Art Shows

Hello Family, Friends, and Followers,

I’m writing to tell you about my upcoming art shows. I’m excited that I’ve been able to secure these new opportunities to show my art work at two great venues and I hope you can stop by to one or both of these art shows! This month my painting,  Magenta Rose , will be featured along with the art work of several of my fellow Artist Angle Member friends at Frederick Community College from September 9-October 4th at the Mary Condon Hodgson Art Gallery. For more information about the Artist Angle Member’s art show, follow this link:  http://calendar.frederick.edu/site/arts/event/artistangle-gallery—members-exhibition/.

Next month, my art will be featured at the Frederick Coffee Company in Frederick, MD, as an artist of the month from October 1-31. The cafe graciously features local artists every month of the year, free of charge.  Stop by for coffee, tea, a sandwich, or live music on the weekends. My exhibit will feature landscapes and still life which was inspired by the art work of the Impressionist artist, Claude Monet. Here is the web site for the Frederick Coffee Company if you would like more information about the art show location, or cafe hours of operation, http://fredcoffeeco.com/. I’m working on an art show post card to advertise the Frederick Coffee Company art show since the cafe does not make marketing materials for the artists, like an art gallery usually does. I will add a blog post with the completed post card soon!

The Lost Art of Drawing

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 who was able to make the practice of art making and the hatching of new ideas come alive like no other teacher I had before.  He taught me many useful things, such as how to keep an art sketchbook pasted with photos of art work by artists I admired, and how to write about my art in a way that expressed the message I wanted to share with it. Above all of the tips and advice, he gave I remember him telling me 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, especially oil painting, because I enjoyed working with the buttery texture of the oil paint and I loved working in color. Now that many years have passed since my graduation from McDaniel and I am a professional artist seeking out new avenues to showcase my art and making custom pet portraits, I can truly see the value in his advice.

With hindsight, I can see that he was so right about drawing every day. I no longer rush art work projects and I have learned to love drawing, whether it becomes a painting or not. A few years ago, I took a drawing class at Frederick Community College, with instructor Cynthia Bausch, who taught me how to use charcoal, pastel, and pencil to create compelling drawings with a high degree of finish. This experience started my love for drawing, even though getting the drawings right was extremely difficult. Frequently, I would do the sketch over and over again until I was pleased with the result. For instance, the self-portrait in charcoal, pictured in this post, was drawn a total of three times before I  handed in the final piece to the art teacher. Since then, I have embraced my former art teacher’s advice, Steve Pearson, from McDaniel College,  to draw every day. at present, I am working on a drawing challenge I like to call 100 faces in 100 days. In this challenge, I draw a pre-selected photo from the Internet or a coffee table book, Icons, of a celebrity using only pencil and paper. I do not add in a lot of detail or shading and I limit myself to 45 minutes a day. This time frame for drawing sessions tends to be more like 5 days a week for me since I often work on weekends and feel pretty fried when I come home. The drawings are strictly for practice and not intended for sale at this time.

To see what others in the art world had to say about the importance of drawing, I did a web search, with the query term, Why Artists Should Draw More.  Artist and blogger, Lori McNee, states that drawing can give the artists a multitude of benefits to help them improve their craft as an artist, not the least of which is learning to observe a subject, which is a skill that is important both to the practices of painting and drawing. Source: http://www.finearttips.com/2012/10/10-reasons-why-artists-should-draw-more/.  Drawing more can also help you plan out your compositions better and give you a road map to follow for your design before you get to the painting stage when it is more difficult to make changes.

McNee, (2012), also states that many children enjoy coloring with crayons. For example, I have observed this tendency in the day care setting, (McNee, 2012),  when I was working as an Assistant Teacher at La Petite Academy when I was a high school student. However, over time many children stop drawing or making crafts and self-consciousness drifts in, stealing the spontaneous joy of creating something new. I observed this tendency when I volunteered as an assistant in a middle school art class back in the early 200s. A lot of the kids in this art class would say, “I can’t draw this,” or “You do it,” to me when I walked around to work one on one with the students.Picasso-quotes-every-child-is-an-artist  In fact, even artists (such as Mc Nee) who have been trained to draw, often let this essential art practice slide over time, (McNee, 2012) and may come to rely on tracing, especially if they need to get a project done quickly for a client. I admit, I am guilty of this tendency and until a few years ago, I rarely had a daily drawing practice, and I often struggled to get my proportions in portraits correct, often giving up in futility to join all the other drawings on the reject pile.

