View Full Version : Harley Brown's book

03-26-2008, 04:04 AM
For those of you who read International Artist Magazine and know Harley Brown - here's a review of his book and his own response to it!


Thought us pastelists would find it interesting!

Anyone else know and like his book?

Kathryn Wilson
03-26-2008, 08:37 AM
I see that he is keeping an eye on that thread :)

I have his Inspiration book ... and, ummm, find it inspiring! He tells it like it is ... you have to work, work, work.

Tracy Lang
03-26-2008, 09:47 PM
I got Harley's book "Simple Truths for Every Artist" when I first started to paint a couple years ago...It is one of my most well worn and treasured books!!!


eagle owl
03-27-2008, 05:59 AM
I have all three of his books and when I'm feeling low I jump into one of them.

Very inspirational!


03-27-2008, 04:56 PM
i dont' have alot of room or money for books, but i have all 3 of his, and won't loan them out whatsoever! and i feel they were money well spent too. now, i would love if he did a demo dvd!!

03-27-2008, 06:12 PM
i dont' have alot of room or money for books, but i have all 3 of his, and won't loan them out whatsoever! and i feel they were money well spent too. now, i would love if he did a demo dvd!!

A demo DVD would be great!!

03-29-2008, 12:54 PM
i dont' have alot of room or money for books, but i have all 3 of his, and won't loan them out whatsoever! and i feel they were money well spent too. now, i would love if he did a demo dvd!!

Ok Harley, If you're following this thread, you'll know you have a market just waiting for a demo dvd. I'd vote for making it one that has both a portrait and a landscape demo - or one of each in a two dvd package! Please just be sure to have enough of them created to satisfy your ever expanding fan club... :)


Paula Ford
03-29-2008, 05:30 PM
I'll second that!!!

03-29-2008, 06:16 PM
I have the "Eternal Truths" book and it's my favorite. His writing keeps me inspired to keep trying and I found the chapter on colour invaluable.

Would love a dvd (if made for this region).

03-31-2008, 04:20 PM
Hello my art friends,
Thank you for your good letters of encouragement here.
I did a couple of half hour tapes for the libraray in Oklahoma City. In fact, there was a bunch of us artists who did the same; many names you might be familiar with. It was on behalf of the Cowboy Hall of Fame in that city, of which I've been a member for close to 30 years. I know many of them have been turned into DVDs and are being sold somewhere. I'm searching because I'd like a few copies. (also to see myself in my thirties. chuckle.) But my approach to teaching is quite different now.
Even better is a strange trip and video I did while living in Mexico. If you want to hear about it, I'll be glad tell you of the rare incident.
here's to all of you in the spirit of your personal art, Harley

03-31-2008, 06:02 PM
i'm all ears to anything you have to say. thank you!

03-31-2008, 07:39 PM
thanks so much- I adore Harley Brown and his book!!!

K Taylor-Green
03-31-2008, 09:01 PM
Yes, Harley, tell us the story! And I'd love to have the DVDs, to add to my Harley Brown book collection. And I don't just own them, I use them!

03-31-2008, 09:38 PM
Hi all,
I'm delighted that you want to know about this escapade.
Please give me a bit of time and I'll sit down and relate it to you. The only problem is that it goes on a bit and I'm not sure of length regulations or the patience of many members. Also I might have built it up too much.
It really revolves around a friend of mine and genius with watercolor. A great artist named Tom Hill. He has written many books on art. We all used to travel together to Mexico, South America, the Fiji Islands and Australia doing workshops. The incident I will relate happened in San Miguel in Mexico. We lived there for a few months and painted to our hearts' content. But I brought out a certain new fangled machine that had hardly been heard of; I had just bought it on a nutty whim. And that's when things happened. More later and it all has to do with art. Harley

K Taylor-Green
03-31-2008, 10:08 PM
As a Mod, I think I can safely say we don't have a rule on lengths of posts!
I want to hear the story! Tell on Harley.

03-31-2008, 10:37 PM
harley, you're being a teaser! c'mon, lets hear the rest! *chewie sits down cross legged in front of harley, chin in hands, ready to hear it all!*

04-01-2008, 12:15 AM
:clap: Hello all and Harley!!!!! Let me say I am from the boondocks of Nevada, and I have Harley's books, and love his artwork! What I loved most was of course his way of telling us, and his pages about the use of edges, lost and found---plus they are just great reads. I love Robert Wade, who is an austraian watercolorist, and whom has a genuine Harley Brown painting that Harley did of his Uncle that is great, so is Robert Wade. Also, I would love to see a DVD done by Harley Brown! I love western art, and Harley's is the best!

