and I made it through, but I really struggled to climb out of that pit.

Unfortunately, I am finding myself in that awful place again of uncertainty and doubt. So this week I am writing about how to make time for art, in hopes that it will help me to focus my time better and to get back into the habit of regular studio practice. I’d like to share with you some insights from two blog articles I read by Lisa Congdon, entitled, How to Find Time to Make Art When You Work Full Time, and an article entitled, How to Find Times for Art in a Busy Life,  Tara Leaver, in hopes that you will find it helpful to you in managing your life and making time for creativity. According to Lisa Congdon, there are a few things you can do to help make time for art. For example, she recommends that artists and other creative types set aside a block of time every week, even if it’s only for a few minutes or a few hours, and that these small increments of time will add up over time.

She also mentions an all-important habit and that is to limit your time on your computer or phone screen. Another blog writer, Julie Fan Fei-Balzer, recommends a few time management apps she uses to track her time online, such as Flipboard, Tweetdeck, and Alinoff (an online computer app that records the amount of time you spend online.) One final really helpful way to make time for art is to schedule it, and that could mean enrolling in an art class either virtually through subscription websites like Domestika, SkillShare, and if you want free tutorials, YouTube has many excellent art tutorials. Some of my favorite YouTube channels are Rapid Fire Art and Virtual Instructor.

The first channel is mainly drawing tutorials in pencil, while the other YouTube channel, The Virtual Instructor includes a variety of media from pencil to pastel and many other media. I find this method to be the most helpful, especially when you are paying for a course, you might be less likely to renege on the time commitment. On that note, I want to share that I will be teaching several in-person art courses for beginners at two locations, The Delaplaine Art Center in Frederick, MD, and at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysburg, PA. To learn more about my pastel courses you may visit: www.delaplaine.org or www.adamsarts.org. I am also teaching a beginning drawing course at the Adams County Arts Council, called Classic Drawing. This week’s featured images include some sneak peek images of the pencil and pastel drawings and exercises I offer in my Classic Drawing and Introduction to Pastel courses! Thank you for stopping by! Now, go make some art!

Here’s an example of a technique board, which I use to introduce students to pastel techniques, such as gradients and making linear marks. These techniques serve as a strong foundation to prepare you for the more challenging projects in still life.
Example of a medium-hard pastel art tutorial in which I used blending and mark-making techniques such as scribbling.
Example of a 5 value exercise I teach early in the course to teach students how to recognize value or light and shade in a still life object.
Here is an example of a gradient, a wonderful exercise to learn how to shift from one value to the next, and which teaches you how to blend pastels and make softer edges.
An example about how to understand the effects of light and shade on a rounded object. It’s a great exercise for beginners, and especially those who like to draw portraits as the sphere provides an excellent example of how light might be dispersed on a face.

Why Artists Should Make Drawing a Daily Practice

About a century ago (well I exaggerate a little); I was a college student studying art at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. I had a brilliant and successful art teacher named Steve, who demonstrated how the practice of art-making and the hatching of new ideas could be brought to life.  He taught me many useful things, such as how to keep an art sketchbook pasted with photos of artwork by artists I admired, and how to write about my art in a way that expressed my unique artistic voice. Above all, his most important advice was that I should draw every day. At the time, that task seemed quite difficult. I was always an impatient artist as a student and I often rushed through the drawing stage to hurry up and get to the painting, the “good part.” Now that many years have passed since my graduation from McDaniel, I can truly see the wisdom of his advice.

With hindsight, I realize that he was so right about drawing every day. I no longer rush artwork and I have learned to love drawing, whether it becomes a painting or not. In fact, I have embraced his advice of a daily drawing habit and I have worked on several art challenges for both human portraiture and pet portraits on my Instagram account. One of these challenges is called 100 faces in 100 days, in which I drew a pre-selected photo of a celebrity using only pencil and paper. I did not add in a lot of detail or shading and I limited myself to 45 minutes a day. My latest art challenges were in October, in which I participated in Inktober, and also in December when I challenged myself to draw figures and portraits every day for about 3 weeks, with a pencil or whatever other media I felt drawn to use for the challenge.

