Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Price Of Selling Art

Sold a painting.

Should be good news, and it is, but hey, I was not ready to part with that one. Why didn’t they want the other old thing? That was my favorite! I just finished it! I wanted to grab it back? I thought selling my work would be great! Why isn’t it?

When you stop being emotional about your work it is time to stop painting.


S. Tschantz

Of course you have mixed feelings about it! While I was relieved to have sold 3 pieces, I was also sad. I loved those pieces; that is why I put them up in the show!

Never, ever show work you are not 100% proud of. NEVER.

Always show only your best, that which will tear at you to part with. Only then can you be sure what you are offering is really art and not simply decoration. Artwork to be true art must speak to the both the artist and the patron. There should be a give and take in this relationship even if you have never meet and will never meet.

After Vincent
This is why van Gogh still claims such attention over the distance of time, because his work speaks to us. More to us today than in his own time. We all live in a turmoil and that is conveyed in his work, We understand him as his contemporaries did not.

So while you mature enough to let go of your artwork, it is and should always be a bit hard, almost painful.

We all know the painter who paints and who loves to shoves his or her stuff off on everyone. They copy crafts and decorative stuff and love to give it away, but there is no emotional connection there. While they often view themselves as artistic peers (actually I know one near by who talks down to me) their work is imitative. They follow a pattern. Copying other artists. Following the directions of their “teacher” faithfully (and to my mind fatally) one such person’s latest, a copy of a Kincaid card, is their current crowning achievement. Said “artist” then proceeded to photograph it and make "prints" of it on their computer. Then it was fostered off on all of us as a priceless “gift”. This work is dull. Oh, the image is there. They copy very well, but the work is static, lifeless and to a real art lover, well.......boring. Seen it before, better done. There is no emotion in that painting other than smugness at how well they did. And it shows.

Always hurt just a little, my friend.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Lament of a Messy Painter-

I have all these great ideas for art, for paintings, and drawings and even some crafty stuff, but:

The Dungeon!
I can’t paint because I can’t find my pallet!

The dungeon is a mess, a super-duper mess.

Filled with empty boxes, half-full boxes, suitcases, several ice chests, easels in various states of assemblage, several plastic shoe boxes of paints, one for standard oils, one for water mixable, a box with my pallet knives in it, and some containers of brushes, one broken brush holder, but my mom made it for me, so it is taped together, a drawing board that needs cleaning and aligning, frames, mats, but most of the mess is not my art supplies, there is a sort of organized chaos to them. Most of it has migrated from upstairs. My old bedroom linens, ea, queen sized comforter, sheets, pillowcases and an assortment of pillows, some decorator baskets, …are you bored yet?

I have been trying to clean it up!

We have been fixing the house up, and while construction is going on overhead, all the fallout seems to have fallen in the dungeon.

It is going to take me a month to clean all of this up!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

People's Choice Awards

Last Wednsday was a busy day for me.

Fern Counting the Vote
In addition to my normal classes, Fern Christian (Renaissance Art Gallery Director) and I had to count the ballots for the People's choice awards. we do this at the conclusion of each year's Miniature Exhibition.

People attending the Miniature Exhibition are handed ballots when they came into the gallery so that they can select what they felt were the best entries in the Miniature Exhitition. There were to select works in two catagories: Most Elegant Entry and Most Creative Entry.

There arealways tons of worthy choices so it was hard to narrow it down to two.. But choices had to be made.

Counting the ballots was a much bigger job this year, due to the record number of people gracing our gallery with their visits.The stuffed to overflowing ballot box was empited a couple of times before counting, so I know there were lots of votes!

The voting was close, but choices were made.The final tally did reveal clear winners however.

Linda Rossin’s “Elegance in Motion”. The beauty of the rising flamingo captured the attention of the most guests for the Most Elegant Entry Award, while Sandi Worthington’s 1inch by 11 inch “Going To Water” won the Most Creative Entry Award.

I think congratulations  are in order for both artists, Sandi Worthington and Linda Rossin on their selection by the guest of The Renaissance Art Gallery for this year’s People’s Choice Awards.
Linda Rossin's "Elegance in Motion"

Sandi Worthington's "Go To Water"

Monday, December 6, 2010

We are Visual People

Our powers of observation are great.

People see in a unique way in the animal kingdom.

While other animals may have greater visual acuity, it is not linked to our flexible brains. We see better than our dogs. More important, we perceive better than most animals. Many animals and insects have greater range but they do not always understand what they see. We are geared to question our sight and to act on it.

When an animal is still, it is virtually invisible to many animals, indeed, sometimes to us, but if we move our heads, or look at it out of the sides of our eyes, it may well pop into view.
S. Tschantz

The visual arts, ea painting, sculpture and drawing were for a long time considered more common than the higher arts such as poetry and writing. Visual art is non-verbal, so the verbal arts were free to call it names. One reason it was denigrated was because drawing was a demonstratively teachable skill, which is ridiculous, as music and dancing are also teachable skills and no one would argue that they are not true arts. But visual art is non-verbal and vulnerable to name-calling by the more verbal arts. Also, the visual arts have long history of high visibility and usefulness, and that very usefulness was argued against them. Their art was considered lowly, a mere craft.

So there is a separation in the arts between the visual and the verbal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My New Easel

New Easel next to old one

Most of us can’t afford to outfit our studios with top of the line materials and furniture.. What we can scrounge is what we have to live with.

Even a space to paint or draw is a luxury for most. Calling the space we carve out for ourselves a studio is giving grandiose important to that corner of the dining room or closet in the spare bedroom. For some this means a simple tabletop easel or the ubequdeous “student easel”, that cheap pine stick easel. You know the one, the folding tri-pod with the wing nuts.

That is what I have for years and years. Still have two in the dungeon. They hold a canvas at least as large as I usually paint. But these easels--for all that they are called “student” are hard to move around, and not particularly sturdy.

Much better is my aluminum field easel I invested in a couple of years ago when I start to teach and paint plein aire. It is collapsible and comes with a nice carrying case. This easel is ideal for moving around and has separately adjustable legs. And it holds the smaller boards I use plein aire easily. It is also handy for figure drawing class.

But back home in the studio, it was the pine-stick easel or nothing. Oh for a real studio easel. Something sturdy and that gives firm support to really large canvases or even boards!

This past year I got my wish in a surprising way; as a gift from my older sister. Now getting a gift from her is not in itself unusual. I don’t want you to think she is mean or anything. But she is a non-artist and freely admits to knowing nothing about art and art materials. Nothing at all. She did not even know the word easel, it is that stand-thingy.

My sister (with my mother) is a committed (or should be committed!) garage-saler. They approach garage sales with almost religious devotion. But as I said, she admits she has no idea what constitutes a good art supply or materials. She also have no idea about prices or values of such things.

But she is not one to let a little thing like lack of knowledge stand between her and a good deal! When coming upon a garage sale of a woman moving to smaller quarters she spied a number of things that kind of looked like they might be used for fine art? She fearlessly negotiated a fabulous deal!

Not only am I now the proud owner of a large aluminum studio easel, but a zippered, rolling craft cart/tote to hall things back and forth to the gallery for my classes, and a craft case designed for scrape booking, but perfect for holding a nice stash of art papers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Work of Art

We all have works of art we don’t want to part with. Maybe it was that first piece where it came together. Or that represents some past connection. Whatever it is, there is a strong emotional attachment or it can be simple shock and awe.


Approaching art

Boat At Kanawha Falls
S. Tschantz

When we create that first piece that says we are finally accomplishing something—that everything is not a waste of time. These pieces mark significant changes within ourselves as artists. It is hard to relinquish these. And I am not sure we should. Keeping a connection to where we were helps us see where we are going.

These are the special pieces with that indefinable something that transforms it from a painting to a work of art.

S. Tschantz


Monday, November 15, 2010

Successful Paintings?

Failed Fall Painting
Without failure you cannot succeed.
So don’t be afraid of failure and of creating “interesting” paintings.

None of us likes everything we do. Not if we are honest and not a complete egoist, that is.

If we don't fail from time to time we don't make progress and out art becomes repetitious and stale. So don't be afraid of failure or of painting "interesting" paintings. These contain the germ of genius.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Seeing What Good Is

Geraniums in Terra Cotta
Larry Bragg

Working in our isolation—as most artists do, it is easy for to look at your own work and think” Hey, that’s pretty good! And pat yourselves on the back. Self-satisfaction is possible. But is it justified? How do we know if it is any good?

I work on my paintings and drawings and really think how much I have improved! And those miniatures are not bad at all if I do say so myself! My friends are impressed. So what more do I want?

We tend to look at things myopically, only what is right in front of us. This show has knocked me down to earth. It is a real eye-opener. The artists who entered the 10th Annual National Miniature Exhibition shows you just what GOOD is!

Now this could have been crushing. Really. Seen next to the rest of the artwork, my work is well….midland. Not really terrible, but not so great that it warrants a second look. It would be easy to say, “Oh, I can’t do this!” and give up. The stuff in this show is really, really good! But this does not have to be your reaction when you are confronted with genius.

Let me tell you what one artist said to me at the reception for the 10th Annual National Miniature Exhibition. Larry Bragg—a first time exhibitor in miniature said the scope of work was inspiring and showed him just what was possible. Already he is anxious to start on next year’s work. Looking at the excellent work hanging in the gallery, all he could say was: "Wow! This shows me what can be done!". Far from being discourage, he is inspired! His excitement when he saw the wealth of fine art was amazing. He can't wait to try his hand at something new. To explore his new found knowledge of what is possible.

French Table
Larry Bragg

And this is a good thing. To be inspired by others, have your mental horizons expanded. Art happens in the head first, only then with the hands.

In all things, we need to have high standards to do our best,

Note: Normally I decorate my blog with my own “artwork”. Not sure right now I can even call it artwork. But this week, I would like you to see the work of another artist, the brave Larry Bragg.

PS. I promised last week to post the link to the Renaissance Gallery's 10th Annual National Miniature Exhibition so you can all see the photos of the reception.The Renaissance Art Gallery

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Miniatures

I have talked a lot about The Renaissance Art Gallery’s 10th Annual National Miniature show. What I have not talked about is my entries.

oil painting

Yes, I entered. Not that I will win any prizes. I am simply not that good with miniatures—yet.

But I am working on it.

I did 3 colored pencil drawings that I entered along with an oil painting and two mixed media works.

Conte on Acrylic

The mixed media works have coatings of acrylic as a background base, and then on the larger I drew with acrylic and conte’, and did a final glazing with oil paints.

The other one has a background of acrylics with the drawing done in conte’.

I do like the larger butterfly. That is also a mix of watercolor pencil and regular colored pencils. While the larger one is done actual size (this is allowed for things naturally small) the other is quite a bit smaller than the original butterfly.

