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June 2013

The Partners We Want

Most artists realize - sooner or later - that we can't do it alone.  We need partnerships, people who support what we do, and to whom we offer our support in return.  This form of generosity is best when it comes without strings, when it's given in an attempt to support a relationship, or to see what another artist thinks.  These are the forms of generosity - the unconditional partnerships - I appreciate most.

I recently encountered a problem when varnishing my paintings.  I have been using Gamblin's product, Gamvar, with great results, but encountered an issue I couldn't resolve.  After posting on another social media site, I was connected to Scott Gellatly, from Gamblin Artist's Colors, who not only identified the issue (it had to do with the brand of lemon yellow that, when fully saturated, tends to green) but followed up with a tube of Gamblin's Hansa Yellow Light, as well as a sample of their new Solvent Free Gel

This is a level of customer support that we don't always see.  It goes beyond the desire to defend the brand.  And while it is not remarkable that a company might offer to solve a problem, it is remarkable when a company actively chooses to cultivate a relationship with one of it's customers without expecting anything in return.




I use Maroger's medium in some of my paintings and like it, other than the odor.  I compared  Maroger to Gamblin's new Solvent Free Gel.  The gel is clear from the tube.  It does not have the little puddle of solvent that  usually accompanies the Maroger. There was absolutely no odor.  The transparency and workability were identical, with only the slightest bit of difference with the Maroger's seeming to be 'creamier" as the paint left the brush, but I also felt it was inconsequential.  If you like the benefits of a Maroger type medium, try Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel and compare it for yourself.  

I also recently received an email from Jennifer Becker, offering to send me a copy of Living The Artist's Life, Updated and Revised, by Paul Dorrell.  Paul Dorrell is a well known gallery owner, founding Leopold Gallery in 1991.  I remember reading Paul's book years ago - this updated version is just as supportive as what I recalled, but I was also able to appreciate his insights at a much deeper level. 

Experience - our own, or that of others - is not static.   What I found particularly valuable in Paul's book is two-fold.  First, he writes as one artist to another, as someone who has dreamed, struggled creatively, faced rejection and success, and can articulate what perseverence is with a unique voice.  Second, he provides great insight into the art world from the retailer perspective - what it takes to make a sale, how small, and how large the art world is, and what challenges can at times seem insurmountable. Paul has shared his insight with the San Francisco Art Institute, the Art Students League of New York, the Boston Arts & Business Council, the Art Center of South Florida in Miami, and Pratt in Seattle, among dozens of other venues and artists.  And I recommend this book.

Not because Jennifer Becker sent me a free copy (which I appreciate.)

I recommend this book because, throughout the years Paul Dorrell has been the kind of partner we want, just as Scott Gellatly of Gamblin Artist's Oil Paints is the kind of partner we, as artists, want.  

And I choose to support them in return.

Click here to learn more about Scott Gellatly and Gamlin Artist's Colors

Click here to learn more about Paul Dorrell and the book Living the Artist's Life

Click below to learn more about my book Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist

"I could sure hear you in the book, very upbeat and encouraging...I also loaned your book to my Tucson art teacher and she let another friend of hers read it, too..."  TB, Tuscon, AZ

Book - Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist: the business plan (not just) for the mature artist

Kindle US Store  - Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist: the business plan (not just) for the mature artist


Garden in the Morning

IMG_0312 sm copy
Garden in the Morning, Oil on linen


Whenever we enter the studio we face challenges.  In my own work, these revolve around the technical aspects of balance in the texture, brushwork, edges and color.  That was part of the story behind Garden in the Morning.  It was a painting I had been inspired to do on several occasions, and with each attempt became more convinced that it might be beyond my ability, certainly my ability to pull it off at the technical level required.  But the inspiration kept returning and I have learned that when an idea becomes that insistent, perhaps it is my own fears that are getting in the way. 

I began by studying the technique in the work of artists I admired, their brushwork, and the way they approached the design, trying to find some way to put it together.  I reread sections of Richard Schmid's Alla Prima and suddenly understood clearly what he meant when he said, "Do not ask yourself, 'What do I see?' Rather ask, 'What do I see?"  And what I saw was the beautiful yellow light as it moved upward over the form and disolved into the green of the leaves, as well as the warm S curve that weaves behind the statue and through the garden, then upward into the distant trees.

As the painting progressed, I figured out how less is more in depecting the gesture of the statue and letting the light provide the few important details.  Whenever I started to get "lost" I went back to the underlying design to regrasp the composition. This idea of the S curve behind the central figure came as an insight after studying John Singer Sargent.  While I greatly admire his brushwork, more important to me is the way he builds his compositions entirely on the underlying abstract design. 

We should never shy away from the challenges that are presented even if our first few attempts are wiped off.  I have discovered more valuable information by what doesn't work than through the paintings that flow easily.  More often than not what seems so easy is only easy because it is repetitive and doesn't move my artistic aspirations forward.