Art-related Podcasts

I’m a podcast listener. I listen while doing house chores, while walking or jogging around my neighborhood, and whenever I need to get out of my head but don’t want to read or watch television. Surprisingly, I never listen to podcasts while drawing or painting.

Here are my favorite (mostly visual arts) art-related podcasts:

Art & Cocktails: Art podcast featuring casual conversations about contemporary art, creative business and more by Ekaterina Popova, artist and founder of Create! Magazine.

Art Curious: A podcast exploring the unexpected, the slightly odd, and the strangely wonderful in art history. Art history is fun-- and we tell stories to prove it.

Art for Your Ear by the Jealous Curator: Brings you stories from some contemporary artists.

Art Grind: Sharing inspirational and practical insights with established and emerging contemporary artists about what it takes to make it in the art world.

The Art History Babes: Discussion and critical analysis of art historical topics fueled by alcohol.

Artist Decoded: This series is an unabridged documentation of conversations between artists.

Creative Pep Talk: monologs and interviews chocked to the brim with creative performance hacks and fresh marketing tactics.

The Darling Rage: A podcast about creativity, finding your voice, and lots of #RadAFWomen, hosted by internationally collected abstract artist, Molly O'Riley.

Laura Horn Art Podcast: Known for their down-to-earth conversations, each week, artist Laura Horn and husband, Richie, share their experience of making art, running a business and juggling family life.

The Lonely Palette: The podcast that returns art history to the masses, one painting at a time.

Overshare: Honest Conversations With Creatives: In a world of carefully curated portfolio sites and Instagram feeds, Justin sits down with his favorite creatives to get past the highlights and discuss the tough stuff we don't talk about in public often enough.

Perspective Podcast: Each week, Scotty Russell of Perspective-Collective and his guests give you the tools for thinking bigger, overcoming adversity, and making an impact with your work—especially if you're building a side hustle outside your day job.

The Savvy Painter Podcast: A weekly podcast for artists who mean business. Antrese Wood talks to experts in the field about the business of art and how it gets created.

THRIVE Talks Podcast: Being an artist is important but often lonely work. The THRIVE Talks podcast is here to make you feel less lonely with all the ups and downs that come with being an artist.

What are your favorite podcasts about art or art business?

New studio, new charcoal drawing

About a week ago, the place where I rent a shared studio space relocated to a new building. I helped the owner a bit by polyurethaning the tops of our wooden work stations. Ugh, the fumes! I also changed stations since one by the windows became available. Since the move, I’ve been there most days and am so happy with both the natural light I now get from the windows as well as the improved overhead lighting in the new space.

I also started a new drawing a couple of weeks ago and was making slow progress on it until I took it to the studio. I’m hoping to finish it this week and will probably frame this one as I’m pleased with the way it’s turning out. The subject may look familiar because I’ve been slightly obsessed with these NYC fire escapes since list year. I think I’ve drawn this image at least 5 times and painted it 3 times. Will probably paint it at least one more time before I feel done with it. Maybe I’ll eventually write a post about the benefits of doing the same subject matter over and over.

I don’t really hold my pencil like that when I draw although supposedly I should. This drawing is on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board paper. I like this paper for charcoal drawings because the slick surface allows me to manipulate the charcoal much more than on other types of drawing paper. I can apply pressed charcoal, pencil charcoal, or powdered charcoal and then move it around on the paper until I get it where I want it. It’s also easier to lighten areas with an eraser (kneaded rubber or with the essential Tombow Zero Round).

I do charcoal drawings on a slanted surface so the excess powder falls off. To keep from smearing my work, I use either a paper towel as shown here or, more often, a wooden yardstick as a mahl stick. I picked up that trick years ago from James Gurney only I’m too lazy to add the spacer or tung oil. I just rest the tip on the edge of my drawing board and that keeps the stick off the surface of the paper. When I’m drawing on a flat surface, I use an acrylic bridge like he references in the link above.

Once this drawing is finished, I’ll add it to my home page so you can see the final version.

Thrive Mastermind

Recently I was invited to join the Thrive Mastermind group for women (cis, trans, genderqueer, femme-identifying, nonbinary) artists. I’d never heard of a mastermind group before but apparently it’s a thing that’s been around for over 75 years. Forbes has an article that nicely describes it but the page is full of irritating ads so I’ll share an excerpt:

“How does a mastermind work? A group of smart people meet weekly, monthly, daily even if it makes sense, to tackle challenges and problems together. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. It's very much peer-to-peer mentoring and if you are lucky enough to get invited to one, you will most likely see a marked change in yourself and your business.”

Thrive Mastermind is based in Canada and has over 200 members worldwide. We meet once a month via an online video conferencing tool called Zoom. It’s like seeing yourself as part of a Brady Bunch layout.

The_Brady_Bunch.jpg

My group has 10 members including one member who leads the discussions. None of the members are in my immediate area of the US but I travel regularly so hope to meet some of them in person someday.

Each month we fill out a list of questions that we then discuss with the others. This month was mostly spent on introductions but we did discuss why we are participating in the mastermind, one thing we hope to accomplish in the next year of working with the group, and one struggle that we’re currently having. I won’t discuss what other members said but I will say that my current struggle, like many artists with non-art-making jobs, is finding time to do all the things I want to do each day. Winter is easier since I naturally shut down to a smaller world of mostly myself and my art practice but at other times of the year there just seems to be too much to juggle. I’ll probably never completely figure it out but am glad to have other people in similar situations to talk with.

You can learn more about Thrive Mastermind here: https://www.thriveartstudio.com/mastermind

If you enjoy podcasts, I recommend Thrive’s for any makers, artists, & entrepreneurs: https://www.thriveartstudio.com/podcast

Books about color

Moving from black & white or a monochrome palette can be intimidating so here are some books about color that I recommend.

books about the history of color

The first few are mostly about the history of color and pigments which, while maybe not adding so much to technical skills, can still be very inspiring and who doesn’t like fascinating stories such as the origin of “mummy,” a pigment made of…mummies, and the various ways yellow pigments can kill or make you ill. These are listed in the reading order I’d recommend:

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color by Philip Ball

If you are more interested in the techniques of using color, here are some books to explore.

books about color techniques

The New Munsell Student Color Set. The 2nd edition is shown here but there’s now a 4th edition in print (book title link). This is a workbook that helps train your eye to see slight variations in hue and value. I first used it many years ago but regularly return to it since the swatches are great for helping with color matching while mixing paint. Munsell also makes larger learning tools such as the Munsell Interactive Learning Kit. I dream of someday owning a copy of the Munsell Book of Color. Check out the Wikipedia entry for Albert Munsell for a bit more history.

Here are some images from the 2nd edition. It comes with color swatches that you then have to organize as instructed, using a type of dry adhesive. I used StudioTac but Grafix would also work.

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers. This is also available as an app which I highly recommend getting for your phone or tablet because you can do the exercises within the app. The book provides exercises also but it takes a bit more effort to complete them. Albers teaches more complex color theory than Munsell and I admit some were a bit difficult to fully grasp and integrate into my art practice. And here’s Wikipedia on Josef Albers for a historical perspective.

Albers 1

Color for Painters: A Guide to Traditions and Practice by Al Gury. Out of these three color theory books, Gury’s is the most straight forward how-to book. He touches on history of color usage but also offers demonstrations of various painting techniques.

There are many free online color theory & color history resources as well as color theory instructional videos on YouTube. I’ve also found a few color theory instructional videos on for-pay services such as Skillshare, Bluprint, Craftsy, etc.

Water soluable oils

It’s been 6 years since I’ve been able to paint with my beloved oil paints due to not having a safe environment for the fumes that happen with oils, solvents (even Gamsol smells strongly to me), and its associated mediums. My home studio is attached to my bedroom with no intervening door so I don’t want to sleep breathing fumes. And my outside-of-the-house studio space is a share space where fumes are, understandably, unwelcome.

Hence my recent tentative steps into working with water soluable oils. Whenever I start playing around with new-to-me mediums, the first things I do are color mixing studies. A lot of them. Here are some old oil painting studies to illustrate how much effort I usually put into a new medium. Each one of these panels is 8” x 16”:

oil color studies 01

So I’ve just this week begun to do this exercise with the water soluable oils. So far I’ve learned that 1) they have a different consistency from regular oils unless you add water-soluable oil to them. And 2) they dry very fast compared to oils. I’m hoping I’ll figure out the correct ratio of oil medium to paint so I can slow the drying time down to where it suits me best. I almost never paint alla prima although if I continue working with the water soluable oils, perhaps I’ll start exploring that method.

By the way, I learned of this type of color mixing exercise from the invaluable book on alla prima painting by Richard Schmid. That book has since gone out of printing and although you can find copies for high $, there’s a new edition out (that’s still pricey). I’ve not looked through the new edition but I would suspect it’s a valuable to artists as the old.

ALLA PRIMA II: Everything I Know About Painting - and More By Richard Schmid

Mounting watercolor paper to board

Lately I’ve been experimenting with mounting various types of watercolor paper onto cradled board. I like this option for a few reasons:

  • the paper is “stretched” on the board so doesn’t warp when wet with paint

  • the works don’t have to be framed (but can still be framed if desired)

  • the texture of certain thicker papers on the board is pleasing

I learned how to mount paper on board from J.A.W. Cooper’s tutorial and then have tried various papers with varying degrees of success.

Khadi Paper

I was really hoping that mounting Khadi paper would work and sometimes it does but most of the time, the paper itself is the reason for failure. Khadi paper is very inconsistent in thickness so pressing it flat against a board often reveals fairly large bumps that no amount of brayering will flatten out. The few times I’ve done it successfully have resulted in a canvas-like texture that is a dream to paint on. The failures result in much time spent carefully sanding the paper off the board so it can be reused. I’ll continue to try this paper in hopes of someday figuring out a way to consistently get it mounted successfully.

It seems that using smaller boards (9” x 12” or less) works better, I guess because there’s less area to buckle.

The texture of Khadi paper pops out nicely on a board.

The texture of Khadi paper pops out nicely on a board.

Kilimanjaro 140g White Watercolor Paper

Kilimanjaro 140g paper is a dream to mount. I’ve had 100% success each time I’ve tried up to sizes of 11” x 14” - haven’t tried anything larger yet.

Introduction

Hello and welcome.

This blog is where I’ll document my process, experiments, and work in hopes of helping others in the same way that I’ve been unknowingly helped by so many fantastic artists who share their experiences online. I plan to spotlight these artists over the next few months so that you can learn about them also.

A bit about me:

I’m based in Asheville, NC. I’m self-taught although I have taken a few courses and have briefly studied with artists here in Asheville and in Austin where I lived for over 20 years. I work in charcoal, ink, and watercolors.

Thanks for stopping by and come back soon.