Travel is great for inspiration. Immersing yourself in a culture sparks creativity that often takes me by surprise.
Prior to teaching a workshop in Tuscany last year, I spent five extraordinary days knocking about Florence on my own. I love traveling to a place and having time there without any distractions. Traveling with loved ones is a pleasure, but my desire to spend time with art and walk for miles can fatigue almost everyone I know.
My visit to Santa Maria del Carmine and the Brancacci Chapel to see the frescoes of Massaccio, Masolino and Fillipino Lippi was just such a visit. I stayed in that chapel for at least an hour letting the astounding work of these masters wash over me.
I was fascinated by the biblical stories that were illustrated, and listened intently to the audio guide provided. More importantly, I was riveted by the artwork made by these early renaissance masters. I studied the compositions, and was charmed that portraits of people I had heard of were portrayed on some of the walls.
As an example, the detail from Filippino Lippi's fresco Disputation with Simon Magus and Crucifixion of Peter, 1481-82, portrays Sandro Botticelli looking right at us. Seeing the face of the artist I had admired since prior to my college days as an art student captivated me. Literally, I stood transfixed before snapping photographs.
Provided below are images showing how I was inspired by that portion of the fresco to paint what began as an abstract, but ended up an abstracted landscape.
I am returning to Italy in October to teach a one-week workshop and would love to have you join me. Who knows, you may be inspired by an Italian master too! Click here to see what you will learn and enjoy while there with me.
I took this photographic detail and made a black and
white sketch with markers to start my abstract painting. See below:
Next, I began my painting
The painting began changing into a landscape.
I couldn't seem to sacrifice the rust color slash of paint in the lower portion of the composition.
The sacrifice of the rust color slash had to occur, and I call the painting completed.
Fleeting Quality, 20x16, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein, Private Collection
This is the first in a series of videos to show you tools that will improve your art. This one is so simple, you will not believe it. Take a look!
There is nothing that I enjoy more than spending time among the trees, beside a body of water, or simply appreciating a very light breeze on a warm day. That's why I became a landscape painter.
That said, I have been itching to stretch in the ways that I create my artwork. To me, that's what living life like an artist is all about.
With that in mind, I am taking an online Masterclass in painting from an abstract painter. This is not a class about technique, it is more about painting in a way that is authentic to me as an individual.
That said, I am definitely experimenting with technique as well. Thought it would be fun to give you a little peek of a specific project that I recently completed.
The task that I was given was to make 2 paintings. Each painting was to be done in acrylic and mixed media using a limited palette of 3 colors plus black and white. I chose to use titian buff rather than white because I prefer the softer off-white hue. Also, I think that living like an artist means bending the rules a bit if you feel as if you are going to get a better result.
One of the paintings was to be done with my non-dominant hand, while the other was to be completed with my dominant hand. I am extremely right-handed, so I had a bit of trepidation simply thinking about this project.
I needn't have been concerned. This was a GREAT exercise for multiple reasons. First of all, I enjoyed the challenge. More importantly, I enjoyed getting out of my own way, and working without concern about representation.
So that you can see where the process began, the first two images were the beginning stages of the paintings. The final two images are the completed pieces.
I'd love to hear which one of the completed artwork you think is the painting done with my dominant hand, and which one is your favorite in the comments below.
The beginning stages of my abstract painting, painting #1
The beginning stages of my abstract painting, painting #2
Division of Frailty, 14x10.5 inches, Mixed Media, © Lynn Goldstein $735
Wilted Nerve, 14x10.5 inches, Mixed Media, ©Lynn Goldstein $735
I look forward to reading your guess of which piece was done with my dominant hand, and also which one is your fav in the comments below!
What inspires you? A beautiful sunset, trees swaying in the breeze, a shocking or beautiful piece of art, or maybe music?
We are all inspired by what we come in contact with if we open ourselves up to the possibilities. I find that travel is one of the best sources of inspiration for me.
While in Italy, I was inspired by something unexpected. To see what I mean, take a look at the video below. Then read on, because travel has inspired me in other ways as well.
One of the pieces of art that I am most proud of was inspired by something totally unexpected during travel.
While visiting Iceland several years ago, hubby and I had lunch and then dinner at a restaurant that was located on an old farm. The food was delicious, which is why we dined there two times in one day. While there, something caught my eye. On each table was an antique book. People from Iceland are avowed book lovers, so finding a book on the table wasn't a surprise. Photographs of the family that had owned the farm for generations were pasted inside the book, along with a description of the history of the farm. This simple book on a dining table sparked a kernel of an idea in me, and Treatise was born. To read more about Treatise, you may click here.
Now it's your turn. What inspires you? Leave me a comment below.
Treatise, Books, Wood, Found Objects, Acrylic, ©Lynn Goldstein $3500
When I work in pastel, I use different papers for varied results. I do this to keep things interesting and also when I want a specific end result based on the subject that I am painting.
The manufactured papers that I use right now are Uart 400 grit, and Pastel Premiere. However, I also enjoy making my own textured surface. If you are interested in making your own surface, here is a short video explaining how you can do just that. At the end of the video, you will see some of my completed work, so stay till the end. : )
Want to see the progress on my most recent painting? Here you go!
The painting was inspired by my trip to Italy last year to teach a workshop, but I changed the scene considerably. The day was a bit rainy, but the sun broke through the clouds. I loved the way the clouds seemed to go on forever, and the mountains looked like a crazy quilt with fields and patches of trees in the distance.
Simply click on each image to see the description of what I have done.
A little close-up of brush strokes.
"Tapestry #2," 30x40 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein, $3500
There was so much to see that sparked my creative juices while in Italy. I can't wait to go back, and would love to have you join me. If you are interested in going to Tuscany with me this fall, click here or simply hit the button below. Even if you aren't able to come, by checking out the info, you can have a little taste of Italy today.
After having attended multiple workshops where I had to schlepp my art supplies, teaching workshops and participating a residency overseas, I have some tips of what to pack.
Hope this video gives you some tips and tricks that you can use in the future.
I'm often asked if I use fixative when I finish one of my pastel paintings, and I am emphatic in my big fat NO response. Here's why:
There are multiple reasons why I don't use fixatives, but the main reason is that I don't like what fixative use does to the appearance of pastels.
Hope springs eternal, though, and I still was hoping to find a way to use a fixative or varnish to make a pastel without the need for framing the work behind glass.
With that in mind, I purchased art panels that had a rough texture. The advertising copy indicated that these panels were perfect for pastels, and that an artist could varnish the pastels on these boards and frame them without glass.
Hearts and flowers danced in the air at the thought, and I couldn't wait to try it out.
The panels were only 6x6 inches, (see below for what I used) so my commitment was minimal. I also understood that the work that I was going to make would likely be sacrificed once the varnish was applied. In other words, I knew that the work could be ruined, but it was all in the name of potential progress.
These are the panels that I purchased for this experiment.
Here is the little pastel painting prior to my use of varnish made for use with pastel.
From the photograph of the painting above, you can see the luminosity and subtlety of the colors that is a characteristic of pastel pigment.
Now look! After using multiple layers of varnish to ensure that the pastel wouldn't smudge, the luminosity is obliterated. See how much darker the colors are, and also how the complexity of colors is no longer apparent?
Now, I know that I could reestablish those lights and add more color to the piece, but that would defeat the purpose of using a form of fixative to be able to frame a pastel without glass.
Sigh. I will continue to not use fixative, and continue to use glass when I finish my pastel paintings.
Now it's your turn. Do you use fixative? Why or why not?
Want to know how I go about making a commissioned painting? Check this out.
Make sure to take a look below the video for an image of the finished painting!
Smooth Day Rocky Path, 24x36 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein
Cooler than Warm, 11x14 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein $650
Do you like receiving criticism? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that your answer is no. None of us likes to be criticized.
Years ago, my son asked me what my least favorite thing about college was. I told him critiques. You see, my professors were scandalously brutal. At times, artwork that was labored over for countless hours was destroyed (literally) in front of the class. YIKES!
I don't know what changed, but as I have gotten older, I listen very carefully when someone has a negative thing to say about my artwork, teaching, even my personality. As a result, I have come to realize that a tip for being a better artist, and even a better person, is to listen intently when someone gives me the gift of criticism. How do you accept when someone is telling you something you may not want to hear? Take a look at the following ideas to help you do just that:
1. Try your best to simply listen without thinking of a defense or taking offense
When we are not trying to come up with a response, we are better able to hear what is being said, and more likely to take something away that is positive.
2. Consider the source
When I was younger I heard all criticism and tried to give each opinion equal consideration. I was trying to be fair in my assessments. This approach just led to confusion and self-doubt. I have learned that there is limited time (and energy) to do that, so I am judicious about whose opinions will be considered useful.
3. Ask for exactly what you want to know
This works great when wanting to ascertain if your artwork is where you want it to be. For example, rather than asking, "Do you like this, or what do you think?" be specific. Instead ask, "Is there something that you would do in this section of the artwork that will make it stronger?"
Since hearing potentially negative things about ourselves and our art can be so difficult, I am wondering if you have insights on how to take that constructive criticism and use it for art or self- improvement? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Spotlight, 14x11 inches, pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein $650
Plein Air with Benefits, 9 x 12, pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein