Monday, April 6, 2015

227 Concert Window event CANCELED


I’m pleased to offer another Concert Window event tomorrow at 9pm EDT. This event will focus on painting acrylic washes over a highly textured canvas. The principle method includes using a variety of Golden texturing mediums with the addition of chalk in many cases.

It is a unique technique and I will demonstrate on two canvases–one, Dream of Light, 44” x 44”, which I have worked on previously and another canvas, Venice Light, 48” x 36”, which I'm just beginning. So viewers will get a good overview of my process from start to finish.

I think it will be a lot of fun and will be monitoring your questions each half hour during the hour and a half demonstration. I hope you will join me. To participate click here.

Brad Teare–April 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

226 Thick acrylics on Concert Window

Dream of Light, 44" x 44", work in progress
I'm excited to share some new ideas about painting with thick acrylics on a highly absorbent ground. The new technique is a fusion of all my experimentation of the last fifteen years. I use techniques from woodcut, encaustic, as well as the methods I used in oil painting. And, of course, I add lots of chalk to my paint.

The Concert Window event will be on Tuesday, April 7 at 9:00 EDT (8 Central, 7 Mountain, and 6 Pacific time). The video below will give you an idea of the direction I will be heading during the broadcast.  You can get ready by going to Concert Window and typing my name in the search box or click here.

I will be taking questions live and the session will be an hour and a half. I wanted to make it free but due to some technical difficulties it will be $1. I trust that won't be a problem for most viewers. I plan to do a Gbox offering which will be edited with additional material for $5 so this will be a good opportunity to see the session first hand (and ask questions).

In the video below I forgot to set my white point. I had some problems with white point in previous Concert Window sessions and I will be sure to lock it before Tuesday's broadcast.

Hope to chat with you then!    

Brad Teare–April 2015

225 The Genius of Van Gogh, Part 3

Vincent Van Gogh’s work is so unique I've renamed blogs #195 and #211 (originally titled Painting Like Van Gogh, now The Genius of Van Gogh) because no one will ever paint like Van Gogh. His work is inimitable. Nevertheless, I find it interesting and productive to study his work. Below is an analysis of several images fellow painter Erik te Kamp sent from the Kröller-Müller Museum:

The first thing I noticed is what appears to be gessoed canvas showing through in areas. The most notable spot being in the middle of the canvas on the very left. Altbough Van Gogh generally applied the paint very thickly there is definitely a hierarchy of thick and thin strokes.

In the second image we see some very random thick strokes. It is almost as if he used a different brush for each stroke–impossible of course–but it shows how he achieved a great deal of variety with his tools. I often paint foliage with a repetition that is painful. This passage is a good reminder that variety is possible even with a minimum of brushes. I don't think this portrait of a tree would work as well if he had not given a great deal of variety to each stroke.

Also of interest is whether or not the green stroke on the trunk was painted alla prima or afterward when the first coat of paint had dried. I guess it was painted after. The dark, cloisonnistic strokes, of what appears to be black, also appear to have been painted after the first painting session. I'm impressed with Van Gogh's simultaneous abandon and control of the medium. That paradox might be what is so engaging about his work.

Again many thanks to Erik te Kamp for these great closeups. If anyone has access to original J.M.W. Turner paintings I would love to do an analysis of his work as well.

Brad Teare–April 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

224 Live Meercat demo tonight

Tonight (31 March 2015) at 9:00 Eastern Time I will broadcast a free live demo using Meercat which will consist of painting on two large acrylic paintings. If you are a Twitter follower you will automatically get a tweet to sign on. During the demo you will be able to pose questions via Twitter. Click here to follow my Twitter feed or sign in with Meercat here.

The demo will be useful for acrylic painters of all levels but will also be a test of Meercat so please bear with me while I work out any bugs. But I appreciate your attendance and any feedback you can give. We will be talking about using chalk with acrylic and creating interesting textures. I am confident there will be some great tips for acrylic painters of all stripes.

See you soon.

UPDATE: We had a good session but I didn't get any questions via Twitter so that aspect of the process didn't work very well. I'm planning a repeat demo on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 9 EDT via Concert Window. It will be a free broadcast. I hope to see you there. Sign up via Concert Window here.

It might be profitable to review the following video as we will use the demonstrated techniques as a point of departure:

Brad Teare–March 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

223 Learning to paint, Part 2

Artists might think that sheer repetition is the means to improve their paintings. We often hear reference to putting miles on the brush. But according to the latest neurological research in the book Make It Stick this metaphor is incorrect. Using repetitive practise as a means to move forward is a strategy called massed learning–a strategy basketball players use when they spend endless hours shooting free throws. But this type of practise induces only short term learning–much like when you cram for a test and forget everything you "learned" within a week.

A better alternative is interleaved learning or spaced learning. This means that you alternate between diverse activities to allow the mind to shift gears. This is a counterintuitive way to learn because to students the massed practise method seems like they are learning at the maximum level. When the same students try the spacing or interleaving method it seems as though they are not learning as fast. However research confirms that the perception of faster learning with massed learning is an illusion.

