A Watercolor Love Affair, Confessed

I’ll be the first to admit that I get excited easily. Joy and laughter are rarely far from the surface, and there’s good reason for that. I absorb it from others, like a sponge. When I listen to someone who is passionate about his or her craft, I can feel it, and I want to celebrate that passion, that spark, that makes us all a little more interesting, a little more alive.

Betsy Dillard Stroud has that spark, and it’s not far from your reach. She recently came out with a new book that pays homage to artists that inspired, taught, and moved so many of us. In Watercolor Masters and Legends, Betsy tells us, “This book is the result of my love affair with watercolor and watermedia, the great artists I have learned from, my admiration for some of my most inventive colleagues and my desire to make something that was ‘writ in water,’ a lasting homage to not only the painters represented in the book, but to the watercolor and watermedia world itself. As artists we are aesthetic alchemists, and instead of turning objects into gold, we make the invisible visible, the ordinary extraordinary as we explore the pixilated magic and eloquence in the symbolic language of watercolor and watermedia.”

Excited yet? Here’s an excerpt from her collection, on the abstract watercolor paintings of Stan Kurth.

Watercolor painting by Stan Kurth | ArtistsNetwork.com

Coastal Anxiety #1 (watercolor, 30×22) by Stan Kurth (PIN THIS)

Artist Profile: Stan Kurth by Betsy Dillard Stroud

There’s a complex simplicity in Stan Kurth’s paintings that is both paradoxical and straightforward. As he works with multiple layers of watercolor and gesso, his provocative images emerge. Ambiguity and form coalesce into a singular, cohesive vision that holds the viewer spellbound.

As a renegade, Stan isn’t attached to any methodical way to begin or finish a painting. All of his paintings bespeak of his unique viewpoint. Stan admits that in the ‘80s he gave up on doing serious fine art and turned to graphic art. Now he is a different man who travels a more intriguing road with no boundaries or stringent methods. Stan now lives in the world of subjective art. He allows each emotion, each conscious and subconscious nudge to materialize on the surface of his painting. These nudges can be a thin line rapidly drawn with an oiler boiler of watered-down black gesso, a structured line executed with a regular crayon or a plethora of spontaneous splashed colors, unplanned, dropped or painted. Then the painting begins. Where it will go, nobody knows, not even Stan.

He asserts, ”What I like in the painting, whether it be symbols, colors or the value in the painting, I want the ambiguity and the mystery to emerge, as they are the essential elements in my work.”

Watercolor painting by Stan Kurth | ArtistsNetwork.com

In “Orange Sunshine,” Stan takes us on an exciting ride to what Robert E. Wood would call “an unexpected ending.”

Every day Stan draws in his sketchbook, and his drawings represent the masterful way he handles line and drama. There is a subtlety about Stan’s paintings that isn’t seen in the drawings, but each is equally compelling and expresses the moodiness, the ambiguity and the skill with which he draws and paints.

Watercolor underpainting by Stan Kurth | ArtistsNetwork.com

In this first stage of “Orange Sunshine,” Stan fills the surface with a wet-into-wet wash of orange and red and a grayed-down yellow, leaving scattered whites. His beginning is always a random one in which he has no plan. See the middle stages in Watercolor Masters and Legends.

“Something happens to me during each process,” Stan explains. “I’ll be working on something that doesn’t work, for example, and perhaps I’ll spill something or smear something. That’s when the magic happens.”

In real life, he describes his awakening to art and God as his ride to Damascus, a metaphor for his painting life and his spiritual life.

As a child, his aunt exposed him to art, which he says, “blew me away.” But he battled with himself. “Is this viable?” he’d ask. Thus he began his college career in pre-law and describes changing to art in his last year as a “blink” experience.

“Painting is spiritual. It is personal. I ask myself, ‘Where is this coming from?’Mine is a melancholy experience,” he says broodingly, looking off into the distance. “And it is not a step-by-step procedure.”

What he has accomplished is an aesthetic feat. Unexpected lines appear to float beneath the upper surface of the paper, and because these are barely seen, his work becomes a palimpsest of all the marks, colors and shapes he has brushed, drawn and splashed into his painting. One enters his paintings, and “not knowing” is the linchpin that draws you into his mysterious surfaces and keeps you there. The odyssey the adventurer follows in his painting, he hopes, makes “not knowing” a knowable experience. ~Betsy Dillard Stroud

Watercolor Masters and Legends features 34 interviews and features such as this, as well as 18 demonstrations and 125 diverse watercolor paintings (pre-order and reserve your copy here). “You won’t be disappointed,” Betsy tells us, “for in this book, are those who have devoted our lives to this fickle medium, so idiosyncratic and demanding. We have followed its meandering ways and loved its eccentricities, intoxicated with its ability to show us who the real master is. We gravitate toward it, trying to unravel its mystery.”

Wishing you endless passion,
Cherie
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Best of Pastel Pointers | Handling Edges in a Painting

The handling of the edges within a painting can be subconsciously intimidating to an artist, which can have a subsequent effect on how product is applied. When the elements that make up the subject matter of a scene are visually recognized, we intellectually understand that they are separated from one another—that there is space between them, even though they may overlap; unless, of course, they are composed of flat objects next to, or on top off, each other, like pieces of paper.

Richard McKinley's Pastel Pointers at ArtistsNetwork.com

My pastel, Morning Impressions (12 x 9), was started with a detailed pencil drawing. I followed that with a wet serendipitous watercolor underpainting, applied without fear of going over edges. Finally, I applied pastel in bits and pieces for resolution.

 

 

When color is applied to a painting surface to represent this separation between objects, the artist’s hand will often automatically slow down as it approaches an edge and then follow the shape. Conversely, painters often overstate objects by retaining extremely harsh edge separations, allowing no appearance of gradation to occur. This “edge intimidation” can produce an outlined appearance, making the perception of depth within a representational painting awkward.

The Use of Line
The human desire to communicate has brought about language and ultimately symbolic marks that represent words. When these marks are properly arranged, they communicate the intentions of the author. Drawing shares a similar notion. The artist’s use of line to symbolize a shape is his or her calligraphy. It’s amazing how a few marks on a surface can be identifiable to a viewer. It’s important, though, for the representational painter to remember that value (the representation of light and dark) and color are also present in every scene. Line is a useful tool and one that can be accentuated for stylistic purposes, but it is the one thing we use as artists that does not exist in nature. Even a power line, draped between two poles, will appear and disappear, depending on what it is next to. It is the contrast of surrounding shapes that creates the appearance of things. A useful exercise to practice this is to focus on the negative spaces (shapes) surrounding things. This breaks the obsession with identifying things and ultimately produces a more realistic portrayal of the scene.

Make It, Break It: Childhood coloring books may have been delightful to play with but they also instilled a notion that we have to stay within the lines. Breaking free from this impulse is hard. If we go outside of the lines, we may lose what it is. One way I have overcome this is to nurture the need for control by very accurately drawing the subject matter onto my painting surface. Once I have, I let go of it by smearing pastel or wet mixed-media across the drawing. This serendipitous underpainting sets the stage for the bits and pieces of additional pastel. It is the old painting mantra: Make it, break it, and then make it again.

Stop Being So Edgy: Once we become aware of edge intimidation, it seems that it should be relatively easy to overcome. But knowing it happens and attempting to alter how our hand responds when painting doesn’t always arrest the situation. In actuality, edge intimidation is so deeply ingrained, it is one of the hardest obstacles for painters to overcome. By focusing in the beginning of a painting on the negative spaces, instead of outlines, and allowing elements to smear together instead of being harshly outlined, you will break free of your edgy habits. Maybe an old painting dog can learn new tricks!

 

MORE RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS

New Pastel Painting Videos! Artist Christine Ivers offers four new art workshop DVDs that demonstrate her exciting techniques. The topics include: cityscapes at night, indoor scenes with people, plein air and perspective and proportion secrets!

The 2015 Annual CD archive is here! Get an entire year’s worth of Pastel Journal articles at your fingertips. Add the 2015 Pastel Journal Annual CD to your pastel library today!

Subscribe to Pastel Journal magazine

Watch pastel art workshops on demand at ArtistsNetwork.TV

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On Location | Plein Air Painting Tips for Watercolorists

Three pros—Richard Sneary, Brienne Brown and Glen Knowles—share their best tips for watercolor plein air painting in the June 2016 issue of Watercolor Artist. View a gallery of their work here, along with some bonus pointers, and learn more plein air painting tips in the June issue, available now at northlightshop.com in print or as an instant download, and on newsstands beginning April 19.

