Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recent Travels and Art Shows

October is turning out to be my busiest month in awhile.

Paintin' the Town- College Park, GA

In late September it was great to be a part of an invitational plein air event in Atlanta in the suburb inside the beltway called, Historic College Park. Artist Millie Gosch did a great job putting this together and we all had a blast. I sold three of my paintings to collectors and received another commission. Thank you to all who turned out to volunteer and host. It was great meting up with artist friends as well!

Cumberland Society National Juried Competition:

Honored! On October 3rd, I was excited to travel to Nashville to the Cumberland Society National Opening and Awards Ceremony at Richland Fine Art where I received an Honorable Mention - a $500 award for my painting, Back-lit Trees, Oil, 12x16 from judge Peggi Kroll Roberts of
Here is my winning painting at the Cumberland Society National Exhibition at Richland Fine Art in Nashville, TN
 ©2013 Dot Courson

 Paintings that SOLD:
SOLD! My painting of the men, "Making Molasses" sold at Richland Fine Art in Nashville, TN.
©2013 Dot Courson 

And below is the painting by my daughter, artist Susan Patton from Mississippi who was in the same show SOLD... We love seeing "red dots"!!  Susan recently won a major prize recently in the MGAL National juried exhibit in Memphis. She has been in two national shows recently, and has done very well this year! 

SOLD! Thrilled to see a "red dot" showing that Susan's painting "Bales of Fun" sold prior to the show opening!
©2013 Susan Patton

Caron Gallery Demo

On Saturday Oct 12th,  I will be at Caron Gallery doing a demo of Main Street in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi. I love the downtown area and hope to see anyone there who wants to come watch me paint form 11 until 3 PM inside or outside the gallery!

Dawn Whitelaw will be here again, teaching another sold out 3-day plein air workshop at Dot Courson Workshops on October 14-16! We have students from 4 states coming to this!

Dawn Whitelaw on stage doing a portrait demonstration at the Portrait Society of America in March, 2013

Gallery Visits - and Plein Air Painting- on schedule for the rest of October!

I will be on the road traveling and visiting  galleries that have expressed that they are interested in representing me between now and when we have Artist Becky Joy here teaching the first week of November. Becky is a wonderful teacher and friend. 
There are a couple spots left, so if someone wants in please let us know at Dot Courson Workshops

Thanks for reading!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Making and Recycling Art Panels

Art supplies are expensive: oil paints, brushes, canvas and  frames. I look for ways to keep the quality up, and expenses down in order to be able to afford the very best products. I also want to paint like I am rich - uninhibited! - and feel it is better to paint with abandon than to paint uptight and worried about the cost of supplies.

Recycling your bad paintings:

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” - Vincent van Gogh

Sometimes paintings fail. Recycling panels is easy. I destroy bad paintings by covering them up in order to re-use or "recycle" the canvas. Every painting simply does not work out... and sometimes I wipe the paint off immediately (recommended) and just start over. At other times I set them aside and later decide that the painting is not making me feel good or is not something that I want to keep or offer for sale.

 “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” - Vincent van  Gogh

Some artist friends of mine choose to have a ritual burning of their "bad" paintings, and I guess that is good for the psyche too. It feels good to "clean out the studio" and not have a lot of bad paintings around to remind you of past failures. Seems all artists have them, no matter the level of the artist!

Today I am recycling my canvases using Gamblin Ground. These are what is left of about 25 "bad" paintings that I did that were completely dried,  Today Jackie and I sanded them down slightly and I covered them up with white ground in order to re-use the canvas panel.

Step 1- Sanding.
Step 2 Covering with Gamblin Ground.
Step 3 Covering the paintings that will never see the light of day again! Whew! That feels good! 

Step 4. Lay the new white panels out to dry.


Step 5 - A blank canvas again!(Note: Sometimes it is rough, but that is okay with some paintings!)

 Making Linen Panels

Now for how to make some panels from scratch...
Some of my panels are bought already made just for the convenience.  I love Ray Mar, Source Tek and other brands of quality linen pre-made products but I don't always buy them because Jackie makes most of mine for me in his shop. It saves a lot of money.
To make our own panels we buy Claessens Belgium Linen #66 single primed that is great for landscape paintings. It is in 82 inch rolls from Jerry's Artorama.

The cost: An 82" long roll has 6 yards on it, which converts to over 117 sq ft. and it costs around $300 so that means a 12x12 section costs about $3.00 each. But of course we make  various sized panels that he cuts and uses Miracle Muck to adhere them to 1/4" tempered  hardboard- smooth or sealed on both sides for small panels. It is sometimes referred to as Masonite. Miracle Muck is about $14 a liter. A 4'x8' sheet only costs about $14!  So a  homemade 12x12 linen on panel costs around $3.50!

How we make new linen panels:
Cover in Miracle Muck and smooth out with a sponge brush:

Covered completely in Miricle Muck and ready for the linen:

Linen is cut approx 1/4- 1/2 inch larger than each side of the panel. Shown is a 9x12 panel and the linen was cut larger to allow for shrinkage. The linen is placed with the white side (paint surface) down and raw linen up: Then roll on the back of the hardboard....
and then roll the front -linen side up- to remove air bubbles and smooth the surface.
 Then the wet panels are weighted down while they dry

Once they are dry they are trimmed from the back side with a Fisker round roller blade on a mat.

That's it! New canvases!

Thanks and please feel free to ask questions or offer your own ideas in the comments section below! 
Happy fearless painting, everybody! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Southern Culture and Art

Some of the South Mississippi Art Association painters at my workshop this weekend in Hattiesburg, MS.

Art as a metaphor:

Art is a metaphor for me, so I try to be honest with my work, wanting to describe my life though my paintings.  It seems pretty intuitive to do this. My life seems pretty ordinary to me and I enjoy describing it in my landscape paintings. An example of that is in the finished painting that I did mostly in plein air out in our garden. I ended up naming the painting,"Coon Trap".   You can read about it here.

 Soviet impressionists seemed to do that and they are some of my favorite artists. An architect at my show this weekend said the Russian impressionist's influence was apparent in some of my work and that I would probably enjoy reading the Russian art theory. I have a big book of the Soviet impressionists work but mainly I just look at the pictures. I may actually read it now to see if it describes a deeper theory behind it...besides the well know government imposed propagandized art censorship in the history of the art there. But I hope I find a deeper meaning because I like theory. I like finding interrelationships and connections between of things.

And speaking of interrelationships:

The night before my show opened at A Gallery, there was another art show opening in town- actually right across the street at Oddfellows Gallery. Half of that show was probably classified as non-objective work. I look closely at work in shows and this work was by the USM Art department faculty. I really enjoyed meeting them and seeing the show. But while I was browsing over the work, an astute young guy asked me if I was an artist.  I answered that yes- and that I was mostly a "landscape" painter.
He asked me a question that taught me a lot about my own work:
"Do you consider yourself and American landscape painter?" 
I nodded, "Yeah... Pretty much."
Then I stood there thinking about it, and spoke up hesitantly not wanting to "peg" myself into a specific region, but felt the need to better describe my work,   "Well, I'm mostly a 'southern landscape painter'.. and then just being me, I blurted out the simple truth:  
"Honestly, a lot of my work is just painting things from my backyard!"
So I asked, "What do you do?"   
He lifted his nose into the air and said he was a Cultural Anthropologist
Feeling much better about my work, I said, "Then you should go see my show... It's all about cultural anthropology!

The American Anthropological Association defines Sociocultural anthropologists this way:
 They "examine social patterns and practices across cultures, with a special interest in how people live in particular places and how they organize, govern, and create meaning."

Should I start describing myself a "Cultural Anthropological Artist? ...It has a nice ring to it!

Getting them straight...Justin Albert hanging paintings for my show at AGallery in Hattiesburg. The show includes the painting, "Coon Trap" and it runs through mid October. All paintings ©2013 Dot Courson.

"Coon Trap" Oil, 30x30 ©2013 Dot Courson
This painting is a strong cultural anthropological statement about sustenance and the southern life: a garden with a live trap to save the sweetcorn crop from raccoons.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Quaint Life

I was reading an article by Wells Tower in Garden and Gun  where he quoted southern writer Barry Hannah who said,
“...being Southern isn't always a graceful adjective; it’ll kill you sometimes. Often, it’s shorthand for ‘Don’t bother reading this because it’s just gonna be a lot of porches and banjos.’” 

