Waterfall at the Huntington 14x11 Oil Revised
There are many positive reasons to teach but improving your own art is rarely mentioned. From my last post you know I am learning from the classes I am teaching. It's a great side effect. I have been thinking about this development and realized that there are many reasons why through teaching, I too am learning.
1) I am rethinking things that I already know, clarifying many basic lessons. Teaching is a powerful tool for cementing your understanding of a subject.
2) I have to write my critiques so I have to translate my thought into real words that my students can understand. This farther clarifies my thoughts. Teaching forces me to communicate my thoughts clearly and precisely.
3) As I critique my students work, I am training my eye to be more observant of design flaws, value discrepancies and color problems. Teaching calls for a complete understanding of the concepts you are teaching.
4) With my improved vision, I can view my own work with a detached view and catch problems I didn't notice before.
5) I always try to find something positive in my students work so now I see the best aspects of my paintings and can enhance those positive areas with minor changes.
Maybe there is a way you to can teach too.
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Lake in Franklin Canyon Revised
My online teaching continues with the completion of "Composition, The Foundation of Your Art." Now that I have taught the class for the second time I am able to really enjoy the teaching experience. The class is a four-week course which gives artists the basics of composition using shapes and values. It is always fun to see the students progress and as is often the case, I also learn from the class.
One thing has become very obvious. It is much easier to see the weaknesses in another artists work while overlooking the same problems in my own. Why is that? It is amazing how obvious some of my missteps are when I can detach myself and use the same critical eye on my work as I do on others.
With that in mind, I decided to revisit a few paintings. Lake in Franklin Canyon is a great example of a quick plein air painting that works but could be improved. The original painting that I did on location last year is at the top.
As I studied the painting I realized that I could make some easy changes that would make a big difference. Compare the original with the revised image.
1) The mountains in the distance were too dark and the edge too sharp. I softened the edge and lightened it while changing the angle of the slope.
2) The center tree ended too close to the top edge so I shortened it.
3) The shadows where too dark so I added some color to them.
4) The trees where to similar in height so I made one tall to go off the top edge.
I only changed a few things but I now like the painting much more. It still retains its plein air spontaneity but is now a much better composition.
I will again be teaching the online class Composition, The Foundation of Your Art through Artists Network University
Course Start Date: 06-04-2013 Course End Date: 06-28-2013
Carmel Art Festival
Painting in Carmel
Painting Water is My Favorite
China Cove at Point Lobos State Park is a gorgeous inlet. I got up very early to capture the sunrise as it was just coming over the trees on the right. The sun lit up the water like a neon sign. I could hear the sea otters below in the kelp as they broke open shells to have their breakfast. I painted the cove in three hours and sold the painting in a bidding war at the exhibition. It was one amazing week.
When the world is your office, every day is an adventure with limitless possibilities. I see things few can and am surrounded with beauty as I work.
Photo of China Cove by Sharon Weaver
Selling My Paintings
I Started to Win Awards and My Paintings Sold
Traveling to Carmel Art Festival was an amazing experience. My paintings sold and I won an Honorable Mention.
The original painting sold but you can buy a print of Playtime at China Cove, just click on the image.
Road trip to Arizona
So Much to Paint, So Little Time
The Grand Canyon isn't to far from Flagstaff and the day I drove up there was perfect. The magnificent scenery was overwhelming and the colors divine. I loved the interesting shadows and the storm clouds in the distance.
This is my office for the day. Not bad.
Photo of the Grand Canyon taken by Sharon Weaver
My Painting of the Grand Canyon
Inspiration Comes Easily at the Grand Canyon
My painting of the Grand Canyon called Storm Over the North Rim, is only one of many paintings from my trip to Arizona. Although the original sold you can buy a print; just click on the image.
Painting the Red Rocks of Sedona
A Day Trip From Flagstaff
Painting With Friends
Nothing Better Than Sharing
Being an artist can be a solitary business so it is always great to travel with my painting buddies. Discovering new places, critiquing each others work, laughing at misadventures.and sharing nature make each trip something to cherish. If I also come home with a couple of great paintings it is a bonus.
There Are Plenty of Places to Paint Nearby Too!
Morning at Leo Carrillo by Sharon Weaver 8x10 Oil
The original painting is available just click on the image.
Meeting Other Artists
My Network of Friends
Sharon Weaver in center back row at painting trip with the California Art Club at Rankin Ranch
Other Articles I Have Written About Art
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To experience an emotion Trigger a memory Communicate a mood Through the use of Color Composition And light. I am an artist and I love my work. My time is...
In my teens I left home to attend an art college. Not very worldly or experiences, I was pretty shocked at my first figure drawing class. I noticed that man...
I love being an artist and sharing my passion with others is something that I find very fulfilling. I teach art courses online and at a local art school so...
If you want your artwork to stand out and be noticed, you have to grab a buyer's attention and keep it. A good first impression is essential. In fact, I thi...
Sharon Weaver with Award at Victor Celebrates the Arts
To experience an emotion
Trigger a memory
Communicate a mood
Through the use of
I am an artist and I love my work. My time is spent creating; painting and drawing. I want to share with you my wonderful life as an artist. Let me show you where I get my inspiration and how I spend my time painting on location in some of the most beautiful places you can imagine. See why I love what I do. Maybe I will inspire you to become an artist too.
