Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Hanley Ranch Opus 1

Painting With Feeling

Hanley Ranch Opus 1 12 X18

The painting that I am sharing with you today is of the family home on the Hanley Ranch located just outside of Medford, Oregon. It is a place that I recently discovered when I was looking for a location for a plein aire workshop. When I saw the Hanley family home it spoke to me about the feeling of being left alone after years of love. Painting a "feeling" is the highest form of expression because it reveals the heart of the artist. Most paintings are of things such as trees, rocks, a vase, a river, or buildings. An artist can change the effect of light or the composition in a painting to make it more compelling and interesting, but a "feeling" is what the great masters were trying to capture. We will discuss how to do this in future blogs.

Five Key Questions to Ask Yourself as you Critique your painting:

A student recently asked me, "How do I critique my own painting? What should I look for, and what do you see when you critique paintings?" Critiques are difficult to receive and endure for most artists. Artists generally don't like to hear what works and what is missing in their paintings. However, like all disciplines, we must learn from others. If you want to create powerful paintings that speak to the viewing public, it is important to listen to what others think.

In my 12-week Power to Create course, I spend 3 hours each week critiquing students' artwork that they painted as assignments for the week. After a several weeks of participating in the critiques, students in the class begin to understand how to look objectively at their paintings and the paintings of others. Here are the top five elements that I look for when I critique a painting. As you read the information below, look at one of your paintings and follow along, asking yourself these questions.

1. Message: The first thing I ask is "what were you trying to say with the painting?" so that I can confirm whether I got the idea or not. If the message is not clear to the artist, how will the viewer be able to understand what the artist is trying to communicate? Also, is the focal point clearly identifiable, does it support the message, and does it draw the viewer into the painting?

2. Composition: I look to see if the composition in the painting attracts the viewer's attention, directs the viewer's eye to the important areas of the painting, and keeps the viewer's interest involved in the painting. The composition must be simple regardless of the size of painting. Composition is merely an element of the total effort, and must remain subordinate to the representation of the subject and message.

3. Value: I determine whether there is an adequate variety of intensities of value. The value is the degree of the darkness in contrast to the lightness of a color on a value scale from white to black. By squinting, I make sure that the painting has clear and identifiable value changes.

4. Edges: Is there a variety of brush strokes and edges that define the distance of objects and content in the painting. Soft edges are found on the sides and at the back of the painting, while crisp and sharp edges are seen near the focal point and on objects, as they get closer to the front of a painting.

5. Light Source: I am surprised that many paintings are missing a defined light source that indicates the direction that the light is coming from. When painting outdoors, an artist must choose a source of light and keep it in place, to prevent the mistake of "chasing the light" as it continues to change with time, causing the painting to become flat.

Of course, there are many more key elements, but this will help you to look more objectively at your paintings. We will discuss all of these topics and many more during our Fall Workshops. I invite you to attend a weekend in Mt Shasta that will inspire you and change the way you paint forever.

Romantic Luminism

Romantic Luminism

"A Bright Spot in the World of Art"

Luminism: An American Art Style

Art collectors and galleries have classified my work as Romantic Luminism. This painting style is truly American characterized by including the effect of light in a landscape using aerial perspective (how atmospheric conditions influence our perception of objects in the distance.) They have said that I have the ability to focus light in my paintings in ways that captures the mood and splendor of the landscape and draws the viewer into the essence of the painting. I have used this method in my painting for years. I include a center of interest using the luminosity of sunlight blended with the softness of tone, and concealing some of my brush strokes to allow the subtle effects of light to infuse the local color of the subject.

Modern painters attempt to create paintings that impress the viewers with clever uses of the brush. Most of these paintings look the same, with one stroke here and a stroke there, with palette colors that define the painting rather than effectively using the power of light in their work. These artists produce boring work that lacks inspiration and the feeling of life in their work. Remember, it is not what you do, but how well you do it. Spend some time everyday learning more ways to bring your paintings to life.

Creating Luminism in your paintings

If you want to create a luminous effect in your painting, key the painting to cool colors and darker values, The area of light is best positioned within the middle third portion of your canvas, or it can be anywhere in your painting as long as the viewer clearly focuses on the that spot of light. This spot should be warm and bright with paint applied thickly but not overworked. Direct all the detail and contrast close to the light but try not to highlight anything other than your focal point.

Here is an exercise to "see" differently. When you go for a walk or drive, look for the light around you, not the objects. Try not to see forms but focus only on the intensity of the infusion of light around you. Isolate the light that is the central focal point, and dull all other light by at least five values. This understanding of "seeing" will increase your ability to bring an infusion of light into your paintings. It may take some time to learn, but it will make a dramatic difference in your work.

Now location WORKSHOPS! April 16-17, May 21-22, June 18-19

There is so much happening at The Grand View Ranch; spring is coming and we are introducing a completely new painting on-location workshop that promises an experience that will inspire and change the way you paint forever. Go to for more information.


The Grand View will air nationally on the PBS "Create" Station on February 20. Check your local PBS listings for the schedule of twenty episodes featuring yours truly painting live on location in twenty different National Parks. It is Amazing! you can also get more information at:

Painting Workshop in Mt Shasta CA
A Two-Day Painting Workshop that will inspire the way you paint, forever !
Discover the secrets of painting
Come join Stefan Baumann, the host of the PBS series THE GRAND VIEW, for a weekend of painting in beautiful Mt. Shasta at The Grand View Ranch. Discover the secrets of painting hidden lakes, vast meadows, grand trees, sunsets, and the famous Mt. Shasta summit herself. More Information
About Stefan Baumann The paintings of Stefan Baumann capture the true spirit of nature by transporting you to undiscovered, unseen, and undisturbed secret lands. Each painting is more than just a picture; it is a vivid manifestation of his special and personal union with nature and the outdoors. Through Baumann's masterful compositions and his use of brilliant light and color, he invites you to experience nature in its purity..
About The Grand View PBS With his popular weekly PBS television series, The Grandview, America's National Parks through the Eyes of an Artist, Baumann shares with millions of viewers his passion for painting in the great outdoors. His work is currently advertised in Art of the West Magazine, and he is a spokesman for Masterpiece Canvas. With Baumann's national acclaim, it is no wonder astute collectors have made Stefan Baumann one on the most sought after American nature painters of our time..
About The Grand View Ranch

It is my dream to create an idyllic artist retreat, where artists can participate in location painting workshops that nurture the artist in a place of unparalleled beauty and inspiration. I am interested in offering an experience that reflects the philosophy of one of my mentors, John Ruskin, author of "Modern painters." Ruskin rejected the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial Revolution, similar to what we are going through right now, with mass produced imports from other countries, and very few items made with the artist's hands, mind, and heart. I hope to work with other similar thinking artists to make a difference, and to provide a location for human connection and artistic expression to grow. This type of project takes a battalion of helpful colleagues to make it work, and many artists have contributed to this dream. I thank them with all my heart.

Significance of the Moment

"The Old Pump House"

At The Grand View this week, we are getting the ranch ready for our workshop in September called “Awe and Wonder,” and by popular demand, we have added a workshop in October in Mt. Shasta.

A successful artist endeavors to master techniques such as the application of paint with brushes and knife. He also must have access to the tools stored on the inside of the artist’s heart - his feelings, emotions, memories, and values. It is essential to maintain both areas with care and attention or the result can be a muddy mess and a sense of boredom in the individual. To enjoy the art of creating quality work, it is necessary to interweave the heart, be present to the significance of the moment, and engage in frequent practice to bring in a sense of richness and clarity to your art.

When people bring so much of their lives to their work, they are artists. Things that artists create share a common element: whether the product is made of silver, glass, clay, paint, cloth or wood, a closer look will show that it also contains the spirit of the individual. The significant difference between something that is created by the hand of man and a production-line item is the existence of that human spirit. Computers and assembly lines can create with abundance, but only men and women with their hands, tools, and love can create with feeling.

The key to being successful is sensitivity. The relationship that is established between the artist and his work is personal. Inspiration is not always present but every once in a while, there is a special awareness that comes to you. All of a sudden, something falls into place. When you are creating with inspiration, reality leaves you, you are in unaware of time, you do not have time to eat, and every thing is present now! Great art is created from this flow. Somehow, you transform. Both the art and the artist become more dignified because of the perception of the significance of the moment. When you open up to your work, allow it to move you and change you, you will begin to notice that boredom is something that happens to other people.

Here is an exercise to increase your awareness of the moment. Paint something right in front of you, right now. Be present. Feel the paint. See the color. Don’t worry about the outcome. Set the timer in the other room and remove all distractions. Paint for two hours and see what happens.