Art Quote for the Day

Just a little bit more about my Mom now that I’ve started.  Her name was Ellen. She was a musician, playing the piano,violin, the celeste and  the organ at our church,( she learned to play the organ from a nun named Sister Carola. Sister Carola , before she became a nun was best college friends with my grandma, Mom’s mom and they were “mischief makers” , or so I was told by my grandma !). At Christmas time I remember going to midnight service at our Methodist church and my mom would  play the organ , while people sang the Christmas carols, then the gentle bells of the celeste during more meditative moments, the warm candlelight glowing , the mystery of the late night. I always felt so proud that it was my mom playing all the beautiful music. I grew up listening to classical music playing either on the radio or the phonograph and I had my own little classical 45 rpms that I would play and dance to in my bedroom. I would set the needle on the record, go into my closet and come out with a flourish when the strains of Beethoven would start, then dance as if I was the star ballerina.  I was probably 5 at the time. Ellen loved reading and had lots of books that I got to read …. Grapes of Wrath, Jane Eyre, and lots of other “grown-up”  stuff…. at a pretty early age. Ellen got to skip a grade in grade school because she was so smart. She went to college to become a teacher but went quit after a couple years and went into the army , hoping to make money and go back to school after she served.( She met my Dad instead and got married.) She was one of just a few women in the Springfield MO, army corps symphony. She worked as a secretary for many years so that she could put my sister and me through college. I never really thanked her for that appropriately and I will always regret that. She was a kind, thoughtful person and never spoke a bad word about anybody . I sometimes wondered , growing up , if she would have been happier had she not gotten married and had her two kids and could have played her music all the time. She was an artist and it could be where I got my love for art from .  I have become an artist. I have become the teacher she wanted to be…..

So, these are just a few of the memories that have surfaced again, after having this big painting hung at my place of work. I feel like I’ve come full circle some how,  having the painting about her “with” me everyday at work has given me  even more of a reason to love what I do –  TEACH!….. I’m still thinking about it.

Art Quote for the Day

“I notice that students often start laying in colors and paint just to cover the canvas, without being very attentive to what’s going down–colors and values all over the map! They are feeling they want to get started and hope to refine it later. The problem is, the surface of the picture plane is so alive and active that every inattentive mark you put on it is taking you away from what you had intended to paint faster than you can possibly realize . It makes a lot of sense to try and get it right the first time as if it really mattered, moving intelligently right now toward your idea. And it really helps to have an idea. But just laying in paint as an unhelpful foundation completely confounds our ability to see what we’ve accomplished and where we need to go next. Every part is now reverberating with every other in a chaotic and confusing jumble, and trying to dig ourselves out of that mess may be too much for any painter.
This brings up 2 points.First, so much of what we do while we paint is a reflection of our character and shows us, for better or worse, and if we choose to perceive it, our true nature. Not taking time to lay in a strong and meaningful foundation may be something that manifests in other areas of our life. Art can be a remarkable feedback mechanism for our life.
This is not the same as trying to get it perfect. It justs means trying to get it as right as you can as you go along. “Right” means being aligned to your idea. Trying for perfection takes the life out of expression. to be continued………..

Creative Authenticity- 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision by Ian Roberts

Art Quote for the Day

“I know alot of students who are distracted by an artist’s color or painterliness. They want to paint like that.Yet what isn’t always clear is that, if the artist is any good , the color and bravado is embedded in a foundation . Jon Carlson, the landscape painter, said, “confidence of execution comes from practice and long experience.”

We can run into trouble comparing ourselves with another artist’s work when our temperament is completely different from his or hers, which means that we could never do what they do.

We can admire all manner of art and artists. We can learn from all kinds of paintings. But it is unproductive to compare and evaluate ourselves againt someone else’s work. What we’re trying to compare doesn’t. and it can be harshly discouraging to try.

Certainly it’s foolish to compare what you accomplished in an afternoon session at a painting class with a model whose pose you didn’t set, with ten other artists vying for a decent view with decent lighting, with a painter who was moved by an idea, hired a model specifically for achieving the idea, and set the stage, model and lighting to reflect his vision nd then had a week of six-hour days to accomplish it. The same would apply if you tried to compare a two-hour-on-location landscape with something that was done in the studio over several weeks with far more planning and adjusting than you can ever afford with a quick sketch.