Or, for just a few more dollars, subscribe to Watercolor Artist and never miss an issue! Get your issues in the mail HERE or as digital downloads HERE.

 

Plein Air Tips from Richard Sneary

BUDGETING TIME:

I’ll often set my alarm for 1½ to 2 hours, but because I’ve been plein air painting for so many years, I can tell from the sun’s position how much time I have to get the scene down. I try to focus on what interested me to begin with—the light and shapes.

CHOOSING A SUBJECT:

Look for interesting light effects and elements that offer the best composition possibilities. You also want to choose a subject that best captures the character or feel of the place.

Carrie (watercolor on paper) by Richard Sneary | plein air painting

Carrie (watercolor on paper) by Richard Sneary

Under the Elm (watercolor on paper) by Richard Sneary | plein air painting

Under the Elm (watercolor on paper) by Richard Sneary

 

 

Plein Air Tips from Brienne Brown

ADJUSTING TO CHANGING LIGHT OR WEATHER CONDITIONS:

When the shadows, people or cars move, my value sketch comes in handy for reminding me where those elements were. If it starts to rain or the weather turns ugly, I grab my stuff and run. I’ve painted many times under the hatchback of my car.

UNIQUE REWARDS—AND CHALLENGES—OF PAINTING YOUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT:

I’m from Utah, so I’ve had to adjust my palette to compensate for all the green in Pennsylvania, where I now live, as well as learn to accommodate for a wide range of drying conditions depending on the humidity. Needless to say, summer in Pennsylvania isn’t my favorite plein air painting season. Nevertheless, I’ve fallen in love with the atmosphere here; you can see and feel the air, which is simply wonderful to paint in watercolor. Also, I love historical architecture, which this area has within easy distance of my home.

Lining Up (watercolor on paper) by Brienne Brown | plein air painting

Lining Up (watercolor on paper) by Brienne Brown

Sharing Memories (watercolor on paper) by Brienne Brown | plein air painting

Sharing Memories (watercolor on paper) by Brienne Brown

 

 

Plein Air Tips from Glen Knowles

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PAINTING ON SITE AND IN THE STUDIO:

For me, the process is the same. I start all my watercolor paintings en plein air and finish them from memory in the studio. I have practiced watercolor this way for so long that I have a hard time incorporating photographic reference. I generally refer to photographs only once or twice a year.

SPECIAL PLEIN AIR SUPPLIES:

I only use watercolor when I’m painting on location so I don’t keep a watercolor setup in my studio. I simply set up my outdoor kit in my studio to finish a painting. I use a lightweight Stanrite aluminum watercolor easel because I like to hike to out-of-the-way locations. I have an aluminum and canvas folding chair and an old-fashioned TV tray, on which I set up my triangular ColorWheel palette, water container and cellulose sponge.

Hidden Pool, Big Rock Creek (watercolor on paper) by Glen Knowles | plein air painting

Hidden Pool, Big Rock Creek (watercolor on paper) by Glen Knowles

Gateway to Tuscany (watercolor on paper) by Glen Knowles | plein air painting

Gateway to Tuscany (watercolor on paper) by Glen Knowles

 

 


MORE RESOURCES FOR WATERCOLOR ARTISTS
Subscribe to Watercolor Artist magazine

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Online seminars for fine artists

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Gallery | Jill Krasner’s Abstract Watercolor Paintings

For Jill Krasner, making art is all about freedom and joy. She loves the whimsy, the dreamlike quality and the fantasy she can bring to an abstract watercolor. Combining watercolors, graphite, ink, crayon, gouache and collage, she invites viewers to explore multilayered worlds from her imagination. The work is at once a combination of abstract landscape, map and fantasy.

Learn more about Jill Krasner in the June issue of Watercolor Artist, available now at northlightshop.com in print or as an instant download, and on newsstands beginning April 19.

Or, for just a few more dollars, subscribe to Watercolor Artist and never miss an issue! Get your issues in the mail HERE or as digital downloads HERE.

Altered State (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner | abstract watercolor

Altered State (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner

 

On the Edge (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner | abstract watercolor

On the Edge (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner

 

Mood Indigo (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner | abstract watercolor

Mood Indigo (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner

 

Grey Matter (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner | abstract watercolor

Grey Matter (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner

 

Soft Focus (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner | abstract watercolor

Soft Focus (watercolor and mixed media) by Jill Krasner

 

 


MORE RESOURCES FOR WATERCOLOR ARTISTS
Subscribe to Watercolor Artist magazine

Get the 2015 Watercolor Artist CD archive

Watch watercolor art workshops on demand at ArtistsNetwork.TV

Get unlimited access to over 100 art instruction ebooks

Online seminars for fine artists

Sign up for your Artists Network email newsletter & receive a FREE download

The post Gallery | Jill Krasner’s Abstract Watercolor Paintings appeared first on Artist's Network.

How I Got Into An Art Gallery: Kristy Gordon

In this guest blog post about art business, artist Kristy Gordon shares her experience on how she got into an art gallery and became a professional artist. Her work is featured in the September 2015 issue of The Artist’s Magazine (get the issue here!)

How I Got Into An Art Gallery by Kristy Gordon

I believe that if something is meant to be, you will eventually find yourself on that path even if your life takes you on a little detour first. Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to be a painter but I pursued a career in animation because I didn’t think it was possible to make a living as a fine artist. Amazingly, the path that I was on as an animator is the exact path that opened up the right doors for me to become a full-time painter.

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

Kristy Gordon, exhibiting landscape paintings at her first art and home fair. Scroll down to see more current works.

I was working at an animation studio in Ottawa, which was owned by a well-known Canadian painter, Philip Craig. He was the first living artist I had ever seen or known personally who was making a living off of his paintings. Before I met him I literally didn’t know that was possible. He was teaching evening painting classes in his studio, which was located on the top floor of the animation studio I was working in, and I nervously started attending his classes. It felt great to be painting again.

It was through my connection with this artist that I got into my first art gallery. The owner of the gallery was also taking the weekly painting classes, and Philip suggested that I casually start bringing in a couple of finished paintings each week to class and leave them around for the gallery owner to see. Eventually the gallery owner did notice my paintings, and I told him that I would love to show my work in his gallery. I could have fainted with excitement when the gallery owner set up a time the following week for me to bring my finished paintings into the gallery to chat.

The first meeting was extremely stressful because I was absolutely terrified to be talking to a real gallery owner, but as the relationship developed it was truly wonderful. The gallery owner taught me so much about the business of art, and shared his theories with me about how to best sell my work. He was really good at selling paintings, and to my surprise he sold almost everything I gave him. Eventually he actually started buying my paintings from me up front, instead of taking them on consignment. This encouraged me to leave my animation job and start painting for him full-time. I loved being represented by him and couldn’t believe my life. Here I was as a full time painter at the age of 24. I started to want to push my budding art career to the next level. I wanted a gallery that wasn’t in a shopping mall.

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

Kristy and the art gallery director at Stricoff Fine Art in Chelsea, NYC (current representation)

I noticed that a number of my artist friends participated in an annual local art and home fair, and I decided to rent a booth. I took a very cheap booth that was not in a great location in the fair, and kept my prices low. I was selling landscape paintings for about $300 each. It was worth it because I sold most of the paintings I displayed. I also had a guestbook where I was collecting the names, emails and mailing addresses of everyone who liked my work. I sent out thank you cards with an image of one of my paintings on it at the end of the art fair, and also started sending out art update emails. Many of the people who I met at that art fair still collect my work to this day (13 years later)!

I met my second gallery at the art and home fair. The owners bought a couple paintings and I kept in touch with them. I sent them a thank you card after the fair was over and kept them updated with regular art update emails. One day I got an email back from them inviting me to show in the art gallery they were opening. It was through them that I had my first solo show as well as got an article written about my work in MagazinArt, a Canadian art magazine.

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

‘I Will” (oil, 40×30) by Kristy Gordon.

Whenever something happened in my early art career, I would literally jump up and down screaming and hyperventilating until I almost passed out with glee. Actually I still kind of do that. Being an artist was what I always wanted to do but I never in a million years thought it was truly an option. I became very interested in how I could actively pursue the art goals and dreams I have. I applied to more galleries and to my surprise started getting into some.

