Friday, December 30, 2011

Do you want to learn how to draw?

In addition to teaching private lessons...

I've got a few FREE workshops coming up on the fundamentals of drawing from life. They've all been good so far, and peeps have walked away with a lot of useful information. If you come, bring something to draw with and a piece of fruit. Each workshop is 2 hours. The are at the Daniel Smith Art Stores.

Sunday, January 8th at the SEATTLE store, 11am to 1pm.

Wednesday, January 18th at the BELLEVUE store, 11am to 1pm.

Saturday, February 25th at the BELLEVUE store, 11am to 1pm.

Also, for those of you who are serious, and can get to Maple Valley at 630pm on Thursday nights, I am about to start up the next run of my class on the fundamentals of drawing. It's going to be great. There are still two spots left in the class. Send me an email if you are going to register! We will start out simple, so you can get the concepts down, and then have live models for the remaining three classes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Want to accomplish something?

If you want to accomplish something, you've got to have the power to do so. Do you understand power?

"Success goes thus invariably with a certain plus or positive power: an ounce of power must balance an ounce of weight. And, though a man cannot return into his mother's womb, and be born with new amounts of vivacity, yet there are two economies, which are the best succedanea which the case admits. The first is, the stopping off decisively our miscellaneous activity, and concentrating our force on one or a few points; as the gardener, by severe pruning, forces the sap of the tree into one or two vigorous limbs, instead of suffering it to spindle into a sheaf of twigs.

"Enlarge not thy destiny," said the oracle: "endeavor not to do more than is given thee in charge." The one prudence in life is concentration; the one evil is dissipation: and it makes no difference whether our dissipations are coarse or fine; property and its cares, friends, and a social habit, or politics, or music, or feasting. Everything is good which takes away one plaything and delusion more, and drives us home to add one stroke of faithful work. Friends, books, pictures, lower duties, talents, flatteries, hopes, -- all are distractions which cause oscillations in our giddy balloon, and make a good poise and a straight course impossible. You must elect your work; you shall take what your brain can, and drop all the rest. Only so, can that amount of vital force accumulate, which can make the step from knowing to doing. No matter how much faculty of idle seeing a man has, the step from knowing to doing is rarely taken. 'Tis a step out of a chalk circle of imbecility into fruitfulness. Many an artist lacking this, lacks all: he sees the masculine Angelo or Cellini with despair. He, too, is up to Nature and the First Cause in his thought. But the spasm to collect and swing his whole being into one act, he has not. The poet Campbell said, that "a man accustomed to work was equal to any achievement he resolved on, and, that, for himself, necessity not inspiration was the prompter of his muse."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FREE workshop at Bellevue Daniel Smith, Dec 7th, 2001 11am-1pm

I have another free drawing workshop coming up at the Bellevue Daniel Smith location on Wednesday December 7th. The workshop will run for 2 hours, from 11am-1pm. I'll be covering the fundamentals for the first hour and fifteen minutes or so, and then the remaining 45 minutes everyone will get a chance to draw while I come around and help. Please bring a piece of fruit and something to sketch with. I want to make sure everyone gets to draw for a little bit at the end so you can work out a few kinks and have some ideas to take home with you! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A slight deviation

I want to keep the blog about my art and art related things, but a couple experiences recently compel me to make a slight deviation. I'm going to take a quick time out to mention a couple things not directly art related.

Remember back in the mid-2000's when everyone was talking about how great an investment real estate was? Gotta buy a house. Gotta flip a house. And then what? Lots of peeps got foreclosed on. Lots of peeps lost a lot of money in the stock market. When you turn on the radio, or read the news these days, you hear a lot of stuff about how, economically, we're "starting to recover" from the devastation of 2007-2008. Are we? I suppose that it's possible that we might be, but I've been studying a lot of economics lately, and there's a lot of evidence to suggest that we might not be. In fact, in studying, I have found people who were warning about the housing collapse way before it happened. They are few, and far between, but imagine if all the people who are suffering now had known what would happen ahead of time. Would they be in that situation? Some might be, because some people are just stupid (you can only lead a horse to water), but some might not be because in knowing better, they would have made better choices. Which makes me wonder... if the economy is such a keystone in our everyday lives, why do so many people know almost nothing about economics? It's because of the now general ignorance of the average person that all different kinds of people can get away with all different kinds of evil, and nobody is the wiser. So I would recommend to anyone who is interested in not becoming a hapless victim like the suckers who got foreclosed on and drained a few years ago... study economics! We all get taken advantage of, as a collective, because we don't know hardly anything. Get smart, peeps!

This second deviation, I almost wrote a month ago. Then I almost wrote a week ago. I get fired up, and I want to keep things about art, but it's just too much. I'd like to imagine that, looking at my drawings and paintings, people would get inspired to live and live in the best way possible! I am still at a rudimentary skill level, so the passion for living may not come across, but I am working on it, and so I'll supplement a little with some words here.

What have we become? If one person can look at another person and rationalize them out of existence, what does that make the first person? A monster? An animal? Not human? How many times do we walk past a person on street, in our own neighborhood or community, who is suffering, and don't even consider the plight of the person in front of us? I'm talking about those ever-annoying, always-in-your-way, always-inconveniencing-you-or-making-you-feel-guilty homeless people. Better to just ignore them, right? Otherwise they might guilt you into giving them some money or making you feel like you should help them in some way. Better to rationalize them out of existence. Pretend that they aren't there, or walk past very quickly.

Have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like to exist on the streets? Hassled by the police, no place to shower, no place to sit and rest, no place to be safe, hardly a place to use the bathroom, and no place to call home? Wandering around, desperate for help, being ignored by hundreds of people streaming past you with expensive, disposable goods? It's an impossible thing to try to even imagine, I think you can only experience it. My whole life I have had a place to shower and sleep. Most of us will not even attempt to imagine what life in another's shoes is like.

So there on the street is a total stranger. Of course, you shouldn't be bothered to help them. Would you help them if it was your friend? How about your friend's mom? Would you buy your friend's mom a meal if she was going without? What if it was your neighbor? If your neighbor got evicted, would you give them a jacket? How about your own parents? Or your siblings? Would you help them? And this is where the real hypocrisy starts to creep in... I don't want to live in a world filled with homeless people, and I would assume that you don't either, so maybe we should start doing something about it? What if we tried to help people become... not homeless? I realize this is getting pretty radical for the average american at this point.

But I wouldn't even urge you to direct action. (For some people, it doesn't make sense. If you're a petite woman, you shouldn't be approaching packs of homeless men) You should do whatever you feel compelled to do. But I do want to say something about ignoring homeless people, or pretending they don't exist, or rationalizing them out of existence. I used to be very guilty of these behaviors myself and it's one of the few things I am very ashamed of. If you go out of your way to avoid even thinking about the suffering person in your community, you disgust me. You make me angry. In the united states today, it is amazing how much wealth, technology, and everything else we have amassed. We, as a whole, are probably the wealthiest, safest people who have ever walked the face of the planet, and it is too much for us to treat the one in our community who suffers with at least an equal respect for their humanity.

What has compelled me to write this is that I have been making some homeless friends lately. These people do not just carry everything they own on their backs, but they carry larger bags of shame, guilt, and self-loathing. I've had several tell me recently how surprised they are that I am able to treat them as a person. Huh? ARE THEY ANY LESS A PERSON THAN I AM? If you're reading this in the comfort of your home, you've had the good fortune to have opportunities in front of you to have worked for a home, or to be living in one. Somebody doesn't have the same good blessings as you, and so they should be treated as human refuse? Should we just toss these people out? They're not good enough for us?

If you make some sort of excuse in your mind like "They want to be homeless" or "It's their own fault." I have a response for both. First, maybe one in ten thousand wants to be homeless. And sure, some of the exceptionally lazy ones might give a bad reputation to the ones who desperately want out but have fallen on hard times and are caught in the negative feedback loop. What if the person in front of you actually wants a meal? What if they actually need some help? If you actually think that homelessness is so cool that a lot of people aspire to it, I dare you to go live on the streets for a week and see how you like it. If you're not willing to try it out for a week, do the rest of the planet a favor and never think something so poisonous again. All of the homeless people I know have fought like hell to not be homeless and now seem trapped in a hole they can never escape. Second, maybe it is their fault. So what? You've never made a mistake? Should making a mistake that leads to homelessness be the end of a person's life? We should just toss their corpse in a dumpster? Obviously not, so never think that crap again either.

