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What Fried Dandelions Have to Do with Improving Your Art

10 May

From the Start Your Week with Steve Newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art:

Steve Says:

“Today my 18-year-old son wanted to make fried dandelions for lunch, a suggestion that initially didn’t meet with much excitement.

Dandelions are either weeds or flowers, depending upon your perspective. Original available at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.

Dandelions are either weeds or flowers, depending upon your perspective. Original available at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.


“But he’s a determined sort, and like the Little Red Hen he picked the flowers, dipped them in egg and breading, and fried them in butter. Oddly, they weren’t bad, although the egg, breading, and butter definitely helped.

“And, he told us, now that he’s done it, he has no desire to repeat the experiment, but he’s glad that he went through with it. ‘I would always have wondered,’ he commented.

“Good point.

“How many times do we want to try something but don’t, because it sounds odd — like fried dandelions — or our announcement is met with a total lack of enthusiasm and support?

“So we don’t. But we always wonder what it would have been like if we had.

“Why not stop wondering and just do it? At worst, we’ll have inedible flowers, but the compost pile won’t mind.

“At best, we’ll have a unique dish to share at the next family celebration.

“And in between, we’ve got a good story to share.

“The more we do, the more we try, the more we experiment, the more we dream — the more interesting we, and the lives we live, are.” 

What is it about trying new things that is so difficult for us?

Standing behind the easel, paintbrush in hand, who but we will know that we chose a different color for that brushstroke, or a different brush, or a different way of wielding it?

Go on -- jump in. Shoes, and feet, eventually dry. Reflection -- original oil painting and signed limited edition prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Go on — jump in. Shoes, and feet, eventually dry. Reflection — original oil painting and signed limited edition prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Too often we look at each potential painting as so precious that we don’t want to “ruin” it by doing something different or new, but the risk of this is smaller than the reality of falling into a rut.

Sometimes, we can jolt ourselves out of this rut by saying to ourselves, “Just for the next 15 minutes, I’m going to think about this differently, and I’m going to try something that I’m not sure will work or not.”

And, of course, the more regularly and often that we paint, the easier it is to experiment, because we tell ourselves, “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll toss it to the side and start over. Or I’ll keep slathering paint and see what happens.”

Ultimately, what this costs you is some time, a canvas, and some paint — a small price to pay for the potential to make mighty steps forward.

What Is the Difference between an Open Edition and Limited Edition Print?

28 Mar

Wall art comes in all shapes, sizes, formats, and editions — from an original painting to a print to a poster to a greeting card, and the prices vary accordingly.

In the world of prints, there are many factors, but one of the major differences lies between an open edition and limited edition print.

Mesa Walk, its original sold, is available as a signed limited edition and open edition print.

Mesa Walk, its original sold, is available as a signed limited edition and open edition print.

A limited edition print is so named because its run — the number of these prints that are created and sold — is limited to a specific number, say, 200. Each run is determined by size and any other qualifying factors; for instance, you can have a limited edition run of an image in a 12 x 15 size on paper, another run of 16 x 20 on paper, a third run of 12 x 15 on canvas, and so on. If you purchase the 5th print sold in the 12 x 15 on paper run, then somewhere on the print will be written (generally in pencil, since this is difficult to forge) 5/200, which indicates that your print is the 5th piece out of a total of 200 to be created in this particular run.

The print may or may not be signed by the artist, and if so, will be of increased value. It also may or may not include a Certificate of Authenticity, a piece of paper or form that lists out the run size, the number of your print in the run, and information on inks and paper, and the date that the print was created.

Sometimes, but not always, limited edition prints are created with archival quality inks on archival quality substrate — paper or canvas — and if so, the artist or company selling the print will make sure to inform you of this, since these archival quality materials ensure a superior product that will last a much longer time than a print created with non-archival quality materials. Do not assume that, just because a print is described as limited edition, that it is archival quality.

A limited edition print that is signed, archival quality, and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity will likely cost more than an open edition print (but significantly less than the original painting), simply because it has been in more direct contact with the artist.

An open edition print has no limit on its run, and frequently, it can be created in the thousands, tens of thousands, or more. It also costs less, and you will find it in box stores or on large Internet shopping conglomerate sites. There is absolutely nothing “wrong” with an open edition print, as it is a very affordable means of getting art on people’s walls. Because of the low cost factor, open edition prints tend not to be printed on archival quality paper.

"Lady" by Steve Henderson, is available as an open edition print throught Light in the Box

“Lady” by Steve Henderson, is available as an open edition print throught Light in the Box

So, which to buy? It is up to the individual consumer. Prints of some artist’s work may be available only through the artist himself, and if you like his work, then this is the option to consider. Other artists — like Steve Henderson at Steve Henderson Fine Art — offer signed limited edition prints through the website, but also make their work available as open edition prints in the commercial market.

Mesa Walk, for example, is available as a signed, limited edition print in various sizes through Steve Henderson Fine Art. It is also available as open edition wall art through Light in the Box, a globally directed online shopping site. The original painting is sold.

Prints — limited or open edition, archival quality or not, signed or unsigned — enable people of varying budgets and economic lifestyles to enjoy fine art.

What Parallel Parking Has to Do with Your Art

16 Feb

Okay, I’m going to share with you my dirty little secret:

I can’t parallel park a car.

Lots and lots of space -- that's what I need when I parallel park a car. Diaphanous by Steve Henderson

Lots and lots of space — that’s what I need when I parallel park a car. Diaphanous by Steve Henderson

Well, I can parallel park a car as long as I’ve got three blank spaces, in a pinch two, and it helps that I drive a Honda Fit. But for the most part I’m willing to drive blocks out of the way and walk, or slip into a diagonal space, or let the Norwegian Artist drive when we’re in the city and masterfully fit that hunk of metal (the car, not the Norwegian) into the allotted space.

In other words, I compensate for my lack of ability.

Ideally, I would learn how to parallel park, which is what our two youngest teenagers are doing with the Norwegian Artist this year before they take their licensing test, but that would mean hours of practicing with the Norwegian, and I’d really just rather spend the time knitting socks.

Because, compensating works.

It doesn’t always, you know — if my problem involved driving skills, say, like the inability to make a right turn without banging into the curb, then I’d need to work on things, but if I can get by — as I have for 35 years — without parallel parking and I’m not hurting anybody and nobody’s yelling at me — then I do, and focus my energy on difficult things that I need to learn and I can’t compensate for.

So it is with painting — some techniques you may never get — something to do with color or brushwork or the ability to draw hands so that they don’t look like elephant feet — and you compensate, by never showing hands, for instance.

As long as this works, it works, and you develop your style by compensating around what you cannot do. The key is determining just how important the technique you can’t do is, and making a decision about it.

More on this next week . . .

I know you’re probably an artist, but, interestingly, artists are some of our best clients. If you like Steve’s work, we’ve set up a number of affordable ways to make it yours — our originals are reasonably priced, our signed limited edition prints are archival quality, and our inspirational posters are uber, uber affordable. This is our philosophy on how we price our paintings. Write us — we answer every e-mail —

Dream Big!

31 Jan

Bold Innocence poster -- Dream Big! by Steve Henderson

Things change as we get older.

Christmas and birthdays come and go without the weeks of agonizing beforehand, that feeling that the good day will never arrive, the sheer joy and abandon when it does.

In the process of growing up, do we become . . . boring?

“Dream Big” reminds us to reach for something that is bigger and grander than what and where we actually are.

Someone wrote me the other day, “Yeah, I could do what I want with unlimited money and time.”

So do we all think, but when we look around at those people who actually do have unlimited money and time, it’s intriguing to notice that even they don’t seem to be doing what they want. Rather, they’re more concerned about keeping what they have, and are worried that if they don’t look a certain way, act a certain way, speak a certain way, they will topple.

Dreams are big things, and they are not achieved overnight, nor without hard work, perseverance, determination, and patience — the gritty elements that work in the background.

