Saturday, November 19, 2011

On "How Long Did it Take to Paint That?"

Artist's are frequently asked "how long did it take you to paint that painting"? It's a question I always hated as I felt it shortchanged my efforts and experience. I've often been tempted to glibly respond, as I once heard another artist remark, "50 years and an hour". While this is not exactly accurate, it does at least suggest the years of training and experience that hones the diverse skills required to create a painting of merit.

 It seems to me though that when a prospective collector asks this question what they really want to know is if  the price I'm asking is a fair price?  A much more accurate and better answer would be "three months plus my X years of experience". 

So, you ask,  how did I come up the the idea of three months? 

Actually, my husband Paul came up with the idea and I thought it was a great way to deal with this situation.  He suggested that I average out the amount of time it takes me to show a painting from the time of inception through developing the idea, creating the painting, framing and marketing. As I considered this criteria, I realized that there have been a number of paintings that have taken several years and of course those that are created en plein air in an hour or two and may never be made into a studio work.  It took a bit of doing but, as best I could, I averaged these factors out and realized that my paintings over the past five years, all things considered, generally average about 3 to 3.5 months.  So now, my answer to the age old question of "how long did it take you to do it" is, "three months plus my 50 years of experience".

This  response is so much more realistic than simply saying X hours of painting time and it satisfies most inquiries. The price of the painting is immediately seen as a good deal instead of being pricey and is fair to me as an artist for the amount of hours I've worked on it in my thinking, planning, and marketing, as well as in the doing. 

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me deal with an awkward situation. If you have another way of answering this question I'd sure love to hear it.  Remember you can always contact me below through this blog or via my website at

My studio on wheels.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Getting Started Again

Sketchbook: pen and ink over a watercolor wash
Old Barn at Cedar Creek, Barry County,Michigan


 It's been ages since I last updated my blog…. (I really do  have excuses!)

Last May Paul severely injured his back which was followed by one thing leading to another and then again to another requiring my focus on him and his situation(s). I’m delighted to say that six months later we are gratefully arriving at the end of a long dark tunnel and he is doing just great now. So…….! It’s time for this artist to begin getting her artistic life back in order. I’m counting on 2012 being a renaissance year.

Obviously, during these past months I’ve not been able to paint much but I’ve given a lot of thought to where I’m at and where I’m going with my work. The result is I am in transition. Not particularly satisfied with where I’ve been and still not completely sure of where I’m going but getting closer every day.  If you're an artist, you probably know what I mean.

The one thing I’m completely sure of is that I am back in touch with my love of shallow water and the environment. I still love landscapes more than any other genre and plan on exploring more shallow water subjects as they relate to the land.   The photo below is one such scene taken at a recent artist’s retreat where I spent a goodly amount of time sketching and photographing my favorite subjects while doing a lot of serious thinking. This was so good for the soul...I came back refreshed and energized.

Cedar Creek, Barry County, MI


 If you haven’t as yet signed up for my website newsletter you might want to do that so you can keep abreast of  new paintings fresh from the easel and events as they are announced.  If you’re like me you hate to miss out on anything fun or exciting….you just never know! Click here then click on "Newsletter" in the main menu and fill in your address.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Arizona and Back Again

I just returned from a short week in Arizona where I found the mode of transportation to be versatile...
 ...the dress casual and a bit different from what I'm used to in Michigan....

....and  the natives friendly and always willing to say "howdy".

As soon as my paints, paintings and gear arrive via UPS I'll be able to add a few more new images to the blog.  Rarely do I take a workshop, usually I conduct them.  However, this trip was a learning trip for me.  I studied with Carolyn Anderson, a fabulous instructor by the way, at the Scottsdale Art Center in Scottsdale.  I was fortunate to have friends to stay with and so was able to get out and see the desert and get up close and personal with the horses. Needless to say, with such a full day of learning and fun evenings exploring the desert I was exhausted and usually in bed by 9 pm to gear up for another day.

More later......

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Paintings and Studio Space

"First Light of Day", 18 x 24", oil on canvas

I apologize that I've not kept up with posting.  It's been a hectic few months.  I'm finally back in stride now, although I've still not found adequate time to paint en plein air....a sorrowful state of affairs to say the least! However, my time in the studio has been good and I feel as though I've made progress.

"Summer Light", 20 x 24", oil on canvas

These two paintings and several have been newly added to my website at Be sure to sign up for my occasional newsletters when you visit the site.  I'll look forward to keeping you updated.

Studio seating area showing drying wall.

The photo above shows the area of my studio where I relax at the end of the day to study work in progress.  The wall shelf also allows me to study plein air works that may become references for larger paintings.  The chair I relax in (not shown) has, in addition, an excellent view of current work on the easel. This pleasant and comfortable area also doubles as a place for clients and  students to gather and discuss art. It's a good space.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Uniqueness of YOU

"It’s only with the heart one can see clearly. It’s what is invisible that is essential."
                                                              The Fox in "The Little Prince"

Have you ever spent time with someone who is constantly cracking jokes about themselves that imply their ineptitude?  At first it's usually funny but soon gets to be a bit much after the 4 -5th slam? 

In my classes I find that it is not unusual to hear negative comments from students as they attempt to cover up their insecurities.  Normally I ignore it knowing that once they gets further into their work they'll drop this false safety net.  There is though, from time to time, a student who will continue to knock him or herself verbally to a point that it can't be anything more than an ingrained personality habit.  This I find very disturbing and, I believe,  the biggest block to creative self-improvement and growth that exists.

I care greatly about each of my students and highly respect their uniqueness.  In fact, this is often a topic that I expound on in my classes. However, I sometimes suspect I may have more respect for their uniqueness  than they have themselves. There are times, out of frustration, I end up reacting negatively to their negativity.  It happened again earlier this week.  After demonstrating a technique in one of my classes  I said something to the effect that "try this and see if it helps you in your work".  The immediate response from one student was "... nothing is going to help me". 

This kind of verbalized self doubt, often repeated, soon  becomes a way of life...a way of thinking about one's self.  Because I care, I shudder every time I hear a student talk this way. 

As I said earlier, I believe each of us is unique and as artist's, that uniqueness is evident in our visual expression.  We should glorify in this knowledge.. not denigrate and destroy it. We artist's have a wonderful opportunity to express our inner feelings and beliefs in ways that are not possible for others. We should embrace this and use it to its fullest, not demean it and put it down.  What is within us is a beautiful thing. 
In conclusion, I say to you.....

...hold what you are in great esteem, you are the only one in the world that owns this invisible essential. Glorify in your uniqueness and share it honestly.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reflections on Style

"Grand Flowers", 24x18", oil on canvas

Style can be a seemingly illusive element in our work that students seek and seasoned painters seem to own.   Where and how does one "find" style and what is it? The answer to that, like so many things in art, is both simple and complex.

To begin with, style can not be taught, it is inherent in each of us. We can develop it through painting miles of canvas and we can recognize it within us through self knowledge and understanding.  It is, after all is said and done, who we are and how we do it.  The more we understand and focus on what comes naturally to us as a unique individual, the closer we arrive at style. Style is after all, no more than our "signature". An example of this is the way each of us writes. We can force a style of writing that is unnatural  but when we are relaxed we revert and write in a way that is unique only to ourselves. Style in painting is the same, unique and self inscribed. Style is all about what we say as an artist in our work.
Don't be confused between the issue of developing one's own personal style and learning the principles of one's craft through instruction.  They are two entirely different things. Unfortunately, some students feel that taking art classes will influence their style. This is true only if the instructor they choose is one that insists students paint like them....and, frankly I can name several nationally known artists who have a whole cadre of students (the magazines are full of them) who are copycats of the instructor's style. Sad but true!  I believe, the measure of a good instructor is one who teaches the principles of sound painting and "guides" his/her students in developing their own signature. Teaching is not, should not be, an ego trip. Students should be encouraged to study and learn all they can about their craft, their style will develop in its own good time as they work.

As a student, my work exhibited an energetic brush work that I didn't understand and found difficult to control. Being without an instructor or mentor at that point in my career,  I literally worked hard to eliminate it and to establish what I felt was the "right" way for me to paint based on what I saw others doing. This had nothing to do with art classes or instructors.  It was my mind-set. I would have been much further ahead if I would have applied this energetic enthusiasm to my studies and allowed this to develop into my unique signature.  The effort to control and divert my natural inclinations unwittingly delayed any progress I hoped to make.

Today, as never before, I enjoy the freedom of being in touch with myself and have learned to ignore external influences in books, magazines,  DVD's, etc.  My style has evolved and I find once again that energetic loose brush work is important to my work.  I am not pursuing someone else's style but my own. In fact, I am pursuing it with a vengeance. It is at once exhilarating, freeing and really quite wonderful!

"It’s only with the heart one can see clearly. It’s what is invisible that is essential."
                                                                                                                                                        The “Fox” in The Little Prince