Obvious disclaimers apply here. I'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy nice things. I'm not saying you didn't work hard to get to where you are. I'm not saying you should feel guilty or ashamed of accomplishing anything. What I am saying is that we, as a society, need to stop trying to forget that these people are suffering. Putting their suffering out of our minds isn't alleviating any of their pain or suffering, in fact, it is making it worse. There's a great line in "The Constant Gardener" where a character says "We can't help them all!" and the response is "But we can help this one". You may not be able to fix the problem, but each of us helping to fix the problem in front of our face can contribute to the fixing of the problem as a whole. And even if you cannot do anything directly to help fix the problem, at least quit making the problem worse. Quit treating these people as if they aren't human. It's okay to say hello. It's okay to look them in the eye. It's okay to say "No, Thank you" when they ask for some change. You think it's an annoyance? Imagine how much it must suck to have to ask a thousand people for charity so you can eat one meal. Get over yourself. It's not just everyone with money that I want to inspire to better, but also people who have nothing. They should aspire to better with the rest of us. They might need a little help to get there, though. The reality though, is that we all need a little help. So if I'm going to try and inspire homeless people to want to be alive, I'm going to need the rest of you to at least stop treating them as if they're garbage on the sidewalk. That's another person, just like you, with a vastly different (and probably a vastly more horrible) reality. If you don't believe me, talk to one of them. You'll see. Chances are you'll get heartbroken, and then you'll get angry. Angry at all the very self-important people rushing by who are so busy with whatever stupid ass video game or meaningless text message on their phone to pay another person the barest minimum of respect.

Can you get on board with that?

Next time you're out and about, look other people in the eye. Try to imagine somebody else's reality.

Okay, deviation over. Back to the art..

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A new Art League possibly in the making in Seattle. Your chance to get on board and help make it happen.

I just received this message from Ned Mueller.

Hi Everyone...A few years ago we had what was called the Puget Sound Art League in Bellevue. It was established so that artists had a place to go mainly to develop their skills and get encouragement and support from others. We had around 200 members at one point and we had two studios where members could go every day and draw or paint from live models in life drawing, portrait and costume and also a lot of still lifes set around one of the studios. We had world class workshops with people like Richard Schmid, Harley Brown, Carolyn Anderson and Ron Lukas.  It was a very great thing to have...everyone paid about $200 a year to belong and of course a very good deal for those of us who took advantage of it. It lasted for around 6 years and for a variety of reasons faded out, regretfully so to many of us. The League was modeled after the famous Palette and Chisel Club in Chicago which is still going strong. There is a very good chance that this may start up again as I have been talking to Chuck and Lisa Mcknett who are very excited about getting something very much like it going again. Generally they are looking for a space for 3 studios and gallery space with somewhat the same format, but also more of a regular schedule of classes for people to teach and study with. They are looking for something centrally located, as around the 405 and I-90 area. The Art League was very successful in that it fulfilled a real need for artists to go to in all sorts of levels...beginners to working professionals and for those of you who were involved know what great  fun and opportunity it was. At this point we need to know just how much enthusiasm and committment there is out there to getting it started and so I am sending this first notice out to all of my many fellow artists and friends. Those few who know about this are very excited about it and so we are off to a good start and I need to hear from you if you would be interested in participating. It is open to special elite group could you not be somewhat enthused!! With everything going up, I would think the yearly fee would have to be around $250 to $300, they have to cover rent, heat, electricity, model fees and all of that, but it is still a good deal even if one would use it twice a month. Right now it is in the "Blue Sky" stage as they call a beginning project at Disney Imagineering and will evolve as we go forward. We would probably also have some free members, who are very financially strapped in these hard times who could get a lot out of this progam..probably in return for sweeping up studios and things of that sort. Probably if you have a Lexus or such in your carport you may not qualify for this. I would also  appreciate it if you could send this email out to any of your own artist friends or students who I am sure would like to know that this may come to fruition. Have them and yourselves email me at and so I can put you on a obligation, and I am thinking that we will probably get a lot of enthusiastic participants. Thanks for taking the time to read this and have a great Thanksgiving. Ned Mueller

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Drawings and Painting studies

Here's a few recent drawings and a few painting studies done from life. Painting the Planes of the Head and cast of Diana. Hope you enjoy them, peeps! Keep whupping ass!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spit in the face of fear!

You can't be afraid! Fear will paralyze you! Of course, a little bit of fear can be healthy, that's what stops us from running out into traffic, but fear works on the law of diminishing returns; if you keep increasing how much you are afraid, it doesn't make you safer.

Your art is a reflection of your life. Do you want a particular quality in your artwork? You've got to live that thing in your life. If you want to produce bold work, you've got to live boldly. If you want honesty in your work, you've got to live honestly. This is the way to a genuine result. The qualities will just come out in your work. There might be other ways to arrive at what you want, but it's like driving through Argentina to go from Seattle to New York; it's the long way. If you live boldly, the boldness will just come out in your work naturally.

The easiest way to improve your work is to improve the way you live. Tired of all the indecision in your work? Eliminate indecision in your life, and the indecision in your work will vanish by default. As for me, I don't want to have any fear in my work, no uncertainty, and no hesitation. So I am going about eliminating those things in the way I live.

The above picture was taken around midnight from the top of Mt Si last night with a poet friend of mine, Malorie. We hiked up to the top of the mountain, partly in the moonlight, partly with headlights, and always on the alert for animals. Why hike at night? Aside from the obvious amazing view in the moonlight, it's an exercise in defeating fear. It's something of a scary thing to hike 8 miles in the middle of the night, but we did it anyway. And once you've hiked in the cold dark for 8 hours, putting the wrong line on a piece of paper doesn't seem like such a big deal. In an attempt to overcome fear and uncertainty in my work, I am overcoming fear and uncertainty in my life, one night hike at a time.

(And don't worry, I was equipped in case of trouble. Bear repellant and a huge knife.)

Don't be afraid, peeps! Start overcoming fear in your life, and you'll find it simple to overcome in your work!

Reminder! Workshop on Saturday!

Don't forget, workshop this Saturday at the Bellevue Daniel Smith store. Demo is from 11am-1pm. I'll cover all of the fundamentals, and it's great for beginners or anyone looking to freshen up their understanding of the key parts of drawing. Bring something to draw with and a piece of fruit to draw! See you there!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting is really hard.

I've been struggling trying to learn how to paint for the last 16 months or so. It's really tough. I keep cranking out terrible painting after terrible painting. Each painting you see on the blog, each one that I feel good enough about that I don't mind people looking at, has about 15-20 failed studies behind it. In fact, I did four or five poor ones today. Doing the studies is how you develop the skills to become better. My drawings are very advanced because I have done thousands of drawings over the last 7 years to develop that skill. I've got stacks of drawings laying around the house. Stacks.

Beware anytime somebody say they've found a "secret". There's no secret. Or if there is a secret, the "secret" is "lots of work" combined with "conscious learning". You can't just work and you can't just learn, you've got to learn, then apply, then learn from what you just applied, and then apply again. Isn't that the definition of wisdom? Applied knowledge.

So remember, this stuff is hard. Lots of stuff in life is hard. Human nature is to take the easy way. Being an American tells us that life should be easy. Tell me one good thing that was easy, and worthwhile? Nothing. Everything worthwhile takes work. Everything worthwhile is hard. If your life is easy, or if the task you are working on is easy, you should step back and reevaluate yourself before you drift into meaninglessness.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bold Brush Painting Contest this month

If you like the painting, and have facebook, please like it; helps to get a little more exposure on the contest website. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A few new paintings

8''x10''. Clouds over Auburn

16''x20''. Lake Meridian

11''x14'' Stimson Greene Mansion

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Artist" is not a job. Artist is a lifestyle.

 Hey everyone, thanks for continually checking out the blog. I've been thinking a little lately about living as an artist. I think the artist (and by artist, I mean the lifestyle. It's a way of life, it's not a career) has several things they should be doing at all time that carry them forward, always growing as a person. Some people don't do their art full time, maybe they work a job and do art in spare time, so can they be an artist? Absolutely, it's not something you arrive at. It's either something you are, right now, or are not. The more you live as the artist, the more powerful you will become as a person. Here's a few ways that the artist lives:

- Understand yourself and the world. You've got to become a philosopher. You need to understand why you draw but you also need to understand what you want to say with what you draw, and also you need to try to understand living so you have something to say. The most technical draftsman who has nothing to say is worthless.

- Get technical knowledge. You have to know how to use the tools you want to use. Learn from copying masters, learn from books or DVDs, and learn from somebody who knows (go learn from an artist you respect).

- Practice often. Take the knowledge you have and apply it to problems that are in front of you.

- Work often. This differs from practice in the end goal. The end goal of practice is to learn. The end goal of work is to get the result that you are looking for. Let go of things you know and let the emotions come out as you fly toward that result you're looking for.

- Eliminate most fear in your life. You cannot be afraid to fail. You cannot be afraid to try. You cannot be concerned with what other people think. The artist who considers what other people want to see or listen to creates a work of art they have already seen. Be careful though, it's not about novelty. It's not uniqueness for the sake of uniqueness. I am the only me who will ever exist in the history of existence. If I take the time to develop myself, develop my skills, and develop my life then anything I create will be, by default, something nobody has ever seen before. It's like handwriting. We all use the same alphabet. We all learn how to write. But all of our handwriting is so unique, even moreso over time, because we eventually do what works and let what we want to come out. So it is with many other things; so it is with art. Trying to be different (for the sake of being different) causes a person to throw out all the best things about themselves, their true uniqueness, in favor of the outlandishly bizarre. If you can focus on being yourself, you will be so inherently different than anyone else that any effort to do something different is unneccesary. The difference is automatic.

Keep up the good work, peeps! Hope you're kicking some ass!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A car?

Anyone getting rid of a really old, beat up car? I'm looking to go across the country to study with a master artist, but need a car to get there. If anyone has a beater they were planning to get rid of super cheap, I'd happily trade some art for the vehicle. Or, is anyone driving from Seattle to Vermont? Shoot me an emal!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bold Brush painting contest

Hey peeps, check out this Bold Brush painting contest. I've got a piece entered, and then you can flip through and see a whole bunch of work by other artists.

Maple Valley Benefit

October 14th, the Maple Valley Creative Arts Center will be having a benefit to raise money for the Arts Center.

Details here

I'll have a painting I did last year that will be auctioned off, as well as another painting I just did earlier this month. Here's a glimpse of the painting to be auctioned off with the rest of the artists who have donated paintings to the Arts Center.

Painting is 12''x12''. I'll also be there, doing another painting at the Arts Center. Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Risk it for the biscuit!

Hey peeps,

Just a quick reminder, don't be making choices out of fear! Only you can know if you are or not, and I would implore you not to! If you're not willing to take a risk, you won't be able to get that reward! So go out there and try something! Risk that canvas you have sitting around! Try something new! Say hello to a new person! Be more honest with people than you have been yet. Part of being an artist is to be vunerable... we put ourselves and our work out there. So, don't be afraid to get hurt; it'll happen anyway. Go get that reward, make powerful work, and become a powerful person!

What the odds don't know is that this isn't a math test.

Don't "take care". Take risks!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Free drawing workshop at Seattle Daniel Smith

Sunday, October 2nd, come to the Daniel Smith store in Seattle from 12pm-2pm for a free workshop on drawing from life. I'll be demonstrating for the first half of the workshop, then helping participants for the 2nd half. Workshop is free! Perfect time to learn! Bring a piece of your favorite fruit and something to sketch with, or Daniel Smith will have supplies on hand to be purchased! Email me if you have any questions

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Paintings

Here is a few new paintings from around the Seattle area in the last couple of weeks. As always, paintings are for sale, if you're interested please send me an email.

Mt. Ranier from Madison Park  7''x14''
Seattle from Alki    11''x14''
Sunset over the Olympics from Alki     11''x14''
The Space Needle       11''x14''

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Few new paintings.

Here's a few recent paintings, peeps. Hope you enjoy.

Left side is the first painting I started last July, right two paintings are recent ones for a yearly comparison of how my painting has improved.
Here's a few paintings from the last month, one from each week so you can see the progression.

I'm feeling good about the progress! Thanks for the encouragement, peeps!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Free drawing session, Sunday the 28th.

Peeps, Another FREE life drawing session is coming up on Sunday the 28th at Utrecht. It's free from 6-8pm. Get there at 6 as they lock the doors and hold the session while the store is closed. There will be a nude model. I will be moderating. It's going to be sweet!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Do you like living in a world where people you know do stuff?

