Writing Artist Statement of Intent

As I have stressed multiple times throughout this course we are not only building upon technical strengths but also your ability to synthesize and create concepts. We’ve gone into history a bit, and examined some of the more formal aspects of painting and drawing.  Now’s the time where we will delve into an area which often is ignored by many art schools, as well as working artists. The skill you will be working on here doesn’t involve paint or a pencil, but instead your mind and your ability to focus on your interests to the fullest extent. Remember that mastering artistic techniques with paint, pencil, or a computer is one thing, and this will improve the more you practice, but having a unique idea and a viewpoint you wish to share with the world is what will make you an artist.

It is important not to confuse a Statement of Intent with an Artist Statement. A Statement of Intent (SOI) is a declaration of your plans and your ideas for a specific project, while an Artist Statement is a statement which is written by an artist (many times after the work is finished) in order to give a viewer more information about the process by which the work was created as well as the conceptual ideas which were being implemented. They go in completely different directions. An SOI goes from conception to fruition/realization, and an AS goes from conception to fruition/realization and back to the conception but now with reflection. For this post we will first be examining on how to write a Statement of Intent, and the next lesson we will be looking at examples at Artist Statements and see how other artists have used words to enhance the experience someone has with a piece of art.

Assignment:

What I want you to do is set up a schedule for your artistic working schedule (yes, artists also have schedules unfortunately). There is often a romantic notion that artists get to sit and dream all day, only to be interrupted by manic artistic outbursts. But this is generally not the case. All of the artists I know work a lot on their work, and by a lot I mean they often have a full time job, and still manage to work on their own work for at least 20 hours a week. This may sound crazy to you, but please keep in mind that this website is structured as a typical college level course, and students in physical colleges generally spend at least 15 hours a week in school. This is how you should approach your work schedule. As something physically which you “go to” and work for an allotted amount of time.

While it is great to shoot for the stars the first most important thing is to have realistic goals in place. If you can afford to only work 8 hours a week on your artistic work, then allot that amount of time to it. The following Statement of Intent sample below is merely a sample which is geared towards an average student. You can choose to try and work as much as possible, or you can also take it slower. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you should have a physical schedule which you are held to. Put it up in a prominent space in your room and then check off all the days where you completed the task.  You can download a monthly calendar template here and print it out, or buy a nice planner if you wish to write about and update your tasks for each day of work.

The theory of 10,000 hours of work as a measure of genius.

I do not wish to scare you with the amount of work that is needed to achieve genius, but would like to offer the following theory as a guideline as to how much the “Masters of Art” generally worked before achieving their status. In 2008 Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Outliers in which he postulated the theory that geniuses almost always worked harder, and longer at what they did as compared to others. And generally an expert level status was achieved when that artist had worked for 10,000 hours in their discipline

“The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals” – musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did. Nor could they find “grinds”, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.” (Gladwell, 2008)

Understanding this idea is very important if you want to progress as an artist. There is a common misunderstanding that artists are born, not made. But if we look throughout history we find thousands of examples of just the opposite. For instance, Mozart is often considered to be the definition of a “child prodigy” with natural talent. But did you know that Mozart was taught by his father who was a music teacher and pianist? He later became friends with one of the most powerful composers of the era (Haydn) by the age of 8, and had already toured the world, and played more concerts than artists 4 times his age. Of course there is also an element of luck and timing in all of this as well, however this isn’t an isolated example. Look at  Picasso, Raphael, Titian, Andy Warhol, etc. etc. for further examples. And you’ll find the same thing time, and time again. All of them spent a tremendous amount of time working on their art and many became apprentices at very young ages to older and more experienced artists.  So no, artists are not born (if anything they are born into the perfect era), they are made through hard work (which most artists enjoy doing, so you don’t have to call it “work”)

For those of you who wish to achieve master status you should be aware that it takes years, and years of work. If you managed to work 8 hours a day, every day, it would take four years to complete (Ironically the same time it would take to complete a Undergraduate degree). However, if you wish to set your goals a bit lower than there is nothing wrong with that. You should work at your own pace, and this course is designed for you to do it whenever you have time. I have set forth the following weekly work schedule as a good starting point for those who wish to dramatically increase their drawing and painting skills. I’ve seen a simple schedule such as the one below work many times over the years. If you don’t give up, or lose patience I assure you that you can reach your goal if you are willing to persevere.

Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting)
Monday: 2 Hours (Drawing from Observation)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Artist Research/History)
Wednesday: 1 Hour (Drawing from imagination)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting)

Find a Life Drawing class in your community and start going. Take a sketchbook to a coffee shop and sketch the people there. Go to a park and draw trees. Make weird collages in photoshop and make drawings from them. Sketch when you’re on the metro. Sketch in the margins of your notebooks in class. Sketch on napkins at restaurants. Play Exquisite Corpse and other drawing games with friends. Draw your cat, your coffee mug, your boots, people on TV, your hand, your foot, or a corner of your room. There is never an excuse not to draw when we are all surrounded by objects that all have unique traits which, upon examination, are complicated and can increase your abilities. Trust me, if you draw every day, you’ll see huge improvements in your drawings over time. If you’re looking for tricks you won’t find them, you can only work them out yourself by practicing your craft daily.

One movement which I was a part of about 5 years ago was the Painting A Day project where many different artists created a painting every day and posted it to their blogs. For those of you who have blogs I highly recommend getting into the habit of updating them as much as possible. Not just with my assignments which are given but with your own creative visions and sketches. One of the most popular of these artists in the Painting a Day movement was Duane Keiser who since has stopped posting every day but still posts quite regularly small paintings of objects in his house. You can see one of his stop motion videos below, and visit his blog here.

So what else should go into your Artist Statement of Intent? Along with a schedule of how much time you can put aside for painting and drawing every day I’ve compiled a list of common questions which can help determine the path you wish to take and focus your true ambitions. These are questions which you should think about and write about in your blogs as you form your Statement of Intent. It is quite common for these questions to be asked during Foundation Year studies at many art universities throughout the world, and by thinking about them, and answering them, you can begin to reveal exactly what it is you wish to achieve.

Technique/Process
What types of techniques do you wish to incorporate into your work, and what type of processes are required to achieve the desired effect that you wish to crate?

Intent:
What do you want a viewer of your piece to take away upon “reading” your work? What ideas/feeling do you wish to transmit to your audience?

Content/Subject:
What is it that you wish to draw and paint? Are there themes which reoccur in your ideas and work?

Social/Cultural Concerns:
Are you interested in political or cultural concerns in your work? Can your work make a comment about society that can only be transmitted by a drawing or painting? What do you feel is the role of the artist, and do artists have a responsibility to make specific work for a specific audience?

Rules:
Are there any ethical rules which you wish to consider in your work? Do ethical or moral concerns prevent you from creating a specific work? If so, should they be ignored in order for you to realize your creative vision?

Function:
What is the ultimate function of your work, and why is paint the right medium to transmit your message?

Accessibility:
Should you limit the accessibility of your work because you find that self expression is more important? Or is it more valuable to create a painting which can be widely understood by a large portion of the population?

To make it even more clear just exactly what it is I’m asking from you. I’ve included the two following Statements of Intent as examples from which you can draw from. The names of the students are imaginary, and the statements are of my own imagination. I’ve used the common required amount of independent work at the Foundation level which is 20 hours a week for three months. Which is a total of 240 hours. At the BA level this would be increased to 40 hours a week.

Student Name: Leonardo Cattawampus
Class: Painting-Course.Com
Teacher: Jer
Title: Creating Modern Day Americana paintings in the style of Norman Rockwell

First 6 Weeks
Work Schedule: – 20 hours a week.
Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)
Monday: 2 Hours (Drawing from Observation at a Cafe)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Artist Research/History)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Drawing from imagination/Composition) 1 Hour (Editing photos/sketches)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)

For the next three months I wish to explore the paintings of Norman Rockwell, how they were received by the general public, and what techniques, as well as ideas he used in the creation of his paintings. I plan on making one final painting in which I will integrate both the research I’ve accumulated as well as the techniques I’ve learned about. I also know that Rockwell was a great draughtsman and I must increase my drawing and painting abilities which is why I’ve devoted a large section of my weekly schedule to painting and drawing.

I plan on making preliminary sketches, and also look for modern day American scenes which would be suitable for a painting. Because of this much of my time will be spent outside of the studio in the public where I can both photograph and sketch from real life. After collecting a wide range of both photos as well as on site sketches I plan on incorporating them into a final painting which I plan on executing during the last month and a half.

Work Schedule for Week 7:
Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)
Monday: 2 Hours (incorporating sketches into composition)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Drawing from composition)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Drawing from composition) 1 Hour (reflection upon past successes and failures)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting exercises)

Work Schedule for Week 8
Sunday: 5 Hours (Begin transfer of sketches/drawings/photos to canvas)
Monday: 2 Hours (finish transfer of drawing to canvas)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Begin Value Study on Canvas in black and white)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Finish Value Study on Canvas in Black and White) 1 Hour (reflection upon past successes and failures)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Begin to match colors to value scale)

During these weeks I plan on finishing the composition as well as creating a finished drawing with a value study to use for painting. I wish to continue increasing my abilities as a draughtsman which is why I’ve kept the 3 hours of Life Drawing every Thursday. By the end of the second week the value scale drawing will have been successfully transferred to the canvas. I will then begin experimenting with color values which match those that have been laid out in the value study.

Work Schedule for week 9 – 12
Sunday: 5 Hours (Painting)
Monday: 2 Hours (Painting)
Tuesday: 2 Hours (Painting)
Wednesday: 2 Hours (Painting) 1 Hour (reflection upon past successes and failures)
Thursday: 3 Hours (Life Drawing)
Friday: Free!
Saturday: 5 Hours (Painting)

During this last month I wish to finalize the painting and work out the smaller details. I also plan on looking at my work and comparing it to Rockwell’s and examine how successful I was in recreating a modern day Rockwell. I’m hoping that the research I did on the artist and his time period will be helpful in making these realizations, and be apparent in the final work.

