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.

 

A Time To Celebrate

Luke and Carina Framed 2500

A Painting and a Poem for my Son and new Daughter on their wedding day.

Inhale this moment with all of your senses and hold it in your heart forever. It will be the second wind that will carry you over the peaks and through the valleys ahead. It will be a cache of gratitude that you will draw upon when the bitter headwinds blow. Pause and feel the warmth of the summer sun on your shoulders. Notice the gentle breeze, how it cools your brow and causes the fields to sway and vibrate. Breathe in the fragrance of the flowers and the fresh perfume of life. Hear the velvet noise of the distant tumbling water, a fitting accompaniment for the Lyric of the songbird.

This moment is special! In your mind’s eye you can see pools of deep turquoise colored water reflecting granite and snow and sky. Emerging trickles meander without haste through the high alpine meadows. Ever so steadily these head-waters gain might and agility and vigor. Youthful streams rush down the mountainsides as if there were no tomorrow and in the mist of the cascades, indigo and violet complete the spectrum before you. In your minds eye, it is here that you witness and celebrate the merging of two streams. From this point forward the path will be carved by the strength of the two together. Yes this moment is special! Inhale it with all of your senses and hold it in your heart forever.

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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

Etsy Gallery banner

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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Three Ways iPad Will Help You Paint Better

 

Stereophonic Moonrise 21 FAA

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.

Larger Than Life

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“Larger Than Life” (36″ x 96″) Acrylic on Canvas

It always feels good to unveil a painting. A process of letting go of it and knowing its good enough, its finished. The ritual of photographing my work is always a celebration. For precision I’ll engage a tripod, a level and a measuring tape and then I’ll wait to position the painting in the best ambient light possible. The completion of this painting is extra special, significant in ways that its difficult to describe. I recently posted a picture of me at the easel working on this one and I think most people assumed that it was current, it was actually taken about a year ago. Despite the mass of canvas I was working on, it came together very quickly. I have more total hours in many paintings one tenth the size. It took a year to complete because of the events that took place in my life during that time. I’ll try to explain.

Happy with the progress - a year ago

Happy with the progress – a year ago

The year began with the purchase of a new home. We had been living in a tiny apartment for a year and it felt good to have more space for ourselves and for visits from family and friends. The wall of the long skinny living room begged for attention and a very big painting was born. For a long time, it was good enough unfinished to just warm the space up with light and color. It hung on the wall somewhat askew and strips of blue painters tape held the two canvas’ together.

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A Grandfather’s Advise

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Unfinished painting hangs on the wall

Last June, my youngest daughter was preparing to get married and a Bridal Shower took place at our home. It turned out to be the first and last opportunity to bring my Dad to our house. He so much enjoyed being part of the celebration. While the Ladies sat at the dining room table, He and I sat in the living room eating finger foods and talking about life. Dad had really not seen much of my work in person before. He knew about my artistic ambitions and he more than anyone knew what I had given up to pursue them, but he had never felt the space that I create in. He stared at the big painting for the longest time, impressed by the details and the colors, he loved it. On a number of occasions during the following weeks he would ask me if I had finished the painting. Dad died on August 12th.

I procrastinated on finishing the painting for the longest time. I think I was fearful of painting over all of the love and warm memories that had attached themselves to its surface. This week, the finishing touches went on effortlessly in the end and the two pieces are now held together tightly by a border made of red oak. Well, what do you think Dad?

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A side note to all of my readers.  I’ve entered a few photographs in the national FineArtAmerica.com photo contest and I’m pushing one in particular just to make it to the judging round.  If you would be so kind to look at my post titled “Three Inspiring Quotes About Thinking Big” and cast a vote my way for “Back In The Day”, I would be forever grateful.

The Golden Staircase And The Demise Of The Self-Taught Artist

“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame.”
― Jack London, The Call of the Wild

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Stairway to Heaven (20″x24″) acrylic on canvas

Have you heard stories from the late 1800’s of the Klondike Gold Rush? If so, you’ve probably also learned about how the pioneering prospectors crossed Chilkoot Pass on foot to get from coastal Alaska the Yukon interior? While climbing to the summit, any man who ventured off the path would fall through the snow to his waste, he would quickly discover that the path less taken was not a good thing. The Golden Staircase was the way and step by step the benefit of following the person ahead was indisputable. The Golden Staircase made it possible for each man to go up and down repeatedly until he hauled all of the supplies that would be necessary to become independent on the other side. Every man’s goal was to stake his own claim.

The Golden Staircase at Chilkoot Pass  (photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Golden Staircase at Chilkoot Pass (photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The creative process can also be a slippery slope and we all go about gaining traction in different ways. Some seek out as much instruction as possible. Why re-invent the wheel when if you don’t have to. Some strike out on their own and forge new ground, holding fast to the notion that creative Nirvana is the product of autonomy. Perhaps the person who only imitates others will never experience the joy of expression. Likewise, the person who never seeks guidance or help from others might get bogged down in minutia of the process, never to see the light of day in the land of innovation. Luckily for us, we live in a day and age where we can learn about art everywhere we look. I believe we are living in the greatest renaissance in history thanks to the golden staircase we call the internet. Today, it’s practically impossible to not be influenced by other’s work and not to be inspired by other’s originality. The open sharing of ideas is creating solid steps that will allow us to climb to creative heights that were unimaginable 100 years ago.

