Category Archives: Art

Creative Juice #34

Creative Juice #34

Thirteen articles to inspire you.

The Quintessential Portrait Painter

The Quintessential Portrait Painter

John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was born in Florence, Italy to American parents. He had little formal schooling; instead, he learned geography, arithmetic, and reading from his father. He became an accomplished pianist. His mother, an amateur artist, encouraged him to draw, and the family’s travels exposed him to many subjects for his artwork, and also facilitated fluency in Italian, French, and German.

He began his formal art training during the winter of 1873–74 at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. In May, 1874, Sargent entered the teaching atelier of Carolus-Duran, a leading portraitist in Paris, who encouraged his students to paint immediately (rather than make preliminary drawings. Study of the works of Rembrandt, van Dyck and Velázquez also influenced Sargent. But at a time when the art world experimented with Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism, Sargent practiced his own form of Realism.


Madame X (Madame Pierre Gantreau)

He burst into the art scene in 1884 with his painting of Madame Pierre Gautreau. Exhibited as Madame X, people complained that the painting was provocatively erotic, producing scandal for Sargent rather than fame. He decided to flee Paris for London in 1886, living in England for most of the rest of his life, and becoming the “leading portrait painter of his generation” for his depictions of Edwardian era luxury.

Sargent had no assistants; he handled all tasks himself, such as preparing his canvases, varnishing the painting, arranging for photography, shipping, and documentation. He commanded about $5,000 per portrait, or about $130,000 in today’s currency.

After the turn of the century, Sargent grew tired of portrait painting (although he consented to painting portraits of United States Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson). He acquired commissions for other kinds of work, such as murals for the Boston Public Library, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University. He also established a solid reputation as a watercolorist.


Portrait of Mrs. Cecil Wade


Portrait of Lady Agnew


Portrait of John D. Rockefeller


Portrait of Nancy Viscountess Astor


Portrait of Lady Helen Vincent


The Garden Wall




The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy


Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose



Dans Les Oliviers


Street in Venice


Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood


Muddy Alligators


An Out-of-Doors Study


The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit

Click here to hear artist Kehinde Wiley’s thoughts on John Singer Sargent.

Information for this article was gathered from:


Creative Juice #33

Creative Juice #33


Thirteen things to tweak your creative bones.

  • The art of Bo Bartlett. It makes me long for the beach.
  • Get smarter. (I think doing even 5 or 10 of these things would help.)
  • Writing tools.
  • Life-saving reading list.
  • Don’t you hate pressboard? Yet this is beautiful.
  • The power of story. Interview with the author of The Shack.
  • Gorgeous quilts from the Killer Bees quilt show.
  • The versatility of black and white photography.
  • I am not promoting the book in this trailer (though it might be very good); I just think the idea of analyzing habits you want to break is intriguing:

Guest Post: Clutter Is Killing Your Creativity (And What to Do About It) by Jeff Goins


Thanks to Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work and blogger at Goins, WriterYou can also follow him on Medium

Some weeks, my desktop is a disaster: full of papers and files and sticky notes with half-baked ideas. Yes, I am your typical “creative.” Disorganized and disheveled, I proudly chalk it up to the artist in me. But if I’m honest, this is embarrassing.

Clutter is not my friend; it is my enemy.


Clutter is procrastination. It is the Resistance, a subtle form of stalling and self-sabotage. And it keeps me (and you) from creating stuff that matters.

The mess is not inevitable. It is not cute or idiosyncratic. It is a foe, and it is killing your art.

Clean up your mess

Before beginning her career as a successful author and speaker, Patsy Clairmont did something unexpected. She washed the dishes.

She wanted to take her message to the world, but as she was readying herself, she felt nudged to start in an unusual way. She got out of bed and cleaned her house.

In other words, Patsy got rid of the mess. And it put her in a position to start living more creatively. We must do the same.

Bringing your message to the world does not begin on the main stage. It starts at home. In the kitchen. At your desk. On your cluttered computer. You need to clear your life of distractions, not perfectly, but enough so that there’s room for you to create.

The relationship between clutter and creativity is inverse. The more you have of the former, the less you have of the latter. Mess creates stress. Which is far from an ideal environment for being brilliant.

Make more with less

Jack White has an interesting philosophy on creativity. He believes less is more, that inspiration comes from restriction. If you want to be inspired, according to Jack, then give yourself boundaries. That’s where art blossoms.

At a public speaking conference earlier this year, I learned this truth, as it relates to communication. An important adage the presenters often repeated was:

If you can’t say it in three minutes, you can’t say it in 30.

We spent the week of the conference writing and delivering five-minute speeches every day. We learned that if we couldn’t summarize our ideas in a few short sentences, then we couldn’t elaborate on them for half an hour. Sure, we could ramble and rant. But that’s not communicating. It’s word vomit.

I’ve learned to do this with writing. If I can’t say what I want in a sentence or two, then I’m not ready to share the idea. Prematurely broadcasting an idea before it can be described succinctly will cause you to lose trust with your audience and cost the integrity of your message.

When attention is sparse, the people with the fewest, most important words win.

Be Ernest Hemingway

In a world full of noise, it’s nice not to have to weed through digital SPAM to find the nuggets worth reading. But this doesn’t come naturally. Succinctly getting your point across is a discipline.

I like to talk — a lot. I often process ideas out loud as they come to me. But I find this frustrating when other people do it. So I’m trying to master the art of clutter-free writing.

Here’s what I do: I write and write and write, getting all my on “paper” (or computer or whatever). Then, I take out as many words as possible while still clearly communicating my message.

Because if I can say it in five words instead of 15, I should.

This process of cleaning up your message is not intuitive for people. But it isimportant — an essential discipline for anyone with something to say. If you don’t know where to begin, start here:

  1. Reclaim your inbox. Throw away magazines and newspapers you have no intention of reading. Clean up your email, getting it down to a manageable amount (zero, if you can).
  2. Clean up your desk. Again, throw away stuff you haven’t used in months.
  3. Find a clean space to create. This is different for everyone, but it needs to not stress you out.
  4. Limit distractions. Turn off email, phone, and social media tools. Force yourself to focus on one thing at a time.
  5. Start creating clutter-free messages. Remember: less is more. Use restrictions to be more creative.
  6. Repeat this for the rest of your life.

For more on ways to be more structured and focus as a creative, I’ve found these books to be really helpful:

How do you deal with clutter and creativity? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Video of the Week #89: Have You Had Your Dose of Surrealism Today?

Video of the Week #89: Have You Had Your Dose of Surrealism Today?

Creative Juice #32

Creative Juice #32

Thirteen articles to ponder.

In the Meme Time: Break Through

In the Meme Time: Break Through




In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: a stream of consciousness poem, and a quick sketch.




Creative Juice #31

Creative Juice #31

Pretty things to see. Creative stuff to do.

ALCGC2017: March Check-in

ALCGC2017: March Check-in

“The ARHtistic License Creative Goals Challenge for 2017” is quite a mouthful. I’ve created a shorthand nickname for it: ALCGC2017. Let’s use the Twitter hashtag #ALCGC2017 to tweet about our goals.

One month down. How are you doing on your creative goals?bible-open-to-psalms

I missed about three days of reading my Bible. I will try harder, because that twenty minutes really helps me focus on what’s important.

I’ve been horrible about spending 15 minutes a day on decluttering my study. Honest to goodness, stuff just keeps multiplying in here.

I can only find three poems for February. I can’t remember if that’s all I wrote, or if I put them in a different file. I’ll post what I’ve got on March 11, 2017.

I spent my art time the first half of the month zentangling hearts. The remainder of the month I devoted to making one pencil sketch, and coloring in my journal.

I’m behind where I want to be with my blogging. I’d prefer to be about a month ahead, but I still have about nine dates in March without posts. It’s hard to write 7+ articles in three days. I’m trying to keep focused.

But I am making progress with my other writing projects. writing

I rewrote two pieces in my file cabinet. I submitted one to a children’s magazine, and I’m researching agents who represent picture books to send the other one to.

I’m gearing up to doing a final editing pass on The Unicornologist, and then I’ll send it out to my beta readers for their feedback.

I’ve completed a few segments of The God of Paradox.

It’s funny. Whatever I’m working on becomes my favorite project. It’s challenging to have so many things to juggle. At the end of each session, I wish I could return to the same thing the next day.


The practicing is going well. I’ve missed a few days because of exhaustion or competing priorities. My guitar sessions have lengthened to 45 minutes, just because it’s hard to practice everything I should and actually start new material if I only give it half an hour. I’m up to page 28 in Essential Elements for Guitar. My fingers are still sore, though, even though I can see the calluses building.

Recorder has creeped up to 35 minutes, but it’s easier for me than guitar. Now I’d say I play as well as my former sixth grade students. I’m not quite back to my former level yet, but I’m improving. I’m starting Unit 9 in The Sweet Pipes Recorder Book.


Now it’s your turn. I’d love to know how all of you are doing so far in 2017, so I (and ARHtisticLicense readers) can encourage you. If you’re keeping accountable on your blog, paste a link into the comments below. Or if you don’t have a blog, just tell us your successes and your challenges this past month. ARHtistic License was created to help the creative community keep refining their skills. Check in on April 1, 2017 to share your progress during March.