Attracting Art Collecting Readers

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Attracting Art Collecting Readers

A reader asked me to blog about ways to attract art collecting readers to an artist’s blog. I really think artists and collectors are two different animals.  Attracting collectors means you must make the blog relate to them in some way. Most collectors aren’t really interested in the process of painting, or how I market my art. Some are I’m sure, but I like to have a separate message  for their interests.  It is always easy for me to post to artist readers because we have much in common. Though I am an art collector, my motivation is quite different from non-artist collectors. I buy art primarily to help other artists and to give them a boost in their careers. Secondly, I give the art to my daughters to foster appreciation for original art in their own lives. I want the next generation to love and appreciate art as we do. Remember that collectors aren’t going to care much how you paint or what associations you belong to. Nor will they care about your awards. Attracting them to see beauty through your eyes and heart is important. They want to be welcomed into your world.

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Here are some things I have done to interest collectors in reading this blog:

I always include a blurb about it in my email and postal mail newsletters, giving a hint of what is there in the blog.

I include the blog address and stress that it is a blog for both artists and collectors in my signature lines for all emails.

I have it automatically fed into my twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram posts, so that each time I post to it, it goes out to social media with a live link.

I always use the title post to attract  art collectors in the focus of the post.

When I write about a place I visit or a restaurant review, I always send a link for that story to those who would have a special interest in that topic.

I try to often tell stories and describe interesting places like Cedar Key boat trips, farms where I paint, good restaurants, travel information, gardening and stories about my dog. Essentially, I am writing to people who have similar interests to mine.

I always include an image of a painting, but that is not the focus of the blog. I try not to make the blog about selling, but instead about interest in art and myself to potential collectors. I let my web site and my retail studio do the selling.
I read the local style magazines and newspapers and when I see an interesting person who I feel would relate to my blog, I send them the clipped article from the paper and a note about my blog story, inviting them to read it and view my web site.

I think adding nature stories,tips, framing, books, stories about museums and galleries are all interesting topics which will add interest to the Collectors who read my blog.

I think the main issue is keeping the posts interesting for collectors.  Post as often as you feel you are sharing useful information.  Be aware that it can take up to 2 years before a blog has a decent following. Art Notes was dead as a door nail for about a year, but I never gave up posting. I’ve been writing Art Notes for many years now.

Try to think outside of the box with your collector blog. Collectors want more than “Buy My Art”, or lots of paintings on a collector blog. That blog should send them to your web site to buy if possible. No sense in confusing them with too many buying sites. Use the blog to direct them and to peak their interest.

Send out some interesting post cards about your collector blog and leave them around town in offices and businesses.

Feature collectors on the blog. I tried to develop this myself but so far, my collectors don’t want to be featured. That may change at some point.

I sometimes have a contest on the blog  attracting visitors. A poll can be fun for visitors as well.

Ask friends to share the blog with their friends. Visit and comment on other collector blogs.

Invite an art dealer, interior designer, frame company, or museum director to write a post for your blog. Do some pre-advertising for the post with interested people.

Never forget that your collectors are the most important people to your career. Treat them with kindness and be authentically grateful to them for their care and support. They won’t let you down but you must be equally kind in return.

More Musings for artists and collectors to come…….


First Friends, Later Collectors

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First Friends Notes

A lot of people ask me how I sell art and can make a living as a painter? I tell them “first friends, later collectors”.  Not all of my collectors become friends. Some I only sell to once and then never hear from again. Many of those collectors live far away or the painting sells in a gallery, so I don’t meet the buyer. Some of my collectors I meet once, and then they follow my career for years, purchasing occasionally through my web site, newsletter or blog.

Most of my paintings sell to folk that I meet personally and whom I spend time with, getting to know and eventually, developing real friendships together.  This takes patience.  Some of my collectors are my friends, long before they begin to collect my work.

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Collectors are the most important people in my career. I never take them for granted. I go into relationships with a sense of gratitude, that friends care about what I do and appreciate the glorious wild places that I visit and paint. Many of my collectors have a common love for rural, agricultural Florida and trees with me. We share passion for land and for natural Florida.

