Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sowing seeds

Coastal Light
Original oil painting  24x18"
by Susan Roux

I know of a small fishing village that's been in existence since the 1700's. It's been fished ever since and there's still fish and shellfish to catch today. How is that possible?

I found out their little secret. For instance in harvesting clams, the fisherman agree on reaping only from certain areas a year. While this harvest goes on, part of their duty is to "replant" or seed clams in a different area. These new clams that are relocated will be allowed to grow and multiply for several years before being harvested. There are a lot of small islands in this village, which means lots of shoreline creating the perfect stage for making this possible.

Ingenious! Renewing their food supply insures a continued harvest, year after year. Talk about looking ahead and planning for the future...

Those same lessons can apply to artists as well. Of course I don't mean take some of your small paintings out of the studio and go plant them outdoors so they can grow and multiply, but I do mean sowing seeds. Sowing seeds today can lead to an unexpected harvest in your future.

These seeds can be anything from simple acts of kindness to conscious steps in marketing to help propel you in the future. Simple acts of kindness are selfless things we do for others. The benefits can be far reaching for both parties involved, the receiver as well as the giver.

Do something nice for somebody without expecting anything in return and you will be rewarded down the road. Some call it karma and the TV series My Name is Earl explained that very well.

We're creative and we possess lots of gifts because of it. We have a lot to offer and we can come up with very interesting ways to share our gifts. Helping someone, giving them a hand. It all counts. The real trick is not to expect anything in return. It's not I'll do this for you today, but then you must do this for me tomorrow. Selfless and without expectations.

It will leave you happy and uplifted. The feeling is so great that it tends to multiply. It can grow in you like an addiction. Reach out to people. Send them a smile. Share something with them. It can take minutes or even seconds, but it all matters.

I have lived my life doing acts of kindness for people. Now in this new phase as I work towards opening an art gallery, I'm amazed at how many of these seeds have grown to harvest. It's overwhelming actually. Things I never thought amounted to much, things that took so little of my time, have grown into compassion and trust. I find myself surrounded by a sea of grateful people all willing to help. My heart smiles as I bask in the warmth of the love.

The other type of seed you can sow for your future are seeds of marketing. It's ok if you don't have a whole plan figured out in your mind. Most of us don't. But everything adds up. If you're here, most likely you're already networking. Socializing with like minded people, sharing ideas and offering words of encouragement. (We're back to those acts of kindness again... See how easy it is?)

Have you met Debbie? I recently stumbled upon her. She offers many helpful ideas on marketing your art. Are you showing your work on Facebook? How about Pinterest? Sign up with her and she will include you in her weekly tips. Here she posts an article from Christine Corretti who explains how to make the most of your Pinterest account.

The marketing thing can be a real pain, since all we want to be doing is pain-ting instead!!! So all the help we can get, especially to simplify things is welcomed.

Do yourself a favor and sow some marketing seeds for your future. In the meantime, work hard, smile at people and the benefits will come to harvest in due time...

Happy planting everyone!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Color vs Value

Ahoy Maties
Original oil painting  24x18"
by Susan Roux

Color and Value. They're quite different.

Color, we all know. It's how we've been taught to refer to the pigment of everything we see. It's green, it's blue, it's yellow, it's red... Of course as artists we know there is a lot more to color than just identifying it's pigment. We train our eyes to see beyond mere childlike identifications. Is the color neutralized? Is it saturated? Has it been lightened or perhaps darkened? Is the color in sunlight or in shadow? This is where it can get tricky.

As soon as we start thinking in terms of how light or dark the color is, we switch to talking about it's value as opposed to it's pigment. Here lies a very confusing fine line for a lot of people. My students stumble on it a lot. Value becomes confused with color.

It's pretty easy to do since we are always using color to paint our paintings. Whether we're depicting value or color, it's with mixtures of color that we work with. Even trying to write it feels like a tongue twister.

The most important thing to capture in representational painting is the correct value. How light or dark a passage is. It's what identifies form. Three values, a light, a dark and a mid-tone placed between the two will create the illusion of 3-D form. As for color, the skies the limit!

Unlike needing the correct value, color can be as expressive as the artist chooses. So long as the value is right in a passage, any pigment can be used. The decision is up to the artist. Some will opt for a close representation of what they see while others will play with the emotional factor color possesses.

I experimented once and painted an entire painting with very wrong colors, but kept the values correct. It was pretty bizarre to look at, yet when you looked at it through a red-sheet value finder, it appeared to be totally correct. A friend said it would make a great exhibition. Paint all these crazy paintings and have value finder glasses for viewers to use. I could actually picture it in large cities, but never followed up with the idea from my rural area.

Do you have a red value finder? I like to pass some around during my first class with beginner students. It blocks out color and helps you focus on the actual values. As I try to have them look at things in terms of value, it's a great tool. Squinting does a similar thing and I'm sure a lot of you are accustomed to doing so as you paint.

 Are you getting your values right? An easy way to check is to turn your image to black and white. Eliminate the color and what remains are the values. Does your work hold up to this test? If not, try focusing on it and you'll find your work will improve. Your images will become stronger. Getting the values right is primo in representational painting.


Ha ha. I have to laugh at myself. It's wasn't until I was sitting here looking at my image in black and white that I noticed the reflection doesn't line up with her right leg. I moved her leg to the left near the end as an adjustment, but never moved the reflection! I guess she needs to come sit on my easel a bit longer...

See. There's proof that turning your painting to black and white can help you improve your work!