Saturday, April 28, 2012


Here I sit on a Saturday morning, getting ready to take the first few sips of my favorite McDonalds coffee.  I am contemplating my days agenda and I know with the assistance of a topographical map that sits on the table next to me, just waiting to be consulted, I'll pick a point on the map to explore. The next 14 hours stretch before me with all the possibilities and potential of a great day. What will I see and what secrets does this amazing state await for my discovery? I know there is masterpiece in my head, crying to be realized and so at home I have my paints packed and I've dusted off my plein air easel in anticipation of the days adventure.

A few hours in the wilds of Nevada will help give me the inspiration that I need to start my newest piece.  The theme is Dream a Little Dream and I just keep considering the many rugged men that came to Nevada and California in search of gold.  I've had the fun of panning for gold just one time and the experience was amazing.  I want to capture that sense of adventure and the spirit of the man that forsook comfort and stability for a dream.

I've been admiring the magnificent artwork of Alfredo Rodriguez and he has so masterfully captured that in his painting "Colorado Gold Rush".  I can't come close to his skills but I want to create something that gives that same sense of adventure that he reflects here.  I highly recommend that you check out all of his works if you want to be inspired and amazed.

Yes, from my current vantage and one finished cup of coffee, my day stretches out with limitless possibilities and promises of masterpieces waiting to be created, maybe a little sunburn and most definitely a lot of wind blown hair. Thank you Lord for your all your promises and giving me the ability to consider the possibilities you have in store.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The rule of NO KISSING

This past weekend I subjected three of my works to the public scrutiny of the Clark County Fair and Rodeo in Logandale, Nevada. Now, I realize that a county fair isn't known for being a haven for renown art critics, but being that I am such a new artist, any opportunity for public display of my work is a learning experience.

 I had dreams that my newest piece, a large 24x36 inch acrylic painting that I call "Utah Reflections" would WOW the judges and I would arrive to find a number of large colorful ribbons prominently hanging all over the edges of its beautiful old barn wood frame. I was quickly brought to reality, when I saw only one single red ribbon fluttering in the slight breezes that blew off the 4H livestock barn.  Under that ribbon, was the judges score sheet and comments. Not wanting to draw attention to myself, I quickly scanned the words printed there. A paraphrase of the comment I found reads something like this, "Really good painting but your focal point is the bridge and you have placed in the corner."

To my untrained artistic mind, having the focal point in the corner was what I thought made the painting interesting. I also noticed, in most of my other works the focal point is off in the corner too.  Now, I realize that I am a self-taught artist and being that I haven't had intense composition training that many scholarly artists have undoubtedly received in the higher halls of art education and so I can confess I really know nothing about the official rules of composition.  Even so, I still think I have a natural eye for design, so I thought I would do a quick study on the subject.

A quick Google search and I found plenty hits on the subject but found the article written by Marion Buddy-Evans called "Art Composition Rules" at, proved to be pretty informational and condensed enough for my purpose of a really quick study.  There are several of the rules I know I now remember my high school art teacher, Mr. Easton telling us about.  One was the "Rule of Odds".  I always arrange things with odd numbers because Mr. Easton told us that made for a more interesting composition.  I didn't consider the why to that reasoning, but the article says it is because our brains can't pair things up on the composition and therefore it keeps our eyes moving across the canvas.  Well, I guess I'm good with this rule since my compositions has only ONE bridge.

I also found out about the "Rule of No Fried Eggs".  This rule is broken when you place your focal point right in the middle of the canvas surrounded by bland background.  Since my bridge is off the to far right corner, I'm assuming I didn't break this rule either and of course there is no bland background in any of my paintings.

There also is a "Rule of No Kissing".  This rule is broken when you allow edges of the objects to touch and not overlap or leave spaces between them.  The example was giving in the article of the horizon edge touching the edge of the sun rather than overlapping it.  There is depth and interest giving when objects overlap.  I think I'm good with this rule.

I think it is the "Rule of Thirds" that pertains more directly with my pieces and the placing of the focal point.  In this rule you divide the canvas space into thirds both vertically and horizontally.  The four intersecting points are hotspots and should be considered when you are placing focal point.  Rather than smack dab in the middle, or in my case the far bottom corner, your composition is suppose to be more interesting if you place it one third up or down or one third left or right. 

I know that all rules are there as guidelines and can easily be ignored, but I think it is important for me to consider these rule each time I rip open another canvas.  Rather than just painting and hoping for a great end result, a little more planning might be just the thing.  In reality, I only had one photo of that bridge to work with and I was really struggling with the perspective of the right side of the bridge and that is why I decided to simply paint the bridge right off the canvas.  As the artist, I have the creative license to do that.  The lesson here for me is that when I find an interesting subject matter, I need to take multiple shots, at all different angles so that I have the liberty to paint the focal point anywhere I want. What is really important here is that I learned something this weekend and that I'm still pleased with my piece even if there is only a single red ribbon hanging there.