Abbey Ryan (update)

Abbey Ryan, still life
I first wrote about Philadelphia based painter Abbey Ryan back in 2007. She was a early adopter of the “painting-a-day” regimen and the painter/blogger approach to selling directly to individuals and collectors through the internet, bypassing the traditional gallery system.

Ryan studied oil painting with David Leffel at the Art Students League in New York, and studied painting and scientific illustration at Arcadia University. She also studied medical and biological illustration at Johns Hopkins University and painting at Hunter College.

Though she occasionally paints landscapes and also creates non-representational ink paintings, Ryan’s focus is on still life.

“Focus”, I think, is the operative word. Ryan’s approach has always impressed me as contemplative, conveying a quiet sense of devoted attention. Her subjects are traditional — largely fruit, cheese and other small food items, often accompanied by pottery or metalware. These are approached in a manner inspired by 17th century Dutch still life, with objects emerging in deep chiaroscuro from dark backgrounds.

I particularly enjoy those compositions in which she highlights reflective areas in the pottery or in reflective fruits, and then controls the transition between that and the darkness of the background with carefully modulated value relationships.

Ryan’s work has received national attention, including a highlighted article in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Her website has a section devoted to available work as well as a representative selection of paintings. For a broader selection, as well as the latest paintings, her blog is more complete and up to date.

You can also check her eBay page or her portfolio on Daily Paintworks.

Her blog, however, is also the best place to catch notice of upcoming live demos and workshops. There are excerpts from both on YouTube.

Ryan also offers private mentoring in the form of individual private instruction over the internet.

In addition, Ryan has developed an online course in mindfulness and digital detox — developed from her mindful studio practice — called “The Innernet“. (She addresses the apparent contradiction of an online course about going offline. The course embraces the advantages of both in their turn.)

The Innernet” course is taught in one-week sessions, the next one of which starts in two days on January 6, 2016.

 
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Daily Painting, Carol Marine

Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist
I’ve been following the “daily painting” phenomenon since 2005, when I wrote about a blog called A Painting a Day by Virginia painter Duane Keiser.

Keiser had committed himself to painting one small painting each day and posting it to his blog. I commented at the time that I thought this was a terrific idea, and lamented that I didn’t have the time and discipline to follow suit.

I watched with interest as other artists took up the practice, one of whom was Texas painter Carol Marine, an early adopter who started her painting a day practice in 2006. I wrote about her in early 2007.

I continued to follow the idea, as “painting a day” grew into a genuine internet phenomenon — part of a fundamental change in the way artists world-wide interact with their audience. (And, years later than I should have, I finally joined in.)

In addition to taking note of new artists taking up the practice, for which “painting a day” became too narrow a term and “daily painting” is more widely applicable, I’ve also watched some of the earlier adopters continue to make progress (which is, after all, the primary goal of the practice).

Marine, in particular, has become noted not only for her small paintings, with their inventive compositions, geometrically strong forms and bold colors, but as one of the primary proponents of encouraging others to take up daily painting — thorough articles on her blog, a series of online tutorials and in-person workshops.

In addition, Marine and her husband, programmer David Marine, established Daily Paintworks, which has become a very popular group showcase and auction system for hundreds of daily painters.

She has also published a few books through online sources, but has recently published a book dedicated to the subject of daily painting through Random House, titled: Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist (Amazon link).

I have to admit that as much as I enjoy Marine’s work, I expected a book on this topic to be somewhat lightweight, filled with lots of her appealing paintings, and a bit of breezy commentary about the practice of daily painting.

I was wrong.

I received a review copy of Daily Painting, and I was delighted to find it extensive, well thought out, beautifully designed, and dense with information.

The book actually succeeds on three levels: as an introduction to the practice of daily painting and a detailed guide to following it; as a coach-like encouragement to follow through, keep on track and overcome problems like artist’s block; and as a basic guide to the fundamentals of oil painting.

In addition to topics related directly to daily painting, such as choosing subjects, photographing and posting your paintings to a blog, promoting your work and selling small paintings online; she also does a fine job of covering painting basics like materials, composition, proportion, value, color mixing and brush work.

