Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Betsey Nelson

Small Designs

Small prepretory paintings are a good way to discover if a full size painting is going to work. sometimes i do these in one stretch over a week sometimes just one at a time just before the actual painting. The more experience I have painting, the more I try to distill into the essential, trying to let go of the story and just PAINT. Especially when I do the small sketches I start to grasp what a painting can actually be and I get closer to the painter I want to become.
Betsey Nelson is offering a weekend workshop in the landscape painting as design this "Art Experience" is offered through the Sedona Arts Center Jan 23 & 24, 2010. For details click HERE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Margaret Dyer

When this friend of mine needs a little extra cash, she'll pose for me. We'll open a bottle of wine, she'll take her clothes off, and I'll get lots of photos for reference to work from for weeks ahead. Fortunately for me, some people are comfortable without clothes. I, however, am the extreme opposite. Funny that I should make my living painting the figure.
Margaret Dyer is teaching a workshop with the Sedona Arts Center this spring, "The Figure in Pastels" March 22-26. Details here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adrian Grenier Paints a "Loving Bowl"

Adrian Grenier – star of HBO’s “Entourage” visited Dennis Ott, the Ceramics Dept Head, at the Sedona Arts Center to paint a ‘Loving Bowl’ for the charity event. “Celebrity Artists” bowls are being sold in a silent auction on Dec 4 starting at 5pm and ending at 7:30 at the Sedona Arts Center’s community exhibition gallery. Over 400 one-of-a-kind ceramic bowls will be sold during the two day event benefiting the Sedona Community Center, Sedona Arts Center and Cottonwood’s Old Town Mission.
Dennis Ott teaches ongoing ceramics classes at the Sedona Arts Center as well as a 5 day Clay Immersion workshop each May.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Susie Reed

Roses at the Farmer's Market
© Susie Reed

by Susie Reed
Photography creates a window through which we can view and learn about the world. No matter what the subject matter or software - it’s the photographer’s decisions about how to use their camera and photo software that makes the biggest difference. All the sophisticated, modern, digital technology in the world can’t surpass the judgment and keen eye of a good photographer.
The decisive moment when a picture is taken is the most important part of the photographic process. It’s what all else in photography revolves around. Today’s cameras and software offer so many automated options it seems they can do a lot of thinking for us, but they don’t have the instincts and sensitivity people do.
One of the best photo tips I can offer is to get familiar enough with your camera that operating it becomes second nature. This will enable you to concentrate more fully on your subject, resulting in better pictures. Some photographers get so wrapped up looking at their LCD screen and fiddling with camera settings they miss what’s before them. As much as possible you want to engage with whom or what they’re photographing. You don’t need to just focus your camera; you need to focus your attention as well.
If you’re photographing people be quick, take both posed and un-posed shots. Sometimes the most interesting, revealing interactions occur while you’re setting up pictures.Take a lot of pictures. It ups your odds of getting good photos. People often calm down after the first few shots, which can enable you to capture more natural looking shots.
Photography is an exercise in seeing and reacting.
Autofocus on cameras is great feature, but it doesn’t always work to a photographer’s advantage. A camera sensor can’t necessarily distinguish what in the picture you want to focus on. It’s not a mind reader... If your camera isn’t focusing where you want, switch it to manual focus and adjust the lens yourself. Remember to switch the camera back to autofocus when you’re done so you don’t continue to take pictures thinking the camera is utilizing autofocus when it is not. You can find how to turn on and off autofocus in your camera manual.
You shouldn’t place yourself in a position where you need to apologize nor should you be too timid. Treat your subjects with respect. How you approach them will be reflected in your photos. If you make picture taking a fun, comfortable experience you’ll get better results.
I continue to learn and push the boundaries of my photography, even after being a photographer for over 30 years. I always find there’s more to discover from my subjects and equipment. For me, deepening my knowledge of Photoshop is like a painter adding colors to his pallet. It gives me more options to choose from to enhance and enrich my images.

Award winning Sedona photographer Susie Reed over 30 years experience as a fine art and commercial photographer. She’s taught at San Francisco Art Institute, California College of Arts and Crafts and is currently on the faculty of the Sedona Arts Center. As the recipient of a Sedona Arts and Cultural Commission Artist Project Grant, some of her critically acclaimed photographs of Southwestern rock art to be permanently displayed in Sedona Visitor Centers. In addition to taking pictures of prehistoric rock art Susie Reed also loves photographing landscapes, flowers, vineyards and Farmer’s Markets.

Susie Reed will be teaching a photo workshop
at the Sedona Arts Center on January 23, 2010.
Click here for details or to register online.
To visit her website click here.
To view Susie Reed’s new 2010 Southwest Rock Art calendar click here.

© Susie Reed

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Polly Cullen

Fishing Net 12x18 watercolor and pastel

I worked from a photo I took in the early morning light. I enjoyed the glow on the foreground, the nets and the fisherman. i stayed quite literal with my charcoal drawing, adding the cross and enlarging the trees in the upper right quadrant to add balance and interest to the composition. next I applied a washy watercolor underpainting with lots of pinks and oranges to hopefully glow and shimmer through the pastel layers. I then worked the entire surface with layers of pastel. I wanted to emphasize the contrast betwen the cool offwhite building and the warm glow of the white boat. My goal in the early stages of pastel application was to set the stage for the mood of the sky, the translucence of the nets and a morning glow throughout the piece. I worked back and forth between warms and cools and further established values. The final layers are so much fun! I finally let the extreme lights, the highlights and the flourishes have their way. It was a fun painting process from the first charcoal to the last pastel stroke.

Airport Lines 18x24 Watercolor and Pastel
Polly Cullen is known for her ability to capture everyday life in rich color. She teaches a 4 day workshop using watercolor underpainting and pastels on a variety of surfaces. "Shimmer and Glow with Pastels" occurs in December at the Sedona Arts Center. See the details HERE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Susan Pitcairn

"Stepping In" 24x24 oil on canvas

Deepen Your Landscapes with Poetry

Living in Sedona, Arizona, it’s easy to become enchanted by its magical landscapes. Sedona's towering red spires, mystical panoramas and dramatic skies are an ever-fascinating inspiration for painters. When I first moved here to return to art full-time, I took a plein air landscape workshop with John Cogan. He emphasized that every good painting tells a story, and that every part of the painting must support that story. One day at Red Rock Crossing he asked me to reflect on the question, “What is it about Sedona that inspires you? What is the story that it tells you?” Until then I had never exactly thought about why Sedona (or any place) was so inspiring. It was just, well… beautiful. But here was an intriguing question, one that every artist, poet or musician should ask themselves about those things they find inspiring. So as we gazed at the spires of Cathedral Rock reflected in the autumn waters of Oak Creek, I paused to consider the question...
and before I knew it, out of my mouth poured a stream of spontaneous insights about how this landscape spoke to me:

“Well, we know that opposites on the color wheel create harmony. And here in Sedona the rusty orange rocks and turquoise skies are a naturally perfect harmony."
I paused again to consider the beauty before us.
“And just look at the textural contrasts here! There are vast skies with soft clouds, versus rough, hard rocks. And look at the directional contrast between the hard vertical spires of the rocks and the horizontal, reflective surface of the water right here at this place that draws so many people. Wow, what perfect opposites!”
“Really," I continued with the excitement of discovery, "such contrasts and opposites, and the balance between them, are the underlying essence of the universe. They are everywhere: night and day, warm and cold, male and female, protons and electrons, right and left, plant and animal. It goes on and on!"


Earlier in my life I’d had glimmerings of the symbolism in nature. But from that pivotal moment, I nearly always look for the deeper qualities in the landscapes that attract my attention. And often, I write poetry to help me explore that. In a way, every part of nature has a story to tell, one with complex and ancient origins stretching back to the beginning of the universe itself. Such a story is truly mysterious, forever beyond our ability to fully understand.
Nevertheless, nature speaks to us constantly and we can hear some part of its story if we but listen. The vastness of the sky, for example, may speak of life’s mysteries and the unfettered spaciousness of those moments in which our thoughts quiet down and we may sense a quality of the sacred. A towering tree may speak to us of inner strength, of endurance, or of balance, as it is both deeply rooted in the earth and reaching for the sky.
Grand Canyon scenes often speak to me of the process of surrender, the edge between structure and the formless, the beauty of the act of letting go. The inevitable processes of wind, rain, snow and time inevitably wear down layer after layer of the Canyon’s ancient rocks, carrying it piece by piece to a distant ocean. Likewise, life is a process of constant change, ultimately taking from us all that we try to hold onto forever.

One of my favorite poems, “Surrender” was written to accompany an acrylic that placed in the 2007 Paint the Parks competition. Both express the way that vast spaces invite us to let go of all that does not truly matter. A golden bluff of limestone clings tenuously to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on a late winter afternoon. Though these rocks have existed for eons, gradually even they erode and wash into the mystery of the light-filled distance:


So golden each moment,
So utterly clear
To stand on the edge of creation.
So joyous that surrender to eternity.
Love is not optional.
Love is infinite gravity.
Each moment we live on the edge.
Cling we may to the rock of will,
But its fate is written into its making:
Surrender is not optional.
Surrender to time and trust,
To wind and breath,
To water and soul.
Like rain we flow into
The greatness of Being,
Into the indigo,
Into the every,
Into the All.
It's love that pulls us,
Light that leads us.
Let us go
Let go.

Recently I compiled many of my Southwest paintings and poems in book form to share the inspiration and strength that I derive from nature ("The Poetry of Place," 2009) is just the start of much more to come. I also now offer a workshop on how to incorporate this process into plein air painting, through the Sedona Arts Center, "The Heart of Landscape Art").


There are no hard and fast rules to writing poetry or journaling as a means to deepen your connection with your subject. Mostly, it simply requires a clear intention and a passion for doing so. Sometimes I've just taken a break from my easel and waded into a creek, pocket notebook in hand, scribbling poem after poem, knee deep in water and literally "in the flow."

But tools and exercises can certainly help. For example:

1. Find something in nature that attracts you.
2. Quiet down and listen, pen in hand, with the intent to understand what draws you to this scene and what it may be showing you.
3. Write down the first words or phrases that come to mind, no matter how odd they may seem.
4. Keep writing, uncensored, until you feel done (later on you can polish the wordsmithing if you care to do so).
5. Invite inner guidance as to how to best use composition, line, color, direction, values and textures to emphasize and express the inner story or meaning you want to communicate (and it may also help to explain it to a fellow artist and get feedback).
6. Consider listening to inspiring music as you work. I find this very helpful and bring my IPod along when I paint outdoors.

You can employ this process before you paint, while you are painting (indoors or out), or even years after you have completed a painting.

In the latter case, just sit back in a comfortable chair with your pen and paper and ask yourself the same questions: “What speaks to me here? How does this inspire me?”

Finally, appreciate that whatever inspires you will usually inspire others. After all, we humans are much the same. In my own experience, I nearly always find that my most popular paintings and images are those in which I’ve taken the time to connect with my subject in this inner manner.

You need not be a poet laureate to play with this process, and you may or may not want to share whatever you write or think about the inspiration behind your work.

But if you play with this process I think you will find that it enriches your life as an artist. And ultimately, that matters far more than the outer rewards of producing a nice painting, getting praise, winning awards or making sales.

