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 of the Day

Does anyone else have this “issue” ?  I have the most beautiful studio…… we built an addition onto our house a few years ago.  Tall windows – 8 ft. with small panes that look out on my beautiful garden. Lots of room…. of course with great light. BUT…… with this EXTREMELY COLD WEATHER we’re having it’s VERY,VERY,VERY cold in there. The room is off the kitchen, heated only from the heat that fills the rest of our little house but the room has no heat source of its own. Needless to say , I’m not very motivated to go into that room and paint. It’s not that I’m not feeling creative ….. I’m restless with ideas and desire to get to work but , really, THE COLD!!!!  I have been able to work for a couple hours before getting sooooooooooo chilled that I had to stop but that was when the temperature was at least above freezing. With this EXTREME cold, -50 degrees wind chill  factor , well, I’m discouraged.

I will dress as if I were going outside …. a few layers , boots, maybe even a hat…. see how long I can stand it. I can bring some acrylics into my living room and work at the coffee table I suppose but I have big oil paintings in progress in the studio that I really want to work on.

I should have begun teaching classes today but cancelled because of the horrible cold…. so I have one extra day  of “vacation” to ‘enjoy’. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….. what shall I do ? what shall I do?  Chant and meditate on the fact that

I HATE WINTER…… OHMMMMMMM……..

Thanks by the way  for everyone’s well – wishes about my lost sketchbook. UPDATE! It  hasn’t been found or turned in …. it’s just gone….. in the wind…. in someone else’s possession (, ENJOY! ),  in a landfill somewhere ( that’s what hurts the most) , and I’ve pretty much just resigned myself to it’s loss. Que sera – sera !

STAY WARM EVERYBODY !

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

Gilt Complex

The one color the alchemists could not conjure up for painters was the one they labored the hardest to devise.  Struck by slanting rays of the sun, gold set the medieval altarpiece ablaze with light.  In Byzantine churches like the sixth-century San Vitale in Ravenna, golden mosaic tiles create a dome shimmering with holy radiance.  Whatever the cost of ultramarine or vermilion, gold has ancient associations that make its value transcendental.

Gold is the substance of royalty, so what could be more pious than to offer it up to God in sacred art?  And unlike silver and other  metals, it was seemingly immune to the passing years- it did not tarnish or lose its splendor.

The use of gold in Medieval art shows us more  clearly than anything else how the nature of materials took precedence over any concern for realism. Until at least the fourteenth century,holy figures on altar panels are framed not by nature’s skies or foliage, not by draperies or masonry, but by a golden field that permits neither depth nor shadow.

In later ages this metallic sheen was pushed back onto the gilded frame that held the canvas, but for the medieval artist gold was a color in its own right.  It was applied to the gessoed panels in the form of thin sheets; gold leaf. There was no need to visiti the apothecary to procure this color, for it was to be found in the purse of every wealthy person. The craftsmen of the Middle Ages , unrestricted by laws protecting currency, made thier gold leaf by hammering and hammering at golden coins, transforming them to sheets so thin as to feel almost weightless.

This task was carried out by professional goldbeaters who, even into the twentieth century, measured the wieght of gold leaf by the ducat, the gold coinage of medieval Italy.  The thickness of the foil was determined by the number of leaves (each about three and a half inches square) beaten from a single ducat.

Bright Earth – Art and Invention of Color by Philip Ball

Art Quote for the Day

LAKE COLORS

Cinnabar and red lead have an orange tint, and red ocher is dull. The dyers of ancient Egypt enjoyed the richer, darker hue of kermes, but with occasional exceptions such as indigo,dyes are too translucent to serve a paints on wood, stone, or plaster.  The Egyptians knew of a solution to this short-coming, although we cannot tell if  they invented it.  The water-soluable crimson dye is affixed to an inorganic, colorless carrier powder, generating a relatively opaque solid material called a lake pigment.

Lake is now a generic label for any dye-based pigment, but once it pertained to red alone. In the Middle Ages red lake was made not just from the gummy secretion of the kermes insect ( which became known as carmine lake) but from a related resin called lac ( also spelled lak or lack). This encrusts the twiggy branches of trees indigenous to India and southeast Asia and is exuded by the scale insect Laccifer lacca.  The modern lacquer shellac is a processed form of lac resin. Lac was imported to Europe in large quantities from  the early thirteenth century, and as a result it became a blanket term for all red dye-based pigments, including those already in circulation, such as carmine.

Art Quote for the Day

So, in my efforts to explore something different….. change my technique, my style, explore other motifs and ideas, different colors, and different media, a question came to my mind.

OK….. I definitely have a kind of imagery that I feel bonded with …… for the last 16 years or so ….. I’m physiologically driven to draw and paint  imagery that contains bi-laterally balanced shapes, ( lotus, the onion domes of the Kremlin, that sort of thing). I have seen lots of other artists’ work out there that also use this sort of imagery. We , as artists, “take”, “use”, “derive”, “mimic” the work of others and , HOPEFULLY , make it our own.

I have found an artist , via the” PINTERESTS”, whose work I have fallen in love with. For many  reasons. #1 being the use , in some pieces of those same bi-laterally balanced shapes. The technique used is more free, more mixed media, simpler in some ways but more rich in surface. ANYWAY, I have been totally inspired…. and find myself trying to create imagery that reflects this artist’s work . Now, in the grand scheme of things, is this plagarism? I’m still using my own ideas, my own sensibilities…. but more in the style of this artist  in a search for a different style of my own. I’ve switched from oils for the time being  to acrylics because they seem more spontaneous to me. I don’t know if the artist I’m talking about uses acrylics or not…. most pieces are listed as mixed media.

