Color temperature!

While my paintings are mostly value based they also depend a great deal on color temperature. Color change does not necessarily mean value change, although a lot of times it is the case. So color change can therefore mean a change in value (intensity) or a change in temperature, or both!
This is important stuff because temperature affects our perception of form just as much as light. The change of value and temperature of a three dimensional object depends on how low or how intense the light source is. In low light conditions, the temperature changes are more obvious since there is no significant change in value!
Just take a look at some impressionists like Van Gogh or Cezanne who often painted work that is completely devoid of light and purely based on change of color temperature!

Great painting very much depends on subtle color (temperature) changes. It is at least as important as understanding your values.
When I first started painting this whole point was completely lost on me. Many artists are not aware of this, instead assuming that transitions in three dimensional objects are achieved with value change only! Often we see work that is completely based on overly dramatic, highly graphic and intense value changes and not much else!

Studying the old masters like JSS or Zorn will quickly show how the success of their work not only depends on values but ever so subtle transitions in color temperature. A humbling lesson on how to achieve lively, beautiful and timeless art!

Workshop at Daniel Smith, Seattle!

I am super happy to announce that I was invited to teach a two day workshop at the Daniel Smith store in Seattle, Washington! Dates are August 22-23, 2015. Free painting demo on Friday, August 21!
Not only that, I will also get a factory tour and finally meet the person who is behind all this and has supported me over the years!
Please follow this link for all the details:
http://seattledanielsmithevents.blogspot.com/

In case you have missed my article on pigments, here it is:
http://www.danielsmith.com/content–id-813?utm_source=Body&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Web&utm_campaign=022415FrankEber

My sincere gratitude goes out to Katherine and Joseph for their support and quick work! Thank you!

Watercolor – Watermedia

I am a painter’s painter. I don’t really care about watercolor. In fact, years ago I used to not like the medium.
When I did my painting apprenticeship in the early 90’s we painted in gouache and acrylics. Later, I would use gouache and egg tempera before trying to stay more transparent. More and more people who call themselves watercolor painters these days are actually using lots of white paint, mostly gouache, Chinese white or similar.
I find that comical because for me, it was the other way around but many of us seem to end up in the same place!

So the word should actually be watermedia painter, unless you’re painting in a transparent manner. If I see pencil lines, it’s transparent no matter how much white paint you’re using. That’s how I see it. Confusing? Yeah, I agree..

If you layer and layer your lighter values towards the lightest light (the white) with thick paint, well, that’s not watercolor. No matter what you call it. In traditional watercolor painting you work from light to dark. The idea being that the lightest light is the white of the paper.
If you’re from a foreign country, it might be lost in translation. Overall it’s not a deal breaker but worth a blogpost, I think. Especially in light of the fact that there are still a few watercolor societies left where they reject the use of white paint, even Chinese white, part of many watercolor sets you can buy. Do they have still have merit?
The thing is, their shows definitely have more true watercolors than most other shows, because aside from the fact that they don’t allow white paint, there’s also no collages and other works like that permitted.

To me painting is painting, the medium should be secondary. There is no ‘bad’ medium, just bad painters.
Should a watermedia painting be called ‘watercolor’? Some artists put ‘ watercolor and white’ as medium. I think that’s good. Another solution would be to call it ‘transparent watercolor’ if no white paint was used. But what if white paint was used and it’s still transparent? What is it?
You can see how there are no real firm borders. There’s no protected term ‘watercolor’, you could call an acrylic painting a watercolor if it was used with lots of water. It might be hard to spot if it’s not watercolor pigments!
I think overall, there shouldn’t be rules in art. There are already rules everywhere else in life. I think we can do without people with clipboards going around to determine what’s allowed and what isn’t. That’s just me..
Comment welcome!

Hillside Fine Art welcomes my work!

I am very happy to announce that my work is now represented by Hillside Fine Art in Claremont, California.
I am the only watercolor artist in a gallery that is full of oil paintings. There are many big name artists of the California Art Club on the walls and I am quite honored to have my work exhibited with them! I hope I can do well; I have no idea, only time will tell!

I will have my first ever solo exhibition at Hillside in September! Very excited about that. Reception is scheduled for September 5, 2015. Details will follow. Please come on by if you’re in the area!

Understanding Fine Art Pricing


It is wonderful when people get in touch with me to tell me that they love my work and would like to purchase a painting. Often, those are people who don’t know much about fine art or the art world in general. Many are on facebook and come upon an artists work they like.
I decided to do a blogpost to explain why buying original art from a professional artist can be more expensive than most people think.

Most collectors are very familiar with the art world and visit galleries and art auctions. For the lay people, the whole business is sort of mystifying and strange.

Firstly, the operative word in art is: business
Art is a business. That means, everybody who’s involved strives to make money, even the collectors sometimes. How does an art buyer make money? As an investment. They are constantly out looking for new talent and many try to buy an artists work early in their career. They know once the artist is established, the work will be worth ten times as much.
The value of a painting is therefore a perceived value. If an artist is unknown, nobody will buy their work (except maybe family members and friends) If an artist is well known and has a big reputation, the paintings will be sold for a much higher price.

