Art Quote for the Day

PLANAR AND SPATIAL  ( thoughts about media continued)

Is what I need to say and the way I need to express it something that requires a surface to support it, hold it in place:  a plane , a wall,  or a screen?  Do I want to plant this in space so that I can approach it from a variety of angles, each one revealing another aspect of what I have to say?  Do I want my statement to exist in an invented, controllable space?  If so, I have to create my own illusion of space and must do so by fabricationg it out of a plane.

Would I rather place my statement in the world of everyday spaces and take my stand and chances there? Here I am at the mercy of people who can approach me from any angle, who can touch me , who can crawl up and under and over me. Do I need air to say my piece fully and well? How much air between me and them do I need, how much above their head, beneath their eyes to tell them what I know?

How close to me do I want them? Too close, and there is the danger of contempt bred from familiarity.  Too far, and they are indifferent.  Shall I touch the floor? Shall I hover?  Shall I assert my position from the center of the room?  Shall I stretch toward heaven, creep along the floor?

I want this statement to be clear and emphatic but I must say it un-abrasively or they won’t listen.  Where shall I stand ?  What posture shall I assume?

No More Secondhand Art – Awakening the Artist Within by Peter London

As I proofread today’s quote it occurred to me that all of these questions, almost , could be applied to creating a blog as well in a way. Especially , I must ask myself, is there danger bred from familiarity? Is there an indifference to too much quoting by others? Where shall I stand , what posture shall I take? WHAT DO I WANT TO SAY TO EVERYONE OUT THERE READING THIS?

I am now in the process of “cleaning” up my blog’s pages. I have all kinds of new student work , having been completed by my wonderful students this past semester. I will have images of new sketchbook pages, new IPAD images, and of course new paintings, both completed and in progress.

I’m working on the scheduling of several workshops at my house this  summer , the main one being an Encaustics workshop. I will be posting images from these workshops as well.


Art Quote for the Day


Before setting out to rummage through the mounds of art supplies stocked in our local art store, suppose we turn inward and tune our own equipment a bit. Before the salesperson asks us if it will be acrylic or gouache, or designer colors, or watercolors, or oils or tempera or casein, or inks, suppose we put some questions to ourselves about ourselves.

Before we make strategic decisions as to what material we “need”, we will do well to give thought to the match between what we want to say and our choice of an instrument through  which to convey that statement.  In other words, what alliances can we make with things in the world so as to enhance our power to transform products of the mind to products of the hand? The world at large is a vast jumble of things, the world of art only slightly less vast and jumbled. In this mad zoo, whose inhabitants alternately call to us and hide, we need somehow to find the correct fit between our purposes and the expressive power of each medium.  One way to accomplish this is to set up a temporary but useful classification system by slicing the world  into halves, each half revealing a telling cross-section.

Thus we can slice the entire universe of art things into a half consisting of things that are two-dimensional, planar, and one made up of all the rest, things that are three-dimensional, spatial.  We then have before us two distinctive piles.  In the planar pile of art media are paintings, drawings, prints, photographs. In the spatial pile are sculpture, gardens, and architecture.  We can also slice the world along the axis of wet and dry. In one pile we have gouache, inks, acrylics, oils, and watercolors, in the other pile we have pencils, charcoals, and pastels.  We can slice the world along other critical ways as well, and each time we do so , we reveal another display of the world’s dichotomies. Other sample cross-sections are organic/inorganic ( e.g., cherry-wood/core ten steel), color/tone, hard/soft, permanent/transitive, solitary/collaborative, mobile/stable.

Having cut the world in two, we can now proceed to test the fit between what we want and what the world (media) has to offer. In  the coming descriptions of several such halvings, the cross sections are examined more closely.  MORE NEXT TIME!

Art Quote of the Day


When you compare a Rembrandt to a Vermeer, it’s hard to believe they were practically neighbors, living at exactly the same time in a little country about twice the size of New Jersey.  Although both painted light, they saw the light of Holland very differently.  Not only do artists see differently, but often an artist will see differently at different times in his/her  life. If you didn’t know better, you  might find it hard to believe that the works of Picasso’s Rose period were from the same man who painted his Cubist works.  As long as we’re capapble of growth, our opinions are subject to change.

The artist must always be specific about how he/she  wants you to see nature in his/her  painting.  He/she really has no choice; a painting is merely  an arrangement of fixed  areas of color on a flat surface.  The artist must lay down definite shapes that can never move once the painting is finished. If the artist wants you to see nature in more than once way, he must paint more than one picture.  That’s why many artists, like Monet, paint in series.

When you look at a painting, you do not see the subject as the artist saw it; you see the subject as the artist wanted you to see it. The artist has an idea about what constitutes the reality of vision.  Understand other artist’s ideas of vision so that you can find a way of seeing that’s right for you. Whatever idea of vision is true for you is  as valid as any other.

There are at least seven different ideas about what constitutes the reality of vision:

Through the Window Realism – what you see is what you paint. the picture represents everything you would see exactly as you would see it through a window or a door.

Selective Realism – the selective realist says you can’t possibly see every single object that’s in  front of you, let alone paint it. There’s just too much. Only three or four objects may stand out,so that’s all you paint.

Light and Shade Realism – unless you’re a bat , you can’t SEE in the dark. The only reason we see is because light strikes the retina . Vision is just light and dark and what we perceive as dark is simply the absence of light. Therefore, the only way to paint is to capture the way light falls on a surface and is reflected to the eye.

Focus and Fringe Realism – the actual image you perceive on the retina is clear only in the middle of the field.  Surrounding this clear center of sharp-edged interest is a blurred fringe that grows increasingly blurred toward the edges. Thus visual realism demands a clear center of interest at the focal point, which then shades off into less clarity.

Fringe Realism / Impressionism – since light is the only thing that stimulates the eye, to be true to vision, paint only the pattern of light that impinges on the retina.In Impressionism there are no “things”, only light-reflecting surfaces.

Dynamic Realism – nature is seen as being in constant change. Similar to Impressionism in that  it is not about objects as things. Rather , objects are just  planes with a tensional relationship to each other.

Dream-World Realism – paintings are images that appear in the artist’s mind.

Conversations in Paint – A Notebook of Fundamentals by Charles Dunn

Art Quote of the Day


Variety is the counterweight to harmony, the other side of organization essential to unity.  Although an artist might bring a work together with harmony, it is variety that imparts individuality, arousing the viewer’s curiosity and holding his or her attention.  It creates visual contrast – a separation of elements and images.  Like a good sheepdog that singles out one animal from the flock, the introduction of variety actively separates areas or images to make them more exciting and let them stand apart.

If an artist creates a work using a complete equality of visual forces, the work may feel static, lifeless, and unemotional. Visual boredom is a sign of an overly harmonious composition.  By adding degrees of variation, the artist introduces essential ingredients ( such as diversion or change) for sustaining attention.

Visual interest, then, results directly from adding variety to the composition.  Variety causes visual separation – a pulling apart of related elements or images, differentiating and disassociating the componenets.  This separation is achieved through the use of contrast and elaboration.

Art Fundamentals – Theory and Practice by Ocvirk,Stinson,Wigg, Bone, Cayton

As a teacher of 2-dimensional design, I emphasize the fact that Variety, as one of the unifying principals of design is important to the completion of a successfully designed image. If you go to my blogsite , then follow me on Pinterest you’ll find a board that is labelled , APPLES. I have a quote that , very early on I posted as a quote of the day, dealing with this idea. It goes something like this: Art is about making choices… take a simple subject like an apple. Is it red or green? shrivelled , bruised , fresh, is it the BIG APPLE or the apple that the witch gave Snow White? The quote goes on , but eventually points out that with each decision made about that apple you change the meaning of the art. I decided to use this ideas and collect images of apples and on my Pinterest page you’ll find numerous examples. Enjoy! And for your own amusement, pick a simple object and set to creating imagery using assorted media you may have, collage, pencil, paint, makeup, finger nail polish, anything and everything will work if you keep an open mind!

Art Quote of the Day

IMG_1644“Between opposites lies the path………

flexibility vs. structure

frenzy vs. lethargy

anarchy vs. order

insurgency vs. obedience

logic vs. instinct

simplicity vs. abundance

seriousness vs. silliness

work vs. play

The work we do as artists can be seen as that of finding points of balance between opposing forces and concepts and representing them visually.  Sometimes the balance is confined to a narrow space, sometimes broad.  Try this: identify the “extremes” that frame as many aspects of your project as you can identify and look for  the appropriate points of balance between them.”

Creative Sparks by Jim Krause

Art Quote of the Day

“Just as a battery’s power comes from wires attached to opposite poles, sources of our creative energy are often derived from opposites.  An understanding of both extremes gives an artist a deeper understanding of what lies in between.

life <   >death                                                                        laughter<   >tears

black<   >white                                                                      curiosity<   > single-mindedness

silence<   >conversation                                                      concrete<   >ethereal

female<    >male                                                                   fiction<    <non-fiction

deity<     >atheism                                                                mainstream<     >fringe

exertion<   >rest                                                                   wealth<    >poverty

technology<   >primitive tools                                           risk<   >safety

knowledge<    >ignorance                                                   growth<     >decay

details<   >the big picture                                                   lust<       >chastity

sun<   >rain                                                                            future<     >past

pain<   >pleasure                                                                  darