Should you Adopt the Mindset of a Professional Artist?

Well, in my not-so-humble opinion, YES! But what exactly do I mean?

What I’m NOT talking about is quitting your current job, doing nothing but art and trying to get paid for it. I realize a lot of my YouTube audience and by extension, blog readers here, are leisure time artists just trying to enjoy themselves with art, produce some satisfactory results and perhaps improve.

So, that last one, improving, THATS what I’m talking about here and this is where a professional mindset will help you regardless of whether you aspire to reach a professional level or not. Even more specifically, lets deal with one important way to facilitate improvement and that’s problem solving.

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The Perfect Sketchbook Debuts! AGAIN!

The newest iteration of THE PERFECT SKETCHBOOK will be debuting soon. Go check out Etchr Lab’s post and the interview in which yours truly took part. I’ve been privileged to have experienced Erwin Lian’s original Sketchbooks, and I’m thrilled that Etchr has picked up the brand and design with Erwin’s oversight and blessing of course.  […]

Digital Detour. Sort Of…

… Its really more of a frequently enjoyed side trip as I travel along the path that defines my art journey. Digital illustration was such a huge part of my professional life for years. I spent hundreds of hours in front of a computer monitor working in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator primarily on client art, so its still in my blood. A drawing tablet was essential to that work. The need for digital art is not as essential these days and I’m totally loving a re-focus on natural media, especially watercolor but I still love digital and all the tech associated with it. It’s a useful and versatile tool for visualization and study when applied to natural media like drawing or painting.

If you’re a digital artist too or have been one in the past, I would love to hear your war stories. And how do you mix or use digital in concert with natural media?

I’ve pulled all nighters doing client work on a Wacom tablet. I would have loved to have been able to work on a pen display like this back then.

The Huion Kamvas Pro 22 (2019)

Clouds and Notifications

Hey YouTube, If its Broke Why Not Fix It!

The YouTube Notification Bell (next to the subscribe bar) is, when clicked, supposed to give you a notification for every video that particular YouTube channel releases. SUPPOSED TO! If you haven’t clicked the one on my channel and you want notice of all my videos you should go ahead and click it and it may work for you. We all want more notifications on our devices don’t we? (wait don’t answer that) Problem is it’s not always working according to several reports. As a result I also post every video on my Facebook Page. Those get posted about a week later, but if you’re on Facebook much it’s another way to see and be notified of new videos. My Patrons on Patreon also get a posting there with notification of every video and get to see each video 24 hours before everyone else. If you’re interested in supporting my channel on a monthly basis for as little as $1 a month you can CLICK HERE and sign up. That said I will be adding yet one more way to see and be notified of a video release and that will be right here on this blog. You can subscribe to this blog as many of you have done and you’ll get a post notification when it’s released. The videos posted here may be posted some days later but at least you won’t miss them, hopefully.

Clouds and More Clouds

To kick things off, here is my latest episode on creating simple and easy clouds, PLUS, it’s part of a new playlist on clouds incase you haven’t seen all 6. The 6th one in this playlist is actually a landscape and a review of Stonehenge Aqua paper, but I spend a little time demonstrating a stormy spring sky. Enjoy, and we’ll talk to everyone in the next post.

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And welcome new Affiliate, The Brush Guys! Use the code Minder5 at checkout for a 5% discount and you’ll also be supporting my channel through your purchase.

The Craft of Art

It’s interesting and a little mind blowing when you consider all the definitions and opinions of what constitutes good art. It’s also no exaggeration to say you won’t find one official standard or majority opinion. Elvis on black velvet is art to one person while “Water Lillies” by Claude Monet another. Ok, bad example, maybe there is a majority opinion on that one, but hopefully you get my point. Good art means different things to different people. An artist will likewise grapple with the concept of what makes their own work more artistic. What should an artist strive for to become a more creatively artistic artist?

WARNING: what I’m about to express now is opinion. Furthermore its MY opinion and will not be shared by all. GASP! I know right. But you think about it and decide for yourself.

In my opinion, there is an over emphasis in many artistic circles on expression alone or being your true artistic self with little care for technical skills, methods or disciplines at all. In other words, the less creative aspects or what I call the “craft” of art. There, I said it. No, I’m not against artistic expression, quite the contrary. I want to see an artist’s expressive work honed, maximized, and optimized if you will. Art IS by definition, self expression. It’s a visual manifestation of what comes out of you, your desires, experiences and passions. Here’s my point. Disciplined forms of art such as realism and representational art can be executed in a very immature and uninformed way. Take music for example. I may wish I could play a lovely Chopin piece all day long and may even imagine how that piece could be played with emotionally moving crescendos and delicate pianissimos, but all the imagined expression in the world will not help me execute that piece any better.

The Abstract Question

Visual art expression tends to validate and free itself in ways that other forms of artistic expression like music can’t get away with, abstract, non-representational art for example. It’s so subjective that the mere presentation of anything considered abstract defies anyone to prove its not high art. I get it. I’m not really here to talk about what is considered good art. That said, I’m far more likely to respect an abstract, expressionistic or impressionistic form of art from an artist I know has mastered their “craft” than I am someone who has simply played around with color a little and flung some paint on a canvas but has little experiential knowledge of skills like drawing from life, color theory, materials, techniques, methods, composition, rhythm, value, contrast, form, proportion, etc., etc. To borrow from my music analogy again, these are the scales and arpeggios of visual art (in other words, rudimentary building blocks). The Craft.

Craft Before Creativity

I define “craft” as a set of repeatable, definable skills that can be learned and mastered. A guitar luthier learns a craft, for example. When he/she has mastered that craft, they will be able to produce a quality, hand-built guitar from scratch. There are no such things as abstract guitars, so I know that art can be different. Understandable, but still consider, Picasso was an excellent realistic, and representational artist before he was a cubist. Likewise, contemporary watercolorist Jean Haines does impressionistic, expressionistic pieces that are often reductions of highly realistic pre-studies. Do you think those representational or traditional rendering skills inform and improve their abstract work at all? You bet your sweet art critic they do!

Final, FINAL Point. I promise.

Most leisure-time, amateur artists will not exhibit in galleries or shows. But even if they do, they will mostly paint and draw for enjoyment. BINGO! Honing the craft of art, those definable skills I hinted at before, will improve that enjoyment immensely, not to mention come to bear in positive ways on any form of expression you want to pursue. It’s a proven formula. Expression is enhanced by creativity, which is enhanced by experiences and skills. Put another way, you can be more creatively expressive, realistic, abstract or other wise and enjoy that expression more when you broaden your skillset and experiential repertoire (See what I did there? Yet another music reference.) I probably spend 80% of my art time honing my craft, only about 20% in exploring creative ideas of expression. This may be a higher percentage for me since I predominately teach those skills, but I see many artists that reverse this percentage and in my opinion try to run before they can walk. I can honestly say that my ability to think and execute expressively and creatively, not to mention the enjoyment of my art, increases with every increased level of skill I attain in the craft that makes up my art. I think it will for you too.

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I’m Teaching a Class! YAY!

I’ve some exciting news to share! For those of you local to me, I’ll be teaching a 6-week watercolor landscape class in Greenville, SC at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts. Enrollment will kick off this Friday night, May 3rd, from 6-9pm at an OPEN HOUSE where you can come and meet me, watch a demo, sign up for the class and get a 10% discount. My classes will start June 6th and be every Thursday evening from 6-9pm. If you’re interested you might want to jump on this one. Class enrollment is limited to just 12. So come see me at the Open House this Friday night or go to starting this weekend to sign up for the class. 

The Blog is Back

Well… hopefully anyway! This blog has admittedly been lowest on my list of priorities. Bringing you informative, instructive and entertaining video content on YouTube is what its all about for me, but I think its about time I rebooted this puppy and tried to reintegrate everything. This blog gives me the opportunity to opine on other subjects, answer questions in a quick, easily shared format or just make you aware of other happenings of interest in the art world. So that’s the goal.

NOTE: If its been over a year since you signed up to follow this blog you might want to look in the sidebar to the right to make sure you’re subscribed. If you are it will say so. If you’re not, there will be a form to submit your email again. I’ve change platforms due to site technical issues and the original list of subscribers was lost. If you received notice of this blog post in an email you’ll also know that you’re subscribed.

Lets do this!