-excerpts from an October press release:

International Peace Garden Foundation announced that Puerto Vallarta, Mexico has been selected and honored, as the site of the 2017 International Peace Garden.

The Peace Garden will be located at the Vallarta Botanical Garden along the approach to a new multi-faith chapel. “Puerto Vallarta is a leader in Mexico for respecting diversity of cultures and human rights, along with overlapping many of the priorities of the International Peace Garden Foundation” said Paula Savage, Foundation President.


Tony van Hasselt does a plein air watercolor demo while at the P.V. Botanical Gardens during his “Tropical Escapaint” week at the Casa.

Canada presented the first Peace Garden to the United States in 1990 in recognition of their long lasting friendship as they share the longest undefended border in the world for over 200 years. This began the tradition of naming recipient countries. The tulip became the official flower of the International Peace Garden because of its significance in Canada, tied to World War II and the Dutch Royal Family.
The International Peace Garden Foundation is a non profit organization established in 1990 traveling the world to advance global friendship and international understanding through the creation of Peace Gardens.
Presently there are twenty-two International Peace Gardens spanning five continents. Mexico is the second country in Central America to receive this honor. San Jose, Costa Rica was honored in 1999.
Plans are underway to complete the project by February for the planned dedication on February 16th, 2017. “The design includes ornamental terracing and access ramps for persons with disabilities. Plantings will focus on a geographical region that gave birth to several of the leading world religions through plants that grow together in harmony with each other and with our native plants as well,” said Vallarta Botanical Garden Executive Director, Neil Gerlowski.
Like never before, the future of our world and its inhabitants depends on people coming together to work out peaceful solutions for our collective challenges. We can all play a part in this and shape the world we live in. One way towards accomplishing this  is to set aside places dedicated for such actions. Outdoor spaces filled with natural beauty are especially appropriate as these landscapes restore the soul and create the perfect settings for purposeful reflection towards positive change.

While this designation is certain to bring great notoriety to the Vallarta Botanical Garden, the city of Puerto Vallarta, and the Banderas Bay region as a welcoming destination dedicated to international peace and friendship, it brings no direct funding. The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is accepting tax-deductible donations (Mexico, Canada and the US) for this project. Please visit vbgardens.org for more information.

For the past three years now our family has celebrated the traditional Thanksgiving day a little differently than most of the nation. We are gathering to give special thanks and feasting as a family today, Friday, the day after the traditional holiday. Monica and I along with Narieka and Brahm, (who are home from college), will gather late this afternoon to give thanks and celebrate. We will facetime with our oldest daughter Aiyana, who is with friends in California at the moment. Though we are sad that she is not with us to feast, we are incredibly proud of her and her vision, which is connected to this story… Before Aiyana left to drive out west, she gathered donations of clothing and camping gear that she dropped on route to warriors for the Earth, “The Guardians of the Water”, that are staging protest & resistance at Standing Rock . She spent a few days at Standing Rock, helping cook food and tending to children. She said it was one of the most incredible experiences of her life.

As an artist and an art educator my whole life, I have always taught that the basics of all art, (and life), is about relationships and connections, seeing the connections, and communication – and that the greatest of all works of art that we can create, is how we choose to paint our life. One of my greatest teachers in this regard, one of the greatest artists I know, though she is not a painter, is my wife Monica. She has always regarded relationship, connection, truth and kindness as the highest priority. To that end throughout our life together, she has always brought me and our children into connection with teachers, artists and situations, etc. that foster that reality. It was Monica that had brought our kids that first time, (I was in Mexico), to Plymouth, MA to show support for the National Day of Morning, (it was her sister Maura, that shared with her the event). Please don’t misinterpret me, we have nothing against the fundamental idea of a day of thanks being set aside for family and friends to gather together and celebrate life’s blessings, (we try to do this daily), In fact we think it is great and celebrate everyone doing so! But in light of our awareness and in trying to educate ourselves and our children in social justice and living in respect for the earth and all its’ creatures, we felt impelled to join the Indigenous American People, (and those throughout the world) in solidarity of protesting a myth that has been perpetuated by American culture at their expense and ultimately the expense of all people and the Earth. And certainly, with the current situation taking place at Standing Rock and what we experienced here in MA these past years fighting corporate greed trying to lay pipeline HERE In ASHFIELD and other areas of MA, (Yes folks, it can happen in your backyard as well! – see more on this below and the video of me speaking out at the hearing in Greenfield, MA this past March), we felt it even more important to attend this year.

As I am sure you are aware, as an artist, you cannot make a mark, change a color or shape on the canvas, without it effecting the whole canvas. And similarly, we cannot create an action or belief system in the world without it effecting the world around us. One of the biggest myths of western civilization is that we are all independent of and separate, from one another and as human beings – separate from the Earth, creation-environment around us. Of course this fundamental spin on reality has been perpetuated throughout history for a definite selfish purpose – if we are lulled into the belief that we are separate from the earth and all that is dependent on it, (including various races of peoples, etc), then it is very easy to justify domination and exploitation, and ultimately destruction, (thus you can pretend that science does not exist, there is no climate change and people that are “different” from you have less rights).

The gathering in Plymouth MA, that this year had approximately 1,000 attendees, began near Coles Hill, where in 1970 Frank James, a Wampanoag leader was barred from delivering a speech about the truth of his people and left in protest a ceremony celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrims arrival.

A plaque at Coles Hill now reads: “Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in a National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”  

In the midst of this gathering were great speeches on truth, unity and consciousness and a march with chants to petition President Obama to pardon Native American Activist Leonard Peltier as well as chants that though seem to be effecting only those far away, (Standing Rock Reservation) effect all of us. People reverberated -“You can’t drink oil!” and “WATER IS LIFE!”.  The message is very close to home, where we had been fighting corporate greed wanting to bring a pipeline through MA for fracked gas. Though we had succeeded in cutting off it’s head here in MA, much like the many headed mythical Hydra, the serpent of corporate greed, sprouts its’ head elsewhere.
But unlike Standing Rock, I believe one of the reasons we were successful, (at least for the time being), is that the majority of those opposed to the pipeline in MA are white, middle class land owners, activists and farmers and Standing Rock is meeting even heavier attack is it is a Lakota Sioux Indian Reservation and the U.S. has a notorious 400+ year history of abuse and destruction, not only of Native American rights, (breaking every treaty ever signed with native peoples), but a systematic obliteration of their culture as well. The use of Extreme Force by the U.S. government against Native peoples perpetuates from the past to the present. In this fight at Standing Rock, it also appears that the “President Elect”,
Mr. Trump has a personal investment in Energy Transfer Systems – the folks behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, (a bit of a conflict of interest for a President?!).    

As many of the native speakers mentioned at the gathering, it is up to each of us -We The People – to fight –  not for a particular race or ethnic group, not for a particular religion, not for a political party, Democrat, Republican, whatever, not for a nation or any other made up category of words and divisions supporting the illusion of separateness – but it is all of our duty to fight for the Earth!       

Watch the video of Artist Robert Masla raising his voice among dozens of concerned citizens at DPU Hearings, in March of this year in Greenfield, MA, to Stop the Pipeline,
“We Are All Connected”

Read this from NPR on  Standing Rock  


A Workshop at Casa de Los Artistas, Robert Masla Studios South 

“I loved the Casa Experience. Lovely and exquisite environment and sights! Lots to paint in plein air. Tony’s energy for teaching stands out in my mind along with his wit, charm and insight into improving my painting! -This is quality instruction in an authentic and colorful location with gracious and articulate hosts and staff. Awesome! (how can you make any money with such lavish dinners-!), So appreciated. One big dinner would have been fine.” – S. M., Seattle