Creative Authenticity by Ian Roberts

Art Quote for the Day

WORKING METHOD

” It’s painful to think of the number of paintings that don’t work, not only my own, but also what I see in galleries and museums.  Such failures may be adequately painted but they don’t sing.  They’ve left the studio but they aren’t happy about  it.  It’s simple and inevitable: there’s work we artists do that doesn’t come together.  And for each of us there’s only one solution to this problem. You just continue to  make paintings, and you make more paintings, and then for no particular reason all of a sudden you start to click and all the pieces that you’ve been working with , the direction you’ve been perceiving “as if through a glass darkly” is now open and clear, in all its glory.  We paint and everything falls into place.  That expression of being “in the zone” expresses the experience perfectly.  There is a momentum you’ve built up which was essential to this new work.  If you had been waiting  for inspiration, waiting  for that flow to begin, it would have caught you too flat-footed to notice.  It arrived out of the readiness that all the previous work had created in you  .  Regardless of how sluggish that process may have seemed at the time, things were  lining up  in preparation, ideas were formulating.

The making of art offers a poor example of efficiency at work.  Yet all that practice and preparation makes us ready when for some reason everything gets lined up and we become as if conduits for the spirit.  It shows in the result. the rest of the time we work to keep the channel open until things realign. Then, inexplicably and in exhilaration, everything goes right.

So much of our output seems destined to be merely preparation.  It’s what  makes the inevitable harsh judgment of our work when it’s not going  well so counterproductive, particularly when we compare our struggles in the studio to someones else’s edited, presented gallery work.  When we judge our output against someone else’s, we tend first to admire their mastery of their  obsessions.  We each have certain  fascinations and because of that  we excel at them.  So we may notice a painter’s handling of reflections or the way they handle paint itself and think we cna never paint like that.  And perhaps we may not.  Because that’s their area,not ours: it holds them and they have wrestled with it and perfected it. Our own obsessions are so close to us we probably can’t see them.  We’re  blind to our own magic.

The lengths an artist will go to create a particular way of painting is also deceptive.  We can think of Sargent who worked hard, scraping and repainting pieces, to get that effortless look of virtuosity.  We can’t compare that with what we’ve just finished working on this morning  Just because someone’s painting looks loose or facile doesn’t mean it was done quickly or effortlessly.

Creative Authenticity – 16 Principals to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision by Ian Roberts

Art Quote for the Day

WHEW!!!!!!!

I just finished another Winterim session at my place of employment, Edgewood College in Madison WI. This is a 2 week long period of time that students can take classes and get a full semester’s worth of credit. We meet EVERYDAY  for 3 hours and I had one class in the morning and one class in the afternoon.  Six hours of classtime,  2 hours of prep-time, I was out of the house everyday at 7 am and home by 4:30 pm……. with maybe 30 minutes to gulp down some kind of lunch.

I’M EXHAUSTED!

4 days off , and then, the real semester starts and back at it!

I LOVE IT !!!

The Winterim is proof of  how much can actually get done in a very short time if that time is concentrated and focused. It is proof of what students are capable of learning and doing in that same amount of quality time.

The morning class I taught was in Figure Drawing. Drawing the nude…. everyday a live model, everyday a new set of skills to be learned: proportion, measuring ,bone structure, musculature,modelling 3-dimensional form, gesture/motion, media,patience, focus, imagination. We ended today with a 2 hour long pencil drawing of 2 poses in one drawing that related to each other in some way. Students had to draw a sitting pose and a standing pose that would relate to each other , switching back and forth about every 5 minutes….. After only 9 days of intense instruction and LOTS of practice they all managed to complete a pretty accomplished drawing! Some of the students had never had a drawing course before so I’m pretty proud of them!

The afternoon class was called Art Structure and it is specifically for NON-ART majors. Again, everyday , a new set of skills and information: drawing, color theory, design, painting, abstraction, printmaking, sculpture….. total chaos everyday…. CREATIVE CHAOS! And , once again, the work completed was fantastic.

Some of the work is posted here Enjoy!….

Art Quote for the Day

And once again, the time has gone by SUPERFAST and I find myself at the end of another semester. Projects DONE, grading DONE,cleaning up the art room messes, almost done! A few weeks of a much welcome break where I can really focus on my own painting , and then back at it again!
I was thinking the other night,( while attending a senior seminar where students I had as Freshman and are now about to graduate, had to present their work to an audience and talk about it), that it’s a great thrill to watch these individuals come into our school as these young Freshmen, watch them make it through all their trials and tribulations and then  see and hear them be so articulate about their work at the  end of it all. Somewhere deep down inside I’m always hoping that maybe, in their talks, they’ll mention me…. that I made a difference and when they don’t I have always felt a little sad. BUT, after seeing this presentation the other night I realized there are no thanks needed. My job is to instruct them in the basic foundations courses that are required . In return they inspire me in so many ways , I ‘m never bored. My own personal mission is to create for them an atmosphere of creativity and fearlessness so that they can INDEED go on to create a fantastic portfolio of work . I’m a small part of a bigger picture that includes all of my fellow faculty members, all doing the hard work that it takes to get these young people ready for the real world. And I’m so very happy to be a part of it.

Now, with the holiday break starting, I will take off a few days to do stuff other than school stuff but I’m already sort of thinking about new assignments, projects, and visual examples. I’m looking forward to the first day of classes when I get to meet new students and re-connect with old….

I just Love this Life of Mine!!!!

Art Quote for the Day

In the French Academy, beginning students were called ‘eleves’.  They had a reasonably good life; they were exempted from military service and were well positioned to compete with apprentices outside the academy.  There were monthly examinations, designed to weed out inferior  students but the major goal, from 1666 onward, was to to win two all-important prizes: the Grand Prix and the Prix-de-Rome scholarship. The Grand Prix was not easy to attain.  First, students had to pass an examination by executing a satisfactory drawing in the presence of an instructor.  If they passed that test they could submit a sketch, and if that sketch was accepted, they were invited to make a picture or relief from the sketch while locked in a room ( to make sure they weren’t cheating by copying other drawings).  All the pictures that had been made that way were put in a public exhibition, and eventually a panel chose a single Grand Prix winner.

The Prix-de-Rome was much more generous than today’s grants and fellowships.  Winners went to the French Academy in Rome for four years, and when they returned they had a choice of careeres.  They could either set up shop in some small town or else try for the next step up in the academy.  After being an ‘eleve’ and taking part in the Grand Prize competition , a student could apply to be accepted as an ‘agree’, which involved finding a sponsor and submitting another painting. “Agrees” then had to pay a fee and complete a third work, this time specifically for the academy’s permanent collection: and if it was accepted, they became ‘academiciens’, the highest normal position, something like our full professors. This three stage system was adopted from the medieval sequence from apprentice to journeyman-apprentice to master.

from Why Art Cannot Be Taught by James Elkins

Art Quote for the Day

I bought a new sketchbook a few months ago. It’s a larger format than I usually use so I decided I would divide each page into small squares. It’s been an interesting process…. depending on the size of the small squares, depending on how many I put on one page, I find myself exploring themes and variations of a single theme. sometimes I’ll start a page by filling all the squares with a similar shape and then start doing different things to each one. sometimes it’ll be certain set of colors I want to work with or a different media. Every single little square is a future painting I think. There are more small squares than I have time left in my life to paint but it’s going to be fun trying.

Art Quote for the Day

Art can be taught, but nobody knows quite how. A typical piece of evidence here is the track record of art schools – the fact that famous artists have graduatd from them.  School catalogs typicallly list their graduates who went on to become famous.  Instructors praise the work of famous students as if they helped guide them to their success.  Still, there is very little evidence that art schools have control over the production of really interesting art.  It may be nothing more than chance.  If an art school is around long enough, there are likely to be famous people who studied there.  Sooner or later , a student will find an instructor, or a curriculum,or an environment that is just right, and that might then propel them to do work many people find interesting.  But do teachers have the slightest control over the interaction, or the vaguest idea of how it works?  How do we know that the art school was anything more than a neutral backdrop, a place that didn’t stop the artist from developing?  How do we know that another environment – say, a steel factory – might not have been better? The problem with this first theory is that is isn’t a theory.  It proposes a correlation without proving a cause – and-effect relation.  In that respect, it is like the many studies linking cancer to various foods; there might be a correlation between drinking coffee and getting cancer, but that does not prove there is a causal link.

Why Art Cannot be Taught – A Handbook for Art Students by James Elkins

Art Quote for the Day

Some contemporary art instructiors freely admit that art cannot be taught, and admitting it put them in a fundamental logical bind:  they say art cannot be taught and yet they go on teaching students who believe  they are learning art. I think most teachers would say that they don’t claim to teach art directly ; but on an institutional level, the schools and departments where they work continue to act as if art teaching might be taking place.  The two postitions – for and against the possibility of  teaching art – are incompatible.  Studio classes could be advertised as places where students learn techniques, or the vagaries of the art world, and that would be  consistent with ordinary teacher’s  claim not to know how to teach art directly.  Somewhere along the chain of command and publicity, from the ordinary studio art instructor up to the chairman, the dean , the public-relations department, and the trustees, the day-to-day skepticism about teaching art gets lost , and institutions typically end up making claims that their instructors really do teach art.

It seems to me that this indecision or unclarity or disinterest in exactly what we do is not at all a bad position to be in.  there is no need to teach without self-contradiction, or without letting students in on our indecision or incoherence.  The fact that it is so hard to know what it might mean to teach art tends to keep  teachers going; it spurs them to teach in many different ways. In that sense, teaching physics or television repair is much less engrossing, because there is no need to continually question the enterprise itself. So in that sense there is nothing wrong  with our inability to say exactly what we’re doing.  But it is also important not to forget that it is , after all , a logical contradiction, and that art instructors  work right at the center of the contradiction.

Why Art Cannot be Taught – A Handbook for Art Students by James Elkins