"A good painting is the result of good planning,”
—Daniel K. Tennant
Like many artists, Daniel K. Tennant believes when you approach a new piece, “it is good thinking to sketch the idea on a piece of paper the same size as the surface you'll be painting on.” When you do this you leave nothing to chance, which can ensure better results when you have finished. Daniel references the great American illustrator, Norman Rockwell , whom he says mapped out every square-inch of his compositions before he applied any paint. “I agree with him that a painting is difficult enough without having to compound the process by making design decisions while painting.”
Dan is also quick to point out that you should not limit yourself by this process. “It’s not a straight jacket! Some of the greatest paintings ever created have been changed during the painting process—as x-rays have shown—but usually the adjustments were simply a bit of fine-tuning here and there.” Finally, Dan suggests drawing or sketching the entire painting might make the process more enjoyable.
While there are no specific rules for how you must approach your work, remember to try and finish each piece. You can always go back, make a few tweaks here and there, or start over from the beginning. Remember to have fun, be creative, and never stop believing in your talent!
Below is a sampling of Daniel's recent work:
"Early Morning Mist"
Gouache on museum board
"A Syracuse University Still Life"
Gouache on museum board
"Still Life With Large Lobster"*
Gouache on museum board
*This painting was voted the "Most Popular" painting at the 2010 National Exhibition of American Watercolors in Old Forge New York.
"The Artist's Magazine" has called this show one of the top ten juried watercolor shows in the country. In the four times Daniel has entered the show, his paintings have won the most popular vote every time!
How to make the move from amateur hobbyist to professional artist
There comes a time in the life of every artist when the question is asked: “What's next?” After a few years of painting I had to ask myself, "Where do I want to go with my art?” Do I continue to paint for the shear pleasure of creating something beautiful, or do I want to take it to the next level? Being a stay-at-home mom with four children, my world was pretty limited, but I knew I wanted my art to be more than a hobby. I decided to get my work “out there” by taking some basic steps. This was my “baby steps” plan.
Join Art Associations
Joining an art association is always the first step in getting more exposure. It provides you with opportunities to show your work and get feedback. There is nothing more valuable to your growth as an artist than listening to what people have to say about your work. Their compliments and criticisms (you have to take the good with the bad) can help you take an objective look at what is, and is not, working in your art.
Try to surround yourself with artists who are more accomplished than you are. Be a sponge—listen to them and learn from their experience. Let their skill and expertise motivate you to push yourself to the next level.
Broaden your horizons by entering some art competitions. Either go online, or turn to the back pages of you favorite art magazine and you will find a multitude of contests. Not only are these competitions a great experience, but they will add to your resume as well. Although there will be rejection, there will eventually be success! The key is to not give up. Don’t let the small defeats discourage you. Use them as motivation to keep working and improving. As the saying goes, "If you throw enough pasta at the wall, eventually something's going to stick.”
Sell Your Art
Try your hand at selling your work. Whether it’s a local art fair or the holiday bazaar at your child's school, you will find a place to sell your work. Nothing fuels the creative fire more than someone willing to pay money for you art. Always remember to start out small. Don't expect someone to shell out $1,000 at a community event. To make your art affordable, try working smaller.
Eat & Breathe Art
Stay motivated and inspired. Visit museums and study the work and techniques of artists you admire. Improve your skills by reading books, taking classes or workshops, and most importantly, by practicing, and practicing, and practicing some more! Always keep a pen and camera nearby. You never know when inspiration will hit. I always seem to get great ideas at two or three o’clock in the morning, or I see a great scene for a painting while I’m waiting for my kids at soccer practice.
Enjoy the Process
Most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously! Learn to enjoy the process. It’s not always about the results. It’s only canvas, paint, or paper. Today's failures may be tomorrow’s success.
Nathan Rohlander works on a portrait of his father for his upcoming book, Drawing: The Head
, which will hit shelves in February. Nathan used Dura-Lar, a frosted plastic material that comes off a roll and is cut to size, for this piece. He said this smooth, toothless support “is very archival and a wonderful surface to work with.” To see more of Nathans work visit his website at http://www.rohlander.com/NPR/Home.html
September 25, World Peace Day, marks the opening of The Peace Project
—an international art competition and exhibit that challenged artists to demonstrate their visions of peace in an effort to connect peace-minded people the world over. The project is the most recent effort of an online artists’ community, The Whole 9, to bring people together in the name of making the world a better place. Proceeds from sales of donated artwork will go toward helping victims of war in Sierra Leone.
The show opens at Gallery 9 in Culver City, California, and will run through November 6. The exhibit can also be viewed for one night only in San Francisco on November 9, and in New York on September 30.
This piece, drawn by Nathan Rohlander with graphite on paper, has been selected for The Peace Project and will be on display at gallery9. It was a spontaneous drawing of his wife and child. He stumbled upon them in this position and said “Honey, please stay there as long as possible, I need to draw this.” He described this moment as being so harmonious that it filled him with love, a sense of well being, and peace.
Watercolor sketch of Collioure, France. By Brenda Swenson.
In early June I traveled to Southern France to teach a sketching with watercolor workshop. The nine people in my group were all from the United States. Our home away from home for two weeks was the beautifully restored residence named Montfaucon, in the small town of Limoux. Historic records to this building go back to the mid 1300s. In the evening we either dined at Montfaucon with lavish meals prepared by local chefs or dined at one of the many outstanding restaurants in the area.
Each day we traveled to nearby villages, fortified cities, open markets, castles, and wineries. In the morning I would give a brief lesson either in the studio at Montfaucon or when we arrived on location. Some of the lessons I covered were light and shadows, edge quality, perspective, design, format, and vignettes. The locations we sketched at were the seaside town of Collioure, the medieval village of Minerve, the fortified city of Carcassone, Camon (the rose village), Rennes-le-Chateau, Gorge de Galamus, and more. There are just too many wonderful places to see and explore in just two weeks! We had so much fun. I plan to return!
If you are interested in attending one of Brenda’s workshops, follow this link for her 2010 and 2011 schedule. Locations vary significantly. http://www.swensonsart.net/events.html
The group of workshop participants, in France. Brenda Swenson on the right.
To see more of Brenda’s watercolor paintings, go to http://www.swensonsart.net/gallery.html
Walter Foster books written by Brenda Swenson include Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook
, Steps to Success in Watercolor
, and Discover Watercolor Sketching
Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be an artist. I always drew well, and my father, a third generation artist, encouraged my aspirations. I continued to pursue art throughout high school, but after graduating, I realized that neither my parents nor I could afford a formal art education. So I did what I had to do; I got a job and went to work. Art became a distant memory as I moved on with my life, married, and had four children.
I used my artistic talents around my home—decorating and redecorating—but knew there was always something missing from my life. After a close friend showed me a painting he had done, I decided to once again try my hand at fine art. I had never painted before, so I grabbed the cheapest and most practical thing in the art store, which was acrylic paints (oil paint didn’t make sense with four small kids in the house, and my lack of free time). I did my first painting, and saw that this might be something that would let me express all those creative ideas that had been dormant for the last 10 years.
I continued to paint as often as I could, and tried to increase my knowledge by reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I used experimentation, and trial and error to hone my talents. As my confidence increased, I joined a local art group, and had some success in their shows. Next I began entering competitions that I found in art publications. There too, my success grew. Now after 15 years of painting, I can say that I have shown my work all over the United States and have had many solo exhibitions.
As a figurative realist, I have found myself alone when it comes to the use of acrylic instead of oil paint, but it works best for me. Now go discover the ways to express your creative side that work for you. You may end up with a brush in your hand and a masterpiece on your canvas.
Across the country, the art community is reacting to the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by rendering clever and sobering images reflecting the state of the Gulf’s environment.
A gallery in the New Orleans Art District aims to aid the Gulf with money raised at its fundraiser from June 17-19. The exhibition will feature the work of 25 Louisiana artists reacting to the spill. The art will remain on display throughout the summer.
High school students in Moorestown, New Jersey, are collecting donations through art as well. They painted a whimsical mobile mural and then covered it with hundreds of oil drop-shaped pieces of paper. They remove one droplet for every dollar donated.
Other art forms are being employed to create awareness as well. Students at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts wrote and performed a play titled “Da’ Spill.” Characters acted out included a pelican, President Barack Obama, a fisherman, and a BP executive.