04-01-2008, 08:19 AM
happily pullin' up a chair to hear the rest of the story.

04-01-2008, 03:39 PM
Good day friends,
I see you pulling up your chairs and leaning forward. So I'll relate to you the first part of my account, then give you a chance to stand up and stretch. Also I'll keep it simple without my usual elaborations.

Tom and Barbara Hill, Carol and I made many trips throughout the world starting nearly 30 years ago. We went to Mexico, South America, The Fiji Islands, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia. And we'd often have workshop students come down in groups to be with us. The story I'm telling here is the time we went to San Miguel, Mexico for a few months. We drove there from Tucson and rented a house on the edge of the city. Our days were filled with laughter and fun as we painted in our studios and frequently took our easels to the center of town. We got to know the citizens of San Miguel; in a few days, after they understood our routine, they'd help as much as they could: get us food, unclutter our view of whatever we were painting, protect us from "touristas." They even found terrific models to paint right there on the spot.

In those times, I had a lot of energy and could easily blunder through just about everything and still be ready for more. The days were much too short and we were prepared to live there forever; though sadly that would be impossible. When groups of students came down from the U.S., we'd have daily classes with them. I'd set up a model for us to paint, and Tom and his class would paint churches and rich colorful landscapes. The spirit and encouragement was at a high level and whenever the students left, we'd cry. But the memories and artistic legacies of these moments lasted with all of us; even as I write these words.

Whenever I had a few minutes break with a model, I'd go over and see what Tom was doing. He was amazing with his brilliant brush strokes as he'd render complex buildings, (even as the shadows moved with the sun,) people milling about and the stunning variety of foliage in the vast panorama surrounding him. He'd do a running commentary when he knew someone was listening. I always liked to be within earshot for some of his gems.

That's when I had this oddball idea.
(to be continued)

Kathryn Wilson
04-01-2008, 03:48 PM
Harley - you certainly know how to hold an audience! :)

"(to be continued)" sitting on the edge of my seat, ready for the next installment.

04-01-2008, 03:51 PM
Hello again,
Just to insert this idea.
Please look for Tom Hill's watercolors on the internet. Also Barbara Hill's oils.
I'm sure many of Tom's images of Mexico will appear.
thanks, Harley

04-01-2008, 04:50 PM
Just happened to pop in on this one Harley! I will definitely be back for the rest of your story..
By the way..You had a huge influence and guidence in my career when I first began...I was not much of a reader, but boy, I just looked and looked over each inch of your paintings!!!
Thanks so much for being so generous with your knowledge and thoughts!

04-01-2008, 05:01 PM
oh harley, this is almost cruel! finish it, wanna hear the end!

K Taylor-Green
04-01-2008, 05:27 PM
You're KILLIN me, here! :eek: More!

04-01-2008, 08:55 PM
Harley you are just too magnificent a story teller! I feel as though I'm 7 years old again, and my teacher will read only one chapter a day in the book she reads to us. Story time was my second favorite part of school - after art!

I had a huge compliment today. One of my students was lucky enough to have purchased your second book before it went out of print, and he reads it and refers to it a lot. This session I'm giving a class in color theory for the pastel artist, and he had some rather complex questions - which I loved! When I finished telling him some ways to accomplish what he wanted, he told me (with a big grin on his face) that I was "Harleyizing"! :D

OK - now I'm watching for chapter two.


04-02-2008, 11:43 AM
Boy, reading all the comments here and on the other thread made me want a copy of this - but I see it's only available used for $100 and up! :eek:. I'd like a copy, but not for $100. :)

Paula Ford
04-02-2008, 11:57 AM
I'm like a kid, waiting on the edge of my seat... bright-eyes and bushy tailed waiting for more of the story :D


04-02-2008, 04:26 PM
Thank you all for your words; they lift my spirits.
Peggy, I get a kick from the term, "Harleyizing." That one has me strutting my stuff. Please say hi to your student; he's fortunate to have you there for him. Also you who have been following this sorta-saga, Paula, Debbie, Katherine, Katheryn, Chewie, Alicia, Linda, IMaybe and Pam, I will have the next "installment" included within the hour. Writing about this brings back many memories.

04-02-2008, 05:36 PM
Serendipity (pt 2)
Before we go further, I'm hoping you'll allow me to add some necessary background to this story. Before our San Miguel visit, which was nearly 30 years ago, I purchased a clunky, first of it's kind, video machine. It was a crude prototype of things to come and looked like something from an early David Lynch film. It was big, cumberson, quite primitive and had to be hauled around on a wheel cart. Most people had never seen anything like it yet because of my hard core insecurities I had to be the first in my part of the country to have one. I used it incessantly; shooting family, neighbors and annoyed friends who dropped by. Although this particular type of video machine became obsolete within a few years, it took very good images. So when we planned the trip to San Miguel with Tom and Barbara Hill, I decided to bring the beast along............in it's own separate trunk!

South of the border, I carried this gizmo and made movies everywhere we went: into the markets, archeological areas, or just simple lunch breaks. I rested the camera on my shoulder with electric and cable cords trailing behind, attached to a separate huge video machine. The machine was so large and heavy that Carol leaned forward, pushing it on a dolly. It was during one of our plein air sessions that I decided to be an art pioneer and "film" a Tom Hill watercolor demo. After I continually jabbered about how this would be a great visual keepsake, Tom finally said, let's do it.

Now, here's where it gets a bit vague; remember, this was done decades ago and I haven't seen the video since. (Before you throw your hands into the air, this story is going somewhere so I'll recount what I can.) Tom, one of the world's great watercolorists, has the ability to explain precisely what is happening as he develops his paintings. He first did a pencil sketch of his subject; he then showed the colors and brushes he would use and explained just how he would proceed right from the first stroke on. And I do recall bits and pieces of how he masterfully pulled it together within the hours that we taped.

As the days and weeks passed by, we continued our creative adventures in and around San Miguel. We had interesting and sometimes bazaar sideturns that included a witch doctor, Rosita, Gringo Gulch. And my nightly visits to the outskirts of town, standing on a high dam, looking into the deep, very dark water on the reservoir side; it was just a few feet away as it beckoned me into its mysterious depths.

Finally, our Mexican journey came to an end; I gave the video tape to Tom and we all parted for our homes.

Now, I bring you to the present time and an unexpected turn that has left me rather awestruck.
(to be continued)

04-02-2008, 05:58 PM
I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for this third installment. LOL

Now I'm off to do a search on Tom and Barbara Hill while we're in intermission.

Kathryn Wilson
04-02-2008, 06:24 PM
Wow, Harley - that bit about being pulled into the depths of the deep blue waters sent chills up and down my spine. Whew, you are quite the story teller!

Now, on to the next installment .....

04-02-2008, 06:42 PM
OK. I'm hooked. I can't wait for the next chapter.:thumbsup:


04-02-2008, 08:56 PM
lol, I'm biting my fingernails here! :eek: Oh well, at least I won't get pastel dust underneath them. :D

K Taylor-Green
04-02-2008, 10:10 PM
Hey, did anyone ever suggest that you ought to write a book!:cool: :p
This is getting better by the minute, well, except the waiting part. I'm not a particularly patient woman!:D
Harley, did you keep all that old video footage?

04-02-2008, 11:21 PM
Oh please teacher, please read just one more chapter today! :)

Harley I'll be sure to give Martin your greeting. He'll probably be in seventh heaven for the rest of the day - I would be! He's a retired gentleman with some visual challenges - has to wear dark lensed glasses all the time - now how's that for a challenge using color?

I'll be back tomorrow for the next installment.


Tracy Lang
04-02-2008, 11:29 PM
I'm so loving this story and second the motion that you should write a book :)


PS I think I told you once that I got an adorable sun conure parrot (one of the loves of my life) at the time I was reading and being so inspired by Eternal Truths for Every Artist...thus his name" Louie Harley Lang"

04-03-2008, 02:07 AM
Hello all,
Thank you Peggy for all you do.
Here's to Martin and may he continue with his art and inspire us all. My heart goes to him with the problems he is having with his vision. Could you ask him a question? An artist friend of mine, many years ago, periodically used darker glasses so that they would neutralize color and simplify the values in front of him. Even though all the values were slightly darker, he was able to distinguish the differences between them and not be confused by color. Here's my question for Martin: has he acquired an extremely good idea of values between objects because of his darker glasses?

