Kokopelli Conga

Kokopelli Conga
"A work of art that did not begin in emotion is not art." --Paul Cezanne

May 18, 2018

Have you ever met a Troll?

Background image source: Death to Stock Photos








Have you ever encountered a Troll?

When we post artowork online, sometimes we get hurtful or controversial comments intended to start an argumentative dialogue. These people are "Trolls." Sometimes we even meet Trolls face-to-face!

This happened to me when I posted a copy of my painting "Kokopelli Conga" on Google+.  



"Kokopelli Conga" | Watercolor | Jennifer Love



















I very quickly received a comment from a Google+ user (not someone in my circles) saying that he didn't think he would consider my painting to be "Art" but maybe "art" and asking what did I think? Basically, he was telling me I'm not really an artist and my painting is not worthy to be called Art.

Ouch.


Well, after my initial reaction of hurt feelings from criticism without any constructive advice or suggestions, I realized what this user was about and what he was trying to do. My first "troll." First, I decided not to bother responding at all. Second, I blocked this user from my profile.  

Even though our initial reaction might be to respond with angry or defensive words when an online troll attacks, if we take a minute to think things over, we realize that this is exactly what they are looking for. These people are looking to create contention in our lives, to make us question our art, question our abilities, and hurt our feelings. 


Nobody has the right to tell you that the work you produce is not "Art." If you spend your valuable time creating it, you use the best quality materials you have available, and you do the best quality work you can do, then what you have created is Art.  And...by the way, that very same painting ("Kokopelli Conga") was later juried into a competitive exhibition by a national and international-award-winning watercolor artist.



Additionally, many people have opinions on what constitutes Decorative Art vs. Fine Art, and many believe that people creating art to make a living and for sale to homeowners aren't really creating "Fine Art" - that Fine Art is only found in museum collections.


"Quickly" | watercolor | Jennifer Love








Gallery owner Jason Horesj recently wrote a great blog post about this very topic on Red Dot Blog.


His post is very insightful, but I especially appreciate the definitions he includes about Fine Art vs Decorative Art - pulled directly from the dictionary.

    Decorative Art

noun
1. art that is meant to be useful as well as beautiful, as ceramics, furniture, jewelry, and textiles.

2. Usually, decorative arts. any of the arts, as ceramics or jewelry making, whose works are created to be useful.

3. works of decorative art collectively.

Fine Art

noun
1. a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.

No matter what your skill level, the art you are creating is Fine Art. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Go forward...be brave...keep creating...and ignore the Trolls of the world!

As always, thank you for stopping by my blog!

May 11, 2018

You Need Your Space!

Do you have a dedicated workspace for your art? It doesn't matter if you are a full-time professional artist or a hobbyist, a dedicated studio will help! My studio has gone through several iterations in the past few years. I started with unpacking supplies and taking my paints to the kitchen so I would have space to work on a full-sized sheet of watercolor paper until my painting was done, then putting everything away again. I don't recommend this method. It might take you 20-30 minutes just to get all your art supplies out and set up before you can work. What if you only have 30 minutes to paint?

Kitchen table "studio"














Next, I moved my "studio" to the top of my dresser in my bedroom. But, as you can guess, it was soon overrun with clothing and miscellaneous items that seem to accumulate on our dresser tops. (ARGH!)

Dresser top "studio"












Then I tried an old table set up in our home office. There was no storage for my supplies, and only one window. But, at least I had a dedicated work table that wasn't overrun with random items. It worked for a while.

Office "studio" - first room












Finally, my husband helped me swap our kids' room with the office. The new space became my studio/office. I was so excited! I had two windows and the best natural light in the house! I purchased a second-hand adjustable art table for $20, some milk crates to raise the table so I can work standing, and a second-hand tall chair for $5. I now have a dedicated studio. It's not big, it's not fancy, but it's functional! A studio allows me to use every spare minute I have to paint without wasting my time finding and unpacking art supplies. While I still don't have as much painting time as I would like, I'll take every half hour I can find!

Current studio

Current studio - two windows. Best light in the house!





















Try to find a space in your home, even if it's only a corner of one room, where you can set out your art supplies and leave them out. Dedicate it as your studio, and try not to let the space accumulate non-art items. (This is hard!) Every time you walk by, you will have more desire to paint and more joy in knowing you have your own studio. It doesn't have to be fancy...it just has to be functional!

"Kokopelli Circle Dance" ©Jennifer Love
(created in my current studio)
















As always, thanks for stopping by my blog!

May 1, 2018

Right Brain? Left Brain? ... Let's Rid Ourselves of the Labels and the Preconceived Notions!

Background image source: Death to Stock Photos








Are you a Right Brain or a Left Brain...a "numbers person" or a "creative sort"?

Why should we have to choose? Why do we need to define ourselves as an "analytical thinker" or a "creative thinker"? Why can't a person be both? Has anyone heard of Leonardo DaVinci - one of the most important historical figures to contribute to both science and to art? Anyone remember a theoretical physicist named Albert Einstein - who also happened to be a violinist and a pianist?

Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners














Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners












I happen to work in a very analytical profession. Mot of my days are spent analyzing data and trying to interpret that data into useful reports to help inform the business decisions of our organization. I am good at what I do and have improved my analytical skills as my career has progressed. But, it is my ability to look at data creatively that has helped the most in my analytical job. Not just pulling the numbers, but also interpreting what they mean and how that information might help in facing challenges or continuing success.

In fact, a "numbers person" would not be the first thing that comes to mind were I to describe myself to others. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am an artist. I like to have fun, I like to organize, and I like to make things. I am also a researcher. Analyzing data is something I do, not who I am. Pigeonholing me into the "left brain" or "numbers person" box is inaccurate. Outside the media business world, I am a painter and the owner of my own home-based art business. I am the President of a watercolor society with 300+ members. I am a marketer, promoter, event planner, social coordinator, referee, and household Co-CEO. Just as in my profession, these activities all employ both creative and analytical thinking.

The general instinct to classify people as left-brain or right-brain thinkers, either logical and analytical or artistic and emotion-driven is frustrating. People are all of these things to some degree. Some may lean one way more than another, but our brains are complex. Some people lean equally to analytics and emotion. All the parts work together to create the whole person. 

Image source: Death to Stock Photos
I once had an art teacher in high school with whom I was discussing a grade. He had allowed me to do some extra credit work to bring my grade up for an assignment I had missed, but then neglected to give me the credit for the extra work. I happened to be an A grade student. When I went to discuss my grade with him, he asked to see my report card. Then he said to me "Oh...you're one of those." Now, I don't remember a lot about high school, but I do remember this comment and his implications that went with it. If I was "one of those" then I couldn't be a true artist. It was the first time it had been brought to my attention that somehow society believes I must be ruled by creative-thinking or logical-thinking, but I couldn't be equally influenced by both. 

We need to rid ourselves of the notion that we must be one or the other. The world is full of DaVincis and Einsteins who show us that people can be analytical and creative. In fact, I believe that using both logic and creativity at all times and in all our pursuits heightens our success in both types of endeavors.

An article in ScienceDaily talks about STEM studies and the relation of creative thinking to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

"Creative thinking and problem solving are essential in the practice of math and science," he said. "Incorporating art into math and science will not only help students become more creative and better problem solvers, it will help them understand math and science better."

Here is another article from Harvard Medical School proposing that people being either "right-brained" or "left-brained" may be a myth. Linking certain traits to one side of the brain or other might be inaccurate as people use both sides of their brains. 

"...the evidence discounting the left/right brain concept is accumulating. According to a 2013 study from the University of Utah, brain scans demonstrate that activity is similar on both sides of the brain regardless of one's personality."

And, now that I've presented you with the analytical research, here is some "emotional" evidence. Along with using analytics in my life, I also create and engage my artistic and emotional brain functions. These are photos of some of my paintings on display at a local art fundraiser and also of my hallway linen/supply closet that I organized using the logical, yet emotional, #konmari method. Let me propose this: creative thinking is an absolutely necessary component in closet organization!














So, the next time you look at someone who is good at math and analytics and think that this must be their passion and/or it's the only way their brain works... Or, the next time you see a paint-splattered, hair-frazzled artist in colorful, mismatched socks and think that they must be unable to keep track of their business operations and household checking...think again.

Think about yourself. Do you want to be defined by only one thing that you happen to be good at? I would guess not. We are all guilty of assuming we know about a person when we only know them in one aspect of their life. Maybe that is human nature. Or maybe it originates from this societal tendency to categorize the Right Brains from the Left Braing, and to somehow make a person feel they must be one or the other. It's time to change that!

Let's rid ourselves of the Left Brain/Right Brain labels and preconceived notions! The world needs creative thinkers and analysts - and there is also room for those who can do both!


As always, thanks for stopping by my blog.

Note: Opinions expressed are my own. 

Image sources: Death to Stock Photos or public domain. Copyright belongs to image owners/photographers/designers

September 22, 2017

Five tips for a pencil portrait

Originally published 12/26/15
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Since I have dedicated my attention to watercolor painting in the past several years, it has been a long while since I created a pencil portrait. Drawing skills, of course, are important to any painter - as you still have to transfer your design to the paper before painting. But, I haven't focused on pencil drawings as the final product for a long time. So, recently, when I was commissioned to do a pencil portrait for a Christmas gift, I thought I might break down the steps and tools that I prefer to use in the process and write a little blog post about it.


Tip #1: Use a grid. This is good for any drawing you are trying to recreate from a snapshot, but especially for portrait work. Make a copy of the picture you are using and draw a grid on the top. Then make a proportional grid (in light pencil marks) on the paper you are using in order to lay out the picture proportionally. This will be especially helpful for nose, eyes, mouth.












Tip #2:  Draw upside down.  When you work on faces upside down, it helps translate the components into shapes rather than "a face." This helps the idea of drawing people become less intimidating. Check the drawing right side up against your reference photo through the process to make sure things are still looking correct.

Tip #3:  Use hard and soft pencils. The harder pencil will allow lighter lines and is good for line drawing and blocking in shadows. The softer pencil will help with medium and dark shadows. (Harder pencils have lower numbers. The higher the number, the softer the pencil). I like 2B for hard and 6B for soft.

Tip #4: Use blending stumps. These are great for softening and blending edges and shadows. They also help keep your fingers clean so you don't leave unexpected fingerprints on your paper as you work!












Tip #5: Take a picture of the "finished" portrait with your smartphone or tablet. Then give yourself a little time away (even 10-15 minutes will do).  Come back to look at the photo of your portrait and compare it to your reference photo. This will help you see little details that might need to be fixed. Sometimes things will even jump out at you before you compare it to your reference pic. It's a good tool for making sure you get those finishing touches in and are happy with the final piece. Also...you must realize the final is never going to be perfect. It is not meant to be a photograph. But, hopefully, you will capture the intended spirit.

Here is the final portrait.


reference pic










Now that this commission is done, I'll be getting back to my watercolors and posting some new paintings soon!


As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

September 15, 2017

FRIDAY FEATURE: Featured Artist ~ Ian Ramsay

Repblished. Original blog post published on 5/22/15
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Ian Ramsay ~ "I love to paint scruffy farms."















I'm so excited for this featured artist post! My husband and I are collectors of Ian Ramsay's work and, to date, own at least eight of his paintings. He has an incredible talent for luminosity and seeing beauty in the every day things that most people might take for granted. Kudos to my husband for making the first purchase! But, I too love Ian's work and enjoy looking at the paintings hanging in our home daily as well. 

"Capestrano, Abruzzo, Italy"  ©Ian Ramsay.
This painting 
is presently at the High Country Summer 

Exhibition at Trailside Gallery in Jackson Hole, WY















I was privileged to take a workshop with Ian about a year and a half ago. He was so open with teaching his technique for building layers of watercolor in order to achieve the beautiful paintings he creates - being careful to save the lights. I can't say that I fully achieved that goal in the painting I created during the workshop. I definitely had some challenges! But, there were some parts of my painting that I really loved in the end. Ian is a patient instructor, offering helpful suggestions for problem solving and never criticizing. He speaks with a delightfully soft English accent and soft voice, making two days of intense learning and instruction a pleasure to the ears as well! 



"Street Market, Naples, Italy"  ©Ian Ramsay. 
This painting is currently at the Summer Show at
Settlers West Gallery 
in Tucson, Arizona.















When I contacted Ian via email to let him know I wanted to feature him on my blog, he was very accommodating, but requested that we speak in person rather than conducting the interview over email. Again, a delightful person to speak with, and very graciously taking an hour out of his day to answer my questions and discuss art with me. So, as I'm sure you are all anxious to know his thoughts, here are Ian's answers to my blog feature questions.


Q: What are your favorite materials and tools...the ones you just can't live without?

A: You cannot do a good watercolor unless you are using a really good quality paper. I use all kinds of rubbish to sketch, but good quality paper to paint. [I prefer] either Arches cold press 140 lb or Fabriano cold press 140 lb. I just love them. I just love the way Fabriano holds the color and accepts the paint in such a soft manner. 

