Yes, I am still alive and well.

I realized that I have not blogged since April.  Actually, I was deciding the direction I needed to take with this blog.  I live my life in many arenas. I am no longer a teacher of advanced art in high school. My first year out of teaching was an adjustment and I felt displaced for the whole year.  I missed my faculty friends. I missed my students. This August 2018, when I would be back in my classroom, I was actually glad that I had no more faculty meetings, curricular events, lesson plans and tons of academic social events to chaperone. I do not feel displaced anymore but now have all those fond memories of my students who went on to study art in some of our nation’s prestigious schools like SCAD, Cal Arts and Parsons School of Design in Manhattan.

So,  I am settling my feet on new ground and trying to get back to painting full time. I also do volunteer work at a Pregnancy Center where I can use my experience as an RN in Women’s Services to help women with parenting. There was a time in the ’70’s and 80’s when the art budgets in schools were dropped and the money was shifted to math and science studies. I went back to college to get my Nursing Degree. However, I still was active painting part time and trying to do some juried shows.

The circle comes around again. After years of hardly painting because I spent my creativity in the art classroom and had nothing left in the evening when I came home,  I lost my “edge”.  I was frustrated.  I thought I couldn’t paint anymore. I painted what I thought was junk.  However, I persisted and then something in me clicked like riding a bike. I found my “zone’.

Runners know about ‘zone’. Artists do too. It is the place where everything around us disappears and we lose our sense of time. We become totally absorbed in what we are doing and then something emerges that is like a Eureka moment.  I think I am slowly getting back what I lost those years of teaching.

First, I need to work on this web site and add my new work. So stay tuned. I have two paintings I finished this past week. They actually were painted over 2 old works I hated. One has 3 layers of paintings on the canvas. It will probably get a 4th!  I enrolled at Crealde in Winter Park, FL to take an advanced class and to get back with camaraderie of other artists. I am encouraged. Please hang in with me. The best is yet to come.

 

Becoming Good at One Thing

I tried every medium. I had to. If I was to be an art teacher in a public school, I needed State Certification. I needed to be proficient in all media so that I could teach it.  I had to know my art history and art movements throughout time.  It doesn’t mean that I LIKED to work in all media, I just had to know enough to teach it.  As I explored each one, I would experiment to see how far I could take it by combining one medium with another technique or using it in a way that was never done before. I came to the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun. Someone tried it before me! So where do we go from here?

I examined the progress I had  made in each medium. Which of the dozens of art supplies felt natural to ME? Which one was I more eager to play in? Which was more of a struggle? Which medium fit into my ideas of expression. For instance, if my style uses line and shape, would rough lines made with chalk speak to me more than using pen lines? Or would a thin liner brush to create line feel more like my style?  What if I like the impressionist style that uses overlapping short strokes to give me a pixelated painting? Then my natural medium would be pastels, even oils, acrylics and gouache or tempera.  I would want a more opaque medium than watercolor, which is free-flowing and transparent. If I enjoy ‘happy accidents’ where I have to pull an idea from the way the paint flows on my paper, watercolor would suit me.

After experimenting with each one, I worked in watercolors for a long time. I like the way it flows into watery brush strokes and it does its thing. I like the  spontaneity and  transparency when the white of the paper comes through the paint and illuminates the colors even more. I like the challenge of conquering smooth washes by overlaying layers of color. After I became really good at my technique, I needed to expand my ideas. The worst thing for an artist is to get stuck in the same old, same old.  I would be missing a lot more like experimenting with light and how it falls on objects at different times of day. I found that I like combining collage with my watercolors.

How do we incorporate collage in our work? I have two drawers full of parts of prints, magazines pages and even painted paper and the paper towels I used to mop up paint on my table. Yes, I dry them and save that too. It is fun for me to dig into that drawer and most of the time my selection of collage pieces, forces me to solve my problem another way.

Used when I am ‘stuck’.

Thus, the painting turns out so different than I planned it. This also frees me from my preconceived idea and sets me in a new direction.  I am using my creative instincts to solve a problem. I might correct a problem that I was unable to erase with another coat of paint, by gluing something over it. Ha! Where there is a will, there is a way, my mom used to say!

Once, I actually tore apart a watercolor I hated and used the scraps to create a new painting. King’s Garden was the result. It is in my gallery.

