Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Thanks for Listening 2015




There is probably no real way to put into words the appreciation I have for the community of artist and patrons I have had the privilege of knowing through this blog. It has been your ongoing support, encouragement and exchange of ideas that have made this venture so satisfying.

For those of you that have given one of my works a home, thank you.
As an artist, there is no greater compliment than to have someone appreciate your work enough to make it their own.
For that I am truly honored.
My sincerest gratitude.

Happy Holidays and have a great New Year.



And to my loving wife, my biggest supporter, my greatest friend, the center of my universe, my inspiration…...
Linda, I could write all day but there are no words written that can fully express my appreciation and love for you.
Happy Anniversary my love.
Jim

"If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint."
                                                                             Edward Hopper






Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 



Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings



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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Nature speaks in color, sometimes it is a whisper, sometimes a shout.





Nature speaks in color, sometimes it is a whisper, sometimes a shout. From the hints of earth tones in early autumn to the dramatic sky of a winter sunset she provides endless designs to study. The elements of earth, sky, water are in a constant state of flux but nature always keeps them in harmony.




Early Autumn on the Lake oil 5 x 7 inch Pochade


Early Winter on the Lake oil 5 x 7 inch Pochade



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 




Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Forest for the Trees





In “Forest for the Trees” I wanted to capture the large shapes, the subtle value relationships and color harmonies and not lose the attitude of the scene. With all the elements in this little composition it would have been easy to be overwhelmed by detail and lose the overall pattern and idea.  I do think I captured the big picture.

Forest for the Trees, 5 x 7 inches, oil on panel, © Jim Serrett Studio


Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 


Website - jimserrett.com
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Campers Point





I think I have sketched this location now at least three different times throughout the year. It is always interesting how things change season to season. I wanted to capture the early fall colors with the late day cast of warm sun. Several glazes were used to build up the luminosity with Liquin to speed it along. This one was a good learning exercise about using transparent paint on location.



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim



Website - jimserrett.com
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sketching the Landscape






The weather is just perfect for some location painting. Getting out there and doing studies and sketches and building a library of ideas to develop over the winter months into studio paintings. For those of you familiar with my Pochade box you might notice I have added a glass palette with neutral gray backing. I think the patina on the wood palette was getting so dark that I was having problems seeing the darker values. I really miss the wood surface, I just kind of like the feel of it. The gray residue and chunks of paint seem so much more interesting. Maybe when I get some down time I will resurface the wood palette and start again. But for now the gray glass is sure convenient and easier to see the color on with these ageing eyes.





I think my landscapes have evolved into a study and investigation of atmosphere. I want the ariel or atmospheric perspective to carry the viewer throughout the picture. I really feel that to express my response to the landscape I must impress the environment upon the viewer and make them swim within the air. So I have been pushing this idea and incorporating multiple layers of glazing and scumble to achieve that feeling. 



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 




 Website - jimserrett.com
 Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com
 Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Caribbean Diptych - A Commission



Studio Commission –
I have been immersed in the studio working on a couple of commission pieces the last few months, so I thought it a good topic for this blog. First off I have to say I recognize this type of assignment is not for everyone and have even spoken with artists who cringe at the thought. The whole thing about giving up their artistic freedom for monetary gain comes up. I get it, but at this point I start to hear a song running through my head, .. The times are a changing.. Yes do you hear the music? Anyway I know commissions are taxing and can really force you out of your comfort zone.

But this may not be a bad thing. 


Breaking Wave oil on canvas 24 x 36 inches



Detail - Breaking Wave
Many of the great artists through history worked on a commissioned basis, just think of those prestigious large historical and religious paintings hanging in the museum, the big narrative stories of Titian, Rembrandt’s, The Night Watch or  Gainsborough's Blue Boy, Mark Rothko’s Seagram Murals, or Nelson Shank’s infamous Bill Clinton portrait. Point being this type of patronage is not new, it just may not be as common as in Titian's day. But as artists use the web and social media to build relationships with collectors directly, and nurture the dialogue between, I feel this type of patronage growing and becoming a necessary and welcomed part of an artist’s revenue stream.



Breaking Wave Sky Detail
After years of working with art directors and advertising agencies, I may have a thicker skin than most. And may have a little insight into how to deal with the clients or in this case the collector. The idea that someone wants commission work from you for their home is a great honor and compliment, so roll with that idea. They already like your work. So work out what it is they are interested in, what attracted them to your work and what they think they would like to see and live with. This is the sticky part of the commission concept, attempting to visualize someone else’s vision.





Sketches and Color Studies


In this case I had several plein air sketches from Mexico painted along the Caribbean Sea that they were interested in. With these we were able to dial into what imagery and the best subject matter they wanted, but in a larger format. This would actually be a commission for two paintings which would be displayed together. Using these pieces as a departure point I created several pencil and gouache sketches, employing them to reinforce the design idea and to let the studies evolve into original pieces in their own right.


Caribbean Dawn oil on canvas 24 x 36 


Caribbean Dawn Sky Detail
I presented the sketches, we talked about them and did a coffee table critic on what they liked and did not. This is important - Listen Carefully. I learned the hard way many years back doing advertising art, listen carefully to what the client or art director is saying and you will do fewer revisions. From those sketches I produced a series of small 5 x 7 inch oil color studies on panel. In these I worked out the color harmonies and imagery in a more comprehensive way. My goal was to paint from the sketches and studies and not resort to photos.





As a artist I am most concerned with developing a visual vocabulary through observational painting, having a genuine dialogue with the subject and showing my honest responses to it. I feel this is the only path to developing one’s own artistic voice. And from my experience photos get in-between all of that.


Caribbean Dawn Detail
I also feel if you work diligently at painting and drawing from life, you have created a storehouse of knowledge and memory to fall back on. And the need for photographic sources is a sterile alternative. That the art which inspires me relies on the balance of observation and memory, balancing the real with the invented, the abstract with the literal, and is more about the poetic statement rather than a journalistic rendering of the subject.

As far as commissions go, I have always stated - never take a job just for the money. Even back in the day when I was doing commercial and advertising art, if nothing in the project interests you, it will not turn out well. Besides there are easier ways out there to make money.


A commission is about good communication, sketches, thumbnails, patience and being upfront about expectations. Most of all, open minded and wonderful patrons who support the arts and your efforts. 



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 



Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings







Monday, June 29, 2015

Why We Should Draw More (and Photograph Less) or On the Importance of Drawing





Sketching is about thinking visually. I have always believe it to be the path to a higher conscience of the world and should be part of any education. All creative endeavors requires the ability to think visually, whatever the occupation or field of interest one has, drawing/sketching can help understand complex concepts simply. 





From conceptualizing designs and ideas to just doodling, there is great freedom in sketching. A piece of paper, a pencil and you, can be a transformational experience. It is a connection with life that forms an immediate and intimate dialogue with the subject. And yet sketching does not have be anything more than engaging our minds in play and fantasy, where we can enjoy the sheer pleasure drawing brings to our psyche.







A while back my wife and I visited Alaska, a great adventure with old friends now a much cherished memory. One of the highlights was the trip to Denali National Park. After an amazing journey through the park we stopped at the Eielson Visitor Center Denali that has a more than spectacular view of the mountain. It was pointed out to us by people from the area (sourdoughs) that this was an unusually clear day for viewing Mt. Denali. One gentleman telling me he has lived there for twenty years and never saw the Mountain so clearly. So as my compadres hiked around the area I settled down in an isolated corner of the centers patio and began sketching this amazing vista before me.




As I sat there in my little sketch spot one person after another stepped up to the ledge of the patio and shot a picture with a cell phone or camera. I sat there for about twenty minutes and not one person that walked up and snap a pic stood there for more than a minute. I did get a lot of sideway glazes as if to see what I was doing or if I had fallen down or something worse. I wondered then if any of these people actually saw this magical scene. Quickly snapping away, it was kind of as if that they had proof they were there but really they were not. Funny how the sightseers out snapping pics inspires me to paint outside more. Technology is good at giving us fast information but not at telling us what important and significant.







 With the sketch I feel an immediate dialogue with the subject and a personal interaction. I feel that with every drawing I learn something about the thing in front of me. I have to think about not just how I am going to draw this thing but how it fits together. There is so much to contemplate and consider. Drawing enables us to see more of the world around us and preserving those experiences this way makes them so much richer.




The video above from The School of life caught my eye and does a nice job of illustrating the points I am attempting to make. Have a look.






Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim






Website - jimserrett.com
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings


Links:
The School of Life






Saturday, May 30, 2015

Seascape Sketches




The following are some of the materials I have been gathering for a pair of studio commissions.

The idea is a seascape diptych that would be hung in a specific space in the patrons home, and these drawings are part of working out the compositional concept. How the eye would travel from one panel to the next and how each individual painting will stand on its own have been the concerns.








I want to have a clear concept of the the elements in each panel. Where the sky planes are and the atmospheric perspective. What is in the foreground and middle ground, and still understand the whole. The best way for me to do that is to work out a series of thumbnails and sketches. Gathering as much reference material as possible.







Not only am I working out the technical aspects, but also the mood, emotion and harmony of the paintings. Exactly what I am trying to “say” with these two paintings.


Graphite and white gouache on toned paper. 5.5 x 8.5 inches





Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 




Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Monday, April 27, 2015

Standing by Peaceful Waters




There are places we all go to escape, places that just let our minds wander freely at ease. Places that become part of our own psyche. For me those places are the lakes we hike and kayak through the seasons. Every time I stand next to a lake at sunset I find a inner calm. I have found peaceful waters.




Water is essential for life and is the major component of our bodies and the earth. It is tied to the spirit and mind of humans, in forms I am sure we may never understand. But we know, we are drawn to it. Be it seaside, lake or stream we have a deep connection to water.




I think that at the bank of every lake and in every sunset there is a story. I always wonder what this place was like 50 years ago, 100 years ago or before mankind found this place, what it was like in it's primitive state, what stories this place could tell? 





John Prine tells a story about an Indian tribe that finds two babies in the woods, they name two lakes after them, Lake Marie and Lake Elizabeth.  He precedes to tell the story of those lakes and the things that happened around them, colored by time and perception as well. Have a listen.

[Chorus]
We were standing
Standing by peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters
Whoa wah oh wha oh
Whoa wah oh wha oh


John Prine - website




All three pochade's are 5 x 7 inches on canvas panel, check my  Etsy Store  for availability.



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim


Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Equinox




For us here in the lower Mid-west the winter has certainly been cold, but nothing like the bone chilling, snow thumping other parts of the country have received this year. No words sound as good as winter is gone and spring has come. But I will say that I have enjoyed the palette colors of winter this season, there is something about the tones of red and yellow earth under a dramatic sky. The landscape freed of its foliage exhibits a unique anatomy and rhythm, a hidden depth and perspective accented with the bared lace of trees.




A major part of being an artist is seeing things through different eyes; observing nature in ways others might overlook, and draw attention to the beauty of simple things. When we accomplish/connect with that, we can create a shared visual experience or artistic vision that can be more compelling and authentic than reality itself.


“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks”

                                                                                                           - John Muir



Above art work:

Spring Equinox oil on panel 8 x 10 in
Spring Equinox oil sketch 5 x 7 in

Links:



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 


Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings