Art Dare: Artist Traci Turner

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Artist Traci Turner wrote a wonderful blog post about participating in our October Art Dare, “Your Future Self.” We loved reading about her poignant and honest insights on her subject matter and creative process.  Above you can see her mind map she created to begin the brainstorming process, and her finished drawing below.

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A few months back, Prof Clara Lieu did a 30 minute video critique on Traci’s portfolio, which you can watch below. One of the best parts of Art Prof is meeting new artists, getting to know them, and watching their progression over a period of time!


Enter our November Art Dare: “The Things We Carry.”
Get more info on guidelines/prizes/tips here.

November Art Prof Art Dare


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter hit its $30k goal on July 19, 2016.  Get info on our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Professional Artist Portfolio Critique #2

Video critique of professional artist Traci Turner’s portfolio


by Clara Lieu

Many people think that being an artist is only about creating the artwork.  Actually, there are several other aspects of being an artist that can carry almost as much weight. Critique is a huge part of the creative process for artists.  The opportunity to get advice on your artwork is critical towards an artist’s growth and progress. Inherently, all artists are stuck in their own heads when they produce their artwork. No artist ever gets to a point where they no longer need feedback on their artwork.  For this reason, it’s impossible to see your work objectively, which is why it’s so important to get a fresh set of eyes to look at your work and evaluate where it’s going.

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Even though I’ve logged over a decade as a professional artist, I still have to take initiative to seek out my artist friends and colleagues to critique my work. Frequently, they’ll point out some aspect of the work that I hadn’t even thought of, or was super obvious to them, but that I was oblivious to.

Unfortunately, unless you are enrolled in a studio art degree program, there are very few opportunities to get trusted, professional feedback on your artwork.  From my research, I’ve seen that there is a lot of content on Youtube about people talking about how to speak at a critique, and describing how a critique works, but the problem with this approach is that it only goes so far. Ultimately, one needs to see a critique to truly understand what a critique entails. If someone explained to you verbally how soccer was played, you would understand technically what the game involves.  However, until you actually got on a soccer field and physically kicked a ball yourself in a real soccer game, your understanding of soccer would remain superficial.

Student Artwork, Drawing Foundations, Clara Lieu, RISD Pre-College

Group critique at RISD Pre-College


Currently, there is almost no content online which shows an actual art critique.The content that I did find was either completely out of context, or so poorly put together that it was basically useless. The other places I’ve seen art critiques is in online forums, but the problem with this context is that 1) the critiques are typed which is inefficient and not as impactful, and 2) the feedback is coming from sources you can’t necessarily trust and 3) people rarely want to critique the artwork of others-the vast majority of these forums are flooded with artists begging for a critique, but no one is responding.

This is why here at Art Prof one of our initiatives as an educational platform is to show audio and video critiques of artwork submitted by you, our audience. Sometimes artists will think that a critique is only useful if it’s their work being reviewed.  On the contrary, my students at RISD are always commenting how much they learn and gain from watching and listening to a critique of another student’s artwork.  In some ways, it can be easier to watch someone else’s critique because you’re removed from the process and can see the critique more objectively.

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Painting by Traci Turner

Above you can see a portfolio critique I did for professional artist Traci Turner.  Stayed tuned for more critiques!  Prior to our launch, we’ll continue releasing Crit Quickies, 4 Artist Critiques, Interactive Video Critiques, Art School Admissions Portfolio Critiques, and Professional Artist Portfolio Critiques. Get more information about our critiques and how to submit your artwork here.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Crit Quad #3: Eloise Shelton-Mayo

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Eloise Shelton-Mayo
“Bends & Bridges III”, oil and cold wax painting, 12″ x 12″

“I’ve been interested in how we define spaces in our lives, some chosen and some not. There’s a dialogue between the shapes that reads like a kind of topographic map with a history, a story.  The Bends & Bridges Series of which this piece, No. III is a part of, began out of an exploration of shape and color using the medium oil and cold wax.   Creating contained shapes and those that blend into other ones started out intuitively but became more deliberate as certain ones were covered and others isolated.  My fascination with what separates and connects is evident here and the boundaries of those spaces, like the connections appear changeable.”


Sara Bloem, Teaching Assistant
Sara Bloem, Multimedia Artist
“The textures are really working for you. I love the oil and cold wax technique, it makes me crave to see the person in real life, up close.”
Mentioned: Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape #1


Lauryn Welch, Teaching Assistant
Lauryn Welch, Painter & Performance Artist
“I just want run my hands over your piece, I love seeing the little scratch marks in the surface.”


Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Teaching Assistant
Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Designer & Ceramic Artist
“I really appreciate the vibrancy of the color, and the liveliness of the painting.”


Clara Lieu, Visual Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
Clara Lieu, Fine Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
“Be more assertive about what you’re going after in terms of the color scheme.”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

New Series: Art Supply Tips

Studio View

I enjoyed writing yesterday’s post about charcoal supplies, and given the fact that people are always asking me about art supplies, I thought I would create a new series of articles called “Art Supply Tips“. In these articles, I will provide recommendations with detailed explanations of art supplies. Most art supplies work in conjunction with others, so each article will present a set of supplies with individual descriptions of each material in the set. I will archive these articles on this page, which you can see on my menu bar.

While the majority of the artistic process is about what you do with the supplies, choosing and shopping for art supplies is a huge process in itself. Just knowing where to shop is complicated; I almost always have to shop at 4 different stores, and sometimes I have to do extensive research to find what I need.  Selecting art supplies is different for everyone, and ultimately every artist has to troubleshoot and experience each material for themselves. Once you gain experience with a breadth of art supplies, you’ll know what your personal preferences are. While I always encourage my students to experiment with art supplies on their own, I do believe that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Getting recommendations from a professional can save you hours of fruitless labor.

As a professor, I have observed that many of the struggles art students have frequently occur because of either 1) poor choice of art supplies, or 2) because they aren’t using a full range of tools. Many of the problems that art students have simply wouldn’t exist if they had been better informed of what to purchase.  I have found that most art students have no idea what to buy, so I hope these articles will be effective launching pads.

As an art student, I experienced a lot of unnecessary frustration because I had poor quality supplies, or because I just didn’t know certain tools existed. My sophomore year at RISD, I had been exasperated by how muddy the colors in my oil paintings were . The day I started cleaning my brushes properly with a silicoil brush cleaning tank, my oil paintings instantly became more vibrant. Discovering this brush cleaning tank didn’t happen until after I had been taken at least 4 oil painting classes.

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Choosing art supplies became even more critical when I started teaching.  I try to be conscious that most art students are on a limited budget, but at the same time, I want to ensure a smooth experience for my students. At RISD, I send my students a highly detailed materials list (see image below) before the first day of class. The staff at the RISD Store love my materials lists, too often students are given materials lists that are vague and confusing. Consequently, students don’t know exactly what to buy, which results in many returns and/or wasted purchases.  In my materials lists, I am explicit about details like sizes and manufacturers, but I also provide photos of each supply on the materials list, making it easy for students to identify what they need in the store.

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My philosophy on how much to spend on art supplies fluctuates depending on the situation. There are several circumstances where I think it is totally fine to use a cheap, crummy supply, while other times I am adamant that a specific brand that is costly must be used. I was a poor art student once, and I definitely sympathize with the desire to save money on art supplies whenever possible. On the other hand, I know that saving money on a cheaper item is sometimes not worth the headache that cheap supply will cause.  I’ll be sure to mention alternatives to suit any budget, noting the disadvantages/advantages of each choice.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Ask the Art Prof: How Can I Balance Planning and Spontaneity in My Artwork?

Chipboard Personality Sculptures

“I paint based on my intuition, and I usually do not know what the message of the painting is until the draft is down. This usually evolves over a few weeks, with new insights and connections happening. I feel rather out of control, and my tutors say I should finalize a plan and then execute it. Instead, I modify during execution. Is there some balance between planning and going on impulse that is ideal? “

The key is to strike a balance so that planning and spontaneity are mutually supportive. You can maximize the benefits of both by organizing your time and fostering work habits that will allow these two approaches to complement each other. I organize my time so that I have periods that are dedicated to loose experimentation that are balanced by periods of executing finished pieces. Managing these periods in this way keeps me focused and provides a well-rounded experience.

The ability to think and work in an unpredictable manner is most useful in the beginning stages of an artwork. This approach significantly expands the range of work you can create, and is especially critical when brainstorming ideas for your artwork. From a practical standpoint, it’s crucial to limit the physical execution of the artwork to small scale sketches. This strategy allows you to quickly make fundamental, sweeping changes without the consequences of wasting expensive art materials or needing to start over a time-consuming piece. You can explore many options without investing large amounts of time.

At this early stage, spill everything on paper and entertain every option without passing judgment prematurely. Maintaining flexibility is hugely important; you have to give yourself the freedom to react to anything that arises and then run with it. If you are too fixated and on your first ideas and unwilling to make impromptu changes, you will shut down potential options that might have been great.

An impulsive approach can lead to fresh and exciting ideas that might otherwise not come up. Excessive planning and thinking can sometimes paralyze your creativity. The equivalent would be a baseball player who ruminates about how to hit the ball, when really, no amount of thinking will help when the ball is being thrown at you at 85 mph. I frequently tell my students to turn off their brains and just touch the paper with the charcoal. Start a physical action and then let yourself react to those actions in the moment. This approach will get your creative juices pumping and push your progress forward.

However, you can’t do this forever, and ultimately you have to arrive at a cohesive vision. At a certain point, you will start feeling scattered and overwhelmed. When jumping around becomes detrimental to your process, it’s a signal that it’s time to start making decisions and nailing down what you want to do.

If the preparatory stages of your work was substantial and exhaustive, fabricating the final pieces should be fairly straightforward and smooth. In my own artwork, executing the final pieces always takes much less time than the planning stage. Frequently I spend months, sometimes even up to a year brainstorming and sketching. As a result, I reap many rewards; my preliminary work is comprehensive enough that by the time I’m ready to make the final pieces, I’ve anticipated and ironed out almost all of the problems. I can concentrate exclusively on the technical aspects of interacting with my art materials. This allows me to work without the distraction of troubleshooting unresolved issues.

Keep in mind that fundamental, sweeping changes at the execution stage can be disruptive, expensive, and impractical. You can waste a lot of time and art materials, and end up doing a lot unnecessary backtracking. Once you’ve spent $300 on canvas and paints, and invested 12 hours working on the painting, it can be painful to discover that deep into the process, you want to scrap everything and create a pastel drawing instead. Once in a while, the situation can be so dire that starting over really is the only solution. After all, no one wants to squander their time beating a dead horse. So, be thorough in the brainstorming stage, and avoid this situation if you can.

I’m not saying you can’t make changes while you execute the final work. Inevitably, new challenges emerge that you couldn’t predict, and you have to build in room for adjustments. Modifications made at this point should be minor, so that they enhance the overall work without sabotaging your progress.

Sometimes major changes are just not possible because of a professional commitment you’ve made. When I’ve spent a year creating a body of artwork for a solo exhibition, I cannot make hasty decisions one month before the exhibition opens. Despite a burning desire to investigate a new idea, I’ve had to immediately reject radical changes because it was just too late. Running with a last-minute idea at that point would have been foolish, and I couldn’t risk everything I had accomplished.

Take the initiative to exercise both spontaneous and planned approaches in your work process. If you limit yourself to only one way of working, you’re missing out on everything the other has to offer. Let these methods influence each other in a positive manner, and you’ll begin to achieve a balance that will make your overall studio practice more fluid and coherent.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related articles
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“Would you improve more if you took art classes than just studying on your own?”
“How do you break out of your comfort zone?”
“How do you get out of thinking you can’t get any better?”
“How do you develop patience for learning curves?”
“When do you let go of an idea?”
“How do I help my daughter reach her potential in art?”
“How can I study to become a professional artist on my own?”
“How do you begin to think conceptually as a visual artist?”

Digging back into the past

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Considering that I primarily work in drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, many people are surprised that my undergraduate training was focused on oil painting.  I haven’t picked up a brush since 2006, but my latest initiative (more to be revealed in the future!) has gotten me to dig way back into my past with oil painting and it’s surprising how deeply ingrained those lessons are.

I started oil painting early as a junior in high school, and it’s appalling how awful my technique was for so long. Despite the fact that I took numerous oil painting classes, it wasn’t until I had been oil painting for 3 years that I finally started to make progress.   My sophomore year at RISD, I was required to take a Painting I course in the Illustration department.  My oil painting background was a fractured mess of failure at that point, and I felt totally lost even though I had taken so many oil painting classes.

My professor Nick Palermo provided clear, concrete instructions that finally made sense to me.  He required us to use very specific supplies and tools, and gave explicit reasons for why he wanted us to use them.   I realized after taking Nick’s painting class that there were SO many technical aspects that I had been doing blatantly wrong for such a long time. For example, I couldn’t believe that no one had introduced me to a silicoil brush cleaning tank before then. Evidently, I was never taught to clean my brushes properly, so consequently my color mixtures were always dirty, which lead to muddy paintings. The second I started to clean my brushes in a competent manner, my paintings become noticeably more vibrant. The brushes sitting in my closet are the same brushes I used in Nick’s class 20 years ago.

Senior year at RISD, I had Tony Janello for a portrait painting class and he revolutionized my painting technique.  Tony forced us to paint with literally 1 white, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 blue.  This approach seemed extreme, but I learned more about color mixing than I had in all of the previous years combined. With only 3 colors, I had to work really hard to be innovative with my color mixing.

It’s been inspiring to think back to every teacher’s unique approach to painting. It’s interesting to think about what methods I’ve kept, what I’ve rejected, and my reasoning for those decisions.  This process has been tremendously helpful in getting me to boil down my techniques.

Ask the Art Prof: How Do You Price Art?

Unseen & Unknown: Opening Reception

“How do you put a price on a piece of art? Is it different for different forms of art? I’m specifically interested in paintings. How are paintings priced in general?”

There are essentially four criteria which factor into the price of an artwork: 1) the media of the artwork, 2) the size of the artwork, and 3) the artist’s position in the art world and 4) the venue where the artwork is being exhibited.

The artist’s position in the art world is probably the most important aspect to consider. Emerging artists haven’t developed a name yet, so they can’t demand thousands of dollars for a single artwork. The majority of emerging artists will usually sell an oil painting within the $100-$1,000 range. An artist who can sell an oil painting for $30,000 would be considered by most people to be very successful. Then there’s the top of the art world where some artists can sell an oil painting for $500,000 and more. These artists are the select few who are internationally renowned and showing at the top museums.

Generally speaking, the most highly priced media is large-scale sculpture. Sculpture that is being sold professionally has to be in a permanent material, such as bronze or stone. Works created in these materials require specialized fabrication processes that can cost the artist thousands of dollars for a single sculpture. After large-sculpture, large paintings tend to be priced the highest. Paintings will always be on the higher end because they are unique objects.

Prints and works on paper are usually priced less than sculpture and painting. Since many copies of the same print exist, several people can own the same print, therefore making each print less valuable. Many painters create companion bodies of work in printmaking, which allows them to have an inventory of work with a more diverse range of prices. For example, if an artist sells a 48″ x 48″ oil painting for $2,000, a 9″ x 12″ drawing on paper by that same artist might sell for $200.

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Large-scale artworks tend to command higher prices, although there certainly are exceptions for small scale works that are exceptionally labor intensive. Not only are large-scale works more expensive to create because they require more materials, but they also cater to an entirely different kind of patron. The average person who buys a 9″ x 12″ artwork is usually purchasing the artwork to decorate their home. Most people simply don’t have the space to fit a 48″ x 60″ painting in their living room. The patron who purchases a 48″ x 60″ painting has to have an extremely spacious residence, and/or be a major art collector.

The venue where your artwork is being shown also determines how you price your work. On the low end is open studios, which is generally a very casual neighborhood event where an artist opens their studio to the public. At most open studios events, anything priced over $50 is unlikely to sell. The crowd at an open studios event is mostly local people who have interest in art, and the purchases they make are usually small impulse buys. When I’ve done open studios events in the past, I treat the event like a yard sale; works that generally sell are small sketches for $50 and or less. The highest priced work I ever sold at an open studios event was a 36″ x 24″ charcoal drawing on paper for $90.

By contrast, at a commercial gallery in a big city, pricing an artwork for $50 would never happen. Every gallery is unique, but it’s typical for prices at a commercial gallery to begin at around $300 for small works, going up to $20,000 for larger pieces, and even more at the top galleries. You also have to factor in that most galleries take a 50% commission, and that the gallery will likely have a say in determining the price of your work.

So how do you approach pricing your own artwork? Avoid prices that are so low or so high that it becomes embarrassing. When I was director of a college gallery, I worked with a relatively unknown artist who priced his 36″ x 48″ ink drawings on paper at $55,000 each. All things considered, this price was astronomical. On the other hand, if you saw that same 36″ x 48″ ink drawing on paper in the same gallery priced at $90, that low price would be detrimental to a visitor’s opinion of the artist.

When I price my artwork, I consider the cost of the art materials and the approximate number of hours I worked on the piece. The total cost of art materials can vary tremendously depending on the piece. For example, an oil painting requires that I pay for a heavy-duty wooden frame, canvas, primer, oil paint, brushes, rags, a palette, solvent, etc. By comparison, an ink drawing on paper of the same size costs practically nothing because ink and paper cost very little.

Then, I estimate how many hours have gone into the work and multiply that by an hourly rate. (Most artists choose a rate that ranges from $15-$50 an hour.) Between the labor and art supplies, I can usually arrive at a price that comes close to what I think will be appropriate.

Pricing art is always tricky, especially for new artists who don’t have a track record. Once you have had the chance to sell your work in a number of contrasting venues, you’ll develop a stronger awareness of what’s appropriate.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related articles
“How do artists handle commissions?”
“How can an artist overcome their financial issues?”
“How do you explain to potential clients that artists need to be paid?”
“How do you price art?”