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Share Your Art / Re: Continuing the conversation... (Tony)
« Last post by tonybluegoat on Today at 02:14:18 PM »
It's impossible to get a good photo of an artwork.  Literally impossible, because it changes depending on the light.  I have a daylight bulb in my studio so that I paint in 'daylight.'  But most people's homes use compact florescent, so the painting looks different when it's hung.  Do I changed an paint under less than ideal lighting? No.  Will house lighting be changed to 5000K daylight bulbs? No.  It's just one of those things.  And taking pictures for online display is just one more step.

I'm looking at the 2nd one because it's less washed out.  It looks great!  What do you think?  The 3 questions I ask for any painting are:
1.  What was the artist trying to accomplish?
2.  Did they accomplish it?
3.  Was it worth doing?

I think you were trying to accomplish a photo realistic portrait and it's great.  The fabric is fantastic, the eyes pop, the mouth is spot on.  All the facial elements are dead accurate.  Nothing looks askew or off by even a millimeter.  I couldn't do it.  You have great control with pastel.

I think you did a great job accomplishing it.  It's a good composition as well.  Very engaging. The little spot of blue behind the bow is a great touch.  It helps the bow stand out and repeats the eyes.  The baby looks right... fat, happy, toothless, with big blue eyes.

I don't know anything about pastels, but look up the words "value" and "pastel" on youtube.  Maybe there are some tips on adjusting value in pastels.  Also, so this exercise.  Do "step charts" for the color you are working with.  A skin tone for instance.  If you "mix" a skin tone try mixing a step lighter and a step darker.  It looks like you really enjoy portraits.  So it's worthwhile to explore values in portrait drawing with pastel in detail.  Your work shows that you can SEE the value changes very well.

Was it worth doing?  Absolutely.  Occasionally someone with put a lot of work into drawing something that really doesn't need to be drawn.  That's not the case here.

Here's the question.  You want to stretch?  What do you want to stretch toward?  Picasso said, "Computers are useless.  All they can give you are answers."  In other words the answers aren't the important part.  The important part are the questions.  Ask better questions, ask yourself the right questions, and the answers will be self-evident.  What do you WANT as an artist?
Share Your Art / Two new graphite pencil drawings
« Last post by brjonessr on Today at 05:02:30 AM »
The overall size is 7" X 5, but the images each measure 6" X 4." Reference photo credit:
Share Your Art / Continuing the conversation... (Tony)
« Last post by Humburger on Today at 04:15:19 AM »
Thanks, Tony, for taking the time to type out all your thoughts on my mountain painting.  I still hate it.  And for all the reasons you saw.  I have discovered that I can combine my knowledge and skill of graphite drawing with pastels and I am having a modicum of success with it.  The color part is really hard for me.  I can very easily get the values with graphite, but add colors and I lose value.  Just like you said...  LOL!  So, here is my latest attempt at a pastel portrait.  I do not have a good photo of it, but I will include two photos, taken with different lighting.  I will be taking more photos until I can get a good one, because I don't think I can get it scanned.
Share Your Art / Re: Mountain Painting
« Last post by tonybluegoat on January 17, 2018, 10:30:55 PM »
Thank you, Anna.  I am a bit more calm this afternoon.  I started another portrait.  LOL!  I think I am more comfortable with drawing portraits.  So, I honestly believe that I must continue to paint, because doing things that are uncomfortable is the only way to grow and stretch.  But, it hurts!  LOL!  I am such a wimp...  Thanks, again, for your critique and comments.  :-)

I would suggest stretching not jumping into the volcano.  Think of applying color with india ink or watercolor to a drawing.  Start with just using one color and adding value.  Water color is good for that because each new wash darkens a certain area.  I have a quote I like, "Art is not hard because it's slow.  It's hard because artist think it can be fast." 

I think when you learned to draw you PLAYED WITH drawing.  You tried things and scribbled and practices a piece of a leaf, etc.  But with painting people think (Bob Ross, that's his name!) I can just FIRE IN a mountain and some trees and a bush.  You can't, and neither can he.  The painting that he does for the show is #4 or 5 of the exact same  painting.  And even then if you saw it in a gallery next to more professional work you would think "eh..."

I attached some images from me going to life art sessions.  I'm no good at drawing from life.  I'm no good at drawing.  And I'm no good at painting.  But you can see the progression.  Drawing then adding some value with colored ink and a brush then working directly with acrylics.

My suggestion is start with what you know and then add Painterly Effects using whatever.  Ink, watercolor, acrylic wash, do an underpainting over a drawing, etc.  I'm more fascinated with the way people work through the frustrations and challenges of art than most other artists.  I think it's a great thing to talk about.

I think I can give you a suggestion that will help make stretching not hurt.  Instead of trying to paint a Chuck, paint a Humburger.  Stretch from your existing drawing talent into adding value then color. 
Share Your Art / Re: Mountain Painting
« Last post by tonybluegoat on January 17, 2018, 10:12:21 PM »
I'm no expert, I'm a student, but I understand completely.  Here's the thing about painting, 90% of it can be right and it can still not work out.  If you are trying to paint realism then it gets much harder.  The one reason is that in our mind everything similar is the same, but in nature nothing is the same.  In an illustration all the snow on the branches can be the same.  In nature none of the snow on any of the branches is the same and the snow on the one part of the branch is different from the snow on the other parts of the branch.  The reason most paintings don't look real is because they aren't approached with the true attention to detail required to make them look real.  The main problem is VALUE.  People look at color but don't see value.  light/dark has to be SPOT ON.  Whether you use a color checker in real life or a laminated photo that you can put the paint directly on, VALUE must be spot on.  Once the value of the spot of paint you're putting down is right then you can adjust the color.  And color - for the most part - is not the color you think it is.  Color is dirty, gritty, muted messy.  It's never as bright a white or as dark a black as your eye see.  Once you mix it you realize the apple is not red... It's a dull, brown, yellow, sort of thing... and all that is for just one spot on the painting.

For realism that has to be done for the entire painting. Nothing a step brighter or darker than the original, no colors more are less colorful than the original.  I can do that.  I learned how to do that.  My problem is the detail.  The little spots and specs.  I don't have the touch for that, or the patience.  I'm good for about 6 hours on a composition and then I better be wrapping it up or I'll just throw it out. 

If you think about that and look back at your painting you will see the standard mistakes.  The snow on the branches is all the same.  It was put there with the thought "put snow on a branch" when it should have been put there as amorphous, abstract pieces of value and color that matched the original composition. (at least if you want realism).  The colors are too pure, too clean (for realism).  The water is really nice.  I like the water.  And the painting is really good.... it took a lot of really good work to get that painting and it took avoiding a bag of mistakes that would have ruined it entirely.  But that's the difference.  And it's why I'm not interested in painting realism.  I don't have the skills or patience for it.  I'm way too self critical, and unpracticed.

Some people have developed "painterly methods" to simulate values without having to discretely paint everything.  The most famous is the guy with the big hair on PBS.  But his paintings aren't realism they are surrealist idealism.  "happy little bush"  But he knows how to load the brush with values that will approximate light falling.

I think that's way some painters work their way UP to a composition.  They paint elements, they do studies, they do under painting, and the build up very carefully adjusting all the way.  There is a process to it for sure.

I like the painting, but it looks like an amateur painting.  Too overly simplified.  It all depends on your goal. 

I attached 2 pics.  One is the copper bucket that was a relative success.  Drawing, Underpainting, then a laminated photo reference where almost every color what mixed, checked for value, remixed, rechecked over and over for just one value then it was adjusted for color, check, adjust, check.  It might take 5 minutes to get just ONE color spot right.  Then adjust, check, etc.  The reason the painting still have major flaws is because I simply ran out of time and patience.  It had to be turned in.

The other painting is a still life that I tried - using a color checker instead of a photo - It took hours to get the first ceramic pot laid down in anything close to a reasonable fashion.  I started the smaller one as well then I lost all hope and quit.  It sat on the easel for 3 weeks until I took it off and threw it aside.  I finally decided that I'm not interested in doing realism that way.

In my college painting class NO ONE likes their painting when it's done.  We all like most of them but the person who did it doesn't.  There are exceptions, but it's tough.  That's why I changed to process over product.  I'm much happier.

P.S. as a "chuck black" painting I think it came out really well because it was your first attempt.  he has done hundreds.  And yours is 75% as good as his.
Share Your Art / Re: Anne Girl
« Last post by tonybluegoat on January 17, 2018, 09:42:14 PM »
great drawing and very expressive!
Share Your Art / "Brown Fedora Hat"
« Last post by Madison S. Hughes on January 17, 2018, 04:50:00 AM »
Dated: 11.23.2017
Medium: Line and Wash
Subject: Still Life
Size: 5 X 7 in.
Substrate: Strathmore 500 Cold Press Watercolor Paper 140 lb.
Photo Reference Credit: Alphonso Dunn, "Pen & Ink Drawing", 2015, p 28.
Share Your Art / Re: First painting of the rest of my life
« Last post by Humburger on January 17, 2018, 03:36:59 AM »
Tony!  Glad you are back.  And, yes, I read the whole thing.  😃  It took me many years to finally get it in my head that I am an actual artist.  I never felt worthy of the title.  When I decided to BE an artist and act like it, I became an artist.   I hope we see more of you here.  By the way, I like the cardinal and your style.  😊
Share Your Art / Re: "Telephone Pole and Wires"
« Last post by tonybluegoat on January 17, 2018, 02:20:42 AM »
Great perspective.  Getting all those lines and angles right is tough.  Looks great
Share Your Art / First painting of the rest of my life
« Last post by tonybluegoat on January 17, 2018, 12:50:45 AM »
(diatribe to follow)

This is the seminal painting for me.  It's truly the first painting of the rest of my life.  I've painted others, I've painted better, but none of them were "mine" even if I composed them.  It took me about 2.5 years to get to this point in art.  It might be a universal pattern familiar to all artists. I don't know. It didn't take me 2.5 years to learn "how to paint."  I don't know "how to paint." It took me 2.5 years to become an artist.

More than art or painting or drawing I've spent the last year intensely studying how to BE an artist.  Lots of people are artists - whether anyone cares about what they produce or not.  And lots of people keep making pieces but never feel like "an artist."  I wasn't one until today.  After lots of study I learned that the one key to being an artist is for THE WORK to be what drives; not the result or the destination or the credentials or the medium.  It took me 2.5 years to find PROCESS.

This painting doesn't represent a STYLE that I will necessarily continue or even the medium that I will probably use as my primary medium.  This painting is in acrylic.  Next week I am switching my studio over to Encaustic because it's the medium that I think will most mesh with my Process. What you see isn't what makes me an artist, it's how the painting came to BE that was the transformation.

What I learned is that it's the job of the artist to clear everything out of the way of making art.  Every preconception, prejudice or idea that gets in the way of making art must be destroyed so that all that's left is YOUR process.  It's the process that feeds your soul and calls you into the studio.  The opposite of that is "resistance."  Resistance is what kept me out of the studio.  It's what had me start projects only to be stalled and stymied, to be frustrated and get that deep sense of incapacity or inferiority.

The books that taught me how to be an artist are:  "Art & Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland, "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield, and "Peak - Secrets from the new science of expertise" by Anders Erricsson and Robert Pool.

Art & Fear is a fantastic book that is a mile deep and a mile wide.  But the one thing that kept being repeated was that art work comes from the WORK of making art.  Lots of art.  Lots of bad art.  But ultimately lots of YOUR art.  95% of people who graduate from college with an art degree are not making art 5 years later.  95%.  Why?  They loved art or they wouldn't get a degree.  In the end they weren't instilled with the one thing they needed to become artist, which is the ability to MAKE ART forever.  Their goal was met (for many if not most) with the graduation.  They didn't have any systems after that for continuing.  My great fear was that I would be an "art student" but never make the emotion, intellectual, spiritual, mental and physical transition from art student to artist. 

This is my last semester of formal art training in college.  I've gone for 3 years - 2 semesters of pottery, 2 of drawing, art history, art appreciation, 2-d design, and this is my 2nd semester of painting (and some other courses).  To continue I have to go from my community college to a university.  AT the end of last semester I decided that more education will not make me an artist.  It will only make me a more accomplished art STUDENT.  So I started desperately searching for how to make that transition. I knew it wasn't another "art class."  Masters of Fine Arts almost never become artists. They become art teachers or just get a job doing something else.  95%.  That number kept haunting me. 95%

Peak taught me that it takes AT LEAST (and generally many more) than 10,000 hours of SOLO PURPOSEFUL PRACTICE to become a true expert at anything.  Following a college program that would take 10 years, and to be honest it would probably never be possible.  Luckily it doesn't take that long to become an "artist."  It only takes that long for an artist to become a MASTER.  You can be an artist without being a master.  The decision and work required to become a Master IS BOTH optional and really must be done as a working artist (not as a student).

Finally I started "The War of Art."  I'm not even that far into the book, to be honest.  But I learned the final lynch pin that changed everything.  The author half seriously and half hyperbolically says that Adolph Hitler WANTED to become a painter.  He took his inheritance and went to Vienna (I think) and applied at both art school and design school.  But because of "resistance" - which is the internal struggle to MAKE ART that every artist must overcome in order to be an artist - he found that it was easier to CONQUER EUROPE than it was to become an artist.

We all CONQUER EUROPE in order to avoid making art - when resistance exists.  I'll go into the studio AFTER I...  FIRST I NEED TO... IF ONLY I COULD... then I would make art.  For Hitler (half jokingly) he went all the way across Europe and half of Russia... All he needed to do first was... conquer the world... then he could get down to painting.

All of these elements combined in my head and formed the solution for me... maybe not the solution for anyone else.  The key is not DISCIPLINE.  Discipline is forcing yourself to do something you DON'T WANT TO DO.  Habit (when used as a way to force yourself to do something) is just another word for discipline.  The key, for me, was to SHATTER everything that makes me want to stop or avoid art.  The first thing was to stop caring about medium or technique or result.  JUST PLAY WITH WHATEVER MATERIALS IN WHATEVER WAY MADE ME FEEL GOOD.

I couldn't get to my studio fast enough.  I decided on an image of a Cardinal (the bird).  I poured colored india ink onto watercolor paper and smeared it around.  I dropped it, dripped it, drew it out with a dropper.  No reference image.  No plan.  I made a piece.  Ugly but so liberating.  I grabbed another piece of watercolor paper and took a 2nd whack at it with a little better idea of composition.  Still ugly but so satisfying.  At no point was I frustrated or inadequate.  I took another piece of watercolor paper and acrylic paint tubes.  I globbed paint straight from the tube starting with the cardinals red pointy head.  I continued pulling off mistakes with my finger and rubbing them on the perimeter of the paper until I had a bird.  Then I smeared the extra paint around with more paint to make the background.  I liked it.  Nobody else would, but I did.

LET'S DO IT AGAIN!  I took a handful of brushes this time and a palette. Instead of globbing the paint directly onto the watercolor paper I globbed it onto a palette and used the brushes.  I also decided that my idea of a Cardinal (in my head) was deeply flawed so I did a google image search.  I scrolled until I found something that I liked and used it as a rough reference.

The result is attached.  The entire process took a couple hours.  I don't know how long and time wasn't a factor.  At no point was I thinking about time.  After that I had to wash my hands.  NOTE: I live in Texas and it's 22 degrees outside.  My studio isn't made for cold weather.  The water pipes are frozen.  I didn't care if I could clean up or not.  In the end I drug my paint covered self and brushes into the kitchen to clean up.  Before I became "an artist" I would have cared.  "No Water in the Studio"... Resistance.  Stay in the house instead.

So there you go (if anyone actually read this).  For me the key to becoming an artist wasn't technique or medium or talent or inspiration or creativity or tools or anything else.  It was getting all of that stuff out of my way so I could just enjoy the process of interacting with the materials that I had in whatever way my brain/body/mind/soul/emotion wanted to.

If I were to sum all of this up it would be this...  It doesn't matter what you make or how you make it.  It doesn't matter what skills or techniques or tool you have or lack.  It doesn't matter if you are inspired or depressed or creative or talented.  And it doesn't matter if the result goes in the Louvre or the Latrine.  An artist makes art.  A painter paints.  A writer writes.  Anything that gets in the way of that or demotivates your or causes "resistance" must be ignored, changed, thrown away, disregarded, discounted, spurned, heckled, disrespected.  Physical interaction with the materials... that's ALL that is required.  The rest will come with time.  As long as we, as artists, interact with the materials, that's it!  Of course this is a forum where people post actual work, so everybody here is already doing that.
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