Band Wagon No


Band Wagon Notes

Jumping on the popular band wagon is a mistake in my opinion. I had a call from an advanced beginner artist the other day who wanted some advice. She is frustrated with her work, wanting to improve, thinking because her friends are painting with oils that she should be. Thinking because her friends are painting on location, she should be too. Thinking that she must need to be a landscape painter because her friends think that’s how to make a lot of money. Am I the only one who sees red flags here? Jumping on the latest art bandwagon is a common problem I see constantly in the art world.

I get far too many contacts from artists who are living vicariously through their friends and painting like other people because they want to paint like successful painters. As I told this artist, you can only succeed with a huge amount of devotion and love for painting what moves you personally, and working very hard to improve. There is no magic bullet in painting. I have seen far too many portrait artists jumping on the landscape band wagon, because they think it is the key to success. This seems to be more and more of a trend, that everybody thinks landscape painting will give them instant success and recognition.

Linda’s Etsy Shop

Now I begin to notice that the still life painters are jumping on the landscape band wagon too. I know some absolutely superb portrait artists that are average at best in landscape work. I’m old fashioned. I think painting what you do best is smart. I’m a lousy portrait artist. I have done some on commission and I hated all of them. It’s not what I do best.I like trees, fields, and occasionally cattle. I paint what I dearly love and it shows in my work.

I think it is a mistake to paint for the popular market. Yes, right now we get a lot of attention because of the plein air events, but believe me, that will change. Landscapes will go out of fashion and then only the best landscape painters will survive. I admire painters who do what they do best and don’t try to chase the popular market. Painting for the latest subject or trend is short sighted in my view. Like it or not, artists are known and build reputations for certain styles and subjects. I am known as an agricultural and tree painter. I paint rural subjects.

Collectors Club

I can study other subjects for my own gratification and I do. Last year I learned to paint birds. It was a fun departure, and experience. This year I am studying dogs. I don’t abandon my main body of work to learn these subjects. I fit them into my schedule between landscape and tree paintings. Some of these studies sell and some don’t. I don’t throw away my skills as a landscape painter to run with the crowd to the latest trend. Be yourself and paint what you truly love. Have faith in your own path regardless of what your friends are doing. You know what is best for you.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Beef Dip

12 oz pre-sliced roast beef, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup  diced yellow onions
1/2 cup  diced bell peppers
1 (4.5-oz) can diced green chiles (undrained)
1/4 cup whole milk
16 oz bar white pasteurized cheese product
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Crusty bread, crackers, or chips (optional for dipping)Preheat large, nonstick saucepan 2–3 minutes on medium-high. Chop beef. Place oil in pan, then and add onions and peppers; cook and stir 3–4 minutes or until tender. Stir in beef and chiles; cook 1 minute or until hot. Remove mixture from pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Combine milk, cheese, and pepper in same pan; cook 4–5 minutes, stirring often, or until mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in beef mixture; cook 3–4 minutes or until hot. Serve with toasted bread, crackers, or chips for dipping.

Question Answers



Question Answer Notes

I frequently get a question from other artists, since I’ve been an artist longer than dirt! My answers may not work for your particular question but I do sincerely want to help.

Question 1)

How do you get beyond local? I’m a local artist, and my paintings sell well to people visiting  my town but I haven’t a clue on how to expand my area of sales.

This is a big question with many possible answers. First, it’s a mind set issue. You must decide that you are going to be a regional or national, or international artist in your mind before you can convince anyone else you are.

Etsy Shop

I remember back in the day when I was a nobody in the art scene. I decided that I must market out of my local area to be successful. There were just too many painters here and in particular, landscape painters. Emerging in the landscape painter’s capitol of Florida was not going to be an easy task. The first thing I did was some research. I thought about the kinds of landscape subjects I liked to paint and where they would most likely sell. The last thing you want to do is run helter skelter around with a shotgun approach. Look for likely areas of interest. That includes considering the price point for your work. Can an area you are interested in support original art? Does it have a population that is art savvy, with disposable income? Does the region support multiple art galleries, cultural or art centers, theatres, dance companies?

So, you do your research and target specific regions of interest. Now you want to start building a mailing list for the area. Buy a couple of style magazines and newspapers for the area and familiarize yourself with the businesses there and the social and cultural movers and shakers for the area. If there is an art center or galleries, put together a nice packet to send out in the region to art centers, commercial galleries. Don’t forget easy and free ways to market in an area, like  newspaper calendars and so forth. Get your foot in the door. If there are jurid exhibitions in the area, enter them. Get to know artists from the area and see what they are doing or visit art websites in the area.

Pick a couple of areas of interest within a three state area and work them constantly. It will take time. Anther way to get started but not always profitable is the art festival circuit for the area you are interested in. Hard work, but a way to start to build a mailing list and get some exposure for your work. Applying to galleries is a long topic all by itself, so I won’t go into that today.

Home Page

Don’t leave out the Internet as a way to launch yourself regionally,nationally, and internationally. This is my area of interest at this stage in my career. I have accomplished online in about 5 years what would have taken me 20 years to do in the brick and mortar world of art. The Internet is incredibly powerful as a marketing vehicle, but few artists understand this. Frankly, if you don’t use the Internet well, you are going to be marginalized as an artist unless you have a very good collector base. About 80% of my marketing is online. I don’t mean sending out emails all the time, but instead, using my blog  effectively, research, social media, and tweaking my web site regularly. I still believe that direct mail via USPS is the best way to communicate with clients. I do send emails, but real cards and letters are better. Everyone enjoys a lovely color post card in their mail. Marketing is a crap shoot always, but I try to answer each question from my own years of experience. My answers may not work for you.

This is just the tiniest piece of the pie to start with. Best of luck.

Question 2)

I’m starting an oil painting class (very very excited about it) and the instructor mentioned for us to get an outdoor portable easel. I already do plein air work in watercolors by putting the painting on my lap. I’d like to do more acrylic and oil outdoors, but haven’t quite figured out an effective set up. What would you recommend for a portable easel and how to carry your supplies?

First you must decide on the size you enjoy painting on location. Large? Medium? Small? For small works, a pochade box is unbeatable in my opinion. Easy to use, instant set up, very efficient and long lasting. For larger works, a real easel would be a better choice, like  a light weight field easel or even the Soltek.

What is your aesthetic for equipment? Are you looking for a finely made box or easel? A cheap box which will simply get you through the experience? Does it matter to you what it looks like? For example, I cannot paint with a Soltek easel because it is so butt ugly that it bothers me. I don’t like metal easels that look like they are from outer space. I know it is completely silly, but there you are. It doesn’t matter whether it is wonderful or not. I simply don’t want to use it.

How do you like to handle equipment? Do you like to carry supplies separately from your easel in satchels or in a rolling cart? Some easels and pochade boxes are merely easels, others hold all of our supplies in the actual easel or box.

Durability- In my opinion good pochade boxes out last easels every time. I personally use the Judson Plein Air boxes. I have various shapes and sizes of their boxes. When they get old, I turn them into browse bins for small paintings. They last for many years. They hold all of my paints, brushes, solvent, paper towels and panels. I like to travel light and set up fast. There are other very nice boxes, including the Open Box M which is the fine furniture category. Very expensive and well made, but I don’t like to carry my equipment separately, so it doesn’t work for me. There are many manufacturers out there like EasyL, Alla Prima Pochade (I want to buy his 8×10 box), Wind River and others, all good. We all have our own favorites.

Tripods should be of finest quality to really use your box efficiently. I have the Bogen Junior and it is old now but still perfect

My point here is , research the boxes and think about how best to use them to fit your own painting style before you purchase one.

For studio work I prefer an H frame easel, study and solid.

Questio 3)

I look at my blank canvas and wonder where to start? It is all so overwhelming.

Start-with a basic plan.

Color- This is where my charts come in. I like to plan my palette in advance. I usually use a specific limited palette for my work, choosing between the many charts I have made over the years. This sounds boring I know. I do this because I want m work to be fresh and vital. I now so many painters who have used the same palette for years. It is so formulaic and predictable. I always know their work, not by style, but by palette. A signature style is a good thing, but to me, a palette needs to change and move around to be interesting. Color temperature adds interest and depth to a painting. It can create interesting intervals.

Edges and area of interest- I like to play around with hard and soft edge work, lost and found edges, using them to designate the primary,secondary, and tertiary elements to my painting. One of the mistakes I often See in beginners paintings, is a sameness of edge work. The painting is either all loose and rough, with no crisp edge work, or all tightly rendered. Variety is the spice of life.

Perspective- Both linear (this is so difficult for me. I am blind in one eye and my perspective is always off) and atmospheric. I love playing with atmospherics and I push that element in many of my paintings.

Rhythm and Repetition- using repetitive shapes and patterns add interest to the painting. It also leads the viewer around the painting, pulling them through it and keeping them engaged longer.

Values- The most important element in design other than composition. Others will disagree. Thinking about Notan. How will you arrange the values in your painting?

I break values into 5 basics, calling them my 5 value family. Light, half tint light, mid tone, half tone dark, dark.

Shapes and their intervals- Using overlapping shapes creates movement and visual interest. Curves and directional shapes tell the viewer where to go in the painting. Using a variety of sizes and angles create interest, and using an asymmetrical balance is more interesting too.

