Who does not love painting water scenes, the sea and yachts? Most landscape artists love the idea of painting these scenes, but are intimidated by the prospect. After all water is moving and full of shifting shapes, colour and light. And as for yachts. Unless you are familiar with them painting the boats is also tricky.
Water in the Impressionist Style
In this lesson on How to Loosen Up Your Painting I am showing members how to paint water in a loose and vibrant style. Our source of inspiration is none other than Claude Monet, the master of impressionism. Monet loved painting water as well as the yachts and boats on the sea and rivers. He was inspired by Turner as well and visited England to paint there too.
Yachts are Complicated Subjects
Well that's true if you are learning to sail them, but we are only going to paint them. The loose style means painting shapes of colour and value. I will show you how to simplify this potentially complicated subject into the essential mood of the scene.
Interested in Learning More?
Join me and access all the past lessons and upcoming lessons. There are over five hours of video lessons and demonstration of many different subjects. All have a focus on one or two aspects of loose painting. As you progress you will develop your own loose style of impressionist painting. No more tight and frustrating paintings with that overworked look. See an immediate improvement in your painting with these tips and methods.
Learn more about this opportunity here.
View a sample of the lessons in the video below:
Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. He was referring to a life governed by rules and routines imposed by others. Such a life is not freedom, but rather unconscious at best. Oppression at worst. When I begin quoting philosophers I know it is that time of year again. The Old Year ushering in the new. Socrates gave his life for that quote so the least we can do is reflect upon our own lives for a moment.
Reflection is Not Easy
As an artist I have a sense of trepidation doing this. Was the past year a success? Did my art improve? Have I lost the spark to create? Will next year improve or should I get a real job? Just kidding about the real job bit!
So there are a few hard truths to face. Which is good because this gives life meaning. And something to do while we wait for the next Gilmore Girls series. That is my wife's comment by the way.
The Number One Artist's Issue?
Anyway to be serious for a moment I have heard from many people over the year. Read their comments on blogs and social media and so forth. The number one issue is not how to improve one’s skill. It is how to get back to creativity. How to return to painting, for example. Sounds so simple, but there is a ton of baggage wrapped up in this idea.
What Me Worry?
I am not a psychologist, but as a husband, parent and artist I do have a little experience in life's curve balls. But the one that gets me is why are we so worried about what other people will think of us? At our age we should be brimming with confidence. Who cares if my drawing is dodgy? Or my painting comes with artist's license? It will improve as I get my mojo back. In the meantime I am having fun and relaxing.
What is Art Anyway?
The great artist and teacher Robert Henri said: "I don't believe any real artist cares whether what he does is art or not. Who, after all, knows what art is?"
Many people start retirement and think about returning to art. Or starting for the first time. I think first timers have an easier decision actually. It is the former artists who struggle the most. Art is a talent, but you learn your skill with practice. Or lose it through lack of practice.
The Set-Up for Failure
The scenario often follows this route. Retired artist wants to start painting again. Goes to the art store and purchases new supplies. Lovely easel, canvasses and other expensive items. Returns home and assembles studio. Begins painting straight away. Artist is shocked to discover that the painting is not good. A bit embarrassed by this the artist closes the studio door. Best not to show this off. Resolves to try again next time. Studio materials gather dust. There is not enough time anyway.
What is the Art Spirit?
The art spirit is for me, the ageless and limitless source of creativity within us. A child feels this instinctively without ego or conditions. As adults we stifle this spirit for material reasons or our ego inhibits us. Life happens, but creativity is life too. How can we justify burying our creative spirit for a moment longer?
If you want to explore this concept further I recommend that you read the book, The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.
There is Time
The trite excuse is that there is no time. I used this one too. Everyone has and it stinks. Back in school if I told the teacher that I did not have time to do my homework there were consequences. Not good ones. Too bad if I had sport commitments and other things going on. I had to make time. Now adults use this excuse all the time. Often at their own expense.
When I look back a few years ago I am shocked by the time wasted. Television alone stole chunks of my life. Until I cut the cable and released two hours a day. That is at least a painting per day right there. Imagine if a sold half of those paintings? That is potentially fourteen paintings a month!
The Real Price
So let us agree that we can find time. That we can keep our egos in check. Is art not too whimsical for us? Is it important? Let Robert Henri answer this:
"Art cannot be separated from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable, and we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of a life's experience."
If you want to paint again, but somehow find a way to avoid it then consider this. You have a life of experiences to pour into your art. All the material is there waiting. All you need to do is begin. The wonderful part is that every painting is also a new beginning filled with potential. Why let this experience pass by?
Now is the Moment
I wonder if Socrates ever imagined that his words would be read over two thousand years later? Doubtful. But life's universal truths remain constant. If you find yourself doubting your artistic desires then stop second guessing. Instead begin to create again. Make art knowing that you are fulfilling an essential human need for expression.
The art spirit rewards you generously. More confidence as your skills grow. Relaxation. Freedom from anxiety when you are creating in the zone. Freedom from boredom, distraction and the daily drama of life. Not to mention less "retail therapy" which can lead to more problems. A home filled with your art is also something to treasure.
I hope that you find that moment in the next few days. The moment when you begin to make your art again. The moment when you change your routines a little and invite your art spirit back into your life. Socrates and Robert Henri would be proud of you.
Looking for guidance? I have a series of courses available at my Online Art Academy. Plus a special offer on my flagship course Learn to Paint with Impact included in this link.
PS: Have a look at my upcoming "Loosen Up Your Painting Workshop" It could be just the thing to plan into your painting year.
Are you inspired to begin your art? What are your creative goals? Tell us about how you got back into creating art again.
(Article first appeared in Sixty and Me)
This year kicks off my painting workshop series. The first is scheduled for 19-20 May in Port Alfred. This tranquil coastal town between Est London and Port Elizabeth has inspired many paintings for me over the years. So a painting workshop there is long overdue.
What is the Workshop About?
Day One of workshop will cover the basics of starting a painting. Topics include shapes, value, colour and composition. Followed by practical exercises to put that into practice.
Day Two will focus on painting both indoors and outdoors, weather permitting, with feedback from me. My approach is to show artists the loose, painterly style of landscape painting. Beginners and intermediate artists will all benefit from the workshop.
The emphasis is on personal attention and I prefer working with small groups to achieve this. Space on the workshop is therefore limited. You can find out more about the workshop and booking here.
I hope to meet you there.
A frame should not detract from a painting. Instead a frame is meant to focus the eye on the painting in the most favorable way possible. Yes framing is important and has been so for hundreds of years. In this article I want to tell you a little about my approach to framing my paintings.
Make no mistake framing is often a headache for artists. The risk of wasted expense, time delays getting the frame complete and then trying to get the right look for the painting can be a chore. Often artists leave the process to a framer and hope for the best. I decided on a different approach.
Frames are subject to fashion too. Remember those skinny frames of the eighties? No thanks!
I wanted more control on the framing process so invested in my own framing studio years ago. One of my better decisions since it gave me creative control on the final event. How the painting looks before delivery to the collector is important to me. If I could not be happy with the painting on my own wall I could not expect a collector to accept it either.
The plus is that I can confidently offer each collector a framed painting within the price. Framing prices are wholesale on materials. Labour is free. This is a win for collectors and I am happy with the final result.
In the above video I show you two framing options that I am currently using. The dark outer frame and a gold outer frame. These options work great with most paintings and look fantastic. More modern chunky frame options are also available on request. There are a few exceptions for large paintings that my require a much larger frame, but for the most part the two shown are winners.
If you would like to see my framing process here is a video of the actual cutting process.
Remember that all locally purchased paintings come with a frame and delivery included in the price. International pricing will have to be extra, of course, but I do prefer to sell internationally without a frame. This saves costs and reduces chances of damage.
So there is more to the painting business than putting brush to canvas. Framing is a bit of real world labour too. A nice break from the painting process and a nice way to round off the final look of a painting.
Over the years a popular question from new artists is, why paint in oils? After all, we perceive oils as more expensive and bad for your health. Plus, the solvents are dangerous too. Oil paints are also difficult to use. Paint in acrylics and remove all these worries.
More Options, More Safety
There was some truth to the health issues, but this is no longer a concern. You can remove all these issues and still use oils. This is due to the new water-based oil paints now available. There are even water based solvents for regular oil paints.
Are Oils More Difficult to Use?
The short answer is no. The slow drying time is an advantage since you can scrape off errors and paint over them. Even rework the next day without losing the flexibility of soft edges. Watercolor on the other hand is fiendishly difficult by comparison. Yet the perception is that watercolors are easier for beginners. Not so.
Are Acrylics the Sensible Compromise?
I started painting in acrylics in graphic design and illustration. The quick drying time and opaque color made this a plus. Acrylics are fantastic for abstracts or other large graphic work too.
I used to worry about a lack of vivid color compared to oils. Acrylics have improved over time so this issue is no longer a problem. But top quality acrylics are not cheap. It seems then that acrylics are the answer. But not so fast.
Are Oil Paintings Preferred by Collectors?
Here is the debate that can lead us in circles. The answer depends on perceptions. For knowledgeable collectors there will not be a difference. But it does seem that oils are still perceived as a better investment. This is a bias built up over time. This bias will erode over time as well. I do prefer oils for representational painting like landscapes and portraits. For more modern graphic or abstract work, acrylics are my first choice.
The Benefits of Combining Oils and Acrylics
There is another option where acrylics can be a massive help to new artists who also want to paint in oils. Painting in layers with oils is a scary prospect to new artists. Muddy paint is a frustration. But try using acrylics to begin and develop your painting. Once dry you can go over parts or the entire painting in one layer of oils.
This approach saves time, gives you all the perceived benefits of an oil painting and teaches you new oil painting skills.
Also, this approach leads to a complete oil painting within hours instead of days. Plus using transparent oil color over the acrylic under-painting can result in wonderful paint effects. I also find that the darks in oils are stronger. Darks are important for bold painting.
Your Painting Skills Develop
Your acrylic under-painting can be as detailed as you like. But over time you will find that your acrylic stage becomes more abstract with bigger shapes and less detail. Your oil painting stage becomes more adventurous as your confidence grows. You may even leave acrylics to focus on oils. This is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong option.
See this Method in Action
In the end, your painting is the winner. You have options that are safe and will make your painting experience more fun. If you want to see this method in action, try my popular course: From Acrylics to Oil Painting in 5 Easy Steps. It is filled with useful information. You can follow the easy method even if you are a beginner. It’s perfect for the holiday season.
Do you prefer to use oil paints or acrylics? Or do you perhaps work with them together? Do you think oils are more dangerous to your health?
Leave your comments below
(Article first appeared in Sixty and Me)
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