Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RayMar's November Competition

I had to write this blog, after a long absents, to congratulate an artist and judge for a job well done.Thomas Jefferson Kitts was the judge for RayMar's November on-line art competition.  When I received the results I was literally blown away, not about who won but the narrative Mr. Kitts submitted with each painting.  Reading the narrative for all twelve chosen paintings was packed with so much information both subjective and objective that it made viewing each painting a real joy .  Normally these competitions have a four or five sentence narrative attached with little real painting information.  Acts of creative endeavors and judging those endeavors can be fought with ambiguous statements and platitudes that does nothing to help those understand what made a creative work worthy of the win.  Not so with November's winners.  To view these winners click here.
I think you will agree.

Just a reminder that there are few spaces left for my March still life workshop.  For more information to attend click Mood and Atmosphere.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


A month has passed since my last post (gee it sounds like I'm in a confessional).  Many events have brought me to where I am today and where I want to go from here.  A few of these events are: I gave up Facebook for a month, didn't watch anything on TV that was news related or programs that didn't lift me up, morning meditation with writing and reading, and the cherry on top was my four day workshop.  All were extremely beneficial for my new understanding of "self."

Let me say that writing about the angst and struggles I was feeling was easy to describe in my earlier post.  Many people responded with like feelings and understandings of what I was experiencing.  Where I am now is much harder to put words to it.  I have turned a corner in my understanding that looking back seems simple. Too simple.  My "dead" feeling for what I was doing was because I wasn't being authentic in the choice of what I was painting.  When I first started painting fabrics and textiles I felt totally connected to the subject matter; I was painting authentically.  But I needed to grow and painting the same thing created a different response to the subject matter than when I began.  When I admitted this to myself is when the interesting part of this journey truly began.

My morning reading included Joseph Campbell, author of Pathways to Bliss.  The book opened the door to digging deep into what truly made me feel blissful when I painted.  Campbell states that bliss is "that deep sense of being present, of doing what you must do to be yourself."  In addition another statement I read in his book was that you can't wear another person's hat.  So I had to be totally honest and ask myself what excited me visually when I viewed my world and when I view others' paintings.  I think being aware of other painters, dead or alive, that you find that curls your toes as we say in the south, is a first step.  To put all of this into words as to what this is, is not possible.  I can say I know it when I see it and it feels transcendent, an inexpressible truth.  It does have something to do with ethereal light and the figure. 

If I haven't lost you by now let me throw another quote at you.  Campbell defines a real artist as "one who has learned to recognize and to render . . . the 'radiance' of all things as an epiphany or showing forth of the truth."  That's heavy but I get IT.  You must translate it for yourself so I won't elaborate on the quote.  Put all this together and add a pinch of Quang Ho's 8 Intentions along with the visual language of line, shape, value, color, edges, and texture and you have a recipe for painting authentically. 

I can say my love for making art has come back.  Not saying that I am painting masterpieces, but I am in bliss when I am working so I must be on the right track. 

This was a young lady who is the daughter of a friend of mine.  The painting is about how the light wrapped around her from the back and right.  The colors are more saturated but this photo will have to do until I can get it photographed by David.  My brushwork is more expressive and I had to stay focused on light and not details and finishing everything at the same level.  Edgework was fun and expressive. Painting this piece was bliss for me and that made all the difference.

I also have been drawing in charcoal --- figures and faces. My goal is to draw or paint every day. Finding vintage photos that are in the public domain help to work without having a model.  This image was taken in 1902 on a Native American reservation.  Will need to do more research into the tribe and history if I want to turn it into a painting.

This drawing reminds me of some of the images of Robert Henri when he was painting in New Mexico.  If any of this makes sense to you and you want to comment, please do or contact me personally.  Happy Painting.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heartfelt Response

This week I received a heartfelt response to my last blog, "A Journey Worth Taking."  With the permission from the writer I am sharing it for a deeper insight on my thoughts and actions.

". . .  I'm going to share it with friends because it applies to every walk of life. We must shed our carapace, so we can continue to grow. Birds molt, snakes shed their skin, trees renew their needles or their leaves. Are we any different? Ah, yes, we exfoliate, but that's never enough is it?

