Deb Ward, GWS, OWS, PWS, WSI - WATERCOLOR/WATER MEDIA - My passion is teaching adult “beginners”. Weekly classes in my home; workshops; classes for Cincinnati Recreation Commission. My work is nationally recognized and published - see “Featured” on my sidebar. I’m a Signature Member of Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana state Watercolor Societies, Cincinnati Art Club, past-President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. Contact info below under “Class Information”

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Painting weather?

Is it just me, or do other artists suffer from the winter doldrums? I have several pictures I want to work on, but on a dreary, gray day I just can’t seem to get the inclination to start. Then when I do start one, I sort of “fizzle out” before I finalize it. Sometimes I read magazine articles talking about how artists paint all winter so that they can do outdoor shows all spring and summer (now, that’s another subject altogether!). How do they do it?

Then, sometimes I go into a sort of “slump”, weather notwithstanding. Again, just can’t get it together to paint, do the whole whine-y “there’s nothing to paint, woe is me” thing.

What do you do when you go into a “slump” like that? What pulls you out, gets you going again?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Painting Style

Sunlit Pears 2

Casein on Watercolor Board


Its true - we are all our own worst critics.

There are paintings I've done that I thought were good, then I compared them to someone else's pictures and they didn't measure up (to my new standards). But, guess what - put them away for a while, pull them out and look at them with "fresh eyes" (as my friend says) and I like them again. The problem seems to be comparing my work to that of someone else. I'm finally learning that I'll never paint the way others paint, even when using their techniques. But that's OK - I paint like I paint and that's all I can do. Besides, I dont really want to mimic their paintings, no matter how much I admire them. I just want to see my work on display with others of similar ability and know that it holds its own.

Going to workshops, learning from DVDs, books, just watching someone else paint, etc. is great - just take those techniques and incorporate them into your own style. I'm always amazed to go to an art show of high caliber, such as the AWS traveling show, and see so many pictures that look alike. Makes me think that somebody is copying a style that is currently "in vogue" just to get ahead in the shows; i.e. did that artist study with John Salminen, or did Salminen study with him? Several times recently Ive looked at a painting thinking that I recognized the artist only to find that its by another artist, just painted in a copycat style. Sure, it's great to be in shows, but its not the end of the world not to be selected. I hope that my work can stand on its own merit without mimicking the “next best thing”.

I was once told that if artists dont change their style every few years they are not growing. I dont buy into that. However, that being said, it doesnt necessarily mean remaining stagnant. Try new things, but only if you really want to, not because you think you should. For instance, it was only in the past 18 months or so that, for the first time, Ive wanted to try some new things.
My first attempts at acrylic were not good, to put it mildly, but I purchased a few bottles of the fluid acrylics, liked them and bought a few more, and now I really love working with them. That has inspired me to re-try the tube acrylics again in the near future.

A demonstration of casein prompted me to buy a small set, which I loved from the start, and so purchased more. I was given almost a whole set as a gift, and the more I use that medium, the more I like it.

Soon Ill be trying to combine some of the mediums. (Just cant wrap myself around collage, tho!)
Basically, what Im trying to say is that we all have our own vision for our art, something that we are comfortable with and that makes us happy. Just because there is a new technique thats the trend, doesnt mean we have to copy it, or even utilize it at all.

Just paint what makes you happy be it realism or abstract, watercolor or collage and listen to your own inner voice. Sure, listen to constructive critiques, but ultimately realize that when YOU are content with the painting its finished!

Maybe you will never achieve that golden moment the painting you feel is your true masterpiece! But that doesnt mean you shouldnt keep trying, and it doesnt mean that you cant be content with your current achievements. Just enjoy what you are doing and have fun!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sunlit Pears

The painting posted with my first blog (below) is entitled “Sunlit Pears” and is painted in casein on watercolor board. The set up utilized a tablecloth crocheted by my grandmother.

Up until a little over a year ago I was content to paint in nothing but watercolor. Then we had a speaker at our Watercolor Society who gave a demonstration of something called casein; I had never heard of it, but it looked somewhat interesting, and it stayed in the back of my mind.

In the meantime I decided to give acrylics a try, bought a basic set of a few colors, and it proved to be somewhat of a disaster. I thought they would be very “watercolor-like” but found them to be anything but! Dried too fast on the paper, dried too fast on the palette, changed color the wrong way (dried darker, not lighter); didn’t handle the same way at all. Thought I better stick with the watercolors.

Then I remembered the casein. So, once again, I bought a basic set of a few colors. But I liked them from the start! More watercolor-like and even though they dried quickly on the paper, they didn’t seem to dry out as quickly on the palette.

So, an order placed to Daniel Smith for another possum palette; then an order to Jerry’s Artarama for more paint; then a trip to the local art store for some paper palettes.

After some trials and tribulations with some small paintings, “Sunlit Pears” was born. It was the first painting I have been proud of from the start. I absolutely love it, and I’m not one to “toot my own horn”.

I entered it into a few regional shows and then into Viewpoint 2007, a national juried show sponsored by the Cincinnati Art Club. It was accepted, and even though it did not win any awards, it did sell!

Then last spring I decided to try acrylics again, but this time the fluid acrylics I was hearing so much about. And I decided to go with DaVinci, since overall I am happy with their watercolors, and they were less expensive than Golden. I placed an order for them, as they were just coming out, and I waited and I waited and I waited . . .

Finally they arrived. I had purchased some colors that I have in watercolor, so I figured they would blend about the same, and I was happy to see that they did. Then, you guessed it – another order to Daniel Smith for another possum palette and another order for more paint.

It’s no wonder I have no money for anything else!

So now when I paint I’m finding out what so many other artists have known for a long time – it’s great fun to decide what medium to use on what support!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

It’s that time of year again – time to make your New Year’s resolutions. In addition to all of the old standbys, how about making some resolutions for your art?

First and foremost, as far as I am concerned, should be to compete AGAINST YOURSELF. That’s right – against yourself, not anyone else. This could mean many things to you.

See if you can push your limits with each successive painting for consistently better results. Don’t let any failures stop you.
· It may mean trying new techniques.
· It may just mean sticking it out and finishing a painting, even if it is “going south”, rather than tossing it and beginning a new one. Push yourself to learn how to correct mistakes.
· It may mean trying a new medium - if you paint in watercolor, try acrylics, or vice versa.
· It may mean trying some new colors.
· Paint something you don’t normally paint, i.e., try portraits if you are a floral painter and vice versa.
Resolve to take some classes or a workshop.

Join an art organization. (If you live in or near any decent sized city there are probably art groups available.)
· Go to an art store and ask if they know of any organizations or classes.
· Ask other artists if they belong to a group or give lessons.
· Visit galleries and do the same.

Find inspiration.
· Visit museums or galleries to get ideas or just get energized. Most people live within a reasonable drive of a major city. (I am fortunate to live outside Cincinnati and about an hour away from Indianapolis. Both have great art museums that are conducive to a day trip.) Take a friend and make a day of visiting local museums.
· Flip through art books or magazines.
· Go through your pile of photos or digital images.
· Daydream!

Set specific goals for your art.
· This may mean painting every day, or once a week or just to finish one picture a month – whatever seems reasonable to you, but something that will push you just a bit farther.

Whatever you do - just remember to make you OWN resolutions! While any step forward is good, don’t allow yourself to be pushed into doing something you are uncomfortable with just because you see other artists doing the same. When that happens, you lessen the joy you feel in creating and what once was fun becomes a chore.

Everyone has their own idea of what they want to achieve – just keep pushing yourself to achieve the best that you can to reach YOUR goal.