Monthly Archives: April 2017

3 Insider way to Land the Art Your Dream Internship

Goodbye Summer, Hello Internship!

Richard Whitten’s intern, Ashley Pelletier, is working on underpainting for a series of small experimental paintings. We know how important it is to land an art residency or internship. We also know how hard it is to feel noticed, and we want to help.

It’s time to set aside the suntan lotion and perfect those resumes! Accomplished artist Richard Whitten is here with three steps to get you closer to your dream internship.

1. Research

To start, research your state arts council. These state organizations are partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and collectively represented by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

State arts councils are great sources not only of grant monies but also of information. They provide seminars on artist professionalism, and they keep artist registries which are accessed by organizations across the country.

And, when looking for residencies, try resartis.org. This website is wonderful because it gives a comprehensive listing of residencies by country.

If you are more interested in an internship than a residency, you need to understand most professional artists use assistants. But the manner in which the relationship is made isn’t standardized. I usually cherry-pick students who have or could develop skills I need in the studio. But, more commonly, students write letters to artists offering to work for them.

Fingers crossed you get an interview, but be aware the artist will determine whether he or she can work closely with you. Respect the fact you’ll not be entering just any studio, but the artist’s private world of art-making. You’ll be living with his or her work habits, not imposing your own.

2. Apply

Manifest Creative Resource Gallery and Drawing Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, invites artists to apply for a residency that provides housing and studio space.

Applications to residencies and even letters inquiring about internships all include the same elements:samples of your work, an artist’s statement and project proposals. Submit the best possible images of your work. The standard number for a set of application images is 10.

Learn basic Photoshop techniques. The full Photoshop application is expensive, but Photoshop Elements isn’t. Take high-resolution images that can be reduced to the specifications of the grant.

Keep your artist’s statement simple and short, under one page. Avoid flights of fancy and poetry and clichés: “I could never have been anything but an artist;” “My paintings are a communion of my soul and yours.” Read your statement aloud, and make sure the sentences actually mean something. Be honest. Don’t brag, but don’t underplay yourself.

The best projects to propose are the ones that are already half finished. If you’ve completed a similar project in the past, so much the better, because you’ll be able to describe the current project accurately. Your objective is to show your project is worthwhile and you’re capable of completing it within the time and budget allotted.

3. Get started NOW!

One final bit of advice: Don’t wait until the last minute! Organize your images and write your three essays. Then the application process won’t be so daunting when an opportunity arises. You’ll easily be able to modify your essays and image selection to fit individual applications. Good luck, artists!

5 Tips on How to Turn a Coloring Book into a Handy Artwork

Coloring Book Creativity

Owls of a Feather, enhanced coloring book page, by Doreen Kassel. Learn how to make your own in Kassel’s adult coloring book, Lush Life Creative Coloring!

No longer an activity just for kids, coloring books can be relaxing, meditative and a great way to get in touch with your creative side. They are especially great resources for those of us who don’t yet have advanced artistic skills or a lot of free time on our hands.

And, because coloring books are pretty much one of the coolest inventions on the planet—at least in my opinion—there is even a national holiday dedicated to them: National Coloring Book Day on August 2.

Create a Mottled Background

Before you begin coloring, spray acrylic ink onto the page in various colors until you achieve the palette you want. Stand back to get a finer mist, and closer to get a thicker cover.

Be sure to cover your workspace to protect it from the spray. Give the page time to thoroughly dry before you move on to coloring.

Spray acrylic ink directly onto the page to create a mottled background.

Add Texture and Patterns with PanPastels

Create various textures and patterns by using a PanPastel tool to apply dashes of PanPastel across the page. White space can be left exposed or the whole page can be enveloped in color—it’s up to you.

Apply PanPastels across the page to create patterns and texture.

Add Details with Liquid Frisket

Create spiral designs, or any fun design you wish using Liquid Frisket and a Frisket Nib Tool. Be careful not to make it too intricate though, because the Frisket can be hard to control when painting finer lines.

Embellish with Highlights

Create select highlights on your coloring pages with white opaque paint and a fine-tipped brush.

Apply highlights with white paint and a fine-tipped brush.

Splatter It

Splatter liquid eraser or white acrylic paint across your coloring page using a palette knife and toothbrush. If you choose to use paint, it should be a loose consistency. It’s a good idea to experiment a bit with the splatter technique first to avoid any unwanted blobs. Create a splatter effect with white paint and a toothbrush.

Whether you decide to solely focus on trying to color within the lines, or try out some of Kassel’s creative tips, we hope you join us in celebrating this colorful holiday. Happy National Coloring Book Day, artists!

Ready to Draw a Good Cat? Colored Pencil Tips That You Will Use

Draw a Realistic Cat, Starting Meow!

Have you ever followed a bread crumb trail when scouring the internet which lead to watching hours-worth of funny cat videos on YouTube? It’s OK. We are all friends here. I have done it, too — and on more than one occasion.

Although this post doesn’t include any funny cat videos (though you may want to venture off to YouTube cat land after this), it will focus entirely on cats. Because when it comes to drawing our feline friends like a pro, forms and shares are everything.

If you want to learn how to draw realistic cats, or just practice your shapes and forms, then keep on reading! Below, artist Mark Menendez shares the most important aspect of drawing this popular subject. But if cats aren’t your thing, don’t worry. His tips can be applied to other subjects as well. Enjoy!

Colored Pencil: Understanding Basic Forms

Animal portraits created with colored pencil techniques are a popular subject in my classes and seminars, and many of my students want to learn how to draw cats. Whether shorthair or longhair, the feline form can be challenging.

The bulk of art instruction books and videos, especially those demonstrating colored pencil, focus on detail. I prefer instruction that focuses on basic forms. While the handling of detail is essential in any work of art, it is only one element in creating a drawing or painting of merit.

To me, the capturing of form, through a faithful rendering of light and shadow, is much more vital than detail. Therefore, as I teach, I have always put emphasis on first capturing form, whatever the subject, as revealed by the direction, position, quality and temperature of the light source illuminating the subject, and then applying the detail.

In Fox Hollow (colored pencil) by Mark Menendez, you can see how the same colored pencil techniques are applied to a different animal.

The use of basic forms is almost always included in the first few pages of every beginner drawing book or video. Yet I find students, whether my young artists or my “seasoned citizen” students, often want to skip past that section of the instruction.They prefer to get right to the details.

In my opinion, they’re skipping the stage of the drawing that renders the illusion of three dimensions. Why is this so?

Consider this: When someone sets out to bake a birthday cake, you wouldn’t start by mixing the icing and decorating by piping the borders, leaves and flowers. No, you would bake the cake first!

The two layers, one stacked upon the other, is the form upon which all the icing, borders, leaves and flowers is built. You can’t decorate without that foundational form underneath. And so it is with any three-dimensional subject you draw or paint.

Be One with Nature

The basic forms found most often in nature are the sphere, cone, cylinder and cube. When you observe the four basic forms, you may discover they each have a distinctive “shadow shape.”

Many times the shadow shape on a spherical form is in the shape of a crescent; the cone, a triangular shadow; the cube is identified by a quadrangular shadow shape; and on the cylinder, the shadow runs in a rectangular fashion, running along the sides of the form.

The feline form, as observed, can be created from the sphere (the head and body); the cone (the ears, snout and feet); and the cylinder (the legs and tail). After sketching a cat using the basics forms, you then observe the shadows and render the shadow shapes as observed on your subject,

With the shadows in place, then you can add the fur texture, features, and other details, As I repeat so often in my class, “Form first, details last!”

Want More Cat Drawing Tips?

It is easier than you may think to render lifelike cat drawings in colored pencil. In fact, in Mark Menendez’s video workshop, Colored Pencil Animals: How to Draw a Cat, he demonstrates techniques for making vibrant color, including scumbling, layering and blending; how to create form and shadow; lessons for drawing fur, whiskers and eyes; and more.

And speaking of eyes, check out the preview trailer below for an inside look into how Menendez captures that realistic sparkle, while getting a little creative with his color choices.

Breaking the Rules When You Come to Photography and Fine Arts

Want to learn the dos and don’ts for painting from photos? You’re in luck! Artist Timothy Jahn raises a few good points on why we should be open to painting from photographs, what kind of things to be watchful of when you do, and the different kind of images you can get from point-and-shoot, phone, and DSLR cameras.

And, if you love painting landscapes but haven’t mastered working with photos, Jahn’s insights serve as a great warm up to the Paint Along collection, Paint Stunning Landscapes from Photos with Johannes Vloothuis. Teach yourself alongside Johannes and see if painting from photographs is right for you and your art. Enjoy!

Painting from Photographs Makes Sense

It seems as though people have been arguing about the use of photography in fine art since it became an option. Many artists feel as though using photography or painting from photographs is cheating, or they are misled regarding the use of the tools.

I’m reluctant to learn new technology, but happy when I do. Yes, I use digital photography as part of my reference gathering techniques. And while it’s true digital photography was not available to Rembrandt, that’s not going to stop me. I also use Penicillin, multivitamins, and light bulbs.

