Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Paint Like You Don't Have a Motive

Ever heard this quote? 

Dance like nobody's watching;
Love like you've never been hurt.
Sing like nobody's listening;
Live like it's heaven on earth.

I want to add:

Paint like you don't have a motive.

This should be the first "rule" of how artists work. To do this we must be uninhibited and passionate!

Inhibitions dry up creative juices.

Here is a list of distractors:

  • Wondering if it will "sell"
  • Over analyzing 
  • Overly concerned the "rules"/ technical aspects of painting
  • Ambitious / competitive
  • Behind in the job demands
  • Losing the inspiration behind the work
  • Comparing yourself to artists with more popular works 

Paintings are the words to the music of our lives.
Don't want to sound like a soap opera, but we can lose sight of the fact that all we are really doing is just showing the world our view. That's all original art is. To paint like you don't have a motive, leave inhibitions and materialistic motives behind and "adorn your painting with feeling". SHOW what that feeling is...  It may not be a prize winner, look like other art that is popular right now -or even sell. But it will be something you have done for yourself that feels good like singing in the shower and tending roses. It will make ALL your work have more soul and it will be a deep expression of who you are as a painter. You will always take pride in it. And you will know what connecting with a painting feels like.

Don't you think that people will pick up on that feeling when they see your work and connect with you? I do... I think that is what collectors are looking to do anyway. So put yourself out there.

Heart and soul works of art.
Here are some of my deepest most passionate "soul" paintings that I have mused over, prayed over, felt homesick and touched by, and adorned with paint and loved while I painted them. That takes a special kind of work. That means "putting yourself into your paintings." So I put my heart and soul into these works. There are many that will ALWAYS mean something to me and will always be some of my favorites. Here are just a few of those special works most that I have in my own collection:

 - An old barn near where I was born -©Dot Courson .

©Dot Courson- A road near Amish farms in our county 

Man on a mission - ©Dot Courson  (from a photo from a friend's mission trip)

©Dot Courson -Woods up the hill this past January's snow

©Dot Courson - An old place that reminded me of where I was born

©Dot Courson -A triptych of the Natchez Trace near where I've lived for a quarter century.

©Dot Courson -A painting I did right after meeting Andrew Wyeth and Helga in Maine

©Dot Courson  -Corner of the field near Corinth

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Art Scammers Listed Online

We artists paint and need to sell our work. The selling of my work is usually left up to my galleries and I'm not in possession of much since I send it out to galleries.   I pay galleries (or should I say they require?) 50% commission to sell and promote my work. 
 I am grateful for their representation. 

My website is not to sell work, it's for people to see the kind of work that I do and for them to know something about me in case they saw my work, Googled my name, or wanted to see other paintings or read my bio. 

And yes, sometimes I gladly enter into contracts with those who want me to do a private commissioned painting. These are often regional clients who have seen my work in ads or magazines in the South. I enjoy doing these commissions. And I have sold work to my longstanding Facebook friends from all over the world. However, for someone to just "stumble upon" my work online -and buy it is not realistic in my opinion.
Someone (now a sweet friend) with southern roots once called me from Jackson Hole Wyoming to commission me to do a painting.  Since she also had a vacation home nearby, I suggested that I include the painting in a show I was having  near one of her homes and invited her to come to that show to look at the painting before purchasing it. That way,  if she didn't want it- no pressure- someone else would probably want it. Also she could see my other works. She loved it though- and bought it, and so I gave the gallery it's commission. 

A REAL collector!

I say this to let you know that I'm as honest  as I can be, and will bend over backwards to make buyers happy with a purchase. I try to be fair to collectors, galleries and everyone involved.  I want 100% happiness all the way around. 

But these days I'm getting wary due to so many scammers who contact me. So unless I know them I will check out those who email me because I receive so many emails in broken English with stories of how someone really really loves and wants my work, etc ...and more often than not its just a scam. 

I've never been "taken" but have heard from some who have lost their work. One artist's bank actually took a check and then two weeks after mailing the painting, was told that the check was no good!

