The Artist’s Blog of Marlene Breitenstein

Exploring the creative process: inspiration, techniques, challenges, results.

Howdy!

Welcome to my artist’s newsletter !

TL;DR

I’m holding a RAFFLE for newsletter subscribers only, details below. I also talk about a new painting, two people who inspired me this month (a celebrity and an artist), and my Artist’s Vision. Next, I share a joyous plea to be the artist I always wanted; a muse-poem; and three of my articles about pastel techniques.

Results

It has been a very busy month. The creative breakthrough I wrote about last time has not abated. Motivated, I’m in the studio almost every day for several hours. It’s become my new favorite room in the house.

Therefore, I have finished a new painting! It started as a larger study for a multimedia piece using the same source photo, but became a completed work in its own right.

Photo of a painting of a mountain overlooking a valley. The mountain is shades of green, with a dark green forest spilling over the ridge and down across the middle. The valley is mostly in bright to dull yellows, and there is a fissure running laterally across it.

This mountain is at one end of Italy’s Piano Grande. Here, the valley is full of yellow lentil blossoms, and a fissure caused by tectonic activity—it’s not a river.

News

  • Enter a raffle to win a print of my latest painting! It needs a title, so I’m open to your ideas. To enter, reply to this email with your title suggestion(s). If I pick yours, you win a print! (If you don’t have a title idea, you can also enter; just reply with the word “raffle” and I’ll add your email to the hat. If I don’t pick anyone’s title, I’ll randomly draw a winner from all entries.) Deadline to enter: Monday, September 4, 2023. The winner will be notified by email on September 6.
  • Put my creations on your desktop, tablet or phone. Download wallpapers by clicking on the images below (fits screens up to 2560 wide). [This is a benefit for people who’ve signed up for my artist updates. I invite you to sign up, too! Learn more here.]
Two mountain ridges. The nearest is gray-green, the farthest is in shades of blue, with snow. The sky is pink.
Photograph of a grassy mountain clearing, nearly surrounded by a dense forest of very large spruce trees. In the center of the clearing is a wood house.

Inspiration

Arnold

Yes, the bodybuilder / actor / politician. 

I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve been grappling with my determination to succeed as an artist, coupled with my age. Since I have a long history exploring personal productivity, I came to the realization that I need to create a clear vision. Coincidentally, that same day I sat down and watched the first episode of the current mini-docuseries “Arnold,” which turned out to be just what I needed for inspiration.

I know enough about success to know Arnold Schwarzenegger is an outlier. Not only was he talented and determined at a very young age, but he was also incredibly lucky. That said, none of his success would have come about if he hadn’t started with his vision:

“My confidence came from my vision. . . . I am a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier. Because you always know why you are … pushing and going through the pain barrier, and … why you have to struggle more, and why you have to be more disciplined … I felt that I could win it, and that was what I was there for. I wasn’t there to compete. I was there to win.”

— Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the Tim Ferriss Show Podcast

I am also here to win. Therefore, I wrote the following audacious and determined vision statement:

My Artist’s Vision

To be an exceptional, remarkably successful ARTIST.
I will dominate with grace.
Nothing will interfere!
Nothing will dissuade me.
I will not compromise.
I will revel in the process.
I will see defeats as momentary, and turn them into wins.
I will only perform my best.
I will make my way and I will meet my goal!

Note: When I shared this with friends, one asked, “what about making money?” Rest assured, when I say successful, that includes making a living creating art. I do not shy away from the business side of my chosen profession.

With my clear vision written, I have begun to speak it aloud to myself, daily. I will make my way and I will meet my goal!

Remedios Varo

Two weeks ago, I discovered the late surrealist painter Remedios Varo (Wikipedia). Originally from Spain, she spent time in France, and the last 20 years of her life in Mexico, where she is well known.

This article on Varo piqued my curiosity with its discussion about her varied techniques, three I’d not heard of—decalcomania, grattage, and soufflage—but also inlay and (ta da!) textured gesso.

Since I’ve been playing with textured gesso, I am curious about other less-common ways I can affect the surface and texture of my artworks. Therefore, I have already received and started devouring the companion book, from the current show at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Challenges

“There are two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction. When we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

― Wendell Berry

Truly, I don’t know which way to go, next. My journey has begun.

Blog posts in the last month:

  • You Always Wanted to Be an Artist – During this process of unlocking myself as an artist, I wrote this joyous plea to myself. In it, I remember how good it felt to be a creative child, and to be spellbound by both seeing and creating art.
  • Memento, a Poem – This short poem was inspired by something remarkable. Written in response to a creative writing prompt—anything in 50 words, using the term “gossamer”—I include the back-story, too.

Techniques

For artists:

  • Working Safely with Pastels – A no-nonsense, straightforward guide to working safely with soft (chalk) pastels. I cut through conflicting information, draw on safety data from several pastel brands, and offer an inexpensive, highly effective solution for airborne pastel dust.
  • Make Pastel Sticks from Broken Pastels – Artist Tip! Did you know you can collect pastel dust and broken bits, and easily re-form sticks with it? Here’s a quick DIY guide on how to make pastel sticks from broken pastels.
  • Experimenting with Painting on Photos: Pt. 4 – In my fourth set of experiments with painting over fine art photographs, I had fun applying pastels to layers of gesso, textured in interesting ways with a heat gun. Learn about the process and my key takeaways.

I Appreciate You!

Don’t forget to reply with your painting title idea(s), or simply the word “raffle” to enter!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to reply to this email with questions or comments. It’s great that you let me keep in touch with you!

💋
Marlene

P.S. See what I’m sharing (no account needed!) on Mastodon.artGlass.photo and my web site, BreitensteinArt.com.

Find Me on Social Media

      

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I support social media that’s independent of the big dogs.

Are you thinking, "What? I never heard of those."

Okay, since you actually clicked on this, and I’m a bit of an ambassador for things I believe in, I’ll explain:

Mastodon is the most engaging, refreshing social media I’ve experienced. It is a social network based on a non-profit, ad-free model, designed to allow the user fine control over what they choose to see and who they interact with, while retaining full data ownership. It may be smaller, but that’s actually a benefit!

Glass is an image-focused social network, designed by and for photographers, using a subscription-based model, which also provides full user and data control.

Where Am I?

Sometimes in the Washington, DC area.
Sometimes I’m traveling elsewhere.

Otherwise I’m near Landau in der Pfalz, in the Südliche Weinstrasse (Southern Wine Route) region of Germany, characterized by endless vineyards, and bordered by mountains covered with fairy-tale forests. France is 25 minutes away.