Friday, March 27, 2009

working through the fear

Recently, I was having a conversation with a talented artist friend who was telling me how a painting would often remain untouched in the studio because he's fearful that he'll ruin it. Though not surprised, it was a realization that other artists, myself included, deal with such fears. I'm not trained in psychology or counseling and can therefore comment only on the fears and barriers that prevent me from working on my art. I can talk about my experience with fear and its similarity to my friend’s.

So, what is fear? Is it a lack of self-confidence? From where does it come? Why is that I question my abilities and myself? Of what am I afraid: I'm not good enough; of success; of failure; that someone won't like my work; of rejection? Why do I allow it to prevent me from taking those steps forward to achieve my goals and dreams? Like you, the answers to these questions must come from within.

Being an artist is not easy. We put our heart and soul out there for others to judge. Heck, as artists there's very little we do that doesn't come with a jury or someone deciding if our work is good enough or the right fit. The only way I've found to deal with this irrational—but very real—emotion is to keep moving forward. To be true to my art and myself. To focus on the work and not on the "projected" opinions of others. In other words... just keep painting.

Easier said than done, right? When the grip of fear begins to overtake us maybe, we should ask ourselves; what's worse, working through the fear at the risk of destroying something in which we have invested so much energy; or, give in to the fear and never give our work and ourselves the opportunity to flourish. After all, isn't it through trial and error that we learn and grow?

The great soprano, Beverly Sills said, "I'm not happy, I'm Cheerful. There's a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them." I think being fearless and fearful are very similar to Beverly's happiness and cheerfulness... I have fears but I'm learning how to deal with them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pastels on prepared panel

"What are you painting on?" is one of the questions that I'm most often asked. While I paint on many surfaces including, Wallis sanded papers, Sennelier La Carte pastel card, and Richeson premium surfaces to name a few, I prefer the surfaces that I make myself with plenty of irregular texture.

To begin, I use Amersand's Gessobord™. I use the surface rather than a hardboard that can be purchased at your hardware store because Gessobord is sealed and the surface is pH neutral and acid free. I trust the manufacturer has done it's reseach to assure it's product is everything they claim. Next, I apply three more coats of Gesso brushing it on with short cross-hatch stroke. I do not sand between coats. When the gesso is dry I apply several (3 or 4) coats of Golden Acrylic Grounds for Pastels to which I've added additional grit. The grit I use varies depending on how coarse I want my surface. Some of the substances I use are marble dust, pumice, and grog.

Since this takes some time to do, I usually prepare several panels at one time. I've also used this technique on 300# watercolor paper with good results. The surface accepts many layers of color and allows me to achieve a painterly quality.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Paint" Alexandria Plein Air Festival

With several other artists, I've been invited demonstrate and teach as part of "Paint" Alexandria Plein Air Festival. I'll be on location Saturday, May 16 (time to be announced) where I'll do a pastel plein air demonstration. Registered participants are invited watch or paint along--so bring your kit and let's have some fun.

The Art League's annual "Paint" Alexandria, a two-day, all media, plein air event. Participants will be guided in the fine art of sketching, painting, and photography.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Workshops and Classes

Over the past several months, I've been asked if I'll be leading any workshops or teaching classes. Teaching has always something I've considered doing but I have never felt as if I were ready... until now. Currently, I'm exploring the opportunities that are available and gathering information. I hope to have something put together by Fall 2009. If you're interested in classes or workshops, please visit my Web site,, and sign up for my mailing list and I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

a great demo

Many thanks to everyone who attended my demo at the Torpedo Factory this afternoon. It was great fun because of you. I loved your enthusiasm, questions, feedback, and smiling faces. I'm looking forward to next time. Until then, I'd love to receive feedback on the demo: What did you learn? How can I improve the presentation? What would you like to see next time? Etc.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or requests.