Sunday, June 05, 2011

Connecting with Your Art

Connecting with Your Art

With all the rain we have had in Mt. Shasta, I wanted to paint something with a bit more color. A really good friend found this tulip tree branch. I really enjoyed painting it.

There is a difference between painting with intention (to do something with an agenda) and connecting with your painting.

Artists are painting with an agenda when they try to create a painting that looks like a photograph or a subject from life. Connecting with your painting involves painting what you know - your reality, your life, and how you see the world daily.

Artists paint by placing strokes of color on their canvas to recreate the subject they have chosen to paint. Then, there comes a moment when the focus shifts and the image becomes three-dimensional. This is when we are connecting with our art. It only happens when the right side of the brain relies on what it knows and rather than how to do to it.

Try an experiment. Paint an image of one of your toys that you had growing up. Paint it from your memory. Try looking at the painting while you are painting as if you are seeing the toy again, but then look at if as if you have never seen it before. Don’t ask how, just do it as if you know how. Keep looking at the painting and making changes - see the light on it, see the shadows. Before long, you will see it as real as if you are looking at the real object or a photo of it.

The human brain is very complex and cooperative. It will think of what you tell it to think about such as your experiences, feelings and images as long as you have them stored in your memory already. If you want to paint landscapes, you must spend lots of time painting from nature, storing many images and experiences for the brain to access. Painting outdoors allows you to become observant of what only you can see through your eyes. The reason we paint out doors is not to come home with a completed painting. It is to educate your mind to see what nature looks like so that when you are in the studio, your auto-recall can go into high gear and you can connect with your painting like never before. This is what athletes call “being in the zone”

If you want to learn more about this subject, stayed tuned.

If you want to have an opportunity to paint outdoors and experience how you can fill your brain with images, feelings, and observations of nature, I invite you to come to my workshop in Mt Shasta on June 17-18-19. There is space for a few more participants. If you are interested, go to my website at to learn more and to register.

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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Wow! It’s October and The Grand View Ranch is buzzing with excitement. Our last outdoor painting workshop of the year is this weekend, and The Power to Create class in Medford is starting this Thursday. We have room for one more in the class, so if you feel inspired to create this fall, check out our website for details.

When I go through my studio, I often find little treasures that I have painted that have been lost for a few months, and then found with much delight. When I am stuck on a painting or I am not sure that my painting is complete, I turn it away from my view and set it in a corner for a few days or weeks, When I rediscover the forgotten work, I can see the painting with new eyes, and will notice if anything is missing. This painting called “Lilies and Pansies” is one I painted early last spring on my back porch. Finding this jewel refreshes my memory of spring, as I get ready for fall.

Our Skepticism as Artists

Artists constantly question themselves: Do I have talent? Am I original? Does my art have any feeling? Does my art have meaning? These conversations create barriers that form walls between who we are and what we create. These skeptical conversations are deeply rooted in messages taught us to us at home and in school that questioned our own essence of being human and doubted our own capabilities of what we could achieve. We can usually mask these doubts about our genius in our day-to-day life, but the doubts intensify and become real issues when we creatively express ourselves. When we tap into the core inside ourselves and present it to the world in our paintings, we cannot hide. Why are we so afraid? It is possible that the source of our genius and creativity comes from the same “undefended child” within us that was corrected, doubted, and challenged to do it better, instead of being celebrated for making the effort to create, to learn, to risk being imperfect, and do new things anyway!

Our insights and feelings are what make us human, and to share this understanding with others is the foundation of art. Art is communicating to others without words - expressing our thoughts, experiences, and emotions to others so they can understand our point of view. Everyone has something to say, and what you have to say has as much value as anyone one who has ever picked up a paintbrush or has written a note of music. I invite you to come to the canvas with a courageous and joyful heart knowing that you have made it to this age willing to create, express, and share yourself artistically. Those who are critics cannot stop you for they are not able to see, feel, or communicate at your level of understanding, and those who are artists will love you for your bold and fearless spirit.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Facts are Facts

Hornbrook Barn Opus 2

Facts are Facts

Great art challenges not only the viewer but also the artists who create it. Most artists paint what they know and do it to the best of their ability. A few artists take on creative work that challenges their knowledge and reveals their inabilities. However, when they do overcome this kind of challenge, they realize that the rewards are huge. Artists who need ongoing reassurance that they are on the right track may miss the opportunity to reach past their comfort zone to experience the thrill of pleasing themselves with a painting that shares the truth of their view of the world.

Remember, what we do is not easy. A plumber learns his craft and does it. Teachers learn dates and events, and recall them often looking at notes. Lawyers learn the facts of the law and put those facts to work. Artists are required to turn their insides out and express their thoughts and feelings for the world, and then the world judges whether it is good or not. In addition, a painting (often displaying the artist’s name) can be around forever either hanging in a museum or sitting in someone’s garage and every one who sees it will have an opinion about it. It can be intimidating but here are some pointers.

1. Create a mission statement. Every successful business creates a mission statement. Why would your art business be any different? Make sure that your mission statement inspires you and share it with everyone who you know. You can even email your mission statement to me.

2. Find a teacher or a coach. A truly great artist does not work in a vacuum. A good coach will request projects and keep you on schedule, and having ongoing input will keep you on track. Stay in touch with your coach and let him know about your successes as well as the difficulties you may be having with your projects.

3. Find a community of artists. Most towns have non-profit art guilds or a group that connects artists with other artists to share common interests as well as promoting art shows, education, and artistic community events. Art classes are also a great place to start.

Finally, we do not remember those artists who followed the rules more diligently than everyone else did, but instead we remember those who created art by trusting themselves, often becoming the creators of “rules that inevitably we follow.” In his day, Van Gogh was not popular or viewed as a great artist, but because his artistic expression was honest and reflected what he saw, today we think of him as an artistic genius. The reality is that he was no more a genius that you are. He just painted what he saw and he painted everyday

Facts are Facts

Friday, May 14, 2010


Grand Old Lady

At the end of April, we had a sudden winter snowstorm and it seemed like we might have to postpone our April painting workshop at The Grand View Ranch. However, the weather cleared up and, as always, the workshop was a glorious success. The late snow offered two more opportunities to paint the effects of melting snow on the ground. This painting of the Mount Shasta Inn is one of those paintings. On my way to the art class that I teach in Mount Shasta, warm light on an old farmhouse contrasted with the coldness of the melting snow caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to paint it. After class, I returned to the house and painted this “Grand Old Lady” as my last winter painting of the season.


The underlying goal of creating a good composition when you paint is to attract the viewer’s attention. Everything is placed in the painting to direct the viewer deeper into the painting, and to draw his attention to the focal point where the desire to linger is encouraged by the brightest lights or darkest values.
Since art is essentially self-expression, personal preference is fundamental. Many of the elements of composition rely on the simple matter of personal taste and interpretation, making art a spontaneous creative process that begs to happen without rules. However, many artists want to have a predictable approach to create attractive paintings and often hope to find a step-by-step method that they can use (similar to recipes that help with cooking or knitting). Having some guidelines in mind before beginning to paint helps the artist develop an eye-catching composition that increases the possibility of success.
Here are some suggestions for composing a good painting.

First, ask yourself, “What about this subject inspires me so much that I want to paint it?” Answering this question will help you compose a painting that includes elements that interest you and captures your attention to share with the viewer.

Second - Keep it simple. When in doubt, simplify it. Ask yourself, “What can I leave out” instead of “what can I put into the painting?” A painting that is simple and directs the viewer to the center of interest will transfer the excitement you felt when you chose the subject to paint. It is especially important to keep it simple when you paint the side portions of your canvas so the focal point is clearly visible.

Third – Create Harmony. View the subject and ask yourself “What overall unifying device unites the painting?” It can be a single light source, or the mood of the atmosphere, or colors that work together that create great unifying effects. When using color, look for color-related areas such as trees, grass, water and sky and notice how they all work together to create a since of harmony. Nature is always harmonious if you learn to paint what you see. Painting the way we think things should be will frequently lead to complications.