Some inventions just make sense to utilize. We all have to make a choice between the tools available to us and our enjoyment of our process. If you get excited about only working from life, by all means, keep doing it.

Now that you all know that I am a big giant cheater, here are some of the tools I have used and some suggestions for those of you who are considering dancing with the dark arts of photography.

There are so many choices in cameras, looking at all the options can be overwhelming. Many websites about cameras are written for photographers or photography students.

While several artists quietly work from photo reference, they don’t often share opinions on the tools they use because they want to stay out of the debate on the subject.

Consequently, there is little sharing available to aid in your research. Your primary decision is between a point-and-shoot camera or a Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera.

Point-and-Shoot Cameras

If you’re pursuing painting as a hobby and are looking to use photo references, a simple point-and-shoot camera may be a good choice for you. There are many wonderful choices and even some that work really well underwater.

There are advantages to a point-and-shoot camera. Due to the size, it’s easy to slip one into your pocket and head out looking for great subjects. You can get in the habit of bringing one along for any sudden inspiration (scroll down for another solution for this).

Another big advantage is price. For the most part, they’re cheaper than a DSLR, although some options are at the high-end.

With your point-and-shoot, you will also be able to take pictures in auto mode. While the quality of images produced varies greatly from camera to camera, they generally shoot quite well in this way.

Venice Love Letter (above) is a painting I completed from a series of photos taken with an Olympus Tough TG-310. During my honeymoon, I had a problem with my DSLR. I left the battery charger on my kitchen table.

Fortunately, my wife Holly always travels with a simple point-and-shoot. I was able to create a painting from photographs when I got back into the studio based on several nice photos I shot with her camera. As Holly and I walked around Venice, I found tons of fantastic spots and so much inspiration for paintings.

DSLR Cameras

If you’re pursuing an art career and are willing to take the time to learn how to operate a new piece of technology, a DSLR might be a good choice for you. Due in part to the larger sensor size, the DSLR camera has the advantage in image quality.

You also have the option to use a multitude of lenses, which makes a DSLR hugely adaptable and allows you to get a higher quality image for the subjects you’re painting. I use an 85mm lens to shoot portrait and standard 50mm for still life.

Likewise, if I were interested in doing wildlife images, I could use the same camera with a 500mm lens to shoot animals from a great distance.

Above is a figure in an interior I completed using photos from a relatively simple Canon 300D Digital Rebel. While I may have really enjoyed painting this from life, the situation didn’t allow it.

I had limited time in this space and my model was living in Atlanta, so it became necessary to work from photos. The camera I used was the first DSLR I owned. While it was not anywhere near as advanced as the current entry-level cameras are, it worked very well and was wonderful to learn on.

Many cameras have predesigned automatic modes that do a lot of the work for you. The DSLR, however, is designed with a photographer in mind and allows you to control your own settings in manual mode.

You will be able to fully adjust the ISO, aperture and shutter speed. This is really where the learning curve is, but if you invest the time, the control is worth it. As you gain skills and confidence with the camera, you will be able to minimize the adverse effects of creating paintings from photographs.

Finding a Balance: Photography and Fine Art

There are many wonderful camera companies, although I’m most comfortable with Canon. Some of my apprentices have recently purchased the Canon EOS Rebel T5, and it takes great photos. Nikon makes wonderful products as well. Our studio uses an entry level DSLR D3100 by Nikon and the images are easy to work from.

Keep in mind, if you buy a DSLR learn how the operating system works, and purchase lenses for that system. You are setting yourself up for the chance to upgrade within that company. So you may want to have a long-term look at the situation and pick a company that you can grow with.

I purchased my first Canon in 2004 and have gradually upgraded. After getting accustomed to the first camera, I purchased an 85mm lens for portrait photography, which I still use.

The final image I wanted to share with you was completed with a photo from an iPhone. You probably already own a piece of technology such as this, which allows you to become very reactive to your impulses.

While I had several methods available to complete this painting, including doing it from life, I wanted to see if I could get a good image with the camera I have at my disposal every day.

Art has always been intertwined with technology. There was a time when frescos were the best thing in art, and some crazy monk came up with oil paint. Could you imagine if Leonardo da Vinci was like “Nah, I’m not going to use that new oil painting stuff because fresco is the real art?”

Don’t feel guilty if you want to explore or utilize technological advancements or create paintings from photographs. Just remember why you started to draw in the first place — likely it was for fun and expression. If your artworks display what your true interests are, the viewers will enjoy them immensely!