Monday, April 14, 2014

The Art of Self-Promotion

It's no secret that self-employed artists need to wear many hats to run their business. The one hat artists seem to hate to wear most is the "Self-Promotion" Hat. Posting, tweeting, and e-mailing about their latest artworks and accomplishments is more time away from the studio and often feels "icky" to artists.

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Artists learn promotion is selling yourself, not selling out" addresses that very issue. It was inspired by writer-artist Austin Kleon, who delivered the opening keynote address at this year's South by Southwest gathering in Austin, Texas. Kleon, a New York Times best-selling author describes his latest book, “Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered,” as a book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion.

If you are a self-employed artist, you will want to read the entire article. It has a lot of great advice from a variety of artists.

And thank you to writer Rex Rutowski for including me and my artwork in the article!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday...The Best Day of The Week

If you polled most people, they would probably NOT say that Mondays are their favorite day of the week. But...that's because they haven't been to "Long-Pose Monday" figure sessions at Panza Gallery.

Three hours of drawing or painting from a live model + libations and food + the company of a great group of artists = Happy Mondays! Join us. All levels are welcome.

Figure study, charcoal over watercolor wash

Figure study, charcoal over watercolor wash

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Watercolor Landscape

I'm still trying to get the hang of painting landscapes in watercolor. Not quite as easy as I thought. This first one took me three tries.

About the Painting
Carrie Furnace is a now-defunct landmark of Pittsburgh steel making. Built in 1907, the furnaces produced iron for the Homestead Works from 1907 to 1978. It is a magnificent sight, even after being abandoned for so many years. The Rivers of Steel National Heritage has preserved much of the site and they offer tours from April through October. Click here for information about the tours. I toured the site last year and was so inspired and awestruck by the size and history of the place. The tour guide was a walking fact machine and so interesting.

My objective with this painting was to bring Carrie alive with color, brushstroke, and a play of hard and soft edges.

"Carrie Sleeps", watercolor, 22 x 18"        

The painting below is my first at a Pittsburgh landscape. Both paintings will be shown at two Associated Artists of Butler County Invitational Exhibitions in Cranberry and Butler, Pa this summer.
"Southside Rises", watercolor, 14.5 x 17"                         

Monday, March 24, 2014

Something new - Watercolor on Ampersand Aquaboard

Anoesis, 16 x 20, watercolor on board

Last year I won a package of Ampersand Aquabord in the Pikes Peak International Exhibition. I finally had a chance to try one out. It was quite a learning curve; very different than painting on cold press paper. I think the result turned out pretty well, and it was a lot of fun.

This painting is of my friend Anne's daughter, who is a beautiful and talented dancer. I titled it Anoesis which means "a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content." (Of course I had to use a thesaurus for that one!)

In case you'd like to try this surface, here are a few tips:

Flushing the Surface
There are air bubbles trapped in the clay coating of the Aquabord, so you first need to flush the surface before painting. To do this, you want to create a large wash using water only. As the water drops into the surface, bubbles will appear to fizz . Continue to apply water until the fizzing dissipates. Allow the surface to reach a low sheen, then, using a water mister, spray the surface and apply your first layer of paint.  

Applying the Paint
I applied the first layers using a very watery wash. While the paint was still wet, I added more water and floated in other colors allowing the paint to mingle on the surface. After those first layers dried, I added more layers on top using a soft brush--being very careful not to disturb the bottom layers. 

Lifting the Paint
To completely lift the paint in areas, I grabbed a stiff nylon brush normally used for oil painting. I dampened the brush, rubbed the tip of the brush firmly on the area to lift, then rinsed and dabbed the brush on a towel. I repeated these steps until the paint was completely lifted. For a  partial lift, I used the side only of a softer brush and gently rubbed the area until the top layer lifted.

Sealing the Surface
When the painting was finished, I sprayed the board with several layers of Matte Retouch Varnish, then applied several coats of Golden's Polymer Varnish Satin.

Because the surface is protected with varnish, You don't have to use mats or glass when framing. Simply choose your frame and voila!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Two New Pet Portraits

This was an unusual month, in that I painted two posthumous pet portraits. Both dogs passed away unexpectedly and, although I no longer take commissions, I was moved to paint portraits of each of them for my two friends.

"Famous Amos", watercolor 17 x 20"

This is Amos, a very sweet, sometimes ornery, dog who used to bark hello to me each time he saw me. He was a master escape artist, regularly sneaking out of his fenced yard to visit the neighbors. My son was very close to him and after he passed away, my neighbor sent my son a note telling him how much she appreciated his kindness to Amos and how much Amos loved playing with him. She enclosed a photo of Amos which I used to surprise her with the portrait.

"Dakota", watercolor, 20 x 17"

This beautiful boy is Dakota. Dakota suddenly became ill one day and was only 7 when he passed away. It was a big shock to his family since he was always so energetic and playful. Dakota now has a permanent place in their home.

Both sweeties will be greatly missed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Dancer drawing

Continuing with my series of dancer drawings and paintings, "Routine" was created with red chalk and white charcoal on navy Mi-Tiennes paper. At 24 x 30", it's a little larger than most of my other figure drawings.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Red Chalk Drawings

Lately I've been playing around with red chalk drawings. Red chalk is a beautiful medium to work with. When combined with a blue wash and white chalk, it almost has a glow to it. 

In case you want to try this yourself, here's the process I use.