However this summer, I was inspired to tackle my fears about drawing and making mistakes by the drawing challenge artist and blogger, Julie Fan Fei completed which she called, 100 15 minute Balzer Faces, in which she made a daily drawing practice using a variety of media such as ink, acrylic paint, and jelly plate printing, among others. Source: http://balzerdesigns.typepad.com/balzer_designs/100-15-minute-balzer-faces/.  This challenge and my art teacher’s wise advice, motivated me to complete my own drawing challenge which I like to call 100 Faces in 100 days.  I post progress photos of my celebrity sketches on my Instagram account almost every day, but it tends to be more like 5 days a week because of my work schedule, in which I often work weekends.   I spend 45 minutes on each sketch, with minimal sketching, and I simplify this process by working only in with paper and pencil.

I also keep a visual photo file of celebrity imagery I would like to draw from. One important note of caution here: If you want to sell a portrait or sketch, it is best to use your own photos if possible to avoid copyright violation, or to visit the Wikipedia web site, http://www.wikipedia.org, where you can do image searches by the name of the celebrity and find out the photo’s provenance, such as the name of who took the picture and whether it is in the public domain. Here is a link Wikipedia with a public domain photo of Cary Grant: https:enwikipedia.org/wiki/Cary_Grant#/media/File:Grant,_Cary_(Suspicion)-01_Crisco_edit.jpg. I have attached my sketch of Cary Grant based on this photo.

 To be on the safe side, you want to choose photos in the public domain if you plan to show your work or sell it or publish it in any way unless you can get written permission from the photographer to reproduce their work.  If you’re drawing is just for practice, no need to worry. But do try to give credit to the photographer if you can find out that information, and include that photographer’s name in your sketch when you sign and date it. Here are two web sites you can refer to learn more about copyright violation and terms: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-fairuse.html, and https://blog.kenkaminesky.com/photography-copyright-and-the-law/.

In conclusion, I am still working on my drawing challenge and I am really enjoying the process.  I feel like I am getting more comfortable with drawing and the pressure if off because this work is not for a custom art order, or for an art show entry. I am learning how to slow down and not be in a rush to finish a project. What really matters is that I have passion, determination, and am willing to put in the time to learn to draw, paint, etc.  It takes time to acquire these skills and is similar to learning a sport or an instrument, which requires hours, days, weeks, and years of practice. I’m trying to be patient with the process and remember that most of what I know how to do now with ease, had to be practiced and (and often!), whether it was walking, talking, reading, writing, cooking, etc., etc.  to reach a level of mastery.

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.

In Search of “White Space”

 

I’ve been working at a hectic pace these last two weeks preparing for a one-day art event called Art Pops! At Everedy Square and Shab Row in Frederick, MD.  Last Saturday was the big day to kick off this event and hopefully make some new connections and sales of my art work. The weeks leading up to this event were jam packed with activity and tasks such as weekly social media marketing campaigns, packaging and pricing my art works for sale, creating an inventory list in Excel, researching how to create an art booth display on Pinterest, etc.  And I learned a lot from this show, such as the importance of making in person connections with people to sell my art, how to read people, etc. In fact, I sold more art work in one day at the art show, then I did from months of posting about my art on Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy, and I am thankful for that.  However, all of this activity really took a toll on my energy and motivation to create art.

In all the business of preparing for the art show, I have really struggled to make time to create new art work. I feel that I have reached the end of my creative resources and knowledge, tapped out, so to speak. It’s been several years since I took an art class, and I haven’t read any new art technique books in several months. And this state of affairs is not like me. I am usually restless when I am not making art or coming up with some new ideas for a series of paintings or drawings. The last few days since the show ended, I have made a concerted effort to at least draw one portrait a day for my drawing challenge which I started back in June called, 100 faces in 100 days. Some days I have made some decent portraits, other days I have really struggled or been disappointed with

the results. If you would like to follow my progress with this project, you can view my 100 faces in 100 days drawing challenge on Instagram. I am listed as jsjschmidt2 on Instagram, and I post almost every day. Pictured are some sketches from this week including Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Sean Connery.

