Recharging the Creative Batteries

One of the most difficult aspects of the life of an artist is that we work in relative isolation.  Let’s face it, we usually don’t create beautiful art pieces surrounded by friends.  We work alone.  This creates a problem.  Because we don’t work with others and don’t normally get much instructive feedback our work can become very stagnant.  As artists, this stagnation allows us to fall into habits and we often need others to help us break out of those habits.

I found myself in one of those funks and knew that I needed my friend and mentor, David Jansen, to help push me forward. I have been studying painting, design, color theory and other artistic concepts with David for many years. Ours started as a teacher/student relationship but over the years has ripened into a rich and rewarding friendship. So when I need a shot of inspiration I make the trip to Elizabethtown Pennsylvania and the lovely home of David and Martha Jansen. This past weekend David and I had a “paint-in”. We literally painted for 12 hours a day and in that time I learned some new techniques and completed 5 paintings including one furniture piece, two canvases, one large wooden platter and one large wooden tray. The only piece of these five that will be sold is probably the furniture piece as the others represent a landmark in my artistic journey that I can study and reflect on.

As most of you know, I have decided to focus most of my artistic energy on floral painting. Painting floral compositions provides me with the enormous challenge of capturing the fleeting nature of God’s creations. I enjoy painting other things including landscapes, fruit and some fun, folk art inspired pieces but it is the florals that I will study for the rest of my life. Also, florals work wonderfully on the art furniture that we love to create in the Decayed Elegance style.

Anyhow, I went to the Jansen Art Studio and spent a couple of days painting and creating, breaking old habits, seeing things in a different way and sharpening my skills. I thought I would share some of the results with you. I will save the furniture piece for another post but the other pieces are featured here. Keep in mind that these pieces are all inspired by my friend and mentor David Jansen.

The first piece was a large canvas, 18″ X 24″ that I wanted to paint with oversized flowers, and big, dramatic highlights that would look a bit overdone if you were viewing the canvas up close but would look wonderful if viewed from a distance. This was not a study in subtlety but in drama.


The next painting that I tackled was a large wooden plate.  On this piece, I practiced a new technique that I had recently learned which involves using your finger to push away the top layer of color to reveal a mosaic of color underneath.  This technique always provides a bit of a spontaneous surprise and freshness to the painting.




The next challenge was a smaller canvas that included a cooler background, flowers viewed from various angles and a butterfly.  This painting seemed to evolve rather quickly and smoothly and the end result is so nice.




And finally, here’s the large wooden tray with the scalloped edge.  I really didn’t have a goal in mind with this piece but I was more focused on putting a bunch of concepts together.  Painted on a dark background, this piece has a bit more contrast and visual pop.



One of the most pleasurable parts of my painting weekends are when I come home and Cathy and I discuss the finished pieces.  Cathy’s favorite piece is definitely the large scalloped tray.  How about you?  Is there one piece from my “paint in” that particularly appeals to you?  Let me know what you think.  Thanks for the visit.

Until next time,



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