I experiment with color, reduce my subject to abstract shapes and design my work to my liking, all the while taking inspiration from the natural world around me. How I translate my surroundings into my art is what motivates me. Realizing that I will always have more to learn keeps me inspired.
Deciding to be an Artist
I Had a Dream
Sharon Weaver plein air painting in Malibu
Since grade school I knew that I wanted to be an artist. I remember visualizing my future career as an artist, thinking I would live in NYC and go to important gallery shows. I would show my work in all the best galleries and travel all over the world. Certainly not all of my dreams have come true, at least not yet, but enough have been realized that I now can say I have a great life as an artist.
My painting journey started about six years ago when I took a plein air class. The term plein air is French meaning "in the air." This phrase refers to the practice of painting on location from life. That class taught me so much. I soon learned that the discipline needed to create a painting in a few hours was just what I needed to mold my crude attempts into better works of art.
I loved the challenge of painting plein air and it soon became a passion. I entered plein air events and competitions where I could show my work along side well known plein air artists. These competitions soon pushed me to be a better painter.
Painting Landscapes in Great Locations
I Travel to Paint
I love to travel and I love to paint so being able to combine the two is the perfect situation. I pack up my gear in my trusty artomobile and take to the road several times a year. My road trips are an exciting adventure of discovery. Whether I go alone or in a group with other artists, I always look forward to discovering new places, returning to favorite locations or stumbling on an unexpected gem.
Add to that the unpredictability of the weather and you can see that my painting trips are something special. I have painted in the heat well over 100 and in freezing cold. I remember a trip with five other artists up at Big Bear Lake in October. We woke early to paint only to find it was 15 degrees and had snowed. Brrrrrr. Luckily I was prepared. I painted that morning and the next day and came home with three great paintings.
The trick to a successful painting trip is to be prepared for anything. If in doubt, I pack it. You can never be too prepared for all those unexpected surprises.
more to come.....Comment on or Share this Article →
Clouds Over Cockscomb
Defining creativity is like trying to put into words the intangible. It is, by nature a term that defies our established concepts and is in a constant state of flux. Fluid, ever-changing, evolving and as evasive as mist, it means different things to different people.
As an artist, it isn't easy to come to terms with the somewhat nebulous, but strangely fascinating concept of creativity. Where does creativity spring from? Will I find my creative voice? And when I find it will I be able to keep it? These and dozens of other questions come to mind when I consider my own creativity.
People who see my work will sometimes say, “You’re so talented. I could never do that.” I always smile and thank them but talent is merely an aptitude, a gift, in a specific area. In reality, that statement insinuates that only luck separates the creative person from everyone else. It says that I was lucky to get the talent, they were not. There are two problems with this. First it dismisses all my hard work, the hours of practice, experiments, classes and study. Second, it isolates the creative spirit as something only certain people are blessed with while others are lacking. I don’t accept that.
I believe creative thought is possible for everyone. But many times that creativity is abandoned at a very early age. Whether from outside influences or internal doubt, the ability to recognize our creativity is too often closed down or lost. This disconnect is often triggered by fear. Fear of failure, fear of humiliation, fear of being different, and fear of rejection. But the ability to create is there for everyone to embrace. The longer we believe that we are not creative, the harder it can be to tap into our naturally spontaneous side. I doubt I will ever confront that person who believes they have no “talent." I will probably still just smile and say thank you but I hope you will join me to spread the word. Be bold, be creative.
To help you recognize your own creativity listen to these two wonderful talks on TED Talk
David Kelly: “How to Build Your Creative Confidence”,
Elizabeth Gilbert: “Your Elusive Creative Genius”Comment on or Share this Article →
Above the Arroyo 11x14 Oil
The Getty Museum was denied an export visa for a manuscript they acquired at Sotheby's, a London auction house. It seems that this is business as usual for the United Kingdom's catch-all Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
"The Deeds of Sir Gillion de Trazegnies in the Middle East," a 14-by-10-inch book with eight half-page miniatures painted by Lieven van Lathem in 1464, was purchased with a winning bid of $5.87 million by the Getty. But the UK government has invoked a post World War II doctrine which can stop the export of any work of art that is more than 50 years old and of significant value.
Some say this bureaucratic excuse is now being used by the UK as a protectionist contrivance, a sad legacy of that nation's post-World War II decline. Others insist it is a high-minded urge to protect Britain's artistic patrimony. Whatever the motive, the result is the same. The Getty will not have its new manuscript any time soon. The three-month hold on the book is renewable and designed to allow time for a matching British bid for the artwork so it will stay in the UK.
The odd thing is its history. The original manuscript was made for and owned by Louis de Gruuthuse of the Netherlands. Louis passed it on to François I who kept it at his château at Blois in France. What happened after that is not clear, but somehow from 1817 to the recent sale, the book has been in the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire at Chatsworth. But get this, the current duke is deputy chairman of Sotheby's. Yes, the same auction house that sold the manuscript in December to the Getty.