Color Matching Values

In this painting tutorial I go through how to set up a very basic palette, and how to use a palette knife to create value scales with various colors. By setting up these simple piles of color before you start a painting you can be assured that all of your colors stay within the desired range of values.

Color Matching Values

Matching colors to values (the darkness or lightness of a color) is the most important skill to learn when learning to oil paint.  For further information on the topic of color values I would suggest checking out the lesson on Color Theory Basics.

In the painting tutorial video above I go into how to mix different values of color on a palette.  I have chosen to use a painting knife however the same colors could be mixed using a brush.  The palette is glass which has been spray painted grey on the back. I have chosen to paint it grey because this is a very neutral color, and I don’t want the color of the palette to interfere with how I see the colors I’m trying to mix. It is important to remember that colors will interact with each other. For instance a white square painted on a yellow background will appear to  be darker, since the surrounding color is also light. However, a white square painted on a blue background will appear to be brighter since the background is darker.

Once you’ve got a palette with a neutral background you can begin to start making different value scales in different colors. You should already know about value scales as we have covered them extensively in the drawing section of this website. To make a value scale you must first have a guide to go from. So I would suggest making your first value scale in black, white, and greys. Then you can compare the darkness or lightness of your subsequent mixes of color against a black and white scale (this can be achieved by squinting).

If you came here thinking about trying to find what colors match (ie. which colors go together) I’m sorry to tell you that this isn’t something which can be summed up in a succinct manner. There are many factors which determine what colors will traditionally “match”. If you peruse my section here on Color Theory you can begin to examine all of the reasons why there isn’t any general consensus of what colors actually match, and which ones clash.

For this assignment you will have to create your own value scales in 6 colors and Black and White. Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green, Violet. So there’s a total of 7 value scales which you will be creating. Once your palette is full of these colors you will then take a picture of it and post it to your student blogs.

Composition in Painting

Composition in Painting

Lesson 11:
Up to this point we’ve been focusing on some very basic skills.  And many of the techniques and elements will be learned through practice. However, there is another part of becoming a painter that also requires practice. And that is teaching yourself how to look at, and create compositions within a picture plane.  Your picture plane is simply the area in which you are drawing. It is the shape of your paper, or canvas.  But that rectangle has certain rules regarding how to arrange the elements of your drawing/painting. Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art. It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art.

Ok, so let’s think about painting as we would a musical composition. Musical notes by themselves are not necessarily music until someone comes along and arranges those notes into a composition. The same is true for painting. The elements of music are notes, tones, keys, and beats per minute. These are like the skeletons of what music is made from.
So what are our Elements of Art? Well, here you go. ( I’ve coupled every element with an artist that makes it easier to understand.)

The Elements of Art

Line – the visual path that enables the eye to move within the piece (Ralph Steadman illustration)

alice-in-wonderland-drawing

Shape – areas defined by edges within the piece, whether geometric or organic (Leger)

leger

Color – hues with their various values and intensities (Josef Albers)

Homage to the Square, Gained 1959 Josef Albers

Texture – surface qualities which translate into tactile illusions (Albrecht Durer)

durer_rabbit

Form – 3-D length, width, or depth (Jenny Saville)

Jenny-Saville-fat-Female

Value – Shading used to emphasize form (Carvaggio)

david_and_goliath_by_caravaggio

Space – the space taken up by (positive) or in between (negative) objects (Richard Diebenkorn)

diebenkorn-scissors

Now you should have an idea as to what the Elements of Art are. Line, Shape, Color, Form, Space, Texture, Value. These are the skeleton, the basic elements. So let’s get back to what makes a composition. As we previously stated a Composition is the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art. The principles of art are the set of rules or guidelines of art that are to be considered when creating a piece of art. They are combined with the elements of art in the production of art. So these principles are somewhat more abstract than Line, or Color. But they aren’t too difficult to understand. The principles are movement, unity,harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern.

Movement
Movement shows actions, or alternatively, the path the viewer’s eye follows throughout an artwork. Movement is caused by using elements under the rules of the principles in picture to give the feeling of action and to guide the viewer’s eyes throughout the artwork.  (Degas)
degas-horses

Unity

Unity is the quality of wholeness that is achieved through the effective use of the elements and principles of art. The arrangement of elements and principles to create a feeling of completeness. (Japanese Print. Artist Unkown)

unity-art

Harmony

Harmony is achieved in a body of work by using similar elements throughout the work, harmony gives an uncomplicated look to your work. The way the picture makes everything come together. (Van Gogh)

van-gogh-iris

Variety

Variety (also known as alternation) is the quality or state of having different forms or types. The differences which give a design visual and conceptual interest: notably use of contrast, emphasis, difference in size and color. (Diego Rivera) Also check out how he used pattern, and repetition to create Unity! 😉

diego-rivera-creation-popol-vuh

Balance

Balance is arranging elements so that no one part of a work overpowers, or seems heavier than any other part. The three different kinds of balance are symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial. Symmetrical (or formal) balance is when both sides of an artwork, if split down the middle, appear to be the same. The human body is an example of symmetrical balance. The asymmetrical balance is the balance that does not weigh equally on both sides. Radial balance is equal in length from the middle. An example is the sun. (Wayne Thiebaud)

