Art Books I Love and Highly Recommend

Do you devour art books like the Cookie Monster getting his hands on a sweet chocolate chip dessert? Then you are a painter after my own heart!

Since my dad is an artist who has always had art books on hand, I learned early on the power of books to transport me to worlds of wonder. Much of my training as an artist came from books – everything I could get my hands on from works of the Impressionists, Expressionists and Norman Rockwell, the etchings and drawings of M. C. Escher, Durer and Rembrandt to step-by-step Walter Foster tutorials and pastel painting instruction by Daniel Greene.

Because books have been so integral to my success as an artist, I thought you might enjoy learning what my favorites are today. The list is long so I will organize it into two categories – Art Instruction and Inspiration.

Art Instruction:

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Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting by John Carlson – You will want to study this book! The first time I read this was in 1985 at the insistence of Leon Parson. I consider this the best book on the market for painting instruction (next to Alla Prima)

 

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Alla Prima II Everything I Know About Painting – and More by Richard Schmid. This book is expensive and worth hundreds of times more than its cost. If the price stretches your budget and you must save for months or years to purchase it – do it! I ordered the first edition back when it first came out in ’99 and couldn’t resist when he expanded the book so I purchased it as well.

 

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Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis – you say you’re not an illustrator? Many of the best artists I know began their careers as illustrators and learned techniques and principles of art that propelled their skills and success like a rocket to the moon. This book will increase your understanding of so much that is involved in representational painting.

 

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Color and Light – A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney. If you are struggling with understanding the effects and colors of light when you paint on location or in your studio, this book does a fantastic job of explaining so much about light and color in an easy to read format. Highly recommended!

 

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Painting on Location Secrets to Plein Air Painting by David Curtis. I found this book recently and haven’t finished reading the whole thing, but what I have read is top notch. Curtis does some fantastic plein air work.

 

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Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne. While I believe it can be dangerous to our creative imagination to try and distill compositions into formulaic descriptions, it can be very helpful to understand what professional artists are often seeing and why we choose a particular composition in our paintings. Edgar Payne is a master of dramatic compositions and when (and why) to use them.

 

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Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Harold Speed. This is not a ‘learn to paint easy seascapes’ kind of book. You will only enjoy this if you like to read. If you do, this is a thought provoking essay on the clear distinctions between ‘modern’ and classical art and provides intelligent reasoning for expression and the need for thorough understanding of our materials and techniques.

 

Inspiration Art Books – When You Need a Creative Boost

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The Landscapes by Richard Schmid – Wow is the only appropriate description…

 

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Lawrence Alma-Tadema by RJ Barrow – this artist had an incredible mastery of realist color and subtlety. Beautiful!

 

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Spirit of the Plains People – Howard Terpning by Don Hedgpeth. I may not paint western subject matter, but I have a great appreciation for much of it, especially skilled artists like Terpning.

 

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Sorolla the Masterworks. Sorolla’s mastery of light is phenomenal.

 

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Sargent Abroad by Warren Adelson and others – I love that this book focuses more on his landscapes and figures within a landscape, rather than his portraits.

 

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Edward Hopper by Gerry Souter. Hopper was a miserable person, but he did have a way with light.

 

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The Master’s Hand – the Art of Carl Heinrich Bloch by Dawn C. Pheysey. I am a huge fan of Bloch’s religious paintings.

 

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The Art of Tom Lovell by Don Hedgpeth. Lovell had a fantastic sculptural feel to his paintings the way he laid brushstrokes directionally.

 

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Hulings – A Gallery of Paintings by Clark Hulings. My wife found this for me in a flea market for $15 – not likely to have that happen twice!

 

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Carl Rungius by Whtye and Hart. Wildlife art at its best.

 

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Anything you can get your hands on with T. Allen Lawson’s or Clyde Aspevig’s work.

 

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Also, I have many, many books of the Impressionists’ paintings like Childe Hassam, Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Twachtman and Cassatt as well as one of my absolute favorites Van Gogh (Post Impressionism).

 

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Last, but never least, too many books to mention of Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

 

You’ve probably noticed a wide gamut in the styles of these artists. My interests expand much farther beyond these. If I included every book or artist I study…well, we both know I’ve already stretched the limits of most of our attention spans.

We don’t want to become myopic, studying only those artists or topics that fall directly in our path. I believe our art will only grow stronger as we thoughtfully examine artwork from many different artists.

Now, that in no way suggests we should jump ship every time we get excited about some new artist we’ve discovered.

Remember, we will progress much faster if we focus. Ponder what excites you about that new artist and experiment to see if you might improve what you are already doing – that is much more effective than completely changing course – often it’s simply a matter of a few well targeted tweaks that can escalate the quality of our paintings.

C. Wyeth and his sons, William Trost Richards, Willard Metcalf, Peder Mork Monsted, Quang Ho, James Reynolds, Oleg Stravowsky, Nelson Shanks, Bob Kuhn, David Shepherd, Guy Rose, William Wendt, Arthur Streeton, the Russian Impressionists – and on and on. For some of these I have books I can study of their paintings, for others I use the internet or visit museums (Indianapolis has some incredible paintings on display).

What are your favorite or most helpful art books? If you were stranded on an island and had a couple books with you (as well as decades worth of art supplies – hey we might as well enjoy our stay on the island), what two books would they be?

Blank Canvas – An Interview with Camille Przewodek

Welcome to the Blank Canvas Series – An interview with an Artist. We interview a new featured artist every few weeks to share their insights with the Master Oil Painting Community. What artist would you like to hear from next? Note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Master Oil Painting or Bill Inman.

Today’s Featured Artist: Camille Przewodek

“Color that expresses the light key of nature can make any subject strikingly beautiful.”- Camille

Q: You credit Henry Hensche as the master artist who helped you expand your understanding of color. Can you educate us concerning what you consider the most meaningful principles, techniques or exercises you gleaned from your time with him?

A: Having studied with master colorist Henry Hensche, who carried on Charles Hawthorne’s pioneering painting principles at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown MA, the most fundamental lesson I learned is that the painter’s first concern is to accurately and vigorously portray the effect of the particular light in which the subject is seen.

When I went to Provincetown, MA, to study with Hensche, I was about to graduate with a degree in Illustration from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I had reached a certain competence and was fairly good at drawing and composition. However, I hadn’t been exposed to any significant instruction in color. I was so impressed with Hensche’s work that I knew that I was on a new path to learning this way of seeing and painting.

Tender Moment by Camille Przewodek

Q: Your paintings are filled with incredible color. Do you make up the colors because you think the world is too drab, or do you actually see the colors you place on your canvas when you look at the world around you? How long did it take you to gain such a mastery of color?