Building collectors is about friendship more than anything else. My collectors aren’t the kind that go to a lot of art openings and hang around much in museums. They are biologists, land conservationists, farmers, ranchers and stewards of our natural world. Some have exotic careers, some highly educated and professional, and others not. Some buy big paintings and some buy 10.00 miniatures. I am deeply grateful to all of them. We understand each other. We don’t use art speak. We talk about our dreams and experiences. We share the joy of nature and common values.

Acquiring a collector is wonderful, but they must be nurtured as in any long lasting friendship. There are times when I need to do favors, to be supportive and to listen as any friend would. It is not a one way street. I, like other collectors, am interested in my favorite artists and their lives, outside of their career. I think collectors love the artist as much as the art, and I am so fortunate to have so many friends.

My collectors and followers have helped me in so many ways. They share my blog posts, share my work on social media. They bring me students, and they even bring me supplies for my studio. I couldn’t possibly have this marvelous life and career without them. I am deeply grateful for their care and support.

More Musings for Artists and Collectors to come……

Second Acrylic Technique

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Second Acrylic Technique Notes
My second notes are more that I’ve learned  about acrylic techniques since I returned from Vero Beach. When I started with acrylics, I used the gel mediums a lot but over time, I have found them to be less useful. What really is incredibly useful and excellent are the airbrush and  glazing mediums.

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This is where my experiments with transparent oils for my oil painting method comes in. I have spent a long time studying transparent oils and using them over graisille under paintings, as well as over gouache and casein. Some of you may recall last summer seeing many of my experiments with mixed mediums. The transparent white in particular has been useful in combination with a bit of opaque white and an opaque blue like FUB or Cobalt to over paint and finish off skies in oil paintings. This method allows a very nice rich finish, adding depth and in cutting in around tree canopies to soften the edge work.

With the large acrylic painting In this post, the light bulb went off in my brain, just like the cartoons!! I asked, “Why can’t I use the same method with acrylics?” TA DA!!!! It works!! I had assumed that the glazing medium was mostly good for glazing thin color over other color, and of course that works very well. I used that method in the water in the painting. It had not occurred to me that it could work in essentially the same way my oils do for acrylics, in tree canopies and so forth. I’ve learned to use airbrush medium most of the time, and save the second layers with glazing medium.

The Problems:
In my early acrylic paintings  I had the situation of a large cloud mass separating the warm and cool sky sections, making them look like to separate skies. I wanted to keep the cooler sky down in the lower region and the warmer up high away from the sunlight source, but it was too much, too obvious a change in blues. I also had the problem of uneven color and value going into the tree canopy. Then there was the issue of the distant tree line and making the atmospherics believable with a smoky quality.

For a super acrylic painter, all of these problems would be a snap to overcome, so if you are a master at the technique, overlook my methods and try not to laugh and smirk too much.

My Solutions:

For the sky, I decided to mix the cool blue with a bit of white and a lot of glazing medium so that it would be a cool, light transparent blue. I used a large brush to work this paint over the warm blue up high in the sky. It was an excellent solution. It allowed the warm sky to show through but it was more subdued. I used this same mixture to brush in and around the sky holes and to kiss the tops of the tree canopy, eliminating the value changes and the patch work look. It also softened the edge work in the trees where sky meets trees.

For the atmospheric quality in the distant trees, I combined Naples yellow, a bit of titanium white and a bunch of glazing medium, brushing it over the top line of the trees and down into them in the direction of light.

I feel like this was a real breakthrough for me in this difficult medium. As I have progressed in this method I’ve been able to duplicate the look of my oil paintings in acrylics. I am liking them more and more. There is a large learning curve with acrylics if you have been a long time oil painter, but at last, I am feeling  quite comfortable with them.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…..

Technique Answers

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Technique Answers Notes

I received an email from an artist who wants to know a bit about my painting technique. Rather than emailing it back to her, I thought it might be helpful to share it on the blog. Every artist has their own approach to painting, and as we grow in our painting, we sometimes evolve and change our techniques.

 

A few years ago, my oil technique was very messy, with intense color saturation. To be perfectly frank, I did not have the painting skills to do anything else. I had hidden behind the alla prima banner for about ten years, telling myself that I was a plein air painter and that is the way it is supposed to look. About ten years ago, I finally admitted to myself that I needed to learn how to paint.

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I went through a couple of years of intense research and study on color mixing, Notan/values and brushwork application. I think it payed off, I really do!! I’m no Daniel Greene or Richard Schmid and never will be that good, but I’m not ashamed of my work anymore. I continue to study, make lots of mistakes and do lots of bad paintings, but I do my share of good ones too and that’s really as good as it gets for me. The artist who wrote to me was an acrylic painter who is now working in oils. She told me she is making a muddy mess with the oils. That is no surprise to me as most painters go through that stage with oil technique before they get a handle on it.

Here are the questions the artist asked me to address:

Two things I wonder about: When you apply paint, do you tend to do one brush stroke at a time and lay color next to each other?And do you change brushes often?It’s just not practical to layer paint as it always gets dirty.

I always start with a thin wash to lay in the major elements. It is really just a stain, which dries very quickly. I tend to stay fairly thin with the paint through about a third of the painting, giving myself time to figure out the vaues and so forth before I make a real commitment with thicker paint. I do all of my mixing and blending on the palette, never on the painting. I lay one stroke at a time and leave it. I keep my brushes very clean, wiping them constantly after every other stroke, so that the paint is not contaminated. I do layer the paint, but carefully. Here is an illustration which I use for my workshop students:

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You need a light touch with oils. Lay the brush on almost parallel to the canvas, not perpendicular. You want to avoid digging into the paint layer already on the canvas. I start with larger brushes and go smaller as detail needs to be added. Unlike many oil painters, I do not do much blending. I wait until the end, using a dry brush to soften edge work here and there. I like crisp clean brushwork, not messy or too soft.

And the other issue is how to lighten colors without adding white which is making everything look pasty. I have cad light yellow and red for lightening but it doesn’t get color as light as I’d like without influencing the local color because they’re so intense.

Here are a couple of solutions The Cadmiums are very powerful and so they need to be subdued. I use a lot of yellow ochre in my paintings. I also use Naples yellow to lighten warm colors instead of white. Naples is a very useful color in that it is weak; not overly influencing the other color it is mixed with. It will lighten without cooling as much as white. Try using a bit less white or warming up your white a little, and experiment with Permalba or Flake white. Titanium is a powerful white, so another might work well for you.

I hope this helps you. Nothing is better than practice.

More Musings for Artists and Collectors to come…….

Preparing Workshops

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I often talk about my experiences as a painting teacher so I thought it might be good to use my perspective to advise those who are preparing for a painting workshop or class.

Preparing for Workshops

The most important thing to consider in preparing for a workshop is your skill level in choosing a workshop or teacher. If you are a beginner, you need to be sure that the class is appropriate for your level. If you are more advanced, be sure that the class will have technique above your level of painting so that you actually feel you are learning something new.  Think about why you want to take a workshop and specifically, what you wish to learn. Make a list of the painting questions you have and what your motivations include.  Is it social? Wanting to be with other painters in a pleasant environment or are you serious about learning new technique?

Once that decision is made, you will need to carefully research the various workshop offerings and the instructors. Don’t assume that a big named painter will be an excellent teacher. I have heard disappointing stories about well known painters who are terrible instructors. Some of them teach because they make big money selling DVD’s Workshops, and so forth.  Ask questions and if the instructor is abrupt, or disinclined to be helpful, move on to someone else. A good teacher will be more than willing to answer your questions.

Think about your comfort zone and how you best learn. If you don’t care much for heights, don’t expect to be comfortable in the mountains at a workshop.  Don’t like creepy crawlers, be careful where you paint in Florida or Louisiana. That seems silly and obvious, but your physical environment can greatly effect your sense of well being and comfort.

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Do you learn best by watching others paint? Then you will be happy with an instructor who spends a great deal of time demonstrating. Do you learn best by doing? Then you are my kind of student. I spend little time demonstrating. I save that process for visitors to my studio or at a true demonstration class.  I prefer to paint right along side my students in class or workshops, stopping them now and then to point out techniques as we work.

Do you learn best by reading? Find a teacher who gives you support materials. I give all of my students folders with all of the written materials relating to the workshop, so that they have it to keep and use over and over again. Are you independent, preferring to have a teacher check on you now and then, just wanting to paint with little instruction? You will do ok in a large workshop with many students.

If you want individual attention, find out the limit of students before you sign up. I never have more than 12-15 students. Any more would make it impossible to teach effectively. Beginners should have more one on one attention. Try to stay near an experienced painter so you can watch them paint. Don’t be a pest to them, but watch as they work.

Make sure you get a supply list from the teacher. This will give you some good clues. If the list is reasonable then the teacher is experienced. Most good teachers understand how much it costs for students and are careful to use limited numbers of materials. There are instructors who will ask for the moon from students, insisting on a huge palette of colors and materials, that  student won’t really use. It is a way for them to show off and look impressive and mysterious to students who can’t possibly paint well with the palette they are given to use.  One of my regular painting students took a workshop with a big named painter. She was required to buy no less than 20 tubes of paint. I showed her how to mix the colors of that painter’s palette later with about 6 colors. She was incensed. She gave away about half of the paints she had purchased for the workshop, knowing that she would never use them again. She had spent a fortune on the workshop and materials and came home to say that she had learned almost nothing. Some careful research may have saved her the disappointment.

So now you have decided where and with whom to study and have a good supply list.

Now you must make a check list of everything you will need to have for the workshop, including travel arrangements. Always take a journal for a workshop. I ask my students to start one about two weeks before we begin, because I want them to write down various issues they might have about painting. Writing  in their journal in advance, will give me a bit of information about them when we start. A painting journal is an excellent habit all the time, but especially preparing for a workshop.

Your attitude is the most important element to a successful workshop

Your attitude will make or break the workshop for you. The very best students are those who go in preparing with a mind like a sponge. They bring no baggage with them. They never compare their teacher to one they have studied with before. They want to learn everything and are willing to try everything to improve. They spend no time trying to impress or compete with the teacher, even if they know more. If you go into the workshop to impress the teacher you have already failed yourself. There is no point in going.

Teachers are like anyone else, we are human and make mistakes. A good teacher is not always an expert on everything. A good teacher motivates and inspires students to do more and to believe in themselves. A good teacher understands that it is not about them, it’s about their students.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…..

Creating Color with Acrylics

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Creating Color with Acrylics Notes

 

I have learned with lots of practice creating color using side by side and layer application of color to paintings. Acrylics don’t blend easily, so layers and close value changes work better to give the illusion of variations and blending. I use what I call a mother color on my palette, of the first mixture, adding other values and color additions at the edge of the initial mother color to create varieties of the mother color. So, there is a large pile of the mixture, and it expands on the edge with other mixtures as I go through the mixture. I always have the first, initial mixture to refer to or to go back to if I need it.

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This is an excellent way to paint with acrylics, making the mixtures look very natural. It also makes color mixing much easier without trying to blend the paint. You can add various mediums to this method to slow drying slightly and to even out the color. I like airbrush medium and glazing medium, depending on what I wish to apply to canvas. I will usually use the glazing medium for thin glazes of color near the end of the painting. To soften edges, as you would in oil paintings, use a tiny bit of white, ultramarine blue and lots of glazing medium, so it is just a pale stain of color. Run this along hard edges between sky and trees, It is a great way to create atmospheric qualities for distant trees.

Keeping your palette clean and organized is a must for good painting technique in my opinion. I recommend lining up your colors at the top of your palette and pulling off bits for mixing, leaving your tube colors clean and uncontaminated. Do your mixing further down the palette. When the mixing part of the palette becomes messy, clean off that area and start again with your remaining tube colors. If you are using a paper palette, transfer your tube paints to the top of a new paper with a palette knife. You are ready to start again.

