Degas once said, “No art is less spontaneous than mine.”

                I recently went to the Degas exhibit at the Denver Art Museum and was struck by the wonderful combination of showing his sketches and sketchbooks with his oil paintings and pastel works.   It really gives the viewer the experience of discovering what goes into the making of a masterpiece.  Many of his large works have a loose use of brushstrokes and hints of his black “sketched” lines that he used to lay out his compositions with.  The effect it creates is one of art done with some spontaneity and life to it. …

Rodin once said, “There is no recipe for improving nature. The only thing is to see.”

Recently I was discussing with an enthusiastic group of adults drawing students about really learning to look.   I help them improve their drawings by pointing out subtle details in their reference pictures. I also help with techniques to use to create that look.  One student commented on how amazing things look when you really “see” them.  That is one of the amazing things of learning to draw or paint, it changes how you perceive the world around you !  As the famous sculptor Rodin said once “There is no recipe for improving nature.  The only thing is to see.” Rodin…

Van Gogh stated,”I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing.”

Van Gogh’s wonderfully simple pen and ink drawing shows how drawing does not need to be complicated.  Just give it a try!  Here note how Van Gogh used simple lines to create an great drawing of a meadow or field.  Thin and thin lines going different directions make the field look like a meadow of plants.  See how he uses a simple value (dark/light) change to delineate between the foreground and the background.  The narrowing of the field as it goes back creates depth in the drawing another simple technique.  Try drawing with a simple pen, it can do more…

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…

“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.  

Sketching hints for the summer traveler

Grab those pencils and sketchbooks for your next trip! “The vision must be sharper than the pencil” Bob Brandle Here are a few tips: “Seeing vs Observing”  Don’t forget to see the big picture as well as the details ! ” Proportions” How big is “this” compared to “that” ?  You can use your pencil to see sizes. Or get a clear piece of acetate and trace a grid on it with permanent marker. Keep it in your sketchbook.  Pencil in on your page light pencil grid lines like the acetate  Hold it up to see how things you are…

Hints and quotes for sketchbooks, you don’t have to be an “Artist” to participate!

Hints and quotes for sketchbooks, you don’t have to be an “Artist” to participate! Getting ready for that summer vacation trip, don’t forget to pack a sketchbook.  Bring one for each member of the family so each can use it in their own unique way.  Pop each one into it’s own ziplock bag to keep it safe and dry.  Have some simple pens or pencils.  Remember the sharpener.  Bring a glue stick and while you travel glue in a postcard, train tickets,brochures for the places you have been. Then add your own drawings around it. This works really well is…