A: I paint what I have been trained to see. Hawthorne says “Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision—it is the seeing of the thing that makes it so.” Hensche had us paint still life outdoors in full sunlight as a means of beginning the development of our color perception.

Our first consideration was to not paint the objects in front of us—but rather to see and paint the effect of light falling on the objects. To that end, Hensche used a (deceptively) simple exercise for forcefully transmitting this concept—students were to set up colored blocks on tabletops outside and capture the light effect on these “still lives” using simplified color notes. These block studies let us, for the time being, forget about making “pictures” — and focus instead on learning how to create the illusion of form in space by stating the “big masses” through accurate color relationships.

It is now over thirty-five years of painting on location that has enabled me to capture what Hensche students refer to as the “light key.” I don’t copy what is in front of me, but use pigments to paint the illusion of light and atmosphere in which my subject matter is seen. Other than the students of the Hensche/Hawthorne approach, there are very few (if any) instructors who can teach this way of seeing. Henry Hensche kept the groundbreaking tradition of Monet alive, and developed it further. If Hensche had chosen to go Modern, the whole Impressionist movement would have remained a vision of the past, and we would not have the capability of passing it on to the painters of today.

Big River Mendocino by Camille Przewodek

Q: Have your views about art shifted at all since you studied with Hensche or have you simply built upon what you learned from him. Are there other artists you admire and have gained valuable insights from and why, or in what way, have they influenced your work or your thoughts about art?

A: Color can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it, so yes my views on art shifted entirely after studying with Hensche.

However, since then, I have studied with other artists that had the skills I felt I was weak in. I tell students that it is important when you take a workshop that you determine what you want from that instructor. I don’t take workshops to learn color (unless its with another Hensche student), but I may take a workshop to learn structure and form, composition, etc.

Also, unlike a many Hensche students, I acknowledge other major painting movements that don’t necessarily focus on color and may be primarily interested in value.

In the Garden by Camille Przewodek

Q: You have been a highly sought after workshop instructor for many years, giving you a chance to observe artists at all levels struggling to increase their skills and understanding of color and plein air painting. What would you consider the biggest hurdle to progression and conversely, what have you perceived as the key to advancing more quickly?

A: I find that the student that has the most trouble opening up to this way of seeing are advanced students, or professional painters.

I will often say the opposite of what other instructors have taught them. I also rarely find that student that is willing to make the commitment to learning this way of seeing and painting. You have to be comfortable of doing a lot of bad starts before you begin to grasp this concept.

San Juan Courtyard by Camille Przewodek

Q: You talk about artists finding their voice. What does that mean and how does an artist achieve such a lofty goal like you have so masterfully accomplished?

A: A lot of painters have commented that they know that I studied with Hensche Hensche but I don’t look like a Hensche student. I have developed my own style which is particular to my vision.

When you first start studying with an instructor, you may imitate that instructor. However, over time, I remind my students that they will inevitably find their own way. I suggest that they collect samples of other painters that inspire them. This will help them get in touch with what they are passionate about.

I think it is critical to paint from one’s soul and paint what is important to you. If you are inspired, people will sense this in your work, and the recognition and sales will follow. We all have something unique to say. Learn how to paint and then you can express who you are as a painter.

I give the example of someone banging on the piano for years. They will never play the symphony. It is the same with a painting, They will never paint a masterpiece just banging on the canvas. They need to persevere and develop the skill in order to paint a masterpiece.

Heisler Park Mist by Camille Przewodek

Q: You have been very deliberate and prosperous in marketing and promoting your artwork (I saw your ads in many of the top magazines year after year even back in the 90’s). What counsel can you offer artists today for building a successful painting career?

A: I was an illustrator before I started marketing my work as a fine artist. I had a large advertising budget and applied it immediately to my fine art.

I find most painters don’t have this experience. When I work with other painters, I suggest that they first develop a good product and then either promote it yourself or you find someone who can promote you.

The marketplace is also constantly changing, so we are not promoting art like we did 20 years ago. This is the first time in history of marketing that the patron can go to the artist’s website and buy. I’m not saying that galleries don’t play a role, but they are not as important as they used to be.

Website: www.przewodek.com

CLICK to view upcoming Classes and Workshops

Please comment and thank Camille for sharing her talents and insights with us!

5 Tips for Photographing Your Artwork

Hello from the road!

We started our cross country plein air road-trip yesterday, so I got this ready ahead of time to send out. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to sharing our Coast-to-Coast plein air training as soon as we have it ready!

This is not a comprehensive article on the best practices for photographing artwork. I am not a photographer and frankly it’s been a source of frustration for me for more than 30 years.

This is simply a quick guide that offers a few tips for preparing photos of your art for shows, critiques and your web portfolio.

My website portfolio at inmanfinearts.com (which has not been updated much lately, sorry)

During the 90’s I had 4×5 transparencies taken of my paintings by a wonderful fellow named Steve Bigelow. They cost me $45 each – I have quite a stack of them.

That was when I planned to pursue the lithograph or giclee marke, which means I had a few copies printed, kept them in a box and sold one to a friend once in a while. I just had a hard time getting excited enough about selling copies of my paintings to do much more than get my work put into 4×5’s.

4×5 transparencies of my artwork

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the ‘idea’ of prints – the ability to reach thousands of potential art lovers every year, rather than dozens, but my heart just isn’t in it.

Occasionally I still get my work photographed by a professional photographer, usually by Tony Frederick at CS Kern. He does a fantastic job – but, once again, it’s tough to spend $50-$100 for a photo of each painting when I don’t seem to do much more than use them for my website. I know that’s shortsighted – articles, books, prints – we never know what the future might require, but the 18 MP’s I get right now is plenty for most purposes.

With the understanding that most of my photos are primarily for my website (for collectors who are familiar with the texture and look of my paintings already), I don’t spend too much time fussing over exactly replicating the color nuances and subtleties you’ll see when up close and personal with my originals. I do shoot in RAW format and save the files in case I ever need to tweak a photo.

We have a Canon Rebel T3i that works wonders. Not sure when we purchased it – seems like at least 7 or 8 years ago (time and holidays are mostly irrelevant for artists – we only care that weather conditions on a given day are good for painting). For most, especially in the early years of learning, most digital cameras 3-5 MP (higher Mega Pixels are better usually – too much to talk about here like image sensor sizes, etc.), or even a smart phone, will do the trick.

The most important element is light – a consistent source preferably.

For those who want a detailed system for high end photographing of your artwork, I recommend Richard Schmid’s book Alla Prima II: Companion – eventually I will organize my studio with a similar setup – www.richardschmid.com. There’s also a detailed article about photographing art at dallasartsrevue.com.

For those like me who haven’t yet dedicated a space to just photograph our paintings, or who have limited space or maybe a limited budget for equipment, here are a few tips that might help you get the most out of what you do have.

5 Tips for Better Pictures of Your Artwork

1. Take it outside! Sunny or overcast, both will work. Sunny works best for me because the colors are more saturated, but sometimes the clouds just won’t cooperate (or they get a kick out of watching us struggling artists). The critical part is to face directly into our source of light (if overcast, position your art where you get the most light) I also try to tilt the painting either back or forward until I eliminate the glare – just experiment. If indoors, try to use color corrected or daylight type fluorescent bulbs (and plenty of them – I have 16 – 4 ft. bulbs above my easel).

2. Get a program that will allow you to adjust your image – like Photoshop. Photoshop Elements is fairly inexpensive or there is a free program at http://www.getpaint.net/index.html that has good reviews – I have not used either one, so this is all feedback from others – I cannot personally vouch for them. I have used Photoshop since the 90’s and now have the CS cloud subscription that runs about $54/month – less for just Photoshop – http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html. A good image editing program is almost essential if we plan to enter shows or have professional looking images to show galleries or place on a website. Look for a program that can crop, adjust the colors and set the white balance.

3. Use a tripod if possible – if not we should try to set our arms on a stable support like a table or our knees. Line up the image in the view finder so all the sides are straight, not in a trapezoid or twisted shape. Also, fill the space as much as possible with just the painting. With our software we can crop out everything except our painting. Unless of course we want a pic with a frame on it for our records. I like to get as close as I can with my camera and then move backward until the image distortion is eliminated – stepping back a bit farther so the image has some space around it and then focusing and zooming in helps – just don’t go too far back or the zooming in will cause distortion (I’m talking a couple feet, not several yards).

4. It’s best to adjust the color with the original nearby – we might think we know exactly what our colors are, after all we painted it, but it’s way easier with the original to compare with.

5. If you have one, place a GreyCard in the photo. I use the Camera Trax 24 color card card which you can find at https://www.cameratrax.com/color_balance_3x5.php. The GreyCard will allow your software (or a good print company) to adjust your colors and light temperature accurately.

Here are a couple photos that show before and after Photoshop with the GreyCard:

I’ll let you guess which is which…

This is the cropped image (after some reworking) for showing on my website or sending to shows:

Legacy | 30×40 | $4800 | Castle Gallery

Photographing artwork is tricky business. Fortunately digital photography takes out the expense of film and the waiting for development. What was even more painful was to find out none of the photos worked and the painting is now sold and in a new home…

Be patient, experiment like crazy and keep on painting! The life of an artist certainly isn’t an easy one, but it’s incredible, and I love it.

Do you have any other tips for our community for getting better pictures of our masterpieces?

How to Paint a Stoic Barn Scene in 5 Steps

Old weathered barns stand as aging sentinels of an era’s memories threatened by what is often considered progress. What compels artists to create monuments from brush and paint in honor of their stoic decline?

Do you ever find yourself, while driving down the highway or some dusty road, unconsciously admiring the older houses and barns that seem to pass too quickly from view?

Is there beauty in the decay, or is it simply our longing for simpler times now slipping into obscurity? Imagine for a moment the absence of all those venerable structures.

Maybe it’s because I grew up and played in such diverse places, from the beaches and cliffs of Southern California and the woods, streams and mountains of Western Montana to the frozen birch trees and stunted pines of the Alaskan frontier, that I never tire of the richness and variety of this beautiful planet and trying to capture my wonder with paint. For me, the barns that dot the Indiana landscape add to that beauty – they remind me that we are meant to work in harmony with nature and I see in them those who treasured the land and lovingly cultivated it.

The barn that captured my interest for this painting is right off the back roads highway on the way to the Castle Gallery in Fort Wayne. In the 10 years since moving to Indiana, I have witnessed many of these beautiful buildings surrender to the effects of time and neglect – having stood majestic only months before.  How long before this stoic structure succumbs?

I’m grateful for the privilege of painting this beautiful building. As an artist I admire the textures and variety of shape and line. As a citizen of this wondrous planet I hope to preserve the noble character that I believe shaped the lives of the pioneers that left us these reminders of our stewardship to protect the land given us by a Loving Heavenly Father.

Stoic Barn 12×16 by Bill Inman

The Stoic Barn full 2 hour video was added to the Master Oil Painting Monthly Membership site this month – you probably watched the condensed fast motion video at the start of this blog. I realize some of you would rather see a quick breakdown of the major steps so I have chosen a few photos I thought you would find helpful.

5 Steps to a Stoic Barn scene:

1.

Using a thin walnut oil wash I lay in some manganese blue for the sky. Since I am wanting to suggest a hazy, sun filled dusty farm scene I used a warm reddish yellow mixture of Gamblin’s Transparent Earth Yellow with a touch of Transparent Earth Red to form the foundation for the cooler greens and lavenders that will be in the trees and the barn.

2.

I then quickly block in the major shapes that will form the trees and barn. I rarely sketch first, preferring to establish the larger shapes or masses rather than structural lines – I’ve never been a fan of coloring books and painting within the lines even of my own making feels too confining. Definitely not for the faint of heart though since I often need to correct my ‘drawing’ due to the free flowing intuitive and vigorous brushwork in the beginning. For me I feel this helps me avoid becoming timid or creating a lifelessness that often accompanies my more careful approaches.

3.

Once I have the major masses in place I begin to refine the shapes, light and dark patterns and color temperatures. I look at windows and doors as shapes within larger shapes, rather than geometric forms that require rigid lines. That way, a single stroke of my brush might be all it takes to build a window, rather than applying colors inside a rectangle box.

4.

Color temperature fluctuations are important in any painting – so I vary warm and cool color strokes throughout each of my shapes. Within a tree I will have warmer and cooler greens or yellows in both the highlights and the shadows – the same applies to the barn. Allowing warm and cool color temperatures to play next to each other creates a much more interesting and stimulating visual feast for the viewer.

5.

The final work is deciding how much detail is necessary to convey a feeling of dustiness and allow the viewer to experience what captivated me about the scene. I don’t want any single brushstroke to feel out of place. Many of the shapes, like the clouds and the rarely traveled road were captured with quick simple strokes.

Be sure to share any insights you have with us as well!

And if you’re not a Monthly Member yet be sure to CLICK HERE to view one of our full length videos and see what we’re all about.

Blank Canvas – An Interview with Bill Anton

Welcome to the Blank Canvas Series – An interview with an Artist. We interview a new featured artist every few weeks to share their insights with the Master Oil Painting Community. What artist would you like to hear from next? Note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Master Oil Painting or Bill Inman.

Today’s Featured Artist: Bill Anton

“TO GOD BE THE GLORY” – Bill Anton

“I do not see myself as a biographer of the “cowboy…” If I’m recording anything, I’m recording how I feel about the West. I want the viewer to feel the drama of atmosphere and the mystery of a western night.” – Bill Anton

Q: You studied early on with Ned Jacob and Michael Lynch, both powerful forces in western art and landscape. Yet your approach to painting is very distinctive – seeing your work in a gallery or magazine we know immediately it is a Bill Anton painting. How did you so clearly find your own voice, and do you recommend beginning artist study with accomplished painters, or can that interfere with finding their own direction?

A: Your aim is not to be a clone of your mentors, but to take what they give and adopt their principles, not their styles.

Having said that, we’re all amalgams of our influences.

A little of Ned, a little of Mike, little of everyone I admire finds its way into my painting. None of us in the representational world are completely original. We all borrow, tweak, twist, stretch and nod to our heroes.

But your individual signature has to come from within as you gain skills and use them to express the ideas that are important to you. Seek out accomplished painters but work out your own salvation, to take Paul the Apostle completely out of context!

A great teacher’s advice will sound like this: ” Here is time honored procedure. Now go apply it thousands of times and at some point you may have something. ”

Deep in the Wind Rivers by Bill Anton

Q: Besides your love of the cowboy as caretaker of the land, you describe the focus of your work as mood and passion. As artists we hear those types of words thrown around often? With your work though, we can feel the dust and the wind and the drama of life as a cowboy when we view your paintings – what do you do and think about while painting, to infuse such emotional content into your work?

A: I’m an emotional guy with strong opinions.

My mentors, (Jim Reynolds leaps to mind!) were the same way. Passionate. That eventually comes out at the end of the brush. The surface of a painting is very important and is the vehicle for brush expression or calligraphy.

It should be evident by the way the paint is applied what the artist felt. It should show…at once….confidence, conviction and years of practice to make something extremely difficult look easy. I fail at this so much of the time…………….. But painting the landscape and the horse from life for years infuses a directness with the brush informed by years of happy study.

Enough Already! by Bill Anton

Q: So many beginning artists are intimidated by plein air painting, and you already had a successful career before you were encouraged to paint outdoors. Was it difficult for you when you first ventured out of the studio? And what identifiable changes did it make in your professional work and career?

A: Actually,I was painting outside from the beginning before I had a career at all….I just didn’t show them to anyone.

My living was built on pencil drawings while I taught myself something about painting. But I went outside and painted on location for six years  and had done hundreds outside, most of them lousy, before I sought out accomplished outdoor painters for advice and workshops.

I think it’s a mistake to do 2 or 3 plein air paintings and call professionals for advice……you don’t even know the right questions to ask until you’ve slugged it out a little. I used outdoor painting as a means to an end, to teach myself about simplification, color, value and temperature.

Early on, it wasn’t an end in itself……that benefit happened much much later.

Golden Lakes Trail by Bill Anton

Q: While visiting Trailside Galleries in the late 80’s I saw your paintings and you quickly became one of my favorite western artists. You are unquestionably among the most successful and accomplished painters today. Did you pursue your career with an intentional plan? For younger artists today, what counsel can you offer to help them achieve their dreams of painting full time?

A: The only plan I had was to keep getting better. That’s still the only plan I have.

Beyond that, you have to be passionate about the subject and passionate about the process of painting. Seek to be better at what you do and forget about trying to be famous.

If eventually no one can touch you in your price range, recognition will take care of itself.

Find joy and fulfillment in the hard work.

Wyoming Conference Call by Bill Anton

Q: What artists do you most admire, and what have they done for your growth as an artist?

A: There are too many to name.

Von Zugel, Zorn, Waugh, Levitan, Mancini, Emil Carlson…….. the western artists of the early 20th century. Always been a huge fan of the California Impressionists……nearly all of them. They give you the sense of the possible in painting.

They’ll keep your ego in check…….an extremely important but rarely mentioned benefit of looking at superior work.

Think you’re hot stuff? Go look at a Sorolla and try and convince yourself you know anything about painting.

It’s those little reality checks that keep you striving.

Over the Pass by Bill Anton

Q: Being a professional artist is way of life that scares more people away than not, and it usually isn’t a smooth path to follow no matter how good you are. Do you have a seminal experience that made you decide you wanted to dedicate yourself to a career as an artist?

A: I don’t think anyone knows at the start if this will be a career or not. I didn’t.

Wanting it doesn’t make it so. I was a fairly new Christian and I asked the Lord one thing: If You don’t want me to do this, please close all the doors.

They kept opening and I kept walking through them. I supplied the elbow grease and He blessed the results for His own glory……. I don’t feel I had that much to do with my success.

There’s lots better painters than me out there!

As West As It Gets by Bill Anton

Here’s Some of Bill’s Awards:

Frederic Remington Award – for ”Deep in the Wind Rivers”
Prix de West Invitational, National Cowboy and Western Heritage center, Oklahoma City, OK – 2016

Spirit of the West Award – for ”Campers or Cow Thieves?”
Masters of the American West, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA – 2015

Museum Purchase Award
Masters of the American West, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA – 2012

Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award
Prix de West Invitational, National Cowboy and Western Heritage center, Oklahoma City, OK – 2011

Gene Autry Memorial Award,
Award Masters of the American West, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA – 2011

Spirit of the West Award,
Masters of the American West at the Autry National Center in L.A. in 2009, 2010 and 2011

Robert Lougheed Memorial Award and the Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award,
Prix de West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center on OK City – 2009

Bill Anton enjoying plein air

Website: billantonstudio.com

Please comment and thank Bill for sharing his talents and insights with us!

How to Paint Hollyhocks – Part 2

Last week we had fun going into the details of one of my most recent paintings with Hollyhocks, and discussed their intrinsic beauty. For the first time in our training we broke down the process into 10 steps with pictures and videos.

This week we get to dive a little deeper, past the steps and the process of painting, and into the value of art and my changing views and styles over the years.

If you have been painting for a while, you can probably relate to the stylistic or technical changes we artists go through. My work has experienced some dramatic shifts over the last 3 decades.

Monet and Childe Hassam, as well as Van Gogh, were at the top of my list in high school because I was enthralled with the optical blending of colors they used to form shapes.

Childe Hassam – The Water Garden | (https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/hb/hb_1994.450.jpg)

That visual blending, rather than physical blending, is what helped me create ‘Reflections’ with pastels that won the Congressional Art Award when I was a Junior in High School.

Bill Inman – Reflections – 1983

To an extent, I’m still seeking the success of the way the colors played with one another and the wonderful division of spaces in that early pastel.

In college I fell in love with the vigorous brushwork and color shapes of Sergei Bongart.

Sergei Bongart – Back Porch | (http://www.byui.edu/spori-gallery/past-exhibits/sergei-bongart-a-masters-brush)

The Spori art building at Ricks College, now BYUI, had a room entirely devoted to about 15 or 20 of his paintings. If you randomly chose a day in 1989 you would probably find me in there studying his paintings.

All of that glorious brushwork I wanted to emulate was contrasted by the exacting drawing required by Leon Parson’s exceptional illustration, head drawing and figure drawing classes I was taking.

Leon Parson – Truth Restored | (http://www.leonparson.com/)

Blending the two seemingly disparate approaches was at times exasperating psychologically because I was attracted to both.

The skill required to replicate objects from life in realistic values and proportions was very alluring because it was so easy to impress others with photographic renderings. And there’s something innately satisfying in knowing we can draw well and create accurate figures, landscapes and other objects from life.

But the swashbuckling style of Sergei was just so much fun.

A book devoted to Carl Rungius’ paintings my parents gave me for Christmas in 1985 simply compounded my love of simple forms and strong color.

Carl Rungius – Moose (http://jacksonholeartauction.com/media/images/art_large/RungiusCarl-Moose-1405353092.jpg)

Then I visited the Jackson Hole Wildlife Art Museum in 1989 and had the privilege of sitting in a rounded room surrounded by at least a dozen of his larger paintings. They are just wildlife paintings, right?

Maybe, but there is a power in art that transcends the sometimes difficult endurance of daily living. The feeling I had that day was so overwhelming I found tears slipping down my cheeks. In that moment all I could think about was that I wanted to create something that would touch others the way his paintings had touched me.

That is not a faint hearted pursuit.

Even today I get befuddled by my split artistic personality, wanting the skill of realist draftsmanship to show proudly while coupled with the flamboyant style of a Russian Impressionist. Unfortunately, I often get too much in my head and the painting falls flat like it did with this early hollyhock piece that exhibits very little of either approach.

Bill Inman – Blue Hollyhocks

When that happens I have to call a cease fire and let go of my inhibitions and head knowledge and just start painting with abandon. At those moments something I can’t quite describe happens – my instincts seem to guide my hand, time ceases to exist and the painting suddenly appears (with me physically and mentally drained).

Bill Inman – Blue Hollyhocks 10 years later – Sunday Best 40×30

That unconscious consciousness (couldn’t think of a better description, sorry) doesn’t happen as often as I would like, and the process is not as simple as writing about it might suggest. Getting to that state is not like turning on and off a switch.

Long hours of consistent training and practice seem to be at the root of it – yet they are not the totality. The courage to risk ruining a painting is a key component.

In that desired state of painting, the academic requirements of the painting don’t disappear, but for some reason I don’t have to think about them – they are simply evident when the painting is successfully completed.

And that doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments when I need to stop and think about what comes next. Sometimes I even have to backtrack and redo a portion that was too vigorous or out of harmony with the overall painting.

But the fluid movement and harmony of color and value that I love only happens when I reach that state. When I get timid or cautious, or too attached to detail, my paintings become stiff and lack vitality.

Most of my paintings are a combination of the two states – areas of beautiful reality and fluid movement running through the painting and areas of stiff overworked objects and spaces and rushed inaccurate drawing.

In Sunday Best I felt I came pretty close to the best of me.

At Home on the Range, the video we just added to the Master Oil Painting monthly membership site details my process for developing a hollyhock scene. It is closer to the ‘best of me’ than the lifeless look I describe, but there are a few areas I would change and I discuss all of that in the 5-hour long video.

Bill Inman – At Home on the Range

Learn and study from the best artists you can find and practice drawing and painting from life in a realistic manner so you can reproduce anything you see in exact detail. Then let yourself forget it all for a moment and paint with abandon and experience true magic.

How do you get into the state that allows you to paint using the best of you?

How to Paint Hollyhocks – Part 1

Hollyhocks grew all along the side of my studio in Rye Colorado. It was love at first sight when we moved into our home there, and I have visited hollyhocks in different settings for the last 27 years.

What is it about hollyhocks that could cause such a lasting affair? They’re twisted of course.

Not like Jafar from Aladdin – like aspen trees, they twist and turn and offer endless combinations of movement for intriguing compositions.

A few days ago we added ‘At Home on the Range’ to the Master Oil Painting Monthly Membership, and it details my full process for developing a particular hollyhock scene. It’s almost 5 hours long, and if you want the full brushstroke by brushstroke explanation you’ll have to check out the Monthly Membership.

But for both members and our ‘not yet members’ I wanted to share some images from the video that follow the painting’s creation from block-in to refined finish. I’ve always been a fan of process pictures, so I hope these, along with the explanations and the video that follows, are helpful to you as well!

Here are Your 10 Steps to a Hollyhock Masterpiece:

1.

The major planes are the first thing I lay in with a thin walnut oil wash. Sometimes I leave the quickly done brushwork, but in this case I rubbed the paint into the texture of the panel to leave just an overall color field in each of the larger shapes of sky hills and foreground.

2.

Then I began to establish the shadow pattern, especially where the bulk of the leaves will reside. I use a combination of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Transparent Oxide (or Earth) Red and Phthalo or Sap Green to make most of my darker shadow colors.

3.

Then the real fun begins as I decide where to place the leaves and flowers. I try to keep a constant awareness of my light source and direction so my shadows and highlights are consistent.

4.

I keep mixing into and expanding the piles of color on my palette to help with harmony throughout the painting’s progression. For instance, I will mix up a large area of green color and then cool the temperature with blues or warm the mixture with yellows and reds, using opposite sides of the original pile of paint, so I can keep a fun juxtaposing of warm and cool color temperatures throughout. I will also often have one side of the mixture lighter and one side darker in value.

5.

Once I have the leaves mostly composed of large and small shapes I do the same thing with the flowers. With a solid structure of light and dark established I begin to refine the flowers and leaves with stronger contrast and warm and cool color temperatures.

6.

At this point the flowers and leaves start to feel more 3 dimensional and pull away from the background. Notice the development of leaves in shadow.

7.

Now the flowers are really taking shape and receiving their individual identities. The leaves also get a few more peaks and valleys.

8.

Now it’s time to do something about all the other spaces by resolving the sky and hills and adding some rocks and grass to keep the flowers company and give interest to the foreground. The background transitioned from hills to trees and back to hills again, with some light wispy clouds for movement in the sky.

9.

The foreground rocks and grasses were kept simple so they wouldn’t draw too much attention from the hollyhocks, while refining some of the grass stalks enough that they could be used to guide the viewer up and through the painting to the more important hollyhocks.

10.

At Home on the Range (30×24) by Bill Inman

The final image kept the shadows under the leaves dark, yet softened by the grasses going in and out of the diffused light of a slightly overcast day.

In case you’re not a Monthly Member yet, here is the YouTube fast motion version to enjoy, with fun tidbits of instruction mixed throughout.

I hope this helps simplify the process for you.

I love these magnificent, twisting, flowers and am excited to see the masterpiece you create to honor their beauty!

Here are a few more of my own from the archives…

Standing Tall (30×24) by Bill Inman

Bring on the Heat (30×24) by Bill Inman

Field of Dreams (24×20) by Bill Inman

King of the Road (40×30) by Bill Inman

Offroading (24×18) by Bill Inman

Room with a View (40×30) by Bill Inman

Soft Kiss’ Blush (20×16) by Bill Inman

I hope you enjoyed this, and as always, Happy Painting!

P.S. Was this type of post, with the painting broken down into steps, useful to you? Would you like to see more like this in the future?

Blank Canvas – An Interview with Joe Anna Arnett

Welcome to the Blank Canvas Series – An interview with an Artist. We interview a new featured artist every few weeks to share their insights with the Master Oil Painting Community. What artist would you like to hear from next? Note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Master Oil Painting or Bill Inman.

Today’s Featured Artist: Joe Anna Arnett

Joe Anna Arnett

She was just featured in the January-February edition of “Art of the West” magazine, and has been featured more than 40 times in various art publications since 1987. She has also recently been invited to the 12th Annual Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational and the Acadia Invitational Exhibition happening this year.

Q: What made you decide to live in an artist community like Santa Fe, and has it had any noticeable impact on your career progression?

A: Santa Fe was a natural choice for me and I have been grateful for that decision for the last three decades.

I lived in New York, worked as an art director for Young and Rubicam Advertising. My work was mostly creating ads for television. The work began with creation of the commercial and continued through the production. In winter, our outdoor shoots were done mostly with Los Angeles film crews. There were times when I would spend weeks and weeks in Los Angeles. We didn’t shoot on weekends, so I would hop on a plane and go to Santa Fe to visit my sister who lived here for many years.

Commercial Work done for Merrill Lynch by Joe Anna Arnett

Living in a community that is so friendly to the art world has been a great advantage. The galleries here are wonderful. People come to Santa Fe with the purpose of looking at art. It really is an art destination.

The support is wonderful. Artisan’s is one of the great art supply stores. It rivals stores in New York. Drawing groups meet several days a week. I draw with my wonderful group every Tuesday afternoon and really enjoy keeping my drawing skills sharp.

Being a professional artist in Santa Fe is a very usual job. The business community here is accustomed to us. In some other communities, when you say you are an artist, they still wonder what you do for a living.

Lilac Gate by Joe Anna Arnett

Q: You paint some of the most gorgeous flowers and still life arrangements in the industry. What drew you to plants instead of figure or wildlife painting?

A: First of all, thank you for the kind compliment.

When I studied at the Art Students League in New York, we drew the figure, painted the figure and sometimes an occasional still life.  I did study landscape painting there.  My landscape teacher, Robert Maione would have his class meet in Central Park and he would do his critiques there.

But we only went out in the late spring and early fall.  Winter was miserable so we did figures in the studio. So, my training was more focused on studio art.  My early professional paintings were very heavy still life paintings, with a somber palette.

When I left the League, I didn’t have a studio big enough, or funds available to hire models.   Still life was simply more convenient.  I loved landscape painting, but I was just not as comfortable in the genre.  I had begun to sell the still life works and it built from there.  I wasn’t painting flowers at first.

Several momentous things happened very soon after I moved to Santa Fe.  I met, fell in love with, and married James Asher.

Rose Cantata by Joe Anna Arnett

He began to plant flowers for me. The first garden he dug for me became the peony garden.  Peonies are just too beautiful to resist. Lilacs grew in our neighborhood and were so tempting.

As I added flowers to my still life painting, my choice of colors brightened and my style began to change to a bit more of a relaxed approach.  In many ways, I am still going in that direction even after all these years.

Painting flowers was then and still is so much fun. I believe that I am still evolving and I hope that continues.

Pale Peonies by Joe Anna Arnett

Q: If you were starting out today, knowing what you know now, would you still pursue commercial art first as a career and then transition to fine art – why or why not – and would you recommend attending art schools or ateliers similar to the Art Students League? Many of our members are working to become professional artists

A: If I were starting out today, I doubt I would start in commercial art. My career in advertising was a necessity.

When I graduated from the University of Texas, I had to earn a living right away. There was no time to develop as an artist and no money to do that anyway. And fine art was not representational art in those days.

I never really enjoyed non-objective art so I just assumed that I wouldn’t make it as a fine artist. In a way, my timing was perfect. By the time I had the confidence and the savings to leave advertising, the art world had changed and representational art was coming around in popularity and acceptance.

I was also more mature as I started to re-train as a fine artist, and I knew how to manage. Advertising did teach me so much about business and marketing and I will always be grateful for that knowledge. I use much of what I learned in those days in my business life today.

As to the type of training I would choose today, I believe that I would still choose to go to an atelier if I could. I studied for several years at the League after I left advertising. I went full time and then followed that up with another year of part time while I worked free-lance as an art director. That extra money, I knew, would be needed to launch a career.

Wandering Wildflowers by Joe Anna Arnett

But full time is not possible for a lot of artists and relocating to go to one of the good schools may not be possible. There are some wonderful alternatives available today that were not available to me in those days. There are workshops with gifted artists as well as some on-line training that I think is excellent. Truly, good instruction today can come right to your computer.

I think that there is great value in a very concentrated, focused workshop with someone who has solid teaching experience. And I like the idea of going away for some workshops. You are not tempted to just run and pick up the dry cleaning and no one expects you to make dinner.