Your goal is to do more natural looking landscapes with acrylics, not the primitive hard edged harsh paintings that acrylics are associated with. Trying these ideas will help improve your acrylic work and bring it closer to the lovely, more subtle aspects of oil painting.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…

Musing about Process

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Musing about Process Notes

Today is one of those dark days again and so I am musing about the process of painting, and how we determine the goals for our work. I have become a far different painter than I used to be. My method has evolved over some time but I think it has been about 15 years that I have looked at painting in a radically different way to my previous methodology. My friend Janet says I have a scientific approach to painting and teaching. I really don’t know about that. It seems that if I were more scientific in my approach that I would be doing better paintings. I do have an analytical mind about my painting process. I like to have a good plan before I begin and I am getting less spontaneous as I become more of a studio painter and less of a plein air painter. Musing about process in my down time helps I believe.

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Sometimes I miss the old me. I was an innocent painter, relying solely on my intuitive process to paint. I had a hit or miss kind of focus. I just loved to paint. That was it. No plan of action whatsoever. Painting was more fun then in some ways and far less pressured. I was so dumb I was oblivious to how bad my paintings were. There was a charm to them I think. Painting has become serious business to me over the last few years. Almost too serious. I have lost some of the spontaneity and the naive qualities of some of my earlier work. I had an atrocious palette and it worked! I had juvenile value structures, simplistic compositions, and unsophisticated design.

It’s not that I don’t make those mistakes now, it’s just that I have a more sophisticated approach, more consistency, and much better brushwork technique, after much research and practice in painting. Can I go back to that stage of my career? No, nor do I really want to. I have worked hard to be a better painter and it has payed off. I can do a lot to help other painters too.

I think the most important thing I have learned in process, is that we actually can plan and design paintings deliberately. This is significant. It was an Epiphany for me a few years ago. Too few new painters understand this concept. They believe that you set your easel up and paint what you see in the field. They believe that you copy your reference photo to make a painting. They do not know that they can change the temperature bias of a painting, create an overall harmony by using a  neutral to add to their mixtures. They do not realize that they can manipulate values to add drama and intrigue to their painting. They do not know that they can pre-select a palette which will harmonize and set a mood for a painting. The don’t know that they can use a design kit to preplan compositions and design effectively. They don’t know about  composing strategically, using armatures, rebatment, and other tools to compose more effectively. They have a notion that doing these things would be cheating or being impure to the initial view or image.

I believe most of the great paintings of the world were indeed very carefully planned. Good painting is no accident.

The amount of knowledge out there on painting is staggering, and yet some go along completely unaware of the mysteries and secrets to painting. After 30+ years of painting, 6 years of art school and 8 years of diligent study, I know very little about painting. It is that complicated!!! I am still a beginner in many ways, yet eager to grow and improve. We all start sometime, why not today?

More musings for artists and collectors to come.

 

Real Work

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It takes real work to build an art career.

Real Work Notes

Real Work is the reality of a career. I know lots of beginning artists who imagine an art career for themselves. They take endless classes, moving from teacher to teacher and taking multiple workshops. With each iteration, they change to the newest idea. Many of my own students have moved on to other teachers, or have found many excuses not to come to class or study assignments.

Some have found a medium that I don’t teach, so it is understandable to move on. Many don’t like doing painting exercises or working that hard to learn. I suspect that the most popular teachers are the ones who don’t demand much from their students. My most popular class at Michaels was Open Studio, where students could paint whatever they wished to with little supervision.

Many aspiring artists hate marketing. They imagine that collectors will magically find their work and buy lots of it. They are appalled to learn that marketing and business take a good 50% of an artist’s time. They have no interest in learning to talk about their art, using social media, creating a web site, meeting and talking with collectors, hosting studio parties, dealing with galleries, or any of the other business aspects of being a professional artist.

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Many aspiring artists have no willingness to build a consistent theme and body of work. They like to paint lots of subjects. They don’t want to be tied down in any way. They don’t see a need for serious process or a theme of study. They have no interest in creating a brand for their career. Collectors are just supposed to guess what kind of art the artist does well.

Aspiring artists sometimes fail to see that the real work is in front of the easel. It is simply necessary to paint, paint, paint over and over again. All the substitutes, social art groups, art centers in the world will not make you a good painter.