This rang true to me because last week I had a tweet from someone describing my painting in the garden as "quaint". What? Is my banjo showing? Well, I should just get over it and just face the facts: I love quaint. Here is the update on the progress of the painting of our garden from my last blog:
Garden painting in progress ©2013 Dot Courson

To me, being an artist is feels like the act of immersing oneself and into the beauty and wonder of everyday things. In other words, I’m just living the life I always have- but showing it in my paintings. Pintrest boards with names like "Chic Obsessions" or anything "Haute" or "Artsy"  will not include my work. It's true- I am a painter of mostly southern flavored subjects...and landscapes in particular.  I'm hoping to show a mood and a slice of life my paintings. 
Reminiscing, Oil 8x10 ©2013 Susan Patton

My daughter artist Susan Patton is probably influencing me. She actually verbalizes her thoughts about her paintings and I love to hear her speak about them. She paints a lot of verbs.
She paints with such honesty and humbleness and shows the depth and breadth of all that is good about people and the southern-ness of the life she knows so well.  Last week she won a top award at the Memphis Germantown Art League National Exhibition at Gallery Ten Ninety One for this painting above called, Reminiscing. The word reminiscing means "indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events".  A lot of people told her that they love seeing people like this, sitting together and talking and thinking and connected to each other in her work. She explains, 
"You never see people just sitting and talking like this anymore. Nowadays everyone is connected to an electronic device..." 
Sad and true. But these family members are immersed into reality and the memories of the greatest generation. 

Join me!
Tomorrow, August 11th, I will be in Memphis, TN at the Orpheum Theatre. Starting at 1 PM the Orpheum Art Sale will feature local art, yummy food from The Corked Carrot, live music and wine tasting. $10 per ticket.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Plein Air in the Garden

I love having a garden. 
I almost said I love gardening, but that isn't honest. I don't do any of it, my husband Jackie does it all. It's all his and he is devoted to it and also seems to enjoys it. But that is his true nature about everything and I'm so blessed to have him! I'm nothing like that. I just love looking at the garden -oh yeah -and eating the veggies like all of Chicken Little's lazy friends. No honest-to-goodness southerner can deny that the garden's bounty is secondary to anything- even art -with the  aroma of savory veggies cooking  in summer! 

Several years ago, when I talked him into starting a garden- yes I did- and he denies it but it's true- I had two requests : 

1. Plant apple trees
2. Grow Better Boy Tomatoes along with the Celebrity variety that he loves.

It's all about the nostalgia as much as it is the harvest for me: I remember as a child climbing apple trees and eating green apples and wanted some for my grand kids to climb. And I LOVE Better Boy tomatoes better than anything. Jackie thinks Celebrity is just as good and that they don't have the large stem-like cores in them that "wastes" part of the tomato. I don't mind tomato slices with holes in them; as a matter of fact, that's part of the enjoyment and nostalgia of them! They seem more real somehow and less genetically engineered into perfectness. 

Jackie is doing a lot of critter management with out garden. First, he put in a solar-powered low-voltage fence to keep out deer and raccoons that have been enjoying the two rows of sweet corn he planted this year. He'd said the coon apparently got under the "electric" fence the other night so he put in a "live trap".  He has caught live coons before and released them near the local state park. I sometimes wonder if it's the same coons coming back for the cat food, peanut butter and  jelly sandwiches and the marshmallows he bates the traps with.. 

The trap is under the apple trees in the shade. He wired it to the apple tree trunk to keep the little guy form mobilizing the trap with his little paws and getting away trap and all! 

Yesterday I set up my easel to paint by the garden. Her are photos of the progression. Cane (our dog) was my little painting companion. Much of the time he was begging me to go inside or trying to get me to just stop painting and play:
 "No honest to goodness southerner can deny that the garden's bounty is secondary to anything- even art."

"He'd said the coon apparently got under the "electric" fence the other night so he put in a 'live trap'."
"...a live trap in the shade...tied to the apple tree. I sometimes wonder if it's the same coons coming back for the cat food, peanut butter and  jelly sandwiches and the marshmallows..."
"Solar powered fence..." 
[It's only on at night-Jackie tells me after I avoided it all day. They scare me: as a child I once got flogged by a rooster while crossing a fence trying to avoid the electric fence. After the flogging I was so upset I touched the hot wire and got shocked!] 
 " I had two requests when it came to starting a garden area: #one was to plant Better Boy Tomatoes along with the Celebrity variety that he loves."
(Cane is restless- trying to get me to leave the garden.)
"...it's all about the nostalgia as much as it is the harvest for me..."
"...Cane.....trying to get me to just stop painting and play..."

If you look for me today I will be outside... trying to finish this around 5-7 PM!

Thanks for reading. It's time to go paint!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Art Story: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

Yesterday I spoke with a group in one of my hometowns - not where I was born, but where I spent my formative years- age 10 until my late 20s. It felt good to be there. People were nice.

