Art, Painting and Jigsaw Puzzles

When people come to me and ask me to teach them, or guide them (my verb) to paint and draw, one of the first things I do is tell them to do many hours of putting together jigsaw puzzles, either on the Web ( or at home. There is usually much huffing and groaning, but I say, “If you don’t want to do that, forgetta about it.”

So why jigsaw puzzles?

If you haven’t spent a lot of time painting or drawing, putting together jigsaw puzzles helps you start seeing thing as a collection of different shapes. You start to see objects as different combinations of circles, triangles, rectangles, instead of one unmanageable mass.

Putting together jigsaw puzzles too helps you understand that good painting takes time. And it also helps you get comfortable with the idea that when you start a painting you won’t know how it’s going to turn out. You will only know that out when all the “pieces” are put together.

Mary Baker

Art Blogs and Art Websites

I’ve thought long and hard about how my art blog should look. I know, I know, it looks like millions of other blogs from WordPress.

I wanted my art blog to look “generic” for several reasons.

  • I don’t want people to confuse my art blog with my art website. Hopefully if you’ve arrived here, with all this web-art-chit-chat, without a picture in sight, you’ll think, “Ah, ha, maybe I’ll go visit her art website, Mary Baker Art, and see what the heck she paints.”
  • I actually found that putting a painting up on the blog took away from the text, so I took the painting off.
  • And having the art blog look generic takes the pressure off. I agonize over my art website, but I feel much more relaxed adding to the art blog.
  • I will admit that I did fiddled around with all sorts of ways to personalize my art blog, and none of the designs are as good as the one by WordPress. So I decided if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
  • Internet Art Review–Jacob Collins, Contemporary Realism

    Jacob Collins, art work

    I’ve been following Jacob Collins career for a while. The Classical Realists have claimed him, the Academic painters have claimed him, but as far as I’m concerned, Jacob Collins is a Contemporary Realist. The Open Directory Project ( lists his website under Contemporary Realism–works for me.

    Although Jacob Collins has been trained as an academic painter, there seems to be a deep conscious or unconscious appreciation of the camera and Modern Art.

    Take the still life called “Tangerine,” a small painting, but one of my favorites. The composition of this painting is a good example of Modernist composition, reminiscent of Matisse, Motherwell, Adolf Gottlieb, combined with realistic painting. Also the luminosity of the tangerine itself has a photographic quality. I think this is a good thing because it feels as if Jacob Collins is well aware of the culture around him.

    In Jacob Collins’s self-portrait there is the tension of the different shapes of the frames and of the palette, a composition that could be right out of the abstract paintings of the 1920’s, 1960’s or a painter like Matisse. The cropping of different objects is a contemporary element. And Collins’s rendition of objects on a bulletin board, reminds me of the art work done by artist Steve Hawley in the 1980’s.

    Along with the technical virtuosity, these elements give Jacob Collins’s art work their “zing.” These are not works of art done in the 1850’s, clearly these are Contemporary Realist paintings

    Jacob Collins, website

    A word (or two) about Jacob Collins’s website, since this is an Internet art review. The art website is classy, easy to navigate and loads quickly. The viewer quickly has an overview of Collins’s extreme artistic versatility.

    As a Web visitor, however, I want to have information about Jacob Collins. Aside from the fact that search engines only index text and not gorgeous art images (and I would like lots of people to find Jacob Collins’s website), as a web viewer I want to “get to know” Jacob Collins.

    It’s very hard as an artist to write about yourself, but written text helps endear the artist to the Web viewer, makes the artist seem accessible and is an invitation to the Web visitor to stop by the artist’s website more often.

    The Ideal Second Job for an Artist

    What’s the ideal second job for an artist?

    I will admit that I do not know the answer to this question and it is a very important one. The ideal second job for an artist would be a job that doesn’t emotionally, psychologically, physically and artistically drain you, so that you can concentrate on your first job, your vocation–creating art! In fact, the really, really good ideal second job for an artist would be one that energizes the artist so that he or she can create even better works of art.

    I thought all of you out there in Web-Blog-Land might be able to help answer this very important question.

    If you would like to, please contact me (I don’t have comments on this blog, for a variety of reasons) and if I think your email is helpful I promise to post it and put a link to your website in the post.

    (If you do email me, please but “second job” somewhere in the subject line. That way I’m sure to open your email.)

    We’ll see what happens. Mary

    Realistic Art–Drawing

    “How do I learn to draw?”

    So many people have asked me this question that it seemed to be a good idea to address “drawing” in this art blog. The best book I’ve ever used to teach people how to draw, and art schools and colleges all over the country use it, is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards.

    Betty Edwards has a number (not an overwhelming number) of exercises that trick the brain into seeing differently. (For example one exercise is drawing upside-down.) All the exercises are easy, fun and they work! They work really, really well. They can be done alone or in a big or small group. And if you follow the drawing exercises, amazingly enough, even if you “can’t draw a straight line,” you will be able to draw.

    I’ve seen people who at the beginning of doing these drawing exercises can’t draw at all. Swear they will never be able to draw. Curse at the silliness of the drawing exercises. And at the end of the process they are totally amazed at the drawings they are able to produce. It’s pretty cool.

    Mary Baker