Treasure Chest: Tips for Improving Your Paintings

"Alien Gate" Watercolor crayon on paper 9" x 12" © 2009 Marilyn Fenn

“Alien Gate”
Watercolor crayon on paper
9″ x 12″
© 2009 Marilyn Fenn

Treasure Chest

Today I’m participating in a collaborative online project with other art bloggers.  We are re-posting one of our favorite posts from our blogs.  I chose to re-post some notes from art school from way back when, because I find these tips personally useful to review every so often, especially this year when I am exploring various other avenues in my creative process.  Perhaps other artists will find some of these tips helpful, too.

I also recommend that you view the post from the organizer of this project, Seth Apter, on his blog The Altered Page.  It’s a gorgeous, compelling and inspiring piece.

You can link to all participating artists from the Treasure Chest post on Seth’s blog.

Finally, the piece above is a brand new work from my new series, Paintings from the Hot, Hot Summer of 2009.  So here’s my Buried Treasure:

Class notes from art camp classes with George Liebert and Dan Gustin, Oxbow, MI, summer 1991.

Make a list of verbs and adjectives about your own work.

When struggling with a work, isolate parts of it and do lots of sketches to come up with a better composition.

What are your personal, specific goals?

Colors: similar vs. somber vs. stronger.

Realism vs. abstraction – both successful, maybe in combination.

Consider excitement of surfaces vs. complex images. Patterns on blanket, individual parts developed, keep to whole color – add pink, red, clear blue, zingier color.

Keep exciting in earlier stages.

Develop through series of big changes to work out issues.

Series of patterns; sincerity, passion.

Beware of making shadows that are a hole to hell (i.e., too dark) – gap in thinking color rather than value.

Take inventory – look at beautiful drawings in museum.

Strange mix of sacred and profane.

Baroque art: look at Poussin, Rubens’ sketches, Rembrandt, make drawings about what interests you — movement, etc.

Overlap some things.

Check a variety of approaches; work on sense of design.

Look at Eric Fischl – palette in realistic landscape.

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Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

— Oscar Wilde
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Comments on My Paintings
  • I am drawn in. It feels like I’m looking down into a street scape. One with oodles of electronic utilities (parking meters, walk/don’t walk signs, traffic and surveillance cameras) and that singular storm drain. I have no idea why/what the blue dot is, but I like it!
Gallery of Recent Paintings
Untitled (2015-008) - Oil painting by Marilyn Fenn Small Daily Painting 2014-011 - Oil painting by Marilyn Fenn Untitled (2015-006) - Oil painting by Marilyn Fenn Murky Morning of the Soul - Oil on Canvas - 12 x 12 - © 2015 Marilyn Fenn