Sunday, July 8, 2018

Pushing Yourself to Improve: Male Painters vs. Female Painters


A workshop student once asked me why some artists study painting for decades but never seem to improve. It’s a good question.

There comes a point for every painter when you have to push yourself into a mentally challenging state and force yourself to figure out the solutions to difficult painting problems. I sometimes hear people say that painting is relaxing. Personally, I don’t find it relaxing at all. That’s not why I paint. I paint because I enjoy the elation I feel when I’m successful at capturing the visual excitement I want to communicate in a painting.  There are other things I do to relax…read, go for a walk, watch a movie. When I do those other things, I’m not taxing my brain to scrutinize and search, which is what I do constantly when I paint. For example, I work my initial composition like some people work a crossword puzzle or Rubik’s Cube, pushing myself to search for the most ideal design. I also continuously compare subtle differences in value, temperature and chroma and translate that into specific color choices. I hunt for those accurate choices, and I continue to do so until I find what works, constantly scrutinizing, comparing and observing. These are just some of the many mental gymnastics I encounter when painting. When I finish a day of painting, I’m more mentally exhausted than physically.

I believe it’s when people hit the painful threshold of having to really look and really think and figure it out, that they often push back and simply paint in such a way that merely takes a wild guess at what’s needed in each area of their painting. When I get tired or lazy, I usually fall into this trap and end up with a failed painting. But when this less attentive approach becomes the norm for an artist, there’s rarely any significant skill level improvement, regardless of how many years take place at the easel.

It’s only the artists who take what they’ve learned (through classes, workshops, books, videos, etc.) and practice those skills at their own easel, using their years of easel time efficiently to push themselves through that painful threshold, who ultimately increase their skill level much more dramatically.

This leads to another question that frequently comes up in workshops: Why are there usually more women than men in most workshops? I’ve heard various reasons for this, which I’m sure all contribute to why this happens. I have a particular theory, though, that I believe largely contributes to this imbalance. This is of course a very broad generalization, but it seems to me that typically men like to figure things out for themselves, and women like to ask for guidance. You know, that stereotypical situation in which a man and woman are lost while traveling by car and the woman wants to stop and ask for directions while the man insists that they’re not lost and he’ll find the way. (Okay, we all have navigation systems in our cars or on our phones now, so this is sort of an old-fashioned stereotype, but you get the idea.)

With learning to paint, you actually need both of those approaches: Guidance to point you in the right direction, and then plenty of your own practice time figuring it out for yourself at your easel. Again, keep in mind I’m generalizing here (so, please, neither gender should take offense!), but I believe women err on the side of asking for help before trying to figure it out themselves, and men err on the side of wanting to figure out all of it by themselves without any help.

Well, you know what? You’ll actually become a better painter if you spend the majority of your painting time pushing yourself to figure out difficult painting problems yourself. Yikes! I hope I didn’t just talk myself out of a job as a workshop instructor! The truth is, you certainly don’t want to paint in a cocoon, especially if you’re still mastering some basic skills. You DO want some guidance and firsthand instruction so you can recognize the painting problems that you need to figure out on your own and be better equipped to handle them. But you also want to avoid jumping from workshop to workshop too frequently, hoping that this influx of constant spoon-fed instruction is going to make you a better painter. And you don’t want your only painting time to take place in instructional settings.

I realize that there’s also the comradery aspect of taking frequent classes and workshops, and it’s not everyone’s goal to push themselves in this way. And that’s fine. When I teach my workshops, I make sure to remember that some artists just enjoy attending painting workshops with other artists and talking art, and I strive to make it an enjoyable experience for all who attend. But for those artists who do have ambitious goals, the real work comes after the workshop.

My 14-year-old son is taking piano lessons. When I asked him recently some specifics about his weekly lessons, he told me very matter-of-factly that in his lessons his teacher basically instructs him on how to practice. Learning to paint works the same way. Now, if I could just get my son to practice more!

###


A couple of warm-weather paintings recently off the easel….


Alive!, 18x24, pastel


Rock Pile at Smith Rock, 14x11, oil

Upcoming Workshops:


White Bear Lake, MN - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
August 14-16, 2018
"Landscape & Light"
White Bear Center for the Arts
Contact: WBCA@whitebeararts.org, (651) 407-0507
$475/member; $570/non member (A discount is available for first-time students at this art center.)

Mount Vernon, WA - 3-day PASTEL workshop
September 20-22, 2018
"Painting Skies, Water & Trees in Pastel"
Dakota Art Center
Contact: info@dakotaartcenter.com, 888-345-0067 ext. 5
$375

Santa Barbara, CA - 4-day PASTEL/OIL workshop (studio & plein air)
October 9-12, 2018
"Skies, Water & Trees"
Contact: Kris Buck, mbuck18@cox.net
Studio portion held at a private studio in Santa Barbara, with plein air locations a short drive away.
$485

Manahawkin, NJ - 3-day PASTEL workshop
November 9-11, 2018
"Landscape & Light in Pastel"
Pine Shores Art Association
Contact: PSAARegistrar@gmail.com, 609-488-5838
$205/members; $235 non-members (This venue receives generous funding for art workshops in their community, and so the workshop price is crazy cheap!!! If you live in the area and have wanted to take a workshop with me, this is the place to do it!)


Visit www.barbarajaenicke.com for my 2019 schedule!




My INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS and MONTHLY ONLINE LESSONS are available at www.paintingthepoeticlandscape.com.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What's the Big Idea?


My first career was in advertising. I was an art director for a few different advertising agencies over the years, beginning my career in the country’s advertising hub at the time, New York City. As I began my career, I took some advertising classes at night at the School of Visual Arts. These classes focused on developing a concept for strong advertising messages. And, as with painting, it was definitely a skill that required practice, experience, and knowledge of what’s been done in the past.

The instructors at the school (all full-time art directors and creative directors at the big, well-known ad agencies at the time) stressed to us that it’s more important to first zero in on one clear big idea and then develop individual messages from that overall “umbrella” idea. This is basically how an ad campaign is developed. If the advertising relies too much on merely catchy phrases or flashy graphics, the message isn’t as strong as if there’s an overall concept that serves as a driving force behind each individual message.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “What Women Want” (with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt), the plot is set in an ad agency, and I think it’s one of the only movies I’ve seen that accurately portrays the thought process of how advertising creatives come up with a “big idea.” Maybe it’s done differently these days, but this is how we did it when I worked in the field. The comical premise of the movie leverages how much of that process of conceptualizing an initial idea is very much a mental challenge that has to come first before anything visual or written can be developed next, with Mel Gibson’s career-greedy character suddenly having the magical ability to read the inner thoughts of Helen Hunt’s character. In the movie, they develop an ad campaign concept for Nike, directed toward women. Their concept is “No Games. Just Sports,” which would become the umbrella idea for each individual advertising message from Nike to their female demographic.

And now, after almost 25 years from when I moved on from my advertising career, I’m realizing that my more successful paintings are those for which I was able to first identify an overall big idea for what I want to visually say in the work. Since I love to paint light in the landscape, that usually plays a major role in my idea. But it often goes beyond that. And whatever visual idea I choose to latch onto, it becomes the driving force for how I handle each individual area of the painting, so that the painting as a whole will clearly convey my visual concept (the big idea).

In the recent paintings shown below, I describe my big idea for each piece.



Dusk on the High Desert, 8x16, pastel. Available at the IAPS 32nd Juried Exhibition at the American Art Company, Tacoma, WA, March 16 – April 30, 2018.

It’s all about the intense glow in the sky. Everything beneath the sky is set up in terms of value, chroma and composition so that it showcases that glow. 


A Higher Calling, 20x24, oil. Available at the OPA National Juried Exhibition, Steamboat Art Museum, Steamboat Springs, CO, June 1 – Sept. 3, 2018.

It’s all about the massive space at the top of this mountain…you know, that feeling you get when you stand on a mountain high above everything else and see for miles. The arrangement of the grass and snow patterns, and their converging sizes, as they lead toward the sliver of light in the sky, all contribute to that feeling.



Approach to Mount Hood, 20x24, oil. Available at Mockingbird Gallery the month of June 2018 during a 2-person show, "Nature's Journey," in which I'm featured.


It’s all about a huge upward, distant climb to the top (in this case, merely the top of one section on this enormous mountain). The high horizon, descending sizes of the rocks into the distance, and the small size of the trees at the very top support this idea.



Mount Bachelor from Dutchman Flat, 24x20, oilAvailable at Mockingbird Gallery the month of June 2018 during a 2-person show, "Nature's Journey," in which I'm featured.


It’s all about the contrast between the huge but barely visible mountain and the dense mass of trees that reaches all the way back to that mountain. This sense of distance contributes to the magnitude of the mountain despite its subtle indication.  


