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Do you every wonder how to get better at art?

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Last summer I needed to figure out who I was after my husband needed to go into care. His Alzheimer’s had become more than I could cope with. He began to wander and with my Multiple Sclerosis, I was unable to follow after him. Luckily we chose to move to a continuing care retirement community over 12 years ago. So he gets great care, but I needed to rediscover who I am.

I hadn’t painted for the interim time, so I really needed to relearn everything. Go back to the beginning of this blog, you’ll discover some of my baby steps. In the beginning…

I had many fabulous instructors. All of these are offering great online resources and detailed instruction.

We are so blessed to live in the age of the internet. My instructors are from the UK, and two from Colorado. They have each willingly shared of their knowledge.

Believe me I still needed to be willing to do the work! It’s always been the same: Study, practice, repeat! Being willing to put in the time and the effort is absolutely been my story. I’ve needed to learn to be vulnerable.

And I’ve been asking lots of questions. Why do this, Why not do that, What’s the point? What am I doing wrong and what am I doing right? My of these instructors have done critiques of my paintings. Others have put up class FB groups where we could share our work with others and hear comments and learn even more.

Somehow I’ve gotten to this point in a bit over a year. My last posts shows how amazed I am. But it does show how far we can get on our art jouney with a combination of willingness and dedication.

Oh yeah, let’s see… Finding joy in learning, free time and a compulsive personality are also helpful!

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2019 Kelli Folsom

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Vital Art Sessions

In January I signed up for Kelli Folsom’s monthly subscription program.

This allowed me to paint even more often and to become part of a group of like-minded artists. We prefer to paint realistic still life oil paintings.

Kelli has a well thought out program for encouraging us to paint, to improve, to support each other, and to have FUN while we do it.

Once again I was exploring more and learning more as an artist. What is my vision? What do I really enjoy painting? What do I feel good about? What does my audience like? Does that really matter to me?

Then I began doing some of my own exploration.

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2018 with Kelli Folsom

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Kelli’s YouTube

She’s another very knowledgeable and generous teacher. In doing Vidalia I learned more about using mediums and palette knife with water mixable oil paints.
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Vidalia Onion
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In 4 Red Pears I revisited the impact of background color. Although the pear is painted virtually identically, it looks very different depending on the background treatment,.
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Four Red Pears
I found a these and more of her demonstration videos on You Tube.
Kelli Folsom YouTube videos
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First Still LIfe Class

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Will Kemp offers an Advanced Still Life Class as part of the Will Kemp Art School. Since that is the style of art I really love, I decided to give his class a try.

I live in a retirement community. I used to paint still life in oil paints, but that was nearly 15 years ago. There is a large Art Room for our use, but they’d prefer that we work without solvents. That limits media to acrylics and water colors, neither of which I like working with.

A friend recommended I try water mixable oil paints. I exclaimed, ‘Who knew!?!?’ I found a beginner set of Winsor Newton Artisans. I posted some samples of the early pieces I did using those paints.

I supplemented that set with the few additional colors recommended for this class. I re-learned a great deal by taking Will’s class. Here’s the painting I completed there.

SM Still Life Trial

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More Copying from the Masters

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Why copying from the masters I love is my best strategy

Now I’ve decided to jump right into the pool. Here’s why: pretty much every painting technique I need to learn has been done before. And often these are to be found in my favorite paintings, those of David A. Leffel.

To make a painting work, you need to learn from the best. So pick a painting, and try to copy it.

I painted a copies of two of Leffel’s paintings which are offered by the Freeman’s Art Gallery for several thousand dollars each.

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After Leffel 1
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Afgter Leffel 2

My copies would definitely not be mistaken for his, but I was surprised that they were any good at all. And I really like learning the impact of table top versus shelf top setups.

Was it perfect? No

Did I improve my painting? Definitely.

To use setups well, I began to understand how perspectives and depth perceptions are altered by various paint applications.

And that’s hard since I am very much a beginner and I just don’t have the skills I need. So off looking for courses.

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Copying from the Masters

Why copying from the masters is your best strategy

In my opinion, it’s far, far easier to understand how great paintings work, and then use those painting principles to create your own pieces.

One painting a week, even one painting a month you would soon have a collection.

I’ve been spending a lot of time learning with this year and both Will Kemp and Daniel Edmondson highly recommend that we do this

Here’s why: pretty much every painting technique you need to learn has been done before. And often these are your favorite paintings.

To make a painting work, you need to learn from the best. So pick a painting, and pick a section from it. You don’t have to paint the whole picture. Just a small section to start with. And try to copy it.

I painted a detail of a Cezanne painting. It was published in the coffee table book I bought at the bookstore of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during one of the large Cezanne retrospective shows.

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It not brilliant, but I was surprised. And I really like the blue swan!

Was it perfect? No

Did I improve my painting? Definitely.

To use color well, I began to understand how muted some colors actually are, even if at first glance they seem bright

And that’s hard since I am a beginner and I just don’t have the skills I need.

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Early 2018 works

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My Setups and Color Studies

I looked for free videos online by artists using the techniques I loved. I found that most YouTube painting videos are focused on regular oil paint. And I found that the information was readily translate-able to WSO. I began working on color videos from Will Kemp and Kelli Folsom. Click on their names below to see them. Will Kemp Art School and Kelli Folsom I was learning but still looking to learn more and take some courses. These were all painted with Water mixable oil from a set like the one pictured here. Click on it to learn more. Royal Talens Cobra Water Mixable Oil Color Sets - Combo Set, Set of 10 colors, 40 ml tubesimage 9142569 13717235
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SM Negative Space

Negative Space

I started revisiting learning to see. When I drew the spaces, the blossoms just sort of emerged. This exercise was good for me

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Realistic Dimensionality

After quite a bit of practice I was able to get a pretty good handle on putting a 3-imensional object onto a 2-dimensional drawing paper. It surprised me that they actually are fairly convincing.



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Autumn Joys

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This is the first work from 2019 that I’ve added to this blog.

I’m busily trying to get the set up the way I’d like to interact with a blog myself.

Let me know how this looks to you.

A questions I often get asked is: How does your painting help?

This is my answer:

I paint to ease the pain of living with a spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia.

These colors help me to see the joys in the small things, like the colors of Autumn

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Autumn JoysPrice = $99 Oil on Canvas panel

8×10 inches