The most important takeaway I can say about drawing and getting good at it is that it really helps your art practice to flourish. For instance, once you have the drawing and composition mastered, you can enjoy the next step more fully, whether it’s collage, painting, or some other art form such as graphic design or sculpture. With an accurate drawing, you won’t have to worry about continuing to fix it and can fully embrace your next steps.

In conclusion, I am currently preparing myself to teach a beginner’s drawing course at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysburg, PA this winter, and the drawing practice has been great practice. To learn more about the course, Classic Drawing, please visit http://www.adamsart.org.  I am realizing just how fundamental those drawing techniques of using basic shapes and practicing observing what I see, whether it’s a photo or a real-life object, are so important for accurate drawing. Here are some examples of the drawing exercises and projects I have been working on to prepare for this class. Enjoy! Thanks for reading!

Anatomy of a Shadow with Value Scale, pencil on paper with printed value scale, 2020, Jodie Schmidt.
Here is a photo of the textbook I have used in the past to teach my Classic Drawing course, at Frederick Community College, and now at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysburg, PA.
Angela Lansbury, colored pencil on gray paper, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
Emily Dickinson: A Song of Service, pastel on paper, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
Eric Liddell Figure Study, pencil on paper, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
My Broken Home, pastel on paper, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.

Surviving and Thriving during Artist’s Block:

Things I have tried to do to get creative again

I have been struggling with artist’s block this fall and winter, and though I know I should draw more often, it’s been a struggle to get motivated. During this journey, I’ve tried various things to break out of it, such as: copying art demonstrations from art technique books, participating in Inktober, re-touching/re-working old paintings, and in December, working on a daily drawing challenge, featuring portraits and figures with just pencil and paper as a medium to keep things simple. The later project has been the most successful because it is simple to do a pencil and paper line drawing, in which I limit myself to 30 minutes.

Occasionally, I vary the medium and incorporate colored pencils or pastels into the figure and portrait drawings. To make the project flow more easily, I pre-select my images for portraits and figure drawings by doing Google image searches, either for figure drawing construction demonstrations or black and white photos from silent films, or even, famous authors I admire, such as Agatha Christie or Jane Eyre. At times, more current movies can also serve as inspiration, such as the movie, Swing Kids, (1993), which was a great resource for finding more dynamic action poses. Another method that has worked well has been to follow along with art tutorials on YouTube to learn how to draw figures, especially gesture drawings. My two favorite channels for art tutorials on YouTube are, The Virtual Instructor and Rapid Fire Art, which are free of charge and narrated in real-time, to facilitate instruction.

Some insights I have gained about my artist’s block

Maybe it’s the big changes I have been facing lately, such as leaving my receptionist job of 15 years and exploring other options for careers, such as Activity Assistant or Art Therapist that have kept me from being motivated to consistently make art. I’m not even sure who I am anymore if I am not working as a Receptionist, after 15 years of working in the Customer Service field. Or, could it be guilt, which could be genuine or otherwise, about abandoning household chores to make time for art), or something else entirely, that’s causing me to feel stuck in my art practice? Whatever the cause, I want to come up with some solutions, so I can move forward and make more art, and hopefully, at least some of the pieces will turn out the way I envision or will be at least good enough to post on social media. This year, there’s been a mix of both good paintings and some not-so-good paintings. The paintings I’m not happy with might get thrown out, or sanded and re-worked, depending on the state of the canvases. I feel dry and uninspired, and I feel I have reached the limit of my skill set in art. In fact, I feel I need more fuel for my creativity and knowledge base.

