Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I am not stalking Austin Kleon, really, I'm not.

I have a girl crush on Austin Kleon. There, I said it.  Granted I'm old enough to be his mother, but who cares? I love him, love his books - heck I even like his beard.  No, Austin, I'm not stalking you. Well maybe a little.  I just think you're a boy genius.  Or, to put it in your own words, a boy scenius.

For those of you who have been living in a cave on a remote island, Austin Kleon is the New York Times bestselling author of "Steal Like an Artist."
Austin Kleon Steal Like An Artist

I just finished his second book "Show Your Work." Brilliant. To the point, workable and no fluff. An easy read, but oh so deep.  And this guy has heart. We are sympatico on the whole issue of giving yourself away. Give it all away. Ah, but you have to read the book to understand what I'm raving about.  If you are a "creative" (I kinda hate that word, but I can't think of a better one) you need to read both of these books. Not just read but memorize. Sleep with them under your pillow so you can get all the goodies by osmosis. 

Then make stuff and show it to people. 

 Austin Kleon Show Your Work

Austin is coming to Flax Art Store in San Francisco on April 1 and I plan to be there.  I might gush a little, but hopefully I can keep my girl crush in line. Wish me luck!



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Drawing before you paint

Patti Brady's Light Molding Paste Dog


From the email bag Kim asks:
Do you have any recommendations/suggestions on what to use to sketch (lightly) on any surface where you would be using acrylic paint?

************* My answer *************
Hi Kim,

To sketch before you paint in acrylic, you can use just about anything.  The trouble arises when you try to paint in acrylic on top of water soluble materials like graphite, colored pencil or pastel.

It also helps if you use a toothy ground to draw on. This will help the drawing media adhere to the surface. Here's a link to some more info on grounds that are cool to draw on: http://www.goldenpaints.com/artist/drawing_dogs/index.php

Then burnish the drawing, pushing the dry media down into the ground. You can do this by laying a piece of tracing paper or parchment over the drawing and rubbing lightly with a baren or an old wooden spoon.

Then, spray with fixative or my favorite, Golden MSA varnish.  Just be sure not to over-saturate the surface with fixative or the acrylic may not adhere. 

Now draw with dry media to your heart's content and paint on top.  What fun!





Thursday, January 23, 2014

My book and art featured on Artist Network Blog

Thanks Artist Network for featuring my book and my art.  You all rock!

Italia 14 - Tesia Blackburn


Artist's Network Post

Here's a snippet of the post:


Acrylic Painting With Passion is Tesia Blackburn’s newest book (available for pre-order). The title speaks of passion, but as you and I know, words can only go so far. It’s when I saw the art on the front cover that I sat back in my chair and whispered, “whoa.” This is a book by a passionate artist, for passionate artists. With chapters like “Fifteen What-Ifs” and “Letting the Brain Play,” I can see that it’s a treasure box of inspiration. Not to mention that it also covers techniques for acrylic and mixed media art. And the subtitle, Explorations for Creating Art that Nourishes the Soul, further wraps up what you’ll discover within the pages.
So when you find yourself questioning why you create art, take a deep breath, and celebrate the passion that keeps you going, that makes your blood flow. There’s no point in denying it to anyone, especially yourself. Be the artist you are. (If this statement speaks to you, share it on Twitter.)




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Is your art making you sick?



A question from the email bag:  "I am beginning a second painting class with (teacher)  and am hesitant to closet myself with 10 people painting in an unventilated room at (this school). 

During our last painting class (3 mos ago) I experienced headache, nausea and dizziness.  Eventually I began to have confusion and memory loss which I attributed to a very stressful time in my life.

I did not put these symptoms together with SOLVENTS until last Monday when I witnessed an oil painting demo and experienced headache and nausea.  I can find nearly NOTHING on line admitting that solvents are even TOXIC, muchless could possibly cause these symptoms--

can you possibly direct me to a site with health information about this subject?"

******************************

Here's my answer folks.  NEVER WORK IN AN UNVENTILATED ROOM.  I don't care if you are making paper collage or working in watercolor.  You need proper ventilation.  Period.  And ten people, painting in oil in an unventilated room? That is flat out irresponsible on the part of the instructor. 

The big problem here is not the solvents, per se.  It's the lack of ventilation in the working environment with the solvents. 

Can you tell I'm steamed over this?  Well I am.  I went through five years of art school as an undergrad, painting in horrible conditions without adequate ventilation and suffered the consequences.  I can never, ever use oil based solvents again. Sure, I can paint alla prima but I can never use turpentine or mineral spirits again. 

Luckily for me, I love acrylic paint and for the last 20 years it has been my medium of choice. But I still use ventilation in the studio.  In fact, I'm so keen on it, I made a video about it. 



They say in real estate, location, location.  In art studios it should be "ventilation, ventilation!"  Get lots of fresh air in your studio and DEMAND adequate ventilation in the studios where you attend classes or workshops. 

Also, visit Monona Rossol's website for information on safety in the studio.  She has great information that you can order. Go to "Data Sheets and Books" on her site. Lots of info there. Everyone should have a copy of The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide.  Read it.

What we do as artists can be harmful to our health if we don't use the proper safety precautions.  Remember, this is your industry and you should know the correct way to perform your job as an artist.  Those old fashioned notions of suffering for your art are sooooo 1990s.  Do you want to live a long and healthy life and make art into your old age? Then pay attention to the safety rules!

Stay healthy out there people!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Journeyman and the Genius

I just finished re-reading Steven Pressfield's "The Authentic Swing". I highly recommend it, as I have recommended his previous books, "The War of Art" and "Turning Pro".

In "The Authentic Swing" Pressfield exhorts creatives (writers, painters, musicians) to start. "You start. That's all you can do." He goes on to say that "An energy field is created by your love, your will, your devotion, your sweat. This energy field draws to it like-minded particles. You start writing a scene and suddenly a new character appears." This is like painting - a lot. You start with a shape or a color and then, bam! something happens and you continue. As one famous painter said, I think it was Jasper Johns, "you do something and then you do something to that."

It seems to me that this is coming from the Journeyman's point of view. You know the Journeyman (or woman). He gets up every day, bangs out the work in front of him and goes home.  Contrast this to the Genius, or better yet, the Tortured Genius and you will see the issue I'm working on here.  The Genius is the one who has to be inspired by the Muse, usually in the face of personal trials and tribulations, in order to create. The Journeyman's work ethic is much more orderly and less dramatic.

I'm trying to figure out if there is such a thing as a Genius, tortured or otherwise, and if being a Journeyman (which I consider myself to be) is good enough. Or do I have to set my hair on fire and wait for the Muse to knock me on my ass?  Or, if as a Journeyman, I draw the Muse to my work by my sweat and labor?  Is it good enough for me to put in the hours, diligently searching for the answers and racking up the experience? None of which, by the way, is ever going to garner me the cover of Artnews.

These things keep me up at night. I tell my students - "do the work, just do the work."  The work itself is the answer.

But now Steven Pressfield has gone and stuck a thorn in my side.  I thought I had this all figured out. I was happy as a Journeyman.  I wasn't looking for Inspiration From On High.  I believed that the work itself was the inspiration.  Now I'm wondering if I'm gathering enough "like-minded particles" or maybe my energy field is lacking.  I'm not trying to be funny here. I really do wonder.

In the end, I think, I'll just have to keep plodding along.  It's not glamorous or hair-raising, but it works for me. And sometimes, when I get it just right, when my heart beats a little faster after I finish the painting, I think I know.  I think Steve is right.  "The Muse is a lady and you can't say no to a Lady."   Which is another way of saying, "stop asking stupid questions and do your work."

Thanks, Steve.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Working with Golden Flow Release



Here's a little video on working with Golden Flow Release.  We shot this "cowboy style" on location in Montana.  

Enjoy!