Massed learning can be likened to binge eating. Getting massive amounts of information into the brain does not equate to retaining the information. Without spacing or interleaving there are no desirable difficulties, that is, an interval of time that makes retrieval of the newly acquired information difficult but not impossible to retrieve. A fixed practise ritual of massed learning is an impediment to learning. Here are the steps to maximum learning:

ENCODING- This is accumulating the experience necessary to begin making associations. For example, in order to learn which consistency of paint is best for you you need to experience various mediums. Reading about mediums is a start but not enough. It is best to accumulate hands-on experience to form practical knowledge from which your subconscious mind will later form a myriad of associations. New learning depends on prior learning.

CONSOLIDATION- The information accumulated is condensed by deep processing, often subconscious, where connections and relationships are explored. Resting the mind is critical as is adequate sleep. If stress levels are too high cortisol is released into the bloodstream diminishing the consolidation process. The techniques of interleaving and spacing help to create desirable difficulties in the consolidation process.

RECONSOLIDATION- At the right interval, using interleaving and spacing, review what you have learned by retrieving the new observations. Mistakes are assimilated and reconfigured. Mistakes are not a necessary evil–they are a critical component of acquired information. They are integral to the building blocks of experience. Analysis and reflection on mistakes as well as successes is a form of retrieval that strengthens learning. To be continued

Brad Teare–March 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

222 Learning to paint, Part 1

Dream of Light, 44" x 44", close-up
In the book Make It Stick authors Peter C. BrownHenry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel explain how we learn. And many of the answers are not the intuitive ones advanced by many new-economy gurus. Many popular ideas about learning are either poorly researched, or worse, simply intuitive notions.

Two of the three authors have exemplary credentials as scientists and I found their ideas compelling. They outline how we actually learn and it's NOT by following the dictum practise, practise, practise that many theories advocate.

So how do we learn? According to the aforementioned book we learn not by cramming or incessant repetition but by a process involving exposure, retrieval, interleaving, spacing, and testing.

In an experiment that demonstrates the counterintuitive nature of the learning process two groups of kindergartners were asked to throw beanbags into boxes. One group had the box placed at three feet. The other group had two boxes placed at two feet and four feet. The children practised tossing the beanbags into the boxes for an hour. The children were then tested an hour later to see which were more adept at hitting the target at three feet. Not surprisingly the kids who practised at three feet were better. But two days later when tested again the kids who practised at 2 and 4 feet scored better than the kids who practised at only three feet.

Why did this happen? One reason is that the repetition of throwing the beanbags into the three foot box did not challenge the brain in the right way. For learning to take place myelination must occur in cells in the brain called axons. Without the right kind of stimulation myelination does not occur. In the aforementioned experiment the repetition of tossing the beanbag into the single, three foot box did not provide the proper stimulation to create maximum myelination. The brute force of Practise, practise, practise is not a superior learning method.

In a previous blog I wrote about what I called creative contrast. This is actually a proven method of learning known as interleaving. Although my intuitive approach worked to some degree the method can be enhanced and tweaked, which I will elaborate on and formulate a regimen specifically for painting in future blogs. Read part 2 here.

Brad Teare–March 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

221 Creative Bucket List

Swallow's Nest Rock, Pen and Ink, 14" x 12"
I was intrigued by a recent blog entry by Lori Woodward expressing frustration with the current art market. In the article she describes a radical shift in her career. She suggested that rather than pursue the usual path for artists–find galleries and hope they believe in your work and promote you–she will be pursuing a different path; a less aggressive strategy of pursuing a creative bucket list.

I like the idea. To cease striving to get into galleries, shows, and events is a refreshing idea. Is it possible that the minutiae of art marketing actually distracts artists? Would a more project oriented model serve artists better? In her article Woodward reflects on the oft-heard but depressing suggestion that artists spend 50% of their time with business promotion. Is it possible that such advice becomes a self-defeating burden for many artists?

In my approach to my career I’ve always been more project oriented. Plus I have an eclectic skill set that is hard to sell following traditional business models. Devising projects to accomplish seems a more productive path than the interminable and seemingly trivial detail of typical business solutions. Now that the idea of a project oriented career occurs to me it seems obvious that artists need to pursue a radically different business model than typically suggested.

As a way to shift from the typical business model to project oriented promotion I’m starting a Creative Project Bucket List. Here’s my list so far:

Get a large acrylic into the Salmagundi Club Acrylic show.

Visit museums in England with J. M. W. Turner paintings.

Visit Scotland with the express purpose of collecting sketches and photos to create an exhibit of large acrylic realist paintings. Have a one man show on return.

Be a guest artist at the Golden Colors artist residency.

Have a one man show at my Alma Mater, The University of Idaho, covering all facets of my artistic journey.

Get a return invitation to The Door County Plein Air Festival. But this time do plein air pen and ink drawings in addition to paintings, and possibly a woodcut or two.

Do a Thick Paint workshop in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Participate in the Florence Abstract Biennial.

Get a return invitation to The Maynard Dixon Studio for another week long artist residency.