Marine’s primary subject matter is still life, though she also paints landscapes and figures, and the book is rich with photos of her work; but she also draws on the work of other daily painters, such as Karin Jurick, Belinda Del Pesco, Qiang Huang, Michael Naples and a number of others, to add variety in subject matter, medium and style.

Woven throughout the instruction and information is the core message of the book — and a valid and valuable one it is — summed up in the book’s subtitle: “Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist”.

She states in the initial chapter that painting small and often: minimizes emotional involvement in individual paintings, reduces fear, encourages experimentation, provides structure and promotes rapid growth as a painter.

I agree wholeheartedly; and for anyone interested in taking up the practice, I highly recommend Daily Painting.

 
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Duane Keiser (update)

Duane Keiser
I first wrote about Virginia painter Duane Keiser back in 2005, when I noticed his blog, a painting a day, on which he was featuring small, postcard size paintings — one a day as he painted them on a makeshift cigar box easel — and placing them for sale on eBay.

At the time, this was a novel idea, and I don’t think Keiser, or anyone else, could have anticipated that it would blossom into the “painting a day” phenomenon, or that it would help pave the way for a fundamental change in the way large numbers of artists would come to use the internet to connect directly with collectors.

Since then, I reported on Keiser at various points as I chronicled the growth of the painting a day approach, and I’ve also more recently highlighted a couple of his interesting experiments in repainting the same canvas repeatedly (see my links below).

It occurred to me, however, that I’ve been remiss in not revisiting Keiser’s continuing work as a painter, particularly his ongoing posts to a painting a day, which are a continual delight.

You can also see his work on his website, and a number of interesting videos of his process on YouTube.

Keiser has a keen eye for subtle color, a command of painterly textures and a finessed attention to edges. His seemingly simple subjects quietly reveal themselves as sophisticated balancing acts of suggestion and definition, dynamically playing one element against another within a unified, understated whole.

 
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Duane Keiser’s Transitory Paintings

Duane Keiser's Transitory Paintings
It’s not uncommon for artists to paint over, or scrape off and repaint, existing paintings. Oil paintings, in particular, lend themselves to this process, and a number of historical paintings have been shown by art forensics to have been painted over or repainted many times.

Normally, the goal is a finished painting that is better in some way than the previous version. However, Duane Keiser, a painter I have written about previously here on Lines and Colors, has taken the concept of repainting in a different direction.

Keiser has been engaged in a daily painting practice for a long time, and is in fact the originator of the “Painting a Day” phenomenon, as started on his blog of the same name back in 2004.

In 2011, I reported on his video of a painting experiment called Peel, in which he painted a tangerine as he peeled it — showing the different stages of peeling the fruit in multiple images — on the same panel, painting and repainting over images that most other painters might have considered finished (and salable).

I marveled at the artistic confidence involved in a process like that, and I marvel at it again in Keiser’s recent experimental Transitory Paintings.

In these two separate panels, Keiser has painted a landscape and a room interior of his studio. In each case, he is repeatedly repainting the same panel to reflect changing conditions of his subject in different seasons, light and time of day.

Keiser has a slowly changing slideshow of each painting in various stages on his website. Keep in mind while viewing these (and the screen captures I’ve posted above) that these are not a series of related paintings, but single paintings that are being repainted over and over.

The landscape has actually been sold, to friends of the artist, with the understanding that Keiser will occasionally remove the painting, paint over it with a new version of the scene, and then return it to them — a constantly evolving painting.

 
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My turn as a painter/blogger

Chaley Parker painting
Back in 2005, the year in which I began writing Lines and Colors, I reported about an artist from Virginia named Duane Keiser, who had the year before begun a practice of painting a small painting every day, posting it to a blog titled “a painting a day” and placing it up for auction on eBay.

It seemed a unique thing at the time, and as far as I can establish, Keiser was indeed the originator of the practice.

In my article, I remarked on what a great idea this was, and how I wished I could emulate the discipline. It promised the kind of advancement as a painter that only regular painting can provide, aided by the incentive of selling the paintings as they were done.

The following year, I reported on others who had become “painting a day” participants, like Karin Jurick, David R. Darrow, Shelly Grund, Elin Pendleton and, in particular, Julian Merrow-Smith.