I had been invited to speak to the Burce Rotary Club by Barbara, a childhood friend who I hadn't seen  in probably 30 years or so. She'd contacted me after she had seen where I'd commented on her cousin Judy's Facebook page about Judy's mother's passing...about how I remembered Judy's kind sweet mother -and especially her delicious biscuits she served for breakfast when I came as a kid for sleepovers there as in her home. That biscuit comment about her aunt's cooking must have really hit home for it to get me a speaking gig!

But seriously, the day Barbara invited me she said she saw my website and said that she loves to see Calhoun County women who are successful. Well, I didn't say anything back to that comment but agreed to come speak. I was reminded of a favorite quote by Lincoln who said, "I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down."

The Speech:
 I prepared and practiced a talk but once there I got off-subject several times and then in the end spent several dead space minutes getting my audiovisual equipment to work so that I could show a slide show of my art ...set to beautiful sentimental music. Also, I admit- sometimes I ramble when I talk. One man went to sleep and another audibly cursed when I was asked a question at the end because he liked to come there just to eat and was ready to leave already. That curse (that everyone heard) really rattled me and I totally forgot what I was talking about!

The News:
 The newspaper man, Joel McNeese with the Calhoun County Journal was there and called me today to ask follow-up questions for a story he's doing. I will spare any blog readers who are still reading this and just post his succinct write-up of that talk once he publishes it should you care to read it. After my talk he had insisted on taking a photo saying he only had one that was 5-6 years old. I reluctantly posed for an updated photo but was not happy about it. I like my photos of myself like I like my wine. Dated!

The Rumors:
Yesterday when I got home and posted about speaking on Facebook, I put in the Lincoln quote above. Several people commented saying they hate they missed my talk. Well, people- you didn't miss much! I must have made it sound better than it was because one Facebook friend (Juanita Smith) suggested I write a book... and another (John Pototschnik) commented, "After the book- the MOVIE!" Sometimes things get overblown and I hope I don't start getting a lot of speaking engagements, or if I do- I hope they read my blog so they will know what to expect! Anyway, you see my point here: I ramble!

Advice to Speakers:
Finally, a word of advice: If you like speaking and would like more invites-  remember to always complement people's biscuits!

Other news: 

These two little paintings were juried into the Greenville Arts Council show and will be in the Bass Center until the end of July:

Backyard Plein Air 6x8  ©2013 Dot Courson

Curve Ahead, 8x10 ©2013 Dot Courson...(I am currently doing a studio painting  size 30x40 of this.)

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Workshop notes: Painting Landscapes

I recently taught a workshop on landscapes and wanted to share a few slides with you... 

 I LOVE teaching! I taught here in Pontotoc in January.The group was great and we had fun. Thank you to all the attendees.  Jackie helped me welcome 14 artists form TN, AL and MS.
My next workshop is in Greenville in May with the Delta Art Association. Hope you get to come! Here is a link to details.

Here are a few tips straight out of my workshop handbook that I use when I teach. I love to share, but all images are my paintings, and therefore are copyrighted ©2013  Dot Courson Workshops. So feel free to use and share these- I encourage it as a matter of fact! -  but I require you attribute the painting and slide images and painting to me please. : )

Value planes. ©2013 Dot Courson

Arial perspective. ©2013 Dot Courson

Movement in painting. ©2013Dot Courson
Please leave comments below. I love hearing from you! 
Happy Painting! ~ Dot

Another Backyard Plein Air

Getting ready to go teach a workshop in Greenville with the Delta Arts Association this week. I love teaching!

When I paint outside en plein air, I start massing in the values any way I can... with any color. I work fast. I've found that the sun does not stay still and wait for me to get it down, so I admit that I start messy and tighten up as I go. 

Another thing that I do: I generally put some warmth into green foliage as it helps show the green up - and to me it just looks better. 

Here is the start of a recent plein air painting in my backyard:


Final painting: Another Backyard Plein Air 12x16 Oil:

Another Backyard -Plein Air . Oil ©2013 Dot Courson


This painting was judged into the Cumberland Society National Juried Exhibition. The judge was artist Peggy Kroll Roberts. Thrilled and blessed that it won an Honorable Mention- the Omega Frames award of $500 ! 

Here it is hanging at the show at Richland Fine Art in Nashville, TN: 
Backlit Trees, 12x16 Oil, ©2013 Dot Courson