My students often ask me how I know what I want to paint. They also say that they don't like to paint the same thing over and over. I am then reminded of this quote: "Write what you know," which is attributed to Mark Twain. I have read different opinions about the quality of his advice over the years and have come to believe that it is sound counsel. I also think that it can transfer to painting. Read on to see what I mean.
"Illuminated," 20x20 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein Inspired close to home
Think about it. Many of us are fascinated by other cultures. Personally, I am inspired by travel and seeing the unfamiliar.
That said, I believe that my most successful paintings evoke a feeling stimulated by being in a specific spot, and I find it most easy to express those emotions when painting something that is deeply entrenched in the core of my being.
My morning walk. Do you see how my work is inspired by the familiar?
We all find our peace in different places. My balance is always found in and among the trees and around water. Therefore, inspiration from my frequent walks finds its way into my work, whether I am in my home of Virginia or in distant locations as in the painting below.
So if you are looking for your next idea of what to create, look no further than your own backyard. You may be surprised by the wealth of inspiration to be found there.
When you look at the video that I have posted here, what do YOU see that is a common thread in my work? If you were going to emphasize something in the scene, what would you choose? Let me know in the comments below.
"Path to River," 20x16 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein Inspired by a location in southern France
Happily, I recently found out that one of my paintings was selected for exhibition in the Pastel Society of America annual show, "Enduring Brilliance." The exhibition will be taking place in New York City from September 4 through September 29.
Having work selected for this show is always competitive, and this year was no different. I sent images of 3 of my latest pastel paintings to potentially be selected.
Unfortunately, I can't show you the one that was chosen for the show until the exhibition is hung on September 4.
Making lemonade out of that lemon, let's have some fun.
Tell me your favorite painting and why you think that your pick should be in the show in the comments below.
I will then put your name into a hat and whoever is selected will receive a gift of a package of notecards with my artwork on them.
Can't wait to see what you think!
PS. I will announce the winner on September 5. Be sure to check back here then. I will announce the winner in the comments, and we will figure out how to get your prize to you!
PSS. If you are interested in purchasing a reproduction or the original of one of these pieces just hit the little contact rectangle on the upper right of your screen (with my email address), and let me know.
Remain Standing, Pastel, 12 x 12 inches, $575
Terrain, Pastel, 12x12 inches, $575
Haze, pastel, 12 x 12 inches, $575
Look Closer, Pastel, Acrylic, Watercolor, 24 x 24 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein, $1500 Included in PSA Exhibition 2016
I got an email the other day that discussed commitment versus completion. I’ve been thinking about this idea of commitment and completion being different ever since I received that email. The writer clearly felt that completion and commitment didn't work hand-in-hand. Having thought about this, I believe that completion is just a step that we take toward commitment. In other words, one completes chores or assignments in order to reach a goal. That's one way to show commitment to something.
You see, I love completing tasks. I make to-do lists as long as my arm. I enjoy checking off what I have done. When I make a list, I am committed to completing what I have written. Making that list helps me to ascertain what is really important to me to finish, which adds up to commitment to a larger goal.
Now, sometimes those chores have nothing to do with my passions (the things I am committed to doing) For example, laundry often lands on the list. That’s not really a commitment except to maybe living my life cleanly.
Anyway, one of the things that I am certainly committed to is improving my artwork and always doing the best that I can when creating. After working hard, I want that effort to be recognized. So, I have for many, many years worked toward having my artwork respected within the pastel world in which I was living. For those who know me, you know I have branched out into other media, but I digress.
I had a goal, and the goal was to be awarded the coveted Pastel Society of America (PSA) signature membership. You see, I have tried to get that designation for over 15 years. Needless to say, this was a goal that I had for the long haul, and that, my friends, is a commitment.
Why was it so important for me to get the signature membership from PSA? At this point, I’m not sure. I certainly don’t like to think of myself as someone who needs to have validation from others so badly. Some of the artists I most admire are those that bucked the trends. Think of Gustave Klimpt, Van Gogh, Louise Bourgeois, Emily Carr, or any one of the Impressionists, and you get the idea.
Maybe I did need it for validation. I certainly felt that it was helpful with regard to my teaching as so many of the teachers that I admire have signature status.
So, over the years, I kind of forgot why I really wanted it, and instead just kept working toward it. The goal became almost like my “White Whale.” I tried to gain signature status through the membership jurying process no less than 3 times. Thwarted every time. Curses!
