From Dark to Light: How to Use Pastels on a Dark Surface

Make Pastels Pop on a Dark Surface

James Kasperek’s expressive light-filled pastels are informed by his graphic design skills — and a dark painting surface. His work spans a range of subjects, from landscape to still life, figures to florals. But, he says, “I focus not so much on subject matter, but more on design, light and color.”

Below, Kasperek chats with Pastel Journal about his journey to pastels and his tips for working on dark surfaces.

Pastels on Dark Paper | James Kasperek | Artists Network

Foxglove and Poppies by James Kasperek, pastel

The Perfect Blend

About 40 years ago, Kasperek studied fine art at the Columbus College for Art and Design,
in Ohio, and at the Center for Creative Studies, in Detroit. As a student, he began using graphite and charcoal. He then moved on to color, eventually settling on pastels in the ’80s.

“My early work in pencil and charcoal was highly rendered, with a strong emphasis on value and modeling,” he says. “As I moved into oil, my style became looser, and I grew more interested in color and the placement of shapes. I loved the texture and surfaces I could achieve, but found drying time frustrating.”

He continued trying different media, but couldn’t get the richness of color he was after with watercolor, gouache or acrylic. “Because I always had loved to draw and was more comfortable with a pencil than a brush in my hand, I moved into colored pencil.”

He tried working on textured linen surfaces with Prismacolor pencils, but gradually wanted to work larger with more expression and intensity of color. “So, I moved into pastels,” says Kasperek. “They’re the perfect blend of drawing and painting for me.”

Pastels on Dark Paper | James Kasperek | Artists Network

Impression Street Market by James Kasperek, pastel

Working From Dark to Light

Kasperek begins most of his pastels with a photography session. “I take several photos of my subject and crop, color-correct and sometimes manipulate objects to my desired composition in Photoshop.” He then prints the photos at approximately 8×10 inches.

But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Kasperek’s method is the painting surface. He uses Richeson’s 140-lb. Premium Pastel Surface in black almost exclusively.

“Working out from a black surface comes from my early years of oil painting,” he says. “I was taught to first tone down the white canvas by applying washes of dark, neutral values and bring the painting out from dark to light. When I first started experimenting with pastel, I naturally sought out darker colored papers and eventually settled on pure black.”

Pastels on Dark Surface | James Kasperek | Artists Network

Four Trees by James Kasperek, pastel

He begins his pastels by quickly sketching his composition in vine charcoal on the paper. “Even though it’s black charcoal going over black paper, the drawing stands out enough for me to see it and then basically disappears beneath the pastel.”

He then starts to apply his preferred Sennelier soft pastels. “I work very deliberately, with little or no blending, going after my middle tones first, while leaving the black of the paper as my darkest darks,” he says.

“Once I establish the backbone of the painting, I’ll then go in and place my lighter values, all the while considering balance of shape, movement and color. The Sennelier pastels offer a beautiful, rich color range. I love the way they feel — and how they jump out from the black surface.”

Pastels on Dark Paper | James Kasperek | Artists Network

Mia at Samye Ling by James Kasperek, pastel

Do you work on a dark surface? Share your secrets in the comments below! And, if you want more pastel tips, techniques interviews with top pastelists, step-by-steps and more, be sure to subscribe to Pastel Journal!

Bonus Tip: Preparing Your Surface

The right surface makes all the difference for your pastel strokes. Watch this quick video tutorial to see how artist Christine Ivers prepares her painting surface!

You can find more of Ivers’ pastel tips and techniques by streaming her video workshops on

The post From Dark to Light: How to Use Pastels on a Dark Surface appeared first on Artist's Network.


Don’t Miss the 10 Best Watercolor Paintings of 2017

This Year’s Best Watercolor Paintings

Every winter, we look forward to putting together this article of the best watercolor paintings of the year. Of course, “best” is subjective, but one way a painting earns that distinction is to stand out in competition.

So with that being said, we turn to art societies — from the West Coast to the East Coast, Florida to Canada — to bring our attention to some of North America’s best watercolor paintings of 2017. Enjoy!

Brightness Burning on the Heart Within

Ali Cavanaugh Brightness Burning on the heart within watercolor society winner 2017 | Best Watercolor Paintings of 2017 | Artists Network

Brightness Burning on the Heart Within by Ali Cavanaugh, watercolor on Aquaboard

Artist Inspirations

My oldest daughter, Neve, was the inspiration for this piece. She’s been my graceful muse for many years. Neve is poised and reserved, and in this composition, I was able to catch her in direct profile. A striking diagonal was created with her downcast head and hand placement.

The two primary elements in my work are bold compositions paired with
a delicate application of paint.
 I had hoped to achieve a sense of elegance, beauty, thoughtfulness and intimacy.

Ali Cavanaugh, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri | Missouri Watercolor Society

Juror’s Response

I wanted to give an award to this particular piece because it exhibits a broad range of techniques, skillful handling and interesting subject matter: the gesture; the angle or position of the body; powerful, stunning color; and a large area of negative space. A painting like this is hard to forget.

–Dongfeng Li, Juror

Carrie Mae

Carrie Mae Dean Mitchell watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork

Carrie Mae by Dean Mitchell, watercolor on paper

Artist Inspirations

Carrie Mae has been a friend of my family’s since before I was born. She’s a kind, brilliant human being. She’s 97 now, and was born in Boston. She graduated from A&M as valedictorian in 1941 and received her master’s from Columbia in 1945. She got her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 1958.

