• Tag Archives sky
  • Sunday Skies #3

    So this is the third week I’ve done the Sunday Skies, and this week’s sky is from a  photo I took a while back when we had snow in our yard.

    Here is the photo I’m using for reference:
    Photo of a Winter Sky from my porch

     

    Now, I sat down and painted a blue sky for a background to the clouds I would add, and I can see improvement even in my “just blue” skies.  I was somewhat tempted to leave it this way, but I do want to practice more challenging skies than just this.

    Bluesky

     

    In order to learn how to better do clouds and skies, I need to challenge myself. If I am going to learn to paint better, I can’t just do the easiest thing.  That is one of the challenges about self teaching, it is tempting to “go easy” on yourself.  So I tackled the clouds I saw in the photo, as usual, the land is just a black silhouette.

    Winter Sky Acrylic Painting
    Well, the result didn’t look as much like the photo as what I was hoping for, but I decided that I still liked it.  I feel like I am learning a lot about how to paint skies.  I may do a second attempt at this same sky painting next week, or I may base next week’s painting off a different photo.


  • Monday Muse #1 View of Vetheuil in Summer, by Monet

    I’ve decided that each Monday I should post about a “Muse”.  For my purposes a Muse can be any thing or person that brings me inspiration.

    Today’s Muse is this painting, by Claude Monet:

    Monet - Ansicht von Vetheuil im Sommer
    Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    Why did I pick this painting as my Monday Muse?

    Well, as my readers know, I find it very difficult to be satisfied with my renderings of clouds.  I have produced a few paintings where I was genuinely satisfied with the clouds.  However, those paintings are the exception, and I certainly seem unable to reproduce the results at will.  Its more a matter of “luck” than skill when I produce a sky I am truly happy with.  Sometimes grueling hard work gives me results that I find acceptable, but not really pleasing.  Well today, I was doing something I frequently do, browsing paintings online.  I started looking closely at many of the impressionists’ work, particularly their skies.  What I was seeing was encouraging to me.  These paintings are beautiful, but if I isolate the sky like this:

    Monet_-_Ansicht_von_Vetheuil_im_Sommer (2)

    I see brush strokes of blue, white, some yellow, a little that is kind of dirty yellow-gray…  What I don’t see is photograph-like realistic clouds.

    In fact, the closer you look, the less cloud like they become:
    Monet_-_Ansicht_von_Vetheuil_im_Sommer (3)

    Monet_-_Ansicht_von_Vetheuil_im_Sommer (4)

     

    To me this is a wonderful encouragement, because the overall picture is amazing, even the sky is amazing.  No person knowledgeable about art would say that Monet didn’t know how to paint.  Yet when I look at the sky closely I realize that if I had done it myself, I would not have been satisfied.  It is showing me that perhaps I need to step back and look at my paintings from further back.  It’s okay for them to not look like photographs.  The are PAINTINGS.  I am my own worst critic of course, because when i saw this, at first I wasn’t thinking anything negative, I was admiring the beauty of the painting.  The reason I looked closer at the sky was to see how he did it, and that’s when I realized that I would not have liked it if I did it, but I loved it when Monet did it.

    Now does that mean that I will stop trying to improve my skies?  No.  It does mean though that I can stop stressing every time I fail to make it look exactly like what I see.  I don’t necessarily have overwork my sky to the point of frustration, it is OKAY to put in brushstrokes that give the impression of clouds, especially when the sky isn’t the central point of the painting, but merely a backdrop for the rest.

    I really don’t know why I didn’t grasp this concept before, after all, the artists I admire most are Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, neither of which are particularly preoccupied with Photorealism in their paintings.  In fact, one of my frustrations with other aspects of paintings is that I find it difficult to loosen up enough, and yet with clouds, I was refusing to loosen up.  I was trying so much to control every aspect and get the EXACT image held in my mind.


  • Ugg… Sunday Skies #1

    So, if you remember a few days ago, after once again struggling and struggling to get a sky in a painting the way I wanted it, I decided to start a weekly feature on this blog where I will try to do a sky, just for practice.

    In theory, doing it on paper, just for practice, and not making a part of real painting, should relieve me of some of the pressure of perfectionism, and allow me to just practice the sky.  In theory.

    Okay, anyway, here is the photo I used as a guide.  I told myself I wasn’t trying to reproduce the photo exactly, but was just looking at it to give me a rough idea of what I was going for.  I snapped this photo yesterday in anticipation of needing it today.

    sky1

     

    Now, here is the painting I did for practice, note that the land elements are just black/gray silhouettes to indicate a horizon.  Also note, that I didn’t do a very good job on those clouds!

    sunday skies 1

     

    I was working on a very small piece of paper, and I actually think it might have been easier with a larger one, because I’d have had more room to work.   I see lots of problems with this sky… but it is still better than what I often get when I try.

    I will try again next week, perhaps from the same photo, perhaps from a different one.  after all, this is just for PRACTICE and DOESN’T need to be PERFECT!  Perhaps if I keep shouting that at myself I’ll believe it.


  • What’s a Good Artist?


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    What does it take to be an artist?

    Well, it takes a desire to create art, and the initiative to act on that desire.

    If you’ve ever drawn a picture, molded clay into a form you’ve imagined, glued paper scraps into a collage, or in some other way have designed and assembled a creative work, then you ARE an artist.

    What does it take to be a good artist?

    Some would say it requires a Bachelors or a Master’s degree in art, and yet one of the world’s most well-known and best-loved artist, Van Gogh, attended several different art schools with sporadic attendance, and didn’t actually graduate from any of them.  He also disagreed with much of what he was taught.  In spite of that, he produced a great number of treasured, beautiful works such as the two below.

    “Starry Night Over the Rhone” by Vincent van Gogh – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

     

     

    VanGogh-starry night
    Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

     

    Grandma Moses never went to Art School at all.

    1918 fireboard byGrandmaMoses
    By Grandma Moses [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

     In addition, there are, or have been many other accomplished artists with all levels of art education, from none at all, to those holding several degrees in different disciplines of art.  So, it would seem that educational level is not a valid indicator of what makes a good artist.

    To me, it stands to reason that a good artist is an artist who creates good art.

    So What is good art?  Answering that question, is of course,  impossible.  There are as many definitions of what is “good” art as there are people to look at art. Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes good art, from Jackson Pollock’s seemingly random spatters of paint, to Picasso’s distorted-looking portraits, all the way to pencil drawings so realistic they can be mistaken for a black and white photograph.  Such as the works in the video below, there are many different kinds of art, all “good” in their own way.

     

     

    In my opinion, the best way to decide if you are a good artist,  is to ask if your art is something that brings you satisfaction?  Not just in the creation of it, but in the finished product as well.  Do you look at what you’ve created and feel pleasure, or do you feel nothing but frustration?  Now, I don’t mean that when you look at your work you should see no problems, or see no room for improvement, but overall, are you pleased with your work even though you may still see some problems or areas you need to improve in?  If so, that is as accurate a definition of good art as any I can think of, so if you’ve created even one piece of art that meets that criteria, you are a good artist!

    In that sense,  I too can call myself a good artist.  There are many of my works that bring me pleasure when I view them.  However, not all of them do.

    Those who have followed my blog for some time are aware of how dissatisfied I often am with the skies in my paintings, and how even with the few that I am happy with, it was usually a huge struggle and challenge to get them to that point.  Any sky with more than a tiny wispy cloud in it is the bane of my existence as an artist.  The idea of plain blue skies in every painting also doesn’t really appeal to me.

    So, I’ve decided to tackle that problem the way I do every challenge I face as an artist.  I will practice, and practice, and practice some more.  I will look at the work of those I feel have mastered that element, and I will try to learn how they did it, I may even reproduce it (though not to claim as my own, just for practice).

    I will persist with this practice until I look at the sky in front of me, or at a photo I’ve taken of the sky, or even just imagine the sky I want, and render it in a painting to my satisfaction without hours of struggle and repainting.

    In order to do that, I’ve decided that once a week, I will paint a practice sky, it will usually be small, on paper, possibly as small as an index card.  One a week, until I no longer feel that a sky is an insurmountable challenge to me.

    No matter what day I actually do the painting, I will post it on Sunday, and call it “Sunday Skies”. I will begin this feature on Sunday, January 25th.

     

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog by entering your email address at the bottom of the page,  or follow me on Google+.   See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for unsigned Prints of all my Paintings.

     

    My Etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals that I haven’t added to this site yet, I sell a few select prints there also, and there you can choose if you’d like me to  sign them before shipping!  Eventually I’ll move all of my fine art products to this page, and leave only crafts on Etsy, but for now my art is in both places.


  • Trial Error, Error, Trial, Repeat

    Yesterday was another day of website building.  There are some things with WordPress that drive me crazy.  When I post the link to my website on Facebook, it doesn’t have a thumbnail image on it, and I’ve tried all the tutorials to fix the problem, but it persists.

    In spite of that, my website is coming along.  I am making progress with it.  I’ve imported past blog posts there, and for a while I’ll be posting on both, but soon I’ll be moving.  I hope that those who have followed me on blogger will come over to this  WordPress site and follow me here as well.

    In addition to the website work, I’ve added up the cost of doing business as an artist over the past year, and compared that to what I’ve made in sales.  I  just wanted  to find out how much money I’ve made lost as an artist.  Well, I won’t share details, but I will say that I can see where the term starving artist comes from!  I didn’t expect to make a profit over last year, but I did expect a smaller deficit than I saw.

    On an encouraging note,  there were a lot of expenses that I won’t have to repeat any time soon, like buying a canopy for art shows, tables for the canopy, a cart to move supplies with at art shows, and other big-ticket items like that.  I also had quite a few prints and cards made of my most popular paintings.  I  still have some leftover stock of those that will carry into this year and perhaps make me a little money.

    Last but not least, I actually got a little painting done, I’m still not happy with the clouds in my sky, but I’m getting closer to what I want.  One thing I am figuring out with this sunset though, is that I have to stop in between colors and let things dry, otherwise my oranges, and purples mix into brown, and my yellows and blues mix into green.  Here are two photos, neither one seems to really be right in color, the first one comes closer but is brighter than the painting really is I think…oh well,  what can you expect from a cell phone?

     IMG_20150118_240431_681~2 IMG_20150117_235650

     

    During my next session I will bring the purple and the blue up further in up in the sky, and cover those strange finger like projections I called clouds.  Then I will try putting in some less finger-like clouds.   Then,  I’ll bring more color into the darker blue water, I’ll cover the lighter blue area with land,  and there will be more land on the other side also, so that the bay comes between where the viewer “stands” and the other side of the bay.  I can see it in my mind now, when before I couldn’t, so hopefully I’ll be able to translate that to the canvas.

     

    I’m not really concerned about how much experimentation this is taking, I mean after all, this is how I’ve learned EVERYTHING I know about painting so far, by trying, messing up, and trying again, until I get I get it right.

     

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog by entering your email address at the bottom of the page,  or follow me on Google+.   See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for unsigned Prints of all my Paintings.

     

    My Etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals that I haven’t added to this site yet, I sell a few select prints there also, and there you can choose if you’d like me to  sign them before shipping!  Eventually I’ll move all of my fine art products to this page, and leave only crafts on Etsy, but for now my art is in both places.


  • Teaching a SLOW Student!

    Have you ever tried to teach anyone something?  It can be difficult!  Its even more difficult if the student you are teaching is just NOT getting it, now imagine you are doing all that, WHILE you are trying to teach something you don’t know!

    That is the struggle of the self taught artist, trial, and error, and more error.

    Lots of error.  I am trying to get the sky in a painting just right, that is how I am seeing it in my mind, it is taking a lot of error.

    Here are some of my practice sheets where I practiced different techniques to try to get the results I wanted:

    Real quality art there, right?

    But its all part of learning without a teacher.

    Eventually I moved back onto my canvas, and its not perfect yet, but I feel like I know what needs happen now, its just that the paint I already put down needs to dry before I can do more, otherwise my colors will mix and I will end up with a green sky.  I also keep reminding myself that it won’t just be a sky, there will be land and a bridge, and water, the sky will end up being only a backdrop for everything else.  I keep telling myself that, but I want to get the sky perfect anyway. It is getting close to what I see in my head, and I think I’ll be able to bring it around to that point in t the next painting session.

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for Prints of all my Paintings.

     
    My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!

  • I’ll Let You in on a Secret

    As an artist I have a secret.  It haunts me with every landscape painting I do.  I don’t know how to paint clouds.  I mean, yeah, I try… but they never come out realistic enough for me.  I do acceptably with small wispy white clouds in a blue sky, but big puffy clouds, or storm clouds I’m just never happy with.  I’ve gotten lucky on  a few paintings and had reasonably satisfying results, but usually its a wrestling match to get there.

    For example, my recent work in progress.  I first painted the whole canvas blue, because it is going to have water and sky.  I wasn’t really concerned with coating the entire canvas evenly, because I had in my minds eye some spectacular clouds that would cover most of the sky portion.So here is what it looked like after that first coat of paint:

    Well, I proceeded to try to produce my vision of these clouds, and I came very close.

    This was almost exactly what I wanted, I was thoroughly pleased with the lower left section of sky, but moving away from that area, I felt it looked worse and worse, until finally up in the right hand corner I felt I was looking at blue camo rather than clouds. I posted it to my facebook page, and to several art groups asking for advice, and was assured by everyone the clouds looked fine, but I couldn’t shake the impression of looking at blue camo.

    Maybe I should have listened to everyone, but NO, not Mrs. Perfectionist Vicki!

    I tried to fix it, but only made it worse, and finally, in frustration, I did this:

    So, I spent most yesterday evening painting, and the net result so far is a blue canvas.  NICE!

    Some day, I’m going to figure this cloud thing out.  I think I should start practicing on paper for a bit, until I get it, so I don’t have to paint over a canvas.

    ***************************************************

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for Prints of all my Paintings.

     
    My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!