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Norwegian Musings and Polish Thoughts

Christmas Gift Idea: Digital Watercolor Workshop

Jump into 2014 learning, or improving, a painting skill: Steve's digital workshop DVD, Step by Step Watercolor Success, is now available through


Whether you are an absolute beginner or an intermediate painter, Steve leads you, step by step, through the watercolor process, discussing tools, methods, mixing colors, creating a reference from which to paint, and more. Drawing upon his successful workshops, Steve leads the viewer to paint Purple Iris on and Lonesome Barn through his unique Sequences Method, in which students build the painting, frame by frame, glazing one color over another.



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Watercolor Workshop DVD -- Affordable and fun

Steve's Digital Watercolor Workshop -- based upon the Purple Iris original watercolor painting -- nears completion and will be available for sale shortly on the Steve Henderson Fine Art website.


There are a lot of people out there who want to learn to paint, period, or who want to improve what they are already doing, and Steve's first Digital Watercolor Workshop covers the basics, and beyond, step by step in a friendly, easy-to-use format that you can follow along right on your computer or television screen.


After years of doing workshops for private and community organizations, Steve is pulling together people's main challenges and questions into a veritable workshop in a DVD case, and at the conclusion of the tutorial, students will have a Purple Iris of their own -- uniquely theirs -- and additional skill and ability with the watercolor process.


If you subscribe to our newsletter, Start Your Week with Steve, you will be one of the first to learn when the Digital Watercolor Workshop is available.

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Really, Really Affordable Workshops

Wait for it -- but it won't be long.


Steve is putting together a PowerPoint video series of how-to-paint workshops based upon actual workshops that he gives. First on the docket is Purple Iris. While he was painting this piece, Steve took photos every few brush strokes, and he is assembling a painting tutorial that will allow you to follow the process with him, step by step.


At the end of the tutorial, you will not only have a completed painting, you will have spent a considerable amount of time with Steve, learning what materials he uses, what colors of paints, what techniques, and how he chooses the subject matter for a painting piece in the first place. The information you learn will enable you to launch forward into your next painting project.


It's amazing -- the information you would find in a two-day workshop, which can run anywhere from $100 - $300 -- but for much, much less. Think more along the lines of the price of a book but replete with visuals, illustrations, and step-by-step instructions. If you are an amateur, the guides will gently lead you; if you are intermediate and confident to push forward boldly, the information is there, and you may take from it what you wish.


We will post the new tutorials on the website as soon as they are available, and we will alert Steve's Facebook followers and newsletter subscribers as well. If you want to move forward on your art and there is something that you want to learn, contact us at with your ideas. We listen to them all.

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Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts

Steve loves the mountains, and May 29-June 2 he'll be deep within the Wallowa Moutains of Oregon, judging the 31st annual Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts.


More than 90 Northwest artists have entered 214 two- and three-dimensional art pieces in various media -- oil, acrylic, mixed, watercolor, wood, bronze, fabric -- and Steve will spend Thursday reviewing and judging the work.


Friday, May 31, Steve will speak in the afternoon at the Joseph Community Center, where the show is held, concerning the work and how he chose the pieces receiving awards. Saturday, June 1, Steve will talk about his own art journey, and how he approaches what he does.


In the in between times, Steve plans to grab camera and wife Carolyn and hike. Although he doesn't fully realize this, Carolyn has plans to spend several hours in the local quilt shop, Cattle Country Quilts, planning her next full-sized quilt.

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Compensating -- Maybe It's Time for Art Lessons

Last week we talked about parallel parking a car -- or in my case, not parallel parking the thing -- and how, if we don’t know a specific skill, we can frequently compensate by doing things another way.


I need lots of open, free space in order to parallel park my little Honda Fit. Homeland 3.


But sometimes, compensating doesn’t work, and if you, in your artwork, have reached the point of frustration that you just can’t draw a human figure to look like something other than a space alien, of if your still-life flowers look dead, or whatever it is that is driving you to distraction, then it’s time to admit that you don’t know how to do this, what you’ve been doing up to this point isn’t working, and it’s time to move forward in the matter.


So, where do you move?


The initial solution is to take a class, but there are lots of other options. My favorite, hands down, is finding an artist whose work you like and asking him or her if they will 1) teach you or 2) review your work and give some suggestions, this latter being called a consultation.


Before we move on, let me talk about that word “giving” back there, as in “giving some suggestions.”


By all means, plan to pay this artist for his or her time; many artists offer classes or portfolio reviews, and the best way to find out if the artist you’re interested in does this kind of thing is to ask. And in case you're asking, yes, we do art lessons and portfolio reviews at Steve Henderson Fine Art. They're affordable, easy to do, and we certainly have fun with them and do our best to make sure that you do too. The Internet, and online communication, have opened up a lot of doors that didn't even exist a short while ago.


Can you afford this? Yeah, probably. We’ll talk about this next week.

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Art Lessons

 The beauty of the online world is that we can do all sorts of things, long distance, that we only dreamed about before.
At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we now offer art lessons and reviews via e-mail and phone consultation, and are in the process of setting up Skype sessions as well.
Please visit our Art Lessons & Consultation page for more information, and feel free to contact us via with questions.
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Eyrie -- In Top 50 for Artist & Illustrator's Artist of the Year

In addition to being accepted to the 2012 Paint the Parks Exhibition, Eyrie is now one of 50 Fabulous Final entries for Artist & Illustrator Magazine's Artist of the Year competition. Chosen from a record 4,000 entries by a panel of esteemed jurors, Eyrie is now up for popular vote.


We would certainly appreciate yours. 


You can vote for Eyrie by following this link -- 


and scrolling down to the tenth painting, Eyrie, and clicking "vote now" under Steve's name.


Please consider passing on this link to your friends, family, and colleagues via word of mouth, Facebook, Google Plus, Linked In, Pinterest, and other social media sites you enjoy. On Twitter, if you incorporate


@aandimagazine #AOTY

into your Tweet, then Artists and Illustrators will retweet it to their followers. (The link takes your readers to the voting page).


A sample Tweet would look like this:


Steve Henderson has been shortlisted for Artist of the Year! Vote for Eyrie @aandimagazine #AOTY


Please feel free to copy and paste the above sentence into your Tweet. Voting closes October 23.


Thank you!

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October -- Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction Entry

Accepted to the 17th Annual Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction in Fort Collins, CO, September 2, 2012. Online bidding is available through this link --

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Another Question That NEVER Goes Away

“Am I a Real Artist?”


This question is slightly different from last week’s question, in which nuclear physicists and non-nuclear physicists ask if they are artists – the edition of the word “real” adds new dimension, along the lines of the Velveteen Rabbit.

You are correct in noticing that these are not rabbits. They are, however, stuffing themselves, so there is a connection, of sorts. Deer Above Dixie by Steve Henderson.

Have you read that children’s story by Margery Williams? It’s a great one – a sawdust-stuffed rabbit toy is literally loved to pieces by his little boy owner, but agonizes because he’s not really real – he’s just a stuffed toy, until one day, after the family has thrown him out because he was contaminated during the little boy’s bout with scarlet fever, the Nursery Magic Fairy turns him into a real bunny – one with workable legs andwarm skin and the ability to breathe.


So what is it going to take to turn you into a real artist?


Will it be selling a piece of your art for a certain price, or just selling a piece, period, to someone other than a friend or relative?


Will it be being accepted into a gallery in Scottsdale, AZ or Savannah, GA?


How about winning a prize at a major exhibition, or being accepted into an exhibition in the first place?


You know what it took for the Velveteen Rabbit? Being loved enough, and manhandled enough, and played with enough, and needed and wanted enough to be real. Actually, even when he was still filled with sawdust and didn’t look like a real bunny, he was – deep inside, where it matters.

If you love your art, manhandle your paint brush, play with color, and need and want to create and get better and deeper than what you create – then you, my friend, are a real artist.


Whether or not there’s still sawdust spilling out of you.

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The question that NEVER goes away

“Am I an Artist?”


I can’t help but wonder how many nuclear physicists get up out of bed each morning and ask themselves whether they are nuclear physicists.

If it looks like a goose, honks like a goose, and nips like a goose, it's probably a goose. Geese on the Snake by Steve Henderson

Granted, if one is a nuclear physicist, one has concrete evidence of the fact – education, background, job title, and hours of working each day with whatever it is that nuclear physicists work with – but an artist has a few concrete pieces of evidence as well:


Paint; canvas; brushes; paper; pencils; clay; some sort of easel, palette, or workspace – all of which are jumbled together somehow to create a painting, sculpture, piece of jewelry, or some other product that others look at and call “art.”


So it would only make sense to call the person who made it an “artist.”


Ah, but nothing in life is simple, and many people – some of whom are nuclear physicists – work at a day job and do art on the side, in the evenings, on the weekends, in place of eating lunch – and while what they produce looks like a painting or a sculpture or a piece of jewelry, they torture themselves by asking all the time,


“Am I an artist?”


“Am I a real artist?”


Some people ask themselves this so much that they stop producing whatever artwork they have been producing, until they can get an answer to the question.


But to some extent, does it really matter?


And whose definition of “artist” are you using anyway?


This is what I recommend: go ahead, keep asking yourself the question if you insist, but don’t stop creating whatever it is that you create, and don’t let the question fill your mind and crowd out ideas for your next piece of work.


Your next piece of Art work, that is.

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Should You Take a Workshop?

I deliberately entitled this post using a word that I have eliminated from my vocabulary: Should.


Too often we do things not because they are right for our particular situation, or because we are grown ups and can use the words “want to” without sounding like recalcitrant toddlers, but because we have this vague idea that others – who know more than we do – expect certain behavior.

Workshops are great little animals; my own Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, regularly teaches them, and his students, depending upon why they are there and how they approach the opportunity, move forward in widely divergent fashions.


Some people are serial workshop takers, collecting the names of their numerous instructors like knitters stash yarn. Others are there for the first time, glancing covertly at everyone else’s brushes and paint tubes and specialized plastic art boxes and convincing themselves that they are the only ones there who know absolutely nothing.


The best students, and the ones who leave most satisfied, are confident enough in themselves to realize that everyone does things differently, but humble enough to recognize that there is much good in trying something new. These students are here, not because they feel they ought to be, but because they want to be – they listen with an open mind, ask pointed questions, absorb the answers given to not only their own questions, but to the questions of others, and use the limited workshop time to its full advantage.


They’re taking the workshop because they like the instructor’s work and want to hear more about how he/she accomplishes it.


Should you take a workshop?


Misleading question.


Do you want to?

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Insecurity -- Looking around never makes it better


One time, when the Norwegian Artist was teaching a beginning watercolor workshop, one of the students looked about and said, "I must be the only true beginner in here. Look at everyone else -- they all have so many paintbrushes and so much paint!"


It's interesting the different conclusions we come to based upon the same observations.


When the Norwegian Artist -- who has one, very expensive watercolor brush that he uses pretty much exclusively -- sees brand new plastic carriers filled with a plethora of lightly used paint tubes and a bouquet of brushes and other tools, he thinks,


"I wonder how much they actually paint versus the time they spend organizing and arranging their materials?"


More than one of the Norwegian Artist's students, and frequently a number of them in the same class, approach him privately and apologize for being the only true beginner in the class, and his response is a variation on the theme:


"It doesn't matter where you're starting from, it matters that you're going someplace."


And interestingly, many of the people who are self-conscious about being the only beginner, once they drop the fear of that (whether or not it is true) wind up learning a tremendous amount and progressing far on their journey as artists, simply because they know that they have much to learn and they're willing to set about doing so.


Because we're all human, we all have our moments of insecurity, but looking around and comparing our situation (which we know quite well) to our impression of other people's situation (about which we know very little) unnecessarily compounds the problem, and indeed, can actually block us from our goal of progressing beyond the present.


Workshops and classes are great opportunities to learn, and if you find one that fits your needs and learning style, go for it with enthusiasm and abandon, unhindered by comparison with the other students in the room. After all, when you're looking about, you're not looking ahead.

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An Unusual Way of Getting Your Art into a Museum

Recently in Poland, my homeland that I've never actually been in, a young art student chose to forgo standard procedure and covertly hung one of his paintings in a major Warsaw gallery.


“I decided that I will not wait 30 or 40 years for my works to appear at a place like this,” Sobiepan told reporters. “I want to benefit from them in the here and now.”


So do we all, son.


While I smile at his effrontery -- and wonder at how he smuggled a painting in, past the guard, and managed to pound a nail up there without anyone noticing -- I am also consternated that such an attitude reaps its own reward: while the museum took down the painting from its briefly stolen space, they re-hung it in their cafe. And the artist is reaping attention and benefits because of what he did -- not because of what he paints.


"Someone will buy it just because of the story behind it," the Norwegian Artist said at the breakfast table this morning. "His career is made, not based upon his skill as a painter, but because of his nerve." (Actually, the N.A. used another term that rhymes with "halls" or "stalls.")


It is eminently understandable the young man's frustration at getting through to museum officials, gallery personnel, magazine editors, professional art organizations -- any group sets up its criteria, and after awhile, that criteria can get in the way of its original intention: to seek and showcase fine art, whether it is done by an established name or by a struggling, emerging artist.


Realistically, some good art gets shown, but so does bad art, simply because once the artist has broken the barrier and made his name, he could paint old Playboy calendars from the mechanic's back room with compost-derived paint and get it hung, showcased, admired and sold.


So the young man decided to take a short cut.


But in the same way most of us have learned to be wary of Uncle Rob's famous short cut that shaves 30 miles off the trip, our common sense tells us that anything worth having is worth working for. If the old guard doesn't work -- if the museums close their ears and the major art organizations pick the same old things over and over for their prize winners and the galleries sniff that they're full and the magazines print a new article about the same artist three issues in succession -- then find a different road.


Not only will it not be a short cut, it will probably be longer, and since it isn't very well used, it won't be as easy to follow, but it will get you to a different destination, with different scenery along the way.





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Get the Most out of the Workshop You're Taking (and Paying for)

Have you ever wanted to bring a workshop instructor to his knees?


It's easy, free, and fun -- when you enter the workshop, suspend your beliefs about how things need to be done, and follow the instructor's lead. If he says to put away your small brushes and paint with the giant one only, then do it.


If he says to put away all the blue paint and use only the red, then do it.


If he tells you to run in your skivvies out in the parking lot, then by all means bundle up in your coat and take an early lunch. Enough is enough already.


The point is, you're investing time and money to listen to this person (who could be female as well, I know; I'm just using the generic "he"), and you won't get the most of out the experience unless you consciously decide to not do things the way you always do them, and to try something different, maybe a little strange, possibly way out of your comfort range.


You don't have to continue the instructor's way of doing things once the workshop's done and you're back in your own studio, but just the process of trying a new technique -- or several techniques -- will give you something to take back and chew on.


Believe me, that attitude will knock the instructor senseless.

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Artist's Magazine Competition for Artists over Age 60


Well, neither the Norwegian Artist nor I are over 60 yet, but if we were, we'd give the Artist's Magazine over 60 Art Competition a try.


There is a $15 entry fee per image, with no limit on the number of entries other than what your credit card screams at you. You can enter by mail with a CD of images, or online.


Okay, so $1000 worth of prizes, divided amongst 10 winners, will pay for a celebration of Thai food take out and a bottle of red wine (or do you drink white wine with Thai food?), but the sweet part is being published in the March 2012 issue of Artist's Magazine, as well as on the website.


While you're here, I would be remiss not to mention that you can subscribe to Middle Aged Plague on your Kindle. You can also download it to your computer if you're one of those people, like me, who has hinted and hinted and hinted to friends and loved ones, and not found that slim little box on the pillow yet.



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