Dream big!

(The Bold Innocence poster — Dream Big! is part of Steve Henderson’s Inspirational Poster collection, and is available at Steve Henderson Fine Art.)

Happy New Year

21 Dec
May 2013 find you laughing aloud with pure joy. Brimming Over by Steve Henderson

May 2013 find you laughing aloud with pure joy. Brimming Over by Steve Henderson

I’m not a New Year’s resolution type of person; I’m guessing that you aren’t either.

That being said, there is a resolution that all of us can make — indeed should make — and for me to use the word “should,” shows how important this resolution is:

Think for ourselves.

Not just in how or what we do in our art, nor where or how we market it, although that’s a great start. We live in a transitional economy, and what worked prior to 2008 isn’t working the same now, and indeed, may never do so again.

But to succeed as artists, citizens, and human beings, it’s crucial that we constantly ask ourselves why we do what we do, and why we believe what we believe. While this may seem painfully simplistic, generally the simple things in life are the most complex.

With thsi in mind, I invite you to check out I’m a Believer — You Are Too, my end-of-the-year Middle Aged Plague article.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, to you and yours. May you be richly blessed.

— Carolyn

We Do This Every Year. Why?

10 Dec

“I don’t even read newspapers, and yet, around this time of year every year, I am aware of the number of articles written about the frenetic, fast-paced shopping and social frenzy of getting through the ‘holiday season.’

“It never sounds like much of a holiday to me, and I ask myself,


When our cup, or basket, is running over, that’s supposed to be a good thing. Brimming Over by Steve Henderson.

“Why do we do this to ourselves — Every. Single. Year?

“As we launch into a month that has sacred and secular observances for many, I encourage you to make these celebrations your own, focusing on the meaning and the joy of each, foregoing the mania and the chaos that those newspaper articles, ironically, promote.

“I wish you, and all of us, a true season of Joy.”

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly online newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

So what does this have to do with art — creating it or enjoying it?

A lot, actually, because it has to do with our perception of what is true, and what is not, based upon the external influences that push themselves into our lives, in this case, newspaper articles.

Around this time of year, article after article, blog after blog, offer 10 tips, or 7 tips, or the 3 ultimate tips, for avoiding holiday stress, hammering in the message with such force and strength that we never stop to ask ourselves: “Are my holidays stressed? And if they’re not, should they be? Is there something wrong with me?”

Most of the time, we don’t stop long enough to ask ourselves these basic questions, simply internalizing, without thinking about it, the message of the day, to the point that we unconsciously murmur in agreement when someone says, “Oh, those holidays! They’re stressful.”

If it’s not the holidays, then it’s something else — like what constitutes good art, or what we “should” be hanging up in our homes, or what “collectors” value, or what colors work and which don’t, or whether abstract is a higher form of artistic expression on the evolutionary scale or not — article after article, written by expert after expert, or worse yet, advertisement after advertisement, carefully crafted by marketing strategists, hammers in the message until it becomes a part of our inner being, and colors our actual judgment of the situation.

Stop. Breathe. Free yourself to ask the basic questions — who is going to get inside your head and scold your for independent thought?

And enjoy the holidays, by the way.

Automobiles and Fine Art Paintings — What Do They Have in Common?

11 Oct

I love my Honda Fit. And while that may seem to have nothing to do with art, actually, it does.

Color, light, energy, joy — paintings provide those — and who of us can’t use more color, light, energy and joy in our lives? Promenade by Steve Henderson

You see, I drive my Honda Fit, everywhere, and in the process of its being used, it gets dusty, the tires see some wear, the interior windows next to where the Toddler sits get coated with whatever sticky stuff she’s got on her hands and smears onto the glass. (I know. I don’t want to know much more than that, either.)

Honestly, if I kept my Honda Fit inside the garage and never drove it for, say, 10 years, it would look exactly the way it did the day I bought it, and I could resell it — maybe at a profit — because it would be such a great investment!

But you know, people don’t buy cars to keep as investments. They buy them to drive in them, and when it’s the right car, like my cute, sassy, blazing barbecue orange Honda Fit, they enjoy the process.

If more people thought about art this way, more people would own, and enjoy paintings. But all of a sudden, when people look at a painting, they go into this “I Must Make a Profit on This Investment Mode” — even if what they’re looking at is a limited edition print for $80. Somehow, they tell themselves, if they purchase this, they need to be able to resell it, ten years down the road, for $200, because that’s what you do with art — you buy it as an investment.

Art adds that extra special joy to our lives. Seaside Story by Steve Henderson.

What a sad, limited world view, one that keeps people from renovating their aesthetic lives and their home’s walls. The best reason to buy art is because you like it, because when you see the painting or the print it makes you happy, because you want it, because — like my Honda Fit — it’s smart, sassy, sophisticated, and fun — in short, that painting is You.

Enjoy driving your car — it’s a marvel of technology. Drink the wine that you like — red, white, blush — because only you have your unique palate. And buy art because you like it. Any other reason is less than the best.

Being Human, and All That

17 Sep

“You know, it’s not a sin to make mistakes, fail to succeed on the first (or 45th) try, or generally show that we’re imperfect. The unspoken strictures that some businesses/churches/schools/establishments place upon their members/employees make following the 10 Commandments look pretty darn easy.”

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly e-mail newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Materials aren’t free and time is precious — that being said, if more artists would worry less about creating the perfect painting and more about experimenting and getting better at what they do, then they would sooner reach a consistency of quality and create paintings with which they are delighted, time after time.

But if you skip that stage — that practicing and trying and saying, “Oh, what the heck; if I don’t like it, I’m out a little paint, the canvas, some time — but I’ve gained in experience and wisdom” — then you’ll find that you’re so worried about perfection, that you never achieve it.

Each painting is a new opportunity to walk along your path of growth as an artist. Promenade by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

There are enough people in our lives expecting unrealistic things of us, that we don’t have to be one of them. Falling down isn’t failure. Trying and not getting it quite right isn’t tragedy. Doing something completely different, just because, isn’t a waste of time.

Go for it. Grab a different brush. Use a color you usually avoid. Shake around your subject matter. Play with your paint and see where it takes you on the next step of your journey.


26 Jul

What is success? Be honest with yourself.

Do you truly believe that a successful person is defined by the car he drives, the title after her name, or their number of Twitter followers?

Life is bigger, wider, deeper than what you can fit into a shoebox.

Walk onto that beach with confidence, knowing that you are a success.

— This week’s quote by Steve Henderson in Start Your Week with Steve, a free weekly e-mail newsletter to help people start Monday off on the right foot, or just to start it at all. Join us, and invite your co-workers, friends, and family.

The Most Important Question to Ask When You Buy Fine Art

15 Jun

There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before you purchase a piece of fine art — whether it is an original or a limited edition print, but the most important one is one that people frequently overlook:

“Do I like it?”

“Do I Like It?” Ultimately, that is the question that carries the most weight, and it is the question that only you can answer. Reflection by Steve Henderson

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by questions that do or do not matter, such as,

“What would an art critic say?”

“Is it considered good?”

“Will it rise in value?”

While these questions may matter if you are a “collector” and wish to purchase the piece to put away in the vaults for a future day when you speculate that it will be worth 100 times what you paid for it; or if you are concerned with what other people will say when they walk in your house and see it, they really get in the way when you’re out to put something on your wall that you like, that makes you smile every time you walk in the room, that gives you pleasure because it touches some part of your inner being that only you know about.

If you’re worried about the price and aren’t sure whether it’s “worth” it, then talk to the gallery owner or, if you can, the artist himself, and ask about the piece. Recognize that a fine artist is as skilled in his profession as a neurologist is in hers, and one of the reason the piece you’re looking at strikes so deep within in you is because the artist made it so.

Then, after you have purchased the piece, put it in a place of honor and joy in your house where you can encounter it again and again, discovering something new every time you meet.