Seven Truths About Being an Artist

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“All About The Journey” (24×24) Acrylic on Canvas (12/2017)

To be an artist is to know what it is to be terrified and thrilled about what you do all at the same time.

To be an artist is to understand that every time we share a tangible form of our creative expressions we risk being judged and ridiculed.

To be an artist is to know that the sting of another’s criticism pales in comparison to the bite of our own.

To be an artist is to understand that embarrassments are temporary and dreams are relentless.

To be an artist is to comprehend that continuing on with our quest is not an option, it is something that must be done.

To be an artist is to know first hand how good it feels to grab a thought from the universe, work with it until it materializes then release it back into the universe. .

To be an artist is to understand that we no longer strive for a destination, we simply accept that the journey is what it is all about.

If you like this one please watch the Two Minute Video to see how I did it.  The original painting and giclee prints are available in my Etsy Shop.

 

Paint Me A Moon

 

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“Pulp Friction” (20″x20″) Acrylic on Canvas

For me, Ski Season has become a time of year that images of winter dance in my head and materialize onto canvas with little or no real effort.  Remember “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”?  Think of me as a crazed Richard Dryfus painting moons rather than molding the Devils Tower.  My Studio is beginning to resemble a Super Moon Factory and it is time for a year end liquidation sale so I can make room for more.  Keep an eye on my etsy shop for details.

I’ve often read that when you are on the right path composition wise, you can look at a painting upside down and still think it works.  This tidbit of advice is finally starting to resonate with me on a personal level for the first time since I started painting some ten years ago.  The revelation came to me as I flipped this canvas to paint the sides.  Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I’m focussing more on anchoring my compositions with fewer and larger objects.  Perhaps it is because I’m having so much fun.

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What If

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“Drawn By Fire”

From time to time my inner critic screams at me “Where is your focus Man? Don’t you know that a jack of all trade is a master of none?”. He has a point. I do have a tendency to be overly eclectic in my pursuits and I agree that in some ways life might be easier had I narrowed the field. The thing is that over and over again the words “WHAT IF” pop into my brain and I must drop what I’m doing and listen to the words that follow. What if I leave behind the safety of that solid career to try to build a new business from the ground up? That was a big one! What if I create videos that showcase the beauty of nature? What if those videos can promote tourism and the arts or sell real estate? What if I follow my childhood dream of being a photographer? What if I pick up a brush and move some paint around to see what happens? What if I use this time that I’m coping with illness to paint full moon winter scenes with cabins and skiers and full moons? WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?

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The truth is that listening to the “what if’s” can and will result in spinning wheels. You may be led down a few dead end paths and at times you may feel completely stranded but if you just keep the wheels moving eventually you will find traction. If you keep the wheels moving you will find yourself on a path to completeness that never would have been found had you played it safe. Don’t ever forget that “Every Brilliant Idea begins with ‘What If’”

 

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“Two Steps Forward”

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“Fetching Water”

 

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My Wall In The Denver Art District at Grace Gallery

 

Keeping The Home Fire Burning

 

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Alpenglow Winter Adventure #8  (24 x 12) Acrylic on Board

The repetition of painting in a series is an effective way to experiment with subtle variations in technique and color.  Capturing the essence of alpenglow has not been easy but slowly I feel that I’m getting closer.  The bad thing about moving so quickly is that the similar compositions make it a challenge to come up with a meaningful title for each piece.

I have big news to share!  Much of the work that I completed this winter has now been dispersed to two gallery spaces and is beginning to sell.  I can’t explain how good it feels to have successfully made something positive out of my illness.  I do believe they call it making lemonade out of lemons.

On the health front things are looking up as well.  My energy level continues to improve and I’ve been successfully weaning myself off of the steroids.  At the current rate of improvement, I’m hoping to be in remission by the end of the summer.  (Polymyalgia Rheumatica)

Have a great Weekend!

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Small Paintings to take to this weeks “First Friday” at the Denver Art District

 

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Jump On The Brand Wagon

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Roughly half of my life experience was gathered in the pre-personal computer age. By my recollection, The “old days” came to a screeching halt sometime around the mid-80’s when IBM came out with a big box machine that had a whopping 40mb hard drive. Anyone who could afford a couple grand to have one in their own home bought one. Imagine what was going through my mind as I toyed with one of these machines for the first time the year after graduating from business school. I was prepared for nothing.  Learning how to use a Texas Instrument Calculator might as well have been time spent learning how to use an Abacus.  I realized that while I was in school learning the old game the rest of the world was busy creating a new game. Fortunately for me, I didn’t exert all of my youthful energy on academics. I was lucky to have spent my college years in the mountains of Colorado where a fair allotment of my time was devoted to outdoor adventures. Hiking and fishing and back country skiing are the experiences that I now find myself celebrating through my art.

One of the greatest lessons that any of us can learn is that everything is constantly changing and that education never stops. At some point, we are all confronted with changes in technology or changes in health that bring about a need to adapt and re-focus. . My chronic illness has for now taken me away from photography, video production and the client base that I’ve established. Over the course of the last six months I’ve redirected my focus to painting yet my marketing is lagging behind.

I started thinking about the concept of “postcards from the imagination” while writing a recent posts and I think it really represents me well. My paintings are regularly conceived in my imagination and I’ve learned a great deal about composite photography techniques which allow me to imagine new ways to present my photography. For now, my ambitions of doing shows is beyond what my health will allow but thanks to technology I have a storefront window to the world. It’s time for me to start selling some of this new work and all that stands in the way is a little hard work and a lot of education.

What do you think of my new brand?  Which banner is more effective?

