Spanish painter Francisco De Goya on “masses of light and dark”

De Goya once stated, “who always talks about line, never about masses.  But where does one see lines in nature?  I see only masses in light and masses in shadow, planes come forward and planes into recession.” Now is the time as it warms up to get out and sketch.  The vastness of the outdoor landscapes can be a stumbling block for many.  But there is hope follow De Goya’s advice an look at the large masses of dark and light shapes.  Squint at the photograph of the Third Flatiron below, notice there are distinct shape areas.  Start with sketching…

Leonardo Da Vinci ‘s advice on nature.

                                  “Bird Pair” graphite pencil  April Christenson artist Leonardo Da Vinci once stated, “Whoever thinks he can remember the infinite teaching of nature flatters himself.  Memory is not that huge.” So now that spring is coming, take advantage of those warmer days, dust off your sketchbook and sketch outside!  It does not need to be a long involved sketch, just a quick flurry of lines to help you capture the scene.  You might consider using those super thin pens such as the Micron pens.  They do not erase and have a delicate line quality.  Not having the ability to erase…

Degas once stated” Even in front of nature, one must compose.”

It is easy to be excited about a beautiful scene in nature.   You snap the picture and take it home to enjoy.  But you miss an opportunity to create further visual excitement with a little thought and effort.  Take time before you print the photograph or draw that photograph to “compose” it. Look for things that you could leave out of the scene if you are drawing.  Another option is to “crop” (narrow the edges of the scene) the photograph.  When cropping a photograph notice how it changes the “center of interest”.  These techniques can be used before you use…

Famous artist Renoir stated “If you could explain a picture, it wouldn’t be art…The work of art must seize upon you,wrap you up in itself, carry you away.”.

I am sure we have all been in a gallery or museum and wondered, what was the artist thinking?  This especially comes up when viewing more contemporary art which has no recognizable images.  Art can be anything it wants to be, that’s what makes art so fun and unique.  You either like it or not, there is no right or wrong. But if you must come up with something here are a few tips.  Look for colors or combinations of colors you like.  Note interesting textures or materials that are used in creating the art piece.  Try standing farther away…

Paul Klee stated “Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible.”

During this rush of the holidays take time to see the art around you.  Notice how beautiful the snow is on the pine trees, how nature has its own artistic value.  It is easy to miss during the winter season.  I love trees and in the winter I take time to see the wonderful structure of the bare branches.  Another favorite is spotting those nests in the trees from last spring.  They are tucked in the tree’s branches in amazing ways. Enjoy your local artists’ work as they capture or creative unique work that you could take home and enjoy! …

Picasso said “Painting is just another way of keeping a dairy”

Put down those  electronics and start a sketchbook to record the visual life around us!  Painting, drawing, sculpting and “life” can all benefit by keeping a sketchbook or two.  Sketchbooks can record the bountiful colors and shapes of life,  if paints are too messy for you try colored pencils (my favorite!) in your sketchbook.       Georgia O’Keeffe stated “Color is one of the things in the world that makes life worth living….”  Observe how the same color looks totally different next to another color.  Colors play off of each other, influencing how we perceive them.  In this time…

Degas and art: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”

Artist Edgar Degas lived from 1834 to 1917 in France during a time of great artists who were forging new paths in art.  One of his close friends’ was the painter Monet who had his own unique style of painting.  Both took inspiration from each other but kept their individuality.  This is an exciting aspect of the arts so take advantage of exploring past master artists and the artist down the street from you.  The possibilities are endless. Degas was known for his figures that were shown in motion, a “snapshot” of a moment in time. He did lots of…

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” Picasso

Picasso had it right with this quote, part of the artistic experience is to take what is out there and change it to make it your own artistic vision.  This could be changing basic elements in your art to abstracting the image.  You can change the composition by narrowing the picture plane or just leaving out parts of the reference picture that clutter the composition’s general look.  You can also change the composition by lowering or raising the horizon line so the viewer looks at the art from a different perspective. An often overlooked option is to change some of…

“Great art picks up where nature ends” Marc Chagall

Coming in the October issue of Southwest Art Magazine is a sample of my art which hopefully “picks up where nature ends”.  The magazine issue is their annual “collector’s edition”.  My work is in the “Ones to Collect-Discover new artists” section. Visit my prints on demand site http://www.aprilchristenson.artspan.com   You can order the prints in the size you need and choose a frame to fit your space.  It will let you visually try out different options for your special print.  

Sketchbooks for school, for life.

  It’s that time of year when students of all ages go back to the books and classes. Don’t forget to take your sketchbook to help you along.  Sketchbooks can be useful in many areas not just “art”.  They can be used in the sciences to record visual observations, data, and questions about what you are observing.  You can press your botanical samples between the pages.  You can use it as a research tool to compile data, quotes, photos, and sketches all relate to a specific topic.  Used as strictly a drawing platform it helps you see how the details…