Composition in Painting

Contrast

Contrast is created by using elements that conflict with one another. Often, contrast is created using complementary colors or extremely light and dark values. Contrast creates interest in a piece and often draws the eye to certain areas.(Raymond Pettibon)

pettibon-ink-drawing

Proportion

Proportion is a measurement of the size and quantity of elements within a composition. In ancient arts, proportions of forms were enlarged to show importance. This is why Egyptian gods and political figures appear so much larger than common people. The ancient Greeks found fame with their accurately-proportioned sculptures of the human form. Beginning with the Renaissance, artists recognized the connection between proportion and the illusion of 3-dimensional space. (Brueghel)

brueghel_hunters

Pattern/Rhythm

Pattern and rhythm (also known as repetition) is showing consistency with colors or lines. Putting a red spiral at the bottom left and top right, for example, will cause the eye to move from one spiral, to the other, and everything in between. It is indicating movement by the repetition of elements. Rhythm can make an artwork seem active. (Duchamp)

duchamp-nude-descending-staircase

Now that you’ve got a good idea about all the elements and principles of Art is is time to incorporate them into some small sketches.

Drawing #19  Thumbnail Sketches of the 9 Principles of Art.

Time Required: 30 minutes to 1 hour

For this drawing you will first draw 9 small boxes evenly spaced across your paper. In each box you are going to illustrate a principle of design using only rectangles and squares. No round edges! Really think about how to best illustrate each principle and you’ll start to get a feeling for what they really mean.  These types of visual thinking are better taught through practice rather than words and explanations. You can see an example of a students drawing below.

principles-of-art-design

Drawing#20 Small object compositional sketches.

Time Required: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

For this drawing you will divide your paper into smaller sections (at least 5) . In each small rectangle draw a sketch for a composition based upon 4 or 5 different small objects.  Play around with proportion and cropping the image.  Make sure your composition incorporates all four edges. This is most easily achieved by having the objects you are drawing to be cropped off be the edge of your picture plane. Then start working with different principles of art, and look at how you can use these ideas to create more interesting compositions.

composition-drawing

Start Drawing

Start Drawing

Lesson 3

Finding Your Baseline

Before we push forward into the lessons, we need to make a record of exactly where you are at now. This is your baseline. It can be a very daunting task but you are just going to have to jump in and start drawing!

Open your sketchbook and on the first page write the date and sign your name under it. As you sign your name, imagine that you are signing a contract with yourself to give your passions the attention that they deserve. People can have very strong past associations with drawing, and many times students get discouraged because their drawing skills aren’t up to snuff. But instead of buckling down and working hard they give up. This makes it hard for many to start drawing.For whatever reason you’ve made a pact with yourself to learn this new skill. There’s the date, and your name. This marks the beginning of your commitment! enjoy! Now all you have to do is put that pen to paper and start drawing. Don’t worry if it’s terrible, just jump in, and start drawing today!

I understand why drawing can be really hard for some people. Gazing at the white page mustering up the courage to make that first mark. And then suddenly, there your drawing is. Staring right back at you. During this point of reflection it is important to identify if you have any evil inner critic present. An evil critic is a voice in your head that discourages you, and tells you how you don’t know anything. It is great to look at your own drawing and see where you need to make improvements, but don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning.

For your first assignments you will be creating three drawings. You will also get a “sketchbook” assignment which I will explain later. The accompanying images come from students, as well as famous artists. The point being that I don’t want anyone to just copy how I draw. So I’ve tried my best to vary the drawing styles as much as possible.

Assignment #1 : Your Baseline .

Time: 2 Hours

Drawing #1 “Small Object Still Life”

Materials needed: Sketchbook (Click here to buy a Moleskine, but any sketchbook will do). Pencil.

For this assignment you will find a small object, position a light source on it, and draw it. It could be a salt shaker, a little figurine, a toy car, etc. For the light source you can use a desk lamp or even some tall candles. Just make sure the light is coming strong from one direction. If light is streaming in through the window in your kitchen sit down there and draw! Give yourself 20 minutes for this drawing. Set a timer, or an alarm clock.

small-object-drawing

Drawing #2 “An Interior Space”

Turn to a clean page in your sketchbook. You are going to be drawing an interior space. Let your lines touch the edges of your page. Do the drawing across two pages if you wish. The main concept here is to see how you deal with space. So you can draw shallow space (such as a table with an assortment of objects) or an entire room. You have 30 minutes. Go!

interior-drawing-med

Drawing #3 “A Self Portrait”

This can be the scariest of all the drawings so why not just get it out of the way now! You are going to set up a mirror (even a small pocket mirror set up a meter (3 feet) away is big enough to get your whole face) and then you are going to light yourself. In drawing it is very important to always understand where your light is coming from. The best way to light a model is to use something called “form lighting”. Form lighting (illustrated below for all you visual learners) is when you have a direct light source coming at a fourty-five degree angle above the model.

form-lighting

This gives you a lot of nice cast shadows that fall on the form in a pleasant manner. There are many different ways to set up your lighting and once you get the hang of drawing you can delve more into using the lighting to create mood. But for now lets just stick to using form lighting.

So once you’ve got the lighting set you are going to sit down and draw yourself. Try to have your head take up a good portion of the page. You have 30 minutes.

George-Richmond-self-portrait-drawing

George Richmond (28 March 1809 – 19 March 1896) English


Sketchbook/Blog Assignment.

You are going to photograph or scan your drawings (instructions on how to photograph your work are below. ) and upload them to your blog. I also want you to make one blog post post about one artist who you admire. It can just be a few short sentences and an image of their work. Don’t skip this though. Learning about loads of different artists will only help you find your own creative vision. If you cannot work out how to maintain a blog then print out an image and paste it into your sketchbook. Write a few lines about the artist. You can also go to http://antiquity.tv which serves as the art history department of painting-course.com . Here you will find constantly updated artist profiles from all throughout history.

How to photograph your finished work


Unfortunately photographing drawings isn’t that easy. The best way to get a good copy of your drawings is to scan them. If you don’t have a scanner available then there’s always the possibility of photographing your work. Under optimum circumstances you will have two light sources. Both at pointing at the drawing from 45 degree angles. This minimizes shadow. However it can take a lot of trial and error before a good picture is made.

One of the big problems is that most digital cameras have an automatic setting. There are light sensors in the camera and they detect how long to expose the image. So, when you point a digital camera at a white page the camera thinks it’s lighter in the room than it really is. This can make the drawings look really dark. One way to fix this is to hold the button on your camera half way down (this sets the light settings) while pointing it at a shadow, then (keeping the button held half way down) point the camera at your drawing and push it down the rest of the way. This makes the camera think it’s taking a picture in the dark which will make your page look a lot whiter. There are also services through facebook and twitpic which allow you to sms your images to the internet from your phone. So, if you’ve got a camera in your phone. You can post those images to the web! Having digital images of your work will make it easier to show off your skills and is a good habit to learn early.

Finding Inspiration and Documenting it in Your Blog or Your Sketchbook.

Lesson 2


This is an optional fist assignment just because I don’t want someone’s access to the Internet to effect their ability to use this book . Those who can’t make a blog will instead keep a sketchbook that also includes writing, and inspiration.

Now for those of you who have regular access to the Internet, and own a digital camera or scanner, you will be creating a blog. Relax, it’s not as hard as you think. I’m a big proponent of blogging your work because I think it is an excellent way of making a time line of your inspirations as well as your progress. Many of you may be terrified by the idea of creating and maintaining a blog because you don’t think of yourself as tech savvy. Trust me, if you can check email, you can create and maintain a blog. Instead of hitting “send” you will be hitting “publish”. I’ve also included a step by step at the end of this chapter for those who are completely new to the Internet as well.

In this lesson I want you to start researching and becoming familiar with what drawings and paintings you really love. If you don’t know where to start just go to wikipedia.com and type in “20th century art” (or whatever century you’re interested in) . If you already know about a movement of art (say impressionism, or surrealism) that you are interested in then search for pages about that. If you are lucky enough to live in a city with a big beautiful museum then by all means go! Most public libraries also have a gorgeous selection of art books. I’ve also included a list of interesting artists from all over the artistic spectrum available at painting-course.com/artists . So you have no excuse. Start finding out what art you are drawn to the most.

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Now that I’ve given you the “what” to do, I’m going to tell you the “why”. One terrible idea which has seeped into many people’s minds over the years is that it is bad to try and emulate someone elses art. Every semester I have another student who loves a certain type of art or artist but thinks it would be bad to try and emulate that persons style. As if they should just find their own style on their own. Let me tell you something. Just about every single great artist over the centuries looked up to someone else. Historically speaking previously students would apprentice with a master painter, they would try their best to learn all of their teachers techniques and they did countless hours of repetitive drawings and paintings. I’m not saying that your end goal should be to paint just as your idol, i’m saying that if you first emulate the paintings which you love the most, then you will naturally create your own style and vision as you become more confident.

Think of it this way. Im sure Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan had their respective idols they watched growing up. In classical music we don’t say someone isn’t a musician because they are playing someone elses music. In fact concert pianists are playing note for note what’s right in front of them. It’s their interpretation and technical abilities which makes them unique. You need to start thinking about painting and drawing in the same way.