We need to step back, detach and walk through a period where we gather, renew, rework, and go within.

I am a writer. There are fallow months. Life interferes, but it's all contributing to a future work. And sometimes, when the words flow out of my fingers, I wonder where they are coming from, who guides them through me, and onto paper. I hardly know the person who writes. But that's also how I learn who I am and find my purpose.

Once, long ago, I thought I was a painter. I still love the smell of turpentine. It wafts through my mind as the memory of a good time; but that was then and now is another adventure.

I am waiting to be amazed at where you go from here. It will be good. Perhaps you have a book waiting to be born, with your paintings as milestones in your journey. People love to experience the inner life of an artist, and you write beautifully about art—and life.

Here's to the joy that is returning,

As you can see, this meant a lot to me knowing that when anyone takes the time to respond to my blog posts, I truly appreciate it.  Thanks again.

As an additional note, my interview with the Masters Secret Summit was aired yesterday.  If you haven't seen it, click here and register so you can see all the interviews as they are released.  I am honored to be on the same bill as Burton Silverman and David Hettinger.  They are worth the viewing.  Enjoy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Reflections on a Journey Worth Taking (reprinted from the Aug. 2014 Newsletter)

I love painting. Okay love may be too strong of a word, but it's right there at the top of my list for activities that give me purpose. Yes there are days when I have to talk myself into entering the studio, but within a few minutes I'm hooked into the process and totally engaged. Having said that, after twenty plus years, the love or passion has changed. The reason for painting has changed too. Like a good marriage, or a fine wine, time and maturity has made me a different painter.

What does this change look like? Initially I found myself in a place that felt wanting and not enjoying the process. It felt like a job. I wanted to regain the passion that I wasn't getting but once enjoyed. Does this sound like marriage? It took time to identify the real issue with these feelings and to come up with a plan to make the necessary changes. For my art to have renewed meaning and to excite me I had to get out of my comfort zone and explore new possibilities. Mind you I'm in the process and it is still difficult, but with conscious effort I am making progress.

So what was this process? First, I have to paint for a different purpose. The old purpose doesn’t work for me anymore. The big one is to not render. Making something look exactly like what I was seeing is now not a goal. The next purpose is to paint authentically and not to please every request. Yes, like all of us I want to have clients that want my work, but at what price? That one I'm still struggling with but trust that we, the galleries and buyers, will be happy.

How am I going to get there without relapsing? There is no AA for artist that I know of so I had to create my own AA-Artists Anonymous. So far it's a group of one and I meet with myself every day. It's not a 12 step program but it does have steps and there is no sponsor except my husband.

My Recovery Program
  1. Quiet my environment, meaning Remove-the-Static of the world; the news, Facebook, and all negative influences as much as possible. I can't do it all, all day so I have set aside time each morning for reflection and putting my steps into practice.
  2. Writing in a Discovery Journal. Many years ago I practiced this habit and it was extremely beneficial to identify what I think and believe. All topics are on the table, but art is the main focus and what I have to say with my art. That's a biggie.
  3. Identify my strengths and weaknesses. This is also done during this morning period of time. What skills are in my tool box and which areas do I need to work on. That gives me a direction for goal setting and a plan for self improvement.
  4. Give myself permission to experiment with new techniques and/or ideas. This goes along nicely with number three.
  5. Write a Plan of Action; set goal for myself. An easy way to write good goals is to remember the anachronism SMART; S=specific, M=measurable, *A=action steps, R=relevant, T=time bound.  *I have substituted action steps for “achievable” because I think it’s more specific.
  6. Limit viewing images of other artist’s work.  I have viewed so many so often on a daily basis that it’s ridiculous! In fact my goal is to not look at images of artist works dead or alive. I confess that I am a junkie with regards to this one! I can spend countless hours on Facebook, the Internet, and my art magazines just looking at images of paintings by other artist all in the name of “art education.” I’ve gone cold-turkey here, but it's a one day at a time struggle.
  7. Establish a routine; a ritual, or form of meditation. The ritual is essential to bringing forth a sense of purpose and passion!
I've completed everything but #1 and working on that one every day (actually I’m working on all seven every day). It's a work in progress, but I'm hopeful for a positive outcome.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or experiences in this area, I would love to hear from you. E-mail me at Artist@dbelmquist.com or post a comment on my blog at http://dbelmquist.blogspot.com

Update:  I have been on this journey for a few weeks now and have made some progress that includes a profound understanding as it relates to the direction that I want to take my art.  I will post this week some of this progress.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Problems with PayPal

This is a notice to all my followers and readers who may have tried using my PayPal button to register for my Oct. Workshop or purchase a painting that there is a problem.  When you click the PayPal button you don't go directly to making a purchase. Not sure what the problem is but we are working on it. Please contact me directly if you don't want to wait until we can resolve this problem.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Painter's Lament

Many of the students I teach and other friends that paint ask "How do I paint loose when my natural tendency is to paint tight."  Great question but the answer is not short.  To begin with, first we have to define loose and tight.  My definition of loose is brushstrokes that are not blended and have volume in the paint quality.  Tight is the opposite where each stroke is blended into the next edge.  Many times a fan or soft brush is feathered over the paint which blends colors and values together. Paint quality is usually flatter in appearance.

Next let's understand that in form painting sometimes referred to as academic painting or indirect painting, the beginning process begins with an tonal underdrawing or tonal underpainting.  Values are established first and then paint is applied in thin tile like marks.  Without going into more details, let's eliminate form painting from this discussion.

I have found that most beginning students naturally paint tight.  They paint everything they see in front of them and try to match color for color.  I believe painting loose requires a conscience understanding and practice to achieve a loose style. Here are some thoughts about painting loose.

As the creator of your painting, you must decide how far to take the details or in other words, the matching of what you see in color and details.  First you should begin with a loose block-in of in the light shapes and out of light shapes.  The block-in can be monochromatic or a color wash of the local color.  Here's where the choices begin.
1.   Leave it in the loose stage but add thicker paint where needed.
2.  A step tighter is to develop your painting to an impressionistic stage by refining the basic light and dark shapes and color masses using broken/unblended color.
3. Take it a step further, add details or blend colors in one of the planes preferably in the middle ground or foreground.
4. Continue developing other areas of details to create secondary focal points without allowing these areas to compete for attention with your primary center of interest.
5. Finally you can refine your painting until is is photorealistic and fully developed with details. All broken color becomes blended together as you pull the painting together in a "tight" rendering.

Here a two examples of tight vs. loose

"Root" is tight in the foreground and middle ground.  The background is obscured as it goes back into shadow.

"Feeling Blue" has the same color scheme but I decided to be tight only in the focal area where the brass and onyx vessel is juxtaposed against the pitcher. 

As you develop as a painter and have more control with your skills, usually you choose a tightness that becomes your style and is recognizable to others.  I have heard seasoned painters say their goal is to capture the essence of the image and say more with less strokes.  Hmmm. Different strokes for different folks as they say.  I would love to know what your experience has been with this idea of tight vs. loose. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Master's Secret Summit

A couple of weeks ago I was contact by an artist, Kathryn Lloyd for her artist's series, Master's Secret Summit.  This series was new to me so I went on line and saw some of her amazing interviews with master artists like Harley Brown, Virgil Elliott, and Stephanie Birdsall.

Yesterday was my scheduled time for the interview and a first time user of Skype on my laptop with camera.  After a few minutes of technical glitches we were up and running. The interview flew by and forty-five minutes later it was over.  Kathryn was a delight to talk to and I rambled on and on.  Hope she is good a editing.  This is her second round of interviews and am not sure how many other artists are in this second series that will be aired on line Sept. 14th. Click on this link to sign up so you will be able to view my interview and the others as soon as it comes out.

I love pot(s).  No not the growing kind but painting interesting pots in a single large format.  I don't paint a lot of them; only when I find a pot that speaks to me.   Had fun painting with a new color-Perylene Black.  It is transparent and a deep green/blue black.  When mixed with Naples Yellow (Old Holland), you get this yummy color.

                                                          Oil on Linen  36" x 36"
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