I use a big variety of brushes. I’m not one of these painters who just limits it to a handful of brushes. I like big wash brushes and lots of synthetic brushes with sharp points. I like to use the sharp brushes to kind of “draw” with when painting – if I can use a brush for detail instead of a pencil, I will.

Good, chiseled brushes and good quality paper. Those are the two things I can't live without.

"Mitkof Island, Alaska" ©Ian Ramsay.
This painting is presently at the Summer Show
at Settlers West Gallery in Tucson, Arizona.














Q: Who are your artistic influences?

A: I am influenced by almost everything I see. I have juried a lot of art shows, and just looking at the work of the other artists in the show influences how I think. 

Rowland Hilder is the first painter that influenced me. I saw his work when I was working as an architect in London back in the 1970’s. He is the person who made me want to paint. 

Next is Charles Dixon. He is a 19th century English nautical watercolor artist. 

David Roberts is another 19th century Scottish artist whose work influences me every day. From him, I think I learned a great deal about placing dark values in the right spot in a painting and how important they are to lead you around a painting. 

I admire Philip Jamison. It’s the simplicity of his work that I really enjoy.

Donald Teague. It’s the wide variety of subject matter. 

And, finally, Alvaro Castagnet. Flamboyance! I wish I had it! He just says what he thinks and feels. He doesn’t care what others think. I’m kind of a quiet person and I don’t want to offend anyone. 

"Paris Shadows" ©Ian Ramsay
















Q: What is your favorite subject matter and why?


A: In the beginning, I was totally a nautical artist: fishing boats and harbors. That’s what is in my blood because I grew up around it in England. 

In Utah, I love to paint “scruffy farms.” I love the run-down look of the farms here. I don’t like “pretty” things. I don’t paint flowers or still life or children. I like things that are kind of rough and dirty. 

In the last few years I’ve been doing quite a few street scenes. I was in a gallery in Japan for about five years and I became fascinated with the city landscapes while I was there. I visited about 16 different cities in Japan and I just loved all the telephone poles and wires.



Q: What advice would you give to emerging artists?

A: Especially for those who are just getting started and thinking about it - I think you have to keep true to your own desires and your own artistic interests. I just find that sometimes art schools can break your basic interest in art. Whatever drew you to art, you need to hang on to that and not get sidelined by what someone else may tell you. Also, never bend to what’s the most popular trend because that takes you away from what you love to work on yourself. You have to stay true to yourself. 


It’s my opinion that it’s important to stay connected to good quality galleries. They give your work legitimacy. A lot of people try to market their work on their own, which is fine and they can be successful. But in order to really be able to give yourself the legitimacy [of a professional artist], you need to be connected to good quality galleries.

In order to make your work look as good as it can possibly look, it's very important to have it professionally framed.I did my own framing for years and years and never made the leap professionally until I had my work professionally framed.

"Farm and Pond, Spanish Fork, Utah" ©Ian Ramsay
This painting is available at the Brushworks
Gallery in Salt Lake City, UT.














Q: What would you most like to be remembered for in life?

A: [I would like to be remembered] for having been understanding and non-judgmental. It’s very important to me to be helpful and encouraging when I teach. It doesn’t help anyone to break them down during a workshop or a class. There’s always something that’s “right” about what someone is doing. 

Hopefully my work will be remembered. Those artists whose work is remembered after their life are few and far between, but one can always hope.

"Rural Nottinghamshire, England" ©Ian Ramsay 















Ian Ramsay was born in England in 1948, but lives in the United States. He and his wife currently reside in Utah. Ian is an internationally known, award-winning artist with collectors all over the world. He earned an architectural degree from the University of Utah. As a painter, he is self taught. 


"My training is totally as an architect. I picked up watercolor on my own. I got the design and materials training as an architect." ~ Ian Ramsay



Visit Ian's blog at Ian Ramsay Watercolors

His work is represented by several galleries:
Brushworks Gallery in Salt Lake City, UT
New Masters Gallery in Carmel, CA
Settler’s West Gallery in Tuscon, AZ
Trailside Gallery in Jackson Hole, WY
Trailside Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ
Image Source in England (printing rights for greeting cards and calendars)



As always, thanks for stopping by my blog!

I hope you enjoyed this Featured Artist post. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback. I would love to hear from you!