This artist’s work is large, I’m merely experimenting on small square foot panels.

This artist has a larger vocabulary in the work , not just the bilateral shapes, and that work I don’t like as well altho’ the colors and textures in all pieces are something I’m drooling over.

I guess, at the end of the day, whether we’ve been at this business of making art for one day or one lifetime, studying and , yes, I’ll say it, copying the work of others has been standard practice. The ideal goal is to move beyond the copying and begin to find something that moves each one of us in a very personal way. This is the motivation we all need to keep making art EVERYDAY.

GOOD LUCK  in your own creative invention and re-invention wherever direction  you may find yourself heading toward.

Art Quote for the Day

FIELD AND VISION

For Mark Rothko ( 1903 – 1970 ) , immense scale was a way of immersing the viewer in the picture:  “However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. It isn’t something you command.”

This is not sheer hubris.  Rothko wanted to make works that wrought a transcendent effect, that dealt with spiritual concerns: “Paintings must be like miracles,” he once said. With Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still, Rothko represents, in the words of art critic Robert Hughes, the “theological side” of Abstract Expressionism.

Rothko and Newman worked with vast fields of unbroken color, without any figurative reference points at all.  In principle at least, there was nothing in these works for the viewer to respond to except raw visual impression, the hue and luminosity of the paint itself.  This was Kandinsky’s vision taken to its logical extreme: the object had disappeared entirely , and the only thing left was color. As the  strength of the effect was considered porportional to the size of the image, these painters found it necessary to work on a large scale.  The have become known as the Color Field group.

Yet something of the figurative remains if the canvas is not simply monochrome.  The eye and brain seem to demand it; they conspire to construct forms from the juxtaposed fields of color, just as Leider warns.  Rothko’s  TWO OPENINGS IN BLACK OVER WINE (1958),  becomes a window in a dark room through which one sees the last glimmering of a burgundy dusk.  OCHRE AND RED ON RED ( 1954) ,  has echoes of  landscape simply by virtue of the horizontal format of the color field: we are looking out into the shimmering heat haze of a desert.

BRIGHT EARTH – Art and the Invention of Color by Philip Ball

Art Quote for the Day

Begin by painting your shadows light. Guard against bringing white into them; it is the poison of the picture, except in the lights. Once white has dulled the transparency and golden warmth of your shadows, your color is no longer luminous but matte and gray.
-attributed to Rubens

Dark is the basic tone of Rembrandt’s paintings, and darkness occupies a large area in them…. But how full of life is such darkness! Beginning with the most glowing middle tones of brown and yellow, they are gradually deepened through glazes and accents and made so unutterably rich in values!”
-Max Doerner (1949), The Materials of the Artist

Art Quote for the Day

Anais Nin (cont.)

Back at her house by the sea, the painter stacked her paintings against the wall.  She now had to make the paintings look like her own art work again, which meant restituting to them the fantasmagorical figures of her night dreams.. The plain landscapes, the plain seascapes, the plain figures were all transformed to what they were before. The figures undulated, became bells, the bells rang over the ocean, the trees waved in cadences, the sinuosities of the clouds were like the scarves of Arab or Hindu women, veiling the storms.  Animals never seen before, descendents of the unicorn, offered their heads to be cajoled.  The vegetative patience of flowers was depicted like a group of twittering nuns, and it was the animals who had the eyes of the crystal gazer while people’s eyes seemed made of stalactites, Explosions of the myth, talkative garrulous streets, debauched winds, oracular moods of the sands, stasis of the rocks, attrition of stones, acerose of leaves, excresence of hours, sibylline women with a faculty for osmosis, adolescence like cactus, the corrugations of age, the ulcerations of love, people seeking to live two lives with one heart, inseparable twins.

She restored to the empty lanscapes all the mythological figures of her dreams, thinking of Rousseaus‘s words in answer to the question: ” Why did you paint a couch in the middle of the jungle?” And he had said: ” Because one has a right to paint one’s dreams.”

Art Quote for the Day

Anais Nin:

I cling to the world made by the artists because the other is full of horror, and I can see no remedy for it.  Diary entry , May , 1936

In the small towns of California the occasional absence of inhabitants, or animation, can give the place  the air of a still life painting.Thus it appeared for a moment in the eyes of a woman standing in the center of an empty lot.

She stood motionless and became , for a moment, part of the still life until a station wagon arrived and friends waved at her as they slowed down in front of her. She ran swiftly towards them and helped them open the back of the car and unload paintings and easels which they all carried to the empty lot.

The woman in slacks became intensely active, placing and turning the paintings at an angle where the sunlight would illumine rather than consume them.

Cars began to stop and people came to look.

One visitor said, ” These trees have no shadow.”

Another visitor said: ” The faces have no wrinkles. They do not look real”

” I have never seen a sea like this,” said another spectator

The woman in slacks laughed and said:  “a painting should take you to a place you have never seen before. You don’t always want to look at the same tree, the same sea, the same face every day, do you?”

But that was exactly what the people wanted to do.  They did not want to uproot themselves. They were looking for duplicates of their surroundings, a portrait of their grandmother or of their children.

The painter laughed . They liked her laughter. They ventured to buy a few of the smaller paintings, as if in diminutive sizes they might not be so dangerous or change the climate of their living room.

“I’m helping you to tell your house apart from your neightbor’s”  , said the painter.

The light grew dim. the painter and her friends packed the remaining paintings and drove away.

excerpt from COLLAGES by Anais Nin