Art, after all, is really a matter of the heart, a matter of the spirit. Be true to that calling, and the rest will follow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Betsey Nelson - Plein air class

Doni Suggs (artist)

This is another piece created during a plein air painting workshop.
This piece is an acrylic. Doni did several nice clean pieces. Getting her to pay attention to values and temperature was pretty easy. Sometimes a little of the right direction goes a long way.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Betsey Nelson- plein air class

Roy Gould (artist)

Connie Willey (artist)

These are paintings done by two students who participated in two of the four plein air workshops that i taught. The first painting is an acrylic the second an oil. Due to unusually cold conditions we were forced to paint inside much of the workshop. Two days out of the four were warm enough to paint outside though for the way i teach it didn't really matter. All four workshops were full and all of the artists had a wonderful willingness to just go for it and try painting, thinking, seeing everything a bit differently.
These workshops were held in conjunction with the sedona plein air arts festival. and were all one day workshops.
Thank you to all the volunteer assistents for all their help and the m. graham paint company for providing the paint.
Please join us next year and through out the year as sedona arts center is always running day, two day, or week long or once a week classes in all media and all levels from beginner to advanced.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - Stormy Autumn

I am now down to the final days before heading off to Sedona for the Sedona Plein Air Festival ( Besides tying up loose ends, I'll be going through my painting gear to see what I absolutely must take, and what I can leave behind. What with today's air travel restrictions, the less luggage I can tote, the better. I dream of someday flying unecumbered with nothing more than the shirt on my back!

A few days ago, I took some local students out on a one-day painting adventure. Rain never seemed far off, but they braved the raw wind to paint. On the lee side of the island, I found a sheltered nook near the Upper Duck Pond where we could paint. I did the above 5x7 demo in pastel. Bad weather aside, it was a beautiful day for clouds!
- Michael Chesley Johnson

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Carol Marine - "Foggy Cows"

Carol Marine - "Foggy Cows" - 6x6in. - sold

I was in Germany recently for 3 weeks. It was lovely but I got only one week of sunshine! After sulking a bit and feeling sorry for myself I realized I just had to get out in the fog and drizzle and make the best of it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - Mountain Shadows

"Sun & Shadow," 9x12, pastel

How do you depict peek-a-boo sunshine on the hills? Lately, here in New England and the Canadian Maritimes, we've had a lot of clouds. They make for some wonderful patterns of sun and shadow on the hillsides.

The trick with depicting this kind of sun and shadow lies in controlling the contrast of light and dark. We are so pulled in by the brilliant patches of sunlight that they seem brighter than they are. But if you paint them too bright, they will merge with the bright sky and no longer seem to be part of the hill. Also, watch the color temperature. Although there were some rich spots of fall foliage in this scene, they were cooler in temperature than sunlit trees closer by. As you can see in the painting, these were more of a red-violet than red or orange. To further enhance the light on the hills, I kept the foreground dark and mysterious. (9x12, pastel)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Betsey Nelson- End of the day Utah

Betsey Nelson - End of the day UT 8x10 oil on canvas board $485
Returning to areas, photos, or still life set ups that you once dismissed as material for a painting is always a good idea. You may very well change your mind either because your eye is better trained or your palette more comparable to the scene now or your other skills have improved to be able to do the subject justice. Returning again and again through the years may also improve enlightening.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - Surfaces

"Ebb Tide" 9x12, pastel

Lately, I've been experimenting with grounds for oil painting, but this week I diverged and began to play with pastel grounds. I decided to salvage some of the hardboard panels that I had prepped for oil painting with three coats of Blick Master Gesso - it's a surface that, as I've said elsewhere, is too slick for my way of oil painting - by adding added two coats of Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels. I ended up with a surface with a medium amount of grit to it.

It doesn't hold the pastel as well as Wallis paper, and because it doesn't have as fine a tooth, it is best suited for broad applications of pastel rather than detail work. Also, it "grabs" softer pastel better than hard pastel. For this one, I used mostly Mount Vision pastels. I really like the simple, large shapes and implied detail.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Vince Fazio - Edge of the World

The title of this one evokes the feeling of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the series that I have been exploring in my paintings of this amazing place. This particular spot will be familiar to any of those that have hiked down the Kaibab Trail.

Please Email me for purchase information.