Thinking of these will give you a good start for your painting plan. Do some drawings on paper of your composition first, and tone your canvas with thin color  before starting.

Send me a question any time and I’ll try to help you.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Corn Salad
1 can rinsed drained kidney beans
1 can whole corn drained
4 ounches crumbled cheddar cheese
2 strips bacon cooked and crumbled
2 tomatoes diced
1/2 bell pepper diced
1 small red onion diced
1/2 cup Catalina dressing
3/4 tsp chili powder
salt/pepper to taste.
Mix it all up chill for one hour. Serve over a bed of lettuce. Yummy!!!

Diversity Value


Diversity Value Notes

I’ve begun to learn that diversity in painting subjects, palettes, techniques, and sizes, brings value to my work. Each year I pick a method or subject I am not familiar with to study.

Linda’s Etsy Shop

I don’t really pre plan the topic. It just springs up in my mind and I become interested. Some times it is a specific subject. Last year I learned to paint small birds. This year I lost my dear dog Henry. It prompted me to do a series of small studies of a variety of dog breeds. I am certainly not in the market to do pet portraits for a living. There are thousands of animal artists who are far superior to me in painting portraits. I do enjoy the discovery and some do sell.

Home Page

The unexpected bonus is that when I incorporate the diversity of subjects into my routine, they give me a chance to take a break from my serious landscape and tree subjects. When I get back to serious painting, I feel refreshed and can see my technique and favorite subjects with new eyes and enthusiasm.

This works with mediums in the same way. I use three different mediums regularly. Diversity of medium helps me to learn valuable technique which I can use across multiple mediums and grow.

I do believe it is important to have an established body of work with a thematic approach. Mine happens to be agricultural land and trees, but it doesn’t hurt to stray from that now and then to round out my work.

Diversity in size and support surfaces is important too. I try to use at least 8 different sizes for my supports. I also use canvas,linen,hard board, and wood. Painting on the same size and surface all the time is a bad idea. If you do commission work, you will be asked to paint on many sizes. If you use more than one medium, they will work best on different surfaces.

Diversity keeps you fresh and on your toes, ready and able to tackle any painting project without fear.

More musings for artists and collectors to come……

Today’s Recipe

Cheeseburger casserole

Here is the ingredient list:

1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped dill pickles
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
1 – 1.5 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cups Cheddar cheese, sliced or grated (more if you want)
1 can 8 oz can Crescent Roll

Brown meat with onions, drain. Add chopped pickles, ketchup, mustard. Place in Pyrex dish. Cover with cheese. Roll out dough and place on top. Bake until dough is toasty brown.

Workshops Musings



Workshops Musings Notes

The thing I love best about preparing workshops is the reminder I get every time, of homework and exercises I must to to improve my work. I do the same exercises my students do and I refresh that each time I prepare to teach a workshop. My students think I am doing this for them and I am, but really, it helps me the most because study and improvement are so important.

I don’t teach like most workshop instructors. Most of them that I know do demos and talk about their process all morning. Then after lunch the students paint and the instructor walks around looking at their work, making a few suggestions. For me, that is not particularly helpful.

My workhops revolve aound a particular theme, often having to do with the “big three” of painting, composition, values and color, with color being the last in importance. I believe in a hands on approach to teaching. I do very few demos, preferring to paint while the students work at their own paintings, stopping occasionally to make points about the painting as I go. I design a series of exercises for my students to complete, which go with the theme of the workshop. We work on these exercises all morning together, discussing them as we go. Each student receives a packet with all of the exercises and related materials to the workshop. They get to take it home and keep working on the workshop exercises at their own pace and leisure.

During our lunch break we talk about various aspects of painting and marketing for artists. I always provide a hearty lunch, away from the easels. I usually ask them a series of questions about what motivates them as painters, requiring that they think about process. After lunch, we use the knowledge we have gained to paint together on larger format paintings, hopefully completing at least one painting each afternoon.

It is an intense day with a lot of work for all of us but I believe it is much more beneficial than just watching someone paint and then painting, trying to copy the instructor. Frankly, my method of teaching is much harder for me than doing it the way most instructors teach, but for me the goal is to provide the best tools possible at their pace, not mine. I want them to go home with useful tools. I don’t want carbon copies of my work and methods. My goal is to help them to paint in the best way possible for their own interests and style.

My workshops are designed to use inexpensive supplies and a minimal palette. I believe it is more important to have 6 or 8 high quality paints and 3 or 4 good brushes, than to have dozens of paints the student will never use again.

At days end, we go over the important points and evaluate our paintings with positive suggestions.

Painting workshops are all too often about the teacher and their work, showing off their skill and selling paintings rather than the needs of the students. To me, demos belong at a demonstration for groups. That is when the artist needs to show off their skill. Workshops should be about students, not the instructor. Why waste time showing off your painting skills? Students know you can paint or they would not have signed up to study with you.

Collectors Club

It’s one thing to paint and show students your process. To show step by step paintings quickly and then put them to work. That is helpful, but I’m talking about painters who use  workshops as an excuse to paint for hours and show off because they are unmotivated to teach.

Linda’s Etsy Shop

Having taught workshops for many years, I have heard all too many complaints about well known painters who charge huge prices for their workshops and teach very little useful information. Many of my students have told me about big league painters who spend all of their time selling paintings and talking up their own accolades, requiring huge supply lists with ridiculous numbers of paints, then teaching the student nothing about mixing those colors. The student comes home disappointed and frustrated, having nothing to show for it.

I know it is heresy to blow the whistle on other pros and I will be bombed with rotten tomatoes, but it is my blog and I can say what I want to.

If you are thinking about taking  workshops ask yourself if you prefer to watch your instructor or to paint all day? Do you learn best by watching, listening, or reading? Do you like a minimal number of supplies and cost or do you want to go all out? Do you like to try new ideas or would you rather play safe? Do you prefer to paint in small or large groups? Are you needy or independent? Novice or experienced? Studio or plein air? One day or several?

Contact the instructor with meaningful questions and fine the right fit for yourself. It is often a big commitment, so be sure you are getting the right situation for yourself.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe:

From Janet

Chicken and Yellow Rice

1 chicken boiled with bones removed
Reserve chicken broth
10 oz package of yellow rice
1 onion diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Saute celery and onions in a bit of EVOO
Place chicken, vegetables, rice in a deep pan. Combine soups with chicken broth and sour cream. Pour over rice mix. Bake at 350 until rice is tender. Put shredded cheese on top and return to oven for 5 minutes.

I tried this recipe and it is really good. You can use white rice if you like. I like to add a bit of leaf thyme,pepper and parsley to the mixture.

Point Plan


Point Plan Notes

What is the point and plan of a painting? This is an exercise I have used for my own work for years. Lots of artists talk and teach about a focus point in painting. I prefer to think in terms of an area of interest. This area of interest must be backed up by secondary and tertiary areas in the painting. Everything is important, including the areas that support the focus point of the painting.

Linda’s Etsy Shop

There is a specific little question and answer exercise I use to plan a painting. I actually write it down and pin it to my easel when I practice the exercise:

  1. What is the area of interest in the painting? Does it include hard-scape,(man made objects) animals, humans? These objects always command attention. If they are not to be the focus, they must be placed subtly so as not to dominate the scene.
  2.  What is the secondary, supportive areas in the painting? How do they lead the viewer to the focus area?
  3. Are there tertiary areas of importance and how will the relate to other areas?
  4. Are there natural directional cues in the scene which will lead the viewer around the painting?
  5. What is the basic armature of the scene? fulcrum,arc,L shape,radial,portrait,S curve,triangle?
  6. Is there a successful rebatment in the composition? (A rebatment is a square within a rectangle) You should have a successful composition within the rebatment or if you are lucky, more than one as the rebatment slides across the rectangle.
  7. What is the light source of the scene? Sun, artificial,ambiant?
  8. What is the direction of light? Pay attention to direction and be consistent with that in cast shadows as well.
  9. What is the weather condition of the scene? Overcast, morning, mid day, or evening light?
  10. What will be the mood and value range of your painting? High key,mid tone or dark tonal?

When you have answered all of these questions on paper, you are ready to start, with a great deal of information. If you follow the plan, you will know in advance what your painting will probably convey to the viewer. If you change the plan, be ready to justify it to yourself in terms of why changing it is better than the original plan. I find that this plan helps me to stay on the path and paint more consistently. When I first decided on the questions, they were only four or five. I have added questions over the years to make it more specific and comprehensive for myself.

Small Paintings

I don’t need to do the exercise as much as I used to, but I do pull it out to do every 6 months or so, just to discipline myself. If you are a beginning painter, this will give you a good foundation for composing paintings and use as a sort of cheat sheet.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…..

Today’s Recipe

“Hillbilly Cake”

1 cup sugar                          1 cup raisins or dates

1 cup water                          1 stick butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon       ½ teaspoon allspice


Mix and boil 2 minutes, remove from heat and let cool.  Then add 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Mix and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees, remove from oven and spread on…

Melt and mix in pan

1 stick butter                                   1 tablespoon flour

2/3 cup brown sugar packed      3 tablespoons milk

1 cup chopped nuts                       ½ cup coconut

Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees