Master of Water - Frits Thaulow

Water is one of the most beautiful things to paint but also one of the hardest to master. This is why I want to introduce you to Fritz Thaulow. I was introduced to this painter by Bill and Fran Reese. Very thankful for that! He really made me think more about simplification. In this short video you will see me discuss few of his painting and see why he is truly one of the best at painting water. 

Please leave any comments below.

Hardwork vs Talent

gabor svagrik_oil painting

All of us are on different art levels.  There will always be someone who knows less or more than you. This is what makes our art community such a rich source of knowledge and inspiration. We give each other hope and support to improve our craft. I have artist friends whose work I admire and always drool when I visit their studios.  It humbles me, and upon leaving, it makes me realize that I have so much more to learn.

On the other hand,  there are painters that have less knowledge and experience than I, and I feel blessed to share what I have learned. Actually the very focus of this blog is to help others anyway I can. I want to help you become more knowledgeable and confident in your art journey.  

Out Last Them

With that said, I truly believe that we all have the ability to improve no matter what stage we are at.  We all have the ability to gain knowledge. Do not let anyone convince you that you won’t improve and become better at your craft.  Time spent is time gained.

There are artists that have more “natural” talent than others. But talent, we all know, will only take you so far. I know myself that I have out lasted most of those whom at the time seemed to have more drawing skills, better brushwork, and well designed paintings than I,  because I never gave up the hard work and hours at the easel even when I felt that I was going backwards.

I never will forget what Larry Bird said about talent. He told the reporter: “he was notas talented as some players he played alongside, and knew he needed to practice 3 times as hard as them because of it.”  He went on to become a basketball legend.

I know he was a basketball player, but this also relates to our journey. Persistence and hard work will always trump talent. I am sure you heard the saying:  “Talent is only 1 percent the other 99 percent is hard work.” It is true!  Hard work at the easel won’t guarantee you success,  but it will sure allow you a chance to shine above the others.

Read this great article about Larry Bird

2 Ways to Keep Your Colors Clean

You might be new to my teachings & my blog,  but in my online courses and physical workshops I tell my students to “keep your colors clean.” When I was learning how to draw and paint, many moons ago, I never thought about cleaning my brushes. All I wanted to do was paint and have fun. The truth is the more I painted the more I saw the benefit of keeping my colors clean. Here are 2 techniques to accomplish clean colors.

painters palette

1 | Palette
When you squeeze out fresh colors they are pure. No other color has been mixed into them. As your painting progresses you will dip your brush into other colors and mix them on your palette to create another color and so on until your palette is full. 

From time to time use your palette knife to scrape down your mixed colors and toss them out.  This will keep your freshly squeezed paint pure and your colors accurate. This is especially important for the sky area of a painting. I have seen painters with green skies on a sunny day. This is because they mixed a color that did not start from a clean pure white.

2 | Brush & Paper Towel

I see this problem far too often in my workshops. Painter’s wiping their brushes on the same paper towel throughout half of the painting. This is a NO, NO. If you do this then your brushes will not be clean, especially when you need to get into color delicate areas. For example, when softening an edge on a distant mountain or pulling a dark tree top into the sky is when a clean brush will really matter.

Keep a roll of paper towels under your arm. Clean your brushes on 1 paper towel no more than four to five times, and then toss it.  There is no need to buy expensive paper towels. The point here is to clean and toss. Also having too much paint thinner in a towel is not healthy, so it is a win-win.

The bi-product of the two above techniques will be the bright freshness in your paintings.  I guarantee if you practice this the next time you step in front of the easel you will be more conscious the ideas I stated above and start to see improvement in your color cleanness.

[video] How much detail is too much?

When it comes to detail there is no rule book. I am leaning more toward poetry which makes me a painterly painter. I do think there is, such thing as, too much detail in a painting.  In this video post I will show you how I translated a photo reference which had a lot of detail into a simplified painting. 

If you want to see my instructions in a full feature video CLICK here to find out more. 


How to handle commissions

If we think about it, art historians mention often how many paintings from the past were solely commissioned. Generally, most notable artists either worked for the church or for very wealthy patrons that wanted portraits done of their family members.

old lyme,Connecticut,oil painting,gabor svagrik

Many great artists we've admired over the past 150 years have continuously painted commissions. This was not uncommon.  Edgar Payne used to paint theater backdrops and John Singer Sargent painted wealthy families. For the most part commissioned work requires an artist to have a special kind of personality. You have to be able to communicate with the client and find a way to place their idea into your painting and make it all work.  Often this way of working can quickly turn a painting into an illustration.

I believe the invention of the camera actually freed artists up from this type of work. Patrons can now take pictures of subject matter they want to keep & adore forever. Now it is more of a luxury to commission an artist to do a specific painting for an individual or family.  As we know not everyone can afford these beautiful paintings they so desire, but the camera can take a picture and try to capture that beauty for them. Fine art paintings are still about provoking an emotion in the viewer and seeing the passion of the artists creativity brought to life through their brushwork on canvas. In my opinion, the camera will still have a very hard time capturing these same things.

So yes, technology has taken over for being able to quickly capture a moment in time, but paintings will remain a part of our future to express emotions.

These are my "5 tips" to consider if you do get a request to paint a commission:
1) Make sure you have set guidelines before you begin. Sometimes this may be a sign off/approval on the smaller study first.

2) Discuss how many changes you are willing to make before the client is satisfied.

3) Decide if you will allow the client the right to refuse the piece once it is finished.

4) Ask for a down payment, whether it is 1/4 or 1/2 of the final price.

5) Be sure to discuss framing choices and shipping costs

Remember that the choice is ultimately yours to take on a commission, or have the client choose from work you already have completed. I do not paint commissions any more. I will though, allow a collector, to pick from a specific area I have painted in and work up other pieces they may like. This way there is no obligation to purchase, and I have the freedom to design the painting and add my artistic poetry. Once completed if they like it great! If not, this piece will remain until it finds the perfect home. Bottom line be very happy and proud  with each piece that you release from your studio, because you never know where it may end up in the future with your name etched on the canvas for all to see.

What I look for in a painting

This was a critique giving to a student in my online course - Concept to Canvas.  She allowed me to post this, so others could learn from what I explained and apply it to their own work. No matter what the medium,  the fundamentals are the fundamentals. This is so important to know for growth in your own paintings.  

If you want to see my instructions in a full feature video CLICK here to find out more.