Tips for breaking through a creative block

While I am pondering these thoughts, I’d like to share some tips I picked up from an article, “How to Survive a Creative Slump,” by Our Daily Craft, on http://www.ourdailycraft.com/2017/02/21/survive-creative-slump. A few suggestions that the author offers to include: 1.) starting with a small creative project, 2.) “doing something fast,” 3.) reading a book that inspires you, and 4.) organizing or cleaning something in your home.  For instance, the author suggested a few small projects to help jumpstart your creativity such as 1.) “sewing a cloth napkin,” 2.) “knitting a headband,” 3.) Paint on a 4 x 4-inch surface, or “writing a haiku.” Since I am not particularly good at crafts or anything DIY, which I learned after re-finishing some furniture and all of my kitchen cabinets in my new home, I have settled on painting a 4 x 4-inch canvas of Canada Geese, which I re-worked in oil paints about a week ago. Another suggestion that the author makes is to re-visit old projects that you had left unfinished. I certainly have a pile of unfinished works-such as unfinished drawings, pastels, and pages in my sketchbook where things just didn’t come together. Perhaps it would be a good problem-solving exercise to utilize my creativity, in coming up with new solutions to problems with composition, color, drawing, etc.

In addition, the author also talked about making something quickly-which I’m not sure I would do, since most of the problems I have had with my art have been poor planning. Another problem which doing things fast leads to is unsatisfactory art for me, when I don’t spend enough time checking the accuracy of the drawing. Maybe if I were an abstract painter I could get away with a more intuitive approach to painting, than a more structured one with specific steps, but I am not, so I am sticking with what works for me.

However, one thing I do want to try is to read a novel, article, or poem, to try and get some new ideas flowing. Some of my best works have been inspired by the poetry of Dickinson and Frost, which I made in to a portfolio of works during the worst parts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Maybe reading literature will also help me to become a better writer and get me out of this writer’s block I seem to be assailed with lately. How about you? Do you have any suggestions for breaking out of a creative rut? I’d love to hear! Just post in the comments section of this blog. Thanks for stopping by!  

Childhood Memory Loss, Pastel on Illustration board, 16 x 20 inches, 2020, Jodie Schmidt.
Time Waits for No One, Mixed Media, 12 x 12 inches, 2020, Jodie Schmidt.
Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot, Oil on masonite board, 16 x 24, 2020, Jodie Schmidt.
Dorothy Sayers Figure Drawing, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
Dorothy Sayers Reading a book, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
Gene Kelly Dancing, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2021, Jodie Schmidt.
The Inspector Lynley BBC Series: Barbara Havers and Inspector Lynley, Pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2022, Jodie Schmidt.

Art Courses Update, Winter and Spring 2022

This Winter I will be teaching art classes at two different locations! I am honored to join the staff at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysburg, PA, and will be teaching two art courses there. Beginning in February, I will be offering a beginner’s pastel course that will guide you through the basics of value, shape, and color and teach you to paint in the style of the Impressionists. To learn more about this course, visit https://www.adamsarts.org/classes/.

And in January I will be teaching a beginner’s course in drawing called, Classic Drawing at the Adams County Arts Council. If you have ever wanted to learn how to draw this is the course for you! Or, if you need a refresher in drawing fundamentals such as shading and building objects from simple shapes, this course will help you get back into the groove! Visit this link for more details: https://www.adamsarts.org/classes/.

I will also be teaching the beginner’s pastel course in February at the Delaplaine Art Center in Frederick, MD. To register or learn more about this course, visit this link: https://delaplaine.org/instruction/classes-workshops/.

Stay tuned for details about more art courses I will be offering at the Delaplaine Art Center this Spring! These courses include Pastels in Landscapes, and a mixed media course called Drawing Calm. Visit the Delaplaine Art Center website for updates!

Value Lesson, Apple.

Update on New Art Classes: Winter 2022

Hello Friends, Family, Visitors, and potential Students,

I will be teaching a number of classes at the Delaplaine Art Center starting in February. In February, I will be teaching a Beginning Pastels Course, where I will guide you through basic techniques of pastel, such as broken color, shading, and simple drawing skills, such as working with basic shapes. We will gradually work our way through these skills and learn to work from black and white gray scales to full color with gradient scales, gradients, and color wheels. As a final project, we will copy Monet’s haystacks series in which we will apply broken color techniques and color mixing to replicate the style of the Impressionists. To learn more about this course, or to sign up, please visit https://delaplaine.org/instruction/classes-workshops/drawing/.

Drawing: The Power of Thumbnail Sketches

Would you like to learn a new skill to add to your drawing toolbox? Or, did you want to learn drawing , but felt intimidated by the prospect of drawing and the many approaches you can take to it, such as contour drawing? Enter thumbnail sketches. Source: Brummer, Carrie. “10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching,” Artist Strong Blog, www.artiststrong.com. Accessed 09/11/2020.

A thumbnail sketch is a quickly drawn small sketch, hence the name, thumbnail sketch. It could be any subject you choose, such as animals, portraits, landscapes, city scenes, etc.  the only guidelines are to make it small, about 2 inches by 2 inches for height and width. Your thumbnail sketches can be composed of boxes, rectangles or any shape you choose. And you can use pencils or pens. If you wish, you can add color to your sketches with colored pencils or watercolor paints. Think of your thumbnail sketches as gesture sketches, which can be done in seconds, and which can be used as a dress rehearsal for more complex art projects, such as paintings. Source: Brummer, Carrie. “10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching,” Artist Strong Blog, www.artiststrong.com. Accessed 09/11/2020.

Want to know how to get started? To begin your thumbnail sketches, you can begin by gathering pencils, pens, rulers and watercolors or colored pencils, if you wish. Start by drawing a series of small squares, with pencils, papers and rulers. Then decide what you want to draw and gather your source materials, such s photos, a still life, or go out on location, such as to a park to draw people and landscapes from observation. Source: Brummer, Carrie. “10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching,” Artist Strong Blog, www.artiststrong.com. Accessed 09/11/2020.

 I began with six squares to test out different compositional concepts for my paintings, Let Your Soul be Your Pilot and Song of Service, using pencil, ruler, and pen to outline my drawings. If you can’t get outside, use your old vacation photos as a source, such as a beach vacation, etc. Be sure to try out different compositions for each box, such as: close ups, and eye level viewpoints, etc. Trying out the compositions now, will help you make the best choice for your projects and give you practice and confidence in your drawing skills. But don’t spend more than a few minutes on each sketch, keep it loose and free of detail. If you feel stuck, check out the list of prompts I am including below, from the blog post, 10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching, by Carrie Brummer, posted on her website, www.artiststrong.com.

  1. Draw a house plant, using close up views, details of leaves, etc.
  2. Choose your favorite photo and abstract it, by simplifying it into smaller sections.
  3. Compose a still life using objects from your home, such as plates, dishes, vases, or fruits and vegetables.
  4. Draw the scenery at a park, while sitting on a park bench.
  5. Drive to the beach, or look for old vacation photos if you can’t get outside this summer.
  6. Look for patterns in your home, such as: fabric patterns in your curtains, throw pillows, or futon covers.
  7. Get your family involved and participate in a scavenger hunt on a rainy day. Ask your family members to look for an element of art, such as: line, in your home and then share your sketches of these subjects as a group.
  8. Bring your sketchbook to your appointments and draw the offices you are waiting in.
  9. Design sketches that illustrate your favorite cookery recipe.  10.) Make a storyboard from your thumbnails to illustrate your favorite fairy tale.

 I began with six squares to test out different compositional concepts for my paintings, Let Your Soul be Your Pilot and Song of Service, using pencil, ruler, and pen to outline my drawings. If you can’t get outside, use your old vacation photos as a source, such as a beach vacation, etc. Be sure to try out different compositions for each box, such as: close ups, and eye level viewpoints, etc. Trying out the compositions now, will help you make the best choice for your projects and give you practice and confidence in your drawing skills. But don’t spend more than a few minutes on each sketch, keep it loose and free of detail. If you feel stuck, check out the list of prompts I am including below, from the blog post, 10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching, by Carrie Brummer, posted on her website, www.artiststrong.com.

Pictured in this week’s blog is my progress for the Let Your Soul be Your Pilot painting. I began with a somewhat busy composition and decided to simplify it, even though I liked all the symbolic imagery of map and compass. It felt like the figure, which was the main narrative was getting lost in all the detail, but I wasn’t sure how to proceed. Making thumbnail sketches helped me to see my options. The painting still isn’t finished, but I have a better idea of where I want to go next with the painting. I also began making some color sketches to try out color schemes for the finishing painting. I am hoping to have the final oil painting based on this new thumbnail posted to my blog or Instagram account by next week. Thanks for reading!

A variety of thumbnail sketches were explored here to try different viewpoints for my drawing, Let your Soul be Your Pilot. I used pencil, pen, and ruler to sketch on mixed media paper in my sketchbook.
Basic sketch for the chosen thumbnail sketch. I used this sketch as a basis for my oil painting on masonite board.
Photo collage I made in Adobe Photoshop of the revised composition from thumbnail sketches, reduced into a black and white image to focus on values, from darkest black to shades of grey and light gray. Doing this gave me more freedom to choose different color combinations, as I started to do below in watercolor paints on mixed media paper.
Color Study one of the revised composition, with analogous colors of blue, blue-green and green as the main color scheme.
This is the original sketch which I had started with before I made thumbnail sketches. I thought it was too busy and so I looked at different thumbnail compositions to try out, pictured at the top of the gallery.

Portfolio Progress completed works

This week I am taking time to inventory my completed artworks for my series Constructed Realities. This mixed media series is a collection of poetry inspired works that incorporate both text and imagery with a variety of media such as soft pastel, oils, acrylics, and gouache. I am making these paintings as part of a portfolio in preparation for applying to graduate school in two years’ time. I’ve been stretched in ways I hadn’t thought possible working with a variety of media, and the challenge of translating abstract ideas into visual art. Here’s a snippet of my Statement of Purpose, which describes these works in more detail.

In my new works, I have incorporated mixed media and text, which is inspired by art journaling and mixed media art. For example, texts from selected poems or songs, such as the writings of Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and T.S. Elliot, Dylan Thomas, and Thomas Hardy are included in my paintings to give viewers clues about the content of my work.  Other influences include the song lyrics of Sting, and other musicians, psychological theories of human development, and current events.  These texts are incorporated into my paintings to help the view draw connections between the emotional content in my art and the written word.

Gather ye rosebuds final, small
Jodie Schmidt, Time waits for no one,  August 2020, mixed media: oil, acrylic, gouache, illustration board on masonite, 12 x 12 inches. Photo of Grim Reaper photo credit: Jbuzbee, 21 September 2008, Statue in the Cathedral of Trier, Germany, originally sourced on https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CathedralOfTrier_Skeleton.JPG. The photo has been re-mixed into a fine art image with the addition of pastel, gouache and other pictorial elements have been added to the composition such as the clock and figures. The original photo source is liscensed under wikimedia commoms.

Dream of time travel, final, small
Jodie Schmidt, Dream of Time Travel, July 2020, mixed media: oil, soft pastel and gouache on illustration board, 12 x 12 inches.

Pictures of You, with watermark
Jodie Schmidt, Childhood Memory Loss, June 2020,  mixed media: Soft pastel and gouache on illustration board, 16 x 20 inches.

The world, final version
Jodie Schmidt, Money is the Bait, August 2020, Mixed media: oil, acrylic, paint chips, canvas paper, and illustration board on masonite, 16 x 20 inches.

The Importance of Drawing as Studio practice for artists

Why Artists Should Make Drawing a Daily Practice

 About a century ago (well I exaggerate a little); I was a college student studying art at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. I had a brilliant and successful art teacher named Steve, who demonstrated how the practice of art-making and the hatching of new ideas could be brought to life, using a sketchbook.  He taught me many useful things, such as how to keep an art sketchbook pasted with photos of artwork by artists I admired, and how to write an artist statement that reflected my unique artistic voice. Above all, his most important advice was that I should draw every day. At the time, that task seemed quite difficult to stick with. I was always an impatient artist as a student and I often rushed through the drawing stage to hurry up and get to the painting. I learned later that that was a mistake. Now that many years have passed since my graduation from McDaniel, I can truly see the wisdom of his advice.

In hindsight, I realize that he was so right about drawing every day. Now, I no longer rush artwork and I have learned to love drawing, whether it becomes a painting or not. In fact, I have embraced his advice of a daily drawing habit at various times in my life, and I have worked on several art challenges for both human portraiture and pet portraits on my Instagram account. One of these challenges is called 100 faces in 100 days, in which I drew a pre-selected photo of a celebrity using only pencil and paper. I did not add in a lot of detail or shading and I limited myself to 45 minutes a day. The process of a drawing challenge gave me many opportunities for both successful drawing and ones that I didn’t like, but it helped me to see my progress, and that the practice bore much fruit in terms of learning to take the time to really observe my photo references and record my observations on paper. You could say drawing is akin to yoga or meditation because you need to be completely mindful in order to capture the nuances prevalent in realistic drawing.

At present, I am struggling to carve out time for drawing. Sandwiched in between working, and preparing an art portfolio for graduate school applications, and other responsibilities, I am striving to make time at least 1x a week to draw. This time, I am focusing on making mixed media pastel and torn paper collage drawings. These take several days to complete so I only post about 1x a week on my Instagram account.  But this working process works well for me, as the breaks in the

The World painting, flat
Stage 4: I began composing this piece by moving elements of the collage back and forth until I was happy with them. Then I had to cut them all out and paste them to the masonite. I created an entirely new sketch for the self-portrait and painted it in oils instead of acrylic so I could get more working time to blend and smooth the edges. 

 

Detail work, small
Stage 3: Next, I decided to paint my individual details and then add them to the substrate as collage pieces. I had to try several different adhesives to make these collage pieces stick from crazy glue to heavy acrylic gel, with varying degrees of success. The collage pieces were constructed on the illustration board, and are remnants of my first attempt at this painting. I used canvas paper for the parts I completely re-painted, such as the self-portrait profile figure.

The world, gradient, small
Stage 2: I started an entirely new painting on a new surface, using water-mixable oils on a masonite board as my support. 

First attempt, small
Stage 1: This was my initial sketch, created with acrylic, colored pencil, and pastel on illustration board. However, I wasn’t happy with it because of the colors, and some drawing errors in the self-portrait. I also decided to go with a more realistic style in the portraits and paint in tone rather than crosshatching in the final piece. 

action, give me additional time to evaluate the accuracy of my drawing proportions and the values in my shading. The most important take away I can say about drawing and getting good at it, is that it really helps your art practice to flourish. For instance, once you have the drawing and composition mastered, you can enjoy the next step more fully, whether its collage, painting or some other art form such as graphic design or sculpture. With an accurate drawing, you won’t have to worry about continuing to fix it and can fully embrace your next steps, and I am learning that it’s so much better to take the time and lay a good drawing as your foundation for your art.

A good case in point was my latest painting in progress, Money is the Bait, which started out unsatisfactorily because of several drawing errors in the initial portrait. I ended up starting from scratch in oils on a totally new surface, and it still isn’t finished. I hope to finish it by next week. Thanks for stopping by! If you want to follow my progress with the mixed media portraits, you can follow me on Instagram under my profile name, jsjschmidt.