Her mother owned a hotel in the Boston area for 35 years called “The Mother’s Lunch.” It was one of the few — if not the only hotel — where African-Americans could stay. The list of people who stayed there is a “Who’s Who” in American culture — Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Sam Davis, Mary McLeod Bethune and many others. She’s talked about her sister doing Ella Fitzgerald’s hair just before she went on stage to perform.

Dean Mitchell, Tampa, Florida | Florida Watercolor Society

Juror’s Response

Carrie Mae is a masterful example of design, foresight and capability possessed by very few contemporary artists. The muted colors are utilized with a delicacy and deftness of brushstrokes that emphasize the sense of dignified tranquility that clearly indicates the subject is a character of strong positive influence in the artist’s life.

The subject’s pose at the edge of her chair and the slight lean of her head suggest a natural listener, reinforced by her face, with its somber expression, and her clasped hands. If the painting could speak to me, it would say “wisdom.”

One thing that caught my attention was the little bit of red nail polish. Once I saw that bit of red, the muted tones of the seat and wooden furniture began to reveal a repetition of the same color placed throughout the image.

–Iain Stewart, Juror

Glass on Glass on Fabric

Glass on Glass on Fabric Laurie Goldstein Warren watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork

Glass on Glass on Fabric, Laurie Goldstein-Warren, watercolor on paper

Artist Inspirations

Painting glass in watercolor makes for a unique set of challenges, beginning with the importance of seeing the various reflections and refraction in the glass and drawing them accurately.

When I composed this painting, I wanted to use the taller glass pieces. After setting up the still life, I realized it needed a horizontal element, so I introduced the fabric with its more organic design.

Laurie Goldstein-Warren, Buckhannon, West Virginia | Califonia Watercolor Association

Juror’s Response

Glass on Glass on Fabric possesses a fanciful, magical quality. The effects of light on glass are mesmerizing. The sparkling highlights contrast with deep, rich darks. The luminous, complementary color scheme and skillful composition are beautifully orchestrated in this powerful watercolor.

–Donna Zagotta, Juror

Morning in Paris

watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork june webster morning in paris

Morning in Paris by June Webster, watercolor on paper

Artist Inspirations

The view from my hotel balcony in Paris near the Luxembourg Gardens inspired me to paint. The city was so quiet in the morning, and the painted lines on the street created beautifully defined shadows.

I wanted to capture that feeling of calm, as well as the color and value changes created by the shadows.

June Webster, Cheshire, Connecticut | Transparent Watercolor Society of America

Juror’s Response

By simplifying the image and illuminating the subject, the basic design and divisions of space are balanced and keep the viewer’s eye moving. It’s a well-designed and evocative image that makes one feel a sense of being alone within a city full of people.

–Jean Pederson, Juror

Insomniacs Dreamboats

Cathy Hegman Insomniacs Dreamboats watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork

Insomniacs Dreamboats by Cathy Hegman, acrylic on paper

Artist Inspirations

My paintings are always about my life or some aspect of my life. I work from my imagination, not models or photos.

My inspiration was constant bouts of insomnia. I’ve done a long-running series of paintings called Insomniacs with which I try to convey the feeling of needing to do something but being unable to.

Cathy Hegman | Holly Bluff, Mississippi | American Watercolor Society

Juror’s Response

Stars represent the night. There are sheep, ships passing and a fantastical hairpiece, which could represent a cloud or the dark night.

The painting possesses good graphic qualities, strong vertical and horizontal movement, contrasts light and dark values, and has good color and competent technique. Plus, it captures and conveys a message beyond surface appearance that we all can relate to.

–Antonio Masi, Juror

Summer’s Reflection

Sidra Kaluszka watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork Summers Reflection

Summer’s Reflection by Sidra Kaluszka, watercolor on paper

Artist Inspirations

Summer’s Reflection depicts a couple of persimmons that I picked in a park while walking with my in-laws, and some purple basil from my mother’s garden. I constantly seek new challenges, like incorporating the mirror behind the fruit. I wanted to capture the interaction between the subjects, the mirror and light.

The viewer doesn’t have a straightforward view of the reflection. I painted the focal point off center, with lines weaving in and out, because it invites the eye to explore.

Sidra Kaluszka, Radford, Virginia | West Virginia Watercolor Society

Juror’s Response

This painting is so dynamically strong. Design and composition are important to me as an artist, and this piece displays great composition. There’s a wonderful use of contrasts: value, temperature, shapes, and hard and soft edges. Although it’s a realistic painting, it has a nice abstract feel to it.

–Chris Krupinski, Juror

Backstage Adjustments

Bev Jozwiak watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork backstage adjustments

Backstage Adjustments by Bev Jozwiak, watercolor on paper

Artist Inspirations

My youngest daughter is a professional ballet dancer, and I grew to love the art form. I helped out a lot around her dance studio — everything from designing tutus to making tiaras — and painted four 20- by 40-foot backdrops.

My ballet paintings are always near and dear to my heart. Dancers are extremely close to one another because they spend so much time together, and dance is intimate. I wanted this piece to convey that closeness and willingness to help each other.

Bev Jozwiak, Vancouver, Washington | Northwest Watercolor Society

Juror’s Response

This work caught my attention with its bold use of colors and brushwork that’s both unique and evocative. I gave the work a high point in design elements and composition.

