The Importance of The Impressionists

Richard D.Burton
Richard D.Burton

“Everything painted on the spot has a strength, a power, a vividness that cannot be recaptured in the studio.”~Eugene Boudin

There are some great arguments and discussions about the importance of painting in open air rather than in the studio. My brother, artist Lynn Burton, loves it when the weather becomes warm and the blue bonnets are blooming along the Texas roadways.

“It provides me with a direct approach to nature, giving me the opportunity to paint precise effects of light and weather,” he explained.

Texas Artist, Lynn Burton
Texas Artist, Lynn Burton

“You learn to work fast when painting in nature, because working outdoors comes with its own set of problems. Conditions can change so fast that what you’re trying to capture can disappear in a matter of minutes,” he continued.

The early impressionists found that by going into the landscape they were able to paint nature with a fresher depiction. Before the nineteenth century, paintings were mostly done in the artist’s studio. Artists had to mix their own paints in small batches which dried up quickly. This was not conducive for painting outdoors. However, with the availability of zinc paint tubes, the conditions to transform their working methods changed. The result of the commercial production of synthetic pigments were more affordable and allowed the artists to capture the intensity of color created by strong sunshine.

Lynn Burton: Unknown~oil on canvas
Lynn Burton: Unknown~oil on canvas

At the time the impressionists began exhibiting their paintings, they were received with disgust. People were used to seeing paintings where the most minute detail was realistically depicted. However, the angry attitude was short-lived. It wasn’t long until the public adjusted to “the impressionistic” style of painting, recognizing it as its own style of art.

Fortunately, for all of us artists, the impressionists opened doors for even the realist painter. To be accepted, no longer does everything have to be perfect down to the last detail. Also, because the impressionists redefined what art is and can be, it opened the artistic doors that spawned most all movements and art isms.

Claude Monet: Temera on canvas
Claude Monet: Tempera on canvas

We have to truly appreciate the works of some of the original impressionists; such as, Claude Monet, who taught the world to paint with short brush strokes to convey form, and graded tones to suggest perspective. Monet, and his fellow impressionists, tended to condense everything to its simplest visual form. They seemed not to labor over the physical appearance of a tree or house. Instead, they were more passionate about how light and color in nature were constantly changing.

“Take, for example, trying to depict ripples and reflections in water, or sunlight filtering through trees,” Lynn Burton says when asked to discuss his technique of painting.

Lynn Burton: Segment of "Swan Lake Reflections" Showing hard and soft edges
Lynn Burton: Segment of “Swan Lake Reflections”

 

 

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What Art Fad is Next? The World Waits.

Pablo Picasso: "Compotier avec fruits, violon et verne" (collage)
Pablo Picasso: “Compotier avec fruits, violon et verne” (collage)

“Suddenly, Abstract Expressionism pooped out, and New York was full of shadowy has beens and fallen kings. What fad was next? The world waited. The answer came. The Figure. Did we realists get our hopes up? Perhaps for a few months. Then it became clear that the figure depicted must appear destroyed in some way – representing in short a cry of anguish over the Human Condition.”~Robert Vickrey*

Ah, but do we artists enjoy the trending of the fad?  Yes, and no! It only depends on what end of the fad we’re on…right?

I guess the beginning of a fad is the work more of a promoter than an artist. Take for example the abstract expressionists – the great “dribbler” himself, Jackson Pollack. I personally like and enjoy his work, but I must admit that the only thing that makes his work so valuable is because someone said it was, and it wasn’t Mr. Pollack. The fringes of his sanity probably became frayed because he spent so many  years studying a more realistic style of art that he could not (and did not) sell, but when he dribbled a few drops of paint on substrate, he helped create an entire new movement. Wow! What strange world we live in.

Segment  of work:Jackson Pollock: Blue Poles (1952)
Segment of work: Jackson Pollock: Blue Poles (1952)

So what does it take to be considered somebody in the art world? It helps if you can start a fad. Sadly, it probably isn’t the artist that starts a fad, but it’s the promoters. And in the world of social media, the internet, the umpteen dozens of television channels which keeps the least among us informed, the probability of a fad lasting any time at all is very unlikely.

