Motivational Monday: “Sales Don’t Make A Show”

Today is Joan Mitchell’s birthday. Ms. Mitchell was an Abstract Expressionist painter in the 1950’s who was known for her use of bold colors and sweeping brushstrokes to create paintings inspired by nature. So let’s celebrate the day with one of her quotes. If you want to read more quotes, ArtNet NEWS published a series of Mitchell quote on her birthday a few years ago. HERE is the link. (And, yes. I know she did not like white. She probably would not approve this graphic I created. I, however, love white. After all, white is the presence of all colors.)

"Sales Don't Make a Show"

Joan Mitchell Quote

Goya’s Third of May Painting


By Francisco de Goya - The Prado in Google Earth: Home - 7th level of zoom, JPEG compression quality: Photoshop 8., Public Domain,

The Third of May, 1808, By Francisco de Goya [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Since it is May 3rd, I thought it would be interesting to look at Francisco Goya’s painting, The Third of May, 1808. I have not had the pleasure of seeing Goya’s work in person; however, visiting Spain is on my “bucket list”. When I DO visit, I am going to make a point of going to the Museo del Prado in Madrid to see this painting, as well as all the other treasures in their collection. Until then, here is a list of ten things I have read or studied about the painting:

  1. The Third of May, 1808 was painted in 1814 by Spanish artist, Francisco de Goya.


  1. The painting is oil on canvas measuring some 8’9″ x 13’4″ and is located at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.


  1. This painting is also known as:
    • El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid;
    • Los fusilamientos de la montaña del Principe Pio; and/or
    • Los fusilamientos del tres de mayo


  1. The subject of the painting was a commemoration of the Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies as part of his plan to take control of Spain. On May 2, 1808, there was a rebellion against the French. In retaliation, the Spaniards were massacred in the streets on May 3, 1808 by the French armies. Keep in mind, this war predated the photography process, so painters were the primary vehicle for visual documentation. Goya created several paintings addressing this subject matter, however, THIS painting has been called the “world’s first modern painting”.


  1. Why is this painting considered one of the first paintings of the modern era? Well, I’m taking some liberties here, but here goes:
    • The painters of this era strived for beauty and perfection on the canvas. While Goya certainly had the technical skills to paint a “beautiful”, technically correct, painting, his work in this painting broke with the tradition of technically correct perspective, etc. to strengthen the story.
    • The painting is less about beauty and more about the impact of the events that happened.
    • The painting, even the brush strokes, seem to be less about perfection and more about the immediacy of capturing that one moment, as documentation, and well as feeling.


  1. Goya directs the viewer by employing the use of leading lines of the hill in the background, as well as the line of faceless, anonymous, army with their weapons pointing directly at the man dressed in white shirt and ochre trousers. He also uses the lighting (referred to as “chiaroscuro”) not only to give the painting a somber mood, but he also utilizes it to make the subject the brightest, lightest area of the painting, thereby directing the viewer’s attention.


  1. Goya also employs the iconography, or symbolism, of the Christian faith in this painting. The most obvious being the subject’s pose, which has been compared to the Crucifixion. Additionally, if you look closely at the right hand of the subject, there appears to be a wound, or stigmata, in the palm of the hand, similar to a wound suffered from being nailed to the cross. (There are many more parallels, but I encourage you to look and read on your own if you are interested.)


  1. The painting may have been in “storage” for many years before it was shown to the public, and was part of the royal collection which was transferred to the Prado in 1819. As a bit of trivia, the painting has remained in Madrid, except for one relocation during the Spanish Civil War. While transporting this painting, as well as the Second of May, the truck was involved in an accident that resulted in damage to both Goya paintings.


  1. Goya’s painting influenced Édouard Manet (Execution of Emperor Maximillian), as well as Pablo Picasso (Massacre in Korea). Goya’s painting was again referenced as an influence in another famous Picasso painting: Guernica which addresses the aftermath of bombing during the Spanish Civil War.


  1. Goya’s painting possesses a timeless quality. Neither the landscape, nor the clothing is specific to a time nor location per se, which allows the painting’s message to remain as relevant today as 200 years ago.

If you are interested in reading more about Goya’s painting, here are a few resources for you. Just click on the link:

Goya, Third of May, 1808, Khan Academy

Art historical analysis (Khan Academy video)

The Third of May 1808, Wikipedia

The Executions of the Third of May, 1808, Art Museums


Happy Birthday Michelangelo Buonarroti!

By Daniele da Volterra - The Collection Online, The Metropolitan Museum of Art., Public Domain,

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6, 1475-February 18, 1564)

Happy 542nd birthday to the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti! To celebrate, I thought it might be fun to play a little “Michelangelo Trivia”, shall we?

1)   Was Michelangelo a/an:

    1. architect
    2. painter
    3. poet
    4. sculptor
    5. all of the above.

Answer: All of the above. I think he may have been the poster-boy for the term “Renaissance Man”.

2)   It is believed that Michelangelo signed only one piece of his work. Which famous work did he sign?

    1. David
    2. Pietà
    3. “The Last Judgment” on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
    4. “The Creation of Adam” on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Answer: The Pietà (which is housed in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy) is believed to be the only work signed by Michelangelo. In case you are curious, Michelangelo carved his name on the sash running across Mary’s chest. (Incidentally, he was in his early 20’s when he carved this beautiful sculpture.) On a personal note, this is my favorite sculpture…EVER.

3)   Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel lying down.

    1. True
    2. False

Answer: False. The artists (and his assistants) used a unique system of wooden scaffolds that attached to the walls. The scaffold system was designed by Michelangelo and enabled them to stand while painting.

4)   Where might one see the original sculpture of David when traveling to Florence, Italy?

    1. Uffizi Gallery
    2. Piazza della Signoria
    3. Galleria dell’Accademia
    4. Piazzale Michelangelo

Answer: The original sculpture is housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia. A replica of the sculpture is in the original outdoor location at Piazza della Signoria. And, as a bonus, a bronze replica is at Piazzale Michelangelo.

I hope you enjoyed this little trivia, and maybe even learned a little factoid. Most of all, I hope this piqued your curious enough to look at, and appreciate, some of Michelangelo’s work today.

Thanks for playing!




Top Five Reasons I Liked the Degas to Picasso Art Exhibit

I had the opportunity to visit the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art for the Town and Country: From Degas to Picasso exhibit. Oh MY GOODNESS! I liked this exhibit for SO many reasons. I will give you my top five:


(Yes, these are lousy images. I only had an iPhone 4 on me at the time. ‘Cause who knew I could take photos?!)


They allowed non-flash photography of the artwork – because “art is meant to be shared”. W-H-A-T?! Now there’s a concept. I have been to many museums that do not allow photography and, invariably, there is someone snapping photos anyway. It has always felt like those of us who play by the rules are the ones being punished. But at this exhibition, they actually embraced the change in technology and encouraged sharing the art on Instagram and Twitter with the #bgfa hashtag. Seriously, if there are folks who are going to take photos anyway, might as well use it to promote the art, exhibit, and/or gallery. Genius!


The Bellagio Gallery is an intimate venue that even provides a sitting area with books related to the art exhibited. This provided an opportunity to sit and enjoy the artwork a little longer, maybe peruse a few related books to read a little more about some of the works… The intimate size of the venue also allows you to get close to the artwork and appreciate details. However, it is also large enough to step away from the works for a new vantage point – you know, the way art was meant to be appreciated. More genius!


The subject matter, or curation, of the “theme” of the exhibit was both interesting and unique. The exhibit focuses on the resulting divide of the rural and city life sparked by the Industrial Revolution. Each artist’s vantage point adds a new dimension to the subject.


You are also able to see the beginning influence of the new medium of photography make an appearance in how some artists began “framing” their subject matter. (The Gallery provides an audio tour of the exhibit that is included with your ticket. I highly recommend saying YES when they ask if you would like the audio.)


The Renoir… “Children on the Seashore“… I have no words. It has to be seen. And, it has to be seen in person. Up close…Far away… From the side… From the other side. …you get the idea.

Kudos to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Year in Review

I have spent some time this month reviewing 2016 and preparing for 2017. So, I thought I would share a quick overview of 2016 accomplishments:


I “assisted” my talented sister-in-law with a photo shoot for a magazine. Actually, one of her images became the cover of the magazine. I put assisted in quotes because I really just showed up for the party and watched her do her magic. I am so grateful for the opportunity. Did I say she is talented? Yes. Well, you can see some of her work here:


I donated a framed version of this image to the Taste of Salado fundraiser for the Public Arts League of Salado.

New Season Fog, Digital Photography, Copyright © 2015

I am happy to announce that I did not have to do the “walk of shame” with the work under my arm at the end of the event. Thank you to the generous supporter who bid on my work, as well as supporting the Arts in Central Texas.


I had the opportunity to visit friends in Las Cruces, New Mexico and my gracious hostess, Peggy, introduced me to some of the wonderful galleries in Las Cruces. It was such a fun visit with wonderful hosts. I love New Mexico.


I think I already posted about participating in the 15-Minute A Day Creative Challenge in April. But, since this is a recap, here is a peek at the first thing I created, in 15 minutes (or more) per day. This old car did take several 15 minute blocks of time. And, while it isn’t what I consider finished or gallery-worthy, it represents my commitment to a daily creative endeavor.

Watercolor, Copyright © 2016 SuZan Alexander


I am shamed to report that there were not a lot of artistic endeavors worth sharing in May – unless painting the Master Bedroom counts. I did, however, continue with my daily/weekly/monthly goal for post-processing images.


In June, I hosted my first give-away. I worked on a Watercolor Batik that I offered to my Newsletter “Tribe”. The beauty of watercolor batik is that each final work is unique. You may use the same paint, same paint colors, the same process, but each one takes on their own unique look.

Watercolor Batik, Copyright
© 2016 SuZan Alexander


I made a trip to Palo Duro Canyon and the Cadillac Ranch in July and I can’t wait to return.

Digital Photography, Copyright
© 2016 SuZan Alexander


August was SERIOUS. I met with a CPA, as well as the Comptroller to set-up bookkeeping for the Studio so I could start offering my image for sale online.


This isn’t art related, but, in September, I cut my hair so I could fulfill my wish of contributing my hair to make wigs for cancer patients and celebrate my own survivor status.


The Texas Professional Photographers Association (TPPA) held an event in San Marcos that I was happy to get a chance to attend. What a great event and even better group of photographers. I can not wait to attend next year.


I participated in Flood the Streets with Art and left five images around Salado for shoppers to find.


I am happy to report that I FINALLY completed organizing and post-processing images with a few days of 2016 to spare. Now, I can start 2017 “fresh”.

If you made it this far, thanks! Just so I do not write another long post like this one, I plan to be more consistent with my blog and social media posts in 2017. I even have a plan that I am very excited about and I look forward to sharing it with you.  Tomorrow is the second month of the 2017 party, so… Let’s get going!

Happy Year of the Rooster

Happy New Year! Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year. Since 2017 is the year of the Rooster, I thought I would share a warm-up painting exercise of a rooster I painted years ago.

Oil on Panel, Copyright © 2009 SuZan Alexander

Okay, I KNOW this is not a rooster, but I am throwing it in as a “poultry bonus” just because I have a feeling it is going to be a great year. Well, that and she has been staring me down in the studio for a few years now.

Watercolor, Copyright
© 2012 SuZan Alexander


Creative Challenge Update

I thought I would post an image of my progress this week. I am slowly buy surely working on the watercolor painting of the old, rusty truck I started last week.

I hope you have had a productive and creative week!

15 Minute Challenge :Week 2 Watercolor, SuZan Alexander, Copyright 2016

15 Minute Challenge :Week 2
Watercolor, SuZan Alexander, Copyright 2016

Creativity Challenge Update

Last week I posted about the 15 Minutes-a-Day Creativity Challenge. This was my first, full week with the Challenge. So, you ask, how was my first full week in the “Creative Sandbox”? Pretty good. I think I missed one day this week. But, while I missed one day, I spent well over 15 minutes painting each of the other days of the Challenge, so, I figure it all evens out in the end.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I started with a large watercolor painting of an old rusty vehicle which has a lot of texture. I wish I had started with something a little less challenging that would reflect more progress because I’m an instant gratification kind of gal that way. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of patience and generally work pretty slow, but I really want these 15 minutes I carve out of my day to be fun, quick, little exercises in the future. My thinking is that these exercises have the potential of becoming great opportunities for experimenting and learning. And, learning is always a winner in my book. I also see them as opportunities to experiment and add techniques to my proverbial tool belt. Like I said, win all the way around. I am so glad I found Melissa Dinwiddie’s Challenge. I hope you too will find 15 minutes each day to do something creative.

I still consider this week’s watercolor painting a work in progress, but since we’re all friends here, I’ve included my progress so far:

Days 1-6:

15 Minute Challenge Days 1-3 Watercolor, SuZan Alexander

15 Minute Challenge Days 1-3
Watercolor, SuZan Alexander

15 Minute Challenge Days 4-6 Watercolor, SuZan Alexander

15 Minute Challenge Days 4-6
Watercolor, SuZan Alexander


15 Minute Challenge Day 7 Watercolor, SuZan Alexander

15 Minute Challenge Day 7
Watercolor, SuZan Alexander

Now, it’s your turn. Did you work on something creative this week? If so, let me know what you did.

Have a great weekend. I hope you make some time to create.