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John's Blog

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Oil Painters of America National Salon

Partial view of the Oil Painters of America National Salon Show at Insight Gallery

It's one thing to see pictures of a painting, it's a whole other ball game to see the original. Of course we all know this, but I was hit between the eyes with this reality once again when I walked into Insight Gallery for the 22nd Annual Oil Painters of America National Salon 2013. Wow, what a spectacular show!

Kaline Carter, regional sales manager, and Kristin Bucher Hoerth, editor-in-chief of Southwest Art magazine

Jeff Legg with his award winning painting Illumination

Insight Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX did a wonderful job displaying the work. Opening night the place was packed. I have been honored to be a part of several of these national shows but this is the first one I have actually attended. Two things really surprised me,    1) The scale/size of the paintings  2) The quality. The overall quality of the work being produced today is significantly better than that created just ten years ago. It just emphasizes the fact that we must keep working, keep learning, keep improving. Being juried into prominent shows like this cannot, must not be taken for granted, for if they are, we will eventually find ourselves outside looking in.

John Hulsey with his wife, Ann Trusty, have created The Artist's Road...a practical, informative, and inspirational site for artists

John Austin Hanna and Bryce Cameron Liston at the RS Hanna Gallery. Hanna received the Donors' Award of Excellence for his painting Summer Cool during the OPA awards ceremony. Liston is a signature member of the Oil Painters of America and currently is a featured artist at the Hanna gallery

It was nice to finally meet John Hanna. We were both illustrators in Dallas during the '70's. He was one of Dallas' best. I admired his work then...and now he's an OPA award winner. Also enjoyed meeting so many fellow artists...enjoying paintings first hand of artists I've admired for a long time.

With my painting Road to Tularosa at Insight Gallery during the OPA National Salon

Congratulations to all the winners. It's an amazing achievement to win anything in a show of this caliber.

To view all the winners, click HERE.

Other important sites:

Insight Gallery

The Artist's Road

RS Hanna Gallery

John Hanna website

Jeff Legg

Bryce Liston website

Southwest Art magazine

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An Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view work and bio, please click HERE


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

John McCartin Revisited

My Australian friend, John McCartin, has a wonderful feature article in the current issue of International Artist magazine, Vol. 91. In the article, "Painting the Cotswolds", McCartin says that the distinction between what you physically see and how you paint what you see, makes all the difference.

I first became aware of McCartin's work back in February of 2012. We were showing together at the Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, TX during its 30th Anniversary Celebration. John had just won the Grand Prize for "Art Challenge #64 - Favorite Subjects", sponsored by International Artist, and was new to the gallery. His work was an instant hit. I was so impressed with his work that I contacted him and asked if he would allow me to interview him. He is not only an amazing artist but also a wonderful person, so I truly enjoy sharing more of his work with you.

Bourton on the Hill - 26.38"x 39.38" - Oil

He only began painting full-time professionally in 2002 and is now regarded as one of Australia's finest artists across a range of genres. He is currently preparing for a solo exhibition of his works to be held at Morpeth Gallery, in the Hunter Valley, NSW...coming up in July 2013.

Before leaving however, I couldn't resist asking him a few questions:

Waiting at the Gate - 29.12"x 20.5" - Oil

How would you define "success", as an artist?  No simple answer to this question. My definition of success as an artist will be different from that of another artist. My personal idea of success is to be in a position whereby I can fully develop my craft without having to spend large amounts of time doing other things. To come close to reaching my full potential as an artist while encouraging and inspiring other artists along the way.

Is it possible to be a good landscape painter without painting en plein air?  It is possible but not likely. Painting en plein air trains the artist to be selective. The limited time at his disposal forces the artist to focus on essentials. The most important aspect of painting from life is observing the subtle colour changes which are not apparent in photographic images and understanding how light behaves in the natural world.

