Monday, January 31, 2011

25 Ideas for the Working Artist from ARThouse Students

On the last day of our ARThouse Student Show, we had a "Take-down Party".  I asked everybody to contribute an "art idea" to the Idea Basket.  The artists came up with lots of excellent tips and ideas, some practical, some philosophical, for the working artist.  Since this was primarily a watercolor group, many of these apply to watercolor, but there is lots of "meat" in here for everybody!

25 Ideas from ARThouse students for the Idea Basket: (Sue Murphy's comments in [......])
  1. Purchase an inexpensive mat cutter (A.C.Moore, Michael's, Plaza Art or online) as a reasonable one-time investment. This makes it easier to give paintings and prints to friends and relatives.
  2. When trying out new techniques or approaches, such as abstraction, buy some cheap paper so you don't feel so pressured about wasting paper!!! I purchased a pad of Strathmore 100 lb cold press paper (11x15”) which costs less than $1.00 per sheet. That way I can experiment without blowing the budget. [Plus sometimes cheap papers give you unusual effects!]
  3. Whenever you go out, take your camera and/or something to sketch on. [Keep an old camera in the car]
  4. Keep several painting projects going at once and have them nearby for 15 minutes of work.
  5. When deciding on your composition, always keep various size mats to help select the area to paint.
  6. Mr. Clean “Magic Eraser” will lift nearly any paint color. Just cut off a small part of the sponge, wet it, and rub.
  7. Here is an online discussion between two artists about their different styles. There are slides explaining their views, but no video: It is very interesting [as they compare their approach to the same painting].
  8. Have a group tour and critique of selected paintings from the BWS Mid-Atlantic show. [We might do this—will let you know]
  9. At the end of a painting session, jot down a few notes about things you are thinking about doing next, like “soften edge of left arm” or “darken shadows under tree”. This will help you get into the swing of things when you return to the painting next time.
  10. Trace your sketch onto your paper before soaking and stretching. This way, when the paper is dry the pencil lines are essentially permanent, so small details won't wash off as you work. If you want to make changes, you can remove the pencil lines with a Mr. Clean magic eraser before you paint that area.
  11. Learn more about depth of field and perspective using various means (color, line. etc.)
  12. Your paintings are YOUR ideas. It is OK if others do not view your work with the same understanding.
  13. Thumbnail value sketches are excellent prerequisites before using your “good sheet” of paper, allowing ideas in placement, value, main focus and light direction to be developed before you paint.
  14. The degree of finish for a painting has to be a personal choice.
  15. Consider changing the date of the ARThouse Student Show from late fall to spring. Advantages: 1) less pressure and competition from holiday events with their obligations, travel, gift buying, baking. etc., 2) after April 15 when taxes are paid, it is easier for customers to budget their expenses, 3) the weather is nicer with more people apt to be attracted to the show. [Will consider this, but spring is very busy too!]
  16. A word to the wise...never express how much you as a watercolorist ALSO enjoy painting with acrylics!
  17. Take classes with a variety of teachers to avoid copying only the style of your original teacher and develop your own personal style.
  18. Unwanted paintings can be used as “underpaintings” for new ideas using another media, OR collages. Try, try again! [Stick failed or unfinished paintings in a drawer somewhere—they might be useful...]
  19. If you really don't like your painting, wash the paint off under the faucet, dry and re-use.
  20. White, smooth packaging cardboard pieces [or scrap watercolor paper] make good practice sheets to use before you made a new stroke on your painting.
  21. Work hard on rescuing failed paintings! [Try finishing every painting—you can usually turn it around!]
  22. Go to the library and check out art books. I have learned so much from the books and have been introduced to many styles and techniques.
  23. Paint your inspiration! Paint with inspiration! Let your painting be an inspiration!
  24. Explore different surfaces.
  25. Don't be afraid to use mixed media, such as watercolor and pastel.