My latest was the most authentic sounding email I've ever gotten because it didn't have the usual convoluted story about how he and his wife were moving and needed it in a hurry. etc, etc,.... and it was from the UK - a country which I've never had any scam attempts before. Here are the actual emails:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 9:54 AM
Subject: Fall Lake Oil on Linen 11 x 14

Hello there,
My name is Rupert. Was going through your works and love this piece. am really interested I would like to make the purchase if it is still available.

Thanks and i await your response.


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: Fall Lake Oil on Linen 11 x 14

Hi Rupert,
This painting is available, and in my gallery- Southern Breeze Gallery. You can see it here at http://www.southernbreeze.net/tour156.htm
I see that it is listed as a 9x12 ...and priced accordingly.... but if my memory serves me right it was actually an 11x14. They will check and let you know if you contact them through the gallery.
Thank you for your interest in my work and let me know if I can help you with anything.

From this you can see the problem and time it takes with each of these scams. After writing him, I decided to search for a "data bank" to check out scammers and Googled this name & email:

 Rupert Smallwood and his Email: rupertsmall@yahoo.co.uk 

I found out there was such a site online.  Artquest has a list with probable art scammers and my old buddy Rupert was among them! I'm not surprised, just wish I'd checked before involving my gallery. I have no idea how accurate this site is and do not know whether this person is actually a scammer, but I'm not risking my artwork to find out......So now I am backtracking and sent my gallery the following email.

 Hi -
 Sorry- just checked and found that this is probably a SCAM. Do not respond to this email.  Googled his email address right after I wrote him that you had the painting, and got a long list of suspected art scammers. His email and name matched exactly. You may want to save this link:

Just wanted you artists who read my blog know about this list on Artquest's site !

But it's all good. I escaped unscathed and hope that you do so as well. Keep the brushes flying and I wish you many sales. 
Collectors let me encourage you to buy original authentic work. Original representational works have soul and it means something! I am writing next about "Chinese art factories" where so called "original" art is produced in assembly lines. So during the upcoming holidays BUY AMERICAN- or if you are not American- buy LOCAL!

Update: This added to the blog after it was posted originally:
His latest email:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 3:28 PM
Subject: Hello

How are you doing? Thanks for your prompt reply. Well, I'm quite satisfied but would also like to inquire about a minimum price...

Unfortunately, I'm on my way to France and few other countries on an official trip (I'm a marketing Executive) and wont be back for another couple of weeks, If you'd like to know, I'm relocating to the UK this month and I'm trying to gather some good furniture for my new abode. I'm buying yours piece amongst others, quickly! before someone else grabs it.:)
Glad if you could let me have me your phone no. so I give you a call.
Best Regards,

PS: In the mean time, you could forward me your full name and contact address so I can mail out the certified check to you ASAP.

So ah-ha! He IS moving!!! lol

Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting- FUN!! ...Washing Brushes - Not too bad!!!

What can be more fun than painting?

Especially in the fall! This is a photo from the side back of our yard looking back toward the house.

Below is a photo of me that Jackie, my husband took without my permission today. I'm painting the trees right behind our house and studio. My studio is upstairs and overlooks the woods. but I had to be outside to feel the light and be eye level with the trees. I have been working outside on this daily at 4PM - but today it was 3 as time changed last night:...

It was a pretty day today!  Here is Scaredy- my cat today - she always keeps me company!
Okay brush washing!
Awhile back a friend asked how I washed my brushes and suggested that I blog about it.
When I'm outside painting en plein air, I rinse my brushes in the portable brush washer and take it inside to my studio to re-rinse in a large vat of Gamisol that I have or wash them with my cleaner on the road. Sometimes I  just use white soap away from home to wash them daily.


The product at home that I use to wash my brushes I heard about from a workshop with David Leffel who let us use his Really Works. It is hard to find but I buy it from a friend  from Jackson and she is the only Mississippi distributor I think. Leave a note below or email me  if you'd like her email. address.

Clean brushes inspire me!!

These are my favorite Trekell brushes! I love them!
This whole set is only $39.20!!! 
 At home, I wash my brushes after several uses. I just rinse them after use in Gamisol in a vat and dip them in brush oil daily when I am finished painting.Weekly I wash them in  Really Works.
Currently in studio I am happy with the setup I have. Because I hate to wash brushes I was delighted that
Robert Harper told me about two products that I now use and love.
The first is an Army ammo box that you can get at Army surplus stores or E bay. I fill it about half way with Gamsol solvent.

