Best Way Artist

best way artist

 best way artist

Best Way Artist Notes

I figure if I can live for the next 20 years in decent health, I will produce my best work. Selfishly, I want to devote most of my time to painting for myself and selling, not teaching for a living. I have found the perfect balance between teaching and painting. I teach one day a month, and one or two one day workshops a year. it is just enough teaching to be fun and interesting for me and hopefully my students.

best way artist

If I can settle down and spend enough studio time, I believe my work is beginning to advance to a new plateau. I have worked hard and learned much about painting in the last few years. I believe the hard work is paying off. There is still art money out there. What I have to do is  keep the good marketing going even when times are better, especially then. I don’t want to get complacent or lazy. My collectors are too important to be let down.

best way artist

Here are some things I believe we all should make as the best way to be an artist in our career.

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Be an ethical and supportive artist

Help the people coming up behind you. Be an example for them in your own career. Consider it a responsibility to offer the best of yourself as a decent and ethical person in your business. Others are watching you. Be an inspiration for them. Will you always be nice and wonderful? Hell no!!

best way artist

I can be a perfect, sarcastic ass when I feel like it! This is not Disney World, it’s the real world. The point is that we all have a brand new day to improve ourselves. Be smart enough to forget your bad days striving to be as good and thoughtfully kind as you can be,whenever you are able to. Be the role model you should be as often as you can. None of us are on top of our game all the time.

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Be fair and ethical as a business person. Stand behind your work and what you offer a hundred percent. Take pride in the paintings you do and never feel ashamed that you are not the best painter out there. My pride is that I wake up every day, and do the best work I am capable of at any given stage of my career. Do I do better work than I did ten years ago? Of course. Should I be ashamed of the paintings I did ten years ago? Absolutely not! I am proud of that 10 year old painting, or 20 year old painting. I did my very best to do it well. Why would I be ashamed of it?

Make Good Art

As I have said many times on this blog, there is no substitute for good easel time. I’m talking about study time,and serious painting time in studio. All of the books, lessons, and workshops in the world, will do you no good if you do not put in the necessary time at the easel. Study=painting. Work, work,work, and then work some more if you want to be a good painter. Don’t be afraid to make bad paintings. Bad paintings help you figure out stuff that is too hard for you. Go after the hard things. Make the bad paintings and figure out why they are bad. Correct one mistake at a time. Don’t just keep making bad paintings. Stop and figure out what to try next. If you don’t know, ask for help. Study with someone who is good at showing you. Get professional critiques for your work. That is a great investment. Whatever you do, keep painting. I do about 350-400 paintings a year. Many are studies or not good. Doing that much painting will teach you to paint!!!

best way artist

Stay Away from Poisonous People

There are artists who thrive by running down other artists and making them feel bad about their work. They are very good at this. There will be people in your social circle, your family and the art community who are a constant drain on your energy and who make you doubt yourself as a painter. There will be people who question your right to be a painter, heaping guilt on top of you for the money you spend on art materials, and the time you spend away from them. Then there is the constant bad news on TV, sexual depravity and generally low quality programming on TV.

Successful, happy people do not hang around with this attitude. Successful people are positive and motivated to greatness in their lives, They simply avoid negativity as much as possible, in both their social and personal lives and what they choose to spend their time doing.

If the people you are associating yourself with make you feel bad about your art, disengage from them. You might say, “I have no choice, they are my best friends or family”. My solution is to set boundaries during your time with them. Tell them that discussion about your art and business is off limits. If they break that rule, get up and leave. It won’t take long for them to figure out that the subject is closed.

best way artist

Keep your life positive and get up each day, excited by the love of painting and you will succeed. The last thought I have each night before sleep is that I will succeed.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Beer Cheese Spread

1/4 cup beer
2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 8 0z cream cheese
1 tsp W sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 crushed clove garlic
dash hot sauce

Mix it all up

Serve in a bowl with crackers

Abstract Beginnings

abstract beginnings

Abstract Beginnings

Abstract Beginnings Notes

All paintings have abstract beginnings in my view. From the abstract expressionism so popular again now to the very refined of realism, it is all starts with the abstract. Some are starts, which I enjoy and some are block ins that all painters begin with. I’ve been studying this process for a long time. I am a mass painter in that I see objects in large masses of value and shapes. I tend away for linear form except for fine tree limbs and final details of a painting. It is that gradual transition from the abstract to the refinement that separates a lot of styles. That is the intrigue for me. I’ve never really had any interest in being a true abstract painter. I like the natural world too much to abandon it for vague shapes and colors, though I completely respect those who paint that way.

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Abstract Beginnings

My study method is a beginning in abstract shapes values and colors, moving along in that vein until the end is near. I like to add refinement where I want the attention of the viewer to rest for a moment. My goal is a transition around the painting between abstraction to semi-abstraction and to fine detail where it is warranted. I like clean paint and mud where it is intentional, not by poor brushwork. Perhaps that is why my love affair with alla prima has faded. I don’t like sloppy brushwork whether it is refined or of a loose quality.

Abstract beginnings

It is more of a mindset in the process than any major process changes. In other words, my mental approach to the method is different. I start with the idea of doing a painting, using spare information. Just enough to tell the story and make it viable for my studies. The larger painting is approached in the same way, but varying amounts of detail or refinement are added as needed to produce a finished work. Using this method is making me more accountable for my detail additions. I have to think about what is really necessary, rather than moving forward with detail in an unmeasured way.  I like this process very much. Further study is needed of course, this is just a different method of painting. Shaking up the old dog with some new ideas is always a good idea. I would never want to be a rote or complacent painter. I never want to learn everything. I want the quest for excellence to go on as long as I can hold a brush.

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Abstract beginnings

It is important that painters understand that they may never be a master painter. I never will but it does not deter  or depress me.There will always be painters who can out paint me all day long. I think painters spend too much time thinking about their pecking order or who is better, or who they are better than. The art world has become too much about contests and position. Really! Who cares who is better? No one paints like me and I can live with that. I don’t have to be the best or even good. As long as I have a desire to learn my craft and as long as folks like my work and buy it, I am successful. I am doing what I adore with my life, meeting splendid people who believe in me and my work. I don’t think prestige is all that important. I have a big resume but I haven’t been asked for it in years. Our work is our name. Standing in front of that easel and working at it every day is what counts. As long as I am improving and working hard, I am a success!

These experiments with abstract beginnings are sometimes successful and sometimes not. I have a burn pile on my land a few steps from the studio. Lots of canvases go on it as I progress through various experiments and techniques. Some turn out good, luckily. There is a lot about our world that is from abstract to refined, and all in between. I’ll keep working at it.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe


2 large avocado s, chopped
1-1/2 cups cooked fresh corn kernel s
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion s
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup  Italian Dressing
Combine gently and serve with chips

Start Some Starts


Start Some Starts Notes

Lately I’ve been thinking about doing some start paintings again. A start is much more complex than a block-in. I travel quite a bit and have opportunities for short spurts of painting time. I might have half an hour somewhere or an hour to paint in a beautiful place. There is a sense of urgency about my timing. I used to rush through these painting times, trying to get as much of the painting completed as possible, from start to finish. These paintings were frankly very rough and unrefined, lacking in my opinion. Only a study. I wanted to find a way to do good work of these beautiful locations rather than rough studies.

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I finally came up with the idea of doing partial paintings and saving them until I get home to complete in the studio. This method takes all of the stress away and allows me to proceed through the painting experience with a critical discerning eye.

I think I will do some start paintings on Deer Woods Trail, now that the climate is cooler.

Start some starts

My system for start paintings includes basic information of composition,value structure and local color application. That is really all I need to complete the painting at a later time in studio. To me this is the best marriage of plein air and studio painting.

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To supplement this basic painting I will add some notes which include tube colors I need to use for the painting, value notes, lighting for the scene, including time of day, angle and direction of light, and any interesting atmospheric conditions. If I have a camera with me, I will shoot a few reference photos as well, but the notes and palette information are even more useful.

Start some starts

I don’t worry overmuch about putting any detail in my starts. They are completed only far along enough to give me the information I need back in the studio.

There are many advantages to this system and I often use starts even on my own land.  You can complete many more good paintings, You will have better paintings because you are not rushing through the painting process and will be able to do larger format work successfully, rather than tiny studies.

Unless you are just obsessed about working alla prima plein air, this is a very useful system.

Start some starts

It will also work very well for students who are coming to studio classes for a critique with your teacher. My students sometimes bring in  photos they paint from with their starts. We are able to look at the paintings and the reference photos, correcting composition and values, etc. before they continue with the paintings. This is a wonderful way to engage them in the process. I sometimes  ask them which paintings they think are most successful and which Are not? After they choose, we go through the process of analysis to determine how and why?


Today’s Recipe:

1 cantaloupe peeled seeded and diced
1 small pineapple pealed and diced
1 sweet red pepper seeded and diced
1 small onion dice
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Hot sauce to taste
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix it all up and serve with chips. Yummy!!!

Why bother?

Why Bother Notes?
Why bother?
I often see artists posting on social media that they have been accepted or rejected from exhibits. I see and hear artists constantly worried about being rejected from these shows, congratulating the winners, but snickering behind the back of the losers. I confess that I bought into that for some time as an emerging artist. When you are young, you do these shows to get name recognition, to climb the ladder, to be one of the cool artists. I see far too many artists who spend most of their time hanging around art openings, on studio visits to more popular artists, hanging around at museum shows, art walks, and generally hoping that the cool factor will rub off on them if they are just seen with the right people.
Why bother?
What I see lately is an alarming number of artists who have been around long enough to know better, who are still being hurt by these rejections. Artists over 50 who are chasing that dream. I say, why bother? When you have been in the art business longer than dirt, as I have, you need to know that the only thing that counts is making the best art you can and selling it to the right person.
My day revolves around making the best art I can, and finding the collector to buy it. Those are my only business concerns. I don’t care who wins an award or who gets into the exhibits, which rarely produce sales. My collectors don’t care either. I’ve done a few surveys over the years with collectors about what is important to them. Not one of them was interested in my museum history, which is pretty extensive in the south, my gallery portfolio, which was pretty good too until I decided to go independent, or how many awards I have won.  They are only interested in my stories about the life of an artist, and the paintings. The only people who want resumes are art people. I’ve not been asked for one in about 10 years. Can you paint or not? That is what people want to know when they buy art, unless they are investment collectors.
I believe a lot of artists have made the mistake of thinking that what the  “art community” thinks is important. It really isn’t. For the most part, the art community does not support artists financially. Yes, I do sell art to other artists, but that is a minor part of the income from my sales. I can’t worry about whether artists, critics or curators/jurists approve of my work. They don’t pay my bills or put food on my table.
Why bother?
I am greatly concerned about my friends, patrons, and collectors opinions, who support me both emotionally and financially. We should pay attention to those who nourish our lives, not to those who reject or snub us.  Unless museums, curators, art leagues and associations are actively supporting your career and generating sales, why bother? Leave the bragging rights to those who really need them. Spend the money and time on your own career path instead.
More musings for artists and collectors to come…..
Today’s Recipe
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
4 slices bacon
1 shallot
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme sprigs

Peel any blemished leaves from sprouts and discard. Trim stems from bottom of sprouts, cut sprouts in half; set aside.

Preheat large sauté pan on medium 2-3 minutes. Cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces (easy to do with kitchen shears) and add to pan. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring often, or until bacon just begins to crisp. Meanwhile, chop shallot.

Stir in shallot and pecans; cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often, or until bacon is fully crisped.

Stir in sugar and vinegar; add sprouts and salt. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often, or until desired tenderness. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

Think Like Art Lovers

think like art lovers

Think Like Art Lovers Notes

Think like an art lover if you wish for success. Being an artist doesn’t make you a good business person. You have to want both. The customer IS right, in that satisfying them and attracting them is more important than your own pleasure. If you are a hobby artist, or have a  successful spouse, benefactor, or alternate income stream, you don’t have to care about what potential collectors think. This post is not for you in that case. 

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Think like art lovers

I recently had a discussion with another artist that did not go well. The artist is trying to build a business. He/she had printed post cards to hand out that are very dark. White font on dark background. Several different hard to read fonts on the card and a very dark photo on the back. I suggested that white on dark is harder to read, that multiple fonts are confusing, and dark photos do not attract viewers. He/she bristled at my suggestions and felt his/her aesthetic was under attack.  The point was missed entirely. Think like the potential art lover who finds the card hard to read and the photo dark. It is not about the artist. It is about the collector, who will pass on by because the card is confusing and hard to read. Don’t be too proud to take advice or suggestions from other artists. I am always happy to get a new or better idea. There are always people who are much smarter and more creative than me. 

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Think like art lovers

I have seen countless artists web sites that are poorly designed for the viewer. There are no purchase buttons and often no listed prices. The back grounds are full of patterns and bright colors that distract from the art. There is no information on shipping or payment process. There is no information about the artist, no testimonials from collectors and no invitation to buy art or visit studios or galleries. Collectors don’t like to have to ask about prices, or information. They don’t want to be pushed in any way. Even if you only sell through galleries it would be helpful to have a price range listed on your web site and information about what makes you tick.

Think like art lovers

Artists have studio parties that are poorly planned with no promotion, boring food and poor results. Artists invite all of their artist friends for moral support, but few professional artists  buy at art parties. The artists hang around together rather than reaching out to potential collectors they don’t know well. I learned long ago to invite collectors to my parties. The only artists I invite are my students, who are so supportive of my career, and often purchase my work. Have a separate party for professional artists if you wish to, but they are not your market for sales. There are exceptions of course. 

I recently attended an art gallery opening where my art was included. The gallery owner was not ready. He/she had no price tags ready. He/she asked me to wait outside because I was 20 minutes ahead of the official start time. He/she had no plan ready for sales in place. He/she had no one assigned to handle sales or to show work to visitors. No price list on the wall, and instead rag tag pieces of paper with magic marker to put prices on. He/she spent most of the time in the kitchen, chatting up  friends, while visitors wandered around. Two artists stood in the middle of the gallery gossiping together, ignoring visitors. He/she did get people there but for the most part they seemed to be neighbors and other artists. He/she did little to no marketing in the city 20 miles away that has 200,000 plus residents. Despite this I did sell a couple of small paintings. I don’t know how many sales for other artists he/she sold.

Think like art lovers

Never assume that people know what to do at parties! Give them directions. Have someone who stays in the gallery who will handle sales. Put out  price lists with sizes and prices. I have three framed lists in my studio. Put out signs for sale items. Put a sign that says “purchase here” on the table you are going to use for selling paintings. Have craft paper, scissors and tape or bags ready. You need to make visitors aware that paintings are for sale, it is not just a social gathering. You don’t have to say a word about purchasing if you give people proper information and clues via signage including what payments are accepted. Be prepared to accept credit cards, checks, layaway payments and cash. Make signage look neat and professional, not like an afterthought that screams amateur. 

Think like art lovers

I want my collectors and friends to feel comfortable in my studio, as it is like my home. I want them to be happy to come for a visit, to be comfortable in coming to parties alone if they wish to.  I  always provide cold drinks, coffee, tea and snacks for my guests. I treasure them and they are important to me. They are welcome to purchase art but I never push. They can find directions to both my Country Studio and my retail gallery on my web site. I keep regular, advertised studio hours,so collectors know when they can come. 

None of that will happen unless I know how to get the word out about my art and the fun life I have. Ignore collectors at your own peril artists. It is not about your aesthetic in marketing, it is about your customers’ comforts. Always think like art lovers when you design your business. Pretend you are a regular collector. What do you expect from your relationship with the artists you follow? Will you be welcomed and treasured? 

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Baked Crab Cakes

Nonstick aluminum foil

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

4 (3-oz) crab cakes, thawed

1/2 cup bacon pieces

1 lemon, for zest/juice

2 oz spicy pickle spears (or chips), chopped finely

1/4 cup tomato trinity mix (fresh diced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon minced  garlic

1 small cucumber, sliced thinly

2 cups baby arugula

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Flatten crab cakes into 3-inch disks, then press into bread crumbs, coating both sides. Place crab on baking sheet; bake 7 minutes, then flip and bake 6–8 more minutes and until crisp and brown. 

Place bacon pieces in microwave-safe bowl; microwave on HIGH for 45–50 seconds or until crisp. Zest lemon (1 teaspoon); squeeze for juice (1 tablespoon). Chop pickles (about 1/2 cup). Combine zest, juice, pickles, trinity, mayonnaise, garlic, and bacon; whisk to blend and chill remoulade until ready to use.

Slice cucumber (about 24 slices). Place arugula on a serving platter (or plates). Top with cucumbers, crab cakes, and remoulade; serve immediately.