A few years ago, I mistakenly considered myself to be a self taught painter because I’ve had very little in the way of formal instruction. In fact I held fast the false notion that the influence of others would taint my independence and originality. Only in the past couple of years have I come to realize and appreciate that greater heights of independence and originality are made possible by participating in the greater whole. The collective body of knowledge, inspiration and interaction that I’ve found via the internet has become my Golden Staircase. Do you think originality will Benefit or Suffer, because of the internet? How have you been inspired by others through the internet?

Please Vote Yes On The Resolution Rewind

Finding Balance (24"x36") oil on canvas

Finding Balance (24″x36″) oil on canvas

Hold on, Hold Everything! Has the expiration for New Years Resolutions past? Surely there is a grace period, right? If not I want one and I want it Now. Does 30 days seem reasonable to you? If we had a grace period of 30 days, all of those resolutions that are blown within the first 48 hours could be resurrected for another try. Failed resolutions could be replaced by new, easier to keep versions or we could go back to the drawing board and re-imagine the resolutions that will make a difference. A rule change would be good for all of us, do you agree?

Today is January 11th and I’m gonna make my case for Resolution Rewind. You see, I am absolutely worn out, sick to death of allowing selfish, negative people to influence how my time is spent. We all have a finite amount of time in this life to learn, love and create, yet there are troubled individuals out there who apparently have made it their mission to prevent folks from accomplishing those things. My new goal for 2015 is to learn how to remain calm when confronted with one of these Unfortunate Souls. For lack of a more sympathetic name for the contemptible type that I’m focusing on I’ll just call them PTA’s (People To Avoid).

You can usually identify a PTA pretty quickly when you observe the following characteristics:

1. The PTA is intolerant and has no capacity for authentic compassion and understanding.
2. The PTA already knows everything and has no interest in learning, therefore they make the same mistakes over and over.
3. The PTA spends all of their time looking for faults in others and none of their time looking four their own shortcomings.
4. The PTA takes no responsibility for mistakes that they have made, yet they hold others accountable for theirs.
5. The PTA lives by a social balance sheet, making sure they never give more than they receive.
6. The PTA loves to talk and hates to listen.
7. The PTA is long on talk and short on action.
8. The PTA is short on facts and long on opinions.
9. The PTA prefers complaining to helping.
10. The PTA slanders others indirectly, thereby robbing their slandered victims of a reply.
11. The PTA accuses others of exactly the same things that they are guilty of.
12. The PTA brags about immoral victories, then quotes enlightened words when they feel that they have been wronged.
13. The PTA always has to have the last word.

Normally this blog is a complaint free zone, all positive, no negative. But I am the self proclaimed Mayor of Art Spirit Village and I really think that we need to follow through with this Resolution do-over thing. Nothing could be more positive. In 2015 I will breathe in peace and fairness and I’ll breathe out the toxicity that radiates from these unwanted PTAs. I may discover that Yoga, Meditation and Prayer are the magic ingredients to succeeding in my newfound resolution. Or perhaps just really focussing on compassion for these less fortunate individuals will help me to accept and move on. I’m really excited about the prospect of liberating myself from the tyranny of the PTA. I will reclaim the time that has been stolen to me and I’ll apply it to a greater realization of peace, grace, productivity and above all Creativity.

There is always the possibility some PTA out there might take offense to this post, To that person I say in the nicest way possible…”GET A LIFE, ASS HOLE”. 🙂

Two Questions: What do you think about the Resolution Rewind concept? Is there a PTA that you need to free yourself from?

Hang Loose, Make Art

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“All IN” (10″x20″) acrylic on canvas

For those of you who haven’t heard, The North Shore of Oahu has some fairly impressive waves, especially in Winter. I can spend hours on end there, allowing all of my senses to witness what happens when moving water meets land in the middle of the largest ocean on earth, it’s a spectacular show. The unleashed energy of the tide is rhythmic, yet random. It always catches me by surprise to see a person methodically attempting to harness that power, if even for just a few short seconds. What would inspire a person to strip themselves of most of their clothing, jump onto a floating board and paddle their way against the relentless current in search of an opportunity to surf a really big wave? Apparently the rush of traversing that vertical slab of water over a shallow and razor sharp coral reef is pretty addictive.

Artists tend to approach life much like the surfer. Look at all of the effort we put forth, all in the name of feeding our addiction. Beach Bum…Art Bum, its really all the same. For us, feeding the soul always seems to take precedence over feeding the bank account. We tend to base our decisions, not on good business, but on good faith that finding the right line of expression is what its all about. Like the surfer, our victories are often un-noticed by others. How many surfers have household names and make a living doing what they do? The comparison of those who don’t is easily demonstrated with a decimal point and lots of zeros.
What other lessons do we gain from the surfer? In order to ride a wave, you have to go “all in”, you have to commit yourself to the effort long enough to have a chance at success. We can state all day long that failure is not an option, but the truth is that failure is a distinct possibility and more likely than we wish to admit in any endeavor we pursue. When failure does happen, the thing that prevents it from becoming defeat is our perseverance. A little bit smarter and a little bit stronger, we ride out the turbulence, turn our board around and give it another try.

I’d love it if you would share the things that you are passionate about. Have you bypassed practical opportunities in the interest of feeding your dream? How do you pick up the pieces and get moving again after a crash?