While Jozwiak employs a variety of traditional techniques and knowledge of art, it’s also evident she’s not afraid to push the envelope of water media, which I admire immensely. As a result, her work looks pleasing from an academic point of view, but also has an edgy, modern appeal.

–Keiko Tanabe, Juror

Family Walk

Antonio Masi family walk watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork

Family Walk by Antonia Masi, watercolor on paper

Artist Inspirations

I have about 16 colors in my palette, but I tend to select two that will set the mood. I explore value combinations I can create with my two picks, and use the other colors to augment the purity, warmness and coolness of the original two I’ve chosen. This way, I can control the values in my painting.

Normally I find compositions in real life — texture, chain-link fences, graffiti and figures, like the tiny ones silhouetted under the arch in Family Walk, passing from darkness into light. At first, it appeared as a mass of confusion and excitement, so I exaggerated the smallness of the figures into this massive state of confusion and tried to bring order into it. I was thinking of a colorful quilted blanket; it has many patterns, but, at the same time, it’s still one unit.

Antonio Masi, Garden City, New York | North East Watercolor Society

609 Main

Ron 609 Main Thurston watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork

609 Main by Ron Thurston, watercolor on paper

Artist Inspirations

The white staircase in 609 Main is one of my dog’s designated stops on our daily walks. The house nearby also made the cut. I couldn’t resist including it, but the real one is white and situated too far away.

Experimenting with value choices, I decided to make the house blue and black as a support to the black dog. Milton Avery was my color muse. It’s his unusual color combinations that inspire me.

Ron Thurston, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania | Penn State Watercolor Society

Purely Spectral

Brenda Benson purely spectral watercolor society winner 2017 ArtistsNetwork

Purely Spectral by Brenda Benson, watercolor on paper on matboard

Artist Inspirations

I was preparing paper for another piece using dour color and dark, depressing neutrals in shades of brown and gray. Suddenly I felt the need to cast off that burden and do something bright and joyful. I thumbed through my sketchbooks until I found something that would celebrate the joy that color can bring, and settled on a rough sketch of a quilt. A quilt and an open box of new crayons were my inspiration.

“I cut the paper into rectangles, then scored and folded them into squares. Meanwhile, I painted mat board with acrylics in the design I had worked out in my sketchbook. Taking a folded square of the painted paper, I used scissors or paper punches to cut a random design and then glued it down to its spot on the matboard grid. I chose bright primary and secondary colors for the joy of opening a new box of crayons. Colors transition gently from one to another with analogous hues.”

Brenda Benson, Monroe City, Missouri | Springfield Art Museum

Juror’s Response

One of the central reasons that the Springfield Art Museum created Watercolor USA was to recognize innovation in the use of watercolor. I love that this painting uses multiple pieces of paper, instead of the standard two dimensions.

–Laurin McCracken, Juror

What do you think is the best watercolor painting on this list? Do you have any others to add to the lineup? Tell us in the comments!

Peruse through past issues of Watercolor Artist here. And, be sure to subscribe to Watercolor Artist for more examples of the best watercolor paintings, interviews with top artists, the latest trends, and watercolor tips and techniques.

The post Don’t Miss the 10 Best Watercolor Paintings of 2017 appeared first on Artist's Network.

Binge! The Food Feasts of Art History

As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young by Jan Steen

As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young by Jan Steen

An Artist’s Cornucopia of Gorgeous, Strange and Sometimes Grotesque Artworks Featuring Edibles

Let the feasting begin. As many of us prepare for, or are already in the midst of, this season of holidays, parties and fun, we decided to feast with our eyes first with a totally binge worthy showcase of food feasts of art history! It’s an artist’s cornucopia of gorgeous, strange and sometimes a little bit gross artworks featuring edibles.

Solo Feast

Annibale Carracci’s The Bean Eater is a depiction of a rough and tumble character sitting down to a hearty meal. With eyes looking directly outward, there’s an implied expectation that you, the viewer, are sharing his space and the dining hour, perhaps at a table across the way.


The Bean Eater by Annibale Carracci

The Bean Eater by Annibale Carracci

The Potato Eaters

A dark and coarse supper from the Post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh, The Potato Eaters is unlike the painter’s colorful landscape masterworks. The artist focused on the poverty and realness of peasants at table. In a letter, Van Gogh describes:

“You see, I really have wanted to make it so that people get the idea that these folk, who are eating their potatoes by the light of their little lamp, have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish, and so it speaks of manual labor and — that they have thus honestly earned their food. I wanted it to give the idea of a wholly different way of life from ours — civilized people. So I certainly don’t want everyone just to admire it or approve of it without knowing why.”


The Potato Eaters by Vincent Van Gogh

The Potato Eaters by Vincent Van Gogh

Eat Like an Egyptian

Egyptian hieroglyph of grain harvesting

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Egyptian hieroglyphs depict agriculture at its most ancient. Food was a mainstay of tomb decorations because who wants to get hangry in the afterlife? One tomb features a couple at work planting and harvesting. Other paintings show figures in similar moments of farming. Still others depict servants processing with platters of fish, fruit and game.

It also turns out grains, despite art to the contrary, made up the bulk of the Egyptian’s diet from 3500 BC to 600 AD, with little meat and surprisingly little fish as well considering, well, the Nile.

Ancient Egyptian painting featuring figures with food: platters of fish, bushels of grapes, and game

Ancient Egyptian painting featuring figures with food: platters of fish, bushels of grapes, and game

Another ancient painting from the nearby Indus River Valley shows a female figure enjoying the fruits of (likely) someone else’s labor as she accepts a beverage from a standing attendant.

