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Facts are Facts When Painting From Life

Published on June 7, 2010 under All Posts
Facts are Facts When Painting From Life

Hornbrook Barn, Opus 2” by Stefan Baumann

Particularly when painting from life, creating great art challenges not only the viewer but also the artists who create it.  Most artists paint what they know and do it to the best of their ability. Few artists take on creative work which challenges their knowledge and reveals their inabilities. However, when they do overcome this kind of challenge, they realize that the rewards are huge.  Artists who need ongoing reassurance that they are on the right track may miss the opportunity to reach past their comfort zone and experience the thrill of pleasing themselves with a painting that shares the truth of their view of the world.

Remember, what we do is not easy. A plumber learns his craft and does it. Teachers learn dates and events, and recall them often by looking at notes. Lawyers learn the facts of the law and put those facts to work. Artists are required to turn their insides out and express their thoughts and feelings for the world to see, and then the world judges whether it is good or not. In addition, a painting (often displaying the artist’s name) can be around forever, either hanging in a museum or sitting in someone’s garage, and everyone who sees it will have an opinion about it. It can be intimidating, but here are some pointers.

First, create a mission statement.

Every successful business creates a mission statement. Why would your art business be any different? Make sure that your mission statement inspires you and share it with everyone who you know.  You can even email your mission statement to me.

Second, find a teacher or a coach.

A truly great artist does not work in a vacuum. A good coach will request projects and keep you on schedule, and having their ongoing input will keep you on track.  Stay in touch with your coach and let him know about your successes as well as the difficulties you may be having with your projects.

Third, find a community of artists.

Most towns have nonprofit art guilds or a group that connects artists with other artists to share common interests, as well as promoting art shows, education, life drawing studios and artistic community events. Plein air painters and studio painters alike can benefit greatly when drawing and painting from life together.

Finally, we do not remember those artists who followed the rules more diligently than everyone else did, we remember those who created art by trusting themselves, often becoming the creators of “rules we inevitably follow.” In his day, Van Gogh was not popular or viewed as a great artist, but because his artistic expression was honest and reflected what he saw, today we think of him as an artistic genius. The reality is that he was no more a genius that you are. He just painted what he saw and he painted every day.


Plein air and Alla Prima artist Stefan Baumann, host of  the PBS painting series “The Grand View, America’s National Park through the eyes of an artist” and author of “Observations Of Art and Nature,” travels in his vintage travel trailer painting America’s western landscape. Baumann paints outdoors with oils and canvas capturing stunning vistas, wildlife, western landscapes, National Parks and still life, thrilling art collectors throughout the world.  He has many international collectors acquiring his paintings as investments. His painting style is called Romantic Realism with Luminism, and the extraordinary way he captures the effect of light is a truly an American style used to paint the Western landscape.  He can be seen painting in Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks. Baumann’s “how to paint” DVDs, filmed on location in the National Parks, are the very best on the art instruction market.


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