Tracy, I'm honored by having your parrot named after me. And Katherine, I'll reveal all to you and the others very soon.
cheers from Harley

04-03-2008, 04:00 AM
LOL, this is very entertaining! The suspense is killing me....LOL
Thanks Harley

04-03-2008, 10:18 AM
I'm trying to think of how to describe how I feel-- almost unreal. Though not in your actual physical presence, Harley, I feel kind of awed and honored by being in your cyber-presence. Thank you for so generously taking the time to share yourself with us. I promise to be patient while waiting for your story to unfold!

My personal irony was that a while back, someone here was looking for a copy of your book "Eternal Truths" and was stunned at the prices for used copies. I had seen the book new at one of our suppliers at cover cost and mentioned it online. Now, I did not realize that this was apparently the tail end of a special reprint. I waited too long, and never did get a copy of my own! Kicking myself, of course. Will NEVER do that again. In the meantime, it goes in and out of the local library as local artists trade off.

My mother had a couple of your books, and I never knew what happened to them. Sure wish I had them now.

Honored to meet you, sir.

Dayle Ann

04-04-2008, 01:11 PM
SERENDIPITY pt 3 (perhaps not the final chapter.)
A year ago, I was chatting with Tom Hill and he brought up the art video we did nearly three decades in the past. I had forgotten about it but he had always thought it would be an interesting reminder from our travels. More important, he said, a major museum heard about it and was more than interested in Tom showing them the tape. The museum felt an art demo by Tom Hill in San Miguel, Mexico was certainly worth a look. Now remember, this video was done with a very primitive type of video machine; but the museum had its own technical lab.

Since then, Tom has kept me up to date with the project. It appears that my camera work was "so-so" to pretty good, but they have slowly been able to digitally enhance and edit it. They said the images will all be there with close ups and panorama shots; also, I know that Tom eloquently talks on camera during his watercolor demonstration and there might be some of my own chattering.

At this point together with Tom, the museum and myself, this has been a pure labor of love. As mentioned, I haven't seen it since it was taped so I'm more than excited to relive that time. During those months in Mexico, we were filled with energetic optimism; everyone and everything was a vital part of our art world. In San Miguel, every corner we turned had a scene to behold better than the one just before. The citizens were a major part of our inspiration and eagerly helped us, as well as coming to the plaza to model and sketch. We all dined together, played together and made art together.

Yes, in one form or another, the video does exist and hopefully I'll be able to see it before too long. The museum may be doing this for their archives or may have other plans with their artists/members; they haven't arrived at that point. I know them well, and can tell you that it is one of the most trusted and benevolent museums in the U.S.A. Personally, I'm not involved other than as a keenly interested observer of events, in a tale of adventurous artists living in a real Shangri La.

K Taylor-Green
04-04-2008, 02:37 PM
Harley, this is wonderful for you and Tom!! I hope the rest of the art world can view this eventually, as well. I know I would LOVE to see it!

04-04-2008, 04:57 PM
Harley, this is wonderful for you and Tom!! I hope the rest of the art world can view this eventually, as well. I know I would LOVE to see it!

Ditto. You have taken us on a wonderful adventure, to a time when life seemed..........simpler, or at least not as stressed.

04-04-2008, 08:17 PM
hello friends, (post script)
Like many real life stories, the journey is the fun part. But this one has an added bit of intrigue: a video essentially made by me and yet I really don't remember much about it.
Those drawing and painting sessions in the San Miguel plazas were just what an artist needs. I can remember pulling my pastels out, keeping the colors fairly limited; putting up a bare bones tripod with pastel paper. Adjust my hat to keep the sun at bay. And go for broke. But the extra kick is laying down those colors with absolutely no time to think; which often is a bonus. No time to fret over areas, worrying if the colors are spot one, proportions a bit "post impressionist" (chuckle.) There's a special guarantee with us artists: you don't get fined for breaking the rules.
here's to our personal visions, Harley

04-04-2008, 11:55 PM
One never knows what will become of something we do in the spur of the moment or "just for the fun of it". Sharing time with good friends, and living each moment to the fullest are things we look back on fondly as we grow older. Life seemed uncomplicated at one time in my life, and would that it could be so now! LOL This will be a unique video that will hopefully be shared with the public.


04-05-2008, 10:36 AM
Hi Peggy,
I'm not holding my breath with the video.
But like you say, an important part of our lives is the fun we have even at the unexpected moments. I don't remember a trip where the sidetrips were just as much, (if not more) fun.
For instance in a Fiji workshop, the boat dropped us all off on a deserted island. So we explored inside a mountain cave, (with its own pool!) until the boat returned. Down in Peru, our boat actually sank and lifeboats took us ashore. We weren't in danger but it sure was the talk at the dinner table.
The artists that I've met on my travels have been the most profoundly interesting people. What amazing lives they've lived. So completely diverse.
And such talent that I see has inspired me all my life. Harley

04-05-2008, 09:46 PM
Oh my Harley! I will freely admit your adventures are way beyond any of mine! However, any that I have had are all deeply imprinted in my memory. I'll never forget the time 12 pastel artists from around the country met at Ghost Ranch before one of the IAPS conventions. A couple of us were painting - well taking a painting break - up on a mesa, and my friend turned to me and said I should start a pastel society when I move to Oklahoma (once a plan, but since abandoned). In horror I asked why in the world would I want to do that? I've spent my time in the "trenches"! Well he then began to give all the various reasons, so I said if I was ever going to do that, it would have to be a multi-medium society as too many of my friends work in more than one medium. Then we got really silly, and began making up rules such as since neither of us wanted to be the leader there wouldn't be any rules to make! Well we went down to lunch and told everyone else about our conversation, and after that at each meal someone came up with more "non-rules" to add to the list as well as other crazy ideas of what would be fun for a group of professional artists to do together. We laughed a lot, and we did name the "non-society". Only Original Painters' Society: OOPS!


K Taylor-Green
04-05-2008, 10:53 PM
It is always fun to spend time with other artists, painting together, sharing ideas, critiquing each other's work. I treasure my weekly painting group. We get together and do all of the above! Those memories will stay with me forever. Maybe I need to take my video camera, next time!:lol:

04-05-2008, 11:20 PM
i surely envy that kate, as there is no one here. there is a plein air group, but i am afraid this year, i'll not get to join as much as in past due to our house situation, moving, etc.... i hope you who can get involved realize how fortunate you are!

04-06-2008, 10:27 AM
I just finished catching up on this thread. What a great read. For those who have not perused the latest issue of International Artist, Harley has two great short demos of pastel portraits. Well worth reading and spending time studying. Also advance information on the latest book.


04-06-2008, 06:52 PM
One of the major factors in my art life was, by good fortune, getting together with other artists. It was a two month marathon of painting from sunrise to sunset. In the evening, at the motels, we'd grab hamburgers and have critiques and dish around general thoughts we'd pick up. Exhausted sleep, and then up in a few hours. We'd draw and paint animals, tractors, rock formations, and whatever else was in front of us. The two months sped by in minutes. We had maestros who painted with us and when asked would give their opinions.

This gathering was once a year in the Okanogan Valley of British Columbia, (pretty close to the end of the rainbow.) And we went back yearly. We had other outings but this was the granddaddy of them all. Incidentally, it was there that my ego got a well deserved shelacking which became a turning point that made THE difference.

John, thanks for checking that article out. It tells some basics of what I was taught and learned. Also, you mention my latest book; I call it my secret book because it can only be bought from one place.

Just a word about pastels. I've used them virtually all my life, meaning nearly six decades. I do remember putting down my first stroke in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It was like Wow! And although I was determined to be an artist anyway, that little set of pastels put me into a joyous frenzy. Immediate colors right at the fingertips. I'm starting to ramble so bye for now. Harley

04-06-2008, 07:21 PM
harley my dear, feel free to ramble any ol time you want! its your ramblings that keep us all hungry for more.

K Taylor-Green
04-06-2008, 09:15 PM
I'm with Chris. Ramble all you want! I love hearing your stories about art and learning.

I remember my first pastel. It was the medium I had said I never wanted to mess with. Mess being the opporative word! But when I tried them, it was true love and to heck with the mess!

04-07-2008, 08:32 AM
As of yesterday morning, the book from the secret place is on order. Already standing at the door waiting on the mailman to arrive. Really looking forward to this sharing of information.


04-07-2008, 11:58 AM
ok, no secrets here! what book is this, is there another i haven't heard of?? i have 3.

04-07-2008, 12:20 PM
The book is Harley's latest "Inspiration for Every Artist" and is only available through International Artist.


04-07-2008, 10:39 PM
Here's a bit more rambling.
In my mid years, I spent a good bit of time traveling and painting with other artists. They were high energy events but between those bouts, I'd hide in my studio, totally isolated as if to regenerate. But also feeling the effects of those gatherings. I'd come home with all sorts of thoughts, visuals, endless nuances packed into my brain cells.

I'm convinced that our inner mind is our Real Artist and in between feeding it with experiences, it's best we get out of its way. I know that if I think too much, I'll rob that inner part of its flow that's just itching to get out. That's were we come down to our approach. Meaning that we begin to know the rhythm of "conducting" our painting experiences by casually choosing a subject and having a general idea of where we want the work to go. And then, as we get in to it, trusting the subconscious functioning in full tandem, (and often overriding,) with the conscious mind. Sounds a bit loopy I know, but it's something that I've contemplated for ages.

So, in my approach, pastels work naturally; they are simple part of my makeup, personality. I don't think so much about right or wrong, but allow myself to be what I am, (including plenty of faults.)

Most important, being comfortable with oneself doesn't mean taking the easy road. In fact, it means that we can finally concentrate in what is important to us as complete individuals. That means digging deeper and harder; a lifetime commitment. And getting, as Katherine says, wonderfully messy.

04-07-2008, 11:35 PM
Hi Harley,

Well said.

I read this passage several times, and each time another thought of yours is illuminated. Like music and dance, these little sticks enable us to release our inner soul to share our passion with others.

Thank your for sharing your passion with us! This isn't a bit loopy.


04-08-2008, 12:45 AM
Hey John I too just ordered book #3 from International Artist! I wonder how long it will take to get here... I learned from last time, don't hesitate even a day if you want a Harley Brown book because before you know it, they will all be gone!

For those who don't know it, just go to International Artist .com website and you can order it from there. About $30 US including shipping fees.


04-10-2008, 01:46 AM
Here is something rather interesting that I've experimented with for a number of years. It has to do with the mind and perception and ultimately art.

I will get a few people in a room who's only knowledge of drawing is maybe basics from grade school. I'll set them down with paper and pencils. Then, I'll hand each of them "random" shapes to draw; they have to draw them accurately both in their shape and size from my originals. So in the end, they will have a dozen black and white shapes on their page. Now I'll have them cut out each shape and place each on a designated spot on another piece of paper. And voila, when these shapes are place correctly, a face appears on the paper.

What I've done is given them shapes of shadows from a face I've previously drawn but they've done these shapes bit by bit. They had no idea what they were drawing, no prior knowledge what each shape meant. If I had told them they were doing, for instance, shadows around an eye, they might strain to nervously draw what they consider to be an eye.

They got the shadows right because it was as if they were carefully copying a small map, then filling in that area; they weren't worrying if what they were drawing was anatomically correct or "artistic." They didn't have to please anyone or appear foolish, just copy my little "maps." Tied together the shapes made an expressive face.

When each saw what they had done and a face appeared before them, that they had each literally drawn, they were flabberghasted. They were wowed at how they were able to draw in just a few minutes.

Certainly drawing is more than just that, but it is fascinating to observe such moments. Moments that can lead to the next step in understanding art.

K Taylor-Green
04-10-2008, 10:12 AM
Harley, what a wonderful way to get people started! Simple, yet effective and takes the fear out of "screwing up".
I am a firm believer that anyone can learn to draw credibly. Gifted people make it seem easier, but to learn to draw for your own gratification isn't beyond anyone. Your method sounds less threatening than some of the exercises I have had adults try.

04-10-2008, 10:37 AM
:wave: I looooove your work, art and books. :heart: I always wonder if it was you that I met in Rosarito, Baja back in the 70's. My grandmother was living there in retirement and took me over to see the most fascinating artist who was there for only a short time. I almost hate to ask and find out it was NOT you. So lie, ok? :lol:

tweetie :cat:

04-10-2008, 11:40 AM
Wow- what a jewel to start my day off with- I was searching for something completely different and stumbled upon this thread- a God wink, I'm sure!

I'm not a pastel artist, but am an admirer-
(I tend to literally wear my paints, so I can only imagine pastel dust everywhere!)

Harley, I've yet to decide which of your talents is more impressive- your art or the teaching of it. And your class exercise is a perfect example of showing a new artist how to get out of their own way. Brilliant!
I'm fortunate enough to be working with a gallery that carries your work- they always catch my eye from across the room. I'd love to watch you create one someday.
Thanks for sharing.

04-11-2008, 01:24 AM
Hi Tweetie and Lauri,
My guess is that you met Clarence McGrath in Rosarito. He lived there many years and in fact died there a short while ago. He was an absolutely brilliant artist, (I bought about 10 of his works many years ago.) I've visited with him a few times; an intense, very dedicated individual. Wow could he paint. A rare talent and I would hope that one day a book will be done of him and his art.

I've often been down that way because of friends and relatives. Did a wild workshop in the southern part of Baja; at the end of it I jumped into a fountain in a park, clothes and all.

And Lauri, good to hear from you. Joe Abbrescia and I had a 19 hour none stop conversation about what happens within the second before the brush hits the canvas. One of the things we talked about is how to get out of our own way. It can be done. The artist must work at a pace that is slightly faster than the conscious mind can follow. In other words, the conscious mind is nowhere near the lightening speed of the subconscious mind; it lumbers along as we mass areas of paint here and there. It understands the overall "picture" but it really is always trying to do "catch up." That's why we must work at a deliberate pace. It doesn't have to be fast at all, just steady.

I've done this for years as have many of my students. The minute I slow down, my conscious mind catches up and starts niggling and fretting; worrying and over correcting. But if I push ahead, it lags behind again. Each artist can very easily experiment with this approach. If it's not working, by all means don't force it.

04-11-2008, 09:57 AM
And Lauri, good to hear from you. Joe Abbrescia and I had a 19 hour none stop conversation about what happens within the second before the brush hits the canvas. One of the things we talked about is how to get out of our own way. It can be done. The artist must work at a pace that is slightly faster than the conscious mind can follow. In other words, the conscious mind is nowhere near the lightening speed of the subconscious mind; it lumbers along as we mass areas of paint here and there. It understands the overall "picture" but it really is always trying to do "catch up." That's why we must work at a deliberate pace.

If it's not working, by all means don't force it.

:rolleyes: Thanks Harley- and oh, to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation! You've given me food for thought...I knew about the subconscious and "the zone", and the constant struggle to silence the left brain- just never thought about out-running it!

I've recenty taken up competition sporting clays and have found that there too, you have to "do all your thinking before you raise your shotgun"- and function without thought, just react subconsciously. It's when you allow your brain to think about the shot that you will inevitably miss- because it's impossible to form conscious thoughts fast enough to perform.

Your comment "don't force it" is sooo hard- especially if there's a deadline looming. Do you, even with a long, stellar career, still have those days or times when it just doesn't "flow" and you know you'd better leave the easel before you really screw something up?? Or have you learned to push through?

Btw- You're either a night owl or a very early bird- your last posts were at 1:30am!

K Taylor-Green
04-11-2008, 12:48 PM
I never thought about outrunning it either! I need to do more "just jump in" than thinking so much!

04-11-2008, 01:26 PM
It used to be a conscious effort to get into that "zone." But now, I fall into it at will. That's because I'm more secure with myself and who I am. Also because of those thousands of hours at the easel. I'm not easily distracted, (starting from the old days when I did portrait sketches in taverns.) Any of my intermissions are deliberate and short. Let's put it this way, I'm into my art as much as I want to be.

Also I knew that my subconscious mind was taking over much of my art when I could carry on full conversations with others at the same time as being entirely into a painting. Oddly, when the conversation becomes confused, I know that there's a problem with the painting as well. So I can blank out everything around me or be totally involved. Both are okay.

I mention that a person shouldn't force it; and by that I mean someone who is trying this out, getting the hang of it. I've never forced it and at first only let it in when it felt ready. Now it is just a matter of standing at the easel and my subconscious steps up to the plate. Speaking of that and the "zone" reminds me of the film "For Love of the Game" with Kevin Costner. It touches upon the subject.

This is important because it is a real underpinning of creativity. As you know, our minds are unbelievably complex, (that's an understatement,) and to be able to have them work with us at the easel means everything.


04-12-2008, 05:26 PM
Hi Katherine,
Come to think of it, "jumping in" was just the thing when they booted me out of art college. Only minimal consideration, like leaping off a cliff into cold, churning water. On the balance sheet were two things to weigh: with one side I saw that it was uphill in the art world for many years; money wasn't a consideration except what could be made moment by moment to survive. People saying 'do this' or 'don't do that;' gallery refusals common; the list goes on. On the other side, it was simple: I wanted to be an artist. Luckily, and I don't say this flippantly, I was not a deep thinker.

04-15-2008, 01:23 PM
Wanted to bump this back up. My new book arrived in the mail today. Just started reading, but this is going to be great. This could just as easily be called a survival manual as easily as inspiration. Thanks for the thoughts Harley.


K Taylor-Green
04-15-2008, 03:13 PM
Well Harley, I think that is called following your heart and the devil take the hind most! I, for one, am very glad you did. You have helped me tremendously. The funny thing is, when I bought your Eternal Truths, I had never picked up a pastel stick. I was more into oils at the time. But the way it was presented told me I must buy it. One of the best purchases I ever made.
Now, I am off to buy the latest one.
John may be the first, but not the last!:D

04-15-2008, 05:07 PM
i've had the book since it first came out--its wonderful. its the kind of book that when i'm not in the mood to really 'read' something, but still want some art related info coming into my head, i take that one up and just open it wherever it wants to open! and the photos! oh guys, wait'll ya see the pictures!! no, these are not books to loan out, piggish as it may sound!! mine mine mine! all mine! *big smile of contentment*

04-15-2008, 05:52 PM
[quote=makinart]Hello all,
Thank you Peggy for all you do.
Here's to Martin and may he continue with his art and inspire us all. My heart goes to him with the problems he is having with his vision. Could you ask him a question? An artist friend of mine, many years ago, periodically used darker glasses so that they would neutralize color and simplify the values in front of him. Even though all the values were slightly darker, he was able to distinguish the differences between them and not be confused by color. Here's my question for Martin: has he acquired an extremely good idea of values between objects because of his darker glasses?

Sorry it has taken awhile to get the answer for you Harley, but we didn't have class last week so today was my first opportunity to share our conversation with Martin, and ask your question.

Martin says yes, most certainly he does understand exactly what your friend was trying. He said it was just a matter of getting used to the idea that all colors are darker valued with the dark glasses than without dark glasses. I notice his work tends to be a bit more grayed than other people's, but that could be a preference on his part too.

btw: Martin smiled a whole lot when I gave him a print out of our previous comments. He said to tell you thank you for thinking of him.


04-15-2008, 08:36 PM
I have just come across this thread and read everything on it. It took me weeks to find your Eternal Truths book as the price these days is unbelievable, finally found a second hand one in the UK and had it sent to me here in Australia.I do some Pastel work but am only a beginner and my passion in painting in Heat Set Oils.I'm a late bloomer and have been painting for 8 years and have found your book has helped me tremendously answering questions i could not find answers to.
I have just turned 60 but hope to be able to paint for a longtime as i can't get enough of it and try to learn as much as i can.Thank you for your wonderful book and i will get the others as money allows.Helen

04-15-2008, 11:06 PM
Good day, and you've given me much to ponder.
John, you nailed it! That should have been the subtitle, "Survival Manual" in the arts. I've got to tell you, much of it is how I survived. The beauty is that it really doesn't get any easier. My mind is much different now than it was a couple of decades ago. My basic art instincts and skills are along the same line but my thought patterns........well, let me put it this way, and I think you will understand: my mind has a mind of its own.

Katherine, Chewie and Helen, I'm trying to formulate just what pastels mean to me. In a big way they are part of me; but also, it's what they can do that still dazzles me. We can get downright defiant with them and then in a flash, lay in the most subtle, soft touch. Colors are just a reach away and in a split second, that color is forever part of how we see something.
Peggy, we haven't finished with friend Martin. He sounds like he has much to share.

I'm mulling things right now and will get back to you soon.
Here's to all that inspires us, Harley