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS:

Centralia, WA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop

April 20-22, 2018
"Painting the Poetic Landscape"
$400

Bend, OR - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop 
May 22-24, 2018
"Composition Boot Camp" (studio & plein air)
We'll begin in the studio studying techniques to develop well edited compositions, and then apply them to field studies at two spectacular plein air locations.
Contact: Sue Manley, info@cascadefineartworkshops.com, 541-408-5524
$435

Stevensville, MD - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
June 8-10, 2018
"Skies, Water & Trees"
Chesapeake Fine Art Studio
Contact: Hai-Ou Hou
$485

White Bear Lake, MN - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
August 14-16, 2018
"Landscape & Light"
White Bear Center for the Arts
Contact: WBCA@whitebeararts.org, 651-407-0507
$475/member; $570/non-member (A discount is available for students new to this art center.)


There's more!!! ... For FULL WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, go to www.barbarajaenicke.com





My INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS and MONTHLY ONLINE LESSONS are available at www.paintingthepoeticlandscape.com.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Shapes Before Subject

Block-in for In the Winter Spotlight
In the Winter Spotlight, oil, 11x14

When I choose a subject to paint, it’s almost never because I want to paint THAT particular subject. I don’t go outside thinking “I want to paint a Juniper tree” or “a clump of snow with grass coming out of it.” It’s usually something else that tugs at my artistic voice. It could be the light. Or the shadows. Or it could be a pattern of textures or edges that I can envision creating in pastel or oil.

But my first order of business before I attempt to visually create what appealed to me, is to find the shapes in my composition. To hear the word “shapes,” it sounds easy enough. After all, as kids we start hearing about shapes by the time we’re in kindergarten. But to look at a busy landscape and boil it down to a few shapes is much easier said than done. We can look at an artist’s work after the fact and see those shapes pointed out to us, but it takes practice to learn how to create that combination of shapes on your own. And it can be overwhelming when the subject is chock-full of busy detail.

Shown in this post are two paintings, along with their block-ins. As with most all of my paintings, they both required some compositional searching, editing, reproportioning of shapes, and a bit of value restructuring.

Block-in for Warm Summer Day at Multnomah Falls

Warm Summer Day at Multnomah Falls, pastel, 14x11
(Available at The Artful Deposit, Bordentown, NJ)

In workshops that I teach, I find that many students are more interested in how I finish a painting than how I start a painting. But the truth is, what makes a painting successful at the finish, is what I do at the very start…which is all of those things I do before I make single mark on the painting. Sometimes this process comes together logically, and it’s just a matter of going through the steps. Other times it takes searching and working my shapes like a puzzle. I can honestly say that my own skill level increased when I began to understand how to plan out a painting in this way at the start.

Students are often determined to take home successful completed paintings at the end of a workshop. But what if you instead took a few days to work intensively on just this important skill that’s required at the start of each painting. And if you did indeed improve it, your overall skill level as a painter is sure to get a boost!

Okay, so you probably know where this is headed, so let me just say it…

It just so happens that I’m teaching my Composition Boot Camp at two upcoming workshops this year:

Fresno, CA – Feb. 15-17, A Sense of Place Gallery (Studio Workshop)

and

Bend, OR – May 22-24, Cascade Fine Art Workshops (Studio & Plein Air…we’ll apply this to field studies, too!)

(Details for each are below.)

In this workshop, I explain in detail my process for how to “see” shapes in the landscape, and how to edit those shapes.

And if you’re not able to attend, I still encourage you to set aside some time on your own to practice this skill. Try composing and editing “shapes” for your paintings, rather than “subject matter,” in small thumbnail sketches. (Hint: SQUINT!!!) Then block in paintings from your thumbnails instead of directly from your source photo. Take several days to practice only thumbnails and block-ins. I know it doesn’t sound glamorous, but it’s certain to help you see your paintings in terms of shapes, and ultimately improve how you can lay the foundation for successful paintings!


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

Fresno, CA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Feb. 15-17, 2018
"Composition Boot Camp"
A Sense of Place Fine Art Gallery
Contact: Ginny Burdick, gburdick@sti.net, 559-392-6775
$375

Providence, RI - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
March 23-25, 2018
"Painting the Poetic Landscape"
Providence Art Club
Contact: Angel Dean, angel@providenceartclub.org, 401-331-1114 ext. 16
www.providenceartclub.org
$425/members; $525/nonmembers (nonmember fee includes lunch each day)

Centralia, WA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
April 20-22, 2018
"Painting the Poetic Landscape"
$400

Bend, OR - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop 
May 22-24, 2018
"Composition Boot Camp" (studio & plein air)
Contact: Sue Manley, info@cascadefineartworkshops.com, 541-408-5524
$435




There's more!!! ... For FULL WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, go to www.barbarajaenicke.com




My INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS and MONTHLY ONLINE LESSONS are available at www.paintingthepoeticlandscape.com.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Monthly Online Lessons!