You can buy truckloads of paint, brushes, paint boxes, easels, and gadgets, but they will not make you a good painter. You can let your family obligations, socializing with friends, and other hobbies keep you out of the studio, but that won’t make you a good painter.

Add up all of your excuses and avoid what you must do to be a good painter if that is your wish, but don’t pretend with yourself. We always make time for what we really want to do.
You might be much happier being a hobby artist and there is nothing wrong with that choice.

More musings for artists and collectors to come.

Plan Ahead

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Plan your painting ahead to assure a better effort.

Plan Ahead Notes

I almost always plan ahead for my paintings. I’m not a fly by the seat of my pants painter. I had a great discussion with my oil painting students this morning on that subject. They remarked at how hard it is to get everything right in a painting. There are endless process issues to remember from start to finish. Every option becomes a critical component to a painting and our choices either elevate our work or drag it down.

With such uncertainty facing us, it is easy to get distracted and very frustrated by our process. I solve that with a bit of planning before I pick up the brush. First I must analyze the scene I wish to paint. Are there fussy unnecessary objects? is the value structure of the scene pleasing? What dominant value will I select for the painting? What palette will I select? I usually use a palette limited to about 6 tube colors for most of my work. Will the palette I choose provide good harmony, but still give me a range for some interesting color notes here and there? Where is the direction of light coming from, frontal, sides, back? Is there an ambient light source? This is crucial to landscape paintings. How will I edit the scene? What is the best format for this scene? Vertical horizontal? Size of canvas? What is it that you liked about the scene you are to paint? Without interest, why bother?

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Start out with a plan and you will be much less stressed and random about your process. There is so much to understand about painting that it must be a process of learning, a bit at a time. We are all beginners at what ever stage we have achieved. Never compare your beginning to someone else’s.That will only discourage you from trying to better your craft. Painting is so difficult that it takes a lifetime to be the best you can be. I don’t think I would ever want to finish learning about painting. Why would I want to know everything about painting?

It really helps to plan your painting journey. It will take a lot of the stress away from your joy in being a painter. Whether the paintings are good or bad doesn’t matter very much. I do both, but I learn from all. Make a checklist for painting, adding processes that you want to practice or learn new. Make charts for your palettes in advance. Get prepared. You will increase your confidence greatly.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…

Land Part 2

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How do we sustain an interest in land?

Land Part 2 Notes

I have noticed in recent years that fewer landscape painters actually paint unspoiled land. More than ever they are painting cityscapes, people in pools, old cars, boats, architecture and urban themes. Occasionally I paint an old barn or a fence line, but 90 percent of my work is the land, forests, flowers, rivers, trees, unblemished by humans. By accident, I have created a niche for myself as one of the few who really paint the natural world.

As the world becomes overpopulated and more urban, the natural and wild places are becoming rare and priceless to those of us who study and appreciate them. Each day as I walk my trail in rural Florida, I am so grateful for the peaceful, calm and enjoyable walk. I had a conversation yesterday with an old friend about how lucky we are to live in the woods.

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A painter I know thinks that we are to become obsolete as a genre in just a few years. As our children and grandchildren become more urban, dependent on technology, and move further away from the natural world they will relate less and less with the art of landscape painting. We can wring our hands and cry “woe is me” or we can begin to relate to people about the natural world. We can invite people out to the woods, to a state or national park. We can explain to children about the world of animals, plants, insects. We can buy them books about nature so that they become exposed to our natural beauty. I give my grandson a family state park pass each year for his birthday, instead of toys. His parents take him out to the beautiful nature parks in Florida. He has learned to walk the trails, observing plants and animals, at three years old.

We can talk about our world in nature as a painter, making our journeys real to our readers or our personal friendships. People are interested if you tell them stories, describe what you see when you are out in the natural world. They will become interested if you are. Become an ambassador for nature with your painting and your art collection. We are in a political climate of loss for our public lands. We must go out to the parks, enjoy them and fight for land. We can invite naturalists to our studios and parties to talk to people about saving land and the natural world. I belong to several land trusts in Florida because they are acquiring and saving many properties from development. I am putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, not only to save lands, but to save the genre of landscape painting.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…

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