Jackie (my wonderful husband and "hand model" here to the left) made me a wire mesh screen to fit the bottom so brushes can swipe across it without getting into the settled sludge.
The vat is perfect to wash out all the paint from brushes daily making sure all the paint is removed and they are almost clean bushes :
Kafka brush Oil  & Preservative  

Rubber seal on the ammo box closes tight to prevent evaporation & for travel!

  • The other product that Bob Harper suggested was  Kafka Brush Oil and Preservative. Mine came from Dick Blick.  
Make sure the paint thoroughly removed by washing them by sloshing them back and forth  the Gamsol (which is purer and safer than turpentine or store brand odorless mineral spirits) or Turpenoid which comes from art supply stores. Then jjust dip (as pictured above) and wipe the excess oil off the bristles gently with a paper towel.

Once a week or so I clean the brushes as the above rinse and oil soak really does not remove all the paint form the ferrel of the brush. I dip the rinsed brushes into the Really Works....and wash them.

Washing brushes:

How to wash brushes: 
  • Dip the brush into cleanser or liquid.
  • Gently message the bristles from the ferrule working out toward the end of the brush. 
  • Repeat rinsing between with warm or cool water until the suds are completely clean and 
  • Also wash the handle at this time. 
  • Do not splay brushes out when washing as it will dislodge, loosen, or break bristles.
  • Do not use hot water - it may damage or loosen bristles. 
  • Gently reshape the bristles and pat dry with a paper towel. NOTE: I lay them flat to dry so water doesn't flow back into the ferrule of the brush 
(BTW- a ferrule is the metal part that holds the bristles on the end of the brush.)

 I hear that Pine sol works well too, but I've not tried it. Really Works smells like pine Sol. I also use white soap occasionally. But Really Works will soak out old dried paint if you have a really messed up brush. I just wrap it up inplastic and leave it a couple of days and then wash it .It's saved a many a brush for me!
New brushes and an unfinished 20x24 plein air landscape I started lately in the woods near our home. 
That's it!  Happy brush washing and happy painting!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

News from the studio...

It's November! Somehow doesn't feel Novemberish to me. Maybe it will once the time changes.I'm a night owl and am enjoying the light at the end of the day. That's about to change! Remember-time changes this coming weekend.

We had a wonderful group of artists here in Pontotoc coming to paint with Roger Dale Brown, at our third workshop this year. Roger is a great friend and had just returned from doing the Laguna Beach Invitational Plein Air show in California. It was perfect plein air weather here and we enjoyed some wonderful days painting with Roger and Beverly. Jackie and I always enjoy seeing artist friends and meeting new ones. This workshop, as usual- brought in students from three states: MS TN and AL to paint rural farms and fields in Pontotoc.  

Jackie hosted the workshop opening since I was at Southern Breeze Gallery who had a wonderful reception for my show on October 20th, If you have not been - I hope you get to go see my new work up close and personal.  I sent everyone who gets my NEWSLETTER images of my new works that were in the show - over 20 new paintings... Let me invite you to click on the Newsletter link above and sign up and view the archived newsletter. I don't send them out very often.

Several of my works were sold prior to the opening.....including this one:
Hot Hot Sunflowers 20x20 Oil. ©2011 Dot Courson

I have completed a couple of new paintings since the show! 

This one is at Caron Prince Gallery in Tupelo I named it Happy Ever After since it looked like I was riding off into the sunset as I painted it:

Happy Ever After 24 x 36 Oil ©2011 Dot Courson

Dru Jolly- a friend who's also in my class I teach in Tupelo. brought me some pomegranates (on the vine) from her daughter's home and also some fresh pears on limbs. I finished painting them last week:
Pomegranates and Pear 20x24 Oil ©2011 Dot Courson

I have this at home and it is my favorite painting since I painted Happy Ever After. There's a joke among artists that our favorite painting is usually the last one we did.....  : ) 

Until next time.... Dot

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thoughts on Painting Cotton...

 ‎"...the oldness of it all. That is something I always try to capture in my paintings- the oldness of a place...." - Roger Dale Brown (quote form American Art Collector July, 2011)

To be a good landscape painter you have to be able to paint what you see... To be a GREAT landscape painter you have to paint the scene in a way that is "minds eye" beautiful , tasteful, and artistically rendered. Here are photos of a "southern scene" - a delta cotton field scene and church that I'm painting right now:

Combined with:

Actually to be honest, I had neither photos in the studio while painting. If you've seen one of these delta churches and cotton fields you've about seen them all. I just love them - and have about memorized them. I just found these photo references for the blog for you to see in case you've never seen southern cotton fields and churches.  
Here's my small study (11x14):

A Southern Scene 11x14 Oil. ©Dot Courson

The larger one being painted from that first small painting: 

Larger version of A Southern Scene ©Dot Courson 2011

Teaching notes: Do it small first and see if it would make a good painting if done larger. 
That's what I did. Now I'm using it as a good reference for the larger version. Perspective has to be worked out on this type thing...so knowing how to draw helps. I made a decision about the direction of the light and started loosely massing in the "volume" of the cotton field and am adding the reds that show the cotton leaves' color more like they really look like when they're dying from being sprayed by defoliation spray and about to begin losing  their leaves. You don't have to paint every cotton bowl out there when you paint cotton. It's better to paint a few really well ....and then let the viewer will fill in the rest with their mind. I left the land across the road flat like the delta.

By the way...
It helps you paint a cotton patch like this from memory if you were born poor, (maybe in Mississippi and maybe in the delta) and probably lived in the 60's and at some time had a canvas cotton sack around your shoulders and know what it feels like to step between the rows and have felt the sting and residual soreness of the sharp husk of the bowls on your finger tips ...OR at least had a nap on your parents cotton sack as it's pulled through the shade of cotton stalks and drank iced water out of a mason jar that is insulated by a brown paper sack and actually be able to recall the SMELL of the brown paper sack and defoliating cotton as you paint. 

It's just not worth it for everyone... 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life as an Artist

Being an artist is one of those jobs that requires flexibility. It almost helps if you are a little A.D.D. That way you are adjusted to jumping from one thing to the next without any problems. It's just the way your life works!

For instance: Today I plan to spend the day in the studio! But other things will come up. Truly as I write this I just remembered that I need to follow up with a friend /collector by making an appointment to visit her home.  She needs a painting, and wants me to see the space. But that is a good thing!

Yesterday I spent a good while in the studio painting a delta scene that I am considering for a larger piece. It is loosely based on High Cotton - a painting that I did a few years ago.  I'm in the process of getting ready for a solo show at Southern Breeze Gallery in October and trying to get about 20 paintings ready between now and then. The opening is on October 20 - (SAVE THE DATE!) - and it's the same day and time that we are hosting Roger Dale Brown's evening lecture at the opening here for his workshop. So I will go down and come back same night of the show to be here the first full day of Roger's workshop. He's been here so much he's like family and can do it himself anyway- besides Jackie will be here and he is used to running the workshops and is a great host and can handle anything! 

Most days for me are not just spent "behind the easel."  

I also have business correspondence an other projects that I'm working on and I rotate these projects. I thought it would be interesting to talk about the "real" artists life: things that I have worked on in the past several days. 

Last Friday 
I signed a contract with a new gallery! (more on this later) ...
That evening, I attended a show for the Mississippi Painter's Society at the Oren Dunn Museum in Tupelo.
I won first place! While there I spoke with Bob and Robbie Boyd about Bob's company doing a video to use for my workshop participants. That will be a future project, but thinking that it would be good to have one to give to my workshop participants to cover the main topics I try to cover in my workshop- or better yet: Things I do not have time to cover in the workshop!
Chores Come First- ©Dot Courson 2010 - Winner First Place - Mississippi Painters Society 2011

Over the weekend 
I painted some, but there was a frame sale and I ordered some small frames  and bought some photography books from Amazon to use for photographing with a digital camera. The book set was one recommended on the MS Artists Page on Facebook: Scott Kelby's Digital Photography. It was well recommended so I ordered it as I take a lot of pix and don't know what I'm doing. You honestly would be surprised to see the awful photos I use to paint from! I'm insulted if someone says that my painting looks like a picture. 

Taught my class that I teach 3 Mondays a month in Tupelo. That always is a fun time. They are really good students and I love my class! I helped them all work on their various paintings and covered some terminology with them from a book.Then I went to Office Max for supplies and to Hobby Lobby and picked up some artificial (but good looking!)  sunflowers to paint while they were 50% off. In the meantime, Jackie prepared some new panel surfaces for me and got them all prepped ready to paint! He's good!!! 

Painted and also cleaned my studio and washed brushes. Normally when I finish a paint session, I wash my brushes thoroughly in a Mineral Spirits bath that is in a resealable air tight ammo box that is Army green (Army Surplus store) that I saw Bob Harper use when he was here. I then soak them in Brush Oil and use them before I wash them weekly in a soap called "Really Works"  that David Leffel let me use once at his workshop. Yes, it really works! Jackie spray varnished a couple of paintings that I had ready to frame. (Did I tell you he's great?)

Finally finished a painting of the Grand Canyon for and continued to work on my little scene from the delta with a church in a cotton field last night and before I went to bed I updated my website that is on FASO and used one of their templates to re-design it. Check it out! I also added a few recent paintings. I would have uploaded more newer paintings I have not uploaded, but it took too long. Here's why: we are on a satellite internet as ATT does not have internet available where we live and none of the cable folks either so  we do not have any internet unless we use dial up or the Hughesnet satellite - which is what we use. It is still slow. I truly think that it's inferior to my smart phone's internet connection! 

Wednesday (yesterday)  
Signed Yellowstone Falls (see below) and Grand Canyon - two paintings that are going to a show next week in the Gumtree Museum in Tupelo and worked on the delta cotton/ church painting some more. These two are ready for retouch varnishings this week. I also picked out frames for them and received a frame order from UPS that came in and updated bills on my Excel spredsheet.
The Grand Canyon  Oil.  ©Dot Courson 2011

Since it was on my mind every night when I go to bed... I also started making notes about my contribution to an art book that will be published next year... because I don't know the deadline yet and want to be prepared! I have to admit it's a huge honor - but truly kind of daunting to be a part of a book! That's permanent. It needs some thought!  

Yesterday I also sent emails out about the Women Painter's of the Southeast where I am Secretary and on the Board and am helping plan our first juried show next year to be held at the Corse Gallery in Jacksonville, Fl., and I also called the new President of the Delta Art Association to declined a lunch there next week to plan the DAA show. She understood since I live over 3 hours from them. Then I mailed them money to use for food/ wine for the show and penciled it into my calendar and updated my calendar and realized I'd missed a meeting in Jackson with the Mississippi Art Commission that I was registered to attend last week! That jarred my brain and I also looked up a show in Memphis that I want to be in with the Memphis Germantown Arts League this fall ( and BTW - now I'm wondering if I put it into my iPhone calendar so that I won't forget that deadline! )

Finally, I spent some time on Facebook and replied to some messages from some dear artist friends...because....

 A girl has gotta have fun!!! 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Blog - Artist Robin Roberts

Scary Things  by Robin Roberts
"Fencesitters" ©Robin Roberts   18x24 oil

Why would attempting something new or different be scary?   Collectors and others who don't paint might not realize that it can sometimes take guts for an artist/painter to try something different.     Or there might be a reluctance to try something different from rules and guidelines we've been taught.  Or to do something outside what family or friends think is "pretty".   Or do something that might not sell - something outside the artists'  perceived typical work.   
As you follow you'll notice I'm using different brushwork, using my modest drawing skills to "shape" rather than draw;  avoiding  "staying between the lines";  deciding which compositional guidelines to use and which to change for this particular painting.   Trying something different and having fun watching it unfold.   If I allow myself, it can be like watching a movie.  Other times a painting requires periods of concentration and might be successful, but they just don't flow like the ones that I play and experiment.    I'm willing to play and let it fail and use the opportunity to fix" it, or throw it away.  Every one doesn't need to be a finished product. 

next to last step, notice the verrrry yellow foreground - partly intended to add warmth underneath the cooler grasses at the end (above).   Trees were lightened and texture added in the grasses.  
Starting:   I'm avoiding sharp delineation lines as long as possible because I can direct the viewers' eye by making sharper definitions at the very end.  That will only take a very few marks.   This is laid in with a chip brush from the "home store" to get the rhythm and light/dark composition. The canvas is ordinary cotton that I've gessoed with Utrecht brand professional (artists) gesso.
....the next photo below shows 3 horses against the fenceline in shadow. That's the part that really caught my attention.   I attended a Dawn Whitelaw workshop sponsored by Dot Courson.  Dawn encourages painters to hone in on the aspect of the scene that inspires the painter, leaving all else subordinate.     That's one of the scary parts - I want it ALL -  the deer, the waterfall, the mountains, the lake, the cows,the fence, the flowers,  the sunset, the sunrise all in one painting.   If we were photographers, we would move around to compose a scene.    Painters have the ability to LEAVE IT OUT.   There's where our power lies.    Why would it be so scary to leave something out?

horses added, the overlapping dark one after this.....
palimino on the right...with values and colors the same as the tree line.
below: the front horse taking shape.....I recognize the silhouette and begin to block in the dark, light and color on the horse shape, putting them in like jigsaw pieces without blending, piecing the horse together like a quilt. Each value of color gets an individual mix meant to go in a specific place. Sometimes it might take the flick of a brush, or a drag or applying with light swipe - sometimes it takes the brush at a 90 degree angle, but most often the back edge of the brush held horizontally.
You can notice more of the patchwork effect.   I'm using a bristle flat #6 or 8.  All the colors and values are there - now I'll adjust the blocky color shapes with more blocky color shapes in between, and - magic!  it comes together like it's been blended.   See the ear on the left and the ear on the right with nothing in between?   Find the colors and shapes of the top of the neck and the light on the hip in the finished painting.  And the legs.   With more "looking I see purples , blues, and oranges and try to play  it up, still keeping the quiet time effect by not using the more intense colors.    Notice the horses were not drawn in first.     They are "shaped" according to my sketch or reference material.    If I drew them first I would tend to "fill in the lines" and the foreground or background wouldn't be continuous.   Some values and colors are the same as the background as they are in nature, making the horses part of the environment. 

One thing I've learned - about a third of my paintings are flops.  It's something I accept and enjoy that learning process.
p/s  students teach me in my monthly painting class at Hobby Lobby in Decatur Al. 
I've enjoyed chatting about painting with you!

Oil painter Robin Roberts has lived in 5 states, but north Alabama roots keep her grounded. Inspired by ordinary views by the side of the road, Robin seeks nobility in the everyday scenes we encounter. Her southern landscapes draw us into the excitement and mystery of light and shadow, bringing to life that delicate time of day that is so fleeting. Through vigorous brushwork, delicate touches, subtle color combinations and unusual compositions we are able to see the common transformed into places you know by heart. Robin is equally attracted to painting animals and the figure as well as her signature landscapes.

Many national and regional artists trained her to translate a vision into beautiful canvases by painting outdoors on location. This is Robins’ favorite method, and it allows her to add truth to larger paintings.

She received many awards, but finds the biggest reward is when someone passes by and says “ahhhhhhh” and knows a painting has touched a chord in the heart.
Originally from north Alabama, Robin’s family lived in Iowa twice, Texas twice, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. That southern orientation emerges in the oil paintings. Now Alabama again presents wonders begging to be brought to life.

Robin’s collectors find her art at: Dragonfly Gallery in Fayetteville Tn; ARTifacts Gallery in Florence Al; Renaissance Gallery in Northport Al; Kathleen’s Fine Art in Decatur Al, Ashland Gallery in Mobile Al, and Charleston House Gallery in Montgomery Al or www.RobinRobertsArt.com
Robin Roberts
512 Dogwood Place SW
Decatur Al 35603

Robin's journal of painting blog:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No, I Don’t Do Festivals…

...but it's not because I am shy - I LOVE to speak! 
Dot Courson as a Lauren Rogers Museum of Art - ART TALK speaker to patrons.

Once someone local finds out for the first time that I'm an artist- they always say:

"Are you in the Gum Tree Festival in Tupelo?"

Then they may ask,
"Well then: Do you do the Double Decker in Oxford?!"

I get up my courage, shake my head and reply,
"No. Nope, I don't do festivals!

...Not that there’s anything wrong with it! It’s not them. Its ME! 

I tell them that I'm showing my work exclusively in  galleries. Southern Breeze Gallery in Ridgeland, MS - a wonderful owner who takes care of my work – hangs it beautifully, runs magazine ads, represents me online, and is always there to work hard to show my work to collectors. I’m also in Caron Gallery now and they are wonderful too! They are super nice folks! If you haven’t been –Go! It just keeps getting better!   
Susan, my daughter and Faith , my granddaughter's "Nature Club" at a Girl Scout function in her own tent where she sold jewelry this spring. 
But I’ve definitely thought about doing festivals. Once, I even went and took photos of tents in festivals that I thought I could use for my art. 

I must have “festival envy”...

On perfect days it seems fun. And I definitely could reach a lot of people who could get to know me and become more familiar with my art and I could possibly be better known as an artist “around my hometown” and in the region too. Also, I'm a fairly outgoing person.  I love meeting and talking to people, especially about art.  I take Cane my little art dog, and visit festivals and usually buy pottery or jewelry and unframed paintings at times.  Cane loves festival hot dogs! I love meeting the artists. Artists love artists!
I think Cane had gone exploring at this time....
Sometimes I do wonder if festivals are not better for artisans and potters and crafts and those who paint small and make prints to sell? They are brave souls who endure the elements- heat, cold, rain, noise and smells- and show there!  
But it’s the weather elements involved in art festivals and I shy away from situations where heat stroke is a real possibility, or my work could get damaged. 

I tend to “kid glove” my work... 

Also, I paint a lot on linen and don't want to leave it outside - exposed to the elements! Also, tents – that's another thing:  How could I hang my larger “over the sofa” and “over the mantel” paintings?  I’m just not a tent person!  

So I don't do festivals to sell my work, I do festivals for FUN! In good weather….

  • Are you an artist that does festivals? 
  • What is your experience? Where do you like to buy your art?

BTW-Southern Breeze Gallery was named THE BEST ART GALLERY IN MISSISSIPPI by Mississippi Magazine last year by reader survey!  They run ads to market my work and at my shows she always has scrumptious horde'vours,  horsd'vours...appetizers ...and serves wine in long stem glasses. I get to dress up "delta casual" - and visit with collectors and my supportive art friends who show up at my shows to take a look at my latest work and visit while I'm in town.
An art sale at a Solo Show.
BTW- I Made the record for highest sale price EVER for that gallery!

I will have a show in Southern Breeze Gallery in October of this year!
 Hope you come!

During this years Tupelo Gumtree Festival,  I was on the next block outside Caron Gallery in Tupelo  painting a plein air street scene.. My pholosophy: I'm a partner with my galleries!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Artists Packing for a Workshop: Lists and Tips

I got a list...
You got a list...
All God's Children Gotta list....

Jackie and I are getting ready to host another workshop. Dawn Whitelaw will be here a little over a week and we are communicating with all the artists who are probably packing. I'm thinking of my own list of things I need to do as well as sympathizing with them. All of the artists will drive in. Most will be in hotels. It's a lot of work to get ready to leave home to go to a workshop. You must pretty much pack like you are plein air painting- well, except for the bug spray!  But of course you have to pack clothes, toiletries, etc..

Not counting what was back in the hotel room, nor the equipment I had set up outside that I was using to paint with at the time that this was taken- here is (no kidding!) a photo of the "stuff:  in my van -that the Gadsden Times took while I was painting nearby at the Southeastern Plein Invitational this spring:

I finally wrote my own travel art supply list as a Word document, and put it in my computer a few years ago. I added to it as I thought of things/ or added to it after trips as needed. I have a "general travel list" and an "art trip" pack list. I'm a simple person and this list is simple. I have it all at the end of this blog.

Then coincidentally, tonight I was listening to an archived e-radio broadcast on Artist Mentors Online - a very good blog by Kevin McPhereson that my friend Judy Crow of Texas told me about today- (THANKS, JUDY!) Joanna Arnette was on a broadcast with Kevin giving tips about "traveling light".These two travel abroad and are all plein air painters. Her tips:

  • Take tubes of paint until they are half full (or empty!) saved from previous trips. She takes them when she wants to go ultra light. Like up a hill walking. 
  • A Benroe tripod (only 1.6 lbs!)
  • Rolling backpacks. I like the half-full tube idea- but I dislike rolling backpacks since they are heavier when you DO carry them. That's something to think about. 
  • She also takes her canvas affixed to multi-media boards. She said when you put 32 together that it only amounts to only a one inch stack! She sometimes affixes these to stiffer boards/panels with clips if she wants them stiffer.
  • Another helpful thing she said is this: Watch how many brushes you use. Usually it's only 3-4. How true! I usually pack dozens and only use three! 

So this blog topic about traveling had to be destiny: Just last night I had been looking at josephineandlaurentina.website where an acquaintance's daughter -a local Mississippian- is the model who is the "face" of that clothing line. Somehow while getting all dreamy about this amazing Kennedyesque lifestyle of living  in the Hamptons and traveling to Rome, etc (dreaming) I ended up on a website called what2wear.com where I saw a travel list [just for women] of toiletries that was quite good. Most of this list is supplies that some may need.  I found it interesting, and you may like it too and find it helpful. Usually, though I don't list toiletries on my permanent list. Here's what I do: As I shower/dress to go on a trip instead of putting it back as I use things, I just toss it into my large overnight makeup bag! I then just grab some painting clothes together and go! Very un- Kennedy -like!
So her's my own
Workshop Checklist :   

 View Finder
Solvent in brush washer
Wet canvas carrier
Paper towels
Drinking water
Bug spray
Compact mirror
Trash bags
Art Notebook
Folding dolly
Business cards

Laptop with plug-in
Camera /charger/ extra batteries
Dot’s pillow
Medicines/ Rx Plus other and vitamins
Phone chargers
Dot’s cell

Things I've forgotten to bring on trips include brush washer, tripod, easel & even canvas!!! 

Honestly I believe that the best tip for artists about lists is to make your own list and put it on the computer. It saves time and headache. 

By the way: I think that there is NO SUCH THING as a "light" art trip!

Do you have good tips for domestic travel that you don't mind sharing? If so, I'd like to hear them! Please email them to me at artist@dotcourson.com or share them here in comments! 
Artist at Work! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Painting Process: The Old Run

This painting is named "The Old Run" as suggested by my husband. A creek is sometimes channeled into a new creek and the older creek area where trees and stumps remain is called "the old run."
The Old Run 40x30 Oil. ©Dot Courson
 I started this 40x30 oil painting on a Wednesday afternoon and the painting was done by 11 PM. I was using Liquin and Alkyd white- a fast drying white paint. All other paints were oils. The colors I used were Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Cerulean blue, Cadmium red light, Cadmium yellow light and Permanent rose.

This was painted in my studio from a photo my husband made in Hickory Flat, MS near his parents home at Frank Thompson Lake. It was a beautiful evening and the leaves on the lake are actually a moss, I think it's called Watercress.
Photo Reference

Using this photo print as my guide I started massing in and designing the painting on a white canvas indicating the color. I brightened it up in some areas. I decided to omit the white distracting cattails in the foreground.
 The dark area of water in the middle will be for the shadows of the trees on the other side of the lake. I just massed in the background for the reeds and cat tails in the foreground in the left corner.
 Adding color with a large brush I continue to work...Instead of dots for the leaves I mass areas in when it's in a distance. Your eyes see this as one mass anyway, so that's how you paint it.
 Here I'm breaking up the brush strokes in the front. And finished the details of the logs and dead trees: detail work.
And here it is almost finished in my studio. You can actually see the reference photo lying on the left side of the easel.

Here is the painting framed and ready to be taken to the gallery.
The Old Run 40x30 Oil ©Dot Courson

See more of my paintings at www.dotcourson.com !