King’s Garden  Watercolor Collage, 24×36

Every work I do is dedicated to God. I thank Him for my talent and for Eternal Life because I believe by faith,  in Jesus dying for my sins. I am forgiven and at peace. How can I explain the JOY I have inside me except to say it is because of my personal relationship with God, not due to  religious doctrine or because I may belong to a church. Those are good on their own, but they do not replace knowing God in a personal way like you know your best friend. It is a deep trusting, true relationship that I have with Jesus. This is always available to you also. Ask Him to reveal himself to you personally then believe He will do it his way.

Expressing Yourself in Your Art

Hi again and celebrate spring with me!

I am happy to note that you have been progressing in understanding the nuances of more substantial art making.  You see, art is not just a pretty picture.  It needs to ‘say something’ to the viewer and communication is meant to draw them into your art by triggering their emotions. So maybe we should start here. What is emotion in art making? How do we use it?

What are you feeling at this moment? How can you express that feeling  to me on a canvas or paper? If you are feeling  confused, how would you show confusion in your art? Would you use the same directional lines or a bunch of different ones like thick, thin, jagged, pointy, wavy?  What colors would you choose to represent the feeling of confusion? A bunch of primary brights will do it. How would you represent ‘calm’?  Warm colors? Cool colors? Certainly not intense bright  colors. You would think of ‘gentle’ colors like aqua. pinks, peach, light blue.  Your brush strokes would be calmer, more horizontal, longer.  Was there a  color scheme that you liked in a magazine photo?  Even these photos are planned colors that are meant to attract your attention. Just do not do all ‘boring’, like the same old, same old. Using all cool colors needs a bit of warmth to add interest, like a peach or orange.  Start with just a smidgen of the main color’s complement (opposite on the color wheel). Using too much of a complement breaks the color balance.  Think ‘unequal’. If you use a lot of texture with your paint or as a collage, have a smooth spot to rest the eye for a moment.  I try to think  of ‘opposites’ to utilize in my work. This is an art principle called variety.  Art principles are how we use our art elements like line, shape, form, color, texture, value and space. The caution is to not use so much of one art element so  that it results in confusion or equalization.

I personally love to use texture and create it on the base canvas with tissue paper or modeling gel. However,  I incorporate a few smooth spots, not more than three, and never  in the same size. (Think mama, papa, baby when using size and group them spaced apart.) The eye will naturally follow. I do the same with color.

 I might use a bunch of cool colors and pop in a warm one in one or three places, but mini sized, so that they attract and not dominate the painting. This is called the principle of balance.  A dark or vivid color visually weighs more, so you need less.  Think of a small black box on one end of a seesaw with a white large box on the other end. The black box is more weighty than the larger bigger box, even if it takes up more space. Dark, vivid, weigh more.

So this month,  we have learned about expressing emotion by using art principles  of variety and balance. Too much variety creates confusion.  Equal amounts of the art elements creates boredom.

Everyone has a ‘balance meter’ inside them, so you will feel you want to equal things out,  like in one space with that one next to it.  Caution! That is when, as an artist, you need to fight that balance instinct and strive to be a little more creative. I carefully plan my composition so that the main interest is slightly off center or slightly lower or higher than middle. I think of opposites like tall/short, bright/dull, straight/wiggly, cool/ warm.  and just don’t use them in equal amounts. Do you get the idea? How about the following  along with the next one?

This is a great month for me as my spirit is  quickened as a believer in the Cross, that Jesus died on, for ME!   Wait!  Let me finish for it is for your benefit.

I have been renewed with the love Jesus has shown for me to choose to die for my sins!  Why me? I am not worthy. If I try to reach the north pole by throwing a rock at it,  I am likewise not able to be good enough to live in God’s presence when I die no matter how hard I try to be a good person.  I am no match for God’s holiness. I just cannot do it by being good!  No one is sinless except Jesus,  as He came from God and was born to die for us.  Then He rose from the dead on the third day and lives at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us. Want peace in your life, tired one?

I accepted Jesus’ death by faith in His forgiveness. (Actually His resurrection was witnessed by many at that time.)   I am at peace with God, with myself and with others because His love is in me. He is risen and lives.  You say prove it!

God is Spirit so He cannot be proved like a thesis or by touch, or sight.  He is Spirit so   unless you have an open heart to ask Him to show you Who he is and  are willing to see the truth, you will never know God. Your inner spirit is dead. You need to choose to respond to Him.

So this is my challenge to you this April. It is my ultimate gift to you. The opportunity to have Eternal Life.  God may have gifted me to create, as He is the ultimate creator.  Yet, I pass on a greater gift to you, out of His love for you. All life is a risk. This may be a greater risk for you, an unbeliever. Ask Jesus to show you Himself.  Next be willing to accept His truth. You will know truth and the truth will set you free, I promise. You can pray simply to ask Jesus to forgive your sins because you believe He died to make an atonement for you. Then you need to choose to receive His life and peace into your spirit  so that He can take the burden of your sins and make them white and pure as snow. Then He is free to bless your life in ways you never imagined. This is my Easter gift to you. To BELIEVE. To RECEIVE. To be BLESSED.

 

 

Finding Your Art Niche

My art career had me going all around the block, figuratively speaking. I mean, I have done lots of different things in the quest to express myself. I started painting seriously in the 70’s and 80’s when we moved south to the warm climate of Florida. Previously, I had a studio where I taught painting privately and I had a regular crowd of students week by week. My college dual-degree was in Fine Art and Education. So, when I was raising small kiddos, it was the best way to parent and use my gifts for others, while working part-time.

Living in Florida, I decided to hone my skills so that I could compete in art exhibits on a professional level. A Masters Degree in Fine Art was not possible for me at the time due to finances and tuition costs. I had made the decision that my children’s education was more important. I already had two degrees at this point, strangely on both ends of the spectrum. I had earned an R.N in 1979. Here’s why! I had been teaching art in the public schools of north New Jersey in the’60s. Schools were beginning to drop art and use the funds to Math and Science programs. I saw the art programs in the schools as being easily disposable. This was now the age of NASA and space exploration and we aspired to make our kids scientists rather than artists.

A previous goal of mine was to become a nurse. Art was for my enjoyment. However, now I had to determine if I would still be in a job or should I follow my previous plan to go to Nursing School. Just as long as there were sick people, I would have a job. I figured out how I could work full time in nursing and still paint and keep my art career going. During the seventies through the nineties, I painted seriously and entered national juried exhibits. This venture really honed my skills. I had to deal with rejection of not getting into an exhibit without getting discouraged. I joined a professional group of women artists who got together for critiques one a week. This was one of the most valuable things I did!

I do not want to sound vain, but I really needed critique from people who were at my level of art or higher. If golfers wants to get better, they play with BETTER players. They may lose a lot but they learn a lot too! Besides, you learn to grow a ‘thicker skin’ to take the contest rejections in stride. It was at this time, I had some of my work published in 3 art books by Rockport Publishers and received many art awards and Best in Shows. As I look back now, I see God’s hand in it all. How did this publisher find me to ask me to send them slides of my work? I have no idea except that it had to be God who gave me my gift in the first place and wanted to use it.

I realize many of you are not spiritually inclined and that is fine with me. However, if I am to share the truth of what happened to me, I have to be forthright. God gave me favor. God opened doors for me. Some of those doors would have been very unlikely if He had not done it. So through it, I learned to include Him in my plans and to even trust Him with my career. I let Him take the reigns by prompting me to explore different venues.

My Etsy Shop is His idea. I retired from teaching last June after 24 years in the teaching profession. Yes, I am older than dirt so there are not may jobs around for me. God gave me the idea to open an Etsy Shop since I have so many paintings to sell, but He also wanted it more for those who would buy my art. He wanted me to have a spiritual side in my art. He gave me the idea to start a canvas by paining a blessing that He would give me from Scripture, right onto the raw canvas. I mean, actually printing it out in paint. Then I was to paint over it completely and only allow parts of the blessing to come through the resulting painting. Somehow, this spoke to me because His idea was not about ME but about people who would be blessed by my art.

Truthfully, I am past the point in my life where I am looking for self-promotion or for a career featured in the limelight. I am satisfied with what I have done with my life. I have run a really good race. This was how ‘Artfully Blessed’ and this website were born. You can find my shop easily on Etsy.com and by simply searching ‘Gegerson’ or ‘MarshArt’.

What is left for me in my present venture? I want to improve MarshArt.Com. I have tons more artwork to post and want to improve my web page. Next, I plan to sell my bigger paintings as giclee prints. I am going to be 78 soon and I am not ready to lay down my paintbrush. I am studying the ins and outs of ‘search engine optimization’ and social media. I decided I really have to be a Renaissance Woman if I want to keep up with the times. It is exciting, baffling and somewhat scary as I venture into cyber world.