I've recently come to dislike the giant corporations that surround us. Not for the reasons you might think, though. In large part they've created an attitude, automatic to their existence, which defies logic, goodness, and a healthy way of living. Seems, as soon as people think about what they want to buy, they march into a big store and look for it.

A quick disclaimer here. People are more than welcome to make any choice that they want. If somebody should read this and choose to disagree, I welcome that. I am only venturing to prove logically that this is not the better way to live (in relation to other options). Also, sometimes the big stores can bring some benfits, I'm not saying it's all bad.

I would propose to you that the big corporate attitude has given us less variety, less quality, and taken our money in the process (by our, I mean myself and the people of my city). I realized this on a trip to the drug store the other day to buy soap. Inside the store, the shelf was filled with many brands of soap, no doubt, but they're almost all the same! How many different brands do we need a "Mountain View" scent, and "Spring Morning" scent? (What the heck does mountain view or spring morning smell like anyway?) If I had gone and found a soap shop I would be willing to bet that there would be dozens more variety, not only in scent, but in the type of soaps (what they are made of) and they'd all probably be a higher quality! True, it might cost me slightly more, but here's the catch. When you buy something made locally, more of your money stays in your community. You buy soap from your neighbor who makes soap and then when he wants whatever it is you do he comes and buys it from you. That extra little bit that it might have cost my bottom line actually translates into a much larger amount of my total purchase staying in the community and sustaining myself and my neighbors in the long run.

Rough math example*: Let's say it costs me 3 dollars to buy 1 bar of soap at a local shop, and 2 dollars at Rite Aid. Where does the money go? Employees, overhead, product. For a big chain like Rite Aid, of course the employees are your neighbors, so that money stays here. But who owns the building? Rite Aid? Where are they? And who else is in the company? So part of your 2 bucks is going to some corporate office in who knows where. Another part of your money goes to the soap company in who knows where. Only the money paid directly to the employees is likely to stay in town.

If you purchase from a local shop, as before, the employees keep their share of the money in town. Is it a private building owned by somebody locally? That money would stay in town. Do they buy their supplies from somebody locally? That money would stay in town.

So, for every 2 dollars of a Rite Aid bar of soap, maybe 1 dollar stays locally? For every 3 dollars for the local soap, maybe $2-$2.50 could stay locally?

And if your neighbors have more money, then they can buy more things that you make. Or they can help support more goings on in the community, events, products, people who need help, etc.

(As an aside, I am willing to bet that communities that figure out how to all start working together locally will all ride out the economic downturn much better than those who don't. Seems hard to grow the total value in your community when you're sending your money across the globe as everything is getting harder to sustain.)

 Now everyone is saying, what does this have to do with art?! Plenty. I would also like to disclaimer this by saying this is not a pity party, nor is this a pitch to guilt anyone. I'm not interested in selling anyone on why they should buy my art. It should be evident. If they like what I've done, or want to commission me to do something important for them, and they see value in it, then they'll hire me or buy something.

So, what does this have to do with art? The same thing applies. If you want to live in a world where you have quality soap options, you have to support the people in your neighborhood working their ass off for the soap. If you like living in a world where musicians play music on the street, you've got to put a little change in their tip jar. If you like living in a world where people are making art, you have to buy art when you're looking for it.

I've been at the First Thursday Art in the Park for the last 4-5 months. Sales have been slow for me but they have also been very slow for almost everyone else I have talked to and seen out there. Everyone seems to be having a hard time. Do people like living in a world where the First Thursday Art Walk exists? I'm not entirely convinced that they do. The reason being that I don't think people think about supporting a local artist when they want art. Just like my first thought the other day wasn't to find a local artisan making soap, but to go to Rite Aid.

I'm convinced people want art. Why else would there be giant painting reproductions available in the furniture section of Fred Meyer, or in the frame section of JoAnn Fabrics? How about this? You can buy a giant picture at Ikea for $150. You know what else you could do with $150 bucks? Hire a local photographer to take a photo (of anything you want) for you and print it out! If you spend $150 bucks at Ikea, how much of that stays in your community (and if you buy it off of the website, the answer is only a fraction of what they paid the guy who delievered it)?