Remember, a good composition is one where the viewer is unaware that artist has purposely composed the painting. There is no limit to the possible arrangements of compositional objects within a painting. I would highly recommend that you don’t play it safe. Always look for a different way of seeing a subject. Try something new. After all, no one ever got a gold medal for a perfect swan dive off a low diving board. It is exciting to paint from your own sense of what is desirable and appealing. I have to say that my most successful compositions were ones that I painted intuitively from my gut and had the most fun painting.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Fine Art of Being Prepared

Last week when I was traveling back from my teaching engagement in Medford, Oregon, I took an unexpected road off the highway. I had just given a painting demonstration to a group of new students so my brushes, paints, and canvases were in my truck and ready to go.
It had been raining and magnificent cloud formations with impressive light effects covered the sky. I drove by an old pear orchard looking for a road that would take me back to Ashland, when I noticed an awesome scene of a blossoming pear tree with an old barn as a backdrop. The sky opened and a beam of sunlight lit up the metal roof creating a dramatic moment of contrasting lights and darks. I pulled over quickly, gathered my painting supplies, and began mixing my foundation color. An artist must be ready at all times to create when inspiration strikes.

A writer has sharp pencils and paper in a shirt pocket to jot down notes. A cook always had a collection of spices in his kitchen ready to create the next extravaganza. The artist must have supplies at hand to be able to catch the moment of inspiration and transfer it to canvas. A travel bag outfitted with these basic essentials will serve you well whenever you want to create: red, yellow, and blue paint, a palette, canvas, brushes, turp, and paper towels. Like a good scout, be prepared for anything.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Taking Time to Paint 

Before we begin this week’s blog, I want to remind you that our spring workshops are filling up and only a few spaces are still available. If you would like to experience the thrill of painting on location, please call me today at 415-606-9074 to reserve your place in April’s workshop on the 23-24-25th or in May on the 14-15-16th.
Taking Time to Paint
During this time of year, as winter starts winding down and spring awakens with new possibilities and gifts, it take a little more time for spring to visit us at The Grand View Ranch because we’re located in the mountains at a higher altitude. After spending months inside the house, surrounded by snow, and watching the trees stand naked after losing their leaves because of the cold, I find myself lingering a little longer at the Home Depot nursery allowing the bright colors of the spring flowers to saturate my eyes. Pansies always make me smile. Their brilliant colors and delicate leaves make them fun to paint, and staring at their colors for a few hours especially when the world is still gray outside my studio window, makes the task of painting them very enjoyable. Before I left the nursery the last time I was there, I scooped up a few of these colorful posies to recreate them in my studio.
Painting flowers from life is a very challenging thing to do. No matter how fast you paint, the flowers change constantly either by following the sun that is beaming through the studio window or wilting from the heat of the light bulb. To paint beautiful flowers, an artist needs to have an agile hand for accuracy of brush strokes, an educated eye that sees the nuances of color and light, and confidence that the hours of painting day after day will produce a painting that sparkles with life.
In my power to create class, I constantly promote the commitment to painting every day, and yet, painting seems to be the first thing that artists drop when time runs short and there is too little time to get things done. Whether your desired art form is music, writing, painting, or even cooking, it is the most important thing you can do every day. Most of the excuses seem silly when you look back over the week and ask yourself why you did not paint this week. Imagine how you would feel if you had painted five paintings this week. What insights would you have had? What discoveries would you have made? Painting is not just something that you do when it is convenient to do so. If you wait until you feel like it or wait until you are inspired, you will never excel in the discipline of painting. Choose to paint first and then find the time to get the other stuff done. Believe me; the other stuff will still be waiting.
And the next time you walk past a flat of pansies or a bunch of roses and you think, “Wow! I would love to paint those flowers,” and then you hear yourself saying that you do not have time to paint: stop immediately, buy them, go home, and turn your phone off, and paint, paint, paint!
Note: As we enter the third year of posting this blog and preparations are nearly complete to publish a book of my paintings and writings, I want to thank you, the readers, for all your gracious comments that warm my heart, make me smile, and inspire me to continue offering my experiences and views of the world of art through this blog.
I have devoted my life to touch, move and inspire others to see and appreciate the beauty of art and its relationship to nature. And, as we travel through this great land with our 1970 Silver Streak trailer following behind our truck, I passionately desire to share the power and beauty of nature and art with others. For a FREE book on everything I know about painting go to