Many artists are simply venting their frustrations with the spill through the Huffington Post blog, which is currently featuring spill-related art. Some of the art from this site is shown below. Click on the following link to see how other artists are seeing this tragedy.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/13/anti-bp-art-the-best-visu_n_609660.html#s99401
This print by Krista Jurisich will be on display at the New Orleans fundraiser. Photo Courtesy Jonathan Ferrara Gallery.
I remember when I was young I tried to draw a picture of my mom. I remember looking at her and very carefully drawing her head, her hair, her body, and the stool she sat on. To me, at the time, it was a perfect rendition.
My mom still has this drawing. I look at it now and find the crayon drawing laughable because those carefully trained strokes of crayon created another stick figure, complete with several individual hairs depicted by straight lines shooting out of her round stick figure head.
My love of art continued through out high school, where I sat through many drawing and painting lessons in the classroom, receiving art instruction with other beginning artists like myself. We were learning to draw by learning to see and controlling our media.
I would practice my newly learned drawing skills at home in the evenings, carefully replicating colorful album covers from my favorite bands with colored pencils. In college, other artists and I would get together and listen to music while we worked on our drawings and paintings.
Unfortunately, in college I also learned that the only artists who made money were dead ones. After scanning the classified ads, I made the decision to go into commercial art, and quickly adopted digital methods. My love of art did not diminish, but my time creating it did.
The old habit of collecting art materials still remains although I am now grown up and have no free time for drawing and painting. They take up space under the bed and in the garage, but no matter how many times I move, these art materials travel with me. I vow that in my old age, when I am retired and have free time, I will learn how to draw and paint again.
On June 9, the Bravo channel will once again deliver grueling challenges, remarkable prizes—and of course—plenty of drama, as 14 artists compete in a new reality series. Workof Art: The Next Great Artist will follow 14 artists as they compete for a solo show at a renowned museum and a large cash prize.
The artists will test their skills using a variety of mediums to create original pieces of art for each week’s challenge. During a gallery showing at the end of each episode, a panel of art-world judges will critique and appraise each of the entries.
From a lingerie boutique owner who sculpts and prints to a fry cook who takes pictures when he’s not at work, the seven men and seven women featured in the new series range in age, background, and preferred medium. The list of contestants includes a filmmaker with no formal training, a devout Christian from the Midwest, a performance artist who’s been in the Sundance Film Festival, and an art college cum laude graduate. But they all have two things in common: They are accomplished artists, and they want to be Bravo’s next great artist.
Work of Art: The Next Great Artist premiers Wednesday, June 9 at 11/10 central on Bravo. For more information or to watch a preview of the new series, go to http://www.bravotv.com/work-of-art
I have been illustrating professionally for 25 years and have learned many things along the way. The first and foremost tip I have for aspiring artists is to learn the basics.
There are many styles that veer from traditional drawing and illustration, and there is a certain charm in amateurish art. What you may not know, however, is that even the most whimsical, childlike illustrations are drawn by professionals who have first learned the basics. With a good grounding in the basics, an artist starts with a confident understanding of form, perspective, and lighting, and then adds to that her own particular style.
Let’s take one example: the hands. If the artist has proficiency with faces but little understanding of hand structure, which is complex, she will struggle with the hand portion of the painting, thereby interrupting the creative flow. The end result will be inconsistency. Even if the painting is whimsical or primitive, there will be a marked deficit in the hands—an inconsistency that the observer will perceive.
Although complex, learning basic hand structure is worth the effort. It is a matter of breaking the hand up into a series of cylinders for the fingers and a polyhedron (a flattish cube) for the palm. The artist can easily use this technique to sketch the basic form of the hand in any position. This form technique can be applied to any part of the human or animal body.
Perspective is simple to learn and understand, and once the artist has learned the basics, application becomes easy—even intuitive. While creating a pastoral scene with a barn, for instance, the artist proficient in perspective will sketch out the composition with ease. She will be able to “feel” the long grasses swaying, “smell” the fresh air, and “hear” the cows lowing as she sketches, thereby giving life to her creation. If she does not understand basics, she will have to spend her time figuring them out as she sketches. The end result may be good, but it will lack life and passion.
What about lighting? Light/dark contrast in a painting or a drawing can make all the difference. A good understanding of light source and how it plays on a three-dimensional surface will make the vase “jump off” the canvas. In cartooning, particularly in Manga, lighting is important because it creates visual interest and sophistication.
Having a command of the basics ensures that creativity flows freely with no interruptions or snags, a finished piece looks polished, and your art has that extra special something: life, passion, communication. If you desire professional results, free-flowing creativity, and getting “in the groove”—and then remaining there while you paint or draw—don’t shortchange yourself. Learn, or brush up on, the basics. Click here to learn more about Diana Fisher.
Like most writers/editors, I have a deep love of language. And since English is my first—and sadly, only—language, this love is for my native vernacular. So one of the first things I do when I start my day is read Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, which, true to its word (no pun intended), is faithfully delivered to my email inbox every morning.
Now, I would love to say that I’ve mastered the art of using every unfamiliar word that M-W sends my way, but this is far from the case. For one, using new words competently takes practice. I don’t go to many parties where I might potentially dazzle new acquaintances with my command of the language; my family gives me a hard enough time about the words I already use in my daily discourse; and the dog doesn’t seem to care whether I tell her she looks “slovenly” when she tramples through the bushes or “ambrosial” when she’s sleeping. In fact, I’m forced to bribe her with a biscuit just so she’ll sit long enough to listen to me impress myself. So, when I’m actually able to use a new word in my vocabulary, I get pretty excited.
Take, for example, the word “fugleman.” According to Merriam-Webster.com, fugleman (pronounced FYOO-gul-mun
) means “one at the head or forefront of a group or movement.” This word has been idling in my inbox for weeks now, just begging to be borrowed. And, by golly, I think I’ve finally found an occasion to use it.
As a writer/editor, few things are better than to have a network of friends who also are writers, editors, and fellow word geeks. But as a writer/editor for an art-book publishing company, it’s professional nirvana when a writer/editor friend is also married to an up-and-coming artist, or, in my opinion, a sort of fugleman.
The fugleman of which I speak is Mark Mendez: a young, extremely gifted artist whose thought-provoking works are especially compelling for their socially, globally, and environmentally relevant messages. Although Mark has previously had his works on display in other forums, he just wrapped his first “real” show at the Hibbleton Gallery in downtown Fullerton, California, where he exhibited with fellow artists Camilo Bejarano, Chris Leavens, and wotto. The joint exhibit, titled “01100011 0110111,” featured a dynamic presentation of all-digital artwork that was nothing short of a kaleidoscopic feast for the eyes.
In keeping with the exhibit’s theme, Mark created all of his images digitally and then had them printed onto what are essentially giant stickers; he then adhered the images to cuts of wood that he treated, sanded, and stained. “I mostly work on wood because I love vinyl [records],” Mark says. “Vinyl has so much of a warmer feeling than a CD or Mp3. I feel the same about wood. I felt that the contrast between a newer, digital medium and presenting [the images] on something as old as the earth itself would have a great impact.”
Impact indeed. For in addition to integrating wood into the work, the art reads like the front page of a newspaper, with revealing headlines of the oft unpleasant though truthful stories of global concern we aren’t always so sure we want to hear.
“Social and global issues have been a huge part of my life for quite awhile now,” Mark says. “The passion I have…has allowed me to create art that can be just as thought provoking as it is enjoyable to look at.” But irrespective of his personal convictions, Mark believes his art can mean “something different to everyone.”
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Mark’s artistic statements about the conflict-diamond trade in Africa, the war in Iraq, or the corporate machinations of big oil companies, for example, it cannot be denied that his art packs a powerful punch. And I have a hunch he’s on the cusp of something huge. Not because he’s the first artist to weave his moral convictions into the fabric of his work, but because of both his attitude and the artistic methods he employs.
First, he’s humble almost to a fault. “I wasn’t worried about selling my work,” he says of the Hibbleton show. “I was more afraid people wouldn’t like and/or get my work.” Second, his art is neither pretentious nor gratuitously esoteric—a lead some other artists of his generation could stand to follow. “I work in flat, normally one-color iconography,” he says. It is, in fact, the understated nature of Mark’s style that not only gives his work its integrity, but adds to its greater significance. And this is what puts Mark Mendez at the forefront of a new generation of socially conscious artists. He is an artistic fugleman.
And for a first show, he didn’t do too poorly, either. “I sold six pieces,” he says.
Mark Mendezhttp://markerarts.com email@example.com
112 West Wilshire Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832www.hibbleton.com