Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Resources for learning to paint

July 31, 2013

Looking at the work of other artists is a good way to both inspire and educate.  If I am having trouble accomplishing what I want to in a painting, I often turn to my magazines and see how other artists solve similar problems.  The category of magazines that provide instruction are  shown here.  Most magazines have companion websites that have demos and more in-depth information about a particular artist. 

This is one of the ways I have used to further my own education about materials, techniques and just looking at wonderful art. 

Unless I think of another topic that has been part of my own effort to improve my skills,  I'll start showing some demos which is good for me, too, because that way I can't skip any steps, including the thumbnails. 

Note:  Professional artist (top left) is more about marketing and the business side of art.  It was through that magazines that I learned of Daily Paintworks where I now sell my small paintings. 

I stopped by my studio/gallery today to drop off a painting so I thought I would include a photo of what it looks like this month.  We change things around every couple of months and add new paintings.  (I left more magazines on the table for anyone who would like some). 

Monday, July 29, 2013

more about resources that help learn to paint

July 29, 2013 -  Magazines can teach you a lot....

American Art Collector and Southwest Art show the paintings of contemporaries artists, information about collecting art, art galleries and more.  American Art Review includes more about painters and paintings from the past, but still has the work of some current artists.  It is so inspiring to look at these magazines that you will want to paint after just looking at one magazine.  

It is so nice to get one in the mail, get a glass of wine and enjoy looking at any one of them.

 ( this one has some good information about price history of current artists and their art)

No one has taken me up on my offer of a sample of each magazine that I subscribe to now.  You may think I am just trying to get rid of them, but it is just the opposite,  I would probably hang onto them until we have to move.   I have given my students a few.  Really, down deep I know I cannot keep these hundreds of magazines.  (I left a box at LibertyTown Arts Workshop on the shelves near the  window). Please help yourself to any magazines in Studio 26.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Resources for learning to Paint and a little about Composition/Critiquing

July 27, 2013

If you are wondering why the last blog you received from me was empty, it is because I accidently deleted it somehow.  I'm still not sure how it happened. 

This time I saved it to Word first.  There are some tough lessons in the world of technology. 


Blog for today, Take #2

another resource in helping to learn to paint.....
There are so many magazines available that are a big help in learning how to paint.  There are some that concentrate on instruction and other that show paintings from the past and present of known artists. 
I have subscribed to so many that I have collected hundreds of magazines over the last 15 years.  My list is so long that I can't even include everything about them in one blog or say which one is my favorite.
American Artist has articles about artists and their methods and always has at least one very comprehensive demo.
If it would help anyone, I could get a sampling together from my 15 year collection and give you one of each that I subscribe to now and from the past.  If you are interested just leave a note under comments or email me (  I could leave them at LibertyTown Arts Workshop for you if you live in Fredricksburg, Va or nearby.  It would be a good way to decide on the  what you like best. 
Here is my list:
The Artist
American Artist
American Art Review
American Art Collector
PleinAir Magazine
Professional Artist
International Artist
2 on watercolor
Sketching (out of print now)
More about magazines in next few blogs.
Composition and Critiquing
Some time ago I asked  that you email  me a photo of a painting for gentle critique.  Teachers that I have had always would say what is good about a painting,  then what would make the painting better, all very positive. 
Here is lovely painting that will make an emotional connection to someone.  I like the way the ballet slippers overlap and get smaller  from front to back creating depth and a path into the painting.  Being consistent with the light source and shadows might be helpful. 
Thank you for sending this painting to me.  Best of luck to you for your show. 
test  aaaaaaaaa



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Painting a Day

July 25, 2013 - Have you thought of starting a business with your art?

I realized yesterday that I haven't been posting my daily paintings each day.  Since the name of my blog is "Painting a Day" this might be a good way for me to keep track of my progress by using the collage  which I learned in the marketing challenge.  (Leslie Saeta even put the challenge in the form of a free e-book) on her blog. 

( so far I have posted 191 paintings and am selling on a regular basis now- I am proud of this)
I encourage you to join Daily Paintworks.  It provides a place to track your progress and is an incentive to paint every day.  Before joining, I did paint every day, but without this kind of focus.  It has energized me to paint even more and the discipline of doing a small painting every single day has helped me improve my skills.  It has given me momentum to add marketing, create a website, and do more blogging.  Don't forget, pinterest, although I spend more time than I should looking around at other boards, it is a good way of educating yourself and often to get inspired. 
Carol Marine and her husband started this website (DPW) so artists would have a place to show and sell their work other than ebay.  Thank you to them for providing this opportunity.
If you plan on making a business of your art
create a website (FASO is a good one) -about $25/mo
join Daily Paintworks-$12.95/mo
create a fanpage on facebook -free
join pinterest - free

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Radio Resource - "Artists Helping Artists"

July 24, 2013

More Resources.....

When I first started learning to paint, I was amazed at how accessible well known artists are to those learning to paint.  I was surprised when looking through an art magazine I saw that an artist whose book I had just purchased was teaching a class within driving distance from me.  I wrote about that experience on an earlier blog about Joe Anna Arnett.

I was awed by the generosity of  Leslie Saeta in offering a marketing challenge where she shared so much information new to me about marketing. 

Another recent discovery for me was a blog radio show called "Artists Helping Artists".    You can listen to it on your computer or phone and it is usually about an hour long. The host is Leslie Saeta, the person who offered the 30 day online challenge.  Currently, she a has a co-host, Laurie G. Miller, who also offers all kinds of helpful information.  They chat together offering more ideas than you could ever use.  Thank you to them for doing this valuable show

The link to the show is listed below.   Every week it is filled with great ideas.  I am listening to it right now. This week's show is about "How to Boost Summer Sales".   In fact they gave me the idea of having a studio sale.  They list what needs to be done with advertising.

(This is off the subject, but I recently was interviewed by a high school student who is thinking about becoming an artist.  One recommendation I gave her was to take some business and marketing classes along with her art program.)

Here is the link to the show:

Artists Helping Artists 

Now I have the idea to have a Studio Sale.  I need to pick a date, figure out what kind of discount to offer.  Maybe end of summer sale?

My plan is to create an album on facebook with Studio Sale items plus show a few on my blog. 

Here are a few that will be on sale:  (I'm still thinking about what kind of discount to offer)

These are all at Liberty Town Arts Workshop, but also listed at Daily Paintworks

18 x 25 - 575 (narrow black frame with gold trim on inside)

18 x 36 (?)  Price listed on Daily Paintworks

12 x 12 Green Shutter - 325 - wide black frame

Roses on Carpet - 12 x 16

Monday, July 22, 2013

Another great resource

July 22, 2013

DVD's are another great resource for learning to paint...

Over the years I've collected a few  DVD's that I watch over and over.  Yesterday I wanted to work on a landscape so just to review I looked at the DVD by Scott Christiansen.  His workshops are supposed to be great, but traveling to Idaho probably won't happen for me so these DVD's are the next best thing.    His demonstrations on mixing  using a limited palette are very helpful.  His use of grays is something I've really come to believe is important in landscape and still life paintings. 
I haven't given up on taking a Scott Christiansen workshop though.  They call it boot camp for painters. 

He does three demonstrations starting with a white canvas and ending with a finished painting. 

I'm still working on the one I started yesterday.  It's from a photo of Chopawamsic Creek near Quantico, Va.  My painting a day program is off the track though. 


Sunday, July 21, 2013


July 21, 2013

Creativity is in all of us.....

Yesterday I joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge and found a new world of blogs.  One of the many that I liked is about "Creative Confidence".  The author, has assignments each day to nurture creativity within us.  I think we all have ideas floating around and have to latch onto them.  Sometimes it takes encouragement to recognize the ideas.  Anyway, these are the things I tell myself. 

Here's a link to the blog for today:

Yesterday's post was about visiting a museum, something I love to do, but since it is an hour long drive to the National Gallery and the many museums in Washtington, DC, I just start looking at my art books when I feel in a slump and before you know, I can't wait to start a painting. 

For this one, I just had to look at this vase of peonies that someone gave me to get started on a painting.  (The raspberry ones might be from my garden, but someone nice gave me the star of the painting, the pink one.)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What to Paint?

July 20, 2013

What to Paint? 

That is a big question.  Maybe it is just me, but it takes me a lot of time to figure out what to paint.  I am embarrassed to admit how many photos I have, over 10,000, always looking for something interesting.   I like best to paint from life and have acquired so many "props", another something I am a little embarrassed  to admit.  I'll include the tip of the iceberg in a few photos.  I have vases galore, shoes, rubber duckies, perfume bottles, boxes...... could I be a hoarder?  I love flowers, too, but at least I don't store them.  I always have vases of flowers around, anyway. 

(Fortunately, I have a lot of shelves in my studio)
Yes, that is a jar of olives behind the ducks

Wherever I go, I look for interesting props.  I recently discovered a great place in Richmond called "Out on a Whim - Antiques & Whimsies."  (address:  Heritage Antiques Mall, 7521 Staples Mill Road, Richmond, VA  23228.)  I even put in an order with the lovely owner for a mint julep cup,  something I painted while in a class and it seemed like such a good idea for flower paintings.  The reflective surface looked so nice with hydrangeas. 