Emerging artists sell work for a lot less than professionals with a long list of accolades. It’s only fair. Getting established is a lot of work and takes years and years, even if you’re exceptionally good!

Secondly, there are the galleries.
Galleries are a great thing. It is the only place where we can truly admire art work.( aside from Museums) No, the internet does not work. A photograph of something in this day and age can’t be trusted at all. Sadly, there are artists out there who embellish their work with photoshop applications. I know first hand because I was on the board of a big watercolor society and saw a few cases of this with my own eyes. Too bad one can’t name people on here! That’s another issue anyways and maybe worth another blogpost.
Collectors usually don’t buy on the internet. They might look but then they need to see the art. Of course, the do!
Would you commit to buying a car just from a glance at a picture? No way. Art can only be judged in real life.

When it comes to pricing, most galleries take upwards of 50% of the money for a given painting. In San Francisco, there are galleries that take 70%. Yes. The thing is, they do a lot of work for us artists. They promote, they sell and they build our careers. They deserve half the money. Maybe not 70%, that is certainly excessive but 40 or 50% is commonplace. That means the artist only gets 50% after framing, shipping, insurance and other costs. Galleries don’t pay for the frames, artists do.

If I get an email about a certain painting, even if it’s not in my gallery’s possession and I could sell it directly, I cannot undersell my gallery! I will have to charge accordingly. If I undercut them, they will stop working with me.

Lastly, there’s the value of an original. All my paintings are unique pieces unless otherwise noted. That means there’s only one!
It is not mass produced. It’s not available on etsy or ebay. Nothing inherently wrong with places like that, you just won’t find serious artist’s work on there. That’s my opinion. It implies ‘bargain’ and ‘craft’. Not Fine Art.
Speaking for myself, my art does not go ‘on sale’. It’s not available everywhere. It’s exclusive and it will stay that way. For $200 you get a print, not an original.
I am aware that there are some of my colleges out there who give away their paintings cheaply. That is on them. I think it will hurt them in the long run but everybody makes their own decisions.

I hope I shed some light on this topic. I haven’t even mentioned expenses like studio rent, fees for exhibitions and advertizing. All has to be financed somehow. Overall, the job of being a pro artist is not an easy one and most cannot survive without teaching, myself included.

Final tips:
If you’re in a gallery and see a piece you really like, it’s ok to ask the gallery sitter or artist about a payment plan. Most galleries are open to that.
If you buy more than one painting, you can usually ask for a small (10 percent) discount.
If you want the artist to do a commission, be mindful that the price will be around the same (or more) than his or her regular work. Commissions are even trickier since the artist is trying to please the taste of a person they don’t know.

As many art collectors would confirm:
Buying art is an art in itself!

Plein Air painting – why do it?

There has been a strong move back to painting on location in the last couple of years. Many painters do almost nothing else, so 90 percent of their work is done outside. Why would anybody want to subject themselves repeatedly to painting in the heat, cold, wind, surrounded by flies, passers-by with lots of questions and get sun stroke? Why not just take pictures and paint in the comfort of the studio?

The answer is obvious, but also more complex than it seems. Cameras record a place but don’t do it very accurately. Values are usually off but also the subtle color relationships within the subject matter are not captured well. Our senses are just so much more keen than a mechanical or digital ‘thing’.
Unless we do a completely value based painting, it’s important to pick up on all the subtle color nuances that the camera can’t see.It’s up to the artist to interpret them in their own way, put their own spin on it and turn it into art.
It’s a very different experience to be on location as oppose to just go by a picture of it. I think painting outside will ultimately improve an artists studio work as well.

Having said all that, I personally think painting outside should only be one part of what an artist does. The studio work is at least equally important! In the studio, working from a plein air sketch is invaluable. You can attempt a bigger painting and while working, the memory of the place will come flooding in and go into the studio piece as well. Ideally, that’s what should happen.

I am trying to divide my painting time into 30% outside and 70% inside. For me, a perfect balance

When painting outside, one of the worst distractions are people who linger to watch and ask me lots of questions, constantly reiterating that they ‘do not intent to disturb me’. Luckily, most people are great. I have no problem with someone watching me, just don’t strike up a lengthy conversation. I am here to paint!
We had a new one the other day. Unprecedented. While painting in a small park near the ocean at Morro Bay, some guy came up and asked us if we knew why the restrooms are locked. My painting buddy looked at him and actually answered that he doesn’t know. I pretended I am deeply involved in painting but had to really hold myself back and not say something rude!
It never ceases to amaze me what questions you get! We couldn’t believe it, but it also made for comic relieve once he had sauntered off.

The 148th Annual International Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society

Borrowed Freedom

Borrowed Freedom

I am very honored and happy that my painting “Borrowed Freedom, Yosemite”, was selected for this year’s Annual International Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society in New York City

The Exhibition will be held April 6-25, 2015 at the Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY