Thursday, August 17, 2017

Three Reasons Artists Paint

The other day I watched a short video about Jim Carey and his passion for painting. It got me thinking. Watching this comedian turned artist it was clear that he is passionate about his work. He talked about what painting did for him in helping him to work through some 'stuff'. Viewing the large paintings I could see a lot of emotion and expression. His style might not be my cup of tea, but he clearly has some skills. Then I thought about all of the artists I have spoken to who say they find healing of emotions and spirit through their painting.  This is why many people paint or participate in other disciplines of art.  'Art as self therapy'. It can be a good motivator.

As I continued to ponder the Jim Carey video I thought about another type of artist. The ones who paint because they feel they have something to say. Something to get off their chest. It could be political angst, a social issue, a strong belief, or anything that might be bothering them and they think the world needs to know about it. This can be an effective way to spread ones message in a provocative way. Let's call this one 'Art as a soap box'.

It's interesting to me that with type one and two it's all about the artist, and what the artist needs. The third type differs in that these artists paint not to heal themselves necessarily, although it could be a bi-product. And not to make a point or make the viewers think, though a well executed painting will often elicit a thoughtful response. The third artist paints mostly for others. She strives to create something others will enjoy and find beautiful. The subject isn't as important as how it is depicted. A rusty, old truck with sunlight hitting it just right, a shady glen, a powerful surf, a moody still life, a figure, or portrait in chiaroscuro all can be equally  enthralling. So what do we call this one? Since I aspire to put myself in this group, I'm having a hard time naming it. So I ask myself, 'what is my motivation? why do I paint?'.
 I paint because God has given us a beautiful home here on planet earth. Each day provides a variety of lighting options, endless vistas, and unique views. Yes, there is certainly ugliness too as we can watch ad nauseum on the nightly news, but just for a few moments each day lets look for beauty. Beauty feeds our souls. We need it like air to breathe, or fresh water to drink. So about that name for this third reason... how about 'Art to refresh a weary world'. That's what I'm looking for when I view art and that is what I want my paintings to do for others. It's a lot to ask for in a painting, but there are many contemporary artists creating works today that refresh us and feed us. How about you go find some now and take a good long drink. Isn't that refreshing?!
 Have you fed your soul today?

All for now,
Leah Wiedemer

Are you a painter? Why do you paint?
Are you a collector? Why do you collect?
Please comment.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Growing Pains

Mount Dora Lighthouse - oil - 8"x 10" - plein air - Leah Wiedemer
Even though I haven't posted anything in a while, I have been busy painting outdoors and in, as well as doing a lot of thinking about painting.

Like most artists I'm always reaching for a foothold in the next skill and creativity level. The digital age has made online and video study an affordable option for artists to grow. I've invested heavily in these teaching tools over the past year. It's taking time for me to assimilate so much information. In an effort to avoid being overwhelmed I have found it helpful to concentrate on one aspect such as color, value, or composition at a time.
Rain at the Bridge - oil - 5"x 7" - plein air - Leah Wiedemer

Now that much of the information is solidifying in my mind, the next step is to consistently implement it in my painting. Easier said than done. I'm satisfied with far fewer paintings these days and have made it a habit to regularly purge sub par works. It has been liberating to let go of those paintings that used to haunt me with their various issues.

As I continue to press forward I'm faced with another dilemma. I've noticed that many plein air works look to be in a very similar style. How to stand out when there are hundreds of wonderful plein air artists out there doing similar work. I feel a twist on my horizon. I'm not sure what the twist or bend will look like, but it's coming so I'm watching for it.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cigar Box Solutions

I love to travel and paint the scenery as I go. What I don't love is lugging a lot of heavy equipment with me. Even a small paint box accommodating 8" x 10" panels takes up a sizable chunk of real estate in my suitcase and weighs more than I want to tote. And that's just the box. Then I have to decide if I'm going to need the tripod, the umbrella, solvents, how many paint tubes I require, and another box to bring the wet panels home.

After giving the whole dilemma much thought I decided to travel with a 5" x 7" paint box. I began to search for the perfect box. It had to be small, light weight, and just big enough to hold four or five small tubes of paint, a few brushes ( I cut some short to fit), a palette knife and maybe some Liquin.
My next problem was cost. I didn't want to spend close to one hundred dollars, which is the price I saw shopping online.
The solution was so simple that I don't know why more people don't do it. I searched Ebay for used cigar boxes and found one the exact size I needed for about $15 including shipping. You might find one you like for less. Then at the hobby store I bought some long pieces of balsa wood to make dividers.

I put a couple of strips on the inside of the lid to hold my panel while I paint. Two more strips inside the box make a shelf for my palette to sit on. Notice the strap attached with framing hardware? Love it!

To give myself plenty of mixing area I made a hinged palette.

