Meeting Notes July 7, 2016

At today’s meeting Judith, Thomas, Susan, Diane, Lisa, Jerry, Jeanie, Jill M(new), Elo, Sue B, Annie, Tom D, Mike, Ward, Anna, and me Celeste.

Today’s suggested table topic: Feedback from others about your painting-- how do you feel about it? What can you tell us about it?

Celeste: I have told this story before, but it is fitting for this topic. When I was first painting and  in a show I was accompanied by a friend to the reception. When we arrived she went right up to my painting immediately and complained about it. It irritated me, but years later when I looked at the painting I recognized that her specific criticism was actually valid. I am showing a recent still life and a painting of Elk Rock.

Mike: I have been trained as a coach. My mantra when I was coaching was “Feedback is a gift”. I said that to one of my students once and he replied: “It may be a gift, but I want to send this one back to Nordstrom”. (laughter)! Are we really trying to get information about the painting we do or are we in fact just wanting to
be told what we want to hear? When you get feedback it is like holding up the mirror to yourself. Ask yourself ---is this information genuinely useful or not?

Tom: I have been told recently that my paintings are tonalist. I hope it is a compliment! My wife has a degree in art that she constantly reminds me about (laughter)! I do listen to her and others but I will bristle about it if I get too much of it or if I disagree with it. I am showing a recent plein air painting. I added the figures for scale.

Sue: I have been taking classes at Radius. We painted monochromatically last time. I am accepting feedback because I am open to it!

Annie: I was in a new drawing group. A person there said “oh I like your style”. I didn't particularly like that comment because to me style is something that is can be construed as commercial or artificial. I found this book that I liked that has a great passage about how style is simply the result of your process. I am showing you pieces that I have done that seem to show “process”. I really enjoyed this one where I combined watercolor and gouache. You can tell from looking at most of these pieces that I mixed media and experimented.

Elo: It is difficult because a lot of people won't say what they do or don't like about your painting! My child is the best at it. He doesn't mind telling me what he does or doesn't like about my painting and I appreciate the honest response. I am showing you some paintings in my sketchbook that I did while on vacation.

Ward: I could categorize myself a little bit as a “Praise Junkie”! (Laughter)! When I was young I did not get a lot of encouragement (in art) so I confess that it lifts me up when I am complimented. I wish I could go back in time and reclaim some of the paintings that are out in the world that my then-girlfriend said were so fantastic! (Laughter)! I realize now that they weren’t as good as she said they were! Facebook has been great for me because I love putting up my painting and getting feedback about it. It is encouraging and motivating! (and I am better now at really knowing what is good or not-so-good). I heard an quote along the lines of : You are never as good as you think you are and you are never as bad as you think you are! I am showing you a recent painting.

Judith: I have a story about this that fits this topic.  (I have told before). Years ago I went to the Gage academy. As a class we were all supposed to be painting in a very specific classical and traditional way. I became defiant and I was aggravated enough that I painted a painting that was a “protest-type” painting. It went completely against the method that we were supposed to do. It was of a woman walking out of a fire and I named it “How do you want your eggs?” (Laughter)! All the students submitted to the school’s most important show and I submitted this painting. The juror for the show was from France and highly respected. I won first place! All of the other students really hated me over that (laughter)! I was then “exulted” as the winner at several school events.  And all this was based on a painting that had nothing to do with what they were teaching!! (Applause!)

Jill: I am new (welcome Jill). I used to paint a long time ago. I was encouraged to come today by my friend Genie. I am happy to be here!

Genie: My favorite critic is my daughter who will tell me that everything that I do is amazing! (Laughter)! Seriously, I like this book called “Art and Fear”. In the book it reminds us that courting approval puts a dangerous amount of power in the hands of others. I have brought in two paintings that I am done for the lavender festival. I find plein air painting to be a challenge but I am committing to it!

Jerry: Sometime ago in my studio brought in a hatchet person –I think her purpose was to give feedback to each artist in our cooperative studio. When she got to me and my studio she looked around and said “I don’t see your voice anywhere” “I can’t see any of these as  distinctly yours”. I asked her “Well, is your eyesight  all right”? (Laughter)! Lucian Freud once told a story about how someone could not identify his work as his--and he took it as a great compliment! I have worked with Jef Gunn and he has given talks on how to be honest without hurting someone. As a result of my work with Jef Gunn I now go to a once a month critique group that I find so valuable. It has been going on for nine years. These are people who I respect and I respect their view. I have brought in two paintings I did for the lavender festival.

Lisa: I think that feedback is very valuable. However, I will judge the person who is giving it to me! It will mean a lot to me if I respect a person as an artist. Sometime ago I took a workshop with a artist and we painted from the model. This was the first time I painted from a live model. This was different…the model was asked to give her opinion about the paintings that we did!! The model said this about my painting: “You’ve made me look very strong”. 
Also I painted a small painting from Stephanie Cissna’s photo reference of the lavender field. (Thanks Stephanie). I haven’t been able to paint outdoors because of my knee!

Diane: I’ve let a lot of people tell me what to do and it’s confusing! Recently someone told me something about my work, but I absolutely did not agree in my heart. I realize she was looking through her lens and not mine.

Tim: I was out in the field painting and in my mind my painting had gone “sideways”. I was suffering and then a boy came up with his father. I went on painting while the boy spent a lot of time walking back-and-forth viewing my painting from different angles. Finally he said “That's good!” and then they left. (Laughter) I am showing a recent large plein air painting (that I finished in the studio).

Susan: When we were painting at Studio 30 I loved the critique at the end! That was fantastic. I like to paint alone, but I also need and want to be with other people! When I studied with Albert Handell he pointed out that I seemed to be avoiding painting hands and after that I spent the whole winter painting hands! I stopped avoiding them!
 I am showing a painting that I did recently for the lavender festival.

Anna: People think because you're “out there”(painting outdoors) you must want feedback! (Laughter)! Other artists are willing to give you feedback which can be so helpful. Someone who has consulted with me about my work is Karen Lewis. Sometimes you need some encouragement. Diane Marks-Bestor is a great encourager. Karen Lewis once said to me “I think you have guts”. That meant a lot to me! It’s true, I do want to be bold! Someone else said “If it scares you that you should paint it”. I am showing three paintings that I did for the lavender festival.

Thomas: When I was in art school a lot of the critique sessions turned into everything but critique! That is just total bulls&*t. For critique to be effective you must divorce yourself from your work. You can also be suspicious of people who may want to be build themselves up by somehow tearing you down! Sometimes is not about you at all. There is a big difference between preference and opinion. Preference is “I like “or “I don’t like”.  That is just a statement of preference. But if it is an opinion it is preference with a “because” attached to it. “I like this because….(and the reason)”. That is something that can be constructive criticism.
Tim and I went out together to paint. Tim is such good company! I travel a lot and it is so nice to come home to Oregon. I painted this painting as a warm-up to the larger painting that I did in the field.

Celeste (final note): Here is our "policy on Membership"

Policy on Membership

"Alla Prima Portland has no preference as to style, materials used, or artistic interpretation. These are all personal choices that contribute to the unique expression of each artist while they paint ‘en plein air’ or in the studio. Likewise, we think honest work by novice or professional is equally valid. The challenges and rewards of plein air (and direct observation) painting are open to all". There are no dues.


Ward Stroud painted a demonstration at Dick Blick today. He is also going to do a workshop at OSA. He has completed filming for an instructional DVD! (Congratulations. Ward!)

Thomas Kitts open enrollment for Ask an artist. (Online mentoring):

Aimee Erickson at the University Club. Did you miss Aimee’s reception? We’re planning a field trip to see her (stellar)! work on exhibit, next Thursday July 14 (after sketching) 1:00pm (“RSVP” to me at 1225 SW 6th

Lavender Festival  

Chehalem Cultural Center, 415 E Sheridan St. Newborn Reception: July 8 6:30-9 (see invitation below)

Susan Kuznitsky Tonight! Oregon Society of Artists
Evening Demonstration -
Thursday, July 7:
"My Love Affair with Pastels II"
Susan will demonstrate a mixed media approach to pastel painting using sanded paper and an underpainting. Watch her create a beautiful rich and luminous effect by building up layers from dark to light, using a variety of hard and soft pastels and pastel pencils.
Critique session at 6pm. Demonstration at 7pm.
2185 SW Park

James Elkin’s book that Jerry Dickason told us about:

First Friday at Art on the Boulevard (Mitch Baird)

First Thursday Portland:

Erik Sandgren Coastal paint out begins July 11

OSA call to artists:

Gallery Nine at the blue sky has a reception July 7 (First Thursday) for the eyes project:
122 NW 8th

Our Facebook page:

Next meeting July 14: suggested table topic BLUES and PURPLES ? What can you tell us about your experience with blues and purples? Tell us anything you want about the colors blue and/or purple.

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