Saturday, February 26, 2011

Take Heart in Simple Pleasures

We can’t change the world, but it will change us if we let it. The turmoil and chaos can and will effect us; so people, beware!

Oil Painting titled:  "Leap of Faith"

It’s difficult to remain calm when everything close to us and far is changing. When around the globe, the grip of panic and turbulance is everywhere. The only thing we can do is forge ahead; our dreams and our life purpose in tact.

What creative minds have to offer is exactly what the world needs now. There may be no market, and our financial returns may be small, but there is a void in the world that must be filled with beauty, curiosity, happiness and thoughtful insight.

Sometimes, I think we (meaning me) watch too much news. According to newscasters, society in general seems ready to crash and burn. Daily routines can stabalize our momentum and give us a quiet place to rest. This morning on our walk, the mating and nesting birds were exultant. The air was filled with song. New blades of grass were filling in winter’s bare spots with brilliant greens.

We stopped to watch a cyprus nursery where several herons watched over their nests. Two small beaks lifted from one nest and tiny wings began to flap. Soon they would be fluttering from branch to branch learning how to fly before leaving home.

                         Original Version
In the pond, we counted seven “fish nests” in the shallow waters. Over each nest, a fish swiveled its silver body back and forth to ward off other fish or prey until her spawn emerged. All was peaceful on the home front. “God’s in his heaven; all’s right with the world,” I thought. Whatever happens in the news, around the world, or even next door, cannot change this “inner” peace. We can – we must find solace in simple pleasures.

The painting featured today is from an earlier blog titled: “Reincarnation—a Painting is Born.” The painting has been revamped (for better or worse). I was disappointed with the composition of the original and felt it lacked pizzazz. I hope you enjoy my new painting titled: “Leap of Faith.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Holds Us Back; Fear of Failure or Fear of Success?

A fellow artist told the story of her friend who at 19 years of age won an art competition. The judges and her mentors raved about her work and suggested that she continue in this field. They encouraged her to push herself a little further and delve into the possibilities of a career as an illustrator.

Sadly, from that day forward, the young woman never picked up a brush again. If she were going to fail, she preferred to fail sooner than later and on her own terms. Now at the age of 62, she wonders what she may have missed? She’s now considering taking some art classes just to find out.

Skudenshavn, Norway

Was she really afraid of failure or was it success that had her on the run? Sometimes the work and effort to succeed is the real issue that people grapple with. Perhaps her fear of success was greater than her fear of failure? Perhaps she doubted her own ability to succeed or to produce consistently?

We all experience these feelings every time we put brush to canvas. At my first art show, my worst fear was that I might make a fool of myself. That my inexperience and lack of knowledge would shine through to the experts, and make me out a fool. After berating myself for negative thinking, I uttered a brief prayer. Afterward I thought: “Try it! You might be surprised. What have you got to lose?” I sold a painting to two Norwegian tourists within the first 30 minutes of that show, and I’ve never looked back.

Sandve, Norway

The worst thing an artist, a writer, or any professional can do is hammer or belittle him or her self. The world will criticize our efforts enough without us adding to the chatter. We must listen to the beating drum of our own dreams and aspirations. We must take the role of “cheerleader” and “coach” not brow beater and skeptic.

We must never fear success. Failing is a small price to pay for knowing we have at least tried. The real tragedy is always wondering what we could have been; could have achieved if only we hadn’t quit or given up.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reincarnation – a Painting Reborn

Painting is a process not a destination. You start with a plan and a vision. Through the creative mind and hard work, you either make a mess or magic. If a mess, an opportunity to create something else equally as beautiful.

Original Version

On the FineArt America web site (FAA), an artist recently sold a painting of two beautiful koi fish; white and red koi striking on a dark background. The artist admitted that the original painting had been of two Flemenco dancers dressed in red, but that the end result was less than satisfying.

The real magic occurred when the artist’s eye saw the potential to create something totally different. Accidents happen, sometimes for the best. I’ve discovered some unique and amazing color combinations by chance and experimentation. I prefer to mix my colors on canvas (except for skin tones). You get some interesting, eye-popping mixtures on canvas, and sometimes you get mud. Learning what works and what doesn’t is important.

What if I make a mistake? I simply wipe the paint off quickly and start again before it dries. Currently I’m reworking some of my old no-sale canvases and analyzing why they were not successful. Sometimes the reasons are small and I’ll see potential for reworking them. The painting featured today is one of those. I’m showing the original version, and the “work in progress.”

The original version had an egret perched on the forward bridge rail smack dab in the middle of the painting. Why I didn’t notice that in the beginning is beyond me. I covered up the egret with river water and placed a new egret more to the left. This decision gave me a new title for the painting: “Leap of Faith.”

Unfinished "work in progress"

The original painting seemed blah, to me. I’m trying to pump up the temperature of the colors by adding more yellow and pink to the mix. By the time I’m finished, the painting will have a richer glow and a more interesting composition (I hope). Self-doubt is always the enemy we battle. I look at the original and think maybe I should have moved the egret and left it at that?

