"Finding the Beauty in Ordinary Things"

"T. P.", What could be more ordinary?

Back in may I talked about looking for the beauty in people. As I thought about it, it occured to me that we are surrounded with all kinds of

lovely things that are so ordinary we may overlook them. How the light comes through the leaves, car keys on the table, soap bubbles on the sink, may be an irritant when we must rake, straighten up or wipe down. But they also may be wonderful subjects for a painting.  Many things we see or use everyday may have a unique beauty. We just need to look for that special quality and enjoy the moment. What is more ordinary than a roll of toilet paper? With interesting shadows and the folds catching the light just right tp can even be lovely.

November 3-5, 2011 I will be teaching the workshop "Finding the Beauty in Ordinary Things" at the Emerald Art Center in Springfield, OR.

Hope you can make it.


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"Painting in Oils" workshop

"Painting in Oils"

     Thinking about our little city of Harrisburg, Oregon.  Lisa and I love living here in "Small town America".  We love knowing many of the people by name and even more by sight.  Lisa works at the school.  So we often hear "Hi Mrs. Dame" from a young child's voice when we are out shopping.  We love the school sports, the Fourth of July parade and Christmas parade,  going to church on Sunday and the Dary Queen for lunch after church.  We have a "Veterans of Foreign Wars" post in town that puts out flowers arranged as a large American flag on the Fourth of July every year.  It looks great.  Recently Lisa read a news paper artical to me about the Veterans deciding to rent out their building to help pay the utility bills.  Lisa and I both had the same thought..."Have an oil painting workshop in the Veterans building".  So a "Painting in Oils" workshop is planned for March 2, 3, 4.  The workshop is to cover the principles of oil painting.  This should be good if you are just getting started in oil painting or if you are an experienced artist.  If you are interested go to the "Workshops" page of this website to sign up.  It's great fun painting together.  This is one way we thought of to help in our community.  You could do the same where you live.  Are there groups that are having a difficult time getting by?  Perhaps a business, a charity, a non-profit group that has room for your painting class.  Put the "thinking cap" on and see what might be. 

Best wishes, Jerry

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"Artists Annonymous"?

    I love my work!  There is no denying it.  I have always enjoyed drawing.  I should have been writing my high school english assignment.  But the edges of the pages were filled with doodles.  I should have been taking notes in algebra class.  But my paper was riddled with sketches.  Making a picture is fun from the first jot to the last.  I may, or may not, have an idea of how the drawing is to look when I first get started.  Each line brings the desire for another.  Like eating potato chips, I want more and more.  Perhaps I'm addicted to art.  The dishes pile up in the sink.  The lawn needs to be mowed.  The car is still unwashed.  Yet here I am thinking about making another picture.  Is there an "Artists Annonymous" I should be joining?  I see it is time to take a  lunch to school for one of the kids.  I think I have time for one little sketch before its too lake for their lunch break.  I'd like to visit more but I have a great doodle started on my mouse pad.  Talk to you later.  I love my work!

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Ideas, Sketches, Tests...

    When teaching an oil painting workshop, I usually do several little sketches to show a process or get information and ideas across. I'm a "visual" person.  That is to say I can usually  learn better if there are pictures involved.  If I'm in a hurry reading the news paper it is likely I'll just read the captions under the photos.  And the cartoons of course.  When I'm working in the studio on my own projects I'll do little sketches just as if I were teaching a workshop.  I find them fun and relaxing.  Plus they stimulate the creative juices.  Recently I was listening to Richard Schmid, in his DVD "White Pine" (highly recommened), describing his painting process.  He had given himself the same amount time to paint as if he were painiting outdoors on location.  One thing in particular stands out..."This is not a time for experimenting."  It is a time to know what you are going to do with this oil paint.  Painting en plein-air only allows so much time and that's it.  

    In the studio one can experiment and try this or that all they want.  Time, and the loss of light, is not a problem.  If the experiment works it becomes another tool in the artist's tool box of knowledge.  If it does not work you know to avoid that situation in the future.  One thing that I really enjoy is seeing the idea sketches of artists I admire.  These often tell me more of what the artist was working towards than reading about the process.  The process is important of course.  But seeing the sketches is much more personal in my opinion.  So I was thinking "why not show my idea sketches?".  They may be as entertaining for you to see as they were for me to paint.  In the "Works" section of my website there is a new collection called "Ideas, Sketches, Tests...".  See if the beginings of a painting are interesting to you.  How wonderful is this medium we work with!  Best wishes to all, Jerry.

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The "Art" community. What a wonderful place! Emerald Art Center in Springfield, Oregon in hosting a show of paintings done by artists who were in my workshops for 2010.  The reception was last Friday, November 12th. The paintings were from all four workshops--Landscape, still life, animal (critter), and portrait. How wonderful to see, gathered in one place, the variety of subject and painting style. Yet every painting a pleasure to look at and enjoy. Sometimes, during these workshops, we can get frustrated with ourselves when we try a new technique or method of application. At those times I am concerned that the artist will get overwhelmed and discouraged with painting. To see what has been done when each has returned to his or her studio is a joy! I think it is as much fun for the artist to display a painting as it is for the viewer to see. When we paint something that we feel was a  particular success and it sets in the studio gathering dust we are only receiving a portion of the rewards of our craft. To gather with like minded folk and share a common interest is  another reward we reap from art. I enjoyed seeing what others have been doing since the last time we painted together. Just being together serves to encourage and inspire us for our next masterpiece. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). We "hone" our skills together. Wishing you all a happy painting day!

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Art Competitions

"On Her Mark"
Art competitions are a great tool to push us on to better quality art work. Sports and the work of creating art have much in common. Most everyone plays in a sport because they enjoy the activity. That's why I paint pictures. I love the "doing" of it. People join teams so they can play together. Think of painting groups, clubs, art associations, classes and workshops or just getting together with a fellow artist. When sports teams play other teams is when the skills start to improve. The early games of the season really bring out the areas that each player needs to work on. By the end of the season a higher level of ability is evident. Participating in art competitions is much the same. When I'm painting in the studio I compare my work with my other pieces. I try to get better as I go. But the progress, in general, is slow.  When I enter an art competition and see what the other artists are doing, their choice of subject and their painting technique, I am inspired to try something different. I have noticed a refining of thought and paint application taking place as I prepare work for different competitions. Seeing what qualities the award winning paintings possess and then looking at my own efforts has been an exciting learning experience! I am now embarrassed at the early paintings that, at the time, I thought were sure fire winners. Sure, not every entry I make gets accepted. That happens to everyone. The main thing is that the competition is to be fun and bring out the best in us. So look at art competitions as an opportunity to grow as an artist in ability and understanding. I think you'll be pleased and surprised at how it can improve your paintings. And, who knows, perhaps you are the artist that will inspire the rest of us on to better work I'd sure appreciate it if you did. Best wishes, Jerry
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I have recently painted the portraits of three dear friends. There was a little arm twisting involved but in the end they were pretty  good sports and gave me permission. It can be intimidating to have your portrait painted.  Like hearing your own voice recorded. (Do I really sound like a chipmunk?) Seeing yourself as others see you can be discouraging. So it is important that we do our best to accurately depict our model. Just as important, in my opinion, is to bring out the beauty we see in that person. The fact that the three recent portraits are of lovely young ladies was a big help.  But suppose you are not painting physically lovely or handsome people. Can you accurately depict a person and bring out what you find attractive about them? I think it is possible if you look for and define that special quality you see in the person. Kind eyes, an encouraging smile, a gentile spirit can be even more lovely than surface beauty.
There are plenty of unattractive qualities that creep into our lives. All of us have them. Some more than others. Grumpiness, negative outlooks, complaining and discouragements abound. These are easy to see for the most part since they seem to surround us. So it may take some effort to spot good qualities in a curmudgeon. I think it is worth a try.  If we start seeing the beautiful side of the people around us it stands to reason that we will be surrounded with beauty!  If , on the other hand, we only see the get the picture.  Being an artist, I love being around beauty.  I just need to look for it. Best wishes, Jerry
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I just finished teaching a workshop on "Still Life in Oils" at the Emerald Art Center in Springfield, OR.  I'm always going over in my mind what might be useful for future workshops.  One thing I have been aware of recently is the lack of drawing in my daily schedule.  I used to draw constantly.  And I think the drawing helped my painting.  But, thinking I would save time and paint faster, I've eliminated one basic step in preparation for the painting...the drawing.  Sketching ideas for painting is a great way to get inspired.  One idea leads to another as enthusiasm builds.  Making a drawing in preparation is an easy way to work out composition and lighting ideas.  This is especially useful when I don't  have the subject right in front of me for reference.
A while back my mom showed interest in a small painting I'd done of an antique silver "olive picker" with green olives.
The painting had already sold.  So, going from the basic idea in the first painting, I did a sketch with some changes here and there of the same objects.  With that sketch in front of me, I did the complete painting in just a few hours.  Guess what mom in getting for Mother's Day.
The painting went so fast and easy.  And the drawing was fun!  If you have been goofing off  in the drawing department of your studio get those pencils and erasers out.  A good sketch is a good road map to good painting.  Best wishes and a Happy Mother's Day, Jerry
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Zeal for painting!

I read recently of a people "having a zeal"..."but without knowledge". I can relate to the situation. Many times growing up my enthusiasm preceded my knowledge. My first "surf board" was an example. I did have experience watching my dad build a boat in the garage. So, using the principles of basic boat construction, I built a "surf board" that could float a battle ship and weighed a ton. It was all I could do to drag the thing to the water. Once in the water it took forever to get moving. Stopping was just as difficult. I can only say I'm lucky it never landed on me while while I was trying to ride a wave. They'd still be digging me out of the sand. The same held true for other "Zeals" in my first skate board, first date, building a go-cart, second date, first car, third date. You may see a pattern here. I get excited and am ready to jump in and get started before I've read the instruction book. Later I discovered the amazing use of foam and fiberglass in surf board construction. Painting in oils started the same. But has taken a wonderful turn. As my interest in oil painting grew my desire to understand the "why's" of the process increased. Knowledge of the basics brought curiosity about the more advanced techniques. As my "how to" information has increased so my love of this art form has grown. In this wonderful age we live in there is so much information at our fingertips. Use every opportunity to gain understanding. Making the act of painting a joy is the product of knowledge.
"Let the wise hear and increase in learning..." Proverbs 1:5
Best wishes, Jerry
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INSPIRATION won't happen if I just sit here.  If I am not INSPIRED at the moment to do a painting, say for an up coming show or competition, I need to take action.  This is painting time in the studio not goof off time.  So I need to prod "INSPIRATION" a bit.  How do I prod INSPIRATION?  Sometimes by looking at the beautiful work of other artist's one will be INSPIRED.  But, in the past, that usually has lead to a lot of time wasted browsing the pages of art books and magazines.  Then if an idea comes it is usually to paint something along the lines of the fine painting in the book I'm looking at.  For me that is not really INSPIRATION.  In fact I find it depressing.  So here's what I do.  Since, in the studio, I am both the boss and employee (I like that) I'll assign myself the kind of painting I'm going to do (portrait, landscape, etc.).  Then, say it's a landscape, if the weather is good I may step outside and look for an appropriate subject.  Or I will look at reference photos I have collected of landscapes.  I keep in mind NOT to look for the perfect picture, but for something of interest in the photo.  Then I'll go ahead and get started with a loose oil sketch.  Usually by the time I start placing paint on the canvas my mind has been stimulated in the painting process so that INSPIRATION  is beginning to take hold.  If it has not yet I know from the past, if I keep painting, it soon will.  So if, today, you need to get busy painting but are not yet INSPIRED, start prodding.  It's painting time! 
Best wishes, Jerry
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