Over the years since then, I’ve watched and reported on the burgeoning of the “painting a day” phenomenon, although it has become so widespread and generalized that the term has lost much of its meaning, and I now tend to use the more general term “painter/bloggers”.

This is a practice in which hundreds of artists, at all levels of experience, are painting and posting their work on blogs and connecting with buyers through online auctions, PayPal payments, Etsy shops, group sites like Daily Paintworks and other means of direct sales — either bypassing or supplementing the traditional gallery system.

After following this for some time, and having gradually brought my own painting practice somewhat up to speed, I’ve decided to jump in and try it for myself.

The regimen of painting every day remains appealing, and the idea of selling the work makes it more likely I will adhere to the practice and hopefully will allow me to devote more time to painting.

What I’ve learned and decided so far.

I’ve tried to observe some of the best practices from those who have been doing this for a while; and as I begin my process, I’ll try to make occasional reports on Lines and Colors for those who might be interested in what I learn.

I’ve also tried to follow my own advice in my article on “How Not to Display Your Artwork on the Web” and the follow up series on “How to Display your Art on the Web“.

So far I’ve established a few things that seem basic and essential, and I’ve also made a few decisions to vary from the mainstream.

Though I endeavor to paint every day, my goal for posting finished paintings will not be “a painting a day” but a more modest one of two small paintings a week, which I will try to post consistently on Mondays and Wednesdays. [Addendum: I’ve changed this to Mondays and Thursdays.]

Chaley Parker painting  blog

The blog

Like most painter/bloggers, I’ve created a blog, on which I will post my paintings as I put them up for auction.

Unlike many, however, I’ve decided that on that blog I will only post paintings, and not water it down with posts about works in progress, studio photos, the new brushes I just got, the weather, or any other topics not directly related to the paintings. I will continue to insist that the home page of a website, or the top of a blog’s home page, should always be aimed at the first-time visitor, not those familiar with the site who are returning.

For the design of the blog itself, I’ve deliberately chosen a dark neutral background, as I think it shows off the color of images to best advantage. Many painters without design experience don’t realize how much a colored web page background, that may seem appealing for the blog itself, can compete with and detract from the presentation of their work.

I’ve made a point of dedicating the sidebar to introducing myself, and describing the intention of the site, the size, medium and support of the paintings, the process, and my policies for selling and shipping the paintings. I’ve also made sure to provide a contact email address.

The current painting will appear at the top of the page, and visitors will have the ability to click on the image to view it large, or click on a link to view or leave comments. Comments will not only add interest for those visiting the site, but hopefully provided informative feedback on the paintings.

Chaley Parker painting  on eBay

The auctions

I’ve chosen to use eBay for the auctions, primarily because I already have an account and there is no upfront expense as with the Daily Paintworks auctions.

Most of my paintings are 5×7″ or 6×8″, and in keeping with the kind of size-based scale I would apply to gallery pricing, I’ve decided to set their auction minimums at $100 and $125, respectively.

I’ve also decided to limit my auction periods to 3 days, though this is one of the elements of the process of which I’m least confident, so it may change. [Addendum: Yes, changed to seven days.]

On the blog, I’ve provided a consistent line below each painting on the entry to show the painting’s status: At Auction, Available or Sold, and a clear link to the auction.

There will be an archive of past paintings, sold or otherwise, and a page for available works that are not at auction. Paintings not sold at auction will be priced at what I would consider gallery minimums at $200 for the 5×7″ and $250 for the 6×8″.

Contact and promotion

Near the top of the blog, I’ve included a sign-up for a newsletter, by which those interested can receive an email notice whenever I post a new painting.

For this, I’ve chosen to use MailChimp, which allows you to create and manage an email newsletter list for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month for free.

I’ve created a new email address, specifically for contact through the painting blog.

I’ve created a new Twitter account, @CParkerArt, specifically for announcing paintings as I post them. I had to log out of my Lines and Colors Twitter account to create the new account. I’m using TweetDeck to manage multiple Twitter accounts now that they’re established.

I’ve also given the blog some basic search engine optimization (more on that later) and I will probably leverage my ability to place an ad on my own general topic blog (i.e. this one) to perhaps send some visitors, and some “Google love”, to my new painting blog.