I will be posting more photos from the miniature show on both the gallery website and the galleries facebook page.
Galleries website
Facebook Page
Nude in mixed Media

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fellow Artist, Lillianne Bowersock

I was going to write on a different subject this week, but something I think you will find interesting has come up.

My friend and fellow Renaissance Artist, Lillianne Bowersock took a trip to London this week. Now I was a little peeved at her for deserting me during the building up for the 10th annual national miniature exhibition. 2 weeks before the show, when she and her husband, Bruce (also an artist) were to hang the show, she comes in with a ticket to London!

Now, to be fair, Lillianne has not seen the grandchildren in London for at least 3 years. And the ticket was a gift from her daughter-in-law, so I guess I should not be too put out.

Actually, we were all excited and happy for her. But hey, I am not going to loose the chance to grouse!

Back to the story, Lillanne was of course really excited! She came into the meeting for The Renaissance Art Gallery all bubbling and waving the ticket around etc. Of course, she apologized for going at this time, but hey, family counts.

Lillianne has sleep apnea, and must use a breathing device to sleep. And she had to make special arrangements with the air lines to use this device on the over night flight.

But hey, let me let her seat mate tell the story!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Size Matters, Working in Miniature

Size Matters

Monarch, Colored Pencil
S. Tschantz

Art schools tend to emphasize painting large. Large is good. Large is important. Large is impressive. For those of us who are self-taught, the tendency is for sizes we are comfortable and familiar, ea. we tend towards sizes that photos come in, 8x10, 5x7 etc. Or whatever is on sale at the local craft store.

But choosing the size is also a part of composition. So go small!

Small works can be surprisingly intimidating.

How Do I Paint So Small?

Once you try a couple, you find it really isn’t that hard. With the correct tools and lighting it can be very relaxing. After the stress of painting large, there is a certain freedom in going small.

4x6 seems to be the most popular size, both with artists and with collectors. This seems to be small enough to be intriguing, and still allows the viewer to interact with the scene. Another plus-it is a standard size and relatively easy and inexpensive to frame.

The Photographer - graphite
S. Tschantz

Monday, October 11, 2010

Second Figure Drawing Class

3 poses-gesture drawing

This week I was able to attend the figure drawing class again. Last Saturday was the 2nd session, but it was my turn to “sit” the gallery, so I had to man the desk in the main gallery room while the class was held in the exhibition hall.

It was lonely. And I kept thinking, “I want to draw-I want to draw!” Yes, I had people come into the gallery to see art, and talk etc. But I wanted to draw!

But someone has to run the gallery!

This week it was Gary L’s turn. I got to draw!

Class started with 5 quick gesture poses, each lasting only one minute. You have to be quick to capture the essence of the pose. Details are not possible. This really helps you focus on what defines the pose, and the form.

For gesture poses I like to use conte’. It is expressive, and although it does smear, it is not as loose as charcoal, but more gestural than pencil. I also like the lighter burnt sienna tones.

Before class I had toned several sheets of drawing paper with charcoal. I thought I would try “sketching” with my charcoal erasers. I have two black erasers designed for charcoal. One is rectangular, and one has an odd triangular shape. These are used to remove some of the toned charcoal, subtracting to reveal the white of the paper. In practice, depending on the pressure and face of the eraser you use, it is possible to get a gradation of value from the toned paper. That along with some really soft vine charcoal makes for a different approach to drawing.

Toned Paper Charcoal Sketch

What Class Is Like

Figure drawing class can have some really intense moments, when you are concentrating on capturing the gesture, or struggling with foreshortening, but mostly, it is a relaxed fun studio experience. We all know each other, including our models. While during a pose the class can be remarkably quiet, between poses, conversation is rather mundane. We talk about our families, the work week, etc.

Model's View

This week I handed my camera to our model so she could take pictures of people drawing her. I thought these would be a different point of view of class!


We all bring things to drink and share these. The gallery has a small refrigerator, so we always have at least cold water. We need this figure drawing can be thirsty work! This week we all brought stuff to snack on. This is fairly normal. Although not required, someone usually brings something. Cookies, candy, fruit, nuts, at some point it will show up.

We tend to be rather adventuresome in our snacks. I think that is because we are a fairly well traveled bunch. Gary T and Dave have both lived in China in the 90’s. Lynn, our model once lived and worked in Nepal. While I hail from the Chicago area, I have travels all over northern Europe in my youth, and try to see as much of North America as I can. Linda has lived in many, many places in her life. So we have seen and tried a whole lot of stuff!

This week Lynn, our model brought in dried cantaloupe. I brought in strawberries and honey-roasted peanuts; we had cookies, lemonade, pop, and our usual assortment of hot teas. The Gallery stocks several herbal and exotic teas. This might be a funny topic for an art blog, but it just goes to show you how mundane the class can be.

graphite wash

When non-art people realize I am going to a figure drawing class and there will be (gasp!) a naked model I can’t help but see in their eyes a rather shocked “deer in the headlights” look.

What do they think? I am a older woman. So they find it shocking that yes, I am drawing naked people, and yes this week the model is female (we do employ male models too) Most of the class is at least middle aged. It is a mixed bag of men and women. We come in all sizes, shapes and backgrounds. We are brought together by our love of art, and the need to be creative. Nothing brings out that creativity like a figure drawing class. It is the association with other artists as much as having a live model that does this. I don’t think a private session with a model would be half as productive. A lot of it is the simple acceptance that comes with being part of such a group. We care about the lighting, the pose, the lights, darks and shapes.

Final pose

And it is fun to see the different approaches. Some people are intense, other more relaxed, but each approach is unique.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Buying Produce

Went shopping today. Bought bread, cheese and produce.

Produce seduces me. I hear its siren call. The shapes and colors screams – ME - ME - ME, BUY ME!!!!!
I find peppers a joy. They entice me with their colors and shapes. Large, small round and crooked. Purples so dark as to be almost black, yellows to rival the sun add in tomatoes and you have the making sof a great salsa or a wicked still life.

You see—I am an artist. Everything I see suggests a painting or some other work of art.

This week I succumbed to squash. Heavy bodied winter squash. Butternut, acorn, spaghetti and turban. The hard shelled winter squash come in such a range of shapes. Have you really looked at a Hubbard? I just love the warts! And don’t get me started on gourds. I look for the perfect size for my small family, but also for its looks. Even though they lack the bright colors of summer fruit, their shapes do make up for it. Add a pumpkin and you have it made!

At home, they get stacked on the counter. I can’t simply let them be. Before they are eaten they must be painted.

Still LIfe with Bear

What about you? Every been reluctant to use something up before you could get it down on paper?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Life Drawing Class

First Saturday

I have been struggling find time and the will to make art myself. Oh, I teach, and do a lot of drawing there, but with trying to promote the gallery and working on the upcoming Miniature Exhibition, I frankly, had not take the time to do art for arts sake. There is always something more pressing to do. The house is dirty, the plants need attention, etc, etc, etc. I had almost talked myself out of it again last Saturday.

Figure drawing started up again last Saturday after the summer hiatus. As usual, I find myself fighting depression and feelings of being a fraud. I almost scared myself into doing something “more important”. This time I made myself go. I needed it.

It was good to get back to basic—real live drawing. First pose lasted a bit more than the scheduled 20 minutes. Gary, one of the other artists in our artist co-op takes charge of timing and lighting. He brings on of his spots from his photography, and kind of oversees the pose.

Thankfully the oppressive hot weather seemed to break by Saturday, so the gallery was comfortable. We still needed the little fan for Lynn, our model, but we were able to turn off our loud, stand alone air conditioner. One of the drawbacks of being in an old, historic building is old pre-central air wiring!

Support and Media

I was really Interested in the different approaches by the artists. Most of us use large sketchpads, spiral bound to keep the pages together, but not all. There were several newsprint pads as well as one artist who brought a box of full size drawing paper sheets. These sheets or pad were put on easels, but one artist brings a more manageable size pad, which gives her the freedom to walk around the room for just the right point of view. Since she works off a pad she can comfortably hold, she is not tied to one spot.

With this variety of formats is a variety of media. While everyone has an array of pencils, other media is also employed. There were charcoal pencils, vine charcoal sticks, pens, pencils, colored pencils, conte’ and water media. One artist routinely “sketches” with watercolor washes.

There are 5 more Saturday s of figure drawing and I hope I can make several. It is my day to “sit” the gallery next Saturday, but I will bring a small pad, and I will be there to help check in work for the Miniature show the weekend of the 22nd, but I hope to make the others. If so, I will post some of my sketches.
I really needed the session of simply drawing. No other object in mind but drawing.
The feel of the conte in my hand and not being the one in charge for a change. I could simply draw.
Have you ever attended a Figure Drawing Class? I would be interested in hearing about it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crafting supply tools

I don't know about you, but my stash of pencils, mostly colored pencils is a mess.

Over the years I have quite the collection. At one time, this was not a real problem, as I simply keep them in portable silverware caddies, the plastic kind that are made to carry around outside. I had a couple and I could divide my pencils by color. I did not worry about brands or types. Ignorance is bliss!

Worked find, until I started having to take them places. Then I needed to keep them from rolling around and falling out. Many of my sets I keep in their tins, but as you add more colors, there are naturally, no slots for those.

And I am too cheap to buy enough of those pencil rolls.

I need one for each type, Inktense, Graphtint, pastel, etc. and for those I work with constantly, I still need to divide the stash by color family.

What is a cheapskate to do?

Well, Helen South, in her blog, about.com/drawing & sketching, has a list of things you can make to organize yourself and your studio.

So now I have to dig out my fabric stash and get to work!

of all the crafts listed, this one is my favorite, the pencil roll.

My thanks to Cassie for posting this on her blog, You Go Girl!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Derivative Works Please

More and more you read these words in prospectus and show outlines. That along with the wording “nothing based on published photographs or under the direction of class or workshop” All works must be original. Still. Many show personal complain that they still get work based on photos published in books and on the web. So obviously, many people do not know just what is meant by derivative work.

A derivative work is defined as one that is substantially derived from another underlying work. The dictionary also notes that such a work, when based on a copyrighted work is an infringement if permission is not obtained prior to execution. Understand? No. Well if you can tell where it came from, it is a derivative work.

This used to be quite common in artwork. All over the world you could find these works and art historians could trace their origins. With the establishment of copyright, and intellectual property, it is now a definite no-no.

Fair Use

Well, what about fair use, you ask. It truth, fair use has nothing to do with creating new works of art, which collage artists around the world repeatedly fine out. This clause in the copyright laws is actually meant for critique and publicity. Reporters and critics covering art shows and doing book reviews, etc, can show snapshots of or include excerpts from works and shows they are reviewing. It was never meant to say you could take parts of other works and incorporated them into your own work. Most shows do include a clause in their prospectus explaining that images can be used to publicize that show or gallery. This is also fair, and does not effect the actual copyright holder’s integrity.

