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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. --Will Rogers

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Art Institute ranked among top 3 for kids

By Leigh Allan

Dayton Daily News

DAYTON | "We're No. 3! We're No.3!" isn't the usual victory cry, but if you're the Dayton Art Institute and the only two ahead of you are the Art Institute of Chicago and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, it's no wonder Director Alex Nyerges is "honored and thrilled" to come in third.

The cause for celebration is DAI's high spot on Child magazine's rankings of the 10 Best Art Museums for Kids. Child particularly cited Institute pre-schooler tours, gallery hunts (with clues) and family Gallery Bags.

Child bases the ratings in its March 2006 issue on depth and variety of family and child tours and classes, educational programs for school groups and staffing. It tells readers not to miss the Experiencenter, which provides a wide variety of hands-on opportunities that change to match other DAI exhibits (Eyes of Architecture at the moment, Food for Thought beginning in March).

The DAI, which had more than 30,000 schoolchildren visit the recent Egyptian exhibit, The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt, was followed in Child's list by the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco and the Carnegie in Pittsburgh.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Colors and lines are forces and the secret of creation lies in the play and balance of those forces." --Henri Matisse

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A master of color too long in the shadows

This was the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal reviewing an exhibit of Sam Gilliam's art at the Corcoran Museum, which recently ended. I noticed the resemblance of the photo in the article to a piece hanging in the entrance to the galleries of the Dayton Art Institute. I've grown to love this piece, especially in its current location, where it seems to float in space, a huge, radiant, bird-like presence that dominates the foyer of the museum. The canvas is 9 ft. 10 in. H by 25 ft. 8 in. W. The DAI purchased this piece in 1987 before its expansion. The painting was hung in a rather dark stairwell of the Italian Renaissance building and the first time I saw it, I thought it was a painter's dropcloth, I'm sorry to say. But after the museum's expansion in 1997 Gilliam's colorful work was given a proper presentation and lighting. It's the first artwork you see when you enter the museum.

Google "Sam Gilliam" images to see more of his work. Watch for the Corcoran exhibition in Louisville, Ky, Savannah, Ga and Houston, Tx.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The easiest way to get what you want is to help someone else get what they want. Deepak Chopra

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Company with a heart

Today's blog isn't about art, it's about corporate responsibility, specifically, Xerox Corporation's Social Service Leave initiative. I'm proud of my daughter's inclusion in the group of eight Xerox employees selected for this program. She'll be working for a year with the National Military Family Association to help implement programs benefiting family members of U.S. troops at home and abroad. Way to go, Kathleen! Way to go, Xerox!

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it in us or we find it not. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Don't laugh

My three-year-old granddaughter loves to draw on a big newsprint pad I gave her. When I presented her with her first crayons shortly after her first birthday, they went right into her mouth. No surprise there. I drew some cartoon characters for her and she made a few marks on the paper and wandered off. Now she loves to color and draw. My Little Artist knows that the marks she makes can depict something--Mommy, Daddy or the moon.

Many students I've worked with during more than thirty years of teaching have told me that they loved to draw as children, but gave it up because a teacher or parent or another child had made fun of their drawing and told them it didn't look like anything. That's so sad. Fortunately, I've learned that these people can be taught if they overcome the negative perception that they can't do it. But it would have been so much better if they hadn't been burdened with that idea in the first place.

That's why I say, "Don't laugh." Don't laugh at a small child's first efforts and don't make fun of your middle-aged or elderly relative's or friend's attempts at drawing or painting. Everyone is entitled to know the pleasure of making art without the fear of ridicule. It isn't about being an artist. It's about experiencing the joy of creating something that never existed before, a uniquely human privilege. We should celebrate everyone's attempts to develop their creative skills.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. --Judy Garland

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More on paint

Yesterday another artist responded to my friend's question about "spectrum" paint colors. His response was highly technical and in the end referred the artist to handprint.com, which I've recommended previously in my blog. This site is the be-all and end-all of information on watercolors. However, in browsing the site again I've decided a lot of it is way too technical to be of use to most painters. I hope you'll use the site without being intimidated by too much information. You can learn more by testing your own paints yourself and deciding what you like.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. --Pablo Picasso

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Spectrum colors in paint

An artist friend queried a watercolor group today about what the term "spectrum" means when it's used in a paint name. Here's my reply: "Spectrum" colors in paint are a myth. You can't have spectral color except in light. This is one company's idea of a "true" color, whatever that is. The same is true of colors labeled "primary" this or that. What's primary? If you collected them all and compared them you'd realize there is no standard in paint and the terms are meaningless. Best to stick with pigment names and numbers. Even then, you'll find that some paints with the same name and number vary widely from brand to brand. He responded that he had found that Raw Sienna in M. Graham and Cotman are very different and he had a definite preference for one over the other. Artists need to make such comparisons themselves and not assume that another brand will be the same as the one they prefer. Manufacturers' printed paint charts aren't much help. Colored inks don't do a very good job of reproducing paint colors. If a painted chart is available, you can see the actual color and judge your colors better.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something. --Author unknown

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Coming up for air

Decided to take a break for a few minutes. I've been working on three book proposals for a meeting this week with an acquisitions editor and on top of that an overlapping deadline for a magazine article. Everything is close to final draft stage at this point, but I'll soon have to dive into the pile again to polish things up. I hope you don't mind if I disappear for a few more days. I expect to be back soon with current news on the layout of the New Creative Artist this week. I am so psyched.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties. --Gail Sheehy

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Way cool drawing of a woman

This is a fantastic movie of a line drawing of a model. Watch it to the end!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Every individual is a marvel of unknown and unrealized possibilities. --W.G. Jordon

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Fiction or nonfiction?

Maybe you've read about the flap over James Frey's memoir, A Million Little Pieces. I haven't read the book, but I've read several reviews on blogs and one in print in the Wall Street Journal. If you haven't come across it yet, it seems that Frey has apparently made up most of the story, based on some true episodes in his life, and is passing the story off as nonfiction. The publishers are saying the book reflects his perceptions, etc., so it qualifies as memoir, but a few people have checked the facts and they appear to be distorted beyond recognition or possibly even made up. That sounds like fiction to me. The buzz is that the book is an inspiring story of rehabilitation. Maybe it wouldn't seem so inspiring if it were presented as fiction--and more importantly, maybe it wouldn't sell as well. Sounds to me like deficiencies in writer's and publisher's ethics. If a story isn't true, it's fiction....isn't it?

Here's something from the New York Times: Writer Says He Made Up Some Details. I'm interested to see what the Author's Guild has to say about it.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge with it, move with it, and join the dance. --Alan Watts

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Showing your artwork

Some people don't seem to have any doubts about their artistic abilities, but most of us go from day to day wondering whether we'll ever be good enough to get in a show or sell a painting. Or just to have someone admire something we've done. Should we hide in the safety of our studios or step boldly out of the studio into the light of day? Should we timidly offer our work to be seen or blow trumpets to gain an audience?

While we're doing it, we believe in our work completely. It's only when we make it public that our doubts surface. Showing our work makes us feel timid and insecure. Artists say they paint for the joy of it, but in the next sentence they say, "I have to do a commission," or "I have to paint a show entry." Suddenly, the fear of failure kicks in. Or maybe it's fear of success that frightens us with its associated publicity and loss of privacy.

You may be worried about taking an ego trip when you step out boldly to show your work. Don't let that stop you. You have filled yourself up with a lifetime of feelings and these same feelings are felt by many other people. Someone will come along who resonates with what you've done. There may be many, there may be few; but that isn't the point. If you don't take a chance and put your work out there, how will they know that someone else understands and cares? Once your work is made public, eventually you'll have the thrill of knowing that another person experiences the joy you found in doing it.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Take credit for your accomplishments. --Eric Booth

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How much water, how much paint?

We discussed paint quality in my watercolor class today. Not the quality of pigment, but the quality of the paint on the paper. This is usually what makes the difference between a professional-looking watercolor and a thinly painted or an overworked one. It takes a lot of practice to make masterful washes. You also need to know if you want your painting to be delicate or bold or somewhere between the two. The trick is to get the right consistency to your paint to get the effect you want from every brushstroke.

I read somewhere an analogy between paint consistency and milk products:
--Delicate washes are like skim milk--thin and runny.
--Add a little more paint for 2% consistency and slightly more intensity.
--More paint and less water make whole milk consistency on the palette and richer color.
--Still more paint, to the consistency of unwhipped cream, and you have intense paint mixtures.
You never want to get heavier than cream, though, or you'll lose too much transparency. Remember, if you're working wet-into-wet you need more paint on the palette because the water on the paper will dilute your paint somewhat.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second. --Marc Riboud

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Rembrandt: Don't miss it!