The paintings I wanted to work on, however, are not coming together. Instead of posting the finished product as I had hoped to do this week, I have to take several steps back and ask myself what isn’t working with the composition, values, colors and the drawings in my art work. For example, in my Creative Block: Waiting, watercolor painting, I feel there are too many elements battling for precedence and not enough quiet spaces to allow the viewer to contemplate the scene. The composition feels cluttered and overwhelming and the message of creative block feels “lost” in the muddle. So yesterday, I painted over several spots in the painting with acrylic gesso. And the Civil War soldiers fared no better. So out with the gesso again. I am struggling with the drawing and the tonal values in these acrylic paintings. I have discovered that the acrylic paint dries much darker than it looks when I mix it up and put it on the brush, which is really throwing off the values. So I may re-do the painting in oils after the gesso has “cured.”

The paintings seem to be a type of metaphor for where my life is these days. Overstuffed and empty all at the same time. I feel I have lost the wonder I used to have about making art that keeps me motivated to get into the art studio ever week to see what new ideas I might “cook up.” Meanwhile, I am realizing that my workaholic tendencies are not conducive to making art work. I must create and seek “white space” to re-fill my creative tank, so that I have something to draw from when I go to make art work.  Meanwhile, I will be be seeking out this “white space” in its various forms, whether it is taking a walk, journaling, going to an art gallery, reading an art technique book, etc., to try and regain my sense of wonder for life, and for making art.

100 Faces in 100 Days: Drawing Challenge

Back in June of this year, I had started a drawing challenge with celebrity portraits. In this challenge, I drew one celebrity portrait a day, using photo references of actors, actresses, and entertainers from the 1980s. I was inspired to start this series by a drawing challenge which I read about in a blog by Julie Fan Fei Balzer, called Balzer Designs. She called her challenge a 100-day

challenge and she created 100 faces in 100 days using a variety of media including acrylic monoprint, screen prints, ink on paper, ball point pen on paper, etc. I modified this challenge by using just paper and pencil to simplify it and instead of making up imaginary faces; I attempted to capture celebrity likenesses. I was also motivated to do this challenge because I had recently completed a portrait commission in May, and I truly struggled to get the likenesses of the people in the photo.

To make this challenge a daily habit, I collected photos of celebrities from the internet that I found inspiring and saved them to a file labeled, portraits, on my computer, so I had a ready supply of faces to draw. I also did a few other things to keep me on track, since I struggle with discipline and finishing art projects that I complete, especially ones without a definite deadline. So, I coupled setting the timer for 25 minutes and making the drink, usually coffee or diet coke, of my choice to go along with it. I also tried to start my drawing mid-morning, before other activities intruded. For the most part, the challenge has been going really well, and most days with a few exceptions, I have set aside time consistently to draw.  On the days when I can’t get to my sketch pad, I don’t beat myself up and I just start again the next day. And I feel I am learning so much about how to draw better portraits, for one, taking the time to really scrutinize the subject’s face and other features.

Also, just stepping back frequently has given me a fresh perspective on how closely the sketch resembles the photo reference.   On the other hand, there have been some days when I have felt really discouraged about whether I have what it takes to be an artist, when I have to do a drawing two or three times over, maybe even selecting a different photo to draw from if I get desperate.  On days like that, it’s hard to keep going with this challenge and I start to get discouraged. Lately, it has just been the dedication to push through and get it right. Last week though, I felt encouraged about the necessity of making art because, without a studio practice, I can’t have anything to share with my friends, family, and fans.  Nor can I grow in my skills as an artist, if I don’t practice. And not only that, I feel I would be losing a big part of myself and my identity as a person if I stopped showing up to make art.  I would lose that joy of creating something or seeing my internal visions come to life in sketches and paintings.  In the words of art business coach, Allyson Stanfield, “Without your art, you have nothing to promote, you have nothing to market, you have nothing to take out of the studio and share with the world.”  Source: Ecstatic Encounters Lesson 1: Devote Yourself to Studio Practice, from https://artbizcoach.com/ee-1/.

So despite the difficulties I sometimes encounter with making art, I am not giving up, not on this challenge or any other art project. As it stands, I still have quite a few more days to go before this challenge is complete…By my calculations based on my Instagram posts, I have 63 more days to go. After that, who knows what new challenge I will take on… If you would like to watch my progress, you can view my Instagram profile at jsjschmidt2 on Instagram. I attached a few photos of this drawing challenge from my Instagram account. I hope the challenge to draw every day or almost every day, challenges you as much as it has challenged me. Thanks for stopping by!

How to Finish a Custom Art Piece (or any art for that matter)

Last week I posted about a custom art portrait I have been working on for my neighbor. It is a group portrait and has it ever been challenging! It is like painting three separate paintings rather than just one painting. What I didn’t share in last week’s post was how difficult it has been to finish this project, which I feel has been dragging. Although the project started out to be deceptively simple, with the colors and the drawing coming together in a few days, once I got to the smaller version of the painting, the trouble began.

I discovered that working small on a 5 x 7 canvas was extremely challenging. I am used to working on medium sized canvases of about a 9 x 12 size and using large brushes, either a one inch flat or a 2 inch bright. For this project, I have had to use tiny brushes and it has made it take all the longer to complete. Also, working in acrylic rather than oil has been really difficult because the paint keeps drying faster than I would like and I have to keep squeezing out more of it and spritzing it with water or adding slow dry medium to the paint.  When the paint dries too fast, I get really hard edges which aren’t good. I’m worried that this project might fall into the realm of being overworked if I am not careful, but I want both the client and myself to be happy. So far, neither of us are. I’ve set a deadline for myself and I hope that works! Yesterday I painted out the middle person’s face in frustration because the proportions were off and the paint values seemed to have been too dark. So I am starting from scratch with the middle figure’s face. I re-measured the head and drew a new oval and repainted the whole in flesh tone.

In an effort to finish this painting by the deadline, I have been scheduling in time to work on it every week, and have been taking pictures of it after each painting session to make sure that it is really progressing and not just getting overworked.  When will I know if the painting is really completed? I looked up an article on ThoughtCo. to try and get some more perspective on this subject. According to the author, Marion Boddy-Evans, the answer to when a painting is done is as individual as each artist who completes the work, based on their individual skills, and their vision for the work. Source: Boddy-Evans, M. (2017). How Long Should it Take to Finish a Painting?ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/duration-to-finish-a-painting-2578835. For me, it will be a difficult tightrope between not finishing it and over working it. Diane Custom Art Tanya face painted out

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?

 

  

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.

 

What’s Next? Do What You Love

Last week I was struggling to find my artistic momentum again after participating in two art shows and trying to force myself to paint, and it just wasn’t working out. No matter what color combination I used in the portrait, it seemed wrong. But, since I started a new portrait drawing this past weekend, things are coming together again. I’m learning that some days in the studio are better than others, and on the days when things don’t go according to plan, maybe I am learning something new and that is why I am struggling to make a piece “work.”

And finally, I am learning to take a step back and work on other projects when one painting isn’t working out. So back to my question from last week of, What’s next? For me, it’s returning to portrait drawing and painting. Drawing portraits is in fact, the thing that lighted a fire in me to create art. I started out drawing celebrity portraits from magazines such as People and Time in pencil on plain paper back when I was a  teenager. So I am going back to the beginning and drawing portraits of people, and not just anyone, but people who have made a specific impact on my life, through their music, or poetry. So this week I worked on portraits of George Michael, whose music from Wham! and Faith albums furnished the soundtrack of my childhood. It reminds me of happier days when there was less to worry about and few responsibilities except getting myself out of bed and going to school. George Michael’s passing last December has made these portraits specifically significant to me because in a way it is a type of metaphorical loss for me, a loss of childhood and innocence, or perhaps a reminder that time is passing and life is not a guarantee. These are two portraits of George Michael in progress…

Stories We Tell

Stories are a universal element in the arts, such as music, film, opera, theater, poetry, literature, dance and fine arts. They help us to know that we are not alone, that someone else has traveled down a similar path as ours, whether it is loss, uncertainty, joy, expectation, happiness, etc. As an undergraduate art student, I spent a lot of hours making content based work, mostly self-portraits that told a story about some event I was experiencing or a feeling I was working through. I primarily used color to express my feelings. For my senior thesis, I did a series of self-portraits, which were inspired by Sting’s songs on his album, Mercury Falling. These songs dealt with subjects such as depression, in  Lithium Sunset. Lately, I am feeling pulled back into more content based work, and this time I am taking my cue from songs and poetry of Sting, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and Maya Angelou, among others. Here is a photo of my painting, Lithium Sunset, inspired by Sting’s song, Lithium Sunset:

Fill my eyes
O Lithium sunset
And take this lonesome burden
Of worry from my mind
Take this heartache
Of obsidian darkness
And fold my darkness
Into your yellow light. (Song excerpt from Sting’s official website: http://www.sting.com/discography/lyrics/lyric/song/178

I will post my sketches for this new series based on poetry and songs soon. For now, here is my painting, Lithium Sunset, Oil on Canvas, 2005. Enjoy!

Oil painting self-portrait inspired by the song Lithium Sunset by Sting.