When is reference not reference?

But I only used that photo for reference in my painting, isn’t that fair? Well is it? Why did you use that photo? Did you copy the layout of it? Mimic the colors and lighting? Use the same stances of the people?

Dictionary.com defines reference, number 8 as: “use or recourse for information”. This is the meaning that our reference photos should have.

I am doing a painting with a horse, oh; I need a picture of a horse so I know how many legs a horse has. You should use those photos for information only, the actually composition of your painting must be your own if the painting is to be submitted to any show or competition.

If you copy the composition of a photo, you are copying the photographer/artists work, their artistic vision. There is a huge temptation to do this. We all have calendars, books etc, that contain photos we would love to copy. But remember, this makes it a derivative work.

When is a derivative work not a derivative work?

Well, all I have to do is change 10% of it and it is my own. Or simply reverse it. Where this myth came from I don’t know. But it persists. Not true, people. Simply change a few things around, reversing the photo, etc. does not mean it is ok to copy. How do you know the photographer did not reverse the print before it was published? And there is no truth to the 10% rule at all. If you can recognize where it came from, it is copying. And don’t think simply doing it in another medium makes it ok. It does not.

Now there is definitely a difference between derive from and inspired from. One is totally based on the previous work, the other has it own composition, style, texture, etc.

Royalty Free photos on the web

There are tons of sites on the web to view and download photos. Read the fine print. Even on the stock photo sites, these works cannot be copied for artwork. The fine print even states that you cannot use these for derivative works. If you find a photo you like, you must get permission in writing from the photographer to use it. The site you find it on may or may not be the site of the photographer, and I would be cautious of any site that does not protect or mark the photos. Many websites unfortunately, make free with photos, drawing and paintings found on the Internet. Yes, Virginia, things on the internet are covered by copyright laws.

As artists we want to showcase our own creativity.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Open House

Saturday, I will be attending the open house for Arts resources for the tri-state. This fine art group serves the areas of West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky and Southern Ohio. Each year they sponsor a series of fine arts classes for young people in drama, dance, visual arts and more. This Saturday, September 11, 2010, there is a preview and sign-up day. All the teachers for the programs will be gather in the old High School Cafeteria, now the ballroom ( and you should see it!). They will be there to answer questions, demonstrate their programs and general enrich your lives. Many of the teachers do take on adult students too, so everyone can come. The Open House Starts at 2:30 but who knows when it will end!

My own classes are for Fine Arts, Painting and drawing. The Junior class focuses on drawing as the foundation of visual art. I like to take the students through the process of developing their artistic vision. Right now, the class is focusing on the human face, which is one of the first things people try to draw, but using this to develop powers of observation. But I will also be helping them develop a sense of composition and color. We will be having sessions that include Chinese Calligraphy, ink wash painting, some watercolors and more. With each session I do include some art history that flows naturally in with what we are doing, including some interesting aspects of American history.

The arts in our children’s lives are very important. It is a fundamental to a well-rounded education, and helps in all areas of learning including reading, math and science. Art teaches problem solving. These courses are a wonderful supplement to their education.

If you are in the area, stop by The Renaissance Art Gallery and the Renaissance Art Center.

The Arts Center website is here:

And this, of course is us!

The Renaissance Art Gallery
900 8th Street, Suite #20
Huntington, WV 25701

Gallery (304) 525-3235
Appointments: (304) 453-3187


Gallery hours are:

Friday & Saturday 12-4 pm, Sunday 1-4 pm
Studio hours Monday 10-Noon, Wednesday 1:00-7:30 pm and Saturday 10-Noon

Monday, September 6, 2010

the Value of Value

How do we get our drawings and paintings to look 3 dimensional?


This is the subtle manipulation of color that tricks the eyes into seeing a flat object (such as in a drawing or painting) as having depth.

How do we do this?

1.) Decide on a light source, ea, where is the light coming from and how strong is it. It is easier if you light your still life this way, but you can exaggerate what is there.

2.) Notice any light or dark areas, and exaggerate this a little

3.) Make sure your objects are "grounded" so they do not appear to be floating. All objects that are sitting on a surface have a very thin dark line at the bottom. All objects. This is where the object meets the surface. Do not forget this or the object will be floating in space. You might not notice, but you will notice the object just doesn’t look right. You might start looking for structural defects, not realizing the only thing wrong is this missing dark highlight!

4.) Don’t forget highlights. Very often your darkest shades need to be right along side the strongest highlights.

5.) Remember light bounces. We are talking about contour shading here. This happens with all colors, not just black and white.


People wonder what simple tricks to use to make their work look dimensional. They are looking for shortcuts. Some magic trick. Sorry to disappoint you, but it takes work. Hard work and attention to detail.

Drawings are the result of hard work and study. This does not need to be formal, but it is necessary for you to study what you want to draw.

This does applies to "drawing from my head" work. Because you are using your imagination, it is no excuse not to use your understanding of the real world to compliment and reinforce your imaginary one.

Use value to make your images come alive.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Derivative work

In one sense, all artwork is derivative work. Everything we do is based on what came before us. None of us invented artwork. While I paint in oils, I did not invent them. I don’t grind my own colors nor do I weave my own canvas. Nor am I the first artist to paint on canvas. And although I many look old enough, I assure you I did not invent the pencil.

My work is based on what came before me. I looked at artwork. I saw what was there and was inspired by it. My mom was always buying prints of great artwork. These were all over my house growing up. Later I did take art and craft classes. I studied anatomy, and along with drawing from life, I saw how other artists before me and around me solved the problems of rendering the image of the live figure onto paper.

