Monday, June 22, 2015

The Best Art Advice I Ever Got



 Here's a sampling of the great art advice I've received over the years from dear friend and mentor artist Helen Cartmell. 


 1. Figure out what you do best and then do it better than anyone else.

 2.  Paint with your eyes.

 3.  Patience.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell


 4.  Paint what you love.  Your excitement over the piece will resonate with the viewer.

 5.  Draw all the time.  Draw from life.  Poor drawing skills will be translated into your painting whether you like it or not.


Drawing by Helen Cartmell


Drawing by Helen Cartmell


 6.  Learn color theory.

 7.  Identify your artistic weaknesses and work on them.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell


  8.  Know your subject.  Look, look, look.

  9.  Don't take rejection personally.  People are subjective.
 
Artwork by Helen Cartmell


10. If you want people to notice your art, paint different.  If you want to paint different, spend more time painting.  Your style will emerge in spite of yourself.  Don't be a clone.
 
11.  Paint often.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell


12. Don't know what to paint?  Paint anything.  Your problem is that you feel the need to frame every piece of artwork you do.  Get over that.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell
 
 
13.  Focus on big shapes first. 

Artwork by Helen Cartmell



What a thrill to see my husband Tim's painting hanging next to Helen's at the annual Our Town exhibit in Birmingham, Michigan about five years ago.


14.  Try to find a space to do your art where you can leave your supplies out.  You may feel the need to paint in the middle of the night.   Painting in your pajamas is acceptable.

15.  Not everyone will like your work.  That's okay.

 ...

Helen is in her 90's now.  She isn't able to paint anymore, but talking about painting is still her favorite thing to do.

And so how did I find this generous woman of quality?  Well, I'll save that for another blog post.


Helen - Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan.  Photo taken by her future husband.




33 comments:

  1. GREAT advice, and What a beautiful artist!
    I am so glad to read this post today = )

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for telling us about Helen! I love her art, I love her advice and I love the photo of her! I can't wait to read more about her! Do you think I could have squeezed any more exclamations in a single post? I'll be waiting not so patiently for the rest of the story.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Chris for such a great post... both for the advices and the beautiful drawings , paintings and photos!
    Seems to be quite a lady your friend !

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very good advice, Chris, and she is a very talented artist, too! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a special friend you have!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a special friend you have!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks, Sue! The piece of advice Helen repeated most often was #1.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, thanks, Candy. Helen really is THAT special. She deserves all those exclamation points! I love that old photo of her, too. She is smiling at the man with whom she will happily spend the next 50-plus years.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you, Martine. Yes, she is quite a lady!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, Linda. She is an incredible artist and wonderful human being.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks, Jo. Helen is my other special friend.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for this most excellent post Chris. I struggle with #3 when I paint. (I did paint a couple of times after my MH workshop, but cannot wait to get back home to paint some more!)
    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Glad you enjoyed it, Teri. I know you're still digesting your workshop experience. Thanks for sharing it on your blog. Marc Hanson does some incredible artwork.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yes, yes, yes!!! I can't wait to read how you met this wonder of a woman! And I do so love painting in my PJs.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love painting in my PJs, too, Kali!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like #10 and I like that she is in her 90s. I always feel time is running out and now in 1 week, she is the 3rd 90 ish artist I have met or heard about.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Where to start on this brilliant post?? 1. Your husband is cute! 2. Never heard of your mentor/friend but what an awesome artist she is!!! 3. You've mentioned two things here that I so totally agree with as foundational: patience and need for good drawing skills. Sigh...my lack.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I feel the clock ticking, too, Polly, but you're right - you realize how relative it is when you meet artists in their 90's. I belonged to a painting group in Detroit where our oldest member was 96! And she was still painting and exhibiting!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you, Sherry. Helen made this post so easy. Patience - a tough one. Drawing skills - Helen continually asked me, "Where's your sketchbook?" She had mountains of them.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a wonderful post, Chris, and wonderful advice! All of them, but number 1 had me thinking immediately! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. what a very talented women, wonderful work!

    "Painting in your pajamas is acceptable" yes it is! :D

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks, Judy. #1 resonates the most with me, too.

    ReplyDelete
  23. More people probably paint in their PJs than we think, Jennifer. Yes, Helen is so talented.

    ReplyDelete
  24. this sounds like wonderful advice.
    loved seeing all of her art. thank you for sharing her and her advice.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks, Tammie. Helen always shared what she learned. She is generous in everything.

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a great list of advice. Helen's art is beautiful. Your hubby' s painting is fabulous as well. So glad you shared. Cannot wait to hear how you and Helen met.

    ReplyDelete
  27. what a wonderful post! I want to share this on Facebook...I hope that it ok with you. It is just so good! I hope you'll tell us how you met her. I loved every single sentence of this post---fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thanks, Debbie. Helen's art IS beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks, Celeste. Of course, you can share it!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow, Chris, thank you for sharing Helen's wisdom; each statement is like a precious jewel. Older people often have so much good and invaluable advice, if only we'd listen.
    Sharon x

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks, Sharon. I wish I had written down everything Helen told me, but most of the good stuff is still in my brain. Her generous advice alone could keep me blogging for the next year.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Love this post Chris! I need to be reminded about these things...especially patience!! What great advice and beautiful paintings.I would love to have had a mentor like her. Your husbands painting is fabulous too.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks for introducing me to this incredible artist!

    ReplyDelete