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Postcards From The Imagination

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“Midnight Powder” (9×12) Acrylic on Canvas

I don’t have to stretch much further than youthful memories and imagination to find inspiration.   The Super Moon Winter Adventure Series is a first hand account of my own escapades in the high mountains of Colorado.  It always amazed me how your could ski all night by the light of the moon.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t even carry a flashlight.  I count myself lucky that I have a way of living those experiences over and over again through painting.

My recent posts gave a few details about the painful autoimmune disease that I’m dealing with.  The real story that I hope to share is that art is a powerful healing agent.  When I’m painting I forget all about my issues.  Has art helped you or someone you know overcome adversity?  I’d love to hear about it.

As always I welcome comments and I hope you will join me on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

Three Ways iPad Will Help You Paint Better

 

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Does this sound familiar? It’s the end of a long painting session and you’re thinking “I’m really pleased with this one”. You place it on the wall, throw some light on it and admire it. Even your dreams are filled with admiration for what you have created. Then the next morning or perhaps a week later a sinking feeling overcomes you. Maybe you see obvious mistakes or maybe you just know that something is not right. Even worse, You might begin to question whether You love it or hate it.

Beware the inner critic for it can land some pretty good punches. So much so that it might cause us to place a perfectly good painting in the reject pile. Or it may cause us to place layer upon layer of revisions to the canvas until all of the original magic is gone. In this post I’m featuring a painting that could have suffered the same fate. This painting was one of the first starts in my “Super Moon Winter Adventure Series” yet it was the last to be completed and signed. As it turns out, each revision to this piece was made with confidence thanks to a shiny new tool that has become central to my process, the iPad. I’d like to share with you three ways that I’m using the iPad in my workflow.

I use my iPad as a sketch book. I first learned how to use several painting applications on an early generation iPad. In particular, I learned to favor a program called ProCreate. Procreate is highly intuitive and it didn’t take long to learn how to select canvas shapes, brushes, colors, values, opacity, etc. I’m definitely having more fun sketching and therefor I’m sketching a lot more. I find myself grabbing a half-hour here and an hour there dreaming up compositions in ways that I never knew were possible. I so much enjoy the iPad that I bit the bullet and bought a new iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. The iPad has allowed me to do my visionary exploration digitally and my painting has become more deliberate and efficient because of it. When the time comes that I want to translate a digital sketch onto the canvas with real paint, I’m much more prepared than I would have been with a simple pencil sketch.

I use the iPad to make revisions to my paintings in progress. It’s not unusual for me to digitally review my progress several times before finishing a piece. I often arrive at decision points in my workflow where I need to establish the size of a tree or person or the placement of a rock or a cabin. In the past I’ve made a lot of those decisions on the fly only to later spend hours making changes, often ending up with a disaster. We’ll call this exercise “Repeal and Replace” ;). Now when I get to that point, I snap a pic of the painting with my phone. That picture magically ascends up in to the cloud, then returns to earth and lands in my iPad where I can open it up in ProCreate. With the Apple pencil in hand I can begin making revisions that make sense. Once I’m done with the revisions I convert to jpeg and use the new image as reference material.

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I use the iPad to view reference material. With whatever means possible, I hang the pad on my easel as close as possible to my canvas. Not only do I have access to my sketches and revisions, I have access to all of those photos I saved on purpose to use when the time is right. One of the coolest features of the iPad is being able to magnify the image easily using that pinching and spreading motion with two fingers. I’ll confess right here that I use that feature so often that I occasionally make the mistake of trying to magnify the actual canvas using the same technique…Embarrassing!

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If you aren’t already using digital technology in your workflow, I hope this post encourages you to try it. It’s a lot less intimidating than you might think. If you are already using new technology to help you paint better I’d love to hear about it.

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“Finding Balance” (18″x24″) Oil on Canvas

Life is so fragile, so fleetingly temporary, yet I live it as though it would never end. If I woke up one morning knowing that it would be my last, all of the complexities of life would be boiled down, reduced to two simple choices. Would I choose to spend the time that I have left filled with Fear or with Love? Would I choose to spend my final moments on Earth remorseful about the mistakes that I’ve made and angry that I don’t have more time to make amends or would I choose to celebrate the fact that I am alive and present in this moment, thankful for the fullness of Life? It is so easy to predict that I would choose the latter, yet in truth the gravity of habit would likely make the choice for me.

I Survived The Autumnal Shift

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Saying goodbye to Summer has always been hard for me and this year was no exception. Actually, I start slipping toward the inevitable melancholia of the Autumnal Shift as early as July 4th some years, Why? Perhaps that is when I am reminded that the exhilaration of Spring will soon give way to the mortality of another seasonal cycle. Hey, it’s not as though I’m in a continual state of depression, so please read on and don’t write me off prematurely as a downer! Fortunately, …Oddly, the Autumnal shift always ends around the first of November. As though a loud snapping of the fingers or perhaps or a proverbial slapping of the face awakens me into a more positive consciousness. I let go of what was and I embrace what is, and what will be. I welcome what is for me, the time of year that my creative spirit is most alive.

Lately, I have become immersed in the warmth and beauty of Hawaii, even though I’m in Colorado. Rather than painting mountain streams and waterfalls, rather than bringing to life snowy scenes I find myself compelled to capture the essence of the beach, the ocean and the waves. Transporting myself to this alternate reality is made somewhat easier with the aid of the extensive photo and video library that I have accumulated in recent years. The walls of my new spacious studio are beginning to fill up with compositional studies of the Mid-Pacific. As an artist, it feels good to be growing once again.