Join me for a chance to relax and be creative at Frederick Community College this May and June. I will be teaching noncredit courses, so there is no pressure to earn a grade or do homework, however, I teach it like a college class so you get to learn some of the critical fundamentals of art such as color, line, and value. To learn more, visit: https://www.frederick.edu/class-schedules/downloads/ilr_spring_2023_schedule.aspx. My Continuing Pastels course starts on 5/5. Sign up today to reserve your spot!
Or, if that doesn’t work with your schedule I am also teaching a mixed media course entitled, Drawing and Painting: A Mixed Media Survey on 6/15, also at Frederick Community College. You can sign up for this course at the above link.
The courses I am teaching include ACR187 Continuing Pastels with Landscapes, and ACR181 Drawing and Painting: A Mixed Media Survey. Below are some samples of the projects from these courses, so you can get a sneak preview!
I am teaching a cornucopia of art courses at Frederick Community College in the Institute for Learning in Retirement department. These classes are short, and art is not graded like traditional credit courses. However, I teach the basic elements of art and offer group critiques, which are a vital part of credit art courses, so you get all the benefits of a credit course, without the grade.
They are perfect for those who want a short-term art course without a long time commitment. As a student, you will receive the benefit of my extensive art expertise as a student and art teacher, and receive constructive critiques, education in the basics of art, such as value, shape, color, etc., as well as individual art instruction. My courses will empower you to self-critique your own work and that of others, so that you can have the confidence to improve the quality of your artwork on your own. I offer a variety of mediums to choose from such as soft pastels, pencils, and mixed media!
This week I am writing about my somewhat haphazard journey toward becoming an artist and some lessons I have learned along the way. I also add a few insights from some famous artists that I feel provide a meaningful segue for my thoughts. A few months back when I was hosting an Artist opening show at Spin the Bottle Wine Company in Frederick, MD, one of the visitors to the wine shop asked me how I got my start as an artist. I answered that my mother had always encouraged me to make art and that she had enrolled me in a watercolor painting class at the age of nine. Since then I have taken many other art classes at the Howard County Center for the Arts (acrylic and watercolor), Howard Community College (drawing and photography), McDaniel College (graphic design, sculpture, drawing, and oil painting), and art classes with local artist Rebecca Pearl for watercolor, to name a few.
My journey has not been a straight path to overnight success. Instead, it has had many ups and downs, despite how things might look in my carefully timed and worded Facebook Posts and artist biographies that I write. For example, I don’t post artwork that I don’t like for the most part, and the ones I do post have often been reworked several times. Furthermore, the artworks that I show in galleries, coffee shops, etc., are examples of my best work, culled from unfinished works, experiments, and messes. In the words of poet Langston Hughes, “This life ain’t been no crystal stair.”
I can’t speak for the path of other artists, but after I graduated from McDaniel College with a bachelor’s degree in art, I struggled to find a path that would work for me. After graduation, I had to balance the realities of everyday realities such as student loan payments, with my dreams of being an exhibiting and teaching artist. My transition from being an art student in a creative bubble, to the world outside those walls, was not seamless. For instance, it was hard to deal with the isolation of being an artist without a group of creatives to cheer me on or encourage me when rejection inevitably came, in the form of rejection letters from Graduate Schools, such as Towson University, MICA, and James Madison University. There were also rejection letters from art galleries that rejected my artwork. At the time, I thought the only way to be an artist was to teach art or to exhibit my artwork in juried art shows.
During this time, I took classes in a variety of subjects other than art, trying to find out what I wanted to do with my life, such as history, social work, and graphic design. None of these seemed to “fit”, and I usually ended up returning to art again at some point, either by taking another art class or by making art on my own time on days off from work or in the evenings. I worked in customer service jobs as a library assistant, and hostess, and next, I work as a Receptionist at a Funeral Home. I have learned that there are many different ways to be an artist, whether it provides your livelihood or not. At present, I divide my time between working as a part-time Adjunct faculty art teacher and making art in my spare time. I’m constantly looking for new opportunities to exhibit my art or share my art with others on Instagram and Facebook, or at art festivals or coffee houses.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned during my creative journey as an artist was to be careful with whom I showed my art and to carefully filter people’s comments about my art to see if they are helpful. I’ve had some bad critiques in the past and so I try to choose people who have my best interests at heart and who have some art training but are not pretentious or mercilessly blunt. Source: Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic, and 10 Life Lessons from History’s Most Famous Artists, Kim Smiley, 03/02/17.
