Finding Art Show Inspiration

Spring has fully sprung and with it comes a springboard of festival and art show opportunities right on through Fall. Its a great way to get out and get in some walking, but also a boon for artistic inspiration.

Here are some tips to take full advantage of the opportunities.

All Genres are Game

It doesn’t matter that all you do is draw, or that you draw or paint a particular subject or in a specific medium. If you are looking only for the same genre and medium you prefer, you’re missing a lot. There is motivation to be had in every artistic genre and medium. I’ve been motivated to paint by looking at ceramics and even jewelry. And if the work itself doesn’t provide that inspiration, sometimes the artist’s dedication and unique approach to their craft will.

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The Poverty of Arrogance

child holding treasureWhy don’t people collect skills, knowledge and experience like rare artifacts? Why don’t they hunt for them like buried treasure? The smart ones do. I watched a sharpshooting competition on tv where two contestants were offered coaching by an expert before the final showdown. One contestant acted as though the instructor was an annoying child dabbling in things he didn’t understand. This particular competitor was a champion pistol shooter. Apparently he had gathered all the nuggets of wisdom and experience he wanted and was satisfied that he had found them all. This sort of arrogance amazes me!  I’ve learned things, important, valuable things, from people with half my years and experience. In the same way that one person searching a treasure site for a few minutes happens upon an incredible find where others searching for hours have found nothing. If a skill or certain knowledge is valuable, does it matter who or where it comes from?

What if, in our professional development, we acted more like collectors? What if, when we found a gem to add to our knowledge and experience, we became the wide-eyed child as we eagerly added it to our collection rather than grab at our wounded ego because we didn’t find it first. Arrogance can cost you plenty and you may not even realize what you’ve lost.

In your professional development, start collecting the skills you need like precious gems. Practice them. Add some more and practice those. Then find someone better than you and aim at their skill level, then do it all over again. Collect the knowledge needed to make that skill better, more polished, then add even more. Look for those little nuggets of skill and knowledge everywhere, like priceless treasure. Never stop collecting, even from unlikely people and places. Gain confidence from your collection but not arrogance. The difference can be costly.


Photoshop Ghosts Recipe

For a bit of Halloween fun here is a repost from a few years ago.

Happy Halloween!

This is Seth (on the left), I met him a couple of years ago at Kennesaw Mt. National Battlefield, NW of Atlanta. Still dutifully manning his artillery postion after 140 years, he insisted on reading me a letter from home. He doesn’t know he’s a ghost and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Atlanta was destined to fall into Union hands.

Seth reading me his letter from home
Seth reading me his letter from home

Now you may be thinking that this photo has been faked. Well, no comment, and I won’t deny that just about anything can be easily faked these days. If I had Photoshopped it, here’s one way I might have gone about it.

My Simple Photoshop Ghost Recipe

1) In Photoshop I would open a Civil War photo file, select the soldier and drag him into the photo file of me standing by the cannon. Doing this creates a new layer.

2) After sizing and positioning the soldier, I would add a layer mask and mask out parts of him by painting on the mask to make him fit behind the cannon barrel.

3) Next make a copy of the soldier layer and add a horizontal motion blur value of about 60 or so to the copy. Set the opacity of this blurred layer to about 70% and put it beneath the original in the layer order, offsetting the blurred layer by just a hair so that it wasn’t perfectly lined up with the original on top, giving it even more of an out-of-focus ethereal look.

4) The original soldier layer I would then set to an opacity of about 60% and then paint on the layer mask with a soft airbrush to fade out areas I wished to be even more transparent or vanish altogether.

5) To add a sepia tone to all the Photoshop layers simply add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer at the top, click the colorize check box and adjust the hue and saturation until you get the color you want.http://$domain/ll.php?kk=11

Color Scheme Designer 3

While working on a logo design, I came across this online color app. I was searching for a good interactive tool for exploring color options. Color Scheme Designer 3 filled the bill nicely. It’s easy and intuitive to use; in minutes I was up and running with it. Just a few of the features Color Scheme Designer includes are: hexadecimal color references for your current color set, a random color scheme generator, colorblind visualizing, choice of color spaces, export options, simple click and drag adjustments for customizing nearly every aspect of your color set, previewing text or web page examples with your colors, and a bookmark-able color ID number so you can come back to a saved color scheme for future reference or adjustments. Pretty cool tool, and best of all its free to use!


Baby-Step Art

I discovered a long time ago that, for me, the most difficult part of completing any personal art project is getting started (thankfully, this is not true of paid assignments where deadlines and money tend to motivate me). I’ve been known to put off a personal painting for months because of not having the time I want, being too tired, having too many distractions or just the general environment for getting prepared wasn’t right. Huh?! I know, I don’t get myself sometimes. But then again maybe you can relate. What works for me? Baby steps! Thats right! I have to go no further than the movie What About Bob to find an answer. Don’t laugh. The approach has gotten me through many a project. If I do something, ANYTHING towards getting started no matter how small, rather than look at the project in its entirety, before I know it I’m finished. Maybe its just getting out my paints and brushes or stretching the paper or getting started on the drawing or just finishing the nose instead of the whole face. Sometimes they can even be microsteps. Maybe I’m just a big baby. Anyway, whatever process works for YOU and makes YOUR art happen? Do that!