Aug 30, 2011

FAA Deer Paintings Contest Winners

Tonight's FineArtAmerica winners of the Deer Paintings contest I hosted are as follows.

First Place goes to Susan Kinney for The Calm:

I entered my own art in the contest for fun, but it just wouldn't be right if I awarded myself. So although I technically won second place, I won't count that. I am awarding Second Place to the next one in line, Xueling Zou, for the entry Summer Moon Night:

Tied for Second Place is Sue Ervin's Twins painting of two little fawns:

Also tied for Second Place is Susan Kinney's Elk in the Woods entry:

Since there were quite a few entries that tied for Third Place I'm not going to post them all. Instead, as a tie-breaker, I'm going to pick my personal favorite from among the third place entries. Third Place goes to Ernie Echols for Bull Elk Freehand:

I like this piece for its simplicity, the harmonious colors, and the lovely lighting. I think it's all very well done.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Here are the contest results:
Deer Paintings Contest Results

Aug 20, 2011

FAA Animal Spots Contest Winner

I recently signed up with Fine Art America. It's a site where you can set up a gallery of images, and offer your art for sale as prints and note cards through their print-on-demand service. One of the fun little things about it is you can host and enter contests, competing with other FAA members. Some of the contests award FAA gift certificates to the winners, but most are just for fun. But it's free to enter and host contests so even doing it just for fun is worth it since it does help bring a little more traffic to your FAA gallery. And if you win a contest hosted by me you get a little extra exposure by getting a mention here on my blog and on my FaceBook page.

Besides entering a few contests hosted by others, I hosted one of my own called Animal Spots. Entries had to show spots on or relating to animals in some way. (You can enter your own contests but I didn't enter this one because I thought it might be weird if I won my own contest.)

Congratulations to the First Place Winner, Sue Melvin, for her entry Young Bluebird's Delight!

Sue Melvin has many other lovely images of birds, butterflies, and other critters as well. Check out her FAA Gallery.

You can see the rest of the entries here: Contest Results

If you're an artist I encourage you to join FAA. It's free. And if you're a member, I encourage you to enter and host contests, also free. It's fun and what do you have to lose?

Aug 11, 2011

Achieving Perfection In Our Art

We all want it in our art. We all strive for a perfect painting, drawing, or sculpture. Sometimes we get downright frustrated and fed up that we haven't yet achieved perfection. No matter how hard we try to get it right there's always something "wrong" with it.

So, how do you achieve perfection in our work? Well....

You don't.
You never will.
Get over it!


The sooner you let go of your death grip on "perfection" the happier you'll be. What defines a "perfect" painting is highly subjective. There is no real definition of "perfection" in art. You can be the most successful, famous artist in the world and someone will hate your work ... and that someone may even be you! In fact, if you ever reach the point where you are 100% satisfied with everything you do, that's a clear sign you have lost your marbles!

There is no perfect piece of art. Art is a progression, not a finality. If you are constantly frustrated that your art is not exactly the way you want it, you need to relax and learn to enjoy the journey, rather than only looking at the end goal. Art is an experience, not a finish line.

If you are hating your art, try to look at every piece of artwork as a step forward, not a failure. Read my blog's subtitle, "Don't be afraid to create just because your creation might be a failure. Remember, every failure brings you closer to success. So if you want to be successful hurry up and start failing as much as you can!" Learn to love your art, every piece, even the ones you want to throw away, for what they have taught you. No piece is a true failure. Every one has given you a gift, taught you something you could not have learned any other way. Love it for what it's given you. Cherish every "failed" art piece as much as the "successful" one because that successful piece would not exist if it had not been for the "failures" upon which it was built.

A lot of artists want to throw out their old or crappy work. Don't! I know right now you want it out of your sight. Fine. Put it in the attic or closet. But don't throw it away. Later, down the road, it will serve as a reminder of how far you've come. You'll cherish it as part of your history. It will serve as a reminder that, now matter how difficult things seem at the moment, it always gets better with time.

Aug 1, 2011

How to paint fur

Of course, there are many styles and methods for painting fur. But I've had a few people ask me how I paint fur, so here's one way of doing it.

There are a lot of different kinds of fur that require different techniques and brushes. As you can see in this painting there's short smooth fur, long wispy fur, thick clumpy fur, etc.

In most cases when painting fur you want to have at least 3 layers, the darkest colors being the deepest areas closest to the skin, ending with the lightest colors highlighting the tips of the fur. You'll also generally want to start with the thicker brushes on the bottom layers and finish with thinner, finer brushes for the wispy hair tips.

In this first detail (below) we have broad areas of relatively smooth fur. Use a fan brush to build up layers. Start with a larger fan to build up the bottom layer and switch to a smaller fan on the next layer. A filbert rake brush can also work here, depending on the animal and its fur type. Try to vary your brush stroke length, stroke angle, and brush angle to keep it from looking too uniform. Wild animals don't get their fur brushed so you want it to look a little scruffy. (Of course, if you're doing a pet portrait of a prize show dog then this doesn't apply. You'll want your brush strokes to stay pretty uniform so your pooch looks well-groomed.) Once the first two layers are down go back and add a few strokes here and there with a script liner to add a little more scruffiness and highlights.

In this second detail (below) we have areas of clumpy fur. Here start with a medium round brush to block in the basic shape of the clumps. Again, start with darker colors on the lower layer. Then use a smaller round to do the middle, lighter layer. Finally, go back and add some wispy fur tips with the script liner once again to the top, lightest layer. Always try to vary your stroke lengths and angles, even getting a few wiggly lines in there once in a while, to give it that "wild" ungroomed look.

Nothing really magic about the technique. It just takes remembering to go from dark to light, larger brush to thinner brush, keeping your strokes varied. And a lot of time and patience. :)

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