Thursday, February 19, 2015

To Be An Artist You Need To Dress The Part!

The other day I was looking at the various emails I get from a variety of "art" sites and it suddenly struck me that artists of all types seem compelled to look weird. Not all but a abnormally high percentage. Does that make them a better artist or is it their way of shouting - "hey look at me!" Granted some are easier on the eyes and ears than others but that led me to consider do they have any talent? Todays "artist" will oftentimes fade away next year.

At first glance she looks like some sweet young thing, a closer study shows
she is very long in the tooth!
Would I be more successful if I wore dangly earrings like I see guys in their 60's do? How about a long tied up pony tale below my balding head down to my waist? A beard that usually needs a thorough cleaning; big and bushy that would do a Taliban fighter justice? I don't know about them but this wouldn't have passed muster with my mother.

It seems the Boomers in their rebellion started a new, for lack of a better word, workers style that manages to hang on still. They simply haven't grown up.Torn jeans with the places worn out set you back $200 +. We went from a decade of poopy pants, pants so big and low we had to see their underwear. We can thank the Lord at least they wore some! Now we have jeans so tight they don't fit anyone anywhere. And lately, rolled up cuffs on jeans like they wore in "Rebel Without A Cause."

Whats old becomes new again. Fashion follows art and often not so successfully. However, there is a real resurgence in more traditional, classical art. Here at the Getty Center is an exhibit of J. M. W. Turner's paintings after he turned 60. One of his "smaller" pieces just sold for $20 million. So you old farts out there still have a chance!

Rain Steam and Speed the Great Western Railway

If you have never seen a Turner he could be almost credited with leading the explosion of color that was embraced in Impressionism. He embraced modern technology of the day as is shown with an English train on its daily run. There is a movie out about him that I hear is quite good. What I did notice though, was that he pretty much dressed like everyone else. I guess when modern art hit our shore "artists" felt compelled to show they were different. In many cases the artist became part of the artistic package. None of my favorites of this era went to these extremes. Maybe their mothers trained them well!

These are my current musings and finally felt that I had to pass them on! Art and the art of living are not always equal.

Thank you for visiting my blog, KrugsStudio. If you are interested in a variety of birdhouses or crafts, photography or one of a kind paintings, please be sure to check out my store on a regular basis at Be sure to tell your friends, artists or anyone about this store and my blog,

Best regards,

Alan Krug

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Window To Future Possibilities

The original working sketch
I finally finished the window I was discussing a few days ago. It was somewhat like I envisioned but of course the reality is a always a bit different. Here was the initial working sketch (see left.)

It was kinda crude. When I got to the actual window I realized I had two choices, really BIG images or adding more floral elements. I opted for more elements and that outline was done with a Sharpie in black (see below) that would be used as a guide for the black leading of the various elements.
Outlined and ready to be painted

Since they were going to put it outside against a wall (I found this out later) there was much concern on my part about the effect of light shining through. Each and every brushstroke was seen and I went crazy putting layers of paint to cover these strokes. It didn't work.  Nor did soft brushes that you are admonished to use.

I used DecoArt outdoor leading paint that had a nozzle that you squeezed creating a rather crude leading (well, since this was my first time, it is rather crude.) However, since the paint and putty are also falling off the frame it all fits!

Then came hours of painting. I bet I used over 20 different colors creating the floral elements. The paints are all DecoArt's new Satin paint with the exceptions of several glossy outdoor paints. Those paints worked well though I had many issues with DecoArt's Satins. To get any coverage at all, I had to use a stirrer to get enough pigment from the bottom, it would not mix when shaken; that was a drag. You can see that in the photo at left. I should add I love DecoArt acrylic paints and have well over 200 but feel the Satins are not ready for prime time. In fact as I write this I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to create a primer for metal and glass to get an object ready for the actual color. You are already putting at least two coats on everything so a primer could cut down on many painted layers trying to get an streakless opaque finish.

Completed window in all its glory!
I also used an outdoor DecoArt Chalk paint for the sky and even after several layers found that it will scratch off very easily even a few days later. Since it is too big for an oven, it would be best to let it cure the 21 days they recommend. Do not touch during the curing!

Would I do this again? Certainly. There were many lessons though that I needed to learn and I feel they are different with a window than a mirror. Here are a few:

I had to pick the more interesting wood detail and then turn the frame over and paint literally backwards on the glass. While I limited my self to three layers you have to remember that the first color has to be the top layer. Flowers with yellow centers have the center put on first, then the next color, petals or whatever and then the final closing color. You will do some scraping when you turn it over and see the lovely details are gone.

Detail of the bottom floral painting

I would advise you limit your palette. I used far too many colors. It was fun though. The other lesson was that I discovered with care you could blend colors. These last two photos are the window as seen from the front, not the back that is a bit rougher in appearance.

A mirror would be different only in what you paint is like painting a painting. Neatness counts and there is no backside to worry about or to hide your mistakes.

I went up to Blick's in Pasadena the other day for some guidance and I realized quickly that I knew more than the salesman did. I had watched a few YouTube videos but never got the answers I wanted and needed.

I wondered if there is a final coat I can put over the paint to that will help to seal it. I also considered painting the back with an opaque paint that would make sure no light went through to show all the brushstrokes. There is another glass paint company but it is far more transparent so not what I wanted. The other companies, Golden included, did not have much so I realized that choices were limited. I will be watching this window that while protected somewhat will spend its life outdoors.

If you have an old window around, experiment. You will have great fun!

I have a store, KrugsStudio so if you are interested in a variety of birdhouses or crafts, photography or one of a kind paintings, please be sure to check out that store as well. Be sure to tell your friends, artists or not about this blog and my store!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Crafters, It's Time For A New Paradigm

As I was struggling with my 12 window pane project and cursing the paints I was using, I found that what I had to do was use flat colors, much like Apples new OS icon format. I suddenly remembered that was what I had done when I started painting my birdhouses. It was only after my first Las Vegas Painting Convention back in 2008, that I became aware of how to create depth and learned to shade my creations. What a revelation!!! I got better and put some of the items in a store on Etsy,, my store.

Jackson Pollack changed modern art forever! Do you think would would
qualify at the Society of Decorative Painters even now?
Looking at my art magazines, books and projects I'd been doing, I realized that everything has become a formula, one that hasn't changed in quite awhile. The final nail in the coffin for me was when I came across this call for entries for CERTIFICATION for the Society of Decorative Painters in their newest issue. You have until February 28th for entries to be considered and the artist allowed into the inner sanctum. OMG! Is this the French Salon? You can enter each year until accepted or you give up. You will be judged on the following:

It is about paintings that demonstrate freshness, spontaneity, movement and flow. (Like that's gonna happen with the requirements below.) Have you looked at the 2015 Convention Classes? Compared with last year, I found this years selection weak and certainly not up to the standards you would need to be "certified."

Entries will be judged on overall effect, color management, blending kills, stroke control, value control, intensity control, linework and detail, background, frame neatness and finish.

The floral and still life's require smooth applications of paint, lack of transparency, and lack of brush marks. There are more requirements. If you are a fan of Impressionism, don't apply here. You will recognize almost the same requirements as the French salon of the 1860's. It is these requirements and many more that made Manet, Monet, Degas, and the rest rebel and start their own artistic movement. It changed art forever. We don't even know who was in the French Salon today.

We all want safety. The types of crafts we see today had a beginning and no doubt were revolutionary at the beginning. Yet today, look at any magazine, craft books offered for sale, class offerings and there is nothing new or even very adventuresome for nearly 50 years now. Maybe this is what people want. Yet how many cutsy items can you hang around the house? How many can you sell on Etsy, CraftStar and the rest? While I rarely revisit a series after I'm done, I am constantly looking for a new twist. A new way to express myself be it painted crafts, birdhouses and paintings. I firmly believe staying in the same style traps us much like Thomas Kincaid. He found a style clients liked but once established could never leave. Art is about growth not comfort.

My as the New Yorker magazine cartoon shows,
how far the abstract expressionist artist has fallen
Change is scary yet, I believe that crafting, as a artistic form, is ready for a revolution of spirit that needs to look for a new paradigm, one that will again breath new life into what we like to do. Watching Donna Dewberry on PBS yesterday, I realized adding clay geraniums to an already finished painting of geraniums was not the way. The painting, while no masterpiece, quickly degenerated to kitsch.  Maybe that's what it takes. It is just not my thing. She is trying!

Personally I say follow Joseph Campbell's advice to "follow your bliss," not the herds. Unless art is your way to make your living, and even if it is, create what you like (at times), what moves you artistically.

I have a store, so if you are interested in a variety of birdhouses or crafts, photography or one of a kind paintings, please be sure to check out that store as well. Most of my items are one of a kind and very, VERY unique. Stop by Be sure to tell your friends, artists or anyone about this blog and my store!

Thank you for visiting.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Acrylic Glass Paints: The Struggle To Cover

Starting The Window
A few months back some friends, who were remodeling their front and back yards, found an old window frame from the time their 50's modern home was built. Three panes wide by four high I could tell at a glance this would present a challenge.  While the putty was falling out, the glass was good as was most of the frame. I would paint the glass and they could deal with the putty something I have never mastered. Here it is as I started it:

I can hear some of you now but once the panes are done, and this is the back, putty and a new coat of paint can be applied. It just might be a fun piece to have in your own private garden.

The challenge though, for me at least, is the coverage of glass centric acrylic paints. It doesn't. Two or three coats may make it on a wine glass but not on 12 - 10 ½" x 10 ¾" panes that are trying to tell a garden story as you move from pane to pane.

Because I have chosen a front and a back I can't begin to tell you the number of mornings I have woken up with some new realization. Details go on first, then the next layer and if it is necessary the last layer. I am restricting myself to three detailed layers. Considering I have never done this before that is pretty ambitious.

Adding Color 
My frustration has been the paint coverage or lack of it. Spent several hours this morning watching YouTube videos and my conclusion is good luck. They didn't do any better than me. Many of the videos are English and I have never heard or seen the products they are talking about.

As you can see here with my sun, the yellow and reds are struggling to cover the glass. I am using DecoArts Satin acrylic paint.

It really needs to be hand stirred before using it. It doesn't blend well when shaken and while the colors are amazing you have to really work to get the coverage you want. I drag up the stirrer and use that paint.

I have wondered about this trend of new acrylics that will work on anything. Its really like the saying they're the "jack of all trades and masters of none." One YouTube video even compared brands but other than the Martha Stewart brand, I hadn't heard of one and DecoArt had already changed their paints. There really wasn't a clear cut winner. If you can't find it, what difference does it make, right?

Oil based paints of my childhood didn't seem to have any problem covering glass. If anything it was a bit too robust. After painting several houses, the one job we all hated was scraping the paint off the glass. Today we want the paint to stick on the glass. Go figure.

I will keep you informed of my progress. If you have done something like this and found a way to master getting paint on glass I would truly love to hear from you!

I have a store, KrugsStudio so if you are interested in a variety of birdhouses or crafts, photography or one of a kind paintings, please be sure to check out that store as well. Be sure to tell your friends, artists or not about this blog and my store!

Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Staples Merger With Office Depot: So Long Sherman Anti-Trust Act

The agencies in our government have done a poor job of protecting the American people. The Sherman Anti-Trust act was to insure that no one company had the entire market. They broke up Standard Oil, the railroads, and others who used monopoly positions to make obscene profits at the expense of customers and consumers. Teddy Roosevelt who pushed famously for this act, called J. P. Morgan to the White House and told him to break up his Northern Trust (a conglomerate beyond even todays mega mergers) or he would crush him.  Morgan did just that.

As a child I became aware of monopolies as the steel industry "consolidated" in the 50's then faded away. Then there was the famous court room battles over breaking up MaBell. More taxpayers money gone to waste. There were small phone companies everywhere and what about GTE? They were also a competitor.

The result of this trial was that AT&T became a long distance carrier and there were now seven baby bells, each, I might add, a monopoly in its market.Within a year there were five, all merged with blessings of the very same government who tried to break them apart. In a few years we were back to, you guessed it, AT&T bigger and stronger than ever.

Why have laws if they are going to fail us? With the bankruptcy of Radio Shack imminent, we will have one company, Best Buy, to sell us electronic stuff.  Do you think there are any great deals there? Not really when you are the only game in town. Do the items on the floor even work? They are certainly not the Apple Store. I know more than the "Sales Associates."

Now with office supply stores Staples and Office Depot set to merge, again with the governments blessing (who says you need to live in a Communist state when your government embraces the same tactics?) where does that leave me? Staples has already closed my nearest store as had Office Depot. Both stores were incredibly poorly run. In fact I hated to even go to them. Lights flickered, there were more customers than employees, the list could go on and on. Yet my choices are also now very limited. A short trip will now be miles to a store that has no incentive to save me money. Be sure to take a paper and pencil so you can write down the item and see if its cheaper on Amazon or Sam's Club. I also want and need to see the product before I buy. Now that option will be severely limited or delayed.

I think the time as come for a national discussion on corporate pay and profit. Sen. Ted Cruz is very wrong. These companies didn't do well legally. The CEO's are not that much smarter than you and me. They hire lawyers who spend their lives looking for loopholes. Maybe there will be a library of findings similar to the Talmud trying to wiggle out of American corporate laws. NO man or woman deserves a multimillion paycheck especially when they lose money for the company. I believe in Japan the CEO can only make a salary 10 times what the lowest paid employee makes each year.  They are highly valued and respected. However, when things go badly, they resign so the company can move on. Sounds good to me.

We as a nation have a trifecta of greed that needs to be discussed:

1. What is a proper CEO's salary? When is he let go when things go bad? Forget the "golden handshake." Be happy they don't sue you for the losses! Lets look at upper management salaries as well. Most of GM's management should have been fired for the debacle there yet continued to make handsome salaries with bonuses to this day.
2. Laws current and coming up. Are they fair? Do they promote competition? Most do not and favor the very companies they are meant to regulate.
3. Let's kick out the analysts. Companies that have thrived (with the exception of Apple) have gone private and don't have to listen to the sharks. Its not their money or even company, what right do they have to tell others? We can thank Harvard for this but there is starting to be a turnaround in this concept. Read about Warren Buffet. Greed is not necessarily good. Companies and their stock holders certainly have a right to a "fair" dividend. The board of directors and upper management need to fall in the same payout schedules as anyone else. Corrupt officers need to be jailed and not in some cushy prison either. Let them rot with the hardcore. They think they are less bad than a robber? Think again.  The same mentality guides them both. Something for nothing.

If you feel like I do, write your Congressman and Senator about this merger. Demand to know how it is to your benefit. I think in much closer inspection the only people benefiting are the companies corporate officers themselves NOT their customers or employees.

Visit my Etsy store for a variety of hand painted craft items. These are in many ways works of art you will enjoy for years.