Last week, I participated in Easels in Frederick, a plein air competition held annually in Frederick, Maryland. I don’t normally participate in competitions, I don’t really like the concept of competing when it comes to art. So, why did I do it? I teach a lot of drawing and painting classes, and I felt I needed a break for a week to just get away and paint without doing demos, explaining what I’m doing and why, and painting with the intent of teaching instead of just painting. As anyone who is self employed knows, time off from work does not come without a price–lost revenue, so I decided that a plein air event would be a good way to justify a week of just painting, while not completely giving up the opportunity to earn some money from sales. Let me say upfront, I did not at any point consider myself a serious contender for any of the big prizes, doing so is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment. And no, I did not win any awards, which is not the reason I did this in the first place so I was not bothered by that. I did however sell 2 paintings at full gallery pricing, which means two new collectors who may become repeat customers. [Read more…]
Some of my best paintings have been under 11×14 in size. I used to paint larger works on a fairly regular basis when I had multiple galleries representing me. These days, I prefer to work small. I thought about doing a few larger works in a new series of Colorado images, but decided I preferred the small studies to the larger works. [Read more…]
Note: This is something I wrote for my students a few years back that I thought would be useful to other artists.
- The only way to improve your skills is through frequent practice, without pressure. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on the outcome, it’s all just practice.
- Practice that which is most difficult for you the most–for many people, it is drawing. Draw from life whenever possible, take a drawing class if you have trouble with proportion perspective, form and value. It will go a long way in building your confidence and your painting skills.
Build Upon Strengths / Address Areas That Need Improvement
- Be objective!
- Be sure to react logically and not emotionally to challenges. Instead of getting frustrated and saying “I can’t do this!”, try asking yourself calmly “What needs to be corrected?” Figure that out and then do it.
Don’t Seek External Validation
- Sources of external validation are transient: family, friends, collectors, galleries, judges, etc.
- Learn to love the process of creation rather than the praise of the end result.
- Compete only with yourself, strive to be the best artist you can be.
Ignore Unsolicited Critique
- Politely tell others who give you unsolicited opinions or advice “thanks, but no thanks!”
- Embrace self-discovery, if you figure it out for yourself, you’ll never forget how and you’ll find the way that works best for YOU!
- Pick a mentor, and stick with them–find someone whose work and personality resonate with your approach to painting and learning. There are many ways to approach art, find the way that is right for you.
- Support your fellow artists and treat them as you would like to be treated–don’t give your opinion or advice to another artist unless you are specifically asked for it!!!
Remember, It’s YOUR Painting!
- Art is NOT a team sport!
- You will never please everyone all the time, you must learn to accept your sight and hand and always be yourself.
- Don’t paint to please others, make sales, or get into galleries. Paint what inspires you and you will do your best work!
This is a very quick watercolor study I did this morning during a plein air workshop I was teaching in Clinton, NJ. I plan to use it to finish the acrylic painting I began as my demo. There are many things that can be captured far better with a study than with a reference photo. [Read more…]