Archive for April, 2008

A quick note on good stuff y’all may or may not know about.

If you ever had the chance to experience the secret-formula Ritmo charcoal pencils, you know how creamy and gorgeously black they were. Ritmo stopped making these several (3? 5?) years ago, and it’s rumored that Disney immediately went out and scoured the world to buy up whatever was left.

Since then, General Pencil Company has managed to come up with its own formula that’s damn close. I’ve bought several packages of these things, called “Primo” (and even labeled with lettering that is no doubt intentionally reminiscent of “Ritmo”) and I LOVE ‘em. They’re sold only in a 4-pack, with B, HB, 3B, and a white pencil and an eraser. Doesn’t matter – all 3 of the charcoals are insanely black and wonderful. In fact, I’ve done a totally scientific side-by-side comparison* with my few remaining Ritmo pencils, and I actually like the Primos better. (*I used a Primo, then a Ritmo).

Also cool: the eraser in the pack – a weird black thing with “Factis” printed on it – is the ONLY eraser I’ve ever found that can actually remove Conte, and take off very soft black charcoal as well (with some smearing).


P.S. Off to an agility trial, so no posts until sometime next week.


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Two weeks ago I painted a decent size piece (24 x 32) and the whole thing flowed. I felt good about it from beginning to end, and still do, which is rare – frequently it takes me some distance of time to like a painting. The new image is now gracing my website homepage. (It needs a title – suggestions??)

This past week I painted another largish piece, and it was a struggle the whole way through – the image kept needing adjustments in proportions and relationships. By Friday afternoon I was just slapping the paint on to ‘complete’ it, tired of the fight I was having with the damn thing.

My husband came up to see the painting and raved about it. It’s nice that someone else likes it, but I doubt it’ll ever see a frame and gallery. A week of painting with nothing to show for it. Howzcum I can do something that works so well and turn right around and fall off the horse?

It’s weeks like this that make me think life would be so much easier if I were flipping burgers or washing cars or doing some other kind of honest labor.


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Short story: I’m getting emails from various artist sources about this bill, which – supposedly – is pending before Congress, on a fast track for passage before summer recess, and will render life for artists and other creative types unprofitable and worthless because any douchebag who wants to will be able to rip off our image copyrights.

Long story: an “Orphaned Works” bill was before Congress in 2006 but did not pass at that time. The idea is to allow things that have been in apparent copyright forever (decades) and for which no clear copyright owner exists to enter the public domain. The Copyright office appears to be legitimately concerned about how to handle this situation (who owns the copyright on your parents’ wedding photos? could you even find the original photographer?) without endangering current creative image generation.

The story that is generating all the hysteria, due to its “THE SKY IS FALLING OMG” tone, is:

A lucid post – and pretty much a complete rebuttal to the panic and FUD – is at

Basically, this post affirms that our current state of affairs – I have a copyright on any painting of mine the instant I finish it – will remain the same. And that it’s my problem to track down anyone with the temerity to infringe my copyright (again, as it is now). Please read the Radio Free Meredith post . . . and breath a sigh of relief. But of course, it’s worth staying informed on the issue.


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suspended-animation.jpgToday, a workshop participant emailed me to ask, paraphrased:

Do you find that art is more mental than physical?

…which is a perspective I’d not considered before – but the answer, for me, is YES. I spend loads more time sketching, messing with values, trying different compositions, etcetera… than I do actually painting. My prep sketchbooks are full of ideas which haven’t been painted, and most never will be.

Once in a while, I’ll do something unpremeditated – just for the play of slapping colorful, buttery paints around on a surface. And sometimes these even turn out, as witness this piece (painted in a day, based on an idea that popped into my head the night before). Of course, if I’m painting en plein aire, then that’s without planning – but it’s also small and the investment of just an hour or two. Doing anything else requires more; I mean, how could someone just plop a 30×40 canvas on the easel and start in on a representational piece without a roadmap of some sort?

Maybe there are savants who can do that…but I ain’t one of ‘em.

Painting: “Suspended Animation”, 20×11 oil on Yupo – Legacy Contemporary, Scottsdale – 480.945.1113

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This popped up in my email spam folder today:

Welcome to the Oil Painting Studio.
We have been successfully working with fine art galleries and artists internationally for over a decade. Our museum quality realism is created by 25 of Chinese most skilled artists. Each artist has been formally trained and has received their degree from many of the finest art universities in China and abroad. Our artists have afforded our numerous clients, including art galleries, established artists, private parties and other interested individuals, the ability to increase their customer base, realize a much higher profit margin and acquire perfectly executed fine art oil paintings. We are presently working with galleries, fine artists, photographers, digital designers and private parties who are interested in realizing a faster way to create a highly lucrative environment by offering extremely high quality oil paintings at the most competitive pricing in the industry. [...etcetera...emphasis mine]

I’m speechless; I hardly know what to say to the proposition herein, never mind the errors of grammar. Are there actually artists who, like some big corporation, are “offshoring” the production of their paintings???

I thought art would be one of the great bastions of endeavor that couldn’t be mechanized or automated. Is this actually believable?

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It’s not very creative if you keep tilling the same field over and over. That makes you an art farmer, not a creative artist. (Gordon Matheson)

Since several recent posts referenced Thomas Kinkade, this seemed a good time to touch on the subject of ‘retilling ground’.

I revisit subject matter – any artist does – but, given my very low tolerance for repetition and equally low threshold for boredom, each painting needs to be different enough from anything else I’ve ever painted to keep me excited. I’ve painted several bronc-riding images, and no doubt will paint many more – the attitudes, positions, light, color, my own interpretations of composition – all should serve to expand my horizons on the topic in some way. The same holds true for bison, bears, or barrel-racers.

In fact, this need to explore probably nudged me out of the I-only-paint-wildlife category. I love animals, obviously…but wild animals, 99% of the time, are standing around or eating or lying down, or some combination of the above. The other 1% of the time they’re mating, or trying to kill / avoid being killed. This means that my chances of seeing them in a state of high excitement and action are very low. Once you’ve painted three or ten images of bison mostly standing around, you’re looking for something else to do. Rodeo, on the other hand, is guaranteed nonstop action, excitement, and color for two hours or more. The variations of position, color, and light are almost infinite.

The real point here is about artistic growth. There are plenty of artists who become known for something and render it well…and then coast along there, not really pushing or growing. How much more interesting to continue in a quest to say something wonderful and original! I plan to paint until I drop dead at my easel, and if I’m to stay engaged for the next 4+ decades, I’d better be pushing all the while.


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The April Fool’s edition of the Artzine generated plenty of replies which kept me chuckling all day. Some of the best are shared here. (If you didn’t see the Artzine itself, it’s attached as the first reply to this post).

Dear Ms. Chapman,

You have defaced and violated one of my “Color of Light” Masterpieces. You will hear from legal team in the near, near future.

Sincerely, Thomas Kinkade, Master of what I do

P.S. Who did the bra belong to?
– Ernest F.

OMG. Drop the brush and RUN, do not walk, RUN AWAY from the Kinkade style. For the love of all that is good and right in this world!!
– Ellen C.

I hope we don’t see this print in the next hotel we stay in…
– Emmy I.


Dear Julie,

I am soooo relieved to learn that you have given up your futile attempt to challenge the dominant species of male nature painters, and have assumed your place amongst the legions of highlighters and other helpful drones at Thomas Kinkade Art-of Light-Industries, LLC. This is the path to the true fulfillment of your ambitions!


“Big” Dick Shaney
Misguided Artist Correctional Institute
– Allan A.


OH MY GOD, SHE’S GONE TO KINKADE!!! Please, please call Homeland security on this- dangerous people like her need to be re-programmed ASAP…
– Diane G.


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