I was hunting for a cute teapot for awhile, then it was blue-green canning jars.  Donuts were a good subject , but the calories were adding up.  Hershey kisses were fun to paint, then eat. 

Constant reminder to myself: Design/composition is the most important step.  Think values and shapes.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Daniel J. Keys: My Favorite Art Materials...

Daniel J. Keys: My Favorite Art Materials...: A s an artist, I'm constantly being asked about my favorite art-brands and materials. There are so many wonderful products on the market...

Painting Demo

July 17, 2013

The steps for this painting:

The set up I used for this painting.  That is a piece of construction paper taped to a box for the background color.  I got this idea from Carol Marine.  I just bought a cheap pack of it from Michael's.

Feel free to use this photo for your own painting.

 I did this notan with my value viewer to see if I liked the composition.  I was satisfied with the pattern of lights and darks and the path of darks through the painting.

The next step  is blocking in the big shapes in a thin wash.  Before doing this I did a loose drawing of the shapes including shadow shapes.  (I forgot to take a photo of this step.)

Final phase included adding more detail especially to zinnia in front.  The hydrangea in back is very loose.  

Last step:  Posted painting on Daily Paintworks.  It is an 8x 10.

Daily Paintworks

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Compostion # 12 - The Dirty Dozen

July 16, 2013

A dozen is  good place to stop writing about composition.  It's been a good review for me.  I have to keep reminding myself of the need for planning and design in every painting.  I love to paint and will paint anything in front of me without planning if I don't stop for this step.  

I like the way the book The Simple Secret to better Painting by Greg Albert summarizes with one rule of composition:    NEVER MAKE ANY TWO INTERVALS ALIKE.  Variety is another way of putting it.  It sounds easy, but it applies to every aspect including color, temperature, value and more.  

There are lots of good example in the book.  

I going to keep using Pinterest to stay aware of composition and keep these two books next to my easel.  

(I looked for a few paintings of mine where I was thinking hard about composition).

Monday, July 15, 2013

Compostion # 11

July 14, 2013

The last few days I've been looking through books and art online of some of my favorite artists studying their paintings thinking primarily of composition.

I added quite a few to my board on pinterest.  I was looking a lot for patterns of light and dark as well as a gestural flow through the painting, that something that holds it together

Maggie Siner, a Virginia artist is someone very expert at handling patterns of light and dark that take you through her paintings.  She has a beautiful website.  I put quite a few of hers on my pinterest board.

(The zinnia painting below is an old one of mine, but does have have some of what I've been talking about

Below is composition sent in by friend.  I'm hoping more people will send things to me that I can post and you can critique with your comments. 
There are a lot of good things going on here.  Do you see an armature?  Pattern of darks?  Look at edges of canvas.  Temperature?

One more link to a very good summary of Ian Roberts guidelines.  It is from Artist Daily, an online magazine.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Composition #10

July 13,  2013


When my son was a baby I took a class in photography and one thing I remember the teacher saying is.... get your photo set up, then take one big step closer.  Most books on composition mention cropping.  I use my view finder for this.  I have a couple.  I'll included photos.  The one you make is basically two "L" shapes pieces that you can adjust so easily for size.  

The idea is to close in on your subject, simplify, and think about big shapes.  The value viewer works for this, too.  

There are a lot of good examples of compositions that are well cropped on pinterest and Daily Paintworks.  Carol Marine's ArtByte has some great examples.  I'll include one of of my own.  

This helps frame and crop the subject you want to paint in a landscape or a still life set-up.

These can be adjusted to any dimension, I like them both, but the second one you can make yourself.

This is a 6 x 6 of mine where I did some serious cropping as a part of planning this composition. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Composition #9

July 12, 2013

I'm up to 9 topics on composition.  I wonder how long I can on about this. 

It's helping me put more time into the planning process of designing what to paint.  I remember one teacher who maintains you should do 7 or 8 thumbnails, then pick the best one. 

Correction from yesterday:  Value Viewer is the name of the app I suggested.  It is for the iphone, but might be available for others.  I don't know about that part.   - The name of the painting is of course, "FIESTA"

I have always loved Fiesta Ware and finally gave in and bought some because it was on sale at Kohl's and using the Senior discount who could resist such a find and now I even have a new subject with lots of colors.  I got a set for 8.  At my age, it is the last thing I need, but what a bargain and best of all, a subject for paintings.  Great rational. 

So now I have a subject, what about composition?

Using my Value Viewer I kept rearranging, then added the fabric until I got a dark shape that created a path through the painting.  ( one of those armatures and a strong dark shape including the shadow side of the cups) 

I watched Carol Marine's ArtByte  on Composition that is available at Daily Paintworks for a reasonable price and once it is in your library you can watch it over and over. 

The book she recommends is called  The Simple Secret of Better Painting.

I posted more things about composition, tips and books on my Boards, the first three shown under my name.  The link is shown below.   I hope you create your own boards that show strong compositions.  It has helped me to do it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Composition # 8

July 11, 2011

Our internet had a breakdown so I've not been able to add any posts for a few days.  I'm still studying composition and could probably keep doing that for quite awhile.  What got me going on this was my own frustration in doing a painting a day and keeping them interesting and worthwhile.  I realized that I needed to do more planning for each one.  I've been consistently adding to the Daily Paintworks Website and reached 180 paintings listed.  My goal is 250 for the year.   I was happy with the one I did yesterday.  

6 x 6 - Available at Daily Paintworks

The composition for this one was about having the darks create an armature and a gestural path into the painting.  This time I used the VALUE FINDER app from my iPhone to see the pattern that the darks created.  It is a really valuable tool in looking at the pattern of lights and darks.  I think it was worth the $4.99 that I spent.  You take a photo of your set-up and the value finder creates a number of different value patterns.  The most helpful to me is the NOTAN, a pure black and white version of your photo.  

The Art Tutorials at the Daily Paintworks are also worth investigating.  Carol Marine does a really good one on composition.  She recommends a book called The Simple Secret to Better Painting.

Here's a link to the tutorials:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Composition #7


July 9, 20013

More study on composition....

Armature:  Triangle: 

In this armature usually the use of perspective creates the triangle.  The example in the book I keep referring to is much better.  (Page 21 of Mastering Composition)
You might say it is more of  the use of diagonals, but  I think this refers to creating triangle shapes.
6 x 6
I'll look for examples to add to the Pinterest  board I created about composition.
I did my own google search for further study about compostion and came across some that were very helpful.  I have one them linked below.  Steve Doherty is an editor for one of the art magazines and has some good tips here. 


Link to composition:   tips by Steve Doherty


Monday, July 8, 2013

Compostion #6

Composition #6


Use of Diagonal

Using pinterest has been a big help in looking for examples of good compositions. 

When I look back at my own paintings I was surprised how often I use this.  I put quite a few examples on the pinterest board of just a few of mine and a lot of other artists.  I noticed that the artist Joe Mackenzie has a beautiful painting of a view in Vermont on the Daily Paintworks website using this in her composition.   (I couldn't get it to "pin" to my board from the DPW website so I will include a link to her blog that shows it.)

Joe Mackenzie's Blog

Ian Roberts warns that the diagonal is so dynamic that you have to soften it as it reaches the edges of the canvas otherwise it will carry you right out of the painting.  (See page 20 in his book, Mastering Composition).      I had another teacher say that the use of the  diagonal is very strong in a painting.  You can find all kinds of paintings with that zig-zag movement throughout.  I've noticed that sometimes it is a very subtle gestural thing. 


6 x 6
The top painting of the French street is such a minor use of the diagonal, but it you pictured that line to be flat, it would change the painting for the worse, same is true of the little birdie. 

I discovered that if you want to go to my pinterest boards, just use the widget on the right side of this page that says "follow me on pinterest"

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Composition #5

July 7, 2013

I haven't given up on the idea of pinterest being a good way to study composition, but I don't think the link I used yesterday worked.  I always send myself a copy of the blog for the day to be sure it's working and when I tried the link today, a window came up that said "oops, try again".   

Today I will try linking to the page that shows all my boards.  I put Composition in the top left corner.  If this work maybe I'll try setting up boards for different types of composition, grouping by armature.  For now, I 'll go with one board.   


I found two more "S" compositions in my own paintings.  One that might have happened by accident, but that I like is below.  Notice how the pumpkins in the front are in the shape of an "S" and I think they do draw you towards the back.  The radiating lines take you back, too.  According to Ian Roberts, it is okay to have more than one armature and it can be most any shape as long as there is something holding the painting together, like the armature that holds a sculpture together. 

I added more compositions to the board, a few by John Carlson, a wonderful landscape painter. His compositions really lead you into the painting. 

I would appreciate your comments about whether this Pinterest idea is working.  It's helping me organized  my thoughts  about composition. 

