Friday, March 21, 2014

It's Showtime!

This next week, the crisp air will still be here, but Macon, GA will be covered in soft pink cherry blossoms.  Folks will dig into the back of the closet for anything pink and all will gather on Mulberry Street to stroll up and down the avenue of art displays visiting with friends and people watching the entire way. 
photo: cherry blossoms

For the artists, many of us have been doing this show for almost 30 years.  We have collected the annual "Cherry Blossom" pin, eaten wonderful Greek salads served from the International Foods Tent and gathered with friends to celebrate life.  Everyone looks forward to adding new to their own collection. 

I delivered a very special original to Mississippi this week.  I have waited to talk about it until the owner had a chance to see it first.  Placing an original in a new home is always exciting.

As the new original slipped from it traveling package, everyone in the room held their breath.  It isn't a huge painting, but it has all the power of a mural. 

I had spent weeks in the "mental" mode of this work.  For weeks I drew and painted in my mind, then made trips to the bayous, back bays and anywhere I thought I could find little bit and pieces to feed my hungry imagination. 
Once I could see the painting with all the colours and emotions in my mind,  I would be ready to begin painting... but not before.

Whiskey Bayou

Looking back, I had sketched, photographed and studied the grand old cypress trees across the Gulf Coast for years... even decades.  I had painted several small works with many of the same elements, but never a large work.  This work had been in the making for over 50 years.

For a moment, the room was silent.  The light hit the canvas and the trees and egrets came to life. 
I stood back and watched the new owners embrace the painting with their eyes.  The silence was exciting.

"It's everything we love," he said.

The wife stayed with the painting for more study.  She soon discovered one of the hidden messages:

We are fearfully and wonderfully made...

Psalm 139:12 


Back at the studio, there were several other smaller works of the year....  

 This week, they each will be framed and then packed for the shows.  One by one, they will be adopted out and become an important part of another place and time.  One work at a time will mark and record the artistic history of our land part of the world.

Lamotte Bayou

Articles and blogs across the  web and printed world all echo the same concern that so much of the art world has been altered by outside forces to remove the emotional and artistic quality of fine art.  "art shapes" are mass produced with no personal emotion to cover space on walls, tables and space.  Affordable and disposable, America has been an easy target as the world reduces its standards to the opportunity to cause change and generate an easy dollar with no labor or moral standard.  As the space in our souls becomes vacant and we hunger for substance, we consume more of anything seeking to feed the spirit.
Light Of The Coast

Our homes clutter with cheap stuff.  We soon feel choked by the abundance of stuff and become confused as we drag more stuff home and still feel lacking in satisfaction. Such is the demise of a people removed from a foundation based on value and quality. 

An original oil by Donna Peters.  Subject: Bottoms Road, Panacea, FL
Spring On The Coast

We have filled our lives like we fill our bodies.

Foods with little nutritional value are so easy to consume.  We eat as our bodies call for nutrition only to realize that the new foods lack what we need.  In an effort to meet our needs we seek more of the same old stuff and continue to live in lack.

The St. Marks lighthouse, painted by Donna Peters
Winter On The Coast

If you have been able to get out in the spring sunshine to paint, I know how wonderful you feel. 
If you add a small work of quality art to your home, I hope you are inspired to remove several pieces of the "stuff" that has over taken our world in recent years. 

The Art Forger

If you like to paint or collect art, I have a book to suggest. I have found this book entertaining and very informative.  It is an easy read and yet it is very teaching about art materials and strange things that have taken place in the art world for centuries.

We shared this book with the new owners of Whiskey Bayou.  
"How do we know what we are buying?" they asked.

Know the artist, was Lewis' reply. 

See you at a festival this spring!!

Thank you for sharing my blog with your friends.  

Today is a gift of a lifetime.  Fill it with good for yourself and share it with others.  All it takes is a small and soft word of encouragement with a complete stranger.  The blessings you will receive in return are 'fearfully and wonderfully made....'

Donna Peters

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Know thyself...

     Know Thy Art....

A look inside the emotional aspect of creating.    

by Donna Peters

In the weeks after each class I enjoy the many e-mail notes and conversations with those who joined me to paint.  The most common comment is how they feel they suddenly have "new eyes" and a new vision of awareness.

For those who have had this experience, it is very exciting.  Sometimes the growth does not appear in the class, but in the weeks and even years following the classes.  The mind may be miles away from the painting experience when suddenly the eyes and the creative brain awaken and reveal the new understanding of what the eyes have seen all along!

The "ah ha!" moment...

I was painting a marsh scene on location years ago when I took the courage of making a very contrasting stroke of color.  It worked!
 Suddenly the words of a college professor came back to me as if he were standing over my shoulder.

It was my truest ah-ha moment!  I  had finally learned for myself what he had been trying to get me to see.
I had to be grinning!  My investment in college and the wisdom of a great teacher and artist, Richard Brough, had just paid off.  For a moment I was back at the U of A struggling to earn my BFA. I felt as if my whole life now had continuity and certainly a plan of purpose.  The feeling was wonderful.

The Magic of Emotion...

Watching the Olympics this week, I stopped to watch the awards ceremony of a beaming American girl as she stood with great reverence as the Russian band played the American National Anthem.  She was beaming with emotion and near tears, but the music was churned out.  It was evident the musicians did not share her pride and emotion.  Every note was right, in place, in tune, but without emotion.  The sounds made my heart ache, but I knew it was not their fault.  They fulfilled a duty but it was not music!

When art is created on the canvas with the same lack of emotion, the results are the same.  a requirement of performance is fulfilled, but the results are entirely un-fulfilling, empty, without beauty.

One of the last things I try to encourage artists to do as they leave the class vowing to paint more on their own, is to paint what they love....  Paint anything with emotion and you will have a winner.  The subject becomes secondary to the emotion.

We are all attracted to positive emotion in art, music and any personal expression.

So, if you love boats, paint them with passion.  

If you love frogs more, leave the boats alone and go for the frogs! 

When a senior citizen tells me with tears in her eyes that she has waited her entire life for a chance to learn to paint, I realized how blessed I have been to have enjoyed art my entire life.  It is never too late to learn anything.  The rewards are the same, but such a shame to miss the beauty all those lost years!!

Thank you to everyone who joined with me to paint these last 2 months.  

I love watching you grow and bloom!

Donna Peters, artist 


I am going to tach a special "plein air" class on the Mississippi Gulf Coast 

May 17 & 18, 2014

The class will be very limited in size so if you want to take part, please sign up now.  We will paint on location that Saturday and then in a pavilion the next day.  We will be painting a small landscape to learn how to capture the emotional qualities from the real thing!

Painting in plein air is the most inspiring artistic experience you can have.  No mater who your instructor or leader is, you will study from the highest power.  

 I hope you will "Follow Me" on this blog so you will not miss my next post.  Everything I offer you here is a serious sharing of what I have learned in my life as an artist.  If I can inspire you to paint... or write, I have have inspired you to live.

Donna Peters 

My "plein air" studio.




Sunday, January 26, 2014

Learn, Laugh and Share

Creative Courage shares with you the last adventures in...

                                                                     Being an artist with Donna Peters


A group of oil painters share their second day of a workshop together.

Hobby Lobby
Gulfport, Mississippi
January 18 and 25, 2014

The second day of the workshop was as exciting as the first.  The night before the Gulf Coast had been given a good coating of sleet and ice on the bridges, but by the time the class began at 10 am, the Southern sun had come out with it magical powers and the earth began to warm.
The coffee pot was full, the doughnuts were hot and we were all excited to get started.

The first Saturday everyone on the class had completed a good background and under-painting of the Pottery plate, bowl, apples and strawberries.  The black canvas set the tone for a very saturated color effect and proved to be a very easy start.

The instructor's painting with the "real thing" set up in front.


The second Saturday began with a demonstration on how to clean out a turp pot without losing valuable turpentine.  Another demo followed on the basic “anatomy” of a shadow.

There was very little to worry about on the remaining brush work of the painting.  It just needed to be taken one small bite at a time with a good demonstration before each. 
The bowl and the tablecloth were wonderful exercises in how to use very soft rainbow colours to achieve an exciting addition to our composition.  Instead of using dull greys and flat whites, we used a family of “whites” that made the painting come alive.  

Delana has no problem mixing colours!  She loves colour ! 

The table cloth was probably the most obscure or “abstract” element so we worked on it for a very few minutes and then moved to the plate.  Adding small details to each item and moving around  the composition, we avoided frustration and confusion.

Step by step. Demo by demo, we walked thru each small step until our paintings were either finished or very, very close to be complete. 

Lewis took a great group photo so we would have it to remember our 2 wonderful days or growing, learning and laughing together. 
Our final minutes were spent sharing our paintings and admiring the wonderful things about each one.  We delighted in the variety of styles in the class and notes what was good about each. 

There was not one weak painting in the class.  Everyone expressed pleasure and enjoyment, but above all they each felt they had learned many new things about art… and themselves.

The Finished Painting!...well almost.  Where's the sig?

Donna’s note:

I had used my time since the last class on the Mississippi Coast to go out and paint on location.  I chose three locations to work and reserved a day for each.  After visiting each site I noted what time of day would be best for the light on the scene and came back as the weather and time allowed. 

Painting under the "Gateway Oak" in Pascagoula, MS

As I had promised my friends in the class, I brought them each back in… all in an unfinished state.  I will follow up with an e-mail to them with images of the finished works.  “Field sketches” or “plein air” works are my favorite works.  Being on location to smell the salt air, hear the sound of nature and man give me the emotion with which I can paint the magical elements of a great painting. 

The goodbyes are said and we all go back to our own worlds…

   With a promise to get together again in May and paint on location at least one day.

I include here the e-mail I gathered for them with information on easels that are used for painting on location.  The photo shows my personal tools for plein air painting.

Donna's plein air work station

You can order the tripod and other accessories for this one.  Very popular style: below.

Mabef Pochade Boxes

Consider size and weight, but also make note of how large a canvas they will hold.  I don't paint large works outside as it is too much wind risk.  
I would look for an easel that can hold an 11 x 14." 

When I travel, I plan to do many small works so I can keep moving a capturing more scenes so I like the 9 x 12" canvases.  In our class you may want to plan on a canvas about 11 x 14."

To be frugal and not sure you will do much more painting, it would be very practical to get the metal tripod at Hobby Lobby.  A good buy and it can be used later for many other things. (photo above)

 Then you can reward yourself with a good French easel after you do three "plein air" works of art. 

Want to really reward yourself?
Try the Soltec from "Cheap Joe's" on the web...
The Cadillac of field easels! (above)

Cardboard box about $13.

There are many gadgets to carry canvases.  Many are for multi-canvases or for just one side.  When it come down to it, a shallow box the size of your canvas in the car works great.  If you have the handy handle, that will get you to the car and then put the painting in a box.

Another great on lone source for art supplies is:

Like a Candy Store!

The Schlepper Handle

I had trouble finding the "Canvas Schlepper" like Kathleen had, but here is one place on the web it is listed:
  Shipping is more than the cost of the handle, so get an extra for a friend.

Ya'll are a wonderful class.  

Thank you so much for having the right supplies and being such good artists! 
 I love the way you laughed at yourself and each other.  I see in each of you so many wonderfully good things.
...... I enjoy teaching in part just to be around good people! 

Thank you so much!
Donna and Lewis

Never Overstated

 I encourage you to speak your faith.  

The news is spending all their power to convince us to drop our moral codes.  

They will win if we do not use the same right to maintain and support our standard of values.
Let your light shine!!  Talk to everyone about the good things!

See you again soon!

See my web site for my next class:

©Copyrighted 2014• Donna Peters 35053• All Rights Reserved


Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Great Day To Paint!

We are off to a super start as we all dug in at Hobby Lobby to paint together.  It takes courage to gather your art supplies and go to a new space to paint something you have never seen before. 

As on of the girls said yesterday, it is all about the learning and less to do about the final results. 
True Indeed!  The painting we each will come away with this next Saturday when we finish up will just be a reminder of all that we learned in this workshop. 

Getting Started
Lewis got the camera set up on my palette.  This is a new thing he added to our classes so everyone can see what is happening without standing up or leaving their own easel.  Love it!!

Moving around to see what is happening...

One small step at a time, we tacked out canvases.  This time we are painting on a black canvas.  It has been a new experience... easier in some way and always fun.

 Trying new things all thru life...  that is living to the fullest.

Don't forget to leave the space for the palette knife!!

As a teacher, I am so proud of this group.  They are each wonderful people.  Their enthusiasm is infectious. The laugh easily and are fun to be with. 

Don't let me scare you!!!!

  • Learning new materials
  • Learning new ways to use old materials
  • Changing our mind about old ideas
  •  and learning to laugh at ourselves...... priceless!
Talking it out and trying a different brush do the trick!

And this was just our first day!

At the end of our day at Hobby Lobby in Biloxi.  We promise to meet again next week to finish our paintings.  

If you have not taken one of my classes, I love to teach you things the "How To" books don't always share about our supplies and materials.  Knowing how to save money so you can buy the best brushes and paint is just as valuable as knowing how to mix your colours.  We make a great mix of everything so you leave with lots of information.

Organization eliminates Most of our frustration:

My homemade brush holder for oil brushes.

 After the class as we drove from the class we took a side road.  I found a pine tree that has so much character.  I plan to go back to paint it this week.  If this looks too plain to you, imagine it with the back bay, a beautiful sunset and maybe a water bird or 2....
Do you know where this is?

A dancing pine... one of my favorite things

What a great week!
Indeed there was so much prep work to do.  Miles to travel and worry is just something I add in to make sure I am awake and on my toes.  Giving my best to those who trust me with a day of their life is a real honor.  What I receive in return is a life filled with wonderful friends and rewards I could never list.
Lewis and I thank you for allowing us to be part of your life... especially the good parts!

A sign in the Shakespeare Bookstore, Paris

If you do not have good things planned for your life, 

Good things will just have to be accidents of chance.


donna peters



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Let The Paint Class Begin!!

Green apples and strawberries make our composition for the Spring Paint Classes this year.

A very pleasant arrangement without too much fussy detail but still a very "meaty" composition.  The pottery plate is by a friend named George Griffin of Sopchoppy, FL.  Many of my students have visited his studio in the itty bitty town of Sopchoppy near Apalachicola, FL. 

Our Spring Composition
The white linen table cloth will give us a chance to paint the gentle folds along the tables edge... and we will learn to do this with just a few strokes so it is fun and not fussy.

The detail in the bowl will be omitted in the painting.  Too obscure to add meaning to the painting.

The Teacher's Homework...

I like about 12 painters  in each class, but I always prepare for an extra in case of a surprise or accident.  For this composition, we will be painting on a black canvas.  I chose to gesso my own to save the money.

If you would like to make your own black gesso, pour about a cup of white gesso in an empty quart jar.  Add 1/2 cup of flat black acrylic paint and stir.  Add black paint until you get the desired shade of black. Hobby Lobby sells black gesso.

One coat worked well for me.  

I did my composition on a large tablet.  It is important that I have a master sketch so as I transfer it to each of the canvases, they will all be the same.

The master sketch.

All the rules of a good composition must apply.  The horizon line (back horizontal line of table cloth) must not be dead center of the canvas.  I used a dark cloth in the back of the composition photo, but we will paint it in a wet into wet style using a variety of colors to add drama and interest.

Notice how there are odd numbers of each element.  Three apples, three strawberries, one bowl, and one plate....  Always use odd numbers of items.  It is more "artistic" as our minds will go mathematical and count them if they are even numbers. 

Sketch is transferred to black canvas.

I used carbon to transfer the sketch.  The black pencil was easy for me to see, but to make it more comfortable for my class, I used a white pencil to go over the lines.  The pencil has a oil quality so I did not have to spray "fix" (fixative) the sketch to make it durable.  If you have not had this experience, a sketch put on canvas using a pencil will smudge and wipe off very easily. 
To fix this problem, I spray fixative over the canvas.

 This also has a nice effect of sealing the canvas so that the first layers of paint will go on very smoothly.  This is more of an issue on an affordable student grade canvas.  They are very "thirsty" and quickly absorb the paint.

This step of getting ready for my class is always very time consuming.  I usually take a couple of days finding the right composition and the items needed.  Taking photos and thinking it all through takes more time than you might think.

Ready for the first class!!

Now to pack the car with everything I will need to teach.  Another day and I will gather all the easels, photos and items I share with each student. 

The time spent gathering everything together can take days.  The people who take my classes are very sincere about learning to paint.  The quality of their lives is enhanced by offering them a serious art experience.  Hopefully they will paint again on their own very soon. 

I will post a few more photos after we have our first class. 
I know you will want to see what happens next!!

Hope you are signed up to take one of my classes.  They are NOT adult day care!

"Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps 

if you are not willing to move your feet."  


Thanks to Marion for sharing this with me today!  I hope everyone in the classes will be willing to try new things... and move their feet!!

Stay warm everyone!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year !

  I love new beginnings.  An opportunity to make a new goals list, take a deep breath and made a silent commitment to excellence is all so wonderful.

I  begin the year by holding an oil painting classes in Gulfport, MS and Tuscaloosa, AL.  There will be others, but the dates are not totally firm right now.  Each workshop will be a 2 Saturday event.  This gives us a great opportunity to mix in several mini lessons about the proper way to use materials and special techniques.  After watching a few You Tube videos today, there are so many sources for bad information that I hope to share what I know with those who really want to know the correct way to use materials and paint.  There are full details on the first page of my web site:

If you have not made your 2014 goals list, be sure to make one for the year as a whole, then 12 small ones for things you want to do each month.  You will be amazed at how helpful this small exercise can be.  It is so rewarding to mark each one completed as you move thru the year. At the end of the year, you will have honored a very private contract with yourself and have a wonderful sense of accomplishment. 

  I would like to suggest a book that is art related.  You will enjoy the artistic life the characters play as well as the learning about the life as an artist. 

The Art Forger 


B. A, Shapiro

This is a story of a young artist living in the NY/Boston area.  She works hard to make a living in her passion for painting.  I am only half way though it myself, but have really enjoyed the details of how certain art is created... and the truth about the world of art dealers. $23.95

As  I plan each year, I pick projects in which I can use my art to do for others.  This last year, I did several bulletin covers for our church: Livingston Chapel United Methodist in Crane Hill, AL. We are a small country church with tremendous energy for doing for others.  I am amazed at how many lives are touched by the generosity of this small family of friends.

This scene in Crane Hill is one of my favorites to paint.  

I like using local scenery to tell the Christmas Story. 

In December I began creating a web site for the church.  It is a work in progress, especially the "Chapel Chat" page where I hope to create an inactive page for us to share the details of our many programs and projects.

Every time I  take on such a project, I learn and grow so much which gives back to me in big ways. I have always warned artists not to start a series that is political or "impossible" but I am guilty of beginning a set of pen and ink sketches of each of the churches in Crane Hill.  I am really afraid to ask how many there are!
I hope this page of sharing will inspire you to get ready for a really great year.  If you get a chance to take one of my classes, I look forward to spending time with you.

The best way to receive much is to give away more. 
 Be generous in all that you do and you will never feel poor.