My recommendation for artists is to not concern themselves about style, technique, or movement of what is hot and selling at the moment, but instead, do what is hot for them. They should find their own passion. Paint what they love, and do it with fever in the style and technique that turns them on.

Pop Art followed. Abstract Expressionism wore its heart on its sleeve, but at least it had a heart. The new style was heartless. Ugly flash photos were copied with care. Billboards were presented with mock seriousness. Enlarged comic strips supposedly ripped the mask from the face of our shallow contemporary emotions. Dada was back, but instead of being a rebellion, it was the new official art.~ Robert Vickrey*

I can’t help but feel the emotion of Mr. Vickrey’s words when reading them. In a few words he completely defines that which all of us artists feel when wondering how certain movements completely takes over the art world with thundering passion. I tend to scratch my head and simply say with confusion, “It’s a wonderment!”

*Robert Vickrey: Robert Vickrey Artist at Work

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Richard D. Burton: The Old Woody (Acrylic on Board)
Richard D. Burton: The Old Woody (Acrylic on Board)
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Simplify Your Subject

Andrew Wyeth, "Christina's World" (1948)
Andrew Wyeth, “Christina’s World” (1948)

When you consider some of the really good artists and their works, you often wonder what they have in common. In many cases, an art critic might point out that it is the ability to simplify their subject. This, of course, is not entirely true, but there is a tendency to do this, as if they work hard at it.

Ask yourself this: do you paint what you are seeing? Or do you paint what you want your viewers to see? If you do the latter, then it takes careful planning of the composition. This means simplifying what you are seeing, unless the scene you are seeing is already void of anything but only the necessary ingredients for the perfect picture. Does that tree grow too close to the house? Should it be moved to a more picturesque location? or should it be removed from the scene entirely? I think you’re beginning to get the picture…right?

Robert Vickrey's Book: Artist at Work
Robert Vickrey’s Book: Artist at Work

I’ve always enjoyed studying the works of artist. Two of my favorites are Andrew Wyeth and Robert Vickrey. They both were masters at the egg tempera technique, which is complicated enough, but they often painted pictures with a great many details. However, they manged to simplify their compositions by allowing only the details to remain that mattered.

For example, when painting Christina’s World, Wyeth worked months painting the hill of brown grass (which takes up the majority of the space on the canvas). Christina (the subject of the painting) is in the field. The Olson farm is in the distance, and is painted in a manner not to compete with the subject. There it is…one, two, three. A big space of grass, a person alone in the field, and a farm house and barn in the distance. It’s simple…right? Perhaps simple, but a lot of hard work.

If you study the beautiful and intricate works of Robert Vickrey, you see the effort he expended to simplify very complicated compositions, allowing only the bare necessary details to create the picture. An example of this is seen in the painting used as the cover of his book: Robert Vickrey~Artist at Work.

The illustrations depicted on this page are intended for educational purposes only. They are low resolution photographs that can not possibly represent their true value or worth.

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Two Tips: What Should an Artist do? Sketch? or Photograph?

Sketch? Or Photograph?
Sketch? Or Photograph?

Should you sketch or take photographs to capture your inspirations as an artist. If you’re an artist, and sketching does not come spontaneous and rewarding, don’t concern yourself, it soon will. It’ll become a natural habit as you find yourself unconsciously reaching for graphite and substrate. An artist needs to continuously  sketch, so let not your heart be troubled, you soon will find yourself massaging this need as your life becomes sketch full. However, as important as this endeavor is, this artist recommends you keep a camera nearby.

In the past, there have been many discussions (and sometime heated arguments) as to whether an artist should use photographs for their artistic works. I think by now, the conflict is settled. Most artist of today feel anything it takes to successfully bring forward an artist’s talent to their personal satisfaction is acceptable by the majority. I do both. Often, I sketch from the natural scene while taking photographs. I also print the photographs and rearrange them, move the different parts around, paste them in different places, and then sketch using earlier sketches and photos to create a composition. It works for me. I also photograph myself.  Why not? I am my favorite model in many cases.

Artist, Richard D. Burton posing for "Grinding Gears of Time"
Artist, Richard D. Burton posing for “Grinding Gears of Time”
Photograph of artist (study of shadows)
Photo of artist Richard D. Burton posing – study of shadow shapes for future painting

For example, these two
photos of me were very helpful in two different pictures.

The one on the left is used in a work I lovingly call “a work in progress,” since it is not finished (shown below). The photograph on the right is posing for my work I call “Grinding Gears of Time,” an 18″X24″ graphite drawing. This is also shown below.

Grinding Gears of Time
Richard D. Burton: Grinding Gears of Time
Watercolor: "a work in progress"
Watercolor: “a work in progress”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, as you can see, sketching can be very important, and so can a camera. Both methods of capturing your needs to complete your work is important. The Grinding Gears of Time was more simple than the street scene in “a work in progress.” I sketched, as well as, took many photographs for this one.

photog: "a work in progress" colorful foliage
photog: “a work in progress” colorful foliage
sketch"a work in progress"
sketch: “a work in progress”

From sketching pieces and parts of the composition, to studying photographs of foliage, trees, and even bicycles, this is why I call the work a “work in progress.” I always find something in the sketches that I want to add, or take away. It doesn’t sound too professional of me, but I don’t care. I’m driven by a different motivation. Don’t ask me what it is, for I do not know.

Tip# 1: Photographs are a great guide for factual information, but it should be used seldom for color composition. It tends to be monochrome or tonal. Remember, the digital colors are in a mixture of cyan or magenta and a paint pigment can not pick this up accurately. It is always best to mix your colors with nature as your guide, outside in the true atmosphere. When time and ample supply allows, when sketching and photographing a possible composition, it helps to mix some colors that you are seeing and experiencing at the time (if it’s what you want to capture). Make some color swatches from the colors you imitate from nature.

Tip# 2: When drawing people, approach the subject to suggest they are alive. Try to draw their body language to suggest any moment they might change their pose and move about. The quick sketch of the woman at the top of the article seems as any moment she might move. She’s a bit dramatic, but the pose is for emphasis. However, we all know she can’t stand like that forever. We also know the artist that is sketching her will soon drop his arm and begin drawing or painting her.

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Watercolor: a Work in Progress

Snapshot of Studio
Snapshot of Studio

Sometimes it does good to let a watercolor set awhile until you have a little more motivation. A perfect example of this is the painting (a work in progress) that has been sitting idle in my studio.

At first, I thought it had been ruined because the board it was attached to broke from stretching the paper. This happened after painting a good portion of the painting. When the board broke, it caused the paper to buckle. However, after cutting it back a bit, I was able to salvage the paper and flatten the buckle, and then I taped the paper onto a different board. This was fortunate because to begin the painting all over again was questionable whether it was worth it or not.

Again, you can almost always salvage a painting, even a watercolor. You just can’t always have it the way you originally thought it would be, but if you “keep the faith,” use your creativity, and apply all your knowledge, you just might save that which you thought was ruined.

In my experience of painting, I’ve picked a few tricks that may be worth passing on…

Watercolor in progress
Watercolor: A work in progress

Painting on a solid white background has always had, at least for me, a somewhat lackluster quality about it. I’m especially thinking of the large white areas in snow paintings, expansive whiteness of skies, and water in misty and foggy pictures.

I prefer to cover the entire paper with clear water and then drop in areas of the three primaries. In this instance, I used scarlet lake, Windsor yellow, and cobalt blue. I allowed the different colors to work around creating a mostly non-white background. I created all the colors in the  painting by using combined mixtures of these three colors. I can still make use of accidental whites which can help emphasize edges, they just are not necessarily pure white. Although, they will appear as such even if they are faint scarlet lake, Windsor yellow, and cobalt blue.

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Act 3: Texas Red Barn Wedding

100_2370This is the third act of the Texas Red Barn Wedding. It is the desire of this author to finish the story of his visit to the oldest city in Texas to attend the marriage of his grand-daughter Olivia.

Top of the wedding cake
Top of the wedding cake

If you have not read the first two episodes of this ongoing saga, I encourage you to do so before reading this entry (you will see them listed at the lower right hand side of this page. All you have to do is click and go). The reason for this is that it will prepare you for this article.

Guests seating in  anticipating of the ceremony
Guests seating in anticipation of the ceremony

Ushers began seating the members of the families, alternating from those kin to the bride and those kin to the groom. After the guests were seated, it wasn’t long before they were craning around to see the bridesmaid being ushered in to take her place to the side of  the officiating platform. The crowd tended to relax, knowing that the wedding was in action and soon to arrive.

After some time, all those participating in the ceremony with the bride and groom stood in their places awaiting the bride to arrive. The beautiful little flower girl lead the way, gently swishing flower petals in the path of the bride with an uncanny confidence and self awareness.

Father gives away the bride.
Father gives away the bride.

Soon the anticipated sounds of  Wagner’s Bridal March began to tone. All turned toward the back to see the bride with her father. Like a well rehearsed dance, the two approached the front where father and daughter stood arm in arm as the preacher asked “who gives this woman.”  With a slight pause and gravity, the father gave his daughter away. He then helped her upon the platform to face the groom. After this, he turned and joined his wife on the front row to become part of the audience.

With patience, Olivia and Cody stood staring into each others eyes as the preacher performing the ceremony meticulously tied binding knots in the expectations of their future, weaving a blanket of certainty enough to last a lifetime. Soon the bride and groom read their promises to each other, and the rings were exchanged. The question was asked of each, and the response of “I do” was promised. Finally, as the expecting audience anticipated, “you may kiss the bride,” was spoken. The wedding was over. The two were one flesh. Now, it was party time!

The newly married couple
The newly married couple

 

John, Olivia, Cody, and Andrea
John, Olivia, Cody, and Andrea

For the next time or so the participants and relatives posed for the wedding pictures. I do not have the ones the professional took after the wedding, but here are a few I snapped. We did nothing but take pictures for about an hour, then the food and drinks were prepared and the reception began.

Olivia and Cody surrounded by my three grandsons~Luke, Trent, and Shane.
Olivia and Cody surrounded by my three grandsons~Luke, Trent, and Shane.

I took a few more dozen pictures, and accidentally found myself near the drinks. Here, I took a brief time off from my shutter snapping to enjoy the revery.100_2411

When the wedding cake first arrive before the wedding, it stood (somewhat leaning) on a platform undecorated. in jest, I called it the leaning tower of pizza because it reminded me of that great architectural feat.

 

 

The wedding cake
The wedding cake

 

 

Snap of reception partu
Snap of reception party

When it comes to food and drink and a little revery, the father and mother of the bride excelled. There were guests of all ages attending, and there was not a thing forgotten to the benefit of them. All had been planned and performed well,and the more I imbibed, the more I agreed.

At one point, Shane (Sib#1) flew his drone over the wedding, taking motion pictures of the ceremony. It may be hard to see, but as I was on the veranda off the children’s second floor den, I realized the drone was above me, I tried snapping a picture of it. If you look real hard at the tree leaves, you will see a small red light which is the camera of the drone.100_2430

Finally the food was served, and the wedding party settled to more serious matters; such as, eating. After the food diminished, it began a slight drizzle of rain. The guests worked their way to the great room of the house. Here, we had champagne or sparkling grape and toasted the bride and groom. It was a good time for those who wished to publicly make a toast to do so, and they did from one of the top stairs of the staircase. It wasn’t long until the  drizzle subsided, and the guests worked their way to the tent for music, frivolity, drink, and dance. The father of the bride welcomed his daughter for the first few dances.

Father and bride dance
Father and bride dance

 

The could have danced all night
They could have danced all night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100_2474 2After the father and daughter dance exhausted, others joined in and began dancing.

Sig #2 with his "Special Lady"
Sib #2 with his “Special Lady”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sibs # 1 and #6
Sibs # 1 and #6

 

 

And the beat goes on! Shake it loose…make it happen!

Sending off the bride and groom with Chinese lanturns
Sending off the bride and groom with Chinese lanturns

 

Get down!!! Sock it to me!!!
Get down!!! Sock it to me!!!

 

After a while it was time to turn off the music for a short time, and send the bride and groom off with Chinese lanterns.

 

 

 

 

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Red Barn Texas Wedding Part Deux

Richard D.Burton
Richard D.Burton

My wife, Nancy, and I zipped down to Texas on March 5th to spend time with my daughter and her husband as they prepared for my Grand-daughter’s wedding which was to be held on their estate in an old red barn three days later. If you haven’t already read the blog post prior to this one, I would advise you to go there first and read it before you read this one. It’ll make more sense.

Richard D.Burton
Wedding locator signage

Just outside and to the left of the red barn, and gently placed in a recently new landscaped flower bed, was a locator sign that directed visitors to the different areas of activity on the estate. Olivia made the signage. I felt this was a typical “Burton” thing to do since she came from a family of sign painters (her great-uncle, artist Lynn Burton, and her great grandfather, the late artist Arlen Burton). Me? I couldn’t paint letters for any amount of money.

Red Barn
Red Barn Patiently waiting the inevitable

Early in the morning of the wedding day, I walked the area. I couldn’t help but feel anticipation in the well prepared grounds, as if they were speaking to me. On this day two young people would make a commitment of sincerity that would be life changing, and, hopefully, from my point of view and desire, life creating. It was going to be a good day…a day committing to the prolongation of my family line. Yes, indeed! It was going to be a good day.100_2341

wedding
Wedding

The scene in back of the great house was beginning to appear near ready for the guest reception. The tent was up, the dance floor was in place, candles were placed on tables, and the empty chairs screamed for frivolity.

Tent, table, and candles~estate small house in background
Tent, table, and candles~(estate small house in background)

Olivia’s brother #3 was looking over the outside area, making certain all was in order, especially the wine, sparkling grape, and champagne.

Brother #3 inspects the drinks
Brother #3 inspects the drinks

So, the outside is shaping up, but what about the inside?

One can not walk inside without being encircled by a threatening order surrounded by a cacophony of disorder. A simple glance at the family room coffee table filled with over a hundred utensils wrapped in a wedding napkins makes my case.

Grandmother Nancy at the top...Step grandmother Nancy at the bottom...toasting glasses in the middle
Grandmother Nancy at the top…Step grandmother Nancy at the bottom…toasting glasses in the middle
utensils rolled in napkins
utensils rolled in napkins

Two grandmothers (one a step, but both named Nancy) patiently assembled the toasting glasses. It had been many years since the two women had the opportunity to see each other, and the reunion was a pleasant one, especially to meet again under such positive conditions.

Two grands-one mother-sister#1-and a wedding planner
Two grands-one mother-sister#1-and a wedding planner

It was obvious. The inside of the house was mostly controlled by women. Surprisingly, I was able to slip among them without them knowing I was there as I doggedly shutter snapped my camera. One exception was Olivia’s brother #1 who always seems comfortably walking among the many and the great.

Sib#1 and mother talking to Grandmother
Sib#1 and mother talking to Grandmother

It seemed as if everyone had a part, as if all was a well scripted play. This was the late morning on the day of the wedding. The ceremony was planned to take place promptly at 4:00pm and I wasn’t certain everything would be ready no matter how well scripted.

Outside, there was an overcast of clouds with a 40% chance of afternoon showers predicted. Grandmother Nancy kept saying, “Not to worry…it’ll hit thirty miles South of here…not here at all.”  We all hoped she was right, because rain is not what we wanted since the bride and groom were going to be saying their vows outside of the barn on a wooden platform. “Not to worry,” Mother Andrea kept saying. “If we must they can say their vows in the dance tent or the house.” The women seemed so comfortable, controlled and unconcerned. I think they were faking me out, but I did think there was going to be a wedding.

A disorganization of order
A disorganization of order
Fruit for the wedding
Fruit for the wedding

Order persisted to threaten disorder throughout the house, and until each item was placed in their planned space would the disorder persist.

 

Strawberries awaiting a chocolate bath
Strawberries awaiting a chocolate bath

 

It didn’t matter that everything at this time seemed a little disorganized, the wedding planner wasn’t showing any signs of panic or confusion, so why was I concerned?

If no one else was concerned, then I shouldn’t be. Realizing this, I leisurely moseyed into the family room and snapped a shot of the bride’s other grandfather’s (the late James Frederick) artwork on the wall. While moseying, I decided to mosey upstairs to relax for a couple of hours before getting ready for the wedding.

To be continued: Please keep following, we will get the bride and groom to the preacher. And we’ll have a wedding party. Check back.

Art of James Frederick on the wall of the great house on the Frederick estate
Art of James Frederick on the wall of the great house at the Frederick estate

If you would like to see some of my grand-daughter Olivia’s (the bride) artwork, go to the top of page and click on Burton Family Gallery. You will have to scroll down through my work, one of my father’s painting, and then you will be in the talented Olivia area.

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The Art of a Good Old Fashioned Red Barn Texas Wedding

Preparing the barn for the wedding
Preparing the barn for the wedding

A few miles north of the oldest town in Texas where citizens blend southern hospitality with its original Spanish heritage to make it a uniquely “Texas town,” a wedding took place this past weekend at the Frederick estate.

All the guests considered it to be a good ole’ fashion red barn Texas wedding. Few, however, knew the extent of work that took place a few weeks and days before the wedding. This artist considers it to be a work of art, and although it was not done with paint brushes and substrate, it was still a work of art. The 10.55 acres estate was literally turned on its head in preparation for the wedding. We all wish Cody and Olivia the best as they venture into their new life together.

The marriage
“You may now kiss the bride.”

When the decision was made to have the wedding in the old barn on the estate, John (the father of the bride), decided it wouldn’t work unless a floor was installed. Up to this point, the barn had a dirt floor. So, the barn had to have a cement floor put in around the supporting beams. Then, came the landscaping.

“It just gave me an excuse to landscape the entire estate, which I wanted to do anyway,” stated John (my son-in-law~and son of artist, James Frederick).

The "Big" house
The “Big” house

 

Drive toward the two houses on the estate
Drive toward the two houses on the estate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscaping on the side of barn
Landscaping on the side of barn

 

Dropping off bails of hay~a little atmosphere
Dropping off bails of hay~a little atmosphere

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stones laid for bridal path
Stones laid for bridal path

 

One of the many beds landscaped
One of the many beds landscaped

 

From hundreds of flowers and plants planted to stone laid surrounding the flower beds, including the stone path laid to the red barn, commonly now called the”bridal path.”

Landscapers working

Shot behind the barn to the back of the estate
Shot behind the barn to the back of the estate

I actually took over three hundred pictures for this wedding. My wife, Nancy, and I caught a plane and traveled all day Wednesday, and then drove two and a half hours to arrive late in the afternoon. Saturday was the day of the wedding, so I had plenty of time doing what I do, take lots of pictures, lay around watching a lot of workers work, give my advice (seldom taken), and overall enjoy myself.

We did take in a museum of the colorful town on Thursday, and my son-in-law, John, took Nancy and I on a colorful country ride on Friday, stopped by a Mexican restaurant for a lunch of chicken chopped cheese enchiladas and a chilled mango Margarita. We barely had time to take an afternoon nap, clean up, and show up at another Mexican Restaurant for the wedding recital dinner.

Nancy checking out the decorations in the barn.
Nancy (Olivia’s step-grandmother) checking out the decorations in the barn.
John, Father of Bride, bringing in supplies for the decorations
John, Father of Bride, bringing in supplies for the decorations

 

The landscaping, decorations, and planning were coming to their zenith. The work was near finished and it was time for the touches to the wedding preparations.

 

 

The mother of bride puts a table together
The mother of bride puts a table together.

 

The mother of the bride was getting very involved, not only from the kitchen, the drinks, set ups, the cake, the communications from the wedding planner, and more…even the dogs were involved.

The wedding dogs...
The wedding dogs…

The dogs gave up chasing squirrel, deer, antelope, wild boar, and any other creature they imagined roams the 10-1/2 acre estate in East Texas to help the adults with the wedding (if you believe that we all have problems!). We’re only trying to put on a wedding here, not jump into Storybook.

This was only the first chapter. Please follow the wedding of the century in the next blog: TO BE CONTINUED……

 

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Twenty-five Tips for Artist

Some time back, I came across a list of twenty-five tips for artists that I felt was helpful. I do not know exactly where I got the tips, but I will pass them on for your benefit.

Do I religiously follow the tips? Of course not. But I did tape the list to my art easel, hoping its presence will somehow soak into my artistic psyche, and make me a better artist.

R. D. Burton: Knobby Winter Tree: Graphite Drawing
R. D. Burton: Knobby Winter Tree: Graphite Drawing
  • Do value sketches.
  • Simplify your subject.
  • Do a fairly accurate drawing.
  • Think shapes, not objects.
  • Paint from large shapes to small shapes.
  • Pay attention to edges – hard, soft, and lost.
  • Be sure to have hard, soft, and lost edges in your painting.
  • Paint quickly, but under control.
  • Get in and get out.
  • Make your first stroke your best stroke. Remember,  fewer strokes win.
  • Use the largest brush you can for as long as you can.
  • Fewer palette colors result in fewer touches to the substrate.
  • When painting with watercolors, use a spray bottle to assist moving the color on the paper.
  • Paint on an angle to help keeping the color moving.
  • Tilt the board for even more movement.
  • Don’t worry about “messing up.” If you can’t correct or use your mistakes, turn the paper over and paint on the back.
  • Remove the stress by just playing. You don’t always have to create the “perfect painting.”
  • Use your brush to interpret, not render.
  • Stick to what attracted you to the subject in the first place. Down play everything else.
  • Be selective to where you place your level of attention.
  • Just let it happen, don’t try to “make” it happen.
  • Paint the same subject several times in a series.
  • Be smart. Understand that you will probably make more “bad” paintings before you start doing good paintings.
  • Paint! Paint! Paint!…and have fun.
James Frederick: "Poppin' Johny" Graphite on paper
James Frederick: “Poppin’ Johnny” Graphite on paper
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Controlling Artistic Freedom

Richard D. Burton: Watercolor in progress
Richard D. Burton: Watercolor in progress

For many realistic painters, there is a tendency to harness artistic freedom. They tend to feel lost when attempting to work freely with no drawing, no preparation, and only a vague idea of what kind of composition they’re after, what light source they will establish, and so forth. How will their design work? Should something be added or removed? These are just a few questions they anxiously ask, assuming the definition of freedom means no control, and no control means disaster. But without freedom, where is the fun?

How does one keep their freedom, and still take control of their painting? Taking control means answering all the questions of drawing, value, design, composition. In other words, determining all the elements of painting before beginning.

Lynn Burton: The Red Sunset" (oil on canvas)
Lynn Burton: The Red Sunset” (oil on canvas)

There is a way for a realistic artist to still have control of their work while keeping their total freedom, allowing them to retain their composition, drawing, and realism. Remember, chance will favor the prepared mind. The better we prepare before we begin our painting, the faster and more freely we can work.

We’ve all heard that a tight drawing makes for a tight painting. Is this really true? I tend to think not necessarily so. I find if I plan ahead, by the time paint is on canvas, board or paper, I can work outward, free and loose. The details are in the planning; therefore, there is little concern for losing realism.

 

 

 

 

 

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