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

‘Andrea’ (oil, 30×30) by Kristy Gordon: My transition from painting landscapes to figures was an important one. I loved painting landscapes but I was especially drawn to painting the figure. My landscape paintings sold well though, and I was afraid that no one would want to buy a painting of another person. I made the switch anyway, and was totally blown away when my first solo show of my figure paintings almost sold out!

I read about a process about how to get into art galleries and I followed it exactly. It involved carefully researching and compiling a list of ten galleries that I thought I really had a chance of getting into (they took landscapes like mine, and they showed emerging artists). I prepared artist packets, which included 12-15 slides, a biography, resume, artist statement and a cover letter. I sent out all ten at once and kept track of the rejection letters as they came in. Rejection letters were to be expected and are just a normal part of the process. 

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

Kristy’s work, as seen on the cover of The Artist’s Magazine (September 2015). Download the issue here to read her feature article.

The idea is that about one in ten will end up taking you, if you do it all properly and have submitted to galleries that your work would be a good fit in. To my total surprise that was exactly what happened. I got into one out of the ten each time I did this. It was such an exciting time, and the learning curve was so high. I was learning how to interact with gallery owners, and how to promote my work to them and my collectors. There were lots of embarrassing mistakes but I learned from each one.

I believe that our dreams and goals are intuition for what can come if we are willing to take the action steps to make them happen. I continue to take little baby steps in the direction that my heart is pulling and the path reveals itself to me over time. I am amazed to be living an artistic life that is beyond my wildest dreams as a child.

 

Learn more about Kristy Gordon:


 

Additional paintings:

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

‘Crane’s Flight’ (oil, 30×40) by Kristy Gordon

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

‘Radiate’ (oil, 24×24) by Kristy Gordon

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

‘Silence’ (oil, 30×30) by Kristy Gordon

Kristy Gordon, art business advice | ArtistsNetwork.com

‘Surrender’ (oil, 16×20) by Kristy Gordon

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Give Us a Piece of Your Mind

Winter 2015 Acrylic ArtistYour opinion matters to us, and you can help make Acrylic Artist the kind of magazine that inspires and instructs in the areas you’re interested in most. We’re conducting a reader survey that will take about five minutes of your time. When you’re finished with the survey you have the option of entering to win a subscription/renewal to Acrylic Artist and/or an art book published by North Light Books, plus everyone who completes the survey gets a 20% OFF discount code for NorthLightShop.com! So give us a piece of your mind.

We’ve already heard from hundreds of readers and we love knowing that we’re providing what you want in art instruction and inspiration. We’re learning, too, what topics you want to hear more about, and which types of art you want to see more of. Make your voice heard and complete the reader survey now—we thank you in advance for your participation and help!

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Everyday People: Jose Apaza Watercolor Figures

Peruvian-born artist José Apaza takes a simple, straightforward approach to his watercolor figures and portraits.

He cites regular people, not artists, as his primary creative influence. “Every human being is a summary of universal wisdom,” he says. “Humble people are my great teachers and have exerted a great influence on me.” Apaza’s admiration for everyday people translates to his work. He considers himself a simple worker and makes it clear that he has never ceased to identify himself as an apprentice. “Since I have no pretensions to fame and glory, I’m simply grateful if my painting touches someone’s heart. That’s the best reward.”

This approach also underlies Apaza’s aesthetic views. He suggests that aspiring artists learn to paint with honesty. “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but when I see a young apprentice painting with the heart—not with the mind or with concepts—that really thrills me. I’m convinced that the world needs more human sense and less mechanization.”

Learn more about Apaza, and see more of his humble people, in the June 2016 issue of Watercolor Artist, available at northlightshop.com and on newsstands April 19.
watercolor-portrait-knowledge-watercolor-on-paper-jose-apaza | artistsnetwork.com

Knowledge (watercolor on paper) by Jose Apaza

watercolor-portrait-Jose-ApazaEnigma-2 | artistsnetwork.com

Enigma 2 (watercolor on paper) by Jose Apaza

cargador-de-pieles-Jose-Apaza-36x51.5-cm.1999 | artistsnetwork.com

Cargador de Pieles (watercolor on paper) by Jose Apaza

The post Everyday People: Jose Apaza Watercolor Figures appeared first on Artist's Network.