And finally, another lesson that I am currently in the process of learning is that it takes a lot of time, sweat, and tears to perfect one’s craft as an artist. By no means does excellent work occur in and of itself. It takes years of practice and determination not to give up on practicing one’s art. For example, according to Kim Smiley, the Renaissance sculptor, painter, poet, and engineer, Michelangelo, knew that it took patience to create art, and likewise, Leonardo Da Vinci, states, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” According to Smilet, artists should “go against the grain” of our modern culture to get everything done quicker, and instead take their time to create quality work and the patience to carry it out. One way that I am working on practicing my craft has been to challenge myself to draw a portrait a day, or as often as possible. Every time I create a portrait of a celebrity, changemaker, or another historical figure, I post the results on Instagram. So far I have created 91 line portraits out of the 100 I planned to make. It’s a work in progress. If you are interested in following my drawing challenge, 100 faces in 100 days, you can find me on Instagram as jsjsschmidt2, or you may view my website, www.artofschmidt.com, which has a link to my Instagram page and is updated each time I post a new drawing.
Author’s Note: This blog post is from my archives but the artwork is new, and it illustrates some of the new work I have been making in my art sketchbook. The goal for these works has been to try to re-do unsatisfactory artwork in these pages and complete the work as a series which different topics each month. This month my focus is on nature. I only started this project about a month ago, and have already learned so much about color, value, and composition!
And by the way, if you are looking for a fun class in which to practice your color mixing and drawing skills, you might enjoy my course: Beginning Pastels at Delaplaine Art Center. To learn more, click on this link: https://delaplaine.org/. I give detailed tutorials on topics such as how to mix color and create value scales to help you to create the artwork you will love! I teach the fundamentals of art such as line, shape, color, and value to give you the tools to make artwork both in my classroom and beyond! There is no grading or homework, so the pressure is off if you were thinking it was another academic type course. I try to teach you fundamentals in a fun and supportive environment.
There are still some spots available for my upcoming, Continuing Landscapes in Pastel at the Delaplaine Art Center. If you are an oil painter or love to work in color, but would like to try out a new medium, this might be a great course for you.
Or, if you want to work in a more forgiving art medium than watercolor, pastel could be the perfect choice for you! It’s a wonderful medium that combines all the characteristics of drawing which is generally a dry media, with the painterly characteristics of color and texture, such as oil painting, but in contrast, pastels have no drying time.
Working in soft pastels also doesn’t require a full complement of art supplies, such as pallets, brushes, or water jars. Instead, you can get started with just some soft pastels, erasers, pastel pencils, and pastel paper to begin your creative journey. Easy to set up and easy to clean up. No brushes or palettes to clean! And it’s so easy to correct your mistakes, with a kneaded eraser. What could be better? Here’s a sneak peek at some of the projects we will work on colorful meadows, fall scenes, and even a mixed media garden landscape. Please visit: https://delaplaine.org/ to sign up or learn more about this wonderful course!
In my experience as an artist and teacher, I have learned how important it is to incorporate a wide range of value in my own artwork and art demonstrations. Test the truth of this insight by joining my art course, Continuing Landscapes at the Delaplaine art center this July! We will start with pastel techniques, and then work our way through the elements of art, such as value and color, etc. to build successful landscape pastel paintings. To learn more, visit https://delaplaine.org/.
This summer I am teaching two great art courses at the Delaplaine Art Center in Frederick, MD! The first course begins on June 22nd, and it’s called, Drawing into Calm: A mixed media survey course. In this course, you will learn how to work in a variety of media from watercolor and pen to acrylic and pastel. We will explore which media are compatible, such as watercolor and ink pen, and gain inspiration from a variety of famous artists, such as Monet, Paul Klee, and Odilon Redon, among others! It’s a course that is perfect for beginner artists and will explore both drawing demonstrations and painting demonstrations, as well as collages. If you want to try new media or love art history, this might be the perfect course for you! Visit the Delaplaine website at: https://delaplaine.org/, to register or learn more.
The other course I am teaching is called, Continuing Landscapes in Pastel, and it’s perfect for experienced pastel artists who would like to learn more about color and value in the context of the four seasons. This course is geared toward more experienced artists who have some drawing experience. The four seasons, summer, autumn, winter, and spring will provide a context for exploring the elements of art, value, and color, such as using cool colors like blue or violet to depict snow, and warmer color palettes to illustrate fall foliage. Both courses are designed for adults. To learn more, visit https://delaplaine.org/instruction/classes-workshops/.
The good news is that my art courses at the Delaplaine are filling up! And, the good news for you is that there are a few more spots left! The three courses I will be teaching are Classic Drawing, a beginner drawing course, Drawing into Calm: A Mixed Media survey course, and Landscapes in Pastel: The Four Seasons.
The drawing course is great for those who have always wanted to draw but did not know where to begin, and I will teach you four different drawing modalities such as contour drawing, and using shapes to construct forms. With so many options, you are bound to find a method that brings you excellent results!
The next two courses, Drawing into Calm and Continuing Landscapes are a bit more advanced. In the former, we will study a variety of different art media such s watercolor, pastel, collage, and much more! It’s a veritable buffet of art media to try each week with lessons on collage and painting with subject matter that includes, animals and landscape. You will learn what media works best together in combinations that you wouldn’t have imagined, such as wax resist and collage!
And in the course of the landscape, we will explore a variety of light and color effects such as filtered light to imitate the qualities of the four seasons, such as spring, summer, fall, and winter! Soft pastel is perfect for those who love to paint, but don’t want to wait for it to dry! The elements of art, such as color, shape, form, and value will inform each lesson, and you’ll learn valuable skills such as how to mix colors to get the exact color you want! To learn more, visit https://delaplaine.org/instruction/classes-workshops/. Thanks for stopping by!
My beginner drawing course is now officially full! I am so excited, but there are still some open spots in my mixed media survey course, Drawing into Calm, and Continuing Landscapes, The Four Seasons. To learn more, visit http://www.delaplaine.org. Here are some photos of the artwork I plan to demonstrate for these courses, to give you a sneak preview!
If you are a creative type or if you like to make things, you have probably encountered the moment when the finished product you imagined, does not live up to your expectations. Creative types such as musicians, composers, producers, dancers, writers, artists, photographers, cooks, and makers of all types, can probably tell you what it feels like to hit a wall with a project, how it felt, and what they did to navigate that feeling of utter frustration. As an artist, I have experienced this frustration more times than I can count. Some paintings and drawings are simply learning projects and are difficult to salvage, while others can be fixed.
I know it’s been said that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes, but when I get to a point in a painting or drawing and I realize that the painting or drawing doesn’t look right, it can be really frustrating. I start doubting myself, feel like giving up, or doing something that I am not good at, like cooking or cleaning because I know that I am not good at these things, so my expectations of success in these domains are much lower than for painting or drawing since I have no training in cookery or housekeeping. Since I know I am not a good cook, if it doesn’t turn out so well, it’s a waste of ingredients but I don’t feel as emotionally attached to the outcome as I would to a painting or drawing.
I recently read a forum question on the website, Wet Canvas.com, and the question of the day was,” When should I stop working on a painting? I was intrigued by the question, and wondered how other artists dealt with paintings that can “look like a dog’s breakfast.” I read about a variety of solutions suggested by artists who had hit the wall creatively. Some were familiar to me, like my tendency to put the painting away and stop looking at it for a few days, weeks, months, or even longer. Others were not as familiar such as putting the painting somewhere where you can see it, such as on an easel in a living room, and then taking time to look at it from time to time to diagnose the problem. Another favorite technique is to write a list of things I want to change in the painting, be it the drawing, colors, value, edges, etc. In my case, some of the artwork I have abandoned was started about two years ago, and I am just now starting to look at the sketches and Photoshop files.
This week I took some time to work some more on my acrylic painting, Waiting: Creative Block. I realized that there were several things bothering me about it. The colors and values, and composition were some of the biggest glaring errors. I am realizing there are many reasons why this painting series of poetry illustration works have been abandoned. One of which was being too busy with other things to give the series the proper amount of time it requires to get things right, such as the composition and the drawing. Since I dropped out of the Social Work program at Frederick Community College, I do have more time to work on paintings.
And since I have deliberately looked at my schedule e and started marking studio days on the calendar, I have more “intentional “time. But I am also realizing just how hard this series is, as I am making some paintings almost entirely from scratch by combining different photo references in Photoshop and then drawing and painting them, with this technique, I do not have the luxury of working from reference photos already taken. I have to look for source material and then combine it to make it my own. This project is highlighting areas of weakness in me as an artist, and one of them is composition. I have a tendency to put everything in the middle and don’t often use more unconventional compositional styles. I want to change that and start looking to master artworks to try and broaden my skills in this area.
Another great way to improve your painting skills is to draw, yes draw. Regularly and in a sketchbook if you can, as much as you can so that you can practice things like composition, color, proportions, etc. It can also help you see patterns in your work, such as a favorite subject you return to, or a color palette. A sketchbook is also a great place to try out a variety of art media since it doesn’t feel as precious as a large painting can sometimes feel. This week I am featuring photos from my old sketchbook to show just how diverse you can be in art media. I include mixed-media collages and colored pencil drawings. The sky really is the limit with sketchbooks!