Many of you reading this may have already purchased my instructional video series, Painting the Poetic Landscape. I've been wanting to extend these lessons to include an individual feedback component on specific topics. It's been in the works for awhile, but I'm excited to announce that I'm now offering Monthly Online Lessons.

These are short, written lessons that include step-by-step progression photos of paintings that demonstrate a particular subject or topic. Each lesson costs $45 and includes my written critique of your painting based on the lesson.

If you've purchased one of my Painting The Poetic Landscape instructional videos, you'll already receive an email each time a new online lesson is available. But you need not have purchased an instructional video in order to take these monthly online lessons; you can simply sign up to receive notifications when a new lesson is available. Each notification will give you a short description of the lesson and indicate which medium is used for the demo, so you can determine if you want to purchase that particular lesson.

CLICK HERE for more information and to receive notifications when new lessons are available.

January's lesson will show you how "Twilight's Radiant Descent" was painted, focusing on specifically how to paint winter grasses...

Twilight's Radiant Descent, 12x16, oil

Since I'll be pouring much energy into these monthly lessons, I'll be posting to my blog quarterly, rather than monthly as I've been doing for the past several years. Although slightly less frequent, I still hope to post interesting artist tidbits here!

Wishing you all the best in 2018!


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS IN 2018

Dahlonega, GA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop -- FULL WITH WAITLIST
Jan. 25-27, 2018
"Landscape & Light"
The Art Loft
Contact: Anita Elder, aelder1@windstream.net, 706-429-6008
$485
Additional demo on Sun., Jan. 28, 10am - 1pm (separate from workshop), $50. Contact Anita to sign up. -- 3 SPOTS LEFT FOR SUNDAY DEMO

Fresno, CA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Feb. 15-17, 2018
"Composition Boot Camp"
A Sense of Place Fine Art Gallery
Contact: Ginny Burdick, gburdick@sti.net, 559-392-6775
$375

Providence, RI - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
March 23-25, 2018
"Painting the Poetic Landscape"
Providence Art Club
Contact: Angel Dean, angel@providenceartclub.org, 401-331-1114 ext. 16
www.providenceartclub.org
$425/members; $525/nonmembers (nonmember fee includes lunch each day)

There's more!!! ... For FULL WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, go to www.barbarajaenicke.com




My INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS are available at www.paintingthepoeticlandscape.com.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Season's Greetings and Big News for 2018!



Wishing you heartfelt cheer this holiday season! 

To all of you who have been following my blog...thank you! I hope it has provided ideas, helpful information, and inspiration. 


And as 2018 approaches, I have big news to announce...

Just after the first of the year, I'll be posting more about my Monthly Online Lessons. Briefly, these are short, written lessons that feature step-by-step progression photos of paintings that demonstrate a particular subject or topic, and they include my written critique of your painting based on the lesson. Look for more details in my next post!

In the meantime, I wish you all the best this holiday season, and Happy Painting in 2018!

Barbara

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Message of Gratitude, and a Sweet Little Offer (Actually 3 of Them!)

During this season of thanks, I'd like to extend my sincere gratitude to my faithful blog readers, many of whom have also become students and collectors. Your support and enthusiasm is greatly appreciated! So as I did last year, I'd like to offer this once again...

I love the idea of having a day dedicated to purchasing something unique from a small business rather than a gigantic corporation, as is usually the case with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So I thought I'd offer something special on Small Business Saturday!

For just this one day--Saturday, November 25, 2017 (starting by midnight 11/24)--I'm offering a price of $95 plus shipping ($13.60) on each of the following three 8x10 studies (normally $235). They can be purchased through Daily Paintworks/PayPal by clicking on the links below. After this day, they'll each go back up to their normal prices. This won't be posted anywhere else; I'm announcing it only through my blog.

Whether it's by purchasing one of my little paintings or something else from another small business owner, I hope you'll consider supporting Small Business Saturday! 

Many thanks,

Barbara 



UPDATE: All sold before I had breakfast this morning!! A big thank you to the three collectors who purchased these little ones!



Autumn Glow, oil, 10x8, unframed
$95 plus shipping, 11/25/17 only
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE


Drama in a Midwestern Sky, pastel, 8x10, unframed
$95 plus shipping, 11/25/17 only
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE



Golden Afternoon, oil, 8x10, unframed
$95 plus shipping, 11/25/17 only
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Mushy Stage

Stop Along the Way, pastel, 11x14

In previous posts I’ve talked about starting a painting with connected shapes. (Click here to read one such post.) Even if you’re able to master that step, it can still be a confusing journey to go from blocking in shapes to the finished painting. We often feel compelled to rush too quickly from those big shapes to the finishing touches—those small, crisp, “eye-catcher” marks.

If you can restrain yourself from rushing into those finer details, you can better focus on pushing each of your original shapes to their correct value (light/dark), temperature (warm/cool) and chroma (bright/dull). You’ll want to be aware that, at this point in the painting process, you won’t yet have the variety of edges to give the landscape form and depth, and it will likely have an overall “mushy” appearance, which can be disconcerting. But be patient!

Shown below is an early stage of the painting shown at the top of this post. At this point, I’ve addressed each shift of value, temperature and chroma over my block-in. The only area that I allowed just a bit of tightening at this stage is in the area that I know will be my focal point … just below and to the right of the darkest trees. All other marks are kept loose and vague (mushy).


The early "mushy" stage of Stop Along the Way.

It’s important to back up at this point and check value/temperature/chroma. Make all necessary corrections before you move forward to finer marks.

After a few more tweaks to this phase, it was time to add the finer details that you see in the finished painting.

Keep in mind, it’s important to let some of the original undefined, vague areas (those mushy parts) stay that way, especially in the tree foliage and grass. This will enhance those special areas that you choose to make more defined.


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

Dahlonega, GA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Jan. 25-27, 2018
"Landscape & Light"
The Art Loft
Contact: Anita Elder, aelder1@windstream.net, 706-429-6008
$485

Fresno, CA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Feb. 15-17, 2018
"Composition Boot Camp"
A Sense of Place Fine Art Gallery
Contact: Ginny Burdick, gburdick@sti.net, 559-392-6775
$375

Providence, RI - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
March 23-25, 2018
"Painting the Poetic Landscape"
Providence Art Club
Contact: Angel Dean, angel@providenceartclub.org, 401-331-1114 ext. 16
www.providenceartclub.org
$425/members; $525/nonmembers (nonmember fee includes lunch each day)

There's more!!! ... For FULL WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, go to www.barbarajaenicke.com




My INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS are available at www.paintingthepoeticlandscape.com.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Up, Down & Around: Painting Skies, Water & Trees

Water on the Move, pastel, 11x14, workshop demo

This past week I taught a new workshop I’ve developed called Up, Down & Around: Painting Skies, Water & Trees. I was real happy with the format, and it was well received by a very enthusiastic group of artists at SageBrushers Art Society in Bend, OR!

Following below are progression shots of some of my “warm up” paintings that I did just prior to the workshop. For the actual demos painted in the workshop, I talked through each step, addressing the why and how for each step.



Clouds Dancing Over the High Desert, 8x10, oil

For skies, comparing values at the base of dark clouds to values on the ground is critical (photos don’t usually give accurate information for this area!), as is comparing cloud edges to edges elsewhere in the landscape.




Power and Poetry on the Deschutes, 8x10, oil

For water, paying close attention to color temperature shifts between sky reflections on top of the water and what lies beneath, contributes to a genuine capture of translucency and reflective light.




Sunlit Discombobulation, 8x10, pastel

For trees, starting with the big shape without over-defining edges (keep ‘em loose and vague!) and carving out negative space later is important if you want to avoid a “stiff” tree.

I’ll be teaching this same workshop again this November in Bridgewater, NJ (see below) and may also teach it at more venues in the future.


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS:

Landgrove, VT - 4-day PASTEL/OIL workshop (studio with some plein air, weather permitting)
Oct. 16, 17, 18 & 19, 2017 (Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs)
"Painting the Poetic Landscape"
InView Center for the Arts at the Landgrove Inn
132 Landgrove Road, Landgrove, VT  05148
Contact: Tom Checchia, vtinn@sover.net, 802-824-6673
$480

Bridgewater, NJ - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Nov. 3, 4 & 5, 2017 (Fri/Sat/Sun)
"Up, Down & Around: Painting Skies, Water & Trees"
York Art Studio
350 Grove St. #4, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
yorkartstudio@gmail.com
908-392-0998
$400
Contact: Barbara Jaenicke, barbarajaenicke@msn.com

Dahlonega, GA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Jan. 25-27, 2018
"Landscape & Light"
The Art Loft
Contact: Anita Elder, aelder1@windstream.net, 706-429-6008
$485

Fresno, CA - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Feb. 15-17, 2018
"Composition Boot Camp"
A Sense of Place Fine Art Gallery
Contact: Ginny Burdick, gburdick@sti.net, 559-392-6775
$375

There's more!!! ... For FULL WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, go to www.barbarajaenicke.com




My INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS are available at www.paintingthepoeticlandscape.com.