Go to Antarctica for two weeks. In the tradition of 19th century exploration create a series of sketches, woodcuts, landscape paintings, and abstracts while blogging and posting video accounts of the experience. Upon return mount an exhibit in conjunction with The Leonardo (a museum dedicated to the exploration of art and science).

Will I accomplish all these goals? Possibly not. But I like the list because it energizes me to contemplate the possibilities. Conversely when I think about contacting galleries and buying ads in magazines and all the other ideas suggested by art marketing gurus I feel depleted.

As artists we need to be as creative in our careers as we are with our art. If a business approach seems out of harmony with who we are we need to find a more authentic solution.

Brad Teare–March 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

220 Upload your videos to THICK PAINT

Dream of Light, 44"x44", Close-up
As many of you know I'm an early adopter and enthusiast of Gbox–the superior alternative to YouTube. They have a new widget that allows readers such as yourselves to upload videos on this site. The videos could take the form of a demo, or you could show a painting problem you would like Thick Paint readers to diagnose, or you could show a recent painting you have completed

Sharing ideas has always been the heart of this blog. I have long wished readers could post images in the comments but I think this might be a better alternative. In the next phase of Thick Paint evolution exchanging ideas will be easier and more valuable.

In order to post a video you do need to make an account at Gbox. My preference would be to use the Donation Option so we all can watch for free. Making an account is easy. I hope you will give it a try.

Brad Teare–March 2015

Below is a video contributed by Peter Senesac. Many thanks for trying this out, Peter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

219 Make your [own] mark

Recently I've been impressed with the absolute necessity of developing a unique style. While it's tempting to follow a current fad–especially if it appears others are enjoying financial success pursuing that style–such imitation is a diversion from the more important pursuit of developing a personal signature.

Except in the early phases of a career such imitational strategies are bound to fail, especially in today's saturated market. It might have been possible to have a semblance of a career imitating other's work in the past but those days are long gone. But ultimately all artists need to ask why they would pursue such a course. We should be grateful the current market is forcing us to choose the correct path of fostered individuality.

In light of the need to pursue a radically individual path I'm currently painting large acrylics in a highly textured style. Both the technique and the compositional approach are departures from my previous work. With such a radical shift there is the possibility of failure. But my current axiom is:


Without failure your work will be derivative. Failure gives you the feedback to make the necessary adjustments to evolve a personal style. Failure forces you to deal with personal idiosyncrasies which are key to developing a unique style. Your quirks reveal your distinctive strengths and weaknesses.

From the seeds of failure grow the fruits of success.

Above: Work in progress, Dream of Light, 44" x 44", acrylic on canvas

Brad Teare–March 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

218 The Challenge of color temperature

Study for Venetian Doors, 48" x 36"
I was reading past comments on this blog and came across the following from fellow painter Tom Waters:

I was at a plein air event recently in the lush green mountains of Vermont and watched a very good painter paint a dominantly green landscape. He was using lots of colors and not trying to match the greens at all. The result was great and I talked to him after. He advised me to look at the color temperature. Representing the changing temperature was what he focused on, not the hue.

Is color temperature like other art principles–easy to grasp superficially but difficult to understand profoundly?
While ruminating on the possibility I saw some paintings by Albert Bierstadt and noted a color scheme in many of his paintings that resembled the Kelvin Temperature chart–a scheme that used oppositional oranges and blues.

Temperature wheel from
Color and Light by James Gurney
With renewed curiosity I reviewed the chapter Warm and Cool in the book Color and Light  by James Gurney (page 112). Gurney observed that the oranges (warmest colors) and blues (coolest colors) are opposite on the temperature spectrum. That might seem obvious but Gurney tellingly adds that "the greens and violets seem to have divided loyalties". Note that there are no greens or violets on the Kelvin Temperature scale. Such observations suggest there might be more to temperature than I previously thought and that my struggle with greens might reflect an incomplete notion of color temperature. Could I find a remedy by thinking of temperature as primarily an opposition between orange and blue?
Kelvin Temperature Chart

I'm gearing up to do a major acrylic painting–see rough above–and have resolved to more fully explore the interplay of warm and cool colors. The exploration is ongoing. Please add your observations below.

Brad Teare–March 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

217 The Art of Thick Paint Book

I've been toiling for months writing a book about the art of thick paint. Although many chapters are finished I haven't finished the book. However I decided to publish the unrefined manuscript on Wattpad and evolve as I write. Frequent readers will recognize some topics from this blog but many chapters are completely new.

This type of creativity is often referred to as frictionless creativity and is a method increasingly used online. It allows for online readers to create momentum for the project as well as encourage efficient project management  since you can write and edit from your phone or tablet.

I enthusiastically welcome your feedback. Feel free to add comments to the manuscript (via the Wattpad app) or in the comments section. I will make corrections and add clarification and topics based on your suggestions. In a year I hope the have the manuscript finished and will publish it with color illustrations.

I hope you will share this project–your vote and comments on the Wattpad site will boost its ranking. I appreciate your help .

Brad Teare–February 2015

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