6 Artists I Most Admire

I chose only 6 Artists for this post


As an Artist, myself, there are other Artists I follow either on Facebook, Instagram, or their own websites.  It is my goal to paint and create my artwork as well as these Artists.  Furthermore, I would love to own a piece of work by each them.  Unfortunately, several command very large sums for their work, and deservedly so.  There is absolutely not reason an artist has to die before his work is valuable.  At the same time, I believe original art should be affordable for everyone.  My advice is collect only pieces you like and start small… a small postcard size painting… a work on paper… you get the idea.

My list of 6 includes:

  • Landscape painter Brian Rutenberg
  • Muralist and Abstract Painter Joe Parla
  • Creator Jimmi Toro
  • Abstract Artist Franck de las Mercedes
  • Abstract Expresssionist Kim Rodeffer Funk
  • Photographer Cat Palmer

Brian Rutenberg bills himself as a landscape painter who creates very large canvases in oil.   I do, however, find his work to have abstract qualities.  I fell in love with his work the moment I saw it.  I knew an article about Rutenberg was to be featured in Antiques and Art magazine… I could not find a copy at any bookstore in Salt Lake City and ordered one from the company for $22, much higher than the newsstand price.  Rutenberg uses a liberal amount of oil paint, sometimes up to three inches thick.  Imagine, the textures he creates with this much paint.  At some point, I became aware of his “Studio Visits” on Youtube – he has over fifty episodes and I’ve watched every one of them.  This last Fall, he released his book “Clear Seeing Place” which is a companion to the Youtube videos.  This book should be required reading for every artist.  According to Rutenberg, “a painting must address the physical presence of the viewer first.”  I admire most the fact that Rutenberg stays grounded.  He responds to posts and is a very down-to-earth person.  brianrutenbergbooks.com

th-3.jpeg Brian Rutenberg Painting

Jose Parla painted a 90 foot mural for the lobby of The One World Trade Center in NYC, titled “ONE: Union of the Senses.”  The mural is a symbol of diversity.  I first became aware of Parla’s work when I viewed a video of him painting this mural.  It left me wanting to see more.  Parla layers paint intuitively and stated, “I’m really interested in the way our lives are built up out of memory and history, and how we reflect our surroundings.” joseparla.com

th-4.jpeg        Parla is standing on a ladder as he paint on the mural.

Jimmi Toro states “I am about creating.”  In addition to being an accomplished visual artist, he is also an accomplished musician playing several instruments and singing.  His paintings focus on the human face and anatomy in general.  Toro’s paintings are a cross between representational and abstract.  His portraits are intriguing.                 jimmitoro.com

5ac17e_dec74a03480044ab8883fed94fd70014~mv2.jpg A sampling of Toro’s work

Franck de las Mercedes first appeared to me on Facebook.  He is perhaps well-known for his “Priority Boxes,” of which I own one (note for my kids… it may appear to be an empty box and it is but it’s full of peace and love, so don’t unwrap it or thrown it away, it’s a work of art).  de las Mercedes fell into this project quite by accident.  He had been taking boxes to the post office to ship to his collectors.  On the outside of box, he would clean off his brushes which created abstract pieces.  The post office asked about them and the project was born.  He has shipped these boxes all over the world.  I admire him for keeping this project going.  In addition to the box, I also own a print called “Icarus Falling” by the artist.  franckdelasmercedes.com

th-6.jpeg     th-7.jpeg                                       Franck with the “Priority Box” Project

Kim Rodeffer Funk interviewed me for Atelier 325, and has since followed my work.  I like her work as she is an abstract expressionist like myself.  Her favorite and most-used color is blue, like mine.  And her style is similar to my own.                                  kimrodefferfunk.net

th-5.jpeg      Kim’s Painting

Cat Palmer is a professional photographer in Utah.  I admire her for her bold expressions of being a liberal woman in such conservative surroundings.  An ongoing theme of her work is human empowerment… her expression of meaning through images gives her work a powerful voice, especially in women’s empowerment.  One of her latest works which I find  not only intriguing but also humorous is “The Last Supper with 14 Badasses of SLC.”  catpalmer.com

1443473961452.jpeg  Palmer, herself, behind the camera must be the 14th badass




Mom Was a Belly Dancer

Mom became a belly dancer in her late 60’s.




