It’s so easy these days to access top-quality Art Films, and summer is the perfect time to sit back and relax. You’ll beat the heat and absorb inspiration and information at the same time! I’ve started a good list with these titles, but please be sure to add your own suggestions in the comments. If you’ve found this list binge-worthy, be sure to share with an art buddy. If you decide to watch, let me know what you think, too!
People think that the directors direct actors. No. Really, what the director’s doing is directing the audience’s eye through the film.
– Julianne Moore
A Few Favorite Art Films
Cézanne et Moi – Netflix– An intimate portrait of the turbulent friendship between Cézanne the painter and Zola the writer.
Eva Hesse – Netflix– Documentary about a rising star in the New York art scene of the 1960’s, her life, style and untimely death
Packed in a Trunk – The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson – Netflix – Decades after this artist was institutionalized, her great niece sets out to understand why.
Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil – Netflix – Using x-rays and other technology, this documentary explores the secrets behind the artist’s famous religious works.
Without Gorky – Netflix – The filmmaker turns the lens on her own family as she explores the impact her grandfather – Arshile Gorky – had on three generations.
Hilda – Amazon Prime – In the late 1950’s Hilda lived and worked with the greatest painters of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Official Selections of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
Loving Vincent – Amazon Prime – The first animated film done completely in oil painting, explores the life of Vincent van Gogh.
Mr. Turner – Amazon Prime – Spans the last 25 years in the life of Britain’s most revered painter.
Pollock – Amazon Prime – Explores the turbulent life of Jackson Pollock.
Surviving Picasso – Amazon Prime – Starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore – told from the viewpoint of Picasso’s longtime mistress and mother of his children.
Frida – Amazon Prime – Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Salma Hayek for Best Actress, Frida is a triumphant motion picture about an exceptional woman who lived an unforgettable life.
Modigliani – Amazon Prime – Arriving like a comet, he danced on tables, drunk with passion for life and art and his ending was the tragedy of true genius like Van Gogh and Mozart. He was Modigliani.
Other Recent News
Below you’ll find a couple of demonstration paintings from recent workshops. I have new workshops in the works, and will be announcing my fall/winter schedule on August 1! When you get the notice, don’t delay. Many classes fill quickly. In the meantime, there are still a few spots available in these two workshops:
Creative Arts Community: Painting with Digital Exploration – August 12-18, Corbett, Oregon. Registration ends this Friday, July 20th.
Learn how digital painting can expand your creative process. Students will use the ProCreate app and an iPad to plan and alter works in progress. Learn to use this inexpensive app to try out ideas before you execute them in paint. The workshop will begin with instruction on using the app to draw, paint and use layers to experiment on photos of your painting in process. Students will work on their own projects in their choice of water-based media. Acrylic, watercolor or mixed media are all welcome. Lectures will focus on design and creativity, and Ruth will provide demonstrations and individual guidance on using digital media to explore painting options. Our goal is not to create finished digital art, but to use the digital screen as a sandbox for development of ideas. Take risks digitally before you decide on the real painting. This process encourages growth and exploration. It is an excellent visualization tool.
International Society of Experimental Artists: ABC’s of Abstraction, September 24 – 27th, Newport, Oregon
Using Acrylic and Collage we will explore both the elements of design and the mental game of art-making. Learn new ways to generate ideas, combine methods and evaluate your results. You will learn organizing principles, painting tips and techniques for overcoming self-doubt and indecision.
If you’re a former student and you’d like to join – click the link above and request to join. We share work, opportunities and feedback here. I hope you’ll participate… it won’t be the same without YOU!
I became a maker by following the example of my mother. She is well-known for making beauty out of what is on hand. Her friends marvel over her knitting, sewing, cooking, gardening and decorating. I love the following quote, because it exemplifies what I think most creative people feel:
“People are creators. But I doubt that many realize this. We are not meant to go out into the world and find flawless things, we are not meant to sit down and have flawless things fall into our laps. But we are creators. We can create a beautiful thing out of what we have. The problem with idealistic people is that they see themselves as receivers instead of creators, they end up hunting for the flaw in everything in order to measure it up to their ideals. Now, when you see yourself as a creator, you can look at a chunk of marble and see the angel within it. Then you carve until you have set that angel free.”
– C. JoyBell C.
The creative process requires us to solve problems, overlook imperfections and visualize success. It requires faith, perseverance and tenacity. I learned all these things from my mom, and I’m still learning them. Watching the persistence she employs to tackle a long term project is inspiring. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say “I can’t.”
This week, I received a beautiful gift from Mom. She created the rug pictured below from 1/4″ strips of wool, hooked into a backing of burlap. Over the course of the last 8 months, she’s worked on it almost daily. I’ll always treasure it, as a symbol of all the hours of labor and love that she’s invested in it, and in me.
Doesn’t It Look Beautiful?
Mom Giving another Hand-Made Gift
My friend, Margaret Godfrey, made a wonderful hand-painted turntable for her grandkids. You can read about her project here. What is the best hand-made gift you’ve ever made or received?
One way I work at avoiding fear is using digital exploration in my painting process. Using my IPad to try out changes before I make them in paint removes the fear of failure that I see many students encounter. If you’re reading this post on email, you might want to hop on over to the blog and view this Ted Talk about failure by Ken Robinson:
One reason that many of my demonstration paintings are successful is my habit of putting on a ‘brave face’ when I’m demonstrating. I want to be an example of a painter who will try anything that pops into my head. I’m not painting by rote habit: I’m exploring. I know that I may fail and I continue experimenting anyway. This leads to exciting breakthroughs in front of my students.
I help students learn how painting without fear leads to more creative work. Digital exploration with works in process helps students avoid fear by allowing them to experiment in a ‘sandbox’ using the Apple Pencil, IPad and Procreate app. Below, I have a painting that I feel could have gone a bit farther in creativity if I hadn’t ‘played it safe.’ (The painting is sold, so it is an easy one to experiment with – I know I won’t have to take it out of the frame and change it!)
Finishing an abstract work can be particularly challenging. The artist often risks taking something good to a state that’s over-worked. That’s when digital experimentation can be extremely valuable. Without changing the actual work, the artist can try out different ideas. For instance, below I’ve added a blue with more temperature contrast, to see if I like the work better.
Digital experimentation with cropping, color temperature and direction
This special place is the ultimate art retreat. Small class sizes and up to 7 workshops filled with creative people fill the camp with energy. Delicious meals are provided, so all you have to do is paint and enjoy each others’ company and the inspiring setting.
See what I mean in the photos on Menucha’s site, and sign up before it’s too late! Many of my workshops fill quickly.
The View of the Columbia River from Menucha
Inside Historic Wright Hall
Happy Artists Return Year after Year
“Menucha” means Tranquility
If I already have an IPad, will it work with ProCreate? – Yes. You will need the newest version or an IPad Pro to use the Apple Pencil, but a regular stylus and an older IPad will also work.
Is there a program that will work with my Windows based tablet or computer? You may find a similar app or program, but this workshop will focus on using ProCreate for ios. I think it is one of the best out there!
Will we be printing our finished digital creations? No. We’ll be learning to use the tool as a way to sketch out ideas and applying these ideas to works in progress. The class will divide its time between learning the tool and painting on paper or canvas in water based media.
Is this class suitable for artists working in landscape, portrait, still life, abstraction, etc? Yes! Whatever you’re interested in painting, this process will help you to make braver, more creative decisions.
I’ve just spent the last month taking and teaching art classes, and it is surprising how often I see artists hampered by these bad painting habits.You may find yourself frustrated if you don’t kick these habits asap!
1. Leaving Your Brushes in Water or Solvent
This weakens the glue that holds brush bristles in the ferrule and damages the paint sealing the handle. Eventually the ferrule (the metal part holding your bristles) gets loose and wobbly. Working with brushes that are damaged is frustrating. When you rinse your brush, make it a habit to dry it and lay it down flat. Avoid storing the brush with the handle end down until the water or solvent is completely dried.
2. Thinning your paint too much
Watercolor artists are notorious for using very thin washes. I’ve observed many artists having a difficult time mixing a dark enough paint because they rinse between colors, adding water each time. Watercolors tend to dry lighter than they appear when wet. Your work will look freshest if you apply your washes at the proper value on the first pass.
3. Working constantly at close range
I, myself, am guilty of this one! We tend to get so absorbed in our painting that we forget to view it at different distances. Cultivate the habit of stepping back frequently. Giving yourself the perspective of your viewer is important. Work is rarely viewed at very close range.
4. Using your reference photo or drawing to make all your decisions
Part of the attraction of art is seeing how the artist uses their imagination. Translate your subject through your own design ‘filter’ to allow viewers a glimpse of your creativity.
5. Starting without a plan or value sketch
I often hear artists saying ‘I’m just playing’ when they talk about planning. Planning can also be playful… actually more playful than trying to make a painting work without a plan. Quick sketches are the sandbox of playfulness. Enjoy the process of trying out different ideas before you actually start painting. Sticking to a plan is easier if you jot down your ideas for dominance, color and values.
I hope these tips will keep frustration at bay for you! I find myself constantly reminded of them during my painting. Here are a few new images I’ve been working on recently. Do you have other suggestions of bad painting habits that need kicking? Let me know your thoughts.
August 12 – 18, 2018 – Creative Arts Community at Menucha, Corbett, Oregon: Painting with Digital Exploration:
Learn how digital painting can expand your creative process. Students will use the ProCreate app and and IPad to plan and alter works in progress. Learn to use this inexpensive app to try out ideas before you execute them in paint. A few spots remain: Click here to register
September 24-28, 2018 –ISEA Exhibition and Workshop, Newport, Oregon
See why Cold Wax Medium has captured the fancy of many contemporary artists. Join me for a hands on, interactive workshop that meets you where you stand on the journey of discovery in this sensuous medium.
I’ve found Oil and Cold Wax to be workable, flexible and consistently attractive to students and collectors alike. Unfortunately, I don’t offer many workshops in Wax, simply because of the space and infrastructure required.
What’s involved? We begin by preparing our painting surfaces and talking about subject matter. Even with abstraction, I find it very helpful to have an idea, emotion, or subject for each work of art. Painting in Oil & Wax involves the application of many layers of paint, with drying time between each. We’ll work on several different surfaces each day in order to keep muddiness at a minimum. You’ll learn different application techniques and see how they apply to design elements and principles.
A Small Group Setting
Class size is limited to make sure you receive personal attention and individual help in a safe and supportive environment. There are many advantages of learning in a small group atmosphere like this. You’ll not only learn from the lessons presented, but also from observing the progress and questions posed by fellow students. This dynamic ebb and flow of information is one of my favorite things about teaching workshops. I also love the immersion that happens in this concentrated 3 day session. No distractions – just time to focus on art.
You’ll have a chance to slow down, focus and connect with your inner creativity. I find that in these workshops, the enthusiasm in contagious. Watching the demonstrations and seeing how each person interprets them gives each student a deeper appreciation for the creative process. Not only that, but it allows students to free their minds of stress and worry and focus on their own personal expression.
Here are a couple of comments from recent students:
“Thanks for the great workshop today. You created a lot of motivation for our members to stay and paint. GOOD JOB!!!”
“We all had a wonderful experience! Thank you!”
Last Friday I spent the day with an experienced group of painters, the Buffalo Grass Watercolor group. Here are a few photos of my demonstration in progress. As you can tell, I was in a ‘purple’ mood!
Need more inspiration to join us? How about this quote by Mary Oliver:
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” – Mary Oliver
I know I’m so glad that I decided to study art and become a life-long learner.
If you’re in the Salem area, you can catch a free lecture on CCTV channel 21 – I presented this lecture on Abstraction to the Institute of Continued Learning at Willamette University on February 3. It will air 2/14 at 12 pm, 2/16 at 8 pm, 2/19 at 8 am, and 2/22 at 2:30 pm.
Call to Artists:
I’ll be jurying the Spring 2018 Show of the Society of Washington Artists. Watercolor, Oil, Acrylic, Pastel and small 3-D subjects accepted. Click here for entry information.
Yesterday was “Groundhog Day” in the United States, and those who are enduring a long harsh winter may be wanting to get a jump on Spring. There’s not a finer way to do that than to experiment with an Abstracted Floral!
My painting above “Wild Daffodil” was inspired by fields of daffodils that dot the countryside in Oregon. You can see where abandoned home sites were by scanning the beautiful green fields for waves of bright yellow, naturalized daffodils. The cheerful yellow always seems at odds with the fact that a home once stood there and now is gone.
I love the flowers that come from the fields – they are often tattered by weather, and many have grown away from their cultivated lineage to be wild, multi-petaled and blowzy. This painting would brighten up a bedroom, office, library, dining or living room. I love the drama that the dark background adds.
I used an app called IArtView to show how this work would look in a couple of different settings. A wonderful feature is you can also upload a photo of your wall and visualize how it would look in your home! Try it out!
Inspiration for Abstract Floral Paintings
If you’re looking for other floral inspiration, check out my Pinterest board. You’ll find interesting abstractions by some of the following 6 talented artists:
Jimmy Wright: This artist emphasizes the fluidity and motion of petals, and comes up with some pretty unusual and subtle color emphasis too.
Winifred Nicholson: I love the unified color in this simplified still life. You can almost smell the lily of the valley.
Jake Muirhead: Converting a colorful Iris to black and white, Jake also adds drama and personality using line and simplifying the setting.
Scott Conary: Scott’s textural paint application and emphasis on pure vs. subdued color make me want to touch his work. They also touch me!
Ophelia Pang uses bold and repeated shapes to create entertaining and playful abstractions.