Thursday, September 29, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Jack

Recently I learned of the passing of one of my favorite writers, Texas artist and popular author Jack White. When I was told this sad news, I had a hard time holding back the tears. No, I didn't know Jack personally, although we had exchanged comments a time or two when I had responded to something he had written online or in one of the art magazine I subscribe to. The news hit me hard; after reading his columns for over 15 years, and benefiting greatly from Jack's vast store of wisdom and advice, I had come to think of him as a mentor.

In this I'm certainly not alone. Jack White touched and helped thousands -- millions -- of artists all over the globe each time he shared his views and experiences about the business side of art. Jack's mission in life was helping artists to succeed, however they wished to define success. And he was eminently qualified to help light their way: he himself enjoyed an illustrious career as a professional artist whose works routinely command five or more figures.

Despite his remarkable achievements, he never lost his ability to walk in a fellow artist's shoes. Jack knew from personal experience what it was like to be down to your last dime, with mouths to feed, and no prospects for selling your work. He knew what it was like to risk everything by hitting the road to find buyers, selling paintings out of the trunk of his car. He was resourceful and gutsy and persistent, and over the course of his life those qualities earned him a level of success few have matched. His encouraging message to all of us was, "You can do this, too." Generously sharing his knowledge via hundreds of columns and the publication of eight books aimed at artists, Jack happily and willingly showed us how, holding nothing back.

Jack White was a remarkable man. He was a gifted artist, yet he was humble. Plain-spoken, he was also an expert on Texas history, authoring a compelling account of the fall of the Alamo in his book Ten Years in Texas. There were many dimensions to his life beyond art, and his achievements were many. He loved America deeply, and was a patriot to the core. He loved life, and he lived it to the fullest.

His passing leaves me profoundly saddened, but Jack, I think, would be the first to counsel against this. I can just imagine him pausing before his easel in the hereafter, peering down at mourners like myself, and admonishing us to get over it and get busy. That would be typical Jack White advice. He had no use for wimps. So in closing, I'll simply say, " Jack, you were truly one of a kind. Your generosity has helped so many, including myself. We are deeply grateful for all you've shared with us, and you will be forever missed."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, September 25, 2016

"A vacation is a sunburn at premium prices." -- Hal Chadwicke

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Artist's Tip: How to Gesso a Canvas

Stretched canvases usually come pre-gessoed, but the thin gesso layer applied at the factory is usually insufficient to provide the best foundation for subsequent layers of acrylic paint. To prep your canvas properly, plan on applying at least two to three more layers of gesso. (My preference is for three, at minimum.)

Apply your first coat of gesso to the canvas with all brushstrokes laid down horizontally. Let dry thoroughly. (If the surface feels cool to the touch it needs more drying time.)

Once it's completely dry you may sand it very lightly with fine grit sandpaper or a piece of brown paper bag if you wish to paint on a very smooth surface. This step is entirely optional. Before going on to the next step be sure to remove any dust by wiping the surface with a cloth dampened with water then wrung almost completely dry.

Next, apply a coat of gesso in a vertical direction. Allow to dry thoroughly, then sand lightly as above, if desired. Again, remove all traces of dust before proceeding.

The third coat of gesso should be applied in a criss cross fashion. Once dry, you may sand it lightly or not, the choice is yours. Now your canvas is properly prepared, and you are ready to paint.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, September 18, 2016

"Nature often lets us down when we most need her; let us turn to art." -- Baltasar Gracian

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Save These Dates!

It's over two months away but you'll want to reserve November 11-13 on your calendar. Those are the dates for this year's 5th Annual Art and Fine Craft Show in Alpharetta. And yours truly will again be one of the exhibiting artists! You won't want to miss it because....tada! drum roll, please!........I will be introducing my exciting new collection of hand painted art jewelry!!! (The only hints I'll give you are (1) it's unlike any jewelry you've ever seen before, and (2) no two pieces are alike. So circle those dates on your calendar and plan to have a wonderful time meeting the artists and enjoying casual, comfortable holiday shopping. Attendance is by invitation. More info to follow as we get closer. See you in November!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, September 11, 2016

"What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we've never met." -- David Levithan, on the tragedy of 9/11

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, September 4, 2016

" What is art but life upon the larger scale, the higher? When, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the infinite." -- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Artist's Tip: A Thrifty Substitute for Picture Wire

Ordinary picture wire is very unpleasant to handle. Every time I wire a painting with this stuff I stab myself at least once. Those wire ends are like needles! I really feel sorry for people who encounter picture wire in the course of hanging shows. They must feel like human pincushions by the time they're finished.

Now, there is a safer, more pleasant alternative: picture wire that has a smooth plastic coating. No question, it's much kinder to human flesh. But it comes with a higher price tag, and it can be hard to find, as not all stores stock it.

This wire from a home improvement store is a good substitute for picture wire.

Is there a substitute for or alternative to picture wire? Unless I'm hanging mirrors or large, heavy paintings that call for wire that's rated according to weight, I've found that coated wire sold in the electrical department at home improvement and hardware stores works just fine. It's just as easy to handle as coated picture wire and is equally malleable, but costs far less. I can buy as much or as little as I need because it's sold by the foot.

The coated wire shown above, which I purchased at Home Depot, was approximately $2 for a 10 foot length. Look closely and you'll see that this wire is actually TWO strands very loosely twisted together, in effect, giving me 20 feet of wire! The gentleman who waited on me called it "doorbell wire," and I have found it to be perfect for use on smaller, lightweight canvases and wood panels. The strands are readily separated; I use metal snips to cut off whatever I need.

This particular wire is 18 gauge with a copper core, but there are many other sizes and types of wire to choose from. I told the store associate what I planned to use the wire for, and he made recommendations based on the information I provided. He turned out to be quite familiar with artists' needs because his wife is an artist who sells her work at festivals, and to hang it she, too, uses wire from the electrical department rather than picture wire.

Please note: as I've already stated, if the object to be hung is very heavy or fragile, I would instead use a picture wire that's rated for the object's weight. In other words, I would NOT hang anything under glass in a big heavy frame with anything BUT the appropriate picture wire. But lightweight stretched canvas or smaller cradle wood panels? Trusty, thrifty "doorbell wire" is always at the ready! 

 Text and image ©2016 Lynn Edwards