Sunday, April 29, 2012

What's fun about being an Artist?

Plein air painting on the sidewalk!

Happy Spring!
 Jaime Howard
SCAD Sidewalk Arts 2012 

News bulletin: Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's Spring, so it's time for the annual Savannah College of Art and Design Sidewalk Arts Festival, part of Alumni Weekend here in the charming city of Savannah, Georgia.

Later today I’ll be competing against hundreds of sidewalk chalk artists. Forsyth Park will be jammed with thousands of onlookers young and old, kids and dogs, watching as SCAD students and alumni squat on the cement and attempt to create something memorable with the most fragile and temporary of mediums – chalk.

SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival 2011
My piece of the sidewalk

The first year I entered the contest it rained. Guess what happens to chalk when it gets rained on? You guessed it – about 75% of the drawings were washed into the storm drains, mine included.

Last year rain wasn’t predicted. The weather was perfect and we picked a spot in the shade. After 3 hours of squatting on the sidewalk in a rainbow of chalk dust, fish were swimming on the sidewalk, my clothes were as colorful as my drawing and my hands were sore from blending colors into the rough cement. 

It was a day pretty close to perfection. As an added bonus, my drawing took 2nd place in the Alumni division complete with a generous cash prize.

News update: Sunday April 29, 2012: 

Today was another perfect day in the park with fellow artists and hordes of art lovers as well. My image was strategically selected to portray a happy day in Spring and my helper, Bonnie and I had a ball trying to perfect it.

Grating the chalk to make paint
Painting is so much easier

Remembering the experience of rubbing the skin off my palms last year, I decided to make paint. A kitchen grater, a stick of chalk and some water are all it takes to make chalk paint. With a house painting brush as the applicator, my palms were saved. 

We had a blast - there's something about the combination of being outside, working as fast as I can with a group of friendly and like-minded people that makes me happy. Now that I think about it, these are the same reasons, I'm a plein air painter. 

Let's just let loose and have some fun with art. This is what I hope I'm teaching my students along with techniques of painting and drawing.

I'd like to hear your story of the most fun you ever had in the process of making art. When was it? Where were you? Were you alone or with someone else? What did you create? 

                           Go on, get out there and have some fun!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Who Am I Writing For?

On my quest to write an entertaining and informative blog, I signed up for Blog Triage class with the blog docs, Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris. Today's assignment is to describe the people that I hope will visit and read my blog. 
As an artist and art teacher, I'm passionate about two things - making art and encouraging others. My ideal reader would be one who is interested in the process of creativity and wants to nurture it in their own life.

Tree of Blogging Inspiration
I write to communicate with artists, art lovers and artists-wannabes, with accomplished artists who are making work that I love and with those folks who have the creative urge and aren't quite sure what to do with it.

I want to speak to people who create in any way- through music, dance, writing, cooking and through drawing and painting as well - since the creative urges and processes are the same even though the end products may be different.

I write to create a dialog with others so my ideal reader is one who will respond to my writing, comment on it with insights of their own and share the information with others who might be interested. If you have commented on my blog or shared it with others, I sincerely thank you and want you to know that your comments do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Hopefully, with this class, I'll learn ways to notice and appreciate my readers even more!

If you're new to my blog, welcome! My hope is that you find something fun and encouraging here and that you stay tuned to this channel.

I've taken several classes with ArtBizCoach Alyson Stanfield and recommend her highly. She is a wonderful resource for artists who want to learn the "business" end of the art business.

Check out her website. Here's a link to her blog: and here's a link to Cynthia's blog:

Okay, readers, let's see what effect the Blog Triage class has on my ability to communicate with you in a meaningful way. Let us know what you think!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Feel the Frustration (and do it anyway)

Easter Sunrise over Atlantic Beach
How lovely to sit expectantly at the edge of the sea, watching the sky change colors every moment as the sun rises out of the ocean. How exciting to wait for the perfect moment to begin painting. How breathtaking, inspiring and frustrating!

I realized on this Easter morning that each day, I attempt the impossible. I get up before dawn, try to accurately time my arrival at the beach, find the perfect parking spot, ready my paint box, mix the colors I predict will appear in the sky and wait for the perfect moment to begin painting. I feel the thrill of each color as it appears in the morning sky and transforms into another color before my eyes. Within 15 minutes the sky turns from indigo to bright white daylight, displaying every color in the rainbow (some that I can't even identify: Pinkey-orange? Bluish-yellow?) as the sun makes it's way over the horizon. Clouds appear, transform, change color and are blown away as others take their place. It's a phantasmagoria! How can I even attempt to paint that?

It's enough to make me want to give up this silly endeavor. Who can paint the sky as it changes from second to second? Not me! Better painters than I have attempted it - who do I think I am?

Every day I want to give up! It seems like a dumb idea to start the day with an activity that makes you feel like a failure before you've even begun and it feels like hubris to even attempt it.

I could take a gorgeous photograph each morning, come home to my cozy studio and work from that. I could take hours to duplicate what was in the sky at one particular moment. I could, but where's the challenge, where's the thrill in that?

I know some of my skyscapes are decent paintings; when I get them home and am not comparing them to the actual sky, I even like some of them. But none of them even begin to capture what is in front of my eyes each morning as I survey what God is creating. I feel His effortlessness, the ease with which He creates, His grace. He breathes the sky into being.

God paints with light - my paints are made from earthly pigments - from dirt. How can light be painted with dirt? How can colors made from dirt ever approach colors made from light?

The gap between this effortlessness and my struggle is a chasm I cannot bridge.
It is the gap between God's perfection and my imperfection.

When I was younger, I had a theory: that when artists die and go to Heaven, they get to take turns creating the sunrises and sunsets. Sometimes, I think I can identify whose turn it was today. Monet paints the soft, fuzzy, pastel skies. Van Gogh and Gaughin the more colorfully dramatic.

I want to paint with a thought, a breath, by pointing a finger and sweeping it across the sky to paint orangey-pink clouds on an azure sky.I like to imagine it will be that easy when its my turn to paint from a Heavenly vantage point.

Until then, I won't give up. I'll struggle with my earthly pigments as I continue to be amazed, awed and humbled before Heavenly events.

Carry on, fellow artists, carry on.