Thursday, April 29, 2010


I am posting this for any of my blog followers who may live in the Sacremento area and who may want to attend a four week block of still life workshops presented by Yours Truly.  Call Patris Miller at 916-397-8958 for location, what to bring, time, price, how to act, what to wear, and how to make Don happy.

Each student will have his/her own still life booth and set up and will be able to control the light to facilitate design.  We provide all of the props--just show up with your paints, brushes, canvas, and portable easel--if you have one.  We provide easels if need be.

If you are a beginner--that is best!  Often beginners are less resistant to real instruction than the experienced who can be stuck in cement.

If you are experienced--then get ready to hate me--because you are going to see close up and personal the guts of real representational painting as it is was classically taught and understood by the big boys--who are the big boys?--they are all dead and their work can be viewed in museums only.

If you want to bring your aunt Sophie's Crystal, your sparkling jewelry, your mink boa, and your Ester Williams swim cap to paint--in the hope that you can paint them with my help and sell them to make a contribution to AARP--then, by all means, please don't attend.  This is not a paint and sell class--it is a paint and improve class!

Please visit my website at >< or visit my blog >Ruminating on the Profundities <.  You may view video trailers of my teaching on my website.

I am a nice guy, I am a Christian, but I work hard at not acting like one, I only tell dirty jokes upon request and in private, I brush my teeth 6 times a day to make up for not showering, I am a health food fanatic but I smoke cigars and eat a lot of chocoate just in case.  So don't worry-- just show up and expect to have some fun, meet some artists you may not know, drink some of Patris' 12 day old coffee, and have a general good time.

I make a big point of hands on, mind engaged, heart involved instruction--this is my gift to the art world.  See you next Tuesday.

Yours in the Oil Paint--Don Hatfield

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hatfield Critiques His Own Video

I am throwing in this post because I have just viewed the new Jerry's Artarama release, "Fantasy Portraits in the Garden", by Yours Truly.  I have watched dozens of "how to" videos over the years just like you have, and they fall into the category of...."let's watch the grass grow."  My first video "Fantasy Portraits at Sea" falls into this general category.  After the filming of that video, I remember thinking--this is not goint to cut it.  I am surprized that they have sold hundreds.  Anyway, this latest video is a winner!  That's right I am tooting my own accordian!  The superb editing by the Burning Oaks staff--especially April Tolliver--saved the day.

I was doing a workshop in Raleigh and hit upon the idea to bring the whole bunch over to the studio to work with the same model as I was during filming.  Michael Goldstein consented, and away we went.  About 10 or so artists painting along with the great Don Hatfield,  asking questions and receiving instruction and critique on the fly.  Not even that slick outfit Lillyadahl has presented a format like that (I think).

It is too nerve racking to try to paint, teach, critique, and blab simultaneously.  But guess what?--I was created to do just that.  It is a mirror of my crazy art life style which is one interruption after another--non-stop.  I feed off of it.  I have recently discovered that I am ADD, dislexic, and WSS all at once--all three ailaments are in my DNA,  and I have spent a life time creating compensations--(WSS means won't sit still).  Hell, my whole art career is one big compensation for my diffused consciousness.

The video has no lag, no dead space, and no Hatfield looking really stupid.  The integration of the instruction and class interaction is perfectly timed to avoid viewer bordom.  The film swims in some pretty good music too.  In short-- it is seamless.  I expect an avalanch of sales and workshop offers.  I have purchased 2000 copies and have hired a staff of twenty Cal business students and an IT guy to meet the demand.

In short, you need this video--and so do your art buddies.  Now give me your opinion after you view it with the church group, the vet home, the bunko crowd, the Ladies Aid, and the Daughters of the American Revolution--and don't forget the Rotary and Full Gospel Business Ass.  I'll be waiting for your input--Always, Your Humble Don.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Commission Work

This is a piece I just finished for a collector who wanted four boys on the beach.  He has four grand sons so it seemed fitting.  I am often asked to do works like this by those who want a personal touch,  but they resist "dead-on" portraits.  Sometimes there are requests for certain color harmonies, designs, and sizes to fit a space--all of which can be difficult, yet satisfying to do.  The challenge is to listen to the requirements, and to keep your artistic mojo in high gear when executing the work.  The best results seem to come forth when the client says," whatever feels right--you are the artist."  This work came easily since the trust factor was set in place early on. I feel pretty good about this one--I hope the client does to.  Actually he has not received the original, but he has given approval based on the jpeg I sent. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Love Painting In My Studio

Now this is a situation made in heaven.  I'm in my studio surrounded by big windows and insulation--I'm  Cozy.....the ice box is full of ice cream, the cigars are in the humidor, the TV and channel changer are nearby--I don't have to pee behind a bush and get arrested for semi-public urination--I can plant my fat ass in a comfy chair with wheels and play roller derby with the cat and dogs nearby as they try to sleep--advantage all mine!

I Hate Plein Air Painting

Bugs fly around your head, people stop and stare, the light changes, the wind blows your easel over, dirt gets in your eyes and paint, confusion rules.  Yet the plein air craze continues for thousands around the country.  They are everywhere--they even came to Napa Valley last week.  Imagine--in my own back yard--I'm surrounded--they are coming after me!  I even caught Kevin MacPhearson at the bottom of my drive way a few years ago with his wife Wanda painting a vinyard scene--I managed to pull him away from his easel to go do something important--hit golf balls at a nearby driving range. I thought I had escaped to my controlled,  photoshopped enviorenment where I can trace an image and then color it in like a little boy with coloring book--to use Sergei's phrase (see my February post "My Great Moment With Sergei)--but it looks like I'm doomed.  If you can't avoid'em--then join'em. 

Terry Miura and his crew made it easy.  I was invited as a guest to his wonderful plein air workshop at a local winery.  I had to borrow Silvio Silvestry's portable easel since I destroyed all of my plein air equipment a few years ago as a result of a bee attack while painting outside in a rose garden not 20 yards from my studio.  I taught those damn bees--I broke my $600.00 easel with a shovel and threw all of the gismos into the dumper.  It felt sooo good! It feels good to break golf clubs too, but I always replace the broken clubs immediately with upgraded clubs to keep my set complete.

Anyway--I wanted to see if I could do it.  So.....I plunked Silvio's Russian  easel down in front of  what seemed like the only paintable thing around--this wierd Daliesque looking dome surrounder by hills and bushes--something I long to paint--hills and bushes.  I really needed a weed-whacker not an easel and brushes!

After 3 hours--I was out of gas.  I signed the thing and gave it to Terry.  He told me he liked it and was going to frame it--yeah right.  I think he is going to donate it to Habitat for Humanity for hurricane victims who need to plug holes in the garage wall.  Anyway--I felt better for having made the effort.  I see how people can get addicted to plein air--the bugs, the people, the changing light........Don

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to Obtain New Hatfield Video Cheap

Make your request via email at ><.  Give me your ship to address, and send a check to :  Don Hatfield
                            P.O. Box 2855
                            Napa, California94558

I don't have PayPal hooked up, sorry.  Also no credit card function as yet.  The amount is $10.00..  If you are broke, just say so, and I will send you a freebee on me.   I want your feedback on this video--your honest, uncensored input--I am counting on it!  I have not seen it yet, so I am taking a big risk here, but I know that I am among friends.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Premier of Don Hatfield's Video Masterpiece!

Here, at last, is the companion video to "Fantasy Portraits at Sea" entitled "Fantasy Portraits in a Garden". April Tolliver, from Burning Oaks Studio, did the post production and the trailers. Her stuff is edgy--adding delight and humor to the otherwise difficult and confusing process of teaching the art of oil painting. The first video did surprisingly well--considering its impromptu presentation. The "Garden" video demonstrates my teaching in a real time class situation and is expected to change the art world forever. Destined to become a cult classic--it is a must view for anyone wanting to kill a few hours watching Yours Truly stumble around in an art workshop. It is competing directly with Dr.Phil and Opra for major time slots nationwide. It is also recommended viewing for couples who want to enjoy an evening of snuggling while ingesting artistic truth--an irrestible combination. The video is available through Jerry's Artarama--order several copies and give one to a friend--I need the money. Always (well sometimes) there to help, Don

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today I found out that Jerry's Artarama is releasing my new teaching video entitled "Fantasy Portraits in the Garden"--or something like that.  This is a two hour video of me chasing my tail around Burning Oaks Studio in Raleigh, NC--teaching twelve unsuspecting victims how to paint a garden scene using a live indoor model.  If it is like the first one (Fantasy Portraits at Sea) it will feature Yours Truly with big gut, food on shirt, and lots of heavy breathing--and, O yes, styled out hair derived from sleeping on the floor the night before.  I am comforted by the fact that April Tolliver, a world class video editor,  did the trailer and most of the post production--should be interesting--destined to be another cult classic!  Twelve million copies were pre-ordered by the People's Republic as an example of what can happen in the capitalistic West if you attend art classes with Don Hatfield--BOY THAT'LL TEACH'EM!  Obama will comment on the video tonight on C-Spam.  WOW I just got call from Dr. Phil's people asking me to appear in person and explain why the trailer is causing mass histaria in Times Square!  Woa!  Tiger Wood's agent wants to hire me as a putting guru--what have I done!  What in hell does Warren Buffet want--I have to answer his call--just a minute--Guess what?--he wants me to appear with him at the next G8 summit!  These people are such a bother.  It's not easy being a representational artist these days--O well.... Hope you are smiling--most of the above is true--I'll let you decide.  Don


I tried to explain earlier my understanding of creating a unified painting.  I came up with the phrase.."put a little of everything into everything else."  This sounds simplistic and needs a little clarification--so here goes.  Paintings should be unified in color, value, design, line, light source, idea and several other things I can't think of now.  If they are not unified then they fall apart.  The painting becomes a conglomeration of confusing shapes, colors, and values that lead nowhere.  It becomes difficult to look at.  The eye--the great organ that determines the look-ability of a painting (duh!)-- becomes frustrated and quickly fatigues.  If the eye can't make sense of a representational work then it goes elsewhere.

I have had the experience of unveiling my work to collectors (potential or otherwise) that took a quick glance at my work and then began yapping about the weather or the bad wine or Suzie Smith--BAD SIGN!  The painting could not hold their attention.  Its dis-jointed character, whether in color, design, value, etc--made it impossible for the buyer to "keep with it".  This kind of painting usually won't sell--not immediately anyway.  It's a mystery why so many of our bad paintings sell isn't it?--but I have noticed that the best paintings I present amost always sell quickly, and they are the ones that have the unity I am talking about.

If you see someone staring quietly at your painting, hanging around it for a long time, returning to it again and again at the show,  bringing their friend to see it, opening their purse or wallet, then your collector is on the hook--GOOD SIGN!  Your painting has captured them.  It probably has the unity we are seeking.   Often an over anxious sales person will come along at this point and blow the sale--so keep them away from those enjoying your work for as long as possible!

As far as color unity--something absent in almost all representational paintings today--find a way to spread a touch of every color into its neighboring color.  Color spots can become too separated if they are allowed to stand alone in the painting.  Put some of that green into the neighboring red, put some of that muted blue into the neighboring yellow, put some of that pathetic purple of yours into the black next to it and so on--in other words--PUT A LITTLE OF EVEREYTHING INTO EVERYTHING ELSE.

There are many elaborate theories as to how to create color unity using families of colors, limited pallets, magic brushes, lost edges and your grand mother's old nighty--but it is far easier and quicker to create unity the way I am suggesting.   I know for a fact that the "big boys" did it this way.

Yes I know how hard it is to do this, but it can be learned.  I learned color with pastels. The grey Strathmore pastel paper I used provided instant unity if I let a little of the grey paper show throughout the work--the grey, or tan or whatever paper color, when allowed to show through everywhere, gave the work automatic color unity.  It created the instant "getting a little of everything......"  This is why my current technique is to work from grey to rich--from grey color to rich color.  I instinctively create a grey ground, and then add richer color.  The rich color sets down nicely having found a home in grey surroundings. This rich to grey dialectic drives my work always.  Some work with bright color, then grey it down as they go.  Either way can create unity.  This process can occur in a tiny area or in a large area, but it is essential in the color unifying process.

 I want to mention here that color unity--not rendering--is the main reason why paintings are attractive to the discerning eye.   It is unified color that carries the greatest emotional content, the most "snap", the most authority, the most sympathetic contract between viewer and artist.  Do you think the Nabis are considered the greatest colorists because of they rendered in detail?  Do Potthast's beach scenes bring millions because of their anatomical correctness?  Potthast's painting are meticulously rendered--but with color unity in mind.

Yes there are works that sell because of subject matter alone or because everything is rendered to the nat's ass, but I am not talking about these kinds of paintings--I AM TALKING ABOUT REAL ART DAMMIT!--paintings that weave a color tapastry,  that consider every stroke, that move the viewer with magic, that have no strident color, no eye-catchers, no isolated spots.  In strong work--everything holds together and provides that mystical, now-you-see-it-now-you-don't quality that characterizes the inflamed imagination of the beholder--an imagination that is given room to wander, to invent, to discover,  because the artist's very soul was actively creating that opportunity, knowingly.  If you can paint as I am suggesting, then you are blessed.  This is what we all strive for--right?  You bet!

I often hear the following..."well so and so is making big bucks..."--as if "big bucks" means that their work is art.  Well, if big bucks is your goal then open a brothel next to a military base and enjoy your riches--and leave honest painting to the poor bastard who is honestly sweating out a creative act with nothing but his guts, his soul, his materials, and his nagging wife. 

O--before I forget--if the nagging wife, or girl friend,  suddenly becomes your greatest advocate when you bring in the big money--then you know what to do--buy her some chocolate and roses, and then introduce her to your true support system and tell her to shut the hell up--then heartily repent to the God whose character is to forgive great sin.  I am getting off the subject--or maybe not!  Who loves ya?--now don't judge me--I'm just spiff balling here!

In summary:  The color spots you see in great paintings--Sargents, Sorollas, Potthasts, et al. are unified--they are held together color wise by bringing otherwise separated areas together--by relating them with knocked down color or by adding richer color over grey.  I will find other ways  to clarify this in future essays.  I will discuss the unity created by light, design, value and rendering in the near future.  Gotta go finish a commission.  Your pal, Don

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Is Representational Oil Painting So Difficult--Revised Version

Painting is difficult because it requires that you see  everything in relation to everything else and paint it so.  There it is-- pure and simple.  Those who paint everything in relation to everything else paint well--those who can't or refuse to paint everything in relation to everything else paint pieces of things.  They paint the trees, but not the forest--they paint the fleas, but not the dog.  They are interested in eye lashes, but not the structure of the boney prominences that surround the eye cavity and create beautiful light planes.  They jump to painting highlights before establishing the large shapes and planes that lead up to the brightest light planes or "highlights".

In short, they seldom connect the dots, they never see the big picture, they can only take in what is immediately in front of them--they have no peripheral vision that allows them to see how things are interrelated.  Their canvas has no harmony of shape, no conversation of color, no direction that grips the soul.  They express no faith. They have no story to tell. They are satisfied with selling pathetic little postcards with their name on it.  They almost never get it--they don't see, they don't hear, they don't even smell the ink on the morning newspaper!  They don't serve art--their art serves them. I am projecting my own confession--this is the mood that has possessed me lately.  I need a big picture, I need to connect the dots, and so on and so forth, and so what!  Thought you should know.  Who loves ya?--how do ya like me now?--come on!!  Don