Tomorrow I want to concentrate on the use of the diagonal in painting.  I've been out gardening in this heat and am too worn out to do much more. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Compositon #4

July 6, 20013

I keep dreaming up new uses for Pinterest.  If you use it you will know what I'm talking about here.  I started a Board devoted to Composition today.  If you've read my past blogs, you will know it is something I want to strengthen in my paintings.  It would be nice if other people could add it this board, but as far as I know, you can't do that.  You could start your own board though and I will follow yours.   
So today I'm concentrating on the "S" armature and I pinned quite a few paintings by artists that I admire with the "S" Armature in their compositions.  I also included the only other one of mine using it.  I re-pinned some other things about composition on that board. There are some drawings about composition by Edgar Payne that are really helpful.  And, of course, lots by Ian Roberts. 
Think big, do a board for each armature, wish I had thought of that sooner. 
The "S" armature?

This is a subject I should stay with for awhile.  It's really made me look at my own paintings thinking only about composition.

Page 19 in Ian Robert's book is about the "S"  armature.  When I looked back at my own paintings I could only find two.  What does that say?   If you follow a path from the bottom, along the turnips, then vertical line to top it does create a loose S shape. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

composition # 3

July 5, 2013

(Would anyone be willing to e-mail me a photo of a painting of yours  that I could post and we could critique it in a very constructive way using comments)  My email is

Using Ian Roberts book, Mastering Composition, as my guideline  I am going through the armatures he describes and thinking about the other principles of composition in the book. 

Here is the painting I did yesterday.  Now I 'm not sure if this fits the circle armature or another one, but I think the idea is to have something that creates a path into your painting.  The reason I say circle is because the driveway takes you to the light value in the back of the painting which I did consciously want to happen. 

Another factor is that I have a strong response to this subject because I lived in that house in Buffalo, NY.  It is where I learned to ride a bike, roller skate and went to  part of elementary school.  We visited there last Thanksgiving and I only took one photo.  It's on a busy street near Hertle Avenue downtown.  Back then do you remember how your friends would come over and just yell for you to come out and play?   Anyway, Ian Roberts suggested finding subjects that you have a response to and  looking for strong shapes and values. 

"O" Armature

Radiating Lines:  (this might be  a too literal interpretation of that armature, but the lines do point into the subject) and I just noticed the use of gradation works because it is dark to light on the purple stripes.  Plus there is a diagonal in the background
This has been a good exercise for me because I have been going through old paintings and checking out the compositions. 

Thank you again to Ian Roberts for writing such a valuable book. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

More on Compositon

July 4, 2013 

Happy July 4th

I was looking at Pinterest today and found two video clips of Ian Roberts talking about composition so I put them on my board about Art and here is the link.  I have collected a few other miscellaneous, but I hope helpful things on that board including the Coulter easel I hope to have one day. 

Link:    Pinterest Art Supply and Tips Board

Looking through photos I found the one I used for a painting where I did a lot of cropping and changed the background.   It is shown below followed by the painting.   I was thinking about composition, but also using neutrals in the background to make the bright red look even brighter. 

  I put it in a simple black frame and it is now at LibertyTown Arts Workshop.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013


July 3, 2013
I wanted to stick with theme of composition for awhile.  Mainly because it is something I want to improve in my own paintings.  This is my day to do paperwork, so I am going back to a painting that I did awhile ago, but one where my emphasis was achieving a composition with strong abstract shapes and an entrance into the painting. The angle of the fabric leads you into the painting
I remember doing a thumbnail and really trying to put these principles into practice.  I need to keep this book open when I paint.  . 
All this is on page 33 of Ian Robert's book, Mastering Composition.  He is writing on new one called Search for Beauty.   It won't be published for awhile, but I can't wait to get it. 
I think this was an 8 x 10.  It did sell right away so there be something to taking the time to plan a painting. 

PS - Later  today I plan to do some thumbnails at least to stick to the composition a day plan, maybe for a month even though I know a year would be better. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Emphasis on Composition

July 2, 2013 - Emphasis on Composition

I've decided that I would like to strengthen composition in my paintings so I pulled out my favorite book on the subject by Ian Roberts, called Mastering Composition.  I like the way he organizes composition into 8 common armatures.  His definition on page 13 is very complete, but my take on it is that it gives your painting a structure and a path for the eye.  His idea that design engages the viewer is very persuasive and I need constant reminding. 

Doing a composition a day for a year is one of his suggestions that will really help improve your paintings.  I don't know if I can stick to that, but here is one.  I should at least be able to do one for each armature and besides this is supposed to be a part of every painting, I am reminding myself again.

I'm going through the thousands of my disorganized photos, looking for possible designs, good ones that is, cropping photos, doing thumbnails. 

I did a thumbnail (strongly suggested for every painting).

The "L" armature:

(I accidently deleted the original photo before cropping it).

cropped photo

(The greens look unnatural in this photo, the real painting is more grayed  out greens)