Things that make you go Hmmmmm. So is this some kind of elaborate scheme to get the Getty's money, a bureaucratic bungle or what. Who knows? But when millions of dollars change hands, I can guarantee something IS going on.Comment on or Share this Article →
I have been teaching a lot of art classes lately and have started a series of tutorials. This one is about Drawing the Figure.
To see the entire tutorial click on the title below.
In my teens I left home to attend an art college. Not very worldly or experiences, I was pretty shocked at my first figure drawing class. I noticed that many of the students tried to be casual but I think we were all pretty embarrassed by the nude male model. I tried to be mature and understand that throughout history figure drawing has been an essential part of an artist's training. I am glad that I was able to overcome my initial reaction because the hours I spent in that class where invaluable. Drawing gestures, comparing proportions and improving my observational skills all contributed to my growth as an artist.Comment on or Share this Article →
Lilly Pond Afternoon 14x11 Oil
I have been busy working with my students from my online courses. One class centers on better compositions while the other focuses on color harmony but both are structured around my critiques of the students work. I also recently judged a local club's art show so I have been refining my methods.
Critiquing other artists work is a responsibility that I take very seriously. Being too critical can devastate a budding artist but false praise doesn't help that student grow. You can see that evaluating a work of art is tricky. While it is true that artistic taste is relative, there are certain characteristics of artwork that can be assessed and used to measure the artist's success. Here is how I do it.
- First impression:.
- Title of work.
- Type of artwork.
- Subject of the painting (scene).
- Note the characteristics of the artwork that first jump out at you.
- Colors used.
- Shapes, lines and texture.
- Light saturation.
- Identify the predominant mood of the piece.
- Analyze the artworks technical elements:
- Shapes, forms and lines.
- Light and shadow.
- How each technical element contributes to the mood, meaning and aesthetics of the artwork.
- Interpret the artwork. I ask these questions.
- What is the artist trying to say through the work of art?
- How well did the artist communicate the idea?
- What feelings are conveyed by the work?
- What is the artist's intended purpose for creating that particular work of art?
- Why did the artist make the choices in technique, materials and subject matter?
- Evaluate the artwork. Conclusions are made from the previous analysis and judgments made about the artwork.
- Evaluate the value of the artwork's execution to evoke emotion.
- Evaluate the work relative to the art community or the individuals progress.
- Explain the artwork's strengths and where it falls short.
I have found constructive critiques to be a very useful learning experience so I try to give that same positive experience to my students.
Faded Door 11x14 Oil
Plato was a Greek philosopher, writer, poet, genius. Yes, I knew that stuff about him but I never knew that Plato's philosophy extended to art but apparently it did; Plato's Rule. When asked by a student, "What makes a great composition in art?" Plato's response was, "Find and represent the variety within the unity".
How amazing is that statement? These two things, variety and unity seem to be contradictory principles but Plato's statement perfectly describes the crazy balancing act that every artist fights to master. It encompasses color, shape, value, composition, in fact everything that an artist must consider is balanced between these two principles. We know that variety and unity are both principles of art and we understand that both are essential in our artwork, but how we combine them together is the challenge. The answer is we must push our work to create variety but keep the variety confined to being unified. Tricky stuff.
Variety is the use of different elements in the artwork. Variety creates excitement. Art that has too much variety is "busy" and confused. Too much unity is boring. The artist's job is to find that perfect balance between the two.
Here are two paintings that illustrate this principle.
Edgar Degas The Millinery Shop
In Degas painting we can see the masterful combination of unity and variety.
- The repeated circle of hats unite the image while the diagonal of the table cuts across the shapes.
- The painting is mostly warm colors with splashes of blues and green
- The value is mostly dark with important highlights that lead us in a circle around the painting.
Abstract art needs this balance too.
- The triangle is repeated over and over in this painting, the composition is a triangle, the blue areas form a trianlge as do the red shape across the bottom. But they are varied and broken up with variety.
- The blue outline is the same throughout the painting, even on the wood panel in the background but the lines are jagged, unique and unpredictable.
- There are three areas of cool colors (the blue) and three areas of warm colors, yellow, red and orange/red with warm colors dominant.
The simplest statement unleashes a torrent of possibilities that we, the artist, are dedicated to solving. Have fun finding your balance.Comment on or Share this Article →
"This was to emphasize, again, the fact that it is the composition, the design, the creation of the artist's mind, which is important, not the representation of objects with paint."
I am currently teaching an online class, Composition: The Foundation of Your Art, and just finished reviewing the submissions from the students first lesson. Very impressive. As I wrote the critiques, I realized that several ideas were worth repeating regardless of subject or style. A great composition does not just happen; the artist creates it. There are some rules that trenscend the medium or content.
The Rule of Thirds
I am not sure who first figured this out but when you divide your canvas (paper) by thirds the intersecting lines are where the focal point of your painting should land. Whether portrait or landscape, square or rectangle, pick one of those four points and you're on the right track. Some can make the case for the Golden Mean Rule which is a slightly different measurement but the same idea. I just think the Rule of Thirds is a lot easier for everyone to remember and to do.