I think there is value in online learning, but the presence of an artist you respect to guide you in person is such a great experience. These different ideas can be mutually supportive.

Having said that, I would caution that an artist not become a workshop junkie. I see this a lot. The thought exists, “If I take this workshop from this artist, and then that artist, and another, and another, I’ll become the artist I want to be.”

Not so. The workshops are good but there is no substitute for the time you spend in your own development. You must resolve to do work on your own. You must take what you learned and apply it, and spend time with that knowledge, making it your own.

I see, all too often, that artists think they can become a professional as long as they take enough workshops. It just doesn’t work that way. Self-motivation, the quiet time spent with your own focused concentration, and experience are imperative.

When an artist asks for my advice, I often tell then that they must enjoy their own company. Art as a profession really is a bit lonely. You have to spend the time on your own, applying what you have learned. Your best instructor is looking at you in the mirror every morning.

Yes, do great workshops. Yes, explore the valuable on-line tools, but know for sure that you are in for many hours on your own, developing who you are as an artist.

Breakfast with Roses by Joe Anna Arnett

Q: With such enviable honors as your PBS show, inclusion in the Prix de West, teaching through numerous books and workshops and becoming one of the best-known floral painters in the world, what do you consider the foundation of your success?

A: Thank you for the kind words.

My foundation is just that: foundation. At the league and in self-study from those days through today, I have focused on learning and applying the strong foundational principles of art. I have written these things and I live them.

Jim and I will be driving and look at a scene and one of us may say something like “nice contrast”, “good values”, “nice color world”. If anyone listened to our conversation and was not versed in the language of art, they would think us crazy.

Once, walking down a village street in France, we both stopped in our tracks, staring at a wall. People began so stare at us. There was nothing on the wall. We were both admiring the perfect ratio of the way a shadow from another building split the space.

I separate success in art and success in business and I think that is a healthy way to compartmentalize my life. Art is art. Business should have no place. But I don’t want any other job, so I have to be good at the business side of this profession.

My time in advertising did help me with this. I try to separate my time painting from any business concerns. Of course, it can’t be pure. Nothing can. I do have to think about business, but I try to keep it in balance.

There are deadlines, and obligations, commissions and those sorts of things and we have to meet those commitments. I try to do the things required for business after I lose good painting light. I spend many late nights on those tasks.

Being very organized really helps. Things like a good accounting system, a good data program for keeping up with inventory, clients, sales, and location of the works.

Be professional in all your practices. Your galleries must trust you. Solve more problems for them than you create. Be professional with your clients. This is a huge topic and one I am asked often. By the time I cover the things I think necessary to be successful, most artists have dozed off. Or they are thinking, “I’m an artist. I’m not going to do all that.” But you have to learn good business practices if you are going to do this for a living.

The rest of the answer is that art, as a successful profession, is just a lot of really hard work and very long hours. I work six and a half days a week and never have enough time to do all I would like to do.

Art as a life sustaining profession is a huge commitment and not for the faint-hearted. You have to want it and be willing to do what it takes.

If your goal is something else, then fine. Doing art for the sake of enjoying the process is wonderful. If you don’t have to make a living at it, that’s even better. But if you want it as your profession, you had better get comfortable with long hours and the total commitment.

Rose of Yesterday by Joe Anna Arnett

Q: You have inspired so many artists through the years. What artists have inspired you?

A: This is a long list and I keep adding to it. I will just name the few at the top.

At the league, I studied with David Leffel. He is an inspired teacher and divine artist. I don’t want to paint like David, but he gave me a wonderful foundation. My personal direction, over the years, has changed to a desire for looseness, a mystery and a more impressionist approach.

Robert Maione gave me a great foundation in landscape painting.

For inspiration in flower painting, Henri Fantin-Latour is my absolute all – time hero. A rose was never painted the way he did.

I would expect that we all put Richard Schmidt on our list. Or as Matt Smith calls him, “The Divine Richard”. He is. I never had the privilege of studying with him. I often wish that I had

Sargent is also one who is on most of our lists along with the amazing Sorolla.

The contemporary British artist David Cutis is one of my favorites. I got to meet him in England a few years ago. We at one time in the distant past, showed at the same gallery in London. We had time to have a brew at the pub and reminisce. What a wonderful artist and really nice guy.

My list changes every day. With Facebook, I see paintings all the time that I admire.

Aspen Sunflowers by Joe Anna Arnett

“Arnett has written articles for The Artist’s Magazine, American Arts Quarterly, ART Ideas and Australian Artists Magazine and has been featured in The International Herald Tribune, Southwest Art, Western Art Digest and the North Light books, Painting with Passion, The Best of Flower Painting, The Best of Flower Painting II, The Complete Oil Painter and Sketchbook Confidential II from North Light Publishing. ” – Joe Anna’s Website

Joe Anna with her husband James

Website: joeannaarnett.com

Facebook: Joe Anna Arnett Fine Art

Be sure to comment and thank Joe Anna for sharing her talents and insights with us!

Choosing the Right Paints for Our Palettes

(We are not financially affiliated with any of the artists or products mentioned in this post)

There are so many choices, almost too many it seems at times (somewhere North of 160 hues).  That plethora of colors can become confusing – even for the seasoned artist.  I have discovered that professional quality paints are made really well by each of the major brands.  We just need to decide which slight variation we love most.

The most important consideration is professional vs. student grade paints. Remember, learning to paint well is tough enough – let’s not sabotage our efforts, especially with the most important ingredient.

As tempting as it may seem to save a few bucks and buy student grade paints…DON’T!  The pigment load is much thinner.   Think about painting a room – there are some paints that can cover your wall with one coat, other paints that may take quite a few coats – that’s pigment load.

It’s also much easier to learn when we use consistent quality materials.

Choosing Colors

This is the easy part, right?

After all, the best artists in the world have used the science of color to determine the exact pigments necessary for mixing every color we will need for landscape or portrait work – haven’t they?

Do a little research and you will find many of the top artists’ palettes online. What you will quickly notice is that no two professional artists’ color choices are exactly the same – in fact there doesn’t seem to be any real consensus at all – the colors vary widely, even among artists with similar styles or approaches.

 

As you study artists and their palettes you will notice that there is no secret formula for choosing paint brands or colors.  The only perfect palette is the one that works for you, and even then you may experiment and switch a color now and then.

So in developing your palette, a helpful starting point might be to find an artist you particularly admire and use theirs, then add or eliminate a color once in a while and see how you like it.

My Palette consists of a warm and cool version of each of the major hues plus some earth colors:

Titanium White

Cadmium Lemon (cool)

Cadmium Yellow Medium (warm)

Cadmium Orange (optional)

Quinacridone Red (cool)

Cadmium Red Light (warm, but cooler than cad red med)

Cadmium Red Medium (warm)

Transparent Oxide Yellow (replaces yellow ochre)

Transparent Oxide Orange (replaces raw sienna)

Transparent Oxide Red (replaces burnt sienna)

Phthalo Blue Green Shade (cool)

Ultramarine Blue (warm)

Manganese Blue (optional – cooler than ultra blue)

Phthalo Green (cool)

Permanent Sap Green (warm)

Chromiumm Oxide Green (very optional)

Back in the late 80’s I started using Utrecht and Gamblin paints because I could buy them in the larger 150 ml tubes. I still use them today – although recently I tried out RGH and like their paints as well. Gamblin has the most complete selection of the colors I use, but often it comes down to what’s on sale when it’s time to replenish my supplies.

Paint Price Comparison

For those on a budget – when every penny counts (I’ve certainly been there) – here is an approximate cost per ml of the professional brands of paint, using Ultramarine Blue as the common denominator. Of course these costs can change, but overall they stay pretty constant unless you find them on sale.

Dry Time

How fast one paint dries compared to another isn’t something I think about, unless I get a tube of paint from a new company like RGH and the white ends up taking weeks to dry, instead of days like I’m used to.

For those of you who really take the fat over lean concept to the limits, or you just have a deadline and need to make sure your painting is ready, it might be helpful to know how long it takes overall for one pigment to dry compared to another.

The most important paint on our palette is white – we use a lot of it – it’s mixed with just about every other color at one time or another.  I would suggest getting a couple different whites and trying them out from different manufacturers. Some will be creamier, some stiffer, some brighter – each has advantages depending on our painting styles and techniques.

If you are using an acrylic gesso on your canvas or panel, be cognizant of any Zinc in your oil paints – it has a tendency to delaminate more easily than titanium.  You don’t want to do a Pollock paint peel.

Also, even on an oil or lead ground, zinc in white paint tends to crack or become brittle. If you choose to use zinc white (a favorite of Richard Schmid and Dan Gerhartz is Lefranc white which uses zinc), it might be prudent to use a panel rather than canvas.

Conclusion

Have fun with it all. Don’t get overly anxious about paint – the major brands do a fantastic job of creating exceptional paint – much better than what our predecessors had.

So relax and enjoy the process.  Happy Painting!

What has been your go-to paints for your palette, and what paints have you learned to stay away from?

Blank Canvas – An Interview with Bonnie Marris

Welcome to the Blank Canvas Series – An interview with an Artist. We interview a new featured artist every few weeks to share their insights with the Master Oil Painting Community. What artist would you like to hear from next? Note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Master Oil Painting or Bill Inman.

Today’s Featured Artist: Bonnie Marris

Social Vewpoints by Bonnie Marris

She was featured in the November edition of “Art of the West” magazine. She was also awarded the Patrons’ Choice Award at the Masters of the American West Show for her masterpiece “Social Viewpoints.” The show is held yearly at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

Bonnie Marris and Her Horse Pawnee

Q: After so many years as a successful artist, what keeps you motivated to continue getting in front of your easel each day?

A: What keeps me motivated to even walk into my studio every day? 

Sometimes I can’t! 

Sometimes I am so sure that my skill is not up to painting what is in my head that I cannot even go near my studio.  But, by far, most days I wake up thinking about the animal, the idea, the point, or just the painting I am working on and that in itself makes me hurry to the studio.  With each new day, I wonder if I can paint as well, or hopefully better, than yesterday. 

I go through stages when I begin a new painting.  At first, I am completely and utterly IN LOVE with it.  I cannot WAIT to work on it and I hate it when I have to stop (it’s usually the dogs that want to stop and go hike).  Then somewhere in the middle of the painting I look at it very critically and hate it. I may have a better idea in my mind and I’m sure I’ve ruined it.  But I keep pushing it and I begin to like it again. Finally, I really really like it and that makes me want to start another.

Ultimately it is pure passion for my subject, and for fun.

Contemplating the Dragonfly by Bonnie Marris

Q: What one lesson does a young or new artist need to learn to create convincing painterly realism like yours?

A: The most important thing for any artist, young, old, just starting or professional, to hold on to dearly is this:

You are only you!

You are like no other living being (cliché but very important). You can study another artist’s style or technique but you will never execute his paintings. Your brain will translate your vision differently. Your skill is yours alone and once you let go and let YOU take over, you will be thrilled and shocked to see the artist you are.

I certainly have my favorite artists and I surround myself with their work, their books, their quotes … but my paintings are always, no matter what, just mine. And that’s another thing that will keep you going; desperately trying to get better!

Be more skilled with the brush. Know more about your subject. The artist (writer, musician, painter) that is satisfied with each of their paintings and loves everything they do will NEVER get any better. All great artists aspire to somebody that they believe is better.

Thunder and Dust by Bonnie Marris

Q: You’ve had a spectacularly successful career as an artist so far! Looking back, is there anything you wish you had done differently?

A: The one thing I wish I could have done differently from the very beginning is be braver. Knowing what I know now.

If I am speaking to a female, this has a bit more to it. As a girl, confidence was my big enemy, (still is). We as females tend to be weaker (with colors, composition, attitude). There is a difference between sensitivity and weakness. We don’t want to come on too strong. Don’t want to offend. We may feel what we are about is not taken as seriously as what our male colleague has to say.

Nothing makes me angrier, or more put off, than a female artist that “speaks” so softly you can’t hear her. I had a stress counselor (male!) tell me that as a female I am gifted with this great sensitivity that a male holds back from showing. I now use this passion, this unbearable love and sensitivity to my advantage.

Don’t HIDE behind your gift. Don’t be AFRAID of color. Use what you know! If you have a strong idea or passion about something PROVE it.
And another thing…this is huge. The more popular or successful you become, the more critics, hecklers and just plain mean people will tag along behind you. I have had meanies glue themselves to my side at a show and tell me over and over again that so and so is a much better artist. And of course, I believe them…for an hour or two.

We can’t know why meanies are meanies. Why people try to bring you down.

Just try to stay you.

Sweet Tooth by Bonnie Marris

“The passion Bonnie Marris has for wilderness, for animals, and for light and color come together in her art, and she feels her work has accomplished its purpose when a viewer feels that same passion.” – Bonnie’s Website

Website: www.blmarrisstudio.com

Facebook: facebook.com/BonnieMarris

Be sure to comment and thank Bonnie for sharing her talents and insights with us!