If you're a unique person living in your own space that is any way that you want it, why would you ever hang up something generic? At the Art Walk, I know there is several photographers selling prints of their work for under $50. Easily competitive with anything you could buy at Wal Mart or Target. If you wanted a painting or drawing on your wall, wouldn't a painting or drawing of a subject that is emotionally close to you be many times more powerful than anything some yokel rips off of an industrial printer in God knows where?? Why wouldn't people prefer an original work of art?? So why was I inclined to behave this way? Why are we, in general, inclined to believe this way?

Is it really worth a few dollars here and there to cheat yourself out of a quality product, more options, and supporting your neighbors? To some people it might be. That is fair and I am ok with that. But, by and large, thinking locally should start to become a part of our decision making process. I don't know about you but I want to live in a world where my neighbors are craftsmen and musicians. I want to live in a place around creative and industrial people who create quality goods and services. This means that I have to consider looking for somebody locally who produces a good or service that I want. At least consider buying your food from a local farmer at a farmers market, rather than QFC. Consider looking for a soap shop next time you need soap, rather than Rite Aid. Consider hiring skilled neighbor for a small job, rather than phoning the catch-all corporation who dispatches the worker. Next time you want something to hang on your wall consider hiring an artist to make something exactly like what you want, rather than buying a generic something or other screened off by a department store.

The title of this post is maybe a bit misleading. Regardless of the choice you make, people in the world will be making stuff (and you'll know they're from taiwan). Whether they're in your community, whether the stuff is any good, and whether you have any choices are the real things you can impact with the way you behave.

So if you want your neighbors to do things, you've got to support them when they do (and when it fits into the kinds of things you're looking for). Next time you're looking for something, start by looking for somebody in your community who provides that good or service.

*I went to art school. All math guaranteed to not be completely accurate

One example of something local to support if you're into it - The Maple Valley Creative Arts Center is putting on a play by local poet/playwright Ed Corrigan called "The Ave". It's about a homeless woman on the Ave, up in the U-dist by UW. Local play by local peeps about local things. All proceeds benefit the Arts Center, which is a non profit that promotes art in the area.

You could spend the same amount of money one night going to a movie and get some generic experience. Or you can spend your money watching local peeps do something original that you'll never see again, and support your community at the same time. Choice is yours. Maybe I'll see some of you at the play on the 18th!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Free Workshop and Life Drawing session at Utrecht!

Sunday, August 14th, I'll be teaching a workshop on the basics of drawing from life. 3-5pm. Anyone is welcome and the workshop is free. Bring a sketchbook and a piece of your favorite fruit.

Then, stick around until 6pm (until 8pm) for a FREE life drawing session! Hosted by the folks at the Utrecht store in downtown Seattle, on the corner of Pike and Melrose!

A great chance to learn some of what I know and practice it out for FREE! Be there, peeps, or be square!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

On being "self-taught".

Ever heard of a "self-taught" artist? I have. Ever seen a "self-taught" artist? I haven't. I hear the term used often and I've even heard it applied to myself but I am quick to correct anyone that I* am not self-taught. At best, the term "self-taught" is a misunderstanding or mis-appropriation of credit and at worst is ignorance and arrogance.

I have only a rough idea as to the history of representational painting. What I do know, is that there have been many points along the way where one man took what everyone was doing, built on it, and then everyone did things a little different (until the next innovator came along). Here we are now, hundreds of years later, and we have the benefit of all of this knowledge automatically and without even needing to be aware of how we got here. We have any number of thousands of resources to discover anatomy, for example, which at one point had to be discovered. The first man who cut open a cadaver to look at muscles was the self-taught man. Now, all we do is crack open an anatomy book and the knowledge which took him a lifetime is ours in a matter of dollars and minutes.

Look how late in the painting game impressionism came onto the scene. Vivid color! And now we have the benefit of all of that knowledge by simply typing in a search on google and looking at hundreds or thousands of impressionist paintings. Artists didn't always know that there was color in the shadows. Just look at paintings from hundreds of years before impressionism. Figures emerging from black voids. Was the past filled with black voids? I think not. Artists didn't know that color is everywhere!

And here we are now with supposed "self-taught" masters running around with the knowledge that somehow took thousands of artists hundreds of years to collectively learn and pass along. How is this even possible? If anyone is honest, it's not. What I am NOT suggesting is that it's easy to get the skills we have now. I'm also not saying that these "self-taught" artists haven't worked hard. They have. But they've had the benefit of hundreds of years of knowledge laid at their feet in the form of any painting they have ever looked at in person, on the internet, or in a book/print.

The real self-taught artist would be the one who's work is indistinguishable from that of an infant. How long do you think it takes to be able to teach yourself to see properly? To visually measure distances, perceive perspective, create any sort of atmospheric depth, and understand value, let alone formulate, mix, and tube your own paint would take one man a hundred thousand lifetimes (since, at my rough estimation, it has taken tens of thousands of men hundreds of lifetimes **). Any self-taught artist would need to discover all of these things himself. Since we can see how many lifetimes it has taken some of the greatest artistic minds to make even the smallest headway on a single facet of the diamond of things we now know it is safe to assume that a single "self-taught" artist would have so very little to actually bring to the table that their entire life would be spent in discovery of things we've long surpassed centuries ago. And all I've mentioned are the technical aspects of painting.

Pictured: The work of a "self-taught" artist.

What would be the point anyway? To go through the entire attempt at being "self-taught"? If many artists have spent entire lifetimes discovering useful knowledge, why set it aside only to arrive at the same destination after many (wasted) years? Arrogance? I don't understand why anyone would willfully cast aside something brilliant and useful, just to claim that they "discovered" it themselves. Just because nobody can be the first to summit Everest doesn't make it much less of an achievement. How many climbers get to the top and then walk around thumping their chest at having been the first ones to get there? Only Hillary and Tenzing, who acknowledged their ascent as a team effort.

This doesn't mean we can't learn anything on our own. To the contrary, I think with so much information readily available it's become as easy as it ever has been to learn new things on your own. It's difficult to learn something by taking a crumb of information and attempting to understand and apply it. Incredibly difficult. We're still getting the information from somewhere (most of the time).

I'm also not suggesting that we worship the past or hold as ideal the works of the masters. Our goal should be to surpass what they have done. We should be a generation of artists who all paint better than Richard Schmid or any other "master" (another future blog post "The Illusion of Mastery" Coming soon!). We've got the benefit of everything he knew and a lifetime of our own to improve on it.

All this blog post is meant to suggest is that we stop throwing around the term "self-taught" as if it actually means something really important and special. Maybe it means somebody sat around in a basement for 10 years copying other people's drawings and never went to art school. That doesn't mean that they were so isolated that they somehow discovered, without any help, all of the things we already know (and even if they had, we already know them, big deal). The reality is that it doesn't really matter if somebody is self taught, learns on their own, goes to a prestigious school, or not. All that really matters is the end result they're able to produce and anyone who can produce a worthwhile result has had many teachers. Being "self-taught" is hardly ideal and I would suggest that it's not even real. This isn't to diminish the accomplishments of artists working in the here and now but to put in proper context that the heights we can fly to now are possible because of the artists who came before us and that we should take the very best of what they have to offer and build upon it ourselves.

*I studied at the Art Institute of Seattle for 2 years, Watts Atelier in San Diego for 1.5 years, and Studio Second Street in San Diego for 1.5 years. I also read a few art books, look at a lot of art from masters present and past, and watch a few instructional DVDs by Richard Schmid, Yim Mau Kun, and Scott Christensen. I am a long way from self-taught, though I am currently developing my skills on my own.

**Any mathematical errors are indeed wrong and accidental. I went to art school.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Art with a Heart Gallery

Saturday, July 9th, I'll be participating in the Artists @ Work at Art With a Heart Gallery

I'll be set up there doing drawings, feel free to come in and have a portrait done.

Saturday July 23rd I'll be participating in their show all about women. I'll be there with many of my female life drawings. Check out the website. I spoke with one of the owners, Jack. He's a cool guy doing cool things in the community.

Hope to see you peeps there!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Upcoming Daniel Smith Demos

I'll be teaching two drawing workshops at Daniel Smith Art Supplies stores. I'll be running through the basics on how to draw from life and helping participants learn the basics. Bring a piece of fruit and something to draw with (and some tracing paper, if possible). I'll be demoing and answering any questions, then coming around and helping people draw.

July 13th, Bellevue Store, 10am-noon
July 20th, Seattle Store, 10am-noon

For more info, see the Daniel Smith website.

Let me know if you have any questions, peeps! See you there!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some new drawings.

Here's some new drawings and sketches from recent life drawing sessions.