Charley Parker has posted another winner: Rembrandt: life, paintings, etchings, drawings and self portraits. Read Charley's commentary before going to the site. Allow plenty of time to browse and study the elegant drawings and paintings of one of the greatest masters of European art.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Color in a picture is like enthusiasm in life. --Vincent van Gogh

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Clever blogger

I decided to be clever this afternoon and inserted some hacks described in the help section of Blogger. Oops. I don't know what I did wrong, but nothing worked except the main page. For awhile the archives were a jumble. I had saved the template to a Word file before beginning, but the backup didn't work either. I finally created a new blog under another name and copied the template section that wasn't working. After deleting the screwed-up part, I pasted the copy into my blog . Whew! It's not the first time I've gotten in trouble with a web site. I'm no hacker, just a cut-and-paste kinda person. Better stick to watercolor.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Digital photography resource

Here's an interesting blog on Color in Digital Photography: Introduction to Color Theory. The principles apply to printing and computing, as well. Plus, here's a link to an article I wrote on Harmony and Contrast of Colors, which is recommended by the photography site.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

All true works of art are quite complex even when they look simple. --Rudolf Arnheim


Where did all the Gigabytes go?

My first computer was a KayPro "portable," 24 pounds of mean machine with 8K of RAM. No, "8K" isn't a typo. It was 1982 when I became obsessed with the idea of owning a personal computer. I read an article that said the Kaypro was reliable and less expensive than the new, more powerful IBM PCs, plus bundled software was included. It had two 5 1/4" floppy drives. After turning on the machine, I inserted a floppy with the operating system on it and loaded the system into the machine. Then I inserted a the word-processing program floppy. After loading the program, I removed the floppy disk and inserted a data disk. The machine had a "swap file" of a designated amount of space and would swap your work between the memory and the data disk as you worked with a file. When you were finished, you saved your file to the floppy and removed the disks after closing out the programs. I clearly remember saying, "This is so great, I'll never need more than this."

Power corrupts and computer power corrupts absolutely. I upgraded to a Kaypro II in a short time and, within five years, to IBM PCs. It wasn't long before I was talking megabytes and gigabytes. Which is why this is on my mind. My current computer is middle-aged (going on three in May). I thought it was a monster at 512MB RAM and a 56GB hard drive. Last week it was slowing down some, so I did some checking and discovered I had 4 GB left on my hard drive.

I couldn't believe it. I spent most of last week trying to recover some disk space and eventually got up to 16 GB (couldn't afford to buy an external hard drive so soon after Christmas!). The problem, of course, is the digital photos. I've gone through five digital cameras, starting with less than a megabyte up to 7 MB. Plus I save the best ones as TIFF files, which are very big, before editing. So I had all those files and different versions of them, when all I needed was the final file and the original. I'm sure I can save some more space, but I'm looking into PhotoShop Elements 3's backup-to-CD system to save the day. And I'll have to get an external drive eventually.

Did I mention that our only grandchild was born the same year I got the computer? That's where the Gigabytes went.

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Monday, January 02, 2006


Just found this great art blog. ART NOTES Lots of great stuff for browsing.


Today is the first day of the rest of your life. --Author unknown

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Thoughts for a New Year

Many artists are motivated to set goals for their artistic development and careers, and quite a few have achieved them. Then the question pops up, "What next?" Do they set higher goals? More goals? Different goals? Each artist has a different response to these questions. One artist says that his retirement from his "day job" has changed his idea of goals. Now he is entering a phase of life that should allow him to enjoy his achievements, and he's finding that difficult. Seems like the inevitable end of life looms larger every day and the idea of setting goals becomes a quandary.

All of my life I've been goal-driven, and to a great extent I've been fortunate in achieving my goals. Then several years ago I realized my goals had changed dramatically–not the goals themselves, but the priority-ranking of each goal. Angeles Arrien writes of how to live the last half of our lives, and her discussion of the importance of "mentoring" made me see how my own direction has changed from personal achievement to freely sharing my knowledge and friendship with other artists of all ages and skill levels. While I have always done this in my teaching, I feel an urgency now that I wasn't aware of before. The most amazing thing about it is that the more I share, the more complete I feel and the more connected with those I work with. Thus, mentoring now resides at the top of my list of goals.

For the past fifteen years I've traveled throughout the United States and Canada teaching workshops. From the start I felt compelled to bring my students together as a community of artists working to help each other learn and grow, instead of individuals seeking praise for making the best or biggest painting in the class. Now more than ever I sense the value of this approach, and I am almost overwhelmed by the responses of my students and those who use my books and web site. My thanks to all who express your appreciation in your emails. It helps to keep me going.

In the light of the events of recent years I've been trying, like everyone else, to sort out how I feel, how to react, what to do. At this moment I realize the best I can do is to keep on mentoring and sharing what I know and love. I hope others will do the same. We still need goals, and these will be different for all of us, but high on the list should be the promise to respect others as we wish to be respected. Art is a labor of love, not just artists loving their art, but loving one another. Please, put this at the top of your list of goals.

Happy New Year!

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