Creativity Needs Peace and Quiet by Mike Rooney

I've had an epiphany sometime over the last few months. Slow down and do better paintings.
I thought you might like to see how I corrected a dangerous course of action so you'll have something to think about before you go down the same road or have to correct course like me.
Here's the skinny.

I've been a full-time painter selling in a dozen galleries up and down the eastern seaboard for almost five years now. All the wisdom of the day when I started said that you needed miles and miles of canvas behind you before you got any good. Well they were (and still are) right. But what I didn't hear was miles and miles of decent work.

Don't you look at your screen with that look on your face. If you paint, or draw, or sculpt, you haven't always sold your very best work 100% of the time, now have you. It's human nature to do what you can with what you've got on hand.

I ran from painting to painting, averaging three or four a day for years. Some call that prolific. I now call it stupid.
How can you find time to do your very best work if you hardly have time to each lunch or return a dealers phone call?

Note to self: Being frazzled is counterproductive. Seems like common sense, right? Not so much, when you're trying to pay bills, keep galleries happy, and stay ahead of the tax man. Being pushed also keeps you from thinking through the design, accepting little things you know aren't right in the painting (but getting onto the next one helps you conveniently forget), and can lead to professional burnout.

So my new mantra is not "how many can I do in a day," it's "how many really good ones can I do, no matter how long it takes."

If you're shaking your head up and down frantically, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Slow it down. Think through the design a little more than you do now. Don't let something go out to a gallery that you wouldn't want on the front page of your local newspaper with your photo next to it and your name in huge type. What an acid test that is huh?

Ouch.....After saying that.... if you'll excuse me I've got to quit typing and go work on a few paintings some more that I thought were good enough to show.

You can visit Mike's blog and can be contacted at


Bring out your dark side (to show more light) by Wilson Bickford

I love to paint the deep woods. There is mystery in the dark depth of the shadows. And the way the light filters through the trees is absolutely majestic! (At least to me.) What appeals to me above all, is the strong light and dark contrast, which is the entire basis of a good painting.
So many times, I see beginning painters who possess good intentions, but also ignorance of the importance of a strong light/dark balance in their work. It's been said that, "without the dark, there is no light." That is absolutely true!! The darks are what make the lights "pop" and without enough contrast, the end result will be bland.
This principle does not pertain only to wooded landscapes, but EVERY artistic theme and subject. Still life, florals, portraits, whatever the subject,.......all will benefit from a good balance of contrasts.
When thinking about the lights and darks in your next painting, also consider the color "temperatures." Although it's certainly not always the case, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to use cooler colors in the shadows, warmer tones in the highlight areas. This will add a huge "kick" to your painting and yield a more refined, professional result.

Shown is "SUNLIT STREAM" - Oils on 12" x 12" Gallery Wrap canvas


Have we seen the last of the masters? by Valerie (Valry) Drake

Let me preface these comments by saying that I do not have a formal art education and that's a shame and one day I am going to get it. One area I am particularly sketchy is in art history and, again, I regret this because there is always a great deal of value in knowing the history of any field.

That said, here is my take on a brief overview of art history:

Primitive people made art because they felt a compulsion to create and to adorn the practical items in their lives. They probably did not have a lot of "masters" at first, although I expect that certain people developed reputations as making particularly attractive baskets or pots or arrowheads. Some art was reserved for religion or magic which makes perfect sense to me since I still think there is something divinely inspired or magical about art.

Along about the middle ages the church monks had a monopoly on art largely based on their being the only ones who were literate. They worked on developing things like ink and paint and surfaces that could accept the medium and create more polished pieces. Then, both the church and royalty wanted decorations and monks could not be taken away from more sacred pursuits so there became a market for decorative artisans and then some of the more talented artisans started working more as artists.

Then came schools of art and snobbery and some people got rich and others starved and some got extremely weird and did things like cutting their ears off. And some people were genuinely passionate about learning how to make great art just for the sake of the art. Things continued for a while like that and we got museums and art galleries and a good artist could actually make a name for himself or herself. And some of them continued to be weird but that seemed to be okay with everyone, almost like being a little weird was expected from artists.

Along came television and color printing presses and Bob Ross. Now Bob Ross made a huge impact on the world of art and the art community almost unanimously criticized him. They said that Bob Ross was cheapening art and that what he did wasn't "fine art." (One day I will write a blog about that term "fine art" but not today.) Gradually, however, the art community seems to have become reconciled to Bob Ross and said that he was increasing the public's awareness and appreciation of art. Anyway, Bob Ross is gone but his show lives on and I like watching it and I really like the idea of "happy trees."

Now we've come to the 21st Century and TV continues to influence us and it has been joined by the world wide web. Have you seen those TV shows where the decorator takes the family and they go outside and put a few canvases down and just do this and then just do that and just a little here and then just like that it's done and it's their art for the room and they hang it and everyone is just so impressed and happy? And have you got any idea how many artists have web sites with a whole bunch of art for sale (including me)? Some of the art that is for sale on the internet is very, very good stuff. You can buy posters at any large discount store or small corner gift shop. There is excellent and mediocre art and photography on calendars and greeting cards. There is original and reproduction art for sale everywhere – in restaurants, malls, discount import stores. I even have some of my paintings for sale in my local car dealership.

Frankly I think this is all fantastic, but I also think we may have seen an end to the era of the "masters." I will even go out on a limb (not an unfamiliar place for me) and make a prediction: I believe that people are reclaiming ownership of art, similar in some ways to the pre-history of art, with everyone making art and enjoying both the process and the finished products. I don't know what that does for your plans of becoming the next big name in the art world but I'm not quitting my day job just yet.

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