Monday, August 19, 2013

Stop worrying about realism!

Judy Chicago      The Dinner Party
Famous for her work
about issues in feminism.
Some artists have fragile egos.  Especially the new ones. When I was an undergraduate majoring in art (1976-1980) I was constantly feeling self conscious about my work.  Artists during that time were in the post modernist movement creating work in many different styles from neo-expressionism to feminism.  We were required to master techniques in realism and abstraction.  I was caught somewhere in the middle.  I successfully got through my coursework by becoming a chameleon.  I would adapt my style to meet the instructors requirements.  Because I was afraid of failure.

After college I spent several years trying to figure out how to be an artist and pay my bills.  So I worked as a bartender and was an artist in my off time participating in shows and doing some commissions.  I then stumbled into jobs in sales management and abandoned my art altogether for about 8 years.  I got married, had 2 children and quit my sales management job in advertising.  I wanted to focus my attention on my kids and begin to carve out some time to make art again. I updated my credentials and started teaching art in an elementary school in 1994.  Since then I've taught art to students in all levels of public school (K-12), community college and adults at the community center.  I've taken and taught courses in drawing, watercolors, painting, mixed media, printmaking, fused glass, jewelry making and many more that I can't remember.  In 2003 I completed my master of interdisciplinary studies degree with a concentration in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Yet with all this experience and training I still have some anxiety about my art.  But I'll never stop creating!

Red Chair
Coming and going  by Diana Marta
The most important lesson I learned was from Diana Marta, an artist I took classes from in Ellicott City, MD during the 1990s.  She'd set up a still life for us one day using a chair as the focal point.  As she demonstrated the technique for that day she made the following statement:  "Don't just make a painting OF the chair. Make a painting ABOUT the chair!!"   And that's how I've approached my art and teachingever since!

Over the next few day's I'd like to explain a few different ways you could create art about trees.  But I don't want you to get caught up in realism - use your camera for that.  Instead I'd like for you to experiment with art and enjoy the process.  Today I'd like to you to refer to one of last weeks blog posts, find something to inspire you.  Get out a sheet of watercolor paper and lightly sketch a tree on it. Don't add any value. Tomorrow we'll add watercolor.

Tomorrow:  Get out your brushes and get ready to paint.


  1. Like the tree concept. I don't have any paint brushes, but do have pencils and pastels that I pull out every so often and put to paper.

  2. I love the statement, "Don't just make a painting OF the chair. Make a painting ABOUT the chair!!" That really changes things in my mind!

  3. It doesn't matter what you use to be creative as long as you just do it!