The 365 Day Journey of an Artists Life (Day 3)

February 24, 2018

Hello friends,

I’m writing this post at the end of my day, and I wanted to report that I woke up this morning feeling creatively inspired. I think that part of my brain has been sleeping over the past few weeks due to stress and frustration with my current job. However, today I knew that I needed to answer the call of my creativity. That made today’s goal simple and crystal clear – to paint!!!

And so, after I poured myself a cup of coffee and whipped up some scrambled eggs, I immediately got to work on my current portrait commission. I painted for a solid four hours, breaked for a quick lunch, and then painted for another three hours. I only stopped because I had to leave for work, otherwise, I would have pushed into the evening hours. It felt great! I managed to reach a level of completion of the face where she suddenly came to life. I posted a short video clip of myself working on the painting on my Instagram, http://www.instagram.com/riverafineartstudios/ I’ve also posted the same clip at the bottom of this blog entry.

I honestly believe that setting daily goals and writing them down (the goals themselves as well as the results) has given me a strong sense of direction. With direction comes inspiration, and inspiration results in massive production. The key is to keep sustaining my drive. I am all ready thinking about, and planning my goals for next week which is making me very excited!


The 365 Day Journey of an Artists Life (Day 2)

February 23, 2018

Ok, so it is day two of  my journey towards an abundant future as an artist and I am going to set some new goals. Let me first begin with a recap of yesterday. I had two very simple goals, and both were easily achieved. My first goal was to schedule a public portrait sketching event. My second was to add a PayPal account to my instagram.

For the first goal, I contacted a gallery where I’ve shown before, and expressed my interest in doing a live portrait demo. I ended up speaking to the gallery owner’s assistant who was very enthusiastic about the idea and said he’d pass along the word to his boss. The entire conversation took no more than 5 minutes. It is important for me to stress this last point, because I often use the excuse that I don’t have enough time to do the art business stuff, I only have enough time to create the art. I can tell you right now (using yesterday’s phone conversation as an example) that that’s hog wash. If that were true, it would prevent me from ever stepping outside of the studio and showing the world my art. Doesn’t that defeat the point of making the art in the first place?!

My second goal of setting up a PayPal account for my instagram took a little more time (roughly 15 to 20 minutes) only because I’m not very computer savvy. But it was not a big deal. Now, I have the option of selling artwork directly from my instagram account. This motivates me to start using my instagram much more! How cool is that?!

So, that sets me up for my next two goals. Today I will post a new image on my instagram account, and I will link my instagram to my website, http://www.riverafinearts.com. Easy goals for today!


The 365 Day Journey of an Artists Life (Day 1)

February 21, 2018

Hello friends and fellow artists,

I am an artist, art teacher and entrepreneur who has spent a good portion of my adult life seeking ways to survive off of my artistic talents. My journey thus far has seen a few successes but also hit a great many bumps and pot holes. I have always worked other jobs to make ends meet and the fear of becoming a “starving artist”, unfortunately, has pushed me into work situations which are unfulfilling and even degrading. This has caused me a lot of stress which is the ultimate killer of creativity.  Rather than pushing myself towards a future which would allow me to fulfill my destiny, I have instead accepted jobs which have caused the very opposite effect.  I recently realized that this is simply no longer acceptable for me, and I can still choose to change it!

So, I have decided to start a 365 day journey during which I will document my experiences with daily blog posts. This journey will include, amongst other things, daily goal setting. Having goals is like having building blocks. The blocks themselves mean nothing unless you lay them down in a strategic way. Goals mean nothing unless you follow them through. My reasons (explained below) for documenting all of this information are quite simple.

1. To inspire and help others who are in a similar situation.

2. To hold myself accountable for not only setting goals, but, more importantly, seeing them through.

I encourage anyone reading this to do the same in any area of your life that you wish to change. Take massive action! Set goals and hold yourself to them! Tackle your fears head on! Don’t let fear become your enemy. Understand it and work with it. Let it motivate you to step outside of your comfort zone. Do this consistently on a regular basis and I promise you, you will see change in your life. And, if you want, let me know each step of the way how things are progressing. This blog can become an open forum for commentary amongst those who are undergoing similar challenges.

My biggest challenge as an artist is that I am a perfectionist. Some might say that this is a good thing, however, it causes me to work at a slow pace and often delay finishing a project in the fear that it won’t meet my clients expectations.

My challenge on the business end, stems from the fact that I am an introvert. This can inhibit my ability to strike up conversations about my art with potential buyers. The combination of being a perfectionist and an introvert is especially inhibiting when it involves decisions that require immediate action. This includes making phone calls, scheduling public events, approaching potential clients, etc.

I intend to tackle each of my weaknesses with specific goals. I know that it may cause discomfort but that is what will make me grow, not only as an artist, but as a person.  So,…my goals for today are the following:

1. Setting up a PayPal on my Instagram account http://www.instagram.com/riverafineartstudios/

and

2. Contacting a venue to hold a live portrait sketching event.

I will continue to write new blog posts every single day with new challenges, experiences and goals, so please be sure to check back. Let’s go on this journey together!

 


Bouguereau Copy for “Secret Techniques” Class

April 10, 2017

I am going to be teaching another “Secret Techniques of the Old Masters” class this Spring at the Artist’s of Yardley, http://www.artistsofyardley.org. I always get such wonderful results from my students when I teach this class. Over the course of six weeks, I will cover specific steps within a pedagogical system, which will help to unveil the secret methods employed by the Old Masters. What made the works of the Old Masters so stunning is not a mystery; it is simply understanding the specific steps within their system. Students begin by selecting the work of an artist whom they admire, and then create a solid proportional drawing which will be transferred to their paint support. The student may choose to do a direct copy, or create their own work using the same technique of their chosen Master. In this class each student works at their own pace, taking as much time as they need for each step. once their drawing has been transferred to their support, they follow a strategic method of layering their paint, usually beginning with very limited color, and gradually increasing their palette with each additional layer.

Below is a Bouguereau copy that I did as a demo for a previous class. I left each layer in an unfinished state to show each specific step. I hope that anyone reading this who is interested in learning these methods will consider signing up for this class. To do so, please visit http://www.artistsofyardley.org and click on the adult classes link. If you can’t make it to this class, be sure to check my website, http://www.riverafinearts.com for future offerings.

bougeureau for blog


Mixed Medium Work in Progress

March 31, 2017

I have recently become fascinated with exploring the labyrinth of detail  which exists in objects small enough for someone to hold in their hand. By narrowing my focus on the intricacies of such objects, I am able to truly appreciate the complex universe that exists within an “ordinary” thing. In my scrutiny, I discover that, what may in fact seem ordinary, is anything but.

The image below is a detail of a work in progress. It was created using a combination of mediums including pencil, ink, colored pencil and pastel on a sheet of vellum paper. This is part of a series which deals with pastries/treats that evoke memories of childhood.

The drawing is a true-to-life-size facsimile of a frosted donut with sprinkles. By rendering my subject in its exact scale, the illusion of every subtle nuance, from the shininess of the chocolate frosting to the cylindrical shape of each sprinkle, becomes more convincing. This is a common practice in the tradition of Trompe L’oeil art. I am, however considering the possibility of an oil series where each image is recreated on a format which is larger-than-life; perhaps large enough to cover a coffee table. What would happen then?! I believe when an ordinary subject is seen on such a scale the mundane becomes sublime, and the subject itself is elevated (literally and figuratively) to something much greater than life. Please stay tuned for updates on this piece and others like it. Also, be sure to check out my new website, http://www.riverafinearts.com to see even more of my artwork.

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Drawing with Vivid Color (taking realism to the next level)

March 28, 2017

Hello all,

I finally set aside some time to write a new post. Over the last few months I’ve started a new series of trompe l’oeil still life’s and I’d like to describe a little bit of my journey. This series is very exciting for me, firstly because the images are tied to my favorite genre of art (trompe l’oeil) and secondly because the tools that I’ve used has changed my perception of what can be achieved with a drawing medium.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve always been a practitioner and avid admirer of traditional realism. The 17th Century Dutch period is perhaps my greatest area of study. I love the depth and richness of color that the Dutch were able to achieve with oil paint using a precise layering technique which included under painting and glazing (I’ve written many blogs specifically about this). Recently for me, however, it has become difficult finding time to paint (my work schedule has been keeping me away from the studio) and so, I’ve begun to experiment with a combination of dry mediums, determined to simulate the luminous color effects of an oil painting. After a bit of experimentation, I’ve discovered an approach combining hard pastels, colored pencils, various blending tools and a limited amount of ink which renders effects strikingly similar to an oil. I’ve applied my knowledge of painting indirectly (starting with the lightest color first and gradually adding darks) and have documented the results of my latest piece which I’ve posted below along with brief descriptions of each step.

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The leaf above was sketched out lightly with a hard 2H pencil. A layer of yellow was then roughly applied with a hard pastel and smoothed out with a semi soft brush (this removes the excess powder which builds up on the paper). As with painting, I try to think about working from light to dark. This gives the final color a luminous glow. I then began to add the intricate network of detail over this initial layer as seen on the right side with finely sharpened colored pencils (mostly Derwent and Prismacolor). As I slowly built up my darks, I also increased my detail. I switched over to a mechanical pencil to emphasize sharp lines such as the cast shadows of the veins. There are a limited number of colored lead sticks available for the Staedtler Mars mechanical pencil holder. I used brown and black. If the contrast needed to be increased any further, I used a .005 Micron black ink pen.

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A classic Trompe L’oeil image must include a drop shadow. This creates the illusion that the object is “popping off” the paper. I rendered this shadow seen on the left side of the leaf with various grades of pencils. I started with a 2H and then B and finally a 2B. Each layer was smoothed out with a tortillion prior to applying the next layer. Because the leaf was a warmish color, the pencil tone appeared cooler by contrast. I decided to further the warm/cool contrast by adding a final faint layer of dark blue directly over the gray pencil tone with a Prismacolor colored pencil. I also enjoyed the contrasting edges; the sharp edge of the leaf paired against the soft edge of the shadow.

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To finish this drawing, I simply continued building up my darks and increasing my detail with the mediums specified above. I am quite pleased with the result. I am planning to do quite a few of these and will be sure to post them as I go so be sure check back periodically.


Portraits

February 13, 2017