After getting some much-needed advice, I decided that my best course of action was to enter the annual exhibitions. These exhibitions are exceptionally competitive. To give you an idea, there are generally over a thousand entries and only around 180 are accepted. Felt like a long shot. You see, as an associate member (which was no easy task either), you are awarded signature membership if you are accepted into the annual exhibition three times, and it doesn’t matter how long that takes.
Just so you know, it took me 4 years, and I finally, FINALLY have my signature membership.
Commitment paid off, but so did completion. Without completing what I did, with commitment, I would never have reached my goal.
Thanks for coming along on this ride with me. Do you agree? Do completion and commitment go hand-in-hand? What milestone did you reach by completing tasks to a bigger goal? Let me know in the comments below.
Layered Individualism, Pastel, Acrylic, Watercolor, 16 x 40 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein Sold
Included in PSA show in 2014 and was selected for an award
For those who couldn't make it to the show, here's a video.
So, what's a gratitude sandwich? Well, have you ever heard of the sandwich method of giving constructive criticism? With the sandwich method, one puts positive comments at the beginning and end of the discussion, and the meat of the matter is in the middle. That "meat" is the constructive comment that isn't quite so positive.
A gratitude sandwich is different than the sandwich method because there is no criticism. It's all hearts and flowers.
I have nothing but hearts and flowers to report about my trip back to my home state, and my solo show at Taylor Books in Charleston, West Virginia.
I find that when I am feeling low, thinking of things that make me grateful is beneficial.
When I am feeling on top of the world, thinking about what I am thankful for makes me feel even better.
Do you practice gratitude in your life?
Here's a list of all that I appreciated regarding this particular show, and my time in West Virginia. I include it here as a public thank you.
I would love to hear what you are grateful for in the comments below.
* I am grateful to a dear friend for recommending me to the gallery director at Taylor Books.
* I am grateful for the gallery director and store manager of Taylor books for picking my work up at my studio in the pouring rain and delivering it to Charleston. That is no small feat because it continued to rain, and 12 hours total in the car isn't fun for anyone.
* While we're at it, I am grateful that the work was handled with care and displayed beautifully.
* I am grateful for the beautiful postcards that were printed announcing this show.
* West Virginia is stunning, and I am thrilled that I got to spend time in "my" mountain state.
* I am grateful that 2 of my friends from Northern Virginia were able to be there at my artist talk and reception to enjoy the hospitality of the people in my home state.
* I am grateful that after decades of enjoying Blenko Glass, I was able to visit the facility and buy more glassware.
* I am eternally appreciative of my friends who came, some from long distances, to see my work, visit with me, and hear me speak about my art.
* I am extremely grateful to those who purchased my work. Thank YOU!
* I am especially thankful for having time to see my family of choice in West Virginia. You know who you are and I love you all.
* Finally, I am grateful for all of you who read my emails, blogposts and social media feeds. Thank YOU!
A grouping of my paintings displayed at Taylor Books Annex Gallery. Love seeing them grouped this way.
One of the things that I am truly grateful for is my communications with you. Please let me know what you are grateful for in the comments below.
What have you been up to?
I'm one of those people who never feels that I get enough done until I keep a record of my activities and take a look at the record. Trouble is, I sometimes get too busy to keep the record!
Painting like a fiend is what I have been doing lately in preparation for Juxtapositions, an exhibition that will be taking place from June 11 to July 31 at Taylor Books in Charleston, West Virginia. Here's the info about that show:
Juxtapositions, Oil and Pastel Landscapes by Lynn Goldstein
When: June 11 through July 31
Where: Taylor Books, 226 Capitol Street, Charleston, West Virginia
Artist's Talk: Wednesday, June 20, 6 PM
Reception: Thursday, June 21, 5-7 PM
To get a taste of the work that will be on view, here's a preview:
The oil paintings are representational in nature, while the pastels are abstracted versions inspired by the oil paintings.
All art ©Lynn Goldstein
"So Close," Oil on Canvas, 24x24 inches, © Lynn Goldstein $1800
Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
This quote by Picasso has always charmed me. Here's a little story that illustrates the quote beautifully.
We have a fort in our backyard that was built for our son when he was young. The fort and swing set remain, while our son does not. New children are engaged in play in our yard inside the fort and on the swings. These boys taught me something the other day that I want to share with you. Hopefully, you will get a chuckle, and maybe learn something too.
After returning from my walk in the woods, I noticed the boys playing in our backyard. We are happy to have them there, but they were moving landscaping stones from where they belonged, so I needed to go and ask them to refrain from doing that. Here's how the conversation went. Trust me, you're gonna smile:
Me: Hi guys, do me a favor, please don't move the stones, and try not to trample on the flowers.
Boy #1: Do you live here? ( stated with some indignation)
Me: Why yes I do.