In previous years one would have a sketchbook of thoughts, images, and sketches of inspiration. Today with the advent of blogs, it is much easier to categorize your interests and inspirations. Remember, this isn’t a course about just “learning how to cross hatch” , this is a course designed with the intention of getting you to create work that you are proud of. Work that says something about you and your interests. So the first step in that is to get interested in some of the art around you now! Also don’t be afraid to really hate something. You can appreciate art, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.

  1. Ok, you’ve convinced me. So how do I make a blog?

The first thing you’ve got to decide is what you want your blog to be called. This can be more difficult than you think.

If you want your name to come up in google searches I suggest just using your first and last name as your domain name, such as www.jeremiahpalecek.blogspot.com (that was my first blog). If you have a common name and the address is not available then try using a hyphen, or dot between your first and last name. If you have a ridiculously common name you can also try something like XxJohnSmithxX or JohnSmith64.

If you want to create a more visionary name for your blog the first thing you will be doing is creating a mind map. A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. As you can see in the illustration below I’ve started with the central key word “painting blog” and from that I’ve brainstormed a bunch of words and ideas associated with painting. There’s “descriptions of paint” (flake, chip, burnt, canvas, drip, slop, wet, gooey) “Materials” (ink, acrylic, oil, brush, pencil, gesso) “Famous Artists” (Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Van Gogh ) “Art I like” (Dutch Landscapes, Surrealism, Dada, Impressionism) and the final category “cool names” (spark, antiquity, ancient, glisten, robot, dust, space) I did this mindmap in 5 minutes and now I can just start combining the keywords I generated to come up with cool website names such as PencilSpark, DadaDust, RobotSlop, AncientFlake, or GooeyVanGogh. It’s that easy. Once you’ve got a name that hits you and you think “yeah, that’s sounds cool” go with it. You’ve just created a new online identity. You can post anonymously there if you are shy about your work, but trust me, as your blog begins to fill with content you will want to be more closely associated with it. It will be a sneak peak into your artistic inspirations and personal progress. After you’ve got a few finished pieces up you can print out your blog name on business cards and give it to friends. They’ll check back to see your progess. Trust me.

mind-map

Now that you’ve got a Domain Name* you’ve got to choose where you want your blog to be hosted. The best way to describe what “hosting” means is to compare it to parasites. Sorry. When a parasite infects an animal, the carrier is called the host. The host is the person carrying the parasite, on the internet, the host is the computer which hosts your data. Sometimes people forget that the internet isn’t some sort of ethereal netherworld. Every piece of data you look at when you are looking at a webpage is physically located on a computer somewhere. This generally costs money. However there are a lot of internet companies which will give you all the space that you will ever need for free. Amazing, isn’t it. Google’s Blogger.Com are the biggest however there are literally thousands of different websites giving away free blogs. I suggest looking at wordpress.com , blogger.com, tumblr.com , typepad.com , and livejournal.com.

The drawback of using a free site is that your Domain Name will include their’s as well. So that’s why you see addresses with .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com . It’s because those companies are giving away storage space for free. If you’re a little more tech saavy I suggest you look around at various blogging sites and choose which one you like the most. There are benefits and drawbacks of each. For this course I will be using wordpress as the default since it is the most widespread, sophisticated, and free blogging application available. It was also created by a large community of nerds for no profit. Which is pretty cool so they’re always the good guys to support.

*Domain Name refers to the name of the address you type into a web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox). For instance Google’s Domain Name is Google.com , My personal Blog Domain Name is Jersus.com

For those completely new to the internet I’ve created the following tutorial.

Once you get to any of these sites there will be extremely simple instructions to get you going. At Blogger.Com there is a big orange button that says “Create a Blog” , On wordpress.com there is a similar orange button which says “sign up now”. They are all pretty similar and most all of the blogging sites you go to will be screaming for your attention with a giant “CLICK ME!” button.

I am a big fan of wordpress personally so I’ll take you through the following step by step on how to get a blog up and running on wordpress within minutes.

First go to wordpress.com . You there? ok. Cool. See that big orange button that says “sign up now”. Click that.

start-a-blog

Now you get to this page. Fill in your information . Check that you’ve read the terms and conditions. Make sure “gimme a blog! (like username.wordpress.com)” is selected. And know that your username can be different than the website name. So you can just use your first name, or admin as your Username. Click Next.

get-your

robot-is-yours

Here you type in what name you will want for your web address. As you can see it put my Username in there as the default Blog Domain name. But you can change this and write in the name which you brainstormed using the mindmaps. You can also change the Blog Title to anything you want. If you want people to find your blog when they google your real name then put your real name in the Blog Title, for instance my Blog Title at Nerdkore.Com is “Original Oil Paintings by Jeremiah Palecek.”. If you wish you can put something more creative such as. RobotSlop’s Painting Paradise. Whatever you want. Just have the Blog Title say something about you! Then choose the language you will be blogging in. Choose whether or not you want your blog to appear in search engines (google, yahoo, msn, etc.). Then click Signup. and BOOM! It’s yours!

is-yours

Click on login, and it will take you to https://robotslop.wordpress.com/wp-login.php . This is the address you will use every time you want to login to your “control panel” (which you will see in a moment) .

login

Type in your Username and your Password, Click Log In, and the Control Panel page will open up.

control-panel

This is where you can control all of the information which will be posted to your blog. It may look complicated but you’ll only need to know a few places I’ll highlight which will get you up and blogging in seconds. Do you see where it says “New Post” on the top left corner. Click it.

dashh

That takes you to the page where you will compose your “post”. Think of a post as an entry in a journal. Type in a name for your first post.

new-posty

Then I want you to go where it says “upload/insert” (detail below)

upload

And click on the rectangular icon. (You’ll notice if you hover your cursor over it, it will say “upload image”.) This window will pop up.

Click on Select Files. And you’ll get a window popping up. Navigate to the folder which holds your images. This is the same as attaching an image or file to an email. Pick the file you wish to upload. And click “Open”.

add-image

The file will upload to wordpress’ server and you’ll see this window.

add-image-window

You can customize the alignment, and sizing if you wish. Now click “Insert Into Post” (bottom left). As you can see the image has been uploaded underneath your Title. You can click inside the rectangle and type some text under the image now. Then hit “Publish” which is located in the right sidebar.

publish

And that’s it. You’ve just published your first post with an image to the internet for all to see. Click on “View post” and you can see how the page is presented online. If you wish to change the look of your page you can click on “Appearance” (left sidebar) and further customize the look.

There you go. You’re a blogger now. So start archiving images of what inspires you, and let’s get down to the real business of learning how to draw, and then of course learning how to paint! This website is going to serve as your diary of progress.

For a list of previous students’ blogs please go to painting-course.com/blogs . To have your blog added to the list please email me and I’ll be happy to add it.

Go to Lesson 3 – Start Drawing!

Lesson 1: Learning To See And Draw

Learning To See And Draw

Welcome to Wonderland

alice-in-

“`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); `now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off). “

Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

Introduction:

Learning to draw is a bizarre and wonderful process in the sense that in order to really learn to draw you have to first learn how to see differently. It means changing the way you look at the world. All the time. In this course you will not only be sharpening your drawing skills on paper, but you will also be practicing your seeing skills. You are on the pathway to becoming a painter, and the first step on that path is to become confident at drawing. Through these lessons you will learn to draw step by step by starting with the basics and moving towards more complicated techniques.

This course is meant to be used and that means you need to draw and paint in order to make it work. The lessons are planned to build upon one another. You are going to go from basic contour line drawings to finished oil paintings. Everyone comes into the course at different levels. Get comfortable with where you are, know your limitations, and start working at getting better. Drawing is akin to yoga in this sense. If you push yourself too hard and too fast, you are doing it wrong.

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How your brain draws

Certain activities cause changes in the way our brains work. There is an instrument called an EEG which measures different brain waves. In the photo below you can see a participant in a study which measures brainwave activity.

EEG_cap

(attribution http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Thuglas )

Our brains produce four major brainwaves. Beta waves are present when we are in a normal awake and conscious state. Theta waves appear when we are in deep relaxation or problem solving. Delta waves are present when we are basically asleep but not yet dreaming, and Alpha Waves are present when we are in a relaxed state yet still retain our sharpness and creative vision. Alpha Waves are where its at. You will not only improve your hand to eye coordination, but you will also learn how to get your brain to reach the Alpha wave state. Your brain learns these things step by step, much the same as one learns drawing or music.

A great example of an activity which requires a mastery of Alpha wave functioning is archery. When an archer pulls back his bow, closes one eye, and focuses on his target he may stop hearing the sounds and words around him. His fingers hold the string firmly. His breathing becomes more controlled and even. He calms his mind and this makes his aiming arm steady. He begins to visualize the arrow sailing straight into the big red spot. The bullseye wavers less and less as his finger tips begin to release the string. The string recoils and snaps forward. Splat. The arrow sticks into the target, and the archer begins to inspect his work.

This story encompasses all three of the major brain states. As the archer walks up to the line with his bow in his hand he is in Beta state. He is alert, conscious, and aware of his surroundings. As he pulls the string to his cheek he begins to slip into Alpha waves. He begins to relax and block out the sounds around him, yet he is still alert. Here’s the crazy part, the moment before he releases that string his brain waves dip dramatically, almost all the way down into a near sleeping state! It’s only for a split second, and then the arrow goes flying, and sticks into the target. He inspects the target to see if he hit the bullseye (Theta waves) then he snaps back to reality, and back to a Beta wave state.

When we draw we are going to be entering the Alpha and Theta lands. It’s a place that anyone who has a skill of any sort knows well. The basketball player throwing a three pointer with 2 seconds left, the concert pianist, the marksman, even the gardener or mechanic. All of these people have worked on a project so hard that they’ve completely lost track of time. I’m sure you have as well.

Think about a time recently when you’ve slipped into Alpha and Theta brain waves. Perhaps it was while fixing your vacuum cleaner, avoiding a deer in the road, or arranging a flower bouquet. Become familiar with what it feels like when you are in this state.

Learning To Play The Tuba

Everything you see through your eyes, all of the feelings, joy, sadness, whatever, your whole world comes from your consciousness. When drawing, you are simply trying to make this consciousness readable. It doesn’t need to be anything deep. It could involve something as simple as the way a guitar leans up against a windowsill. You are transmitting YOUR view of the world to others. Sure there are technical aspects, and training that will be involved in order for you to be able to measure accurately the distance between shapes. These fundamental aspects of drawing are teachable, and with practice, you will learn them. The question then, is going to be, Who Are You? Why do you want to make a mark on the world? What do you choose to draw?

This is the big thing that separates this book from others. I am aware that you want to “learn how to oil paint” and “learn how to crosshatch”. All I need to do is look at what people type into Google before finding my site. But these are just skills, they don’t really get to what making art really means. Of course we will go over all the skills you will need in order to become a sucessful artist. I will teach you some tricks, and new materials. But at the end of the day you also need to know WHAT it is you want to paint or draw. Through the following exercises in this book you are going to be exploring both your artistic vision as well as practicing exercises which will sharpen your eye and steady your arm.

Many people who are interested in art feel intimidated because the lines have been blurred as to what is good art and what is crap. During the 20th century what it meant to be a “painter” or “artist” changed drastically. Previously draftsmanship and craft were highly valued. However this is no longer the case. Many times concept has taken precedence over craft. This basically means that today we give as much importance to ideas as we do to aesthetic appeal. You, on the other hand, have already decided to pursue the path of becoming an artist working in a very traditional medium. Paint. The goal of this introductory course is not only to make you technically proficient (that just takes practice), but also to help you find what you want to communicate through imagery. That being said, there is nothing worse than knowing what you want to do, but not possessing the technical abilities to bring the idea to fruition. If you know exactly HOW you want to draw and paint, and WHAT you want to draw, then consider the following analogy.

Think of an instrument you have no idea how to play, for instance, a guitar. Now it is generally accepted that if you want to become great at playing the guitar, you have to practice hard. No one expects someone to sit down and start playing the guitar immediately. A person generally needs a teacher, or at least a book and a whole lot of passion. But what it comes down to is that people are playing (practicing) daily. When they’re not playing they may be listening to music and tapping out scales with their fingers.

In most drawing and painting or “art” (as it is so often referred to in the school systems) classes, many times teachers leave too much open to the students. They put too much emphasis on what the student is trying to express rather than addressing the fact that they may not even know how to get paint to stick to a canvas. The results are terrible paintings and drawings. No amount of pretense can make up for a poorly executed painting.

Let’s return back to our guitar player analogy. Imagine you are listening to someone playing the guitar and singing. The voice is off key, the strumming is out of sync with the tempo, the chords are clumsily played, but the lyrics are fantastic. Are you going to say “He’s a great musician!” just because the lyrics were great? Of course not. With music we put a great deal of importance on craft. A good guitar player’s fingers had to get calloused in order to push down the guitar strings. At first the stings clunk out, but then, with a little practice, it begins to get easier and easier. The same is true of drawing. It’s just practice. If someone tells me that they are a terrible drawer, I tell them that I can’t play the tuba, but I bet I could learn.

For some of you reading this book. You may already be comfortable with drawing, but find yourself coming up against certain stumbling blocks over and over again. You are going to learn to identify the problem areas of your drawings and become your own teacher. Even concert pianists practice scales. Drawing and Painting are no different.

Learn How to Draw and Paint: Start Today!

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Welcome to Painting-Course.Com. Here you will find lessons, exercises, and assignments to improve your painting and drawing abilities. Painting-Course.Com is 100% free Open Coursework online. You start when you want, and complete assignments, drawing, paintings at your own pace. Please take a tour through the different lessons and see what interests you. If you are ready to start learning how to paint and draw then click “Get Started Now!” in the upper left hand corner of the page. Get your sketchbook ready and let’s jump in!

The entire group of lessons are meant to be done in order and follow the same format of a year long course (or two semesters of work). If you’re willing to put in the time and energy that is required I would say that this course is the equivalent of a good foundation year at any respectable university. I studied at The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, The Glasgow School of Art, and finished at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I currently teach Drawing for Design, Visual Culture, and Fine Art Reflective Case Study in Prague, Czech Republic.

Painting On Masonite

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Painting On Masonite

Painting on masonite is a cheap and easy solution for many who can’t afford to buy expensive canvases. One of the best words of advice I ever got in Art School was to always have multiple surfaces ready for paint.  This way you don’t have to go through the boring stage of preparing the masonite with gesso first.   In this video I go through the best way to prime masonite with gesso. By using a simple criss crossing technique you can create a surface which will accept paint easily. Gesso is recommended, but it is also no problem to just just titanium white.  House paint doesn’t work well because it is kind of chalky and will absorb the acrylic paint.