Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Door County Community Mosaic Project

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Although I am unable to be in Door County, Wisconsin, for their annual Plein Air Festival, July 22-28, this year, I am happy to have been able to participate in the Community Mosaic Project, to which artists of all ages and inclinations are encouraged to contribute in support of the Hardy Gallery, a Door County charity.  The “mosaic” will be on display July 20 through August 26, 2018, concurrently with the popular Collection Invitational Exhibition, at the Hardy Gallery in Ephraim, Wisconsin.

"Well Rooted" by Charlotte Mertz (6"x6" acrylic on canvas, #180601a)

“Well Rooted” by Charlotte Mertz (6″x6″ acrylic on canvas, #180601a)

Entitled “Well Rooted,” my painting (numbered 118 for the exhibit) was inspired by the intertwined roots at the base of a stand of trees in a shaded park.  They reminded me of the residents of this sylvan area, who anchor, support, and strengthen one another through the vagaries of time, weather, and … well, life in general.

If you’re in the vicinity, I hope you’ll stop in and show your support for this very active and attractive arts community.

 

2018 Watercolor Classes

Monday, January 1st, 2018

A new year marks a good time to take a fresh look at the methods and approach I will be taking in teaching my watercolor classes this year, as well as to redefine my goals for them. I look forward to starting my new 5-session series of beginning watercolor classes next week in both the Verandah and Pelican Preserve communities here in Fort Myers.  I want to give my students more than bragging rights for a “refrigerator magnet” style one-time souvenir.

Instead, I have two goals.  The first is to provide my students with the basic understanding of the medium, technical know-how, and confidence to be able to begin painting in watercolor on their own, from an unlimited choice of subjects, for the rest of their lives.  The second is to instill in them a joy in painting so they want to continue developing their skills and understanding, increasing in both confidence and satisfaction in their ongoing efforts.

"Still Life with Ixora Blossom" by Charlotte Mertz (171207w detail)

“Still Life with Ixora Blossom” by Charlotte Mertz (171207w detail)

As I review my course syllabus, I know the information to be covered in each class session will lay a groundwork upon which any further learning can be based.  But more important than that is the enthusiasm I hope to express as I talk with my students and demonstrate my own joy in painting.  Enthusiasm (or lack of it, unfortunately) is contagious.  So I want my joy to always be apparent both in my own work and in my attitude toward the students and each topic I present, so each group of students bonds into a supportive community, enthusiastic and encouraging toward one another as we learn from both our successes and that inevitable “School of Oops,” from which few of us ever entirely graduate.

Art is one field in which we can never “know it all.”  It’s a wonderful subject for those of us who consider ourselves “lifetime learners,” because it poses a never-ending challenge to exceed whatever our current level of skill and expertise might be.  No matter how innately “talented” we may be even without instruction, or how developed our skills become through extensive education, there is always room to learn more.  But without a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction we will probably feel little impetus to maintain a long-range drive toward excellence.

So that is my primary goal for these beginning classes—not that I necessarily start my students on a road to becoming great artists, but that they feel motivated with an inner sense of pleasure and satisfaction to pursue their budding interest in watercolor painting and carry it as far as they will.

While maintaining an atmosphere of camaraderie and encouragement, my subsequent 5-session series of Continuing and Intermediate classes in both communities will continue to build on the basic skills learned in the Beginning classes.  The Continuing and Intermediate classes will focus more on general artistic principles, which contribute to a sense of perspective and reality.  Although my classes will address how artistic principles can be applied specifically to watercolor work, understanding them can enhance compositional design in any medium.

Will you be joining us as we begin our classes next week?

About FACE

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Last week I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Figurative Art Convention & Expo (#FACE17) in Miami.  We were a comparatively small group (350 attendees) but enjoyed a stellar faculty that provided a supportive and inspiring learning experience for all the participants.

Both the conferees and faculty share a deep interest in, and commitment toward, encouraging a resurgence of museum-quality representational artwork, not only in the United States but around the world.  We look forward to increasing the opportunities for training artists in classical methods.  Equally important is reintroducing the public to the inherent beauty of such fine art, and to raise the level of awareness and appreciation for the work and training that goes into it.

We also dream of bringing a high level of realism back and a positive outlook into the contemporary world to displace the negativity so often found in non-representative and “modern” art of the Twentieth Century.

IMG_7280---Daniel-Gerhartz-

Daniel Gerhartz demonstrates and discusses his approach to portraiture.

From the time I rose before 6 o’clock each morning until I collapsed into bed around 11 at night, the days were packed with information and opportunities to make personal, social, and business connections, all in an environment conducive to sharing ideas, encouragement, and enthusiasm with others who have a common passion for uncommon figurative realism.   As word gets out about the success of FACE17, and excitement mounts, next year’s FACE conference is projected to be even larger, with a higher attendance anticipated.

How exciting it was to hear of the rebirth of the atelier – teaching studios in which artists train their students in classical methodology, so they in turn can teach others.  This kind of training has largely been lost during the Twentieth Century, but appears to have made some inroads over the past decade toward a more widespread comeback.

John Coleman at his sculpting demonstration.

John Coleman demonstrates his sculpture techniques.

If you share the vision and desire to see high quality representative art take its rightful place again in museums, art galleries, and schools, there are a few simple ways that you can help.

If you are an artist interested in figurative work, consider attending the next Figurative Art Convention, again expected to be held in Miami, November 7-10, 2018.  Get involved.

Or, even if you are not an artist yourself, invest in an artist who shares that vision, who is reaching for that “unreachable star” of artistic mastery.  As demand for such art increases, galleries will take greater interest in representing those artists, museum curators will more seriously consider acquiring their work, and the movement will increase exponentially.

I’m not suggesting that it necessarily be my work that you acquire (though of course that would be appreciated).  But if you find a high-quality representational painting that moves you, whatever the size, whatever the price, whoever the artist, please give serious consideration to purchasing it for yourself.  The value is not only in your own investment in the painting.  Your investment in that artist will provide encouragement and perhaps financial backing needed to allow him or her to continue.  You will also have acquired a painting that will provide you ongoing pleasure and a continuing reminder of your role in the resurgence of classical art in the new millennium.  And how great is that?

Following Irma

Friday, September 15th, 2017

For those who have been concerned about my well-being during Hurricane Irma’s onslaught in Southwest Florida, I thought I’d post a notice here to let you know that we came through virtually unscathed.  My husband and I were in Wisconsin at the time, so we were well out of harm’s way.  Before leaving Florida, we had closed down our Fort Myers house sufficiently that we incurred only minor damage, most notably the loss of a tree in the front yard and the loss of electrical power for two days.

If you’re interested  in reading about how it has affected my work, you may want to sign up on my email list before my next month’s newsletter, “Around and About,” comes out on October 8.  The newsletter will also include a critique of the painting “Eye on the Horizon” (#170908), shown below.

"Eye on the Horizon" by Charlotte Mertz (#170908, oil on canvas)

“Eye on the Horizon” by Charlotte Mertz (#170908, oil on canvas)

We were extremely fortunate and very grateful to get off so lightly!  We certainly empathize with our neighbors and friends who have incurred much more damage and wish them a rapid recovery as we all begin the process of assessment and cleanup.

Because life has been so up in the air lately, I’m still open to feedback on my previous blog.  Don’t miss your chance to let your voice be heard!

I get the impression that many of you like to know what goes on behind the scenes, including what prompts me to select certain subjects and how I approach the work.  This includes the bumps in the road and lessons I may have learned from those “oops”es along the way.

In the coming months I will try to fulfill your requests, address your suggestions, and focus both the blog and the newsletter more on those topics you have indicated that you’re most interested in.  Please continue to send your feedback, either by email or by commenting directly on the posts.  It really does encourage me to continue writing and helps me to provide the information you’re looking for.  After all, the blog and newsletter are for you, so I want them both to address your interests.

Materials Evaluation Time!

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

As I take a brief vacation break to do something different, I’m considering a short-term shift from watercolors back to oils for a few weeks.  The changed requirements for and approaches to preplanning, brushwork, edges, color blending, and so on, may help by refreshing my perspective on watercolor when I return to it, and perhaps to help me return to the style-seeking mode I mapped out for myself in April.

"Limited Palette" (#170303w)

“Limited Palette” (#170303w)

An article comparing some of the top brands of oil paint, published on www.Wonderstreet.com* this past spring, reminded me to review my own oil paints and other materials to verify that they really suit my current needs.  Certainly there are always new colors to try and evaluate, but this kind of comparative article helps to narrow down the optimal choices of paint manufacturers.

In general, I’ve been very pleased with my choice of M.Graham’s walnut-oil based line because they can be used without solvents.  Even for cleanup, I use just walnut oil and Murphy’s Oil Soap, which means I don’t have to worry about the odor, health effects, or disposal of turps or other petroleum-based products.

I also occasionally use water-soluble oils (which the Wonderstreet article did not include).  But frankly, they don’t have the same smooth “feel” and are no easier to clean up with soap and water than the M.Graham paints.

But my needs and preferences aren’t the same as everyone else’s, so I appreciate it when comparative evaluations like the Wonderstreet article appear as a reference that allows artists to make informed selections based on their individual needs.  Here are some of the comparative references I’ve found most helpful, to date:

For oils:  http://wonderstreet.com/blog/how-to-choose-a-brand-of-oil-paint (Comparisons of major manufacturers’ oil paints, with pros and cons cited by working artists)

For acrylics:  http://wonderstreet.com/blog/choosing-the-acrylic-paint-thats-best-for-you (Comparisons of major manufacturers’ acrylic paints, with pros and cons cited by working artists)

For watercolor:  Hilary Page’s Guide to Watercolor Paints (an extremely comprehensive coverage of most manufacturers’ colors and the characteristics of individual pigments as of 1996, with a more limited free update printout as of 2009 available).  Unfortunately, the original book is no longer available except through resale.

Another watercolor resource is WonderStreet’s article on watercolor paints, http://wonderstreet.com/blog/which-brand-of-watercolour-should-you-choose, Though the article does not delve into specific pigments or individual paints colors as Page’s book does, the article provides a general overview of what to expect from each product line.  It is a helpful resource when seeking desirable characteristics from a specific manufacturer’s products.  The information, compiled from findings by WonderStreet’s readership of working artists, is up-to-date as of this spring.

*Note:  Wonderstreet is a UK-based platform on which such artists as illustrator Kerry Darlington can showcase their work.