Boy #1: We have permission to be here. (I knew this. Boy #1 had spoken to my husband (aka Terrific Tax Attorney) awhile back and secured permission.)
Me: Why, yes you do, but please don't trample on the flowers, and don't move the stones.
That problem solved, a redirection in the conversation took place with--
Boy #2: (Excitedly) Did you know that you have SLUGS in your yard?
Me: EWWW! No, I didn't.
Boy #2: They are so cute!
Me: You think?
Boy #2: Yes, we are going to take them home with us as pets.
Me: Okay (I didn't say, take as many as you want!)
Boy #2: I named my slug Allie, he's so cute.
Me: Really, you think so?
Boy #2: Yes! He may not seem cute on the outside, but I am sure that he is cute on the inside!
You may be thinking, what in the world could you learn from the perception of the cuteness of slugs? Well, it's all subjective isn't it?
If we can find some beauty in all that surrounds us, we may take better care of our environment, the people we encounter, and whatever comes our way during each day. Seeing the world this way is certainly seeing with the eyes of a child.
What I really know is that the encounter with these boys brightened my life, and for that I am grateful. Hope this story brightened your day. Oh, and by the way, I still don't care for slugs.
Gardon Reflections #3, 18x24 inches, Acrylic, ©Lynn Goldstein, Inspired by trip to France in 2013, Sold
While teaching a workshop in southern France in 2013, I traveled to Aix en Provence to visit Paul Cezanne's studio. For me, this visit was like a pilgrimage because I have felt transported spiritually by viewing Cezanne's work for years.
We were warned that no photographs were allowed. There were stern women standing guard. If a camera or phone was whipped out of a bag or pocket the offender was roundly chastised in a barrage of disparaging French.
I don't generally break rules of this nature. Thing is, something caught my eye that was begging to be photographed. While one of my students shielded my phone from view, I snapped the shot. There was a letter that Cezanne had sent to his friend Claude Monet, and I wanted to remember what was written. I wish I had gotten a photo of the letter in French, but realized that I should cut my losses and get what I could. Here is the photo that I took of the letter, translated into English:
As you can see, in his letter, Cezanne discloses his displeasure with a piece on which he was working. More importantly, he thanks his fellow artist friend, Claude Monet, for his moral support. This is something that we all need, and I count myself fortunate to have wonderful friends that are walking the same path that I am in making art. I receive support from them that I treasure.
Isn't it wonderful to learn unexpected things from those whose work inspires us? Isn't it even more wonderful to have the support of understanding friends?
Here are a few of my favorites from Cezanne Portraits at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Boy in a Red Waistcoat, Paul Cezanne, 1888-1889
Cezanne is best known for his still life and landscape painting. I think that perhaps the reason that this piece appeals to me so much is that, although it is a portrait, I can see the landscape qualities in the composition. Do you see the similarities to a tree in the pose of the adolescent here? The background drapery even has a tree trunk quality to it. The complimentary color scheme of green and red is utilized to great effect as well.
Man in a Blue Smock, Paul Cezanne, 1897
This painting was riveting to me. I tend to gravitate to complimentary color schemes and this painting is no exception, with blue and orange dominating. Again, their are landscape elements present in this piece. Cezanne utilized a painted screen that he had made in the past as the background.
This Way, 10x10, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein $575
How many of you suffer from bouts of insecurity? I know, right? Who hasn’t?
Feelings of inadequacy are threads that have been woven throughout the fabric of my life for as long as I can remember. Those feelings have stymied my success in ways that I can pinpoint, and ways that I am just beginning to understand. Most importantly, that lack of confidence has kept me from recognizing the best way to fulfill my mission.
Although I know that my moments of flagging confidence are not going to be vanquished forever. I wanted to understand a way to eliminate the feelings as much as I could. With that in mind, I spoke with one of my coaches recently, and she helped me with a trick that I think may be helpful to you if you ever suffer from self doubt. Again, who doesn't?
While unpacking the root of my feelings of inadequacy, I disclosed to her a story from my memories as a child, which I will share with you here.
How great is that little swim cap? Had to protect my hair. Here I am at 4 years old, loving life.
One of my first memories, when I was about 4 years old, was that I was on this earth to touch people in a positive way. In other words, at four years old, I knew my life’s mission. My fear of being labeled nuts at worse, or an extreme Pollyanna at best, kept me from sharing this mindfulness with others. However, since I have been carefully disclosing my remembrance to select people, their reactions have indicated how unusual that memory actually was.
After confessing this recollection to my coach, she asked, “How could you touch people in a positive way and possibly be inadequate?
A giant lightbulb went off when I responded to her question. I realized that it is impossible to be lesser-than if I am touching people in a positive way. Therefore, as long as I, or my art, are fulfilling that mission, it is good enough!
Here’s the part that helps me stay positively focused, and what you may be able to do to help yourself when your confidence wanes. I call it my “mind reorientation tool.” When I feel myself comparing my art, or my life, or even myself with others, and am tempted to let that lack of confidence rear its ugly head, I remember my mission. To help me even further, I have a picture of my four year old self taped to the side of my easel. When I look at that sweet little girl, who truly never knew a stranger, and smiled at all she encountered, I am transported back to a time when love surrounded me. This photo helps me to remember that as long I am fulfilling my mission, I am good enough, swim cap and all!
Now, here’s your task. If you are fulfilling your mission, whatever that is, you can’t possibly be inadequate. Think that over. Then, find something, it can be just about anything, to reorient your mind when the negativity starts creeping in.
I hope that this helps you as it has helped me. If you think of a little reminder that brings you back to balance, and would like to share what that is in the comments, I would love to hear from you. Who knows, we may all come away with great ideas to help each other!
Summer Solstice #2, 24x24 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein $1700
My recommendation is to buy what you truly love. I have never regretted buying art that I love.
Usually the work just speaks to me, and I have to have it. Often, the image or object sparks a memory that may have faded to almost gray. The moment I see the art, the memory comes barreling back into my psyche, and I am transported. I relish that feeling, and get it every time I look at the piece I own. The painting above is one that moves me right back to the loving arms of my grandmother. Why? I have no idea.
Sparked memories occurred with someone who just purchased a painting from me, and I want to share her experience with you here. Take a look at what she shared with me. I can't improve on what she expressed!
Quietude, 36 x 24 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein SOLD
I am thrilled with “Quietude.” In fact, I have found out that I really have two pastel paintings in one! It is hanging over my bed, perfectly, and in the daylight looks every bit as it appeared when I purchased it. But my second pastel painting came as a total surprise. I woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in bed to look at it in the dim light of the room (a digital frame with family moving along frame- by- frame casts a slight light in the room). When I turned around to look at it, I was immediately taken back home as a child when we used to take winter evening walks through our woods when the moon was out. “Quietude” had the same visual, as if evening, and somewhere there was a residual light coming through from the moon. I still can’t get over it!
I love what she shared. Hey, can you tell me about a piece of art that brings back great memories for you? I'd enjoy reading about it. Share below.
Afternoon Shadows, Oil on Canvas, 24x24 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein, $1700
The drawing below was a first effort for me at the age of 4
While someone was visiting my studio last week, a common question was posed. The question was this, "When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?" Followed by a less common question, "When did you know that you were talented in visual art?"
Now, on the surface, the first question was an easy one to answer. The surface answer was, "Since I was a kid." The second question was harder, because I still am not sure how much talent I have. I work at my art, and have questioned my talent almost as long as I have been breathing. But I was reminded of something in my past that illustrated almost exactly when I knew that I wanted to be an artist. Bear with me here. I think you will get my point.
Remember when you were in elementary school? Of course you do! Come sit with me in those tiny chairs and let me share a memory.
When I was in elementary school, we had coloring competitions. That's right, coloring competitions! Silly as they were, I found myself most annoyed that Rachel Trent (name changed to protect the innocent) won those darn competitions every week. Now, I knew that Rachel had no more ability than I did where art was concerned. After all, I could draw rings around Rachel Trent! Her winning stuck in my craw weekly. So, rather than admit defeat, I studied what Rachel did with her coloring. She was very neat, and stayed carefully within the boundaries of the coloring book pages. This felt uncomfortable and uncreative to me even as a kid. Unlike anyone else in the class, she outlined each border of the forms with black. Therefore, armed with knowledge, I did the same thing, and won! Once I had proven to myself that I too could win the coloring competition, I went back to NOT coloring within the lines, not being totally neat, and certainly not putting black outlines around the forms.
What does this story say about me? Well, I'm not particularly competitive unless something matters to me. I don't care about sports, and how well I perform in them, but art, well that's another matter. If I feel a hint of competitiveness, importance to me is confirmed. I also know that I don't like to color within the lines!
So, I still question my talent, but I never question the importance of art and being an artist in my life.
What matters to you? Have you had an ah ha moment when you realized that THIS (whatever this was) was important to you? How was that confirmed? Let me know in the comments below.
Happy to have you here. This is where you will see work in progress, tips about making art, seeing art, and enjoying art. You will also see ways to live a more joyous life.