Food feasts in art: Painting from the Indus River Valley Civilization, which started in 2500 BCE

Painting from the Indus River Valley Civilization, which started in 2500 BCE

Sacred Feast

Dim mood lighting almost obscures the action of Caravaggio’s 1601 painting depicting the Supper at Emmaus. The central Christ figure has just nonchalantly revealed himself to his dining followers and they — arms outflung, lurching out of chairs–start to freak. That means getting up from a table carefully set by the artist.

Notice how Caravaggio heightens the drama (and shows off his skills) of the moment by placing the fruit basket in the foreground over the edge of the table.


Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio


Last Suppers

As one of the most prominent stories of Western Christianity, the Last Supper has been featured in hundreds of artworks throughout the ages. Visual earmarks of the subject matter usual include Christ at the center of the tableau surrounded by his apostles, but even that is subject to change with plenty of artistic license thrown in for good measure.


Last Supper, Mosaic in Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

Last Supper, Mosaic in Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo

With Tiles

Early Christian mosaic depictions like those in Ravenna, Italy show a Last Supper not situated to a particular setting. The scene is simply cordoned off with a decorative border around the action. Christ is not in the center but on the far left, accentuated with a bejeweled halo and adorned in blue drapery.

Scale and perspective, obviously, were details the artists were still working on AKA wow, that’s a big fish. But having been made in the 6th century AD, we are cutting these tesserae artists some slack.


The Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno

The Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno

Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio

With Variations

Artists like Andrea del Castagno, who painted his Last Supper in 1447, and Domenico Ghirlandaio, who did his some thirty years later in 1479, both placed Christ on the viewer’s side of the biblical dinner table, though they altered which position Christ faced.

This visual trope didn’t set any historical trends. But there’s much to note in these altarpieces including how trippy del Castagno’s backdrop of marble panels appear and wondering what Ghirlandaio meant by his inclusion of all those strangely huge birds in the background arches of his Last Supper.


Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Setting Standards

It was Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance version of the Last Supper that really set the standard when it comes to historic iconography and presentation of the subject. He was the only Ninja Turtle to do a painting of the Last Supper that survives to date. Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael have none to their names. Leo’s visual language would influence generations of artists and plenty of 21st century memes.

And definitely not a Last Supper?!

Feast at the House of Levi by Paolo Veronese

Feast at the House of Levi by Paolo Veronese

Last Supper by Veronese, detail

Last Supper by Veronese, detail of jester

Last Supper by Veronese, detail

Last Supper by Veronese, detail of drunkards

Last Supper by Veronese, detail

Last Supper by Veronese, detail of underage drunkards

Veronese came almost a century after Leonardo. He definitely upped the ante when it came to production value. His Last Supper appears in a much more splendid setting than Leonardo’s and also included a ton of extras…who almost got him strung up for heresy during the Inquisition.

Yup, Veronese’s “buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other such scurrilities” along with apostles carving up lamb (that would be St. Peter) and picking their teeth with forks were harshly critiqued and questioned by officials.

Change it up…fast

Veronese though turns out to have been quite a pivot master. He simply made a few adjustments to the painting and asserted that the Last Supper wasn’t a Last Supper at all. No, this is a depiction of the Feast in the House of Levi. Totally different, judges. Toooooootally different. Subject closed. Neck of artist, saved.


There’s a Squash on Your Face

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, whose name this writer always confuses with saltimbocca (points though because that’s a food?), painted portraits of people as food. A set of eyebrows become strands of wheat. There’s a cucumber for a nose. Fish tails do the duty of a goatee. You get the gastronomic picture.

Food fetishist, a little imbalanced, or simply painting what his 16th-century Italian audience were into? It’s most likely the latter according to most scholars. Renaissance peeps loved riddles, puzzles and the strange, and Arcimboldo’s paintings are an edible array of all three.


Food feast: Autumn by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Autumn by Giuseppe Arcimboldo



The Most Sumptuous of All

When it comes to paintings that really put the ‘feast’ into the food, we have only to look one place: the Dutch Republic. Dutch painters in Antwerp in the 1640s developed the still life style of pronkstilleven, which is Dutch speak for hella food feast. Also, perhaps more literally translated as ostentatious, ornate or sumptuous still life.

The Feasts

Food feast, the ultimate Dutch still life: Pronkstilleven by Carstian Luyckx

Pronkstilleven by Carstian Luyckx

Enter the lobsters, the meat pies, the fowl and fish, the oysters, the piles of glowing fruit, the gorgeous goblets and tankards of ale, and the stultifying curls of lemon peel. Enter the diversity of foods, vessels, gleaming glass, table settings and rich drapery.

Enter the not-so-everyday abundance as painted by dozens of Flemish artists with haute cuisine foremost in their minds including Frans Snyders, Adriaen van Utrecht, Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Nicolaes van Verendael, Alexander Coosemans, Carstian Luyckx, Jasper Geeraards, Peter Willebeeck, Abraham van Beyeren, Willem Kalf, Osias Beert, and Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts.

Food feast: Banquet Still Life by Abraham van Beyeren

Banquet Still Life by Abraham van Beyeren


A Table of Desserts by Jan Davidsz. de Heem

A Table of Desserts by Jan Davidsz. de Heem


Still Life with Lobster by Jasper Geeraerts

Still Life with Lobster by Jasper Geeraerts

Banquet Still Life by Abraham van Beyeren

Banquet Still Life by Abraham van Beyeren

Dishes with Oysters, Fruit, and Wine by Osias Beert the Elder

Dishes with Oysters, Fruit, and Wine by Osias Beert the Elder

Pronkstilleven by Petrus Willebeeck

Pronkstilleven by Petrus Willebeeck

Eat and Learn

The pronkstilleven isn’t just about the eating extravaganza. There’s a moral to the story. It goes something like “you’ll never fill that hole in your life, no matter how much you stuff yourself.”

It could possibly be put a bit more eloquently in terms of the high genre of vanitas paintings, in which the empty or overturned glasses depicted speak to the vacant feelings inside that only moderation and temperance — not displays of wealth — can satisfy. The ostentatious spreads you see serve as warnings to not put your life in service to material things…despite inclusion of all the material things.

Pronkstillevens with a Side of Weird

But leave it to the artists to go a little off the rails with a theme. So from fancy snacks and highbrow eats, we go to:

Food feast, the menagerie edition! Also ew…who would eat a peacock?!

A Pantry by Adriaen van Utrecht

A Pantry by Adriaen van Utrecht

Food feast, the strange pets edition! Also ew…why is your dog smaller than the lobster on the table?!

Banquet Still Life by Adriaen van Utrecht

Banquet Still Life by Adriaen van Utrecht

Food feast, the put-the-turkey-back-together edition! Also ew…why did you put the turkey back together and put it on the table on top of his own parts-made-into-pie self?! We know Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII did a swan version of this in The Tudors (super bootleg clip if you want to see for yourself) and we still don’t care.

Food feast, the monkeys-need-to-eat edition! Also yay…the monkeys-need-to-eat edition? Did you know there is an entire painting genre called singerie devoted to depicting monkeys dressed up and doing human things…like having parties and feasting? The Dutchman Nicolaes van Verendael made several including the one you see here.

Feast of the Monkeys by Nicolaes van Verendael

Feast of the Monkeys by Nicolaes van Verendael

The Butcher and the Baker

Less look at my bling and more men and women at work, there are several Dutch masterworks riffing on the historic “pre-processing” of comestibles. That includes depictions of market stalls and butchers and food mongers prepping their wares.


Market Scene on a Quay by Frans Snyders

Market Scene on a Quay by Frans Snyders

Kitchen by Adriaen van Utrecht

Kitchen by Adriaen van Utrecht

Cook at a Kitchen Table with Dead Game by Frans Snyders

Cook at a Kitchen Table with Dead Game by Frans Snyders

Fishmonger's Stall by Adriaen van Utrecht

Fishmonger’s Stall by Adriaen van Utrecht

Raid the Pantry

The Spanish have a food-in-art genre going strong as well, dating back to the 1600s. The bodegón tradition hit its stride with Baroque painters like Velazquez, Juan Sanchez Cotan, Zurbaran and Luis Melendez. It encompasses still life paintings depicting kitchen items plus food and drink, found in pantries or wine cellars, which is where the term derives.

Bodegón by Juan Sánchez Cotán

Bodegón by Juan Sánchez Cotán

In contrast to the Dutch tradition, bodegóns are presented simply, almost austerely. It is about the everyday, not the exceptional. There’s no banquet table set. These bleak “meals” are displaed on spare wood blocks or stone shelves. This is the cook’s prep table, with animals waiting to be skinned and fruits and vegetables in the raw.

Bodegón by Juan van der Hamen

Bodegón by Juan van der Hamen

But the vanitas thread loops these two still life genres together, with the Dutch cautioning the excess and the Spanish evoking mindfulness of the meager or lean times, when inner faith and fortitude must do the heavy lifting.

Bodegón by Francisco Zurbarán

Bodegón by Francisco Zurbarán

What cannot be denied is the surreal look of the bodegón, which are often cast in shadows and set in peculiar places, but that simply serves to make them all the more notable.

Let’s Eat!

Diego Velazquez vibes with the bodegon tradition on several canvases including Old Woman Frying Eggs and The Lunch. Though the vibes are at different ends of the spectrum. The latter painting is way up and the former piece is way down. But food is the thing that unites them.


The Lunch by Diego Velazquez

The Lunch by Diego Velazquez

An Old Woman Cooking Eggs by Diego Velazquez

Old Woman Frying Eggs by Diego Velazquez

Wholesome Orchard Bounty

From a handful to a basketful, Post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne displayed apples and oranges in numerous ways in his equally numerous still life paintings. A jelly maker’s dream, Cezanne’s fruity canvases also bridge two -isms of art (Impressionism and Cubism) with their often disorienting lines of perspective and emphasis on planes.


Still Life with Seven Apples by Paul Cezanne

Still Life with Seven Apples by Paul Cezanne

The Basket of Apples by Paul Cezanne

The Basket of Apples by Paul Cezanne

Cake, Cake and More Cake…Also Pie

For close to fifty years Wayne Thiebaud has taken edibles as a painting subject. Certainly not his only subject but cakes, pies, gumballs, hot dogs and ice cream cones do grace more than several of his brightly colored canvases.

The compositions mostly echo the neat rows of a food counter or assembly line, perhaps harking back to Thiebaud’s teenage experience working at Mile High and Red Hot, a Long Beach, California cafeteria in the 1930s.


Wayne Thiebaud's paintings are a food feast of cakes and pies.

Cakes and Pies by Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud's paintings are a food feast of cakes and pies.

Pie Counter by Wayne Thiebaud


Naughty Foodie

Will Cotton’s career as a painter is all about exploiting food cravings. His works depict landscapes of cupcakes, candies and melting ice cream and skies of cotton candy. He ups the sexy quotient by sometimes including nude and semi-nude figures — including celebs like Katy Perry — frolicking and lounging in his candy lands or adorned with the sticky foodstuffs itself.


Crown by Will Cotton

Crown by Will Cotton



Meat Joy

Carolee Schneemann’s 1964 performance “Meat Joy” featured choreographed dance, scantily clad men and women participants, much writhing, body paint, and raw meat. Schneemann, a leading feminist artist known for her provocative, somewhat brutish works, performed the modern masterwork in London and New York to agog audiences.


Food Art from Andy Warhol

Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Canned Food Drive

Andy Warhol first presented these 32 individual canvases in 1962, putting the works side by side just as if they were actual cans of soup on a grocery store’s shelves. Each canvas represents a different flavor of Campbell’s soup that Warhol hand-painted and hand-stamped with an eye toward the mass-produced ads the artist was inspired by.


Untitled by Feliz Gonzalez-Torres

Untitled by Feliz Gonzalez-Torres

Poignant Candies

In corners, around columns, in stairwells–Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ untitled candy performance-cum-changeable-sculpture pieces have been placed in humble settings across numerous museum floors worldwide. Visitors to the installations are invited to take a piece of the work…and the rest is up to them. Consume the candy. Keep it forever. Throw it away or pass it to a friend. The underlying message of the work harks back to the dark days the AIDS epidemic and the diminishing pile of candy represents those lost (or forsaken) to the disease.


Michael Parker food work: Juiceworks

Courtesy Michael Parker

Squeeze My Citrus

Artist Michael Parker, best known for his Cali land art installations, prompted visitors at his 2015 Juiceworks show to squeeze piles of gorgeously arranged citrus fruits using dozens of ceramic tools he’d made.


Courtesy Salad for President

Courtesy Salad for President

Salad for President

Artist and salad activist Julia Sherman, author of the blog Salad for President, created rooftop garden installations at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and MoMA PS1 in New York in 2014 and 2015. Guest artists were asked to make salads from the produce Sherman grew, which included more than 50 heirloom herbs, vegetables and edible flowers.


Floor Burger by Claes Oldenburg

Floor Burger by Claes Oldenburg

Inflatable Snacks

No binge-worthy food feast art history round-up would be complete without the Floor Burger by Claes Oldenburg. It is the epitome of modern art in food…or would that be modern food in art? You can’t eat it but you could definitely jump on this supersized junk food. Though the risk is museum banning you for life. #tradeoffs #worthit

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Drawing Basics: Learn 10 New Habits

Fresh Perspectives and New Goals

The fall brings to mind fresh perspectives and new goals for us all. Finding and utilizing drawing basics, tips and exercises is one way to keep your new art commitments going or if you’ve been growing your art for a while, this is a way to reconnect with the painting and drawing you love.

Drawing basics and drawing exercises

Sketches by Katherine Tyrrell from her book, Travels With a Sketchbook.

Drawing for beginners

The artist’s example using hatching and intermittent lines. Article contributions by Cherie Haas.

10 Drawing Basics for Beginning Artists

1. Draw frequently so that drawing becomes instinctive.

2. Start with a five-minute drawing.

3. Carry a small sketchbook with you all the time.

4. Indulge yourself! Give yourself the space and time to draw what you enjoy.

5. Compare your drawing with past work and not other people’s work.

6. Remember: Nobody’s perfect.

7. Feel good when you draw. Losing yourself in a drawing is akin to meditation and provides relief from the stress of everyday life.

8. Achieve mastery of a medium or technique.

9. Drawing is a journey.

10. Start drawing at home … and then start traveling.

Inspiration to Carry You Through

Do you feel like you’ve just been woken up? Now full of energy and ready to go? Then these inspirations are working their magic on you! Don’t stop now.

The Best Painting and Drawing 2017 Book Bundle is here to take your art inspirations even further with hundreds of pages of beautiful artwork and artist insights that are like jet fuel to the creative spirit. Pour it on! Enjoy!


This article features content from Katherine Tyrrell’s popular book, Drawing 365: Tips and Techniques to Build Your Confidence and Skill.

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5 Creative Ways to Sell Your Arts and Crafts This Holiday Season

An Artist’s Guide to “Gift Selling”

Homemade Gifts | Holiday Season | Holidays for Artists | Getty Image | Artists Network

‘Tis the holiday season of giving, so why not make it a profitable one, too? If you are planning to sell your handmade arts and crafts during the holidays, then this post is for you!

To make sure you, your patrons and your wallets are filled with festivity and goodwill, we’ve put together a list of quick and easy ways to give your artistic offerings a bit of holiday cheer. Here’s to a profitable season for you, artists! Enjoy!

Custom Bundles

Gift baskets filled with goodies are always a hit, so why not create one with your art? If your specialty is acrylic paintings of landscapes, for instance, try scaling them down, way down. Create an assortment of mini landscape paintings, perhaps with a winter theme, tied with a pretty bow.

An art bundle of small paintings could equate to the size of one, large canvas when you put them all together. Keeping in mind your material and labor expenses, you could price these tiny but mighty bundles similarly to your full-size paintings, but market them as holiday specials perfect for art-lovers.

Small Painting | Painting Small | Homemade Gifts | Holiday Season | Holidays for Artists | Getty Image | Artists Network

Another art gift set idea is to make inexpensive prints of your most popular artworks in a variety of sizes and correlating prices. What’s more, consider offering to frame the print(s) at an additional cost. That way customers not only can purchase their favorite art pieces at a fraction of the price, but they also don’t have to worry about taking the extra step to get them framed. Do these as limited editions that you sell to your email clients exclusively, and you just might put the Black Friday lines to shame.

Coupons and Incentives During the Holiday Season

Big Sale | Art Sales | Coupons | Holiday Sales | Getty Images | Artists NetworkBundles not an option, or you want to find more ways to boost sales this holiday season? Consider offering special pricing, coupons and incentives. For example, take part in Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) or Small Business Saturday on November 25 by offering a flash sale on your artwork.

Don’t have time to prepare for Cyber Monday or Small Business Saturday this year? Create your own one-day-only event! Offer a percentage off your art selection, free shipping and/or an array of BOGO (buy one painting, get one drawing or study) deals. And, you could even try mixing all three of those options together for one, mega holiday sale!

If a customer spends X amount of money, for instance, he or she can get free shipping; or if a client buys one painting, he or she could get another one for 50% off — plus free shipping if they spend over $100. The best part is: What you offer your customers during your holiday sale is entirely up to you.

Card Gift Sets and Holiday-Specific Art Pieces

Homemade Gifts | Holiday Season | Holidays for Artists | Making Money During the Holidays | Getty Image | Artists Network

Another great way to make more money this holiday season is to climb on board the festive frenzy train by offering holiday-centric goodies to your customers from custom cards to seasonal-inspired artworks.

And, if you really are feeling the holiday spirit, take a few notes from the money-making tips above by throwing a few sales, bundles and BOGOs into the mix.

Pro tip: It’s important to note not every customer celebrates the same holidays or in the same way, so make sure to include a variety of offerings, whether it is holiday-specific — such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas or New Years — or more general seasonal tidings for all to enjoy.

Community and Online Events

Holiday Season | Holiday Fair | Selling Art During Holidays | Art Business | Getty Images | Artists Network

Whether you have your own website, finding alternative ways to spread the word about your art is always a good practice. And, around the holiday season is no different.

Check to see if there are any local fairs and events taking place in your community, and ask libraries and park(s) if any holiday festivities are being offered. If so, find out if they will allow you to promote and/or sell your art. Even if they say you can only pass out flyers, you are still garnering more exposure which can lead to more sales down the line. Add fliers and a bit of hot apple cider, and you’ll have people clamoring to talk to you. And with Small Business Saturday right around the corner, there may be opportunities aplenty around town for you to check out and take part in!

If community events and gatherings won’t work, or if this just isn’t your speed, try setting up shop digitally. You don’t have to have your own website to sell your art to customers online. There are tons of arts and crafts sites that will let you sell your work and set your own price, such as Etsy.

Even if you do have your own website, or decide to take part in local functions around town, utilizing online websites geared toward selling arts and crafts can be a great additional way to make profits during this peak buying time of the year.

Being Savvy…Social Savvy

Social media can be so much more than a way to stay connected with your family and friends. It can be used as a key tool to promote your art.

Keep your friends, family and customers updated on your latest projects, sales and available artworks. Share pictures of your work via your social platforms. And, if you have one, provide a link to your online shop page, whether your personal website or a third-party arts and crafts site.

If you are a little more familiar with the ins and outs of social media, you could take your marketing up a notch by using hashtags on platforms like Instagram and Twitter as a way to market your art. For example, if you are trying to sell your new watercolor painting of a cityscape, make sure to tag it on Instagram with hashtags such as #artsales, #watercolorpaintings, #cityscapepaintings, #artforsale, etc., and include a link in your bio to where people can find more information.

Likewise, if you are on Pinterest, try creating boards for specific art media, subjects or even sales and promotions you are offering.

Claude Monet, Winter Landscapes, Artists Network

Snow Scene at Argenteuil by Claude Monet

Regardless if you prefer online or in-person interactions with customers, taking advantage of the holiday season is a great way to not only add a little more cushion to your wallet but also to help others provide the perfect gift for the special art-lovers in their lives.

If you want even more tips and tricks for making money as an artist, then be sure to check out Lori McNee’s Fine Art Tips Business Bundle. Filled with tips from top artists for more successful artworks and ways to make more money online, this resource is sure to help you jumpstart your art career.

Happy holidays, artists! We hope it is a joyous, and profitable, season.

*Want more art inspiration, interviews, tips and tutorials? Subscribe to for the Artists Network Newsletter!

The post 5 Creative Ways to Sell Your Arts and Crafts This Holiday Season appeared first on Artist's Network.

Landscape Painting: All About Edges | Paint Along 41 LIVE with Johannes Vloothuis

WEB SEMINAR: Landscape Painting: It’s All About the Edges!

TIME: 1:00 to 5:00 PM ET
DATES: 3 Saturdays: December 2, 9, and 16, 2017
The class may extend more than 4 hours
WHERE: From the comfort of your home
You do not have to attend the sessions live. Everything gets recorded and can be downloaded at no extra cost.

Registration for Landscape Painting: All About Edges | Paint Along 41 LIVE online workshop coming soon!

Sample Demo for Paint Along 41 Landscape Painting All About Edges, by Johannes Vloothuis

Sample Demo for Paint Along 41 Landscape Painting All About Edges, by Johannes Vloothuis

Landscape Painting: It’s All About the Edges!