Tony van Hasselt, Market Days, watercolor on paper

If you have ever had the privilege of taking a workshop with Tony van Hasselt you are aware of the great energy and joy – the passion – he brings to painting in plein air, as he calls it, “natures studio without walls”, and sharing that passion with others. You also know that Tony shares a whole lot more than his passion and just plein air painting. He shares many years of painting and teaching experience, and that has translated into some very concrete methods he has created to help you improve your painting skills regardless of what media you use or whether you work in plein air or the studio. Another unique aspect of this workshop is that Tony shows his methods for creating an “Artists Sketchbook Journal”. Being one of the originators of international travel painting workshops, (Tony created his travel paint learn business, Painting Holidays in 1963, which he later sold to American Artist Magazine), Tony has literally dozens of such sketchbook journals from his adventures around the globe and opens up his methods to participants.


Tony van Hasselt, sketchbook journal, view from the zocalo, at the Mt. town of El Tuito.

Through daily demonstrations both in the studio and in plein air, Tony teaches principles as well as techniques and methods to create strong paintings. Tony also shares his unique insight in offering suggestions to artists for their work back in the studio by painting on a sheet of acetate laid on top of their paintings. Artist can then photograph the suggestions and apply them later to their work if they desire.

You can see a couple of new video examples of Tony sharing his painting wisdom by clicking this link and scrolling down. The first is Tony putting to practice the axiom he likes to quote from Ben Franklin – “Failing to prepare – is preparing to fail”. The video takes place on the first morning of the workshop where Tony is doing a tonal value sketch on the beach in front of the Casa. In this short 6+ minute demo, (though much of the dialogue is drowned out by the sound of the surf and gulls, etc. I type in his instruction so you don’t miss it), Tony emphasizes the point of establishing your values, the energy and composition of your painting in a small thumbnail. – I also like the fact that it gives you a real feel of painting on the beach in Boca, one of my favorite pastimes!

Tony van Hasselt, El Tuito, watercolor on paper – click on the image above and scroll down for videos

The second video takes place in the Casa studio. After a day of painting at one of the many exotic locations, (the beach in front of the Casa or at Colomitos Cove, The Botanical Gardens, the square in the Mt. town of El Tuito…), Tony takes the work of participants that would like his insightful feedback, places a sheet of acetate over it and paints his suggestions on the acetate.

Though he primarily works in watercolor, the principles he teaches are applicable regardless of the media you choose to work in. 8 of these principles Tony has created into a visual system, a check list of reminders an artist can use in evaluating the progress of their work. Here is what it says about these “Building Blocks of Painting” on Tony’s website;

“Since artists think and learn visually, van Hasselt designed a visual reminder system which eliminates the need to remember hundreds of do’s and don’ts. It is based on age old design principles handed down by our forefathers in art. This system serves to visually remind you what to do and think about during the painting process. Used as a checklist, it helps you to analyze just what is wrong in uncompleted work.  Since there are no “rules” in art, these guidelines are based on the experience passed down by generations of masters in every painting medium and style.

So what are these Building Blocks of Painting and what do they look like… 

… In each of his workshops Tony goes over these Building Blocks, one at a time and demonstrates how they are used in painting.

They are:









But, as Tony points out, artists are visual people, so he created a visual symbol system, (he gives out small pocket cards for artists to carry, and sometimes posters for their studios). It looks like this:


On his website Tony goes on to explain each of the diagrams and how to apply them in detail. For example, the first symbol on the top left, TONALITY – The most important Building Block, he begins with the following:

“The symbol suggests grouping a subject’s tonal values into three major ones. The light, medium and dark tonal range covers all colors. In addition there is the accent of the white quadrant and the accent of the very dark colors suggested by the border.”

He goes on to explain how to see values and “hear – see- them as visual chords” and arranging them in your composition. You can read all about his Building Blocks and so much more by visiting his website: www.TonyVanHasselt.com on the left hand column you can click on The Building Blocks – Happy Painting!



“An incredible experience in learning the art of painting! Would not have missed this! John MacDonald is a superb teacher and dedicated artist.” – Steve and Judy Puthuff, Calif. participants in John MacDonalds 2016 workshop at the Casa

Johns Studio

Visit John MacDonalds’ Studio, click here

When I was putting this blog together I received an email from John, (very synchronistic), with a link to a video on Eric Rhoads Facebook, (among other things, Eric is the publisher,  of Plein Air Magazine), where he had posted a video interview with John at his studio, (located about an hour from me in Williamstown, MA.). Click the image of Johns studio above or to the left to be taken to the video.
If you have ever studied with John, you have had both the privilege of watching him paint as well benefit from his thorough explanation of his process, keen eye and supportive words. If you haven’t, you should take advantage of the opportunity to accelerate your growth as a painter before he takes a break from teaching in 2018. Now is the time to garner the wealth of information, insight and inspiration he shares. (you can read more about the actual workshop at the Casa here). 

When I tell you John is dedicated to painting and teaching and shares a wealth of information, I am very serious. His newsletters are filled with advice on painting and he literally gives each student that comes to the Casa workshop a booklet filled with his teaching. I would like to share with you here just a snippet from one of these. 


Stream Golds

John MacDonald, “Stream Golds”, oil

Painting Water • Part I: Rivers and Streams

Water comes in an endless variety of forms: lakes, ponds, placid steams, muddy rivers, mountain cascades, and the ever-changing ocean. Throw in a variety of weather conditions, differences in water quality, and the changing light, and the complexity found in the appearance of water can quickly become overwhelming. Because of the breadth of the topic and the limitations on my time, I’m going to address it over the next several newsletters. In this issue, we’ll look at some basic rules of painting all types of water and then dive deeply (sorry, couldn’t resist) into the specifics of streams and rivers, their appearance, forms, and how we can begin to translate their complexity into paint.

Rule #1: Don’t paint water, paint shapes. The only way to be able to see and skillfully paint the complex madness of water is to see it as a group of interlocking shapes, each with a specific value, color, and edge. Shapes! Shapes! Shapes! You are NOT painting water but SHAPES. If you can acquire this skill–to see a stream as simply a variety of 2-dimensional shapes and then carefully translate those into paint on your canvas– lo and behold, you’ll step back and discover that you’ve created a 3-dimensional illusion of water. It’s magic and it begins with seeing and then painting shapes. (By the way, this rule applies not only to painting water but for painting anything: cityscapes, a still-life, the figure, etc. It’s a must-have skill!)

Rule #2: You can’t paint what you can’t see. In theory,… –  if you can see and paint shapes then you can stop here and ignore the rest of this newsletter. It’s not absolutely necessary to know what you’re looking at when trying to paint water–it’s all just shapes. Well, that’s the theory. In practice, because we can’t paint shapes that we can’t see, it’s helpful to know what to look for. Let’s break down the shapes. . .

The visual anatomy of steams and rivers

A stream or river typically has three essential visual components:
1. Bottom / Deep Water
2. Reflections (sky and objects)
3. Surface items (Objects, ripples, or rapids)

Untitled 4

1. The bottom into deep water.

If the water in a stream or river is shallow and clear, the bottom is nearly always visible, especially near the edges of the banks. As the water deepens, the bottom and its details will fade from view. The color will shift towards the blue in clear water or a deeper brown ochre in muddy water. The value will also shift, usually becoming slightly darker. As the water deepens and the bottom disappears we begin to see the reflections in the water.

Direction of Light

Untitled 3

In the photo above, with the sun behind us and with less value contrast between sky, ground, and water, the transition from bottom/deep water to reflections is gradual. The details visible on the bottom of the stream slowly fade into the deeper color of the water which then gives way to the reflec- tions. Notice that the entire stream is in a narrow value range (squint at the photo) with color shifts becoming more important than shifts in value. The entire stream is almost middle value.

In the photo below we look into the sun with a light sky and very dark, silhouetted trees. Notice how the bottom is only visible in the dark reflections of the trees. The reflected sky is so light that it washes out any view of the bottom. Within the dark reflections, the bottom details fade and darken as they move back into the darkest areas of the reflections (#3).

Untitled 3

Bottom details

Because the eye exaggerates contrasts, we often paint the details visible in the stream bottom with too much value and color contrast and with edges too hard. Details should subtle. Keep the values and colors close and the edges soft!

Deep Water

In those cases where the bank drops off so steeply that no bottom is visible, only the color of the deep water is visible, usually a dark brown or blue depending on water quality. This can be the darkest area in the stream. As the eye moves away from the bank the reflections become more evident.
©JOHNMACDONALD 2016  To download the full article, (there is a bit more) and others, as well as sign up for Johns newsletter visit his website:

Loose does not Equal Unstructured
– Abstract Acrylic Painting & Collage Workshop with Bob Burridge
“This Workshop was wonderful – 11 out of 10. The Group was great, our hosts were lovely and welcoming, the place is beautiful. This was the best of many, many workshops I’ve attended. Bob’s communication, inspiration, knowledge and mastery were excellent!”
– B.K., Bethesda, MD

Bob Burridge making the rounds to each artist at his last workshop at the Casa  

If you have taken a workshop with Bob Burridge before than he needs no introduction. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to experience his unique teaching style and garner the wealth of information, insight and inspiration he shares, (you can read more about the actual workshop at the Casa here).

A dedicated painter, Bob has an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm for painting and the creative process. He shares his wit and wisdom in a generous and contagious manner.

Bob Burridge shares a wealth of information through his lectures, demos and practical information and  suggestions.

“Free Range #14“, acrylic, Robert Burridge

Though Bob is known famously for his for his loose abstracted paintings and his unique ability to help painters loosen up and be more expressive through his workshops and mentoring programs, that doesn’t mean he is not organized or highly disciplined. On the contrary, both in his workshop presentation and his daily painting regimen he is thoroughly organized and structured. It is through this structure that one is liberated to be loose and still achieve your desired results.

Some of the structure and discipline Bob has developed in his creative process comes through in his teaching process and schedule. One of these ways his dedication to sharing his enthusiasm for the painting process manifests is in his “Weekly Bob Blast” These are short videos that he publishes through his newsletter and on his website every Monday, (he has archived on his website some 80+ of them). If you haven’t seen any of these we are sharing that link above.

We can get a greater appreciation and insight into Bob’s creative genius and discipline when we look a little bit at his past achievements ….

…. Bob graduated from the University of the Arts (formerly Philadelphia College of Art) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design and a minor in Fine Art Painting. As a designer, he had the opportunity to create and invent new products for Litton Industries (the first production electronic cash register and bar code scanner for retail and food stores), Becton- Dickinson (medical, surgical and biomechanical devices) and as the Principal Designer for Westinghouse Electronic Corporation, he produced product designs for 15 Divisions, receiving the Grand Industrial Design Award of the Year in 1976 for a Power Circuit Breaker, an Uninterruptible Power System, an Advanced Nuclear Control room consoles and Industrial Control switches.

And finally, as an independent design consultant living in Santa Barbara, California, he invented new wheelchairs for the severely disabled, designed the first digital sound editing consoles for a Hollywood sound studio to edit the blockbuster movie, “StarsWars” and created the electronic circuit breaker featured in the movie “Jurassic Park.”

Roberts’ other product designs include a kitchen line for Corning Glass, a hands-free automatic soap dispenser and hand dryer for public rest rooms, surgically implanted body parts, custom wheelchairs for Cerebral Palsied children, brain surgical drills as well as a few whimsical products like tubular fabric lights, desk accessories and Teva Sandals, to name a few. During this time he held the honored position as Consultant to the President’s Committee for the Handicapped, Adjunct Professor of Design at Cooper Union Art College, NewYork, the Visiting Critic Advisor for photography at Harvard University and finally, CEO and Design Principal of his own advertising and design agency, which was rated as Fortune’s Top, Fastest Growing Companies in 1984. He was elected into the Human Factors Society and the International Council of Color Consultants. Robert holds 23 design, mechanical and chemical patents. During all this time, however, at night and on weekends, he turned into another person… a painter. Eventually his ever longing passion to invent new paintings consumed him.

In 1985, he turned his passion into his second career. Robert retired from industrial design and became a full time, contemporary fine art painter, moved to California’s Central Coast and prepared to paint for the rest of his life. Today, besides painting, he is an invited juror for international art shows, college and national painting workshop instructor, and teaches a fine art mentor program in central France. Selected as the honorary President of the International Society of Acrylic Painters, he holds a signature member position with them and with the Philadelphia Watercolor Society.

Roberts’ original paintings can be seen in six international galleries, on Starbucks Coffee mugs, Pearl Vodka bottles, eight tapestries and on fine art edition prints in upscale retail stores and cruise ships. Roberts’ work has received lifetime honors, including The Franklin Mint Award and the Philadelphia Water color Society’s prestigious Crest Medal Award for achievement in the arts previously awarded to Pablo Picasso, John Singer Sargent and Georgia O’Keeffe.

It is said “your heart doesn’t know how old you are.” For Bob, it’s true. Painting everyday in his small studio overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he feels like a kid again playing with color, design, paint and canvas, which reminds him of the saying, “It’s never too late to be what you should have always been.” Follow your bliss!

Robert teaches a variety of painting workshops to professional and emerging painters throughout the United States, Mexico and France. His workshops have historically changed artists’ lives forever. Daily, he receives letters and emails from artists who have attended his classes and whose careers have taken off in new and productive directions.  Robert Burridge has written and published two artist books: Loosen Up Studio Workbook and Art Marketing: The Business of Selling Your Art. Plus he has produced and starred in numerous teaching videos and DVDs. His wife, career manager and best friend, Kate, co-produced all of the above. He is also a contributing writer for Art Calendar magazine and has written features for various magazines, periodicals and newsletters.

ArtWorkshopVacations.com, Casa de los Artistas, Inc. Robert Masla Studios South is excited to welcome Bob Burridge back to the Casa, January 21 -28, 2017Bob is A Blast!

 Whales seen during the boat trip at Bob’s last workshop at the Casa

“Draw Like A Painter – Draw Like Crazy”  – Retreat in Paradise with Casa Co-Founder/Director Robert Masla

Robert Masla, Seiji Ozawa, ball point pen gesture drawing in sketchbook

“Drawing is the basis of art. A bad painter cannot draw. But one who draws well can always paint”. – Arshile Gorky


Bob Masla conducting a demo at the falls of Chicos Paradise near the Casa. 

Any great painter will tell you one of the best ways to improve your painting, aside from paint, paint, paint, is to draw. Drawing teaches you how to see and how to think visually, and how to paint! But how many artists take the time to draw? Drawing and painting is about taking shapes, lines, values, edges, etc. and putting them together into a cohesive whole that yields the artists desired effect. Similar in some ways to a jigsaw puzzle or a map, and at the same time a mirror, the artist needs to articulate all the various elements to work together to create something that is a cohesive whole and simultaneously actually far more than just the sum of its parts. It is infused with their vision, their energy.

Whether you haven’t drawn since you where a child or you are a professional painter – this fast moving fun workshop will have you drawing like crazy and learning as you play!

Join me for this studio and on location experience where you will be introduced to my unique and award wining teaching style. You will be encouraged to push the edges of your creative expression and discover new techniques and methods for mark making, rendering and confronting the “blank canvas”.

Robert Masla, Listening to the Mark, 16″ x 20″, charcoal, graphite and graphite wash on 150lb. Fabriano paper

Rembrandt, Girl Sleeping, brush with wash and white body color, (in the hair). Dutch, circa 1654. Could easily be a Sumi-e brush painting from eastern master.

 Piet Mondrian, Chrysanthemum, drawing, (conte, charcoal?), on paper, Dutch, circa 1908. Although known, along with Kandinsky, as one of the founders of Pure Abstraction and ultimately Non-Objective Painting, & most famous for his austere “grids” of color, Mondrian drew flowers through out his life. See an interesting article that appeared in the New York Times in 1991 coinciding with an exhibition of his flowers.

Piet Mondrian, Tree II, drawing, (conte, charcoal?), on paper, Dutch, circa 1912.

Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 3 (Trees), oil on canvas, Dutch, circa 1912.

“There is only 1 Rule in Drawing and Painting and the Creation of Art 

and that is –  

There are No Rules in Drawing and Painting and the Creation of Art.
There are No Limits on the Creative Spirit or the Methods She Chooses to Express Herself”

This is the first thing I tell participants in all of my workshops. There are no rules, there are however, methods, techniques, processes, formulas, helpful hints, that when applied, (or not), will yield somewhat predictable results, (we will explore a variety of these further through the course of this workshop). Each artist takes from these and uses, or not, these “methods”, experimenting, synthesizing there own vision, manifesting their own unique signature, (we will look at more of these as well). Like thumbprints, no two are exactly alike.  Which brings me to my second rule of No Rules, and that is….

There is Only One Right Way to Make Art

That Right Way is the Way You Choose to Express Your Vision

It Is All About the Intention of the Artist

Which brings us to the 3rd and final rule of No Rules, and that is…

There are No Mistakes
I’ll say it Again – There are No Mistakes in Drawing, Painting, the Making of Art.

There are Only Opportunities For Change and Growth

Again, it is all about the individual artists intention, wether the artist is working abstractly/ non-objectivley or they are working representationally, (what some people like to call realism, I prefer the more accurate description, naturalistic observational re-presentation). The issue is wether the work fulfills the artists intention or not. Right or Wrong is really not a part of the creative process, it is very linear and analytical while creativity is wholistic. It has its place in the self critique of the work, (often confused internally with the internal dialogue of “criticism”), – “mistakes” don’t really exist in the creative process, only aspects that don’t serve the intention and are a sign of a part being incongruous with the whole, (or not, depending on your intention) and thus creating opportunities for change and growth. The creative process, as I see it, is one of exploration, play, experimentation, a search to manifest the artists intention, (only the artist can decide what that is). It either does so, or it needs to be altered, changed, modified in some way, so that it works to manifest their intention. Again, there are methods, techniques, formulas, etc. that this workshop is designed to explore – the craft of drawing and painting (i.e knowing the potential and limitations of a given media, establishing values, or methods of mixing colors to achieve a desired result, etc. etc.), these will expedite or simplify the more “accurate” arrival at the artists intention. The more of these the individual artist masters, is like having more colors on your palette – so to speak, so you are not limited by your technical ability. There is more for you to choose from when the creative muse strikes.

Artist often change direction in the course of creating, it is part of the process, the exploration, the “becoming Whole” that makes the whole thing so exciting. It’s what I call listening to the paint or in drawing, listening to the mark. Sometimes we are just more present than other times, but the practice itself of drawing and painting is really about being present and observing, with all of our senses.

There are many examples of this change of mind, changing of direction, the exploration, in both old and contemporary master drawings and paintings. They are referred to as Petimenti or little repentances, (from Italian, pentimento, singular), sometimes they are only visible through X-ray or infrared reflectography. When they are left visible in the work for us to see it is actually quite fascinating as it gives insight into the mind and thought process of the artist. – Don’t get it “right” the first time, not a mistake – explore, experiment, it is an opportunity for change and growth.

Rembrandt after da Vincis' Last Supper72dpi

In this detail of a drawing by Rembrandt of Da Vinci’s Last Supper there are many examples of pedimenti, where Rembrandt “changed his mind”. Particularly around the figure of Christ, his head(s) and hand(s).
Stay tuned for further installments for Draw Like A Painter – Draw Like Crazy, and join me at one of the Workshop Locations.

Meanwhile, there is an exhibition, (which I hope to see), all about this idea of the evolving creative process, changing direction and questioning when is a work “finished”:

Unfinished – Thoughts Left Visible
is currently on exhibit in New York till September 4 at the new
Met Breuer



plein-air-self-portrait-233x300 Jim McVicker, Plein Air Self Portrait – 18″x14″, oil on canvas, 2015. First Place, Plein Air Magazine Salon Competition  $15,000 award plus cover story in the September 2015 issue

“I think that’s what the artist does, we (artists), can take something out there that I think for most people is just a jumble of visual assault, that they aren’t able to zero in on the beauty of it.” -from Jim McVicker: A Way of Seeing

photographed by Joseph Wilhelm, http://www.meridianfineart.net/

photographed by Joseph Wilhelm, http://www.meridianfineart.net/                                            Jim McVicker, Morning Light North Coast, oil on linen – 36″ x 60″

I had seen Jims’ work in puplications and had been impressed, and as I had mentioned in an earlier newsletter, I first met Jim when I was participating in the 10th Annual Sedona Plein Air Festival and Jim was the judge. He did a presentation of his life and work, and quite honestly, I was blown away. Not just by the quality of the work, which is magnificent, but by the quality of the artist. Jims’ passion and dedication exudes from his work and is matched by his humility and gentle nature. These are qualities I look for in an instructor. Jim McVicker’s reputation for painting what he sees, capturing light, and personal interpretation precede him. As an instructor, he is a natural: he is thorough, encouraging, and thoughtful. He spends copious amounts of quality time demonstrating techniques live on the canvas, within a variety of settings. As we travel to different exotic locations in and around the Casa, Jim will visit and coache each participant on-site sharing techniques and valuable feedback geared toward each painters needs and preferences.

rail crossing 12x16 Jim McVicker, Rail Crossing, oil on panel – 12″ x 16″

“I want the landscape itself, or still life, or the person I am painting to dictate the direction the painting is going to go. I want to, (I know it’s impossible but), I want to approach it as open as I can, so I’m not coming there with preconceived ideas about how I’m going to paint something. I want what I’m looking at to…kinda talk to me, which it does…” -from Jim McVicker: A Way of Seeing

Jim will paint a small demo the first morning to show his process for starting a landscape: “How I work over the entire canvas in order to develop the painting as a unified whole, working on land, trees, water and sky so the painting grows with a cohesive feeling and not as separate parts. I block in the painting so the whole canvas is covered and feels right within the first half hour, and then move on to develop the painting. I’ll work with the drawing of the landscape, with shapes, values, and color. I will describe my process, how I see and simplify what I see, with a focus on design and values which will give your work a completeness throughout the process.”

cresent city rocks, 12x16,oil on linen panelCresent City Rocks, 12×16, oil on linen panel

Join Jim as we paint on the beach in front of the Casa – (or in the open air Casa studio), with the fishing boats, exotic birds, waves, river, village and mountains all around us. Experience the gorgeous rock formations of the Mexican Pacific coast as we take a boat trip, (with opportunity of seeing whales, dolphin, tortoise and mantas) and then onto sketch and picnic at a beautiful beach. Spend the day painting incredible flora and vistas as we make the hacienda at the award winning Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens our studio where they serve us a delicious lunch. Step back in time as we spend the day painting in and around the zocalo of the quaint  mountain town of El Tuito, stopping only to have a sumptuous lunch in the patio garden of a hacienda style restaurant off the town square. We are excited to host Jim at the Casa in January, to watch him work first hand and to get to know him better. Experience all this and more when you join Jim McVicker for Plein Air Painting in Paradise at Casa de los Artistas.