Perhaps my life ventures will help you find your niche of how to produce art and what you want to do with it. I hope so. The world needs artists and the color and beauty because everything is so gray and dark. Play in your art. Grow in it. Then begin to share it like I have.
Be blessed,
Marsh

My Favorite Season. What’s Yours?

Singing Christmas Trees of First Baptist Orlando
It certainly doesn’t feel like winter here in Orlando, Florida. All of my senses say ‘summer’. Lights in palm trees doesn’t cut it for this gal. You see, I grew up in New York City with ice skating outside at Rockefeller Center. It was C-O-L-D but we loved it because we could slide down piles of snow the plows left by the curb. I’m not referring to small humps of snowdrift. I mean six and seven foot mountains of icy cold white stuff.

What else could a kid growing up in the city look forward to? Warm chestnuts sold from carts by vendors. They also sold a thing called ‘Charlotte Russe’ which was a sponge cake and REAL whipped cream in a cardboard cup. Ahh, sigh. Those things are probably gone in our 21st century. I haven’t been back to NYC in winter for 40 something years so I am no longer an authority on that yummy stuff. At least the Rockettes are still around at Radio City Music Hall. Please, please don’t update its name to something like Virtual Pixilated Music and Light Review. If it ain’t broke, please don’t fix it. We need to keep some nostalgia for our kiddos and let the young’uns experience what their parents and grandparents loved.

It may be warm here this Christmas Eve but I definitely will try my best to imitate cold weather. My electric fireplace will fakely burn and we will celebrate with hot Wassil made by Trader Joe. We will tell our funny stories of the year or watch Jimmy Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth year while our grandkids play video games on their phones. For me, the best of all is to celebrate the birth of my Lord Jesus at the Singing Christmas Trees, with thanksgiving in my heart to God for giving His Son. The Gospel has set me free from myself and my sins and blessed me with joy and peace beyond anything I could ask or think. It is hard to perceive that that little baby was born to die for us. I opened my heart to ask Jesus in and make my life (and me) what it should be…like caring for others and not selfishly for myself first; by loving them by meeting their needs instead of mine, and sadly, praying for those who do not want to know Him. Their loss; their desolation so that they do not even know what they have missed for their life; mostly my prayers for their loss of eternal life with God and His Love instead of the eternal darkness they will have.
Yes! I am forever blessed to have Jesus in my life.

I’ve Been in a Cyber-Vortex.

Forgive me…I feel guilty that I have not blogged since September. I confess I forgot about you. The invisible vortex of life sucked up everything that was tidy, organized and non-chaotic and left me with my head spinning. Scientists call my imaginary vortex,’the black hole’. It is the place where we loose things. I am sure my car keys are up there. It is the place our thoughts go when another one intrudes, and we end up thinking, “Why did I walk into this room in the first place?” My good sense flies up into the black hole and rolls around like a pebble in a spinning jar.

You have also been there. Don’t deny it! It is called too busy; it is being dragged down by the needs of others; it is an unfocused mind. It messes up everything I planned. It seems like my thoughts are going in a hundred directions; my head is spinning on my shoulders and I want to just sit and rest with eyes closed and make sense of my nonsense.

This black hole also sucks up my computer files or messes with me so my finder can’t find (which is its purpose.Yes?) So, I call my IT son but he is too busy to answer. Finally, my nonsense makes sense, and I go to Search HELPS, which I should have done in the first place. Helps gives me an idea of what I need to do to unravel my ravel. Now, I have to interpret the directions to finally solve my computer problem. Only, I lost a precious hour or two.

Beware…this is the time of year that we need to slow down, so go to your studio and just play with your art materials. I said, “play”. Do nothing serious, just scribble lines and shapes. For me, there is only one thing that helps. Prayer and reading my Bible. That is my place of calm I seek. Usually, I will even begin to get inspiration.

Thankfully, I have begun to incubate a theme that I started years ago. It began with a painting in acrylics, that I completed in 20 minutes. It is the ONLY one that I painted in such a brief time. It is called “Ancient of Days” and is contemporary in nature. The painting has a kind of ephod that an old testament priest would wear into the tabernacle or tent of meeting. Actually, I had no preset idea on even painting this subject. It just happened. This painting won two Best in Shows and another ‘Women on Paper’ Award. I really believe God inspired it and then blessed it.

“Ancient of Days” lead to another one called, “Guardians of the Gate” and is my depiction of the two angels who sealed up the Garden of Eden after the fall of man. I am aware that many of you may not read the Bible, nor want to. I understand. We are all at different places and beliefs, and I am not being judgmental or proud, so please don’t let me lose you. It’s just what works for ME. I had discovered these two paintings in an old portfolio while organizing my studio. Truthfully, I forgot about them even though their awards hang on my studio wall. Suddenly, I had an explosion of inspiration to continue this Biblical Genesis theme. Now that I have retired from teaching visual arts and have time to create again, I need to get to it! While teaching, all my creativity was poured out on the students and there was nothing left at the end of the day. You know the feeling! Empty tank.

Just feed your creativity any way you can this season. Make holiday decorations. Design and print wrapping paper for gifts. Make creative collage book covers for your friends’ journals. Even do stupid stuff like walnut ornaments for the tree. (I apologize, crafters.) Just understand and honor the gift of artistry in you. It needs an ‘outlet’ or it dies. Trust me, I have been there and it is hard getting it back. If your time is still limited, use your iPad or phone to listen/watch creative YouTubes while you cook dinner. This idea really helped me in time famine. I know some artists that need to create because it pulsates in their blood. They are driven to create. The Masters were like that. Sadly, I am fickle. I would love to be so inspired that I long to get into my studio. I am diverse and have many gifts that I need to use. However, I create in many ways, even as I write this blog.

All this is to say, ‘honor your gift’ and the Giver. I really am at peace in this crazy season. I am filled with joy and love, and I am spiritually lifted above all this seasonal chaos because my peace doesn’t depend on myself to dig myself out. Instead, my faith is in a Good God who sustains me and gives me hope in this threatening world. So, this is the gift I want to present you with this November. Be blessed. Enjoy every moment. Time is short.

What Do You Do If You Are In a Painting Funk?

Welcome back to my blog! hope to help you understand how the creative process works when you get stuck and cannot seem to progress with an idea.

Art is not something you can force out of yourself. We all have funky days. Have you noticed? However there are ways to stay connected to that intuitive right side of the brain where all your creativity is born. The answer is to USE it even when you are in a funk.For those of you who have a generational gap and cannot quite get the meaning of ‘being in a funk’, it means your creative right brain feels slumped, unproductive, sluggish. Yet, you want to be stimulated to create again! Here are some ideas on how to break through.

Your will not FEEL like doing anything but sulking. Be assured that it is normal to feel this way in a funk. Just don’t wallow in it! Try journaling about your feelings at this time. Writing uses the left brain for language symbols (letters) but draws upon the right creative side to think ‘out of the box’. Create symbols for your feelings. You can relate them to simple images like clouds over the sun; an ant crawling in the grass; sitting on a dime to express, “I feel lower than a dime right now”.

Draw images in the process of journaling too, right next to the words. Use vivid nouns and verbs that are not ordinary to you; add adjectives and adverbs that are descriptive words that amplify meaning to your writing like: buoyant. Voila! You can sift out an image from these words!

Feelings can be connected to symbolic images as well. Make a list of feeling words in your sketchbook that relate to where you are in this moment of your life. Put a visual symbol to your word. These may be personal only to you and misunderstood by others. That’s O.K.

The idea is to gently lead you out of the funk. Sometimes, I need to do something for others. Right now, I am volunteering to help young cancer patients at the local hospital, to draw their feelings and frustrations on paper, or even their hopes! I am very excited about this and excitement feeds my creativity.

I am strongly motivated by color. I will purposely force myself to paint a small painting using bright pinks, yellow-greens, oranges and turquoise. These colors really stimulate me and make me feel happy. I have no big plan on what to do with them. Maybe someday I will use parts of them in a collage.They just get filed into my “To Be” portfolio of ideas, torn paintings, playful painting and drawings. My work on experimenting with new mediums also goes in this file. This portfolio comes out when I am in a funk. Well, actually my storage is in a drawer in my studio.

Used when I am ‘stuck’.

Sometimes, I need to get rest because I have been too busy. I know one thing about creativity. It wears out when you wear out. It shuts down when you are under pressure. Really! Creating should be like a vacation. It is the place you catch your breath. My high school students used to call my art studio, “The Refuge”. It was where they could unwind after Trigonometry soaked up their brain! When you create it should be a release, not work. Relax, breathe, close your eyes, think of something silly like two ridiculous words together, like ‘sandal-mouth or toe-teeth’. Then, draw it. Now do another. Play, laugh and feel the tension drain out of you. Then, quietly think of what you really desire to
say in a new artwork and begin to sketch your idea. Blessings!

