Art Show: Light and Color

Hello Friends, Family, and Followers,

I just got back from displaying my oil and acrylic paintings at the Frederick Coffee Company in Frederick, MD. My art will be on display from October1-October 31st as an artist of the month. On display are landscapes, still life, and portraits. All items are for sale and are framed. For more information about the cafe hours or address, visit http://www.fredcoffeeco.com.

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Self-Portrait with Oil Lamp (Painting of the Week)

The painting of the week is inspired by my blog post, Why Artists Should Make Content-Based Art Work, and by the baroque artist, Georges La Tour, who specialized in portraits lit by candlelight. Self-Portrait with Oil Lamp, Oil on Canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2013, $250.00. This item is available for purchase on my artist commerce site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt.

Self-Portrait with lamp, edited

Why Should Artists Create Content Based Work?

Have you ever wondered why some artists, such as Andrew Wyeth, and others create their artwork in a series format? My first experience with creating artwork as a series was as an undergraduate at McDaniel College, taking art classes at the senior level. In this Senior Studio Capstone class, my fellow students and I were given the assignment to create a series of artworks that expressed a theme of interest or importance to us and to write an artist’s statement that described our artwork’s theme.  For example, according to the website The Abundant Artist, some themes that artists might explore in a series include, 1.) texture and color (Faith Ringgold), 2.) politics  (Kathe Kollwitz), 3.) death, (Hirst) or 4.) messages that uplift, like Kelley Rae Roberts.   Prior to that, my assignments in drawing and painting consisted of drawing or painting to try and copy the still life or model in front of me, to teach the skills of observation. At that time, I had no idea how to even get started and had artist’s block for two weeks while I searched for artworks that inspired, all in vain. My Teacher did give us some guidance on the process though. He suggested that we create sketchbooks in which we pasted artworks of inspiration, no matter the medium, and he suggested that we look up art magazines, such as Art in America. Pouring over art magazines and artist websites, such as Forum Gallery, I could think of nothing new to say with my artwork that hadn’t already been said. I felt I had a lot of competition since there have already been many artists who have gone before me, who have created several unforgettable artworks to boot, such as Vermeer’s, Girl with a Pearl Earring, painted in 1665.

After weeks of struggle and seeking out artwork that inspired me, I had a solution. My answer came from an unlikely source, music. I decided to illustrate some of the songs of my favorite musician, Sting, using my self-portrait as a muse, along with color, and composition to portray various feelings of uncertainty, sadness, etc. Some of the songs I illustrated in my self-portrait series were Lithium Sunset and Secret Journey. The first song talks about how medication can help bring a person out of depression and make them strong enough to get back up again. While the second song, Secret Journey, talks about a mystical journey of enlightenment. I printed out the songs from Sting’s website, www.sting.com, pasted them in my sketchbooks, and underlined words and phrases that I thought were good candidates for illustration. And I referenced these songs and artworks of inspiration as I crafted my Artist’s Statement. As I searched through artwork that inspired, it became evident that I was drawn to the subject of the portrait, but I didn’t know how to make my work unique because the portrait has been done numerous times before.

The imagery of Sting’s songs provided the perfect solution to my dilemma and I was off and running. My then boyfriend, Dan, took photos of me to provide the source photos for my oil paintings. To make a long story short, I finished the series in time and even made a power point presentation as part of the project requirements of my finished works. In addition, I crafted an artist’s statement, which helped me to define the artwork by describing what the artwork would be about and what influences had to lead me to the finished work. I learned a lot about myself as an artist, such as how to distill ideas through writing artist statements and creating sketchbooks to illustrate my ideas by pasting artwork that inspired onto its pages. In particular, I discovered that I liked to make artworks that had a message, even if the search for the solution was far from easy. But back to my main question, “Why should artists work in a series?”

To investigate that question more fully, I did what many people would do, I googled it.  The websites, Abundant Artist and Art Business.com,  shed some light on the subject of content-based art. According to the authors, some of these benefits include: 1.) Making artwork in a series gives the artist a platform to connect with their audience on an emotional level because the artwork is focused and personal, 2.) Creating artwork in a series format helps others to understand what an artist’s work is about and who they are as a person, 3.) Artists who make artwork in a series are more likely to find art galleries to exhibit their work

because they know how to market the artist and this format follow their business model, and 4.) Working in a series format helps artists to understand what topics/subjects are important to them, and which they like to draw or paint.

The Great Talent Debate

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 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. 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, failure (not everything I draw or paint is successful), an extensive education in art technique and media, weekly practice in drawing and painting, just to name a few. And perhaps most importantly, I grew up with parents who were very supportive of my pursuit of art. 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. 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 greatness. The question of whether 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 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. Users ask such as: “Does natural talent exist or all skills learned?” cited in www. Reddit.com, in 2013. In addition, this question is much like the nature or nurture question in determining how a person will turn out, and what determining factor plays the most crucial part in that process. 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, 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?

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.