Waiting

One thing I’ve decided to do differently than most painter/bloggers is to delay posting the paintings for several weeks.

Common practice is to post a painting as soon as it’s done, hot off the easel, so to speak. This, however, means that the purchaser, whether direct or through an auction process, must usually wait several weeks for an oil painting to dry enough to be shipped.

At the risk of appearing out of sync with the seasons, particularly as they change, I’ve decided to wait three to four weeks for the paintings to dry, and then apply a light coat of retouch varnish — with another week for that to dry, before posting the paintings and putting them up for auction.

This will allow me to ship the paintings as as soon as the auction closes. I’ve tried to weigh the the plusses and minuses of both approaches, but if I buy something, I’m much happier when I receive it sooner rather than later.

Varnishing

My decision to varnish the paintings is as much a desire to even out the painting’s surface appearance as to provide protection. I seldom use medium when painting, so even though I’m using a very high quality paint (more on that later), passages in which I’ve used thinly applied chromatic blacks in particular (e.g. Alizarin plus Viridian or Ultramarine Blue plus Burnt Umber) can look flat or “sunken in” compared to more thickly applied areas of brighter color.

After a bit of research, I’ve decided to use Gamblin’s Gamvar synthetic resin varnish, thinned with odorless mineral spirits (OMS to varnish 5:1), to act as a retouch varnish. This can be applied much sooner than a final varnish as it allows the paint to continue to dry. A light coating of this also has much less gloss than a full coat of final varnish.

Photographing the paintings

Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve arrived at a completely satisfactory method of photographing the paintings. I’ll go into more detail on what I’m doing in that respect in a future post.

The start

I’ve been pretty consistent in recent weeks with painting every day and finishing two small painting each week. I’ve just posted my first painting (above, top), which was painted at a nearby state park several weeks ago (with a few finishing touches in the studio).

Progress reports

I’ll try to occasionally report on my progress here, as I learn what works for me and what doesn’t.

Of course, I’m always open to comments or suggestions from others who have engaged in the process.

It’s all about learning.

 
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New improved blog list (well, updated anyway)

From the Lines and Colors blogroll: John Macdonald Aiken, Ivan Generalic, Duane Keiser, Hans Versfelt , William J Aylward, Bob Eggleton, Kazu Kibuishi, Jacob Stålhamma, Elanor Kish, Mark Hess
In the left hand column of this blog, about halfway down, under the long lists of categories and the longer list of archives, is a list of links under the heading “Relevant Blogs”.

This has long been ignored, both unduly so by myself, and perhaps rightly so by those who have clicked on many of the links only to find they were out of date, broken or otherwise less than useful.

In response to a little recent pestering by a couple of readers (to whom my thanks go out for bringing it up into my field of attention), I squeezed out some time over the past few weeks to weed out the dead links, blogs that have not been updated for a year or more and less interesting destinations that were left over from years ago when the pickings were slimmer.

I’ve also included a number of fresh new destinations, to which I will continue to add.

The list is divided into generalized categories of blogs (which I may also eventually refine a bit) that hopefully make it a little easier to browse.

It may not look like much — it’s just a list of links — but as I’ve tried to demonstrate with a few examples above, there are treasures to be found.

Images above, from the blog list categories:

“Art, Painting & Sketch”: John Macdonald Aiken from Underpaintings and Ivan Generalic from Art Inconnu

“Painting a Day”: Duane Keiser

“Other Painting Blogs”: Hans Versfelt

“Illustration”: William J Aylward from 100 Years of Illustration and Design

“Sci-Fi & Fantasy”: Bob Eggleton

“Comics & Cartoons”: Kazu Kibuishi

“Animation & Concept”: Jacob Stålhammar from Animation Blog and Peggy Chung from Concept Art World

“Paleo & Scientific”: Elanor Kish from Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs

“Tools & Techniques”: Mark Hess from The Tools Artists Use

Considering that many of these blogs are in themselves both extensive resources and jumping off points for even more great sources of art, I’ll issue my Major Timesink Warning should you choose to jump down any or all of these rabbit holes.

Enjoy.

 
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