What I learned overall is this: never give up on a painting. There is always hidden treasure waiting to be found. Some of the most unique and beautiful abstracts have come from this source. So next time you have a failure of any kind, remember: it’s not the end of the road. It may be just the beginning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Creative Temperament

Creative people are a temperamental lot. We have our ups and downs, our highs and lows. Take my friend, Annie. She has inspired me in so many ways. Her enthusiasm has kept me working, taking classes, and taking risks. But the other day at art league, she blurted out: “I’m so sick of painting!”

“No,” I thought. “Not Annie!” I was completely blown away.

We all have those days, those times in our lives when all the stressors come together at once and pile on. Normally, we can shrug it off. But all it takes to push us over the edge is a turn in our health or circumstances, and we find ourselves either spinning out of control or winding to a grinding halt.

Writing a blog is great discipline. I can’t afford to quit or allow myself to give in to pressure or self-pity. Although, I’ve come close. Take my newest painting, “Playing Dress-Up.” I shared with you a sketch and my plans, but I’ve had difficulty getting it off the ground. I planned to add my antique doll buggy; but if I do, will the little girl become a figment of the past or will she retain the spirit of a contemporary child dressed up in her mother’s clothes?

The first coats of paint are down. Here is where I show my vunerability and an artist’s struggle to find the story and the detail needed to complete the painting and really nail it down. Your input is always welcome.

I haven’t had a contest or competition for at least a year. If you have any ideas, I’m open to them. Last year I asked for submissions for my “With These Hands” series (three are completed at this point). The winner, the person whose photo I chose to paint, received a free print. I’m open to a drawing for a free painting or free greeting cards from a selection of paintings of your choice. Here is one submission that may yet form the basis of a painting. Please share your contest ideas in the comments area.

I’m also looking for a guest blogger. This willl give you a chance to feature your blog and style of art plus your feelings about your craft that you would like to share on my blog. Please contact me with your interest.

Friday, February 11, 2011


If you haven't already, I'd love to have you preview my picture book:  "Inez Ibis Flies Again, the Story of a Courageous Ibis who Never Gave Up. The box with four arrows at bottom right of the video gives you a larger screen. Use the arrows at bottom center for moving pages backward or forward. Thank you!

I would appreciate it so much if you'd leave your comments after the preview. Thanks!  Below is another NEW blog titled: "More Bang for Your Buck." Please continue reading.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Bang for Your Buck

I’ve discussed before the necessity of saving time and money as an artist. I shared common sense advice like painting over a failed or half-finished canvas, finding a good used or recycled art store for paper and paint; but there are other ways you can get “more bang for your buck.”

Since most of my paintings usually focus on one or two things, the process of finding a “painting within a painting” is difficult. I do use this “squaring off” technique on photographs to zoom in on what I want to paint. I did my “Swamp Angel” canvas and egret painting in this way, and only painted a quarter of the scenes I had photographed.

“Squaring Off” works especially well for water colorists, who sometimes damage a portion of their painting. By squaring off areas of the canvas or paper that are satisfactory, you may find a portion that is perfect for a smaller print, a greeting card, a miniature framed piece, or even a bookmark.

Unused, experimental, or failed artwork on watercolor paper makes wonderful bookmarks when torn into strips; perfect for artshow FREEBIES.

Tips from the Artist:

• If you want to display greeting cards in a unique way that attracts attention, purchase some mini clothespins in a craft shop and some heavy string or twine. Find the perfect place to tie your string in tiers, and attach your cards to the twine using the mini pins. This works well on a windy day. The cards flutter, but seem to stay in place. It does attract attention.

• Unlike watercolor, oil canvases need to breathe. Paintings may be matted, but never covered with glass which will eventually cause the oil to deteriorate over time. To keep the matts clean, simply spray the matt lightly a few times with a charcoal or pencil fixative.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Take a Quick Tour with Me

Welcome to AnfinsenArt. Please come on a tour with me and view my video.

For a broader look at my artwork, drawings and illlustrations. Go to

New Portrait – “Blonde Boy”

This painting was in progress, and I wanted to finish it before jumping into the girl with the antique buggy that I sketched for a previous blog. The canvas is 12x16 and when framed, will probably be 11x14. I want to continue my portrait work for two reasons: people are interesting subjects, and I want to increase my skills in this area.

I have several paintings on the backburner; one a small watercolor,and the other is still in the fluctuating imagination stage. I’m reworking some old canvases to save money. I have three I’m in the process of sanding and painting over.

I was always taught “waste not want not,” and I’m trying to live up to that motto. Another reason is that storage is at a premium at our house. Old canvases and blank canvases take up space. If I rework them and turn them into saleable pieces, they will be earning their keep at shows and possible sales.

I do portraits from photos, not only of people but pets. If you have a photo you’d like to turn into a portrait, please e-mail me at with your photo attachment, and I’ll give you a price list based on size (8x10, 11x14, 12xs16, etc.) and your choice of medium (oil, acrylic, watercolor).

My expertise is oil, but I work in all three mediums. Frames are extra plus mailing and handling. I use PayPal for payments.  I’d love to do a portrait of your loved one or pet. The paintings in this blog were all done from photos.

Today’s new painting was an oil on canvas titled: “Blonde Boy.” When my oldest son was about this age, he was a real tow-head. I lovingly called him: “blonde boy.” When he was especially mischevious or silly, I added: “blonde boy of the circus.”

I hope you enjoy my “Blonde Boy” (of the circus). He’s the offspring of the original version.