 

Painting of the Week

Here is my painting of the week. It is a double portrait of my dad, and me when I was about 4 or 5 years of age. This work of art combines two of my greatest interests which are, family history and painting. I am handing a birthday present to him in this painting. This art work is part of a series about my dad’s life, when I started in 2011, after his death to memorialize his life. I did this project both to process my grief after his passing and to try and remember some of the good memories. I used a family photo as a reference for this painting and a good deal of artistic license, using a loose paint application with a series of complementary colors with red and green and gold and blue-violet. The painting is available for sale on my website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt?ref=l2-shopheader-name.The Gift Thanks for looking!

Title: Dad and I

Medium: Oil on Canvas Panel

Size: 11 x 14 Inches

Price: $190.00

Custom Framed with Gold/Bronze Decorative Frame with filigree and beading. Ready to hang on your wall!

Art of Schmidt: My Process

This evening I was reflecting on a price quote from a friend that I received on Facebook today,  and I decided that I would share my custom art process to take some of the mystery out of it. I’m hoping that writing this post will help me to do a better job of explaining my process to prospective collectors, should the opportunity arise so I won’t feel at a loss for words. Here is a copy of my Art of Schmidt custom art brochure with my three step process. I start by meeting with a free consultation with a prospective client to discuss their vision for their pet portrait and to review the photos that they bring depicting their pet. I usually ask the client to bring 2-4 photos of their pet for my review. If we decide to work together after discussing terms, such as the medium was chosen, size of the work, deadlines, and signing a contract which requires a 50% deposit of the total custom art price, I get to work on a three value sketch to determine the composition of the piece and the lights and darks with pencil and sketching paper

Mindy finalJasmine large file

I usually make 2-3 sketches for the client to review, either in person or via email, depending on their preference.

Once the sketch has been approved, I move on to the second step, which I call the color sketch. In this step, I play with color choices to continue to design the painting. Although I use photos as a starting point, I am not a slave to the photo, especially if the colors represented in it do not work together harmoniously. One technique I like to use in designing color schemes is to go to Lowes and look at paint chip samples in the paint department. These are free and work well for me as I can limit the colors to just a few choices. I create the color sketch in colored pencil or acrylic paint, making 2-3 versions and ask for the clients’ review. Throughout this process, I maintain contact with the client to build trust and work collaboratively, so that they feel that the work is made especially for them. The final product is executed in oil paint or acrylic paint, or even pastel, depending on what medium the client likes best.Thanks for looking!

Order Your Custom Art Portrait Today: And Make a Lasting Memory of Your Pet

Ever wanted to design a portrait of your beloved pet, as a keepsake but didn’t know how to get started? I specialize in pet portraiture for dogs, cats, and many other animals. It all starts with a free consultation with me at my studio, where we can discuss your unique vision for your pet portrait, pricing, and any other details you would like to discuss. Be sure to bring a few good photos (at least 2-4 images clear images) of your pet which show it’s defining features such as special markings, eye color, the texture of fur, etc. The photo should be taken at eye level and be crisp and clear with good lighting and should be no smaller than 4 x 6 inches. The more photos you bring with you the better so I can design the best possible portrait for you. Want to learn more? My shop policies and examples of my previous pet portraits can be located on my web site:  https://www.etsy.com/listing/487300610/jack-russell-terrier-custom-art?ref=shop_home_active_19. Here are some examples of recent pet portrait commissions in oil and acrylic paint that I have created for clients. Or you may call or text me at: (301) 712-8115 to schedule a free consultation.

Painting of the Week: Dad and Phyllis

Here is my completed oil painting of the week. This work features a portrait of my dad and his first wife, Phyllis when they were newly married in the early 1950s. It is based on an old black and white photograph that I found when I was cleaning out my dad’s house while he was in the Assisted Living facility back in 2011. I used the photo as a jumping off point for the composition and drawing but used my imagination when choosing the color palette, to create a color harmony of complementary colors of orange and blue, and yellow and violet. My painting is based on a series of oil paintings that I completed about my father’s life, based on family photos from different times in his life from childhood to young adult, to older adult to help process my grief during his series of strokes and hospitalization. I found that painting could provide a safe refuge for me when most days were uncertain and chaotic as I waited to get text messages, emails or phone updates on my dad’s health from family members, and tried to “keep it together” so I could get on with my daily life activities, like cooking, cleaning, going to work, and just getting out of bed every morning. The painting, Dad and Phyllis, are available for sale on my Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt?ref=seller-platform-mcnav. Dad and Phyllis

Title: Dad and Phyllis

Medium: Oil on Canvas Panel

Size: 9 x 12 inches

Item has been custom framed so it’s ready to hang on your wall!

Abraham Lincoln Portrait: Available for Sale on Etsy

Hello Friends,

As promised, I am posting a new painting every week that will be available for purchase on my Etsy shop,  https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt?ref=seller-platform-mcnav. Here is a portrait that I started a few years ago, back in 2012 to be exact. However, a few weeks ago I looked at the painting and I felt it could use some touches of thicker paint to add interest to the painting, which had been painted fairly thinly at the time.  I also toned the background down to a blue-gray color so it wouldn’t compete with the portrait of Abe Lincoln.This is the finished result, from left to right. Thanks for looking!