I start with a fine art paper; the one I use is Zerkall Frankfurt. I cut the paper to size and tape all the edges to a firm board. I take a very watery watercolor wash of Ultramarine Blue (or Ultramarine Blue mixed with Burnt Sienna for a darker wash) and I cover the entire surface.

When the paper is saturated with water, it will buckle and bubble, pushing the paint to congregate in the "valleys". 

I leave the paper taped to the board while it is drying, and, strangely, the paper flattens out nicely, leaving the paint pigment where it had gathered and creating interesting textures and forms for the background.

For the drawing, I use Stabilo pastel pencils in various hues of Red and Sanguine and white charcoal for the highlights. At the very end, I use a Prismacolor pencil in Terra Cotta for my darkest values. The pencil is waxy and the change in texture adds emphasis to the darkest areas.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Perfect Antidote to Winter

So, how does one endure a long, bitter Pittsburgh winter? Well, I'll tell you my secret. Each week I pack up my drawing supplies and head on over to Panza Gallery for either Long-Pose Monday or Thursday's multiple-pose Figure Session. Drawing, music, libations and food - the best way to warm the soul. 

On Long-Pose Mondays, we draw the same pose for the entire 3-hour session. 

3-hour pose, red chalk on paper

Thursday evening figure sessions include 5-minute, 10-minute, and 30-minute poses. Sometimes, my best drawings are done in the 5 or 10-minute poses, before I have a chance to screw them up!

5-minute, charcoal on paper

Monday, February 17, 2014

New Watercolor Workshops for 2014

I have two more watercolor workshops scheduled for this year and I hope you will be able to join me. Both workshops will focus on creating narrative paintings that incorporate one or more figures into the painting. We will work on value studies, thumbnail sketches, color studies, and backgrounds before putting it all together in a larger, final painting that tells a story.

July 9 & 16 / 10 am to 4 pm
Contact Theresa Bozzo for more information

Nancy Couick Studios
October 17-19 / 10 am to 4 pm
Syllabus and Supply List to come
Contact Nancy Couick for more information

Monday, February 10, 2014

Weave Magazine

Weave is a really cool periodical (133 pages!) featuring poetry, stories and visual art from around the country. This month they featured my painting, "Recollection" on their cover. You can read about Weave at Weave Magazine or purchase a copy here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Figure Drawing

Thursday evening figure sessions at Panza Gallery are the perfect cure for the winter blues. Below are a few of my 15 and 30-min charcoal sketches.

Monday, January 27, 2014

3-Day Watercolor Workshop in Melbourne, Florida

I recently returned from my 3-day workshop in Florida. The workshop is a hybrid of portrait techniques and narrative painting exercises. We learn the techniques to paint a realistic likeness, but then we move on to creating very personal paintings that tell a story.

The talented artists in the workshop were enthusiastic and very welcoming and the 80 degree weather on Sunday was a nice bonus! Below are some photos if you are interested in seeing what we were working on.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and demonstrated for the Brevard Watercolor Society on Saturday. It was a large group of 60 or so artists.

Demonstrating for the BWS artists

The workshop was Sunday-Tuesday. Each day was filled with demos and group instruction, group talks, individual painting time, and one-on-one instruction. On Day One, we concentrated on achieving accurate values through a one-color study.

Start of a one-color value study
Competed one-color value study

We proceeded to work on thumbnail sketches of larger narrative paintings that included at least one figure. 

Pencil thumbnail sketches


Afterwards, we developed the sketches into color studies.

Three different color studies

I demonstrated painting techniques each day.

Painting a demo using reference photos, color studies, 

and thumbnail sketches.

The start of one of the demos

The start of another demo. I didn't get very far!

As you can see from the photos below, it was a large group. Everyone was very patient as I worked my way around the room for one-on-one consultations.

There was a great variety of experience in the group, but each artist tried new things and ventured out of their comfort zones. It was a wonderful time for me to get to know each of them. Thank you to the Brevard Watercolor Society for hosting me!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Feature article in Pratique des Arts

I am super excited to be featured in the special portrait edition of Pratique des Arts Aquarelle, a French watercolor magazine. The article includes myself, Keinyo White, and David Lobenberg--three watercolor portrait artists with different styles and techniques.

Below are three spreads showing my work and describing my process. The editor did a great job of editing and translating my words into a cohesive and interesting article.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Twist on an Old Painting

Most times, planning your painting ahead of time results in a successful painting. Occasionally, however, you can still miss the mark.

This happened recently with the painting below. The painting  "After the Show" (on top) came first. I chose that title because my intention was to show a group of friends out for the afternoon. I've always liked the colors and textures in this painting, but I have never loved it. I just didn't know why. After an artist friend had a similar reaction to it, I decided I needed to re-work it. Where to start? 

First thing to do--put it away for a week and look at it with fresh eyes. When I did this, I could immediately see that this painting needed more interaction and personality. More of what drew me to take the women in the first place.

I decided to change a few things around. First I reworked some of the women, shifting the focus from the woman with the white hat to the two women on the left, now sharing a joke. I obscured the background, re-angled the women, and cropped in closer so that they appear to be in a tight space. The new title is "Inside Joke". What do you think; does it work better?

"After the Show", watercolor

"Inside Joke", watercolor

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Year Greetings!

Wishing you a year of exciting opportunities, 
artistic challenges, and fulfilling dreams. 

A sincere thank you to friends, clients, and fellow artists. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to share my artwork with you this past year and I truly appreciate your support and encouragement.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at my upcoming workshops this year.