Blog

A Life Remembered: Paintings that Helped Me Process Grief

This week I am between projects, as I have just finished the 100 Faces in 100 Days drawing challenge. I also completed some paintings for the Frederick Coffee Company Art show I just finished. So now the perennial question, what do I work on next, and what do I blog about next? I have finally picked up the brush and pencil this Monday and started to revisit the drawings and photoshop files I created for my Voices and Visions poetry illustration series. These works are in the very beginning stages and I started them with evaluating the compositions of some of these files in Photoshop and re-organizing them. After that, I worked on transferring the photocopies of these illustrations to watercolor paper and illustration board. One painting even got to the basic lay-in with acrylic painting stage, but the others need another coat of gesso before they will be ready to paint.

It seems that the bad news I got from the Doctor’s Office on Monday has helped catapult me to action with this series. For the past several months I have been focusing on promoting art shows and administrative duties such as marketing, data entry, pricing, packing up art shows and setting new ones up, etc. However, the phone call I received this Monday, reminds me of all the other times I got disturbing news but had to find a way to get through everyday life in spite of it. This week has really been a déjà vu, of all the experiences and emotions I felt during my dad’s illness from March 2011-September 2011 when he passed.  But with all that being said, the real take away I have had from these experiences is that tomorrow isn’t promised and that I need to make the most of the time I have today.

In March of 2011, I got the phone call that everyone dreads; my father had had a stroke. My sister had called the ambulance and he and was at Montgomery General Hospital where they were testing him for various things. This event ushered in several months of inconclusive tests, different diagnoses, hospital visits, sleepless nights and ongoing stress and uncertainty for me and my family. I felt totally unprepared for this kind of long-term stress and I didn’t know how to cope with it. The situation was also a shock because my father had always been a healthy man and never seemed to have any ongoing illness, other than his recent bout with shingles. I turned to making art as a way to try and introduce some calm and predictability into my days so I could go on working, doing laundry, etc. I discovered that attending art classes every week with a local artist, Rebecca Pearl

introduced some much-needed structure into my days. After my father passed in September of 2011, I was still dealing with a lot of emotions. I decided to create a series of portrait paintings about his life to try and process the grief and to create a meaningful way of honoring his memory, using family photos as references for the oil paintings. Some days I could barely paint and looking at the photos of him in happier times was really difficult. Other days, I was able to paint without feeling so sad. And now, several years later, I am turning to art again as a way to cope while waiting for answers about my diagnosis of a low platelet count.  I have to wait for two more weeks for another round of tests to get some more conclusive answers, hopefully.

Advertisements
Blog

What is the Creative Process?

I am writing about the creative process this week in an attempt to provide a behind the scenes view of what it takes for me to bring an idea to a realized concept and finally a completed painting or drawing.  My inspiration for this blog post comes from an article by Amanda Truscott, entitled, This is What Creative Inspiration Really Looks Like, on www.skinnyartist.com.  I believe inspiration, or what the Greeks termed, “the Muse” is something which must be sought after in order to be found. Although it may seem to be a sudden insight, in my experience, it is not an isolated light bulb moment. Sometimes, indeed often, bringing my artistic visions to life it is the result of a hard-won battle of trying out different ideas in sketches, paintings, etc., to test out a compositional idea or a color scheme. Sometimes these ideas work, and sometimes they don’t and I need to make more revisions to the color schemes, composition, etc., to make it a successful artwork. Other times, I have to start over the painting from scratch.

For example, in my ongoing poetry illustration series, Voices and Visions, it has been a combination of hunting for inspiring poems to illustrate; these poems need to have some visual imagery and themes that lend themselves to storytelling, in order for me to consider them as potential candidates. So far, I have found a few poems written by Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and T.S. Eliot, whose works have several identifiable themes such as hope, time, and the artificiality of modern life. After reading the poems, I researched literary criticisms to identify possible themes that seem to suggest a story or feeling which I  translated visually through specific symbols or color schemes. I followed up these steps by looking for artwork by artists whose artwork has a narrative theme, such as Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, and Andrew Wyeth. When I found artwork that inspires, I pasted it into a sketchbook for future reference. Finally, after these steps have been completed, I created a photo collage in Adobe Photoshop of found images that I locate online and modify in Photoshop by creating several layers and layer masks. When I was pleased with the composition in my Photoshop files, I printed them out to scale, and then traced them onto my substrate of choice using carbon paper and pen, usually to cotton duck canvas or cold press watercolor paper. The painting is then completed in watercolor paints or acrylic or mixed media. Finally, I worked on the painting for 1-2 weeks, making revisions as I painted.

In addition, the backbone of the creative process for me is always the deliberate practice of the fundamentals of art, such as drawing or painting, so that when I finally find that intersection between deliberate practice and purposeful searching for inspiration, everything clicks. Although this process may seem instantaneous to others who were not there to watch the process, or read my blog posts, it is a painstaking process. It is not simply talent which I was born with that brings my visions and goals to life, it is a decision followed by a series of actions. It takes willpower and self-discipline to practice drawing and painting every week, and to continually seek out artistic inspiration through Pinterest searches, reading art books, watching documentaries about artists on youtube, reading poetry books, literary criticism, creating inspiration sketchbooks, etc. Moreover, it takes grit and determination to stick with a painting even when it goes wrong, and to figure out what went wrong so that I can critique the artwork

and decide what strategy to pursue to make the artwork sing.

Blog

What to Do When Your Painting Goes Terribly Wrong

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. 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.  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, www.

photo collage, pregnancy, desert, eye, dress forms, seeds, woman, process, artist's block.
Here is a photo collage I made in Adobe Photoshop which I made by combining various photographs in the Photoshop program. I wanted to illustrate the feeling of artists’ block, which can feel like a time of dormancy. I plan to translate this collage into a watercolor painting soon.
Waiting small
My first version of this painting was made with sepia brown watercolor paints. I’m not sure I like this color and the composition feels too busy.
Portrait Collage
Creative Block: Waiting ( with Gesso added). The composition was getting too cluttered so I decided to cover up the distracting elements with acrylic gesso.
Creative block, with color
I painted out the brown watercolor paint to try and make the image more interesting with a limited color palette of yellow orange, red orange, blue, green, peach and blue violet. Still a little too busy with the composition.
Portrait collage
Here is the revision I made after painting out the busier composition with acrylic gesso. I also decided to limit the color palette to turquoise, red-orange, yellow-orange, blue- violet and muted green, with some additions of brown, black and white. I used a soft pastel to draw in the composition after the acrylic paint had dried.
Portrait collage
This is my most up to date version of the acrylic painting, Waiting: Creative Block. Here I have begun painting in the new compositional elements to add depth to the desert landscape, including sand dunes and distant mountains. I also painted in the flesh tones and shadow colors on the figure. A few more details and I hope to be finished with the painting soon!

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 don’t go according to plan. I read about a variety of solutions suggested by artists who had hit the wall creatively. Some remedies 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. On the other hand, some solutions were not as familiar, such as displaying the painting on an easel in a living room and then taking time to look at it from time to time to diagnose the problem. A favorite technique of mine 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 art work 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 composition was one of the biggest glaring errors I noted in this painting. First, I started with revising the composition in Photoshop, taking out some photos while adding others, to try and simplify the painting.  After that, I wrote a written critique and consulted a landscape painting art book, entitled, Paint Landscapes in Acrylic, by Lee Hammond, to search for tutorials on painting skies. Next, I watched a You Tube art tutorial, titled, How to Paint a Desert Tree, Acrylic Painting Lesson, by Schaeffer Art.  My next step was to begin painting out the busier parts of the composition with gesso. After the first two layers of gesso had dried, I started drawing the new composition in with a white Rembrandt soft pastel, using the photo references I had collected to draw in the distant mountains, sand dunes, and sun. My final step was to look in my portrait painting book by Chris Saper, Classic Portrait Painting in Oils, from which I took inspiration for the figure in my painting. I have included the various stages of this painting from the start to my latest revisions on it this week. Thanks for stopping by!

Blog

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!

Blog

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.

Blog

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!

Blog

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.