It sits on top of the box while I paint. At the beach last weekend I just sat in a beach chair with my box on my lap and painted.

It worked great! I'm so pleased. So what do I do with all of my wet panels after I paint on location?
Another cigar box fit the bill perfectly.

The vertical design of this box was exactly what I needed. I glued more balsa wood strips inside to create separations. This box holds up to eleven 5" x 7" panels.
My travel painting problems are solved thanks to a couple of old cigar boxes, balsa strips, thin plywood spray painted with automotive primer, framing hardware and an old strap from a bag I no longer use. Total cost of the two boxes combined was about $30. Saving money is fun.

What are your travel painting solutions?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Waterways Plein Air

The Smithsonian is sponsoring  a  plein air event in Putnam County, Florida called "Waterways". The Smithsonian name immediately got my attention, so I trekked out to Crescent City with my painting buddy last week to find an appealing lake view.  We landed at the public dock on Crescent Lake and set up among a handful of fisher folk.
This was my view from the dock.

I eliminated the covered structure on the left and changed the color of the boathouse on the right, and brought the boathouse closer to the foreground.
My mantra was 'simplify, simplify'.
Crescent Lake Boathouse - oil - 8" x 10" - $280 -  Wiedemer

It was accepted in the show at the Bronson -Mulholland House in Palatka. I'm looking forward to going to the opening tomorrow.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Four Days and Seven Paintings

The "Find Your Park" plein air event was in celebration of the 100th anniversary of our national park system. The St. Augustine, Fl Cultural Association participated by sponsoring a week long paint out at the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas. It was a great week getting to meet other plein air artists and painting in beautiful St. Augustine. The sun shone and the wind blew which for me meant seeking out shade and holding down my easel with one hand while I painted with the other. It was both fun and exhausting. I'd do it again in a minute!

Day 1 - Fort Matanzas
"Enter Through the Gift Shop" - 8"x 10" - oil
"Tree on the Marsh" - oil - 5"x 7"

"Matanzas Beachette" -oil- 8"x 10"

Day 2 - The Castillo
"The Lookout" - oil - 11"x 14"

Day 3 - The Castillo
"Windy Picnic" - oil - 11"x 14"- sold

Day 4 - The Castillo
"Palm Shadows in the Old City" - oil - 11"x 14"
You may have noticed that I only put up six paintings when I said there were seven. Number seven never got photographed, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I might get around to taking it's picture next week after I recover.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Painting Flagler Beach

This past week was the culmination of months of planning as I headed up the annual Flagler Beach Paint Out. Being in charge is a role I'm not entirely comfortable with, but my reward is getting the chance to interact with so many talented artists.
Tuesday I was able to take some time to paint with  other artists, have lunch and go back to painting. It was a perfect day. I chose a shady spot under the Flagler Bridge.

There are prettier places to paint, but this location fit my needs. Close to the restaurant where we were meeting for lunch, shady, and protected from too much wind.
This is the painting I did under the bridge. I warmed up the colors and concentrated on making interesting light effects.

"Under The Bridge" - oil - 8"x 10" - $195

Next week I'll be in St. Augustine painting the Castillo Di San Marcos and Fort Matanzas national parks.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Painting Naples Florida

One of the things I enjoy about plein air painting is getting the opportunity to visit  beautiful areas to paint. Earlier this week I was in Naples, Fl for the annual 3rd On Canvas plein air event. This was my first time as a 3rd On Canvas artist, but I was treated as an old friend by the organizers and other artists.
We were assigned locations and required to paint from 10 am - 4 pm Monday and Tuesday. My plan for Monday was to begin a painting in the morning and then change my view (not my location) to begin another painting in the afternoon. My strategy with this plan was to view and paint my subject with semi- consistent lighting.
It's good to have a plan. But it is better to be flexible and roll with the punches. This is what Campiellos looked like when I arrived.
 I had just gotten my rough block - in done when the staff came out and very quickly and efficiently removed the heaters and put all of the umbrellas up. So much for my plan. I could still see the bar well enough so I worked on that and decided where I wanted to put some figures. By then the sun was baking me so I was ready to have some lunch and find shade.
Still in front of Campiellos, but on the other side I chose this archway as my subject.
I was happy to have some space out out of the direct sun. This was about 80% complete when I left at 4 pm.
The next morning I made sure I arrived early to give myself plenty of time to complete the bar painting. It was drizzling when I first got there, but it cleared up pretty quickly and I was able to finish and frame the painting.
"Campiellos Bar" 11"x 14" - oil on linen covered board
So after lunch I returned to the archway. 
"Campiellos Arch" - 11"x 14" - oil on linen covered board

I received good feedback on both paintings, but in the end I chose "Campiellos Arch" to be in the auction at the Port Royal Yacht Club this coming Sunday. 
It was a great experience. I'm already looking forward to next year.