The Gardner's Cottage - 13.75"x 15.38" - Oil

What are the main problems encountered when translating a field study to a large studio work?  The biggest problem is how to maintain the simplicity and spontaneity of the smaller painting done in the field. Because time in the studio is not restricted, the tendency is to add more detail then is necessary. This has a way of weakening the composition. The initial emotional response to the subject (the reason you painted it) and the emotional impact of the painting is often diminished.

Study for Aroona Gums - 13.75"x 18" - Charcoal

Leafy Lane - 18.5"x 26" - Oil

What qualifies as a plein air painting?  One that is essentially done on location. The majority of the painting needs to be done from life. Tidying, touching up or completion work in the studio should be minimal.

How do you know when a painting is finished?  A painting is finished when nothing can be added or taken away without it being detrimental to the whole. That's the theory. In practice it's more of a personal thing. A gut feeling. John Singer Sargent's answer was simple..."When I say it is".

 To read John McCartin's complete February 2012 interview, please click here.

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An Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view work and bio, please click HERE


Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Entering Art Competitions

It's very possible that the painting you entered in that last art competition was a real dog. You know, the one that was rejected. But hey, your mom loved it.
On the other hand, you may have submitted a real masterpiece but unfortunately ran into an incompetent judge.
Either way the rejection was real and you felt the blade of the knife.
Having juried many art shows and submitted work to many more, I've experienced both sides of the coin...rejecting and being rejected.

A New Day Dawning - 12"x 16" - Salon International 2012
(Honorable Mention)

Some people look upon art competitions with distain. They wonder why anyone would allow some stranger to make judgments regarding another's personal expression. They don't like the idea of having some externally imposed standard, or another's personal bias deciding whether their work is acceptable.
Of course, each of us make judgments every day regarding the quality of all kinds of creative endeavors, from the quality of our clothes to the quality of wedding photographs. Yes, fine art should be judged, critiqued, and scrutinized on many levels...and it isn't as if we have no standards of judgment. Let's just look at the last 600 years for starters.

Left Behind - 9.75"x 15" - Outdoor Painters Society, Plein Air Southwest Salon 2013
(Best of Show, Southwest Art magazine award)

Most thinking people will agree that art should, and therefore must, submit to some kind of critical standard. Art competitions are one way artists can assess their growth and see how they stack up.

Dianne Massey Dunbar agrees: "There are two main reasons that I enter art competitions. The first one is to see how I stack up against other artists. Secondly, I enter competitions to hopefully have my work seen by other artists, collectors, galleries, and even magazines."

Marc Hanson uses competition as a yearly barometer for his progress. "Nothing like seeing your work amidst the work of your peers, year in and year out, to see how you're doing."

Winter's Dance - 30"x 40" - 2011/2012 Art Renewal Center International Salon
(3rd Place, Landscape)

A March School Day - 16"x 16" - Oil Painters of America Western Regional - 2010
(3rd Place)

Here are some good reasons to enter juried art competitions:

1.  Creates a healthy challenge.
2.  Forced to critically assess work relative to the judging criteria and to the work of others.
3.  Work is evaluated and recognized by peers.
4.  Helps in evaluating artistic growth.
5.  Chance to win money and prizes.
6.  Incentive to continue artistic growth and to take on newer and greater challenges.
7.  Creates opportunities for gallery representation, invitation to other shows, art sales, exposure to new markets and new collectors, teaching and demonstration invitations, magazine features, and commissions.
8.  Association with respected organizations and with established, recognized artists.
9.  Builds resume and adds to your reputation and credibility among those in the art community.

Cornish Promontory - 30"x 24" - 2011/2012 Art Renewal Center International Salon

Important considerations before submitting work to a juried competition:

1.  Weigh all expenses and time involved versus possible reward. Only you can decide whether reward outweighs cost.
2.  Consider reputation of the hosting organization. Choose those that have an established, well respected identity. 
3.  Is the juror qualified? What style and quality of work does the juror produce, and is he/she a recognized professional...making a living from the work they create? 
4.  Honestly assess whether your work fits the theme, character, and quality of the competition.

Cherished Memories - 12"x 24" - 2012/2013 Art Renewal Center International Salon
Kansas City Southern de Mexico - 24"x 36" - 'Artist's Magazine' 26th Annual Art Competition - 2009
(3rd Place, Landscape)

False assumptions:

1.  Being accepted into, or winning a juried competition, will open the door to greatness and unlimited opportunities.
2. The judge will only select work that is similar in style and subject to his own.
3.  The average art buyer is greatly impressed by awards and resume and will make a decision to purchase based on an impressive resume and awards won.

The Old Mill - 16"x 16" - National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society On-line Open International 2013
(Best Landscape)

Practical advice:

1.  Accurately and honestly evaluate your work. Seek critiques from professionals who will be honest with you.
2.  Do not waste time or money entering national shows that you are not ready for.
3.  Build confidence and establish a reputation for quality work among local groups before launching out regionally and nationally.
4.  Consider on-line competitions while still applying all of the previously mentioned considerations.
5.  Be selective. Only submit your best work, professionally photographed...or its equivalent.
6.  The more prestigious the hosting organization, the more meaningful the award.
7.  Evaluation of art is not a scientific process. Personal taste will always play a part in a juror's selections. Even though you've done your best...carefully evaluated and considered everything...success is not guaranteed. Keep your head up, try again.
8.  Resumes seem to be of little value outside the art community. If an art museum or prominent art collector is interested in acquiring one of your works, or if you've applied for membership in one of the important nationally recognized art organizations, they probably have value. For me, they do provide great material for those introducing me at local art club meetings.

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An Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view work and bio, please click HERE


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Deconstructing the Landscape Workshop

I know, someone has to do it. There I was in Pontotoc, surrounded by a room full of lovely ladies eager to hear what I had to say. Undaunted, I pressed on. 

Standing, Left>Right: John Pototschnik, Kay Heller, Sue Miller, Nancy Crossett, Betty Jo Johnson, Shirley Griffin, Danette Middleton, Reba Depoyster, Joe Umphress, Dot Courson, Rebecca Carter, Cathleen Windham
Seated, Left>Right: Ruth Davidson, Susan Patton, Dianne Agnew, Holly Chapman, Karen Bennett

It was my last scheduled workshop of the year and the theme was, "Deconstructing the Landscape". Each participant was asked to bring a painting that they knew had problems. With the paintings displayed, I defined and explained what many of us professional artists consider necessary building blocks for the creation of masterworks: concept, composition, drawing, values, and color. Additionally, we discussed technique and presentation.

These principles were applied to each of the student's works. They were asked to reevaluate their paintings based on the teaching and reconstruct a new, improved version with my guidance. The lessons were backed up with demonstrations. First, a monochromatic block-in technique, and later, the full-color version.
Beginning the monochromatic block-in.

Monochromatic block-in complete. Below is plein air study used as reference for larger work.

Initial application of color to monochromatic. The first layer.

The ladies were enthusiastic and eager to apply the principles taught. They were all at their easels, hard at work, even before class officially began.

Susan Patton's monochromatic block-in with first applications of color.

Now there was one guy in the class, Joe Umphress, but he, like me, wasn't complaining about the surroundings.

Participants later defined what they liked best about the workshop...

"Group lectures, demonstrations, and individual instruction. Every aspect, very helpful"

"The friendliness of the group was wonderful. Having an artist like John to learn from is amazing. I liked the mixture of lecture and demo. The individual help was most helpful"

"Very hands on, one-on-one, often, not just once"

"Lecture on the color wheel/color mixing and achieving mood in a painting. Placement of focal point on canvas. How to 'plan' a piece of work better"

"Personal interaction with each of the students"

"The inspiration and confidence you blessed me with by believing in me and encouraging me to 'do this'"

Dot and Jackie Courson
Dot Courson Workshops

Special thanks to Dot and Jackie Courson for hosting a third "sold out" workshop for me in Mississippi...and to a great group of participants. You all made it enjoyable.

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An Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view art and bio, please click HERE