With an over 24,000-mile circumference, how can we as artists even begin to capture the true grandeur of our landscape on a two-dimensional surface? How do we portray the vast distances between objects and the far distance in the backgrounds to momentarily immerse our viewers’ imaginations into our landscape painting? There is a way–the correct manipulation of edges.

In this online workshop, master professional landscape artist, Johannes Vloothuis, will give you the keys to achieve this, as well as reveal many other valuable landscape painting tips. Join him and hundreds of friendly artists for over 12 hours of painting fun distributed over three Saturdays live and online. Johannes will start his paintings from scratch, and finish them in real time while you watch over his shoulder. You can also see him mix his colors on the palette. You’ll learn detailed painting tips as you hear him think out loud. And if you want, you can do the same painting along with him from the comfort of your home, and even receive a critique!

What Is Included in this Online Painting Workshop?

You will receive drawing templates before each class, which you can trace onto your painting surface. And, during each session you will receive verbal techniques, color combinations, and instructions to guide you along the way. One painting demo will be in oils, another in watercolor, and another in pastels.

Painting demonstrations will include the following landscape subjects:

  • Burleigh Falls in Ontario with beautiful rocks and foliage
  • The frontal view of a cottage surrounded by flowers
  • Glade Grist Mill in West Virginia in an autumn setting

You do not have to attend the live courses. Everything gets recorded and can be downloaded at no extra cost.

Registration for Landscape Painting: All About Edges | Paint Along 41 LIVE online workshop coming soon!

Some Reviews from others courses from Johannes Vloothuis:

  • “I’m new to the online class process and was interested in whether or not any instructor would be able to give personal assistance. Wow! I was happily surprised to find that not only did I get a great class that was loaded with info, but also I asked questions and received answers directed to me. I love these classes. Review by Mary
  • “Excellent class for the Landscape artist.” Review by Mike
  • “There is always something new to learn.” Review by Darlene
  • “I see my work improving.” Review by Mary
  • “Excellent. Jo always manages to come up with new information for us.” Review by Frances

About Johannes Vloothuis:
Johannes Vloothuis has exhibited his work all over the world including Saint Petersburg, Sao Paolo and The National Watercolor Museum in Mexico City. He has won several awards such as the top award in the country of Mexico for watercolor and teaches oils, watercolor and pastel. Johannes has taught over 17,000 artists of all skill levels, including professionals via his online courses. The prestigious, Pastel Society of America listed him under, “Master Artists.”

Missed the previous online seminars? Click here to purchase the WetCanvas Live! recordings from


What Can I Expect? Johannes gives you a sneak peek into what it’s like to take part in a live online art workshop…

What is an online seminar?

    • It is a live, online class that you view on your computer at a specific day and time. Think of it as a workshop right in your living room.
    • Our events are scheduled on Eastern Standard Time (EST), so if you are in a different time zone, you will need to take scheduling into account — for example 1 PM EST = 12 PM CST, and so on…
    • The sessions will be broadcast via Twitch which is a high-quality live stream platform owned by the Amazon company. The online class will stream as high definition. For this reason you will need a fluent internet connection.
    • The classes are live and we utilize live text chatting, where you can ask your instructor questions as well as chat with fellow artists. Type the full statement in capital letters if it is a question or comment to Johannes so it stands out. To activate this option you will need to create a free Twitch account (only new users). Make sure not to include blank spaces while typing in the username and password. The video screen has the option of full screen. The clickable option is at the bottom right of the video screen. There is also a theater mode option that places the chat box next to the video.
    • In case you do not attend the live sessions, the streaming recordings will be posted right after the class is over. A few days later you will be able to download the recordings and store them locally. Check the student page regularly for updates–instructions for access will be sent with your workshop purchase. All workshop-related materials and links will appear there.

What are the technical requirements for participating in an online seminar?

  • You need a computer and a reliable broadband connection, as well as a Web browser (Mozilla Firefox is recommended for best viewing experience).
  • You will also want to be connected to the Internet via an Ethernet Cable (available at any computer store) if possible versus wireless connectivity which can cause buffering issues. In case you have not acquired the cable, try to narrow the space from your device to the modem, preferably watch your video in the same room where the modem is located.
  • A 5mbps download speed on your computer is recommended. Run a speed test here: If you get 5mbps download you are good to go.
  • You can also watch the class on a large HDTV by connecting an HDMI cable. If it is a smart TV, you can watch it directly.

What can I do during an online seminar?

  • Hear the presenter deliver the workshop (via Internet connection)
  • See visuals from the presenter’s computer (e.g., PowerPoint, web browser, or any document they wish to share)
  • Ask the presenter questions in real time. Type the full statement in capital letters if it is a question or comment to Johannes so it stands out. To activate this option you will need to create a free Twitch account (only new users). Make sure not to include blank spaces while typing in the username and password.

What if I have any technical problems getting into the seminar?

  • We have technical support on hand to help you. Contact live chat during regular office hours. Nearly 100% of our attendees don’t have any trouble after we assist them. You can sign on at least 10 minutes before the session is scheduled to begin, giving you time to ask questions if you have any trouble.
  • Our seminar system will work with both Macs and PCs.

What happens if I miss something during the seminar?

  • In case you do not attend the live sessions, the streaming recordings will be posted right after the class is over. A few days later you will be able to download the recordings and store them locally. Check the student page regularly for updates–instructions for access will be sent with your workshop purchase. All workshop related materials and links will appear there.
  • We also record our seminars and offer them for sale at following the close of the course.


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