To Derive or Not to Derive

Being inspired by classic artwork is normal. Often I will encourage new students to spend time looking at and even coping some of the great masters. It is an excellent way to learn to paint and draw. This used to be quite common. Touring art museums, you would see students painting or sketching from the paintings on the wall. Since 9/11, most places don’t allow this anymore. Nor do most they allow photography, but that is another subject.

Are these derivative work? Well, of course they are. As you gain more and more experience, your own work will diverge more and more from those of the masters. One of the first paintings I ever did was based on a Normal Rockwell poster. I was new, and did not know anything about copyright, and I would never display this, but I learned a lot. But I no longer try to paint this way. I no longer feel the urge to copy. And as you progress, you should get away from copying others and do work based on your own esthetics's.

One artist I know, selects a new artist each year to study, to work from their work, and learn their processes. What she learned can become part of her own artistic psyche. This work is done only for self education, and does not become part of her portfolio or ever make it to display. It is a way of stretching her artistic muscles.

I have done this myself. I love Monet, especially his earlier works. After seeing a traveling show of Monet canvases, I and several of my students did our own version of one of his water lily paintings. Can you tell these are based on Monet’s paintings? Well. It is hard to do any water lily paintings that does not harkens back to Monet. Water lilies are so closely connected to Monet that any water lily painting will be compared to his. I have done other water lily paintings that are not based on his water lilies but on my own photographs of water lilies taken at Longwood Gardens. But it is enviable that it will be compared to Monet. The first may or may not be recognized as a derivative work. Frankly, I have been painting too long to copy well. And I never was that good at copying others work. The other is not. It is clearly my own work.

Same with “Starry Night”. Who does not recognize this work by Vincent? A year ago, we at The Renaissance Art Gallery did a group project to do our own rendition of that famous painting. It was a great learning experience, and we make clear it was based on this old painting. Which is not uncommon, and anything in the public domain can be copied to various extents. One reason the old masters turn up in ads so much. But these are all derivative works, and although not illegal still not eligible for competition.

Artwork to the right, both inspired by Monet's many water lily paintings. One is derivative, the other inspired by but based on my own visits to botancial gardens with lily ponds. And of course, we all recognize "Starry Night"

Monday, August 23, 2010

So here we start

So here we start
At the beginning of time?
Back to stone & fire
Grease and dirt
Marks in the sand

By gestures & looks

Change from running away
To stalking
Grazing to gathering
Saving and planning

Now we have time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Entering Shows Part 5- Dating the Show

Dating the show

Take careful note of when the show is, and also when you must submit work for consideration in this show. These are usually two different dates! Also note the format for submitting work. Traditionally, in juried shows the artist must submit photographic slides of their work, but more and more are accepting digital files. Still, you need to make sure you submit the right format and size to be considered. Do not assume that your work is so special that they will accept whatever you choose to submit. This is not only wrong, but also insulting to the sponsoring organization. Not the way to make a good first impression.

If the show has a theme, make sure any work you submit fits that theme. Do not try to shoehorn it in. If it does not work, it does not work, no matter how much you like that particular piece. If you want to enter that show, do something else. Also, make sure it fits other criteria for this show. Some shows emphasis a single medium, such as watercolors, while others exclude certain media, like photography or collage. Submitting work that are illegible for the show not only wastes your time, but frustrated the sponsoring organization.

Nothing upsets me more than having to turn away work from an artist who has driven 40 miles because the show they are trying to enter restricts work to only a certain medium or theme. This past spring, we had to turn away some really good photographs because the spring fine arts show did not accept photography; photography is reserved for the summer show. Sadly, the artist did not re-submit the work for the summer photography show. Reading the prospectus would have save them a trip at the wrong time, and allowed them to enter the correct show.

I hope this information is helpful to you. And if there is anything else I can help with, please let me know.

I know that people who orgainize these shows really hope for a good turn out, both with submissions and people viewing the show. When you enter, mark your calendar to attend the opening. A lot of people attend these to meet the artists, so attending is important to both the show and to you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Delivering your work. Entering shows Part 4

Getting your work to the site of the show and on time is vitally important. Depending on the size and prestige of the show, it can make or break your entry. The larger the show, the more important timing can be.

Some shows and groups are rather strict on this, and being either too early or too late will disqualify your entry. Also, some larger shows can have several different delivery/ship addresses. These may or may not be the same as the location of the actual show. I know of one larger miniature shows (I know, a large miniature show sounds like a counter diction in terms!) that has a long list of delivery/shipping addresses depending on your last name! If you last name start with an A-E, you send to one address, etc. Others, will divide things up by category, portraits to one address, landscapes to another, etc. None of these addresses are where the show will hang. That is another address. You need to be clear on this, also on when to either bring in your work or ship it. Volunteers staff most of these shows run by art associations. And the addresses may be only temporary shipping addresses so timing can be important. Also, these groups may not have their own buildings but depend on other groups or locations for their shows. These can range from real estate offices to banks, local museums and even government buildings.

Read the prospectus closely for this information. This might sway your decision to enter this particular show. If at all possible, you should plan on attending the artist’s reception. This is your chance to mingle with other artists and patrons. The group putting on the show will work hard at getting press coverage, and this is also your chance to come to the attention of the public. Don’t be shy! It is your time to shine, whether you win a price or not.

Another thing I want to bring up. Pick up your work on time. There will be a location and time frame listed, usually in the prospectus, but certainly when you drop your work off. Be sure to mark this on your calendar. If the group does not have its own location, failing to pick up your work can put it in jeopardy. While every group will try to take good care of your work, if you fail to retrieve it, well, anything can happen. If they have no actual location, it will no doubt be left in someone’s storage room. More and more shows are stating the consequences of failing to retrieve your work. You would think this would not be a problem, but it is not uncommon for us that The Renaissance Art Gallery to have work for over a month after a show comes down. This is a burden on us, because we have a new show going up, and lack any substantial storage space.

Groups without a location may even dispose of unclaimed work. This is their right. It is your responsibility to collect your unsold work.

Of course, if your work was shipped, this is a mute point. You have provided a carton and label for return shipping and should have no problem getting your work back.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Entering Shows, Part 3 - Finding Shows

How To Find Shows To Enter

How do you find these shows to enter? Look around. Most areas have some kind of arts group and different organizations sponsor art shows and contests all the time. These are usually published in local newspapers and on community bulletin boards. Many papers now have on-line versions and ways for you to subscribe to news feeds. You can subscribe to those feature things you are interested in. You might want to become familiar with your local Life style/community editor for this.

The Renaissance Art Gallery advertises its open entry shows in The Artist Magazine, as well as other art-related magazines and on many on-line art lists. And list these on our website. Most art groups will do this, so even if you are not a member of a local art group, you might want to subscribe to their newsletter or bookmark their website. http://www.orgsites.com/wv/renaissance/index.html

Many art magazines have places to list art shows and workshops in the "white pages" at the end of their magazine. This is especially nice for people who specialize in a single medium. A magazine for that medium will often list many shows for that medium.

Most art societies also have magazines, such as "To the Point" the magazine for the CPSA [Colored Pencil Society of America] lists all their regional groups and these each have shows specializing in Colored Pencil art. http://www.cpsa.org/

We also have an active mailing list for artists, to whom we send new prospectus when they are ready. Many groups do.

Also keep in touch with groups who run fundraisers for causes you believe in. While most of these are designed to raise funds, some of them can be a good way for you to begin showing your artwork.

Don't forget your home territory. Most states have cultural departments, etc that have departments whose business it is to help develop artists. Do not assume you are not good enough. Work with them. It is their jobs to help you become good enough. And you do not need a fine art degree to get help from them etc. But check closer to home to, with your town/city and county. Check the local colleges and see what they have. Check your state website and see what arts groups are listed. Check the surrounding states. etc. That goes for other countries beside the US also. Both Canada and the UK have such agencies. And Europe is lousy with art promoters. But do your homework, so you understand just what is going on.

There are many on-line listings. Look for knowledge bases and such that list art shows and opportunities




A word of warning, not all of these sites are free, many require a subscription for both those submitting events and those looking for events to enter.

Also, be weary of these events. Not all are legitimate. Remember that all shows have agendas. Mine do. I do not apology for this. We, as a gallery expect to get something from all the hard work. This is OK. So do the artists who enter. They expect to get something from the experience. When we all get something but no one takes advantage of the other, it is a win-win situtation. But if the artist or the sponsoring group feel taken advantage of, well. It is not a happy scene.

There are a number of shows that seek to take avantage of artists, so read the fine print before you even send for the prospectus. Many groups see having and "art contest" is a way of getting free artwork. This is especially true for "design" contests and many, many photography shows. When you enter these shows you all up give up all rights to your work. This is not ok. While all shows will need to use your submissions to a certain extent, I would be cautious about entering any show that says that all submissions grant copyright, extented royalty free rights or simply have a lot of jargon you do not understand.

Fair use is pretty straight forward and there is no reason for a lot of complicated legalise in either the entry forms or prospectus. I steer clear of any group or organization that have a lot of fine print! At my age I can't read it anyway and no way am I signing anything I don't understand!

So start small, with groups you understand and can trust, then branch out into larger groups.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Entering Shows, Part 2 - Getting the Facts

How to Get the facts
Read the prospectus!

Whether it is an art group or some other organization holding the show, you need to be aware of just what is going on. To do this you need to read the prospectus.

Carefully. Fully. Again.

When you understand what is being done for this show, then you can decide if it is for you. Don’t dismiss the show it if has a special venue or theme. Many local shows will, especially if the sponsoring group is not an art group.

Many artists do not want to create work for a specific show, but I wonder “why not”? Why not meet this challenge? Just my thought on it.

The prospectus, or outline of the show, should tell you what you need to know to enter this event.

The Prospectus

Art shows generally will have some kind of prospectus, a document that tells you how to enter and what to expect. This can be anything some a simple one page letter, to a small book. And for many these are inherently confusing. Don’t let them scare you.

Most are fairly small and straightforward. After all, a really complicated prospectus will discourage artists from entering that show. The bigger the show, the bigger the prospectus! And I have seen some that were really complicated! And long!

Understanding them is very important to successfully entering any show. Once you have the prospectus in hand, read it carefully. Take your time. Note when the show is and when you have to have your submissions ready. These dates are seldom the same! It takes time to get a show together. Trust me on this!

If the show is a juried entry, meaning, you must submit work to be juried to even enter, the show will clearly state this. Some shows require an entry fee even if the jury later rejects your work. So be prepared for this. Most entry fees are non-refundable. And some arts organizations are very hard-nosed about this.

If you must jury in, seldom is the actual artwork required. Usually slides are required. Or rather, this was the way it was done in the past. And many shows still accept them, but more and more shows are accepting a digital file in replacement of film slides. Read the information carefully and stick to it exactly. This is especially true on format. If you submit files in a format not suitable for the selection committee, they will not ask you to resubmit, they will simply put you in the reject pile. Make sure the file is the right size. Not too big and not too small. A small file will not allow enough detail to truly evaluate your work. A too large file might freeze up their computers, not a good impression to make! This mean conforming to the dimensions stated in the prospectus also.

In either case, the quality of these photos makes a big difference, and the care in which they are made does matter. Do not simply snap off a few shots with a point and shot and e-mail them in.

Photos that are off center, on an angle, poorly light will cause your work, however good, to be rejected out of hand. You might think that your painting is so good that it will overcome any deficiency in photography, but it will not. If you don’t know how to take good photos, ask a pro. Do not include the frame in the photo if at all possible. Many will allow or even require a black border. You do not need to photograph your artwork with this border, it can be added to the photo after cropping.

Make sure the painting is clean and dust free. Dirt and dust will show in the photo. A stained and ill-fitting mat will also detract from your artwork. If the work is on paper, photograph it before it is under glass! Reflections and glare will also disqualify your work. If they cannot see the work clearly, and see the colors truly, they will not be able to appreciate it. Do not give into temptations to “tweak” or enhance your work in the computer. Make sure the photos are as true to the work as possible.

Read all the requirements carefully. If you are unsure of anything, call or write the group. Contact information will be given.

Larger shows may have multiple shipping addresses, so read this carefully also. It is not uncommon for the shipping address to be different from the address the show will be displayed in. They may have detailed shipping instructions that must be followed. This is to insure that the artwork not only arrives, but also arrives in good condition.

Always insure your work

Enclose a self-address return mail label. Do not depend on the staff to fill this out. They are busy, and have lots of packages to pack and ship, and mistakes happen. If you include a return shipping label already filled out, your work will find it way back to you. Most shows require this along with return postage. Include this. Your shipping company can usually calculate this for you, and most will print you a special label for return shipping. Don’t skip this thinking to save money by making the showing organization fork over the shipping fee. More and more shows state that work without return shipping included will not be returned but considered a donation to that group.

Make sure you understand size and framing requirements. Oversized works will often be rejected, even if the work makes it through the jury process. Once the work arrives if it is oversized or not framed properly many shows will not hang it and all your work and expense will be for nothing.

Contrary to popular belief, putting on an art show is not the road to financial success for any arts organization. Most of us do it for the love of art, and hope to at least break even. These shows are expensive to put on. And they are detailed. To me anyway, very much worth the effort, but there is little money in it! I just hope to get seed money for the next event!

While some shows detail the prizes and awards given, many do not. Do not assume because it is not detailed in the prospectus that there are no awards. If you have questions ask.

I do not put the awards list in prospectus because for us this list can be fluid until shortly before the show. We work hard to not only make sure we have good cash or merchandise awards for the winning art; we also canvas the area for purchase awards and award sponsors. So our basic awards list can grow, almost doubling by show time!

But more and more shows do not give cash or merchandise awards. A growing trend is giving awards “for the honor” of art, and they simply give ribbons and/or certificates. Be clear on what to expect.

Also, it is wise to understand just who is judging this show. It is a committee made up of the organization giving the show, or has some effort gone into the selection of a judge or judges.

Even if this is not in the prospectus, it is ok to ask what kind of judging happens. For The Renaissance Art Gallery’s Major fall show, the Miniature Exhibition, we often have members of local university art departments. But we do from time to time draw on the greater art community and import a judge from an organization specializing in miniatures. The strength of the judge can reflect on the merits of the award. We also have a category of awards that we call “people’s choice” awards, where the public, passing through the gallery during the show will vote on their choices. There are three of these awards given each year in addition to the regular and purchase awards.

Purchase awards are just that. A person or group will commit to buying a piece of art in that show. They will donate a dollar amount to buy a work of their choice before the opening of the show. After the juror(s) make their selections, those with purchase awards will go through and select the works they are “awarding” and those are usually marked as sold prior to the opening of the show. It is possible to win a major award, like best in show, and a purchase awards. Kind of a double whammy! Of course, if your work is not for sale, it is not eligible for this kind of award.

A word about commissions

The vast majority of shows will take a commission of the purchase price of the artwork if sold. This is standard practice and can range from 10% to 50% of the purchase price. Be aware of this.

Larger shows with more opportunities for sales will often take have a greater percentage of the sale price. The increased likelihood of sales offsets this larger percentage. 20-30% is reasonable for expenses. This is still lower than most galleries must take. The gallery is also going to collect any state sales taxes required, but this should not affect you. But don’t count out smaller show in smaller venues. They can have surprising sales records!

Shows that depend on sales to break even may require that work be for sale. If not, they may require that you submit additional works that they can sell.

Most shows will state that images of artwork may be used for publicity. This is important to the show to get public interest. This is also standard practice and in no way affects your rights to your artwork. Also be aware that fair use allows reporters to photograph your work on display and use it in their stories. This is a good thing. They take care to identify the work and artist. Publicity will not hurt you!

Last year I send press releases to the papers in the hometowns of our Miniature winners, and that resulted in interviews and newspaper stories of several of our artist/entrants.

For an example of a prospectus, you can visit The Renaissance Art Gallery website at: http://www.orgsites.com/wv/renaissance/index.html and download the 2010 Miniature prospectus.

I think I pretty much covered this subject. Any Questions? Have you run into anything you did not understand or did not make sense? Any funny stories?