Questions & Answers - #4



Color Course Coming Up

01:54 Excited to be here again and answer a few questions. And I've actually got a couple really cool announcements that you want to pay attention to. We've got a color course coming up! I would love for you to give us your number one question about color because we're trying to create a course that's going to be really good and helpful. Answering real questions, not just me thinking, "Oh, I think this would be helpful, I think this would be helpful" and then miss a bunch of questions that people have. To submit your question go here.

03:31 People were asking, "How do you choose your colors for shadows? Because if you have warm light, is it a cool shadow? Is it a warm shadow? How do you decide those things?" Other people asking questions about, "If you're doing a shadow that's bluish or... What blue is cool, and what blue is warm?" All these good questions that I'm thankful people are asking. And we're gonna be able to address each one of them in the course. So super looking forward to that.

04:12 Peter and I are going to travel down to California. We're going to do some painting outside. We're going to be looking at some cool scenery. We're not able to go to Southern California, but we're going to Central California and North. We're going to start in Portland and work our way down. We're going to Portland to talk with another artist that's going to do some courses.

We're going to end up somewhere but we need some advice. We're thinking about Yosemite National Park, of course, and we've got some ideas. But if you have some ideas, please let us know what they are. And you can just email us. Email me at [email protected] And I would love to hear your suggestions about where we could go. We are open to your ideas. 

Acrylics Are Hot

05:18 I live in this world with professional artists and I go to events and I'm the one acrylic painter there. I went to the Plein Air Convention last year. I was walking around. Everybody has their name tag, and they have a list of things underneath their name tag telling people what they do. It might be that you're a first-timer or that you've been there seven times, but they always have something about your medium. Some people paint in pastels and oils. So they would have two of those things. Some people are water color artists.

06:07 You know what? They didn't even have a tag for acrylics. So I was walking around without any of that kinda stuff, and they didn't have an acrylic stage. I had to do a demonstration, and they said, "Well, you just have to go to the pastel stage for that."

We got an email this week. They said, "Hey, we're excited about acrylics. Acrylics are really hot right now." And they had a picture of me and a couple other artists that they were featuring. They said, "We're going to have an acrylics stage this year. We're super excited about it." So anyways, I thought that that was a huge win for acrylics, and really pumped about that because we're making headway in the art world.

07:03 You're a huge part of this. I hope you know that this is not a small thing that we're trying to do. We're trying to change the art world. And you are a big part of it. I'm so proud of you for your involvement with Acrylic University, for the strides you're making in your art and everything you're doing because I see what you guys are posting and I'm blown away. I'm so excited to see what you're doing. So keep up the good work people.

Write a Poem and Win a Painting

07:35 I've got one more announcement before I get into the questions. Partly to celebrate what I just shared about the momentum that acrylic paints are having in the world and where we're seeing the Plein Air Convention going. And I was going to give away this painting right here. It's a pretty cool little painting here. This is the tulip fields of Skagit Valley. And I am going to give this away. This is going to be the second prize but I'm also going to give away another prize.

"Tulip Fields in Skagit Valley" - 12x16

08:40 And this is the painting. It was the feature painting in my recent show. And we were surprised that it didn't sell, but now I'm thinking, "Okay, this is a perfect prize to give to somebody." So we're going to have a contest that is going to celebrate acrylic paints. So this is my heads up warning for you. Get an early start on planning because what you want to do is start writing a poem about acrylic paints. We have to set up all the details. We'll have a page on our website where you can enter your poem. 

"Dawn's Beauty" (Converse, IN) - 36x36

09:53 Whoever wins is going to get this painting that's worth over $2000. They're going to win and be able to have the tulip painting as their prize in second place. Maybe we'll have another prize. Start writing your poem. You want to work on that and get a really good one to us. Be creative. Be thoughtful. Be positive about acrylic paints and you might just win and take home a cool painting.

10:34 I'm going to get into these questions and excited to keep getting these things from you. It's fun. This is a question from Laura. She's asking for a lesson on perspective. She really wants to see a painting done where there's some real perspective in distance and in some structural things, like a house, or a building where she can work on perspective and have something in the foreground, and then a lot of distance. So I'm actually going to work on that today. I'm going to be working on that actual thing today. We're in production mode.

Honestly Critiquing Your Own Art

11:48 Dorena asked this question. And this is a really good question, especially if you're interested in selling your art or you're interested in art as a career. 

12:28 "How do you honestly critique your art? I would like to sell my paintings at some point, but I'm having a hard time judging if the quality and technique is there, or if I'm just partial to it." What happens a lot of times is that we paint something and we are investing ourselves in it. A part of us is coming out onto that canvas and whether we're aware of it or not, we get emotionally attached to a painting. And it's good because that's what motivates us. We love what we're doing. It's like a part of us that we're putting out there. It's also what makes it really hard because, "What if somebody doesn't like my painting? It's like they don't like me. What if I entered into a show and it gets rejected?  Are they rejecting me?"

13:39 A couple of days ago, I was in a hard place mentally. Part of it was feeling rejected at a certain level for things that I had worked really hard on and I didn't feel like people were receiving them. I found myself super low, feeling awful. And I realized that that was what was happening. I had put my value into what people thought of my art or what people were willing to pay. That's the tricky part about trying to judge our own work and have an honest critique of it. Being okay with the fact that we're growing and learning and we might not be exactly where we wish we were.

14:48 But my advice for you, Dorena, would be find somebody else who can help you determine where your work is. It's hard to do it by yourself. There's a couple of ways you can do it.

#1 - Enter Shows. It's flat-out, somebody impartial who doesn't know you that will say whether or not your painting is good or bad. Or you might not get any feedback, and it's hard. But you want to start extending yourself in some ways.

#2 - Get Input From Other Artists or People You Trust - Before you enter shows you might find someone who is a trusted friend, who has an artistic eye, somebody who's not just going to say, "Oh, it's wonderful. It's wonderful." I could show anything to my mom, and she would say, "It's amazing. I love it." And I have to take that with a grain of salt. It's always encouraging for me. I always feel good about it, but there might be something wrong with it that somebody else would be more brave to tell me, "Jed, you actually really screwed that part up."

16:04 For instance, my wife, Renae. She's not afraid to tell me that a painting needs work, and that it could be better. That's a big part of it for me - having people who are around me look at my paintings. That takes some courage. Dorena, if you really want to get into a place where your work is reaching the next level and you're continuing to stride forward, you need other people because you will have a hard time being completely honest with yourself.

16:47 When you're engaged in the painting process, you are in the midst. It's like you're in the forest. You can't see the forest for the trees. You're in the thick of it. And sometimes it's somebody else who can come in and see what you're doing. And they can see positive things that you are not seeing, and they can also see some things that could be improved that you might not be able to see. So my advice is to find people who you trust, who can give you feedback.

 17:22 I feel like that's part of what the community is for. Some people say, "Hey, give me some critique. Give me some help. Give me some feedback." That's what the community is for is so that we can encourage each other, but also if somebody's honestly asking for feedback, we can give some helpful feedback.

It's difficult because I ask for feedback sometimes from people and I don't always listen to what they say because I can't always do everything. I might get three different pieces of feedback, and it doesn't work to do all of them at the same time.

So you're still in charge of your own painting, and you still need to be the one who finally makes the decision. You don't want to be a slave to somebody else and you don't want to be mad at somebody else because they told you to do something, so you did it, and then it messed up your painting. It's still helpful to get advice from other people. So that is a really good question, Dorena.

Heavy Body Acrylics 

18:40 Laura asks: "Do you use heavy body acrylics for any of your work?" And my answer is yes, that's all I use. "What is the difference in its application than standard acrylic paint?" If you're buying a student grade paint, it's probably medium body. So you have heavy body, which is more often than not what the professional artist grade paint is. It's thicker. It's made to kinda feel more like oil paints. Heaven forbid that we would want to be like oil paints. But that's the design. It's thick and buttery.

19:32 The medium viscosity paints are your Liquitex Basics, paints like that are a bit runnier.

And then you have fluid acrylics, which would be like the Golden fluid acrylics. They're pretty much like a liquid, but they have a lot of pigment in 'em.

So those are the three things. And she asked: "Do I apply them differently?" Yes, because sometimes a medium viscosity paint and a heavy body paint can co-exist. They can work together. You'll see some difference in that one is thicker. One will leave more brush strokes. You can actually leave a better, impasto, thick effect with the heavy body paints.

20:27 The medium ones, they go away. They disappear more. And the fluid ones, I really use mostly just for glazing and washing. So if I'm trying to cover the surface of the painting and tone it before I actually paint, I'll often use a fluid acrylic for that because that's what it's geared for. They're really nice to have because it helps. For me, it's just faster than mixing water in with a color and getting it down to the consistency. So I like to have fluid acrylics for that. And I do use them together all the time.

21:12 The nice thing about acrylics is that you can take a heavy body paint and do some work with that, and then you could actually take a medium viscosity paint or a fluid acrylic, and you can do a glaze over top. It doesn't matter that it's thin going on top of thick. That DOES matter with oil painting because you do not want to put down a thick layer of oil paint and have it be half-dry and then put a thin layer of oil paint on top of it and have that dry really fast. So you have a dry outer layer, and then you have this inner layer that's still drying. And that's what you'll see, a lot of cracking. But that is not the case with acrylic paints. It actually doesn't matter the order you put it down and you have a lot of freedom with that.

22:05 So, that's a really neat thing about acrylic paints - you can basically paint on any surface. You can paint in any order. There's so many good things that you can do that are really liberating because I don't have to worry so much about, "Oh, did I do it in the exact right order?"

If I want to do a glaze, I have to let the painting dry for two weeks before I do a glaze. This is good stuff especially if you come from an oil painting background or something like that. You might not ever know that this is the way you can work. And so you might actually be afraid to try something like this. 

Deciding What to Paint

23:00 The last question is from Melanie, "How do you decide what you're going to paint?" A few years ago I was asking this question because I was trying to make a living as an artist. If you paint something, and somebody likes it right away, and they buy it, this is the most affirming thing. If somebody's willing to give you money for your painting, you think, "Oh my goodness. This is the coolest thing in the world." But it also sets you up to think, "Shoot. Man. People really like that painting. I should paint that again. " And you might go back in history, and you might think, "What are the most popular paintings that I've done? Which one should I try to redo?"

24:03 I was having these thoughts in my head three years ago. I was seriously trying to figure out what I was going to paint, what my next project was going to be. And I had this conversation with a friend who is an artist back in Indiana. And she challenged me. It was like a no-brainer for her. She said, "Well, you paint what you love. If you do anything else, you're gonna sabotage yourself. You're going to end up losing your motivation. "

24:37 And I remember a friend up in Vancouver. He painted forest floor scenes. It was a lot of browns and greens. He would do a lot of foggy, misty stuff, and blurry edges, and ferns.  And they started selling. So he started painting more. He got into a different gallery, and another gallery, and another gallery. And they all were really popular. And he was selling really well. He started getting burned out because he was just painting the exact same thing over, and over again. And it was draining to his soul because he was not an artist so much anymore as much as a production worker. And there's this fine line between painting what you love and making a living. How do you sell what you love? 

26:01 For me commissions are a good example of where I'm not exactly choosing what I'm painting. Somebody else is asking me to paint a certain scene of something particular that they really care about and they really love. And you know what makes the difference for me and helps me get into that painting and actually get emotionally connected? It's when I start to understand why it matters for the other person.

For instance, earlier this summer, a woman asked me to paint a cabin from a 4 x 6 photo or 3 x 5 photo. And really the photo wasn't that amazing. I wasn't  inspired by looking at the photo.

27:00 But when she told me the story behind the photo and what that cabin meant to her that's how I connected with the painting. They had some extra money at one time, and something tragic happened. Their daughter had died. They ended up buying this cabin, and it was a place of retreat and refuge for them. A beautiful place they went to for years and years. But then they had moved away because this was back in Minnesota. They moved to the West Coast and they were living here in Washington. And she wanted something to remember that cabin. But it was more than just a cabin to her. It was a place of refuge and this place of healing and transformation for her. And that's what connected me to the painting. So I could enter into that painting with my heart. And that's where I think it's really important for us as artists to have our hearts engaged in what we're doing.

28:31 What do you love? I tell this example about my mom because she got into painting after raising us kids and all this stuff. She'd done art in the past, but then she started doing art again. And she started having to decide, "Well, what am I gonna paint?" And she started just going with her heart. You know what she loved? She loved her kids and grandkids. So she started painting pictures of her grandkids, and they're incredible. She painted one of each of the grandkids and gave it to them. So, each grandkid has this really beautiful painting of themselves as a child that my mom did for them.

 29:16 Ask yourself, "What do I actually love? What would motivate me? What could I paint over and over again, and I would never get bored of it?" And maybe that's not you. For me, I actually have a hard time painting the same exact thing over and over again. I see something, and it can be anything. It could be a tree in the sunlight. It could be a garbage can down an alley. It could be a person. It could be anything. And there's something about the scene that captures me. Sometimes it's being outside. And my heart gets engaged with this because I'm there in the moment.

That's what's really good for us as artists to figure out, "What is it that enables us to have our hearts engaged in what we're doing?" When we do that, our work will become better because we will want to do what we're doing as well as we can. Because what we're painting is something we love. It will keep us moving forward. It'll keep us taking the next step and trying over and over again.

30:53 This ties back in to the earlier question about how do you judge and honestly critique your work? If you want to honestly critique your work and you're painting something that you love it can be tricky and hard. For instance, my mom painting her grandkids and then trying to honestly critique the work because you don't want to critique what feels personal, like your grandkids. I feel like the best thing for us as artists is to be able to wear two hats. One is the artist hat and the other is the analytical hat. One is to try our best to engage fully in the process of painting and give our whole heart into it. And the other part is to say, "Okay. But let me just step back for a minute. Let me try to disengage a little bit of my heart to just look at it analytically and ask, "Is it a good painting?"

32:23 This is helpful at the beginning of a painting, too. I have so many people who come to workshops of mine, who have a picture of something that they love, that they want to paint. And I look at it, and I think, "You are nuts to try to paint this. I don't know how you're going to turn this into a good painting." Just because it's something that you love doesn't mean that it's going to be a good painting. We have to take off our emotional hat and put that aside for a second and just say, "Okay, I know I love that thing there. But if all I have is this image of it, I'm not going to be able to magically transform this. I need to get a different image of it. I need to work on the design, etc."

33:28 These things need to live together. Our heart, passion, and thinking. These things have to co-exist in us if we want to really excel and do our best because it's not just what we love. To say, "Well, just paint something random," might not motivate you. There might be a time to really concentrate on something and say, "Okay, I need to learn how to paint this." And so you do it. But long term, you want to paint things that are motivating to you, things that can connect with your heart. And at the same time, you want to be think through the process. You want to be able to look at what you're doing and critique it. If you want to grow and to look at it honestly.

34:35 And all of this depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to simply have a good time and express yourself and express your heart, then you don't need to necessarily have the same kind of level of critique or the same kind of thought pattern as you would if you're saying, "Well, I really want to be a professional artist. I want to make a living at this. I want to enter shows." You really need to take a different, harder look and say, "Well, frankly, you need to paint a lot more. You need to get better." You need to make some goals. "Okay, I need to paint 100 paintings."

35:25 One of the artists that I studied under, Robert Genn, he said, any time an artist would come to him and say, "I want to be a professional artist," he'd say, "Okay, paint 100 paintings and come back and talk to me." That's what I'd say, Dorena. Keep painting. Paint a lot. Paint every day. Paint as much as you can. And when you get 100 paintings done send me photographs of all of them. I'd love to take a look at them because that's you really wanting to grow. That's you really putting yourself into it.

36:08 And, Melanie, how do you decide what to paint? I'm going to be deciding what to paint down in California. And I'm going to be looking around thinking about what is beautiful and what strikes me. And I'm going to be looking around to see, "Okay, that looks beautiful, but can I turn it into a good painting? Can I make that scene over there a really nice design?" Those are the ways that I decide. My heart and my head coming together to say, "I'm drawn to this, and I think it can make a good painting." 

36:57 If you missed some of my announcements at the beginning, one of the things is, I want to say is that we're having a poem contest. So get your thinking caps on and start thinking about what you love about acrylic paints because we're going to be giving away a really cool painting that's worth over $2000 to the person who can come up with the best poem about their love for acrylic paints. I'll let you know later more of the details but that's worth your time and your effort. You never know what four lines of poetry can do for you. I don't know how long your poem will be, but get some creative thoughts into that. We'd love to see what you have to say about acrylic paints.

37:46 And you have to be okay with us posting that on social media. We don't have to necessarily say your full name or anything like that, but you do need to be okay with us using your poem and shouting out to you guys and saying, "Hey, look at this cool poem. Look at how awesome acrylic paints are. This is amazing."

38:09 Hope you guys have an awesome day. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for being a part of Acrylic University. We are thrilled. We're just ecstatic about what you're doing. Good job, keep up the good work. And tell somebody else about Acrylic University. We'd love to meet your friends and to welcome them into this community. We will see you next time. Have a great day!

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