We Are Survivors

I need to digress today. We have just dealt with Hurricane Irma who was a terrifying storm covering ALL of Florida. I mean all. Our peninsula is about 200 miles wide, maybe a little more at some points. This storm was estimated to be 400 miles wide so there was little escape for us.

The four days leading up to our hit, was worse than what we endured; made terrifying by social media and the news. By the time it reached Miami, we were exhausted and then had to deal with the ACTUAL storm battering our home.

My daughter, a woman of invention, created an Irma Check In group, for our family, on Facebook. Our Florida family occupies Dade, Broward and Orange Counties which means we were point blank in its path. None of us decided to vacate which may have been stupid. At first, we anticipated a hit on our east coast of the peninsula. Then Irma decided to go west to the Carib side. She did enough damage to Miami, Key West and our outlying keys, then traveled a while flooding her way to the center of the state. Meteorologists were duped! Finally, Irma made a beeline for Orlando. YIKES!

Beloved Loquat

At first we said, “No God,no”! Listening to to wind was horrible, especially without electricity, which amplifies the sounds in our minds, when we are in the dark. Then we had tornado warnings. and were told to take cover. Exhausted, but hyped on adrenalin, we gathered all our sofa cushions, pillows and the dog and hunkered down in our bedroom hallway.

FINALLY, one hundred year later (it seemed like) dawn came and we timidly assessed damage. Roof still on, check. Windows not blown out, check. No flooding, check. Outside our home, uh O. Debris was everywhere including my neighbor’s gazebo upside down in my yard. Our Tulip tree by the road split down the trunk, gone and cleanup needed. Backyard? My beloved Loquat tree, the only tree left in the yard for shade, was down. (We had lost the Orange tree to Charlie.) O.K, we can deal with that, and try to restore it. Fence intact?, check. Fence gate down but fixable. Porch, which is my “prayer room”, undamaged even though the Loquat tree fell over on it. Miracle! Breathe. Breathe.

What was in our favor with Irma was that it DID head straight up over land and downgraded the wind speed from a Cat 4 to Cat 1. Floridians know that we can survive a CAT 1, as we have time and time again. So we breathed a sigh of relief when the stats told us there were no deaths, save for a family that took their generator inside their house despite all the numerous warnings. Mainly, Florida survived. We thanked God for His hand over us and directing Irma straight at Orlando. Actually, this is the grace saved us.

Which leads me to state a spiritual lesson… sometimes we have to confront a threat that comes at us and look it in the eye and say, NO! You don’t scare me anymore. When Irma headed straight for us, it was terrifying but we remained strong and refused to give in. Most heartwarming was watching TV when electricity was restored, and seeing Americans helping Americans, our neighbors helping an 80 yr. old woman who had evacuated and didn’t even know about losing part of her roof. Neighbors climbed up and sealed it up with roofing paper and tarps so it would not damage the inside. Neighbors were lending a hand wherever we could.

What came out of this? Humanity and beauty no matter what color, ethnic background or religious belief we hold, we care and are Human and Americans. I am so proud to be one of them!

Are You An Intuitive Artist?

Welcome back to my blogs.

What I mean by being an intuitive or self-guided artist is, do you paint from intuition or do you follow the art ‘rules’ that you learned in school. I do not talking mean proficiency with techniques because we must master these basics of successfully using our art materials. Each media has their own characteristics. What I am referring to is, do we start with a few shapes and let the painting tell us where to go intuitively? That is how we let the imagination guide our concept.

Great artists broke the rules much of the time. Matisse’s “Red Studio” is an example of rule breaking. Where are the light areas? He doesn’t have any! Rule breaking.

Other rule breakers were Picasso, Cezanne and Rothko. I do not have the space or time to explain each style but look them up for yourself, and you will see what I mean. We accept Cezanne’s work now because it is familiar to us but at the time he created his art, he was considered a radical. Picasso’s work was viewed as radical but now he is considered a brilliant master.

I do not have the intellect of Picasso. I am still working on that! Thus, how do I start a painting? I begin a vague idea in my mind of what I want to do. Basically, it is a theme of some sort. For example, I am working on a series that explores the Caribbean and Florida. I begin by laying down some large overlapping shapes, then I mix my colors to fit the mood of what I think will represent my theme. I try to surround those large shapes with deeper colors to bring them forward. About a third of the way through, more images or thoughts emerge and I work to refine them. My inner thought process of years of classical art will tell me when I am off track. I will get an impulse that something is just not right. It is like your computer back button, so I back up, scrape off or rinse off the part that annoys me and then repaint it. I sometimes need to put the painting away for another work session when I can look at it with a fresh eye. This critiquing will go on for several days when I will work to accent a part, define another or completely change a part. This is the point where I am striving for balance and unity, where it all fits together and is in harmony. I am painting by my intuition and giving my imagination free reign to explore.

This brings up the point of having several art works in process at a given time. By rotating my time to critique and refine, I get a fresh eye for it. It used to be my habit to work for hours, continuing until I worked through the difficulty. However, in doing so, I lost the freshness of my concept and the ability to critique objectively.

Rarely, I was in “the zone” and I kept going as my concept seemed to flow out of my brush. I once completed a painting in 4 hours and it won several best in shows. I wish I could say that this happened to me more than once. You will know if you are ‘in the zone’. Athletes can relate to this. They are so intent on their game that they do not even hear the roar of the crowd. Likewise, many artists will listen to music to occupy the left analytical thinking half of their brain while the creative right side plays with the paint, uninterrupted by other thoughts.

Slowly, I will begin to see my style emerge. Truthfully, there is no shortcut to finding your style. It is an individual thing, just like your hand writing. When you notice that your work seems to ‘go together’ if you were to hang them all on a wall, that is your style. Congratulations! You have achieved much and are on your way to produce notable art while being your own person. Therefore, find your niche and work at it until really becomes YOU. Paint, paint and paint. Let go. Do not strive with preconceived images of another artist’s work. All you will be doing is making copies of their art and that is not fair, because they have put in the hard work. It is tempting to use the internet image search and steal an idea. Creativity is hard work! Just let go and use your intuition. Enjoy the process and let it guide you. That is what intuitive painting is all about! Chow.

How do I use colors in my paintings to make them “pop”?

You need to understand basic color theory. It is not hard, really. First, Google “color- wheel” images, and you will see many to refer to. Learn how to paint the third layer or ‘tertiary’ ones. That is easy too. They have double names like ‘red-orange’.

My color palette is usually the same that I have used for years. It has become my ‘brand’.  It enables people to identify my work and when I look at my portfolio, I can see similarities in both my style and color.  My colors are ME and are part of my identity.  I like to wear them, decorate with them and paint with them.  However, it took me years to figure this out because, I was afraid to break the invisible painting rules in my head.  What freed me was when I decided to experiment with color and really thought about which colors I loved together.  I began making paint charts of all colors on my palette and noted how they mixed together to make new ones. In fact, I give my students an assignment to mix 16 greens from just red, yellow and blue.  I was not trying to be cruel.  I wanted them to look at nature and see the variety of green in it. They needed to get out of the habit of just using ‘paint tube green’.

For my work, I use a double-split complementary color scheme. Employing the full 12 color wheel, I found commercial paints that keep me in my color scheme but with some variety because many of them are hues of those basic colors that I use. For instance, for magenta, I also have a red-violet and a rose color and a warm magenta-with some orange tint to it. I only use a scarlet red for accent.

From this palette, I will choose a yellow hue, magenta, turquoise and a violet, and maybe add a light blue. This gives me a double split complement with some cheating. You can see that I have several varieties of yellow, magenta and blue greens on my palette. I use one violet because I can mix it with one of the magentas or a blue-green. Magenta will not muddy other colors like a bright red.

How do you split complements? On the color wheel, if yellow is at 12 o’clock, I choose the two colors on either side of it, which is orange and yellow-green. Then I go to the complement of yellow, which is the violet directly opposite. I will use the two colors on both sides of it which are red-violet (magenta) and blue-violet. That is my ‘double-split complementary’ scheme. I cheat and add a blue-green for contrast which is viridian for making turquoise, but be careful. Viridian is a dye color and dominates, so only use a little. Below, you can see how I have used these four colors in my painting. They layer really well and do not make ‘mud’.

So, try playing with color. Know which ones NOT to mix together so that you avoid making mud. Paint the combinations on a watercolor paper and write down the paint names you used for each sample. Draw an X over the samples to avoid. After a while, this will come naturally and color mixing will be fun, not a chore.