Mom was a belly dancer.  Unfortunately, I do not have any good pictures of her in her costume.  She had to be in her late 60’s.  She had taken it up prior to my Dad’s death, as exercise or so she claimed.  She became such a good dancer that she taught it for a short time.  Hmmm, I wonder if she danced to seduce Dad.  We’ll never know.

I don’t recall when she gave it up.  I like to think if she had continued, her body would have resisted Alzheimer’s and she would have had a better quality of life.  In the painting of Mom above, I wanted to capture her in this unlikely pose.  She was probably in the fourth state of Alzheimer’s – Confusion.  I created an unrealistic floor pattern to mimic that state of confusion.  Green was her favorite color most of her life and much later she changed to pink.  At this time, she still knew me.

Since Mom lived in Kansas and me in Utah, we didn’t see one another often.  Maybe twice a  year.  When visiting one summer, we had the following conversation:

Mom:  “You look like a Hardesty.”

Me: “I am a Hardesty.”

Mom:  “Who’s your mother.”

Me:  “You are Mom.”

Mom:  “Oh, I don’t have a son.”

Sad?  Of course, but at the same time I took it with a grain of salt.  I had to laugh at the absurdity of the moment, and that’s all it was…  a moment.

In 2010 shortly before her death, we visited Mom after she had entered the Alzheimer’s unit of a nursing home.  As I entered that facility, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Mom was sitting in a chair, and she was slumping to her left as she was being spoon-fed. Tears filled my eyes. Where was my Mom? I wanted to remember her when she became a belly dancer in her sixties.

I was angry! Alzheimer’s/dementia had stolen the soul of my loving and caring mother. On my return trip to my Utah home, I began to visualize how I could communicate my anger via an abstract canvas. The subsequent painting became “Crescendo to Rage.”


“Crescendo to Rage,” Mixed Media, 36×36

I had not thought much about Alzheimer’s other than it being a horrible disease, and I feared I might inherit the gene (good so far). I began to visualize how I could portray this disease on canvas. My research took me to anatomical images of healthy and diseased brains and brain cells. The “Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s” also grabbed my attention. What would these seven stages look like on seven related panels as one artwork? On paper, I sketched and painted my basic composition, a deconstructed brain. This became the basis for all seven panels which I transferred to 20×10 panels. The series is meant for the viewer to ponder the dreadful nature of this disease, from normal to advanced Alzheimer’s.


“7 Stages of Alzheimer’s,” Acrylic, 20×70 

Normal – Forgetfulness – Memory – Confusion – Disorientation – Sundowning – Severe



28 Pictures of Our Feet in Europe

In 2013, my wife and I traveled to Europe.  We knew our trip would require a great deal of walking.  We decided we both needed to purchase good walking shoes, two pair each.  We went to a shop that advertised good shoes.  The shop owners said to “be sure to take pictures in Europe to bring back to the shop to post on their bulletin board.”  Wanting to be creative and have fun, we decided to take pictures of our feet in our new shoes wherever we went.

We snapped our favorite picture in Prague.  We were outside the Castle.  We gathered ourselves around a manhole cover near the castle entrance which was being guarded by a very military-looking soldier.  He was very staid, looking straight ahead without any facial expression.  When we snapped the photo, he glanced out of the corner of his eyes… he may even rolled them a bit.  It was a great moment.  I would liked to have captured his expression on film, but that moment was fleeting.  Here we are:


We returned with 28 pictures of our feet, but never did take any of them to the Shoe Shop.


I Found 64 Cents – Lucky or What?

Luck in the Art World

My wife and I went downtown for lunch today.  As we were walking to our restaurant, I found 64 cents in a parking lot. I have a habit of looking down when I’m walking; otherwise, I would not have spotted the loose change on the pavement. Lucky or what? Or just in the right place at the right time? Perhaps a little of both.

Isn’t that how it is in the art world?  We are fortunate when we sell a painting, but also a little lucky.  The same goes for being accepted into an art show.  There is so much competition for such little exhibition space that we are lucky when chosen.  At the same time, it has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time and getting work before the public.  I do what I can.  I have a blog, Studio Scoop (you’re reading it right now). I publish a newsletter Studio NewsPlease subscribe at http://bit.ly/2gbnzEh if you haven’t already done so.  Go to the upper left corner of the latest issue and click on Subscribe

I have a simple Mission:

  • Paint excellent paintings
  • Tell people about them
  • Make enough money to eat, drink wine, have a warm home, and not go naked

I never leave home without my business cards.  Friday evening during Gallery Stroll, I handed one out at a gallery and before I knew it a Gallerist approached me and wanted a card.  She said “we’re going to have fun.”  I don’t know exactly what that means but it got me an invitation to submit to their holiday show.  Lucky, doing the right thing, or in the right place at the right time?  Maybe, all three.





5 Advantages of Collecting Artwork

Follow “Studio News,” http://bit.ly/2eLBfXE

As a child, can you remember when you wanted to collect something to be like an older sibling.  Collect what?  Certainly not the same as your sibling; furthermore he or she didn’t want you copycatting.  Yuck!  So, what?  Rocks? Stamps?  Cracker Jacks trinkets?  Hot wheels? Anything!

Collecting seems to be one of those activities that grows with us into adulthood.  Men collect ball caps and cars.  Women, cookbooks and jewelry.  As our tastes change and we mature, our interests evolve.  Personally, I love to collect books, but then I’m a reader.  As an artist, naturally, I want people to appreciate and collect original artwork (yes, I’m narcissistic, especially my artwork).  At this point, you might be defensive and state you cannot afford it.  I counter your defense.

Advantages of Collecting Original Artwork

  1. No one else will have a painting like it
  2. Art enhances life
  3. Without art, the Earth would just be “eh.”
  4. You may meet the artists
  5. You can boast you are an Art Collector

Art should be affordable to everyone.  This is precisely why I challenge myself to create a painting a day.  For the my most recent “Daily Painting Challenge,” I will be painting one small study for each day for sixty days.  I began the challenge with “postcard” size paintings and gradually increase the size.  Beginning price is $1; for each subsequent day, add another $1.  On day 60, the price for the painting is $60.  Since these works are on paper, you may frame them or display them on your refrigerator.


Daily Painting, Postcard Size, $1

Not only am I an Artist, but also a Collector.  I started small.  I once purchased an abstract watercolor from Bella, a five-year-old, for $2.  It’s one of my prized pieces.  I only hope my purchase encourages her to continue to develop her skills as an artist. I have collected other original pieces, most of which cost less than $100.  Being an abstract painter, I collect more abstract pieces than other genres.  You though should collect what you like.  There are many online galleries.  Google them.  Visit gallery openings.  You might be surprised at the bargains you find.

Enjoy the journey.

Jerry Hardesty



Wannabe be an Art Collector?

This is the post excerpt.

Not only am I an artist, but also a collector of art.  And you?  Maybe you’re not an artist, but you can be a collector.  I firmly believe that art should be affordable to everyone.  I, therefore, have created paintings that are in a broad range of prices.  Furthermore, I will be launching a campaign November 23, 2016 through my “Studio News” that even the most ardent penny-pincher can afford.

No doubt, you’re reluctant to make that first purchase.  You’re likely thinking art is expensive.  It can be.  I encourage you to watch a documentary about Herb and Dorothy who became collectors.  They lived in a small rent-controlled apartment in New York City. Herb worked for the United States Postal Service and Dorothy the New York City Public Library.  Early in their marriage, they decided to dedicate one of their paychecks each month to collect art.  They collected art by emerging artists before they became famous.  They amassed a collection worth over a million dollars, and finally donated it to the Smithsonian.  The documentary, “Herb and Dorothy,” is available on Netflix.  It’s worth a watch.

Rules for Wannabe Collectors:

  1. Start small like Herb & Dorothy, but you don’t have to spend an entire paycheck
  2. Browse art online to determine your favorite genre
  3. Attend Gallery openings, Gallery Strolls, Exhibits
  4. Start with a postcard-size original, a greeting card, anything on paper
  5. Collect only those pieces you like

As a collector, myself, I once purchased an abstract piece from a 5-year-old, Bella, for $2.  I also bought a painting for $5 from a vending machine in Vegas.  Over the years, I’ve been very selective and collected pieces for less than $100.  My all-time favorite and probably the most expensive was one my wife and I bought in Berlin, Germany (that’s another story itself).

Step outside your comfort zone.  By all means, have fun moving from “Wannabe” to “Collector.” It’s a journey that will bring you much joy.

Jerry Hardesty, Artist & Collector





Artists Create in the Year of Protests, Marches and Resistance

Stand-Up Comedy, Mixed Media, 30×40


Artists unite to create resistance pieces during the past year of protests and marches.  If they have not, they should.  I have the pleasure of creating “Stand-Up Comedy” for a group show called Truth and Consequences  at Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The vision for the show was:  “A multi-media exhibit exploring Salt Lake City based artists’ attempt to make meaning out of the socially turbulent early days of the Trump presidency… Using the capacity of artmaking to try to make sense of the impact this time has had on our communities, our neighbors, families and ourselves as artists.”

Following is my statement regarding “Stand-Up Comedy,” the piece shown above:

“The World is laughing as the Orange Twitler pretends to govern our nation and make it great again. He seems to be against many of the programs and infrastructures that have already made America great… education, justice, freedom of speech, the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, all of which affect every American community and many American citizens. Furthermore, he seeks to ban immigration, the backbone of our culture.

“What dominates the Twitler’s thoughts and actions, golfing, tweeting, Putin, lining his pockets and being reelected? He claims he stands for patriotism. He bashes the NFL players for kneeling and expressing their freedom of speech. He claims he supports the troops yet he shows no compassion for fallen soldiers or their families. He dishonors a POW by stating he’s not a hero. He teeters on indecisiveness as he sides with white supremacists.

“With this ideology I painted “Stand-up Comedy,” leaving bits of newsprint in the oil paint that represent, to me at least, the half-truths that spew from Twitler’s self-aggrandizing tweets. I am angry that our system of government is failing America and has disintegrated to such depths. As I painted, I returned again and again to my embarrassment that the World is laughing at America and it hurts. Perhaps it’s more of a tragedy than a comedy… yet it’s the Orange Clown, his Cabinet of Jesters and Congress of Monkeys that makes it a stand-up comedy, a comedy of errors.”

4 Ways to Free Your Mind from a Creative Rut


4 Ways to Free Your Mind from a Creative Rut

Guest Post by Larry Mager


It’s inevitable —there will come a time where there is a halt in your creative process and you will feel blocked. Sometimes this block can last for hours, other times for days. It is a frustrating place to be in nonetheless, and for a moment it may seem as though your next big idea or surge of creativity is far away in the distance. It is important to use moments like these to reboot your mind and use subtle yet effective activities to give your creativity the boost it needs. Here are a few ideas to get those creative juices back flowing. 


Listen to Music

 Good music that you enjoy has the tendency to pull you away from the current situation at hand and allow you to roam into a fun, care-free zone. When you have your headphones in and you’re jamming out to the latest by Bruno Mars, you are not thinking about your problems or that mound of unfinished work on your desk [or easel]. Allowing yourself the mental break that listening to music provides will jumpstart your creativity and get the ideas flowing again. The next time you find yourself in a creative rut, grab your headphones and vibe out for a few minutes before resuming your tasks as usual.


Practice meditation

 Meditation is one of the most ancient, yet effective practices you can use to jolt your creativity. 

Make your home a clean, organized and quiet space for you to be able to de-stress and relax. 

Practicing the art of mindfulness is a great way to focus your attention inward as opposed to whatever may be going on around you. In mindful meditation, you bring awareness to your breathing and the parts of  your body. In a world full of constant chaos and movement, taking a mental time out to meditate will improve your creativity tremendously. Allowing your mind to relax and go to its natural calm state is a very beneficial tool to use when it comes to decompressing, relieving stress, and inspiring creativity.


Get some rest

 That’s right —good old fashioned sleep. If you are pushing yourself day to day to the point where you are running on fumes, then you need to scale back and take time for some rest and relaxation. Nothing zaps your strength and creativity more than exhaustion. If you are overexerting yourself, you are limiting your brain’s ability to function and think clearly. When you find yourself overwhelmed or frustrated with the creative process, take a step back and allow yourself time away from the project. Take a nap or appoint yourself an earlier than usual bedtime and just sleep. It’s almost guaranteed that when you wake up, you will feel refreshed and rejuvenated, which in turn will allow creativity to return to you abundantly. 


Write it out

 A lot of times thoughts don’t get sorted properly and it causes deep anxiety or dissatisfaction which no doubt can be a creativity-killer. When you find yourself with a lot of thoughts swarming through your mind and you don’t know which route to take, get everything out of your head and in front of you by writing it down [or sketching]. Once you start writing, nine times out of ten even more ideas will begin to flow and before you know it, creativity will be back in your presence!


Having a creative block is not a fun place to dwell in, however with little to no effort, you can get your mind back on track and back to producing the results you desire. Choose to implement one or more of these tools daily and watch your creativity begin to skyrocket!

Photo By Adi Constantin (Stock Snap)

Artists, Have You Been Scammed? Help is Here!

As Artists, we probably all have at least one horror story about a gallery or gallery director.  We need to share those stories with one another and unite.

Several years ago, I had a solo show at a local gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah.  At the opening reception, one painting was purchased.  According to the contract, I was to have received payment within thirty days.  It was beyond thirty days and I contacted the gallery to receive my check.  The director/owner told me she didn’t have it.  She had invested the money back into the gallery.  I threatened a suit in small claims court.  She stated she still would not have the money.  To shorten the story, she began sending me $20 a month.  A year later, I finally did receive the entire amount, and it was years later before the she would share the purchaser’s information with me.  That gentleman and his wife have since become loyal collectors.

More recently, I was verbally and with a hand shake promised a solo show at another local gallery for the month of October.  I had not received a contract or vital information needed for the event.  I sent the director a text.  No response.  I called and left a voice mail… no response.  A second call resulted in the same… I left a voice mail and again no response.  I have since given up and I will be blackballing that gallery.

As Artists, we deserve better.  We deserve to be respected.  Help is on the way!

I recently came across a website through an email from Brainard Carrey where we can not only share our horror stories, but can also search potential galleries or juried calls for submission for legitimacy.  As more Artists learn of this resource, the data will grow.  It will be a useful resource here in the United States as well as Worldwide.  I encourage you to review and share on this site: http://www.howsmydealing.com.

Jerry Hardesty

How to Get into Your Creative Flow

Guest Post by Larry Mager



Photo courtesy of Pixabay



Creativity can be expressed in our lives in many different ways. From painting to writing to experimenting in a lab, your own personal creative expression might look very different from someone else’s. Some people even use their creativity to form businesses and make a living. So how do we increase our levels of creative flow?


Recent studies are showing it is increasingly important to perform aerobic exercise not only to help our physical health, but also to benefit our mental fitness as well. Heart-boosting “cardio” exercises can actually improve the function of the prefrontal cortex of your brain. The prefrontal cortex controls thinking, memory, emotion, and – you guessed it – creativity.


Studies have shown that the benefits of cardio on the brain are increased when we perform exercise while surrounded by nature. You’re boosting your creativity when you play an outdoor tennis match, take a romantic walk on the beach, or hike your favorite mountain trail. StanfordHarvard and even the New York Times have noted the scientific benefits of outdoor exercise on the brain’s creative potential.


Why is it so much more powerful to be surrounded by nature? If you are looking to improve your capacity for creativity and get back into your prime mental flow, you’ll want to minimize stress and distractions in order to create a productive work environment. When we’re constantly checking Facebook or sending emails, we are inhibiting our body’s natural creative process. Give yourself permission to unplug!


If, for any number of reasons, you are simply unable to perform cardio exercise outside in nature at this point in your life, don’t fret. There are still other ways you can improve your creativity including meditation and art therapy. Meditation is known to boost your creative thinking skills – and it is something you can easily do at any time, from the comfort of your own home. You can even meditate while resting in bed! And of course, we can all help our brains by avoiding drugs and alcohol – which change our cognitive functions and may decrease creativity.


Creativity is about noticing and assigning meaning to those moments that make life worth living.  Some of the world’s most successful people are able to boost their own creativity by staying positive, controlling their thoughts and choosing what aspects of each day they focus on. This improves mental fitness as well as quality of life. In the famous words of the late Albert Einstein, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”


Have you been pondering whether you should take the leap and quit your corporate job? Have you been thinking about whether you should ask your girlfriend to marry you? Next time you are asking yourself those big, soulful questions, it can help to get back in touch with your creativity. Go for a walk in nature, and meditate on how you want to feel in your everyday life. Eventually, the answers will start to come to you. Creativity is a practice, and the more you get in touch with it, the happier you will be.


New Process… Oil and Cold Wax

Noir et Blanc in 6, Mixed Media, 6×6


I haven’t forgotten you.  I’ve been painting daily.  In fact, I am adding a new process to my repertoire…  I’ve been painting with oil and cold wax (don’t confuse it with encaustic, it’s not the same).  I start on canvas or panel with an acrylic layer to which I add an oil layer followed with cold wax.  I then repeat with more layers of oil and the wax.  For Noir et Blanc in 6, I added charcoal powder and graphite powder.


Summertime is a busy time.   In addition to busyness in the studio, preparing for contests and shows, I’ve had some chores outside and taken a couple of trips back to the Midwest to see two of my kids and their families, as well as my nephew and his extended family.  We enjoyed having my daughter and her husband visit Father’s day week-end.  Don’t forget that I’m a tennis fan and have watched the French Open and Wimbledon on the Tennis Channel. To top all that off, I’ve been dealing with recurring aches and pains.


BREAKING NEWS:  In the near future, I will be videotaping myself painting.  I’m excited and hope you look forward to these visual Studio Scoops.  Stay tuned!


“Three wishes, to be exact.  And ixnay on the wishing for more wishes.  That’s it.  Three.  Uno, does, tres.  No substitutions, exchanges or refunds.”  -The Genie, Disney’s “Aladdin”


Showcasing “Torrits & Paynes,” a New Painting

Torrits & Paynes, Oil & Cold Wax, 12×12


Every spring, Gamblin [a manufacturer of art supplies] collects the pigments that have been trapped in the factory’s air filtration system and recycles them into a paint named Torrit Grey. The mix of pigments is different every year, so Torrit Grey is always unique. 


For the past four years, I have collected a tube of Torrits Grey, each a different shade.  For this painting, I used the four Torrit Greys along with Paynes Grey and white.   Hence the somewhat esoteric title.  As part of my creative process, I apply paint before adding the following layer. This gives me a sense of my progress.  I may study a painting for minutes, hours, or days before moving on.  It’s like writers sleep on their prose before declaring a piece finished.  I slept on this painting for several days.  I had thought it needed more oil and wax; however, I finally blessed it with a title and photographed it.  I love the subtle nuances, depth, and textures.  The line work pulled it all together.


Torrits & Paynes is available for $425 plus shipping.  If you would enjoy having this painting in your home or office, please message me at jerry@jerryhardestystudio.com.


Happy viewing.




You Want a Sticker?


Daniel, Checker at Sprouts Grocery:  How’s your day going?

Me:  Not well.  I was just rear-ended (fake cry).

Daniel:  Oh, I am so sorry.  Are you okay?

Me:  I believe I’ve had a bit of whiplash.

Daniel: Oh (opens drawer).  Would you like a sticker?

Me (Laughing hysterically}:  You made my day.


I declined the sticker, but in hindsight I wish I had taken one.  I was waiting for the light to change to green, and BAM I was suddenly struck from the rear.  At first I was in panic/surprise mode.  My response WTF!  When I finally realized I had been rear-ended, I was shoved into the vehicle in front of me.  No one was hurt except me and I’m milking this whiplash for all it’s worth.  My car sustained damages both front and back.  My front license plate was just hanging on.  I now have it wired up and my car looks like it belongs to a redneck.


Don’t you just hate it when the mundane challenges of life interfere with your real purpose?  I had purpose, I had errands.  I needed Quest bars from GNC.  I needed some groceries to make dinner.  I needed to get back to my studio and paint and write (now that’s the real purpose).  I did finish my errands about an hour after the accident.  Then, I came home for a glass of wine and rested hoping my pain would recede.  My insurance agent told me to sleep on it and if I get up the following morning and don’t hurt I would probably be okay.  I responded I wake every morning in pain!  After all I am a senior citizen.  Well, I still have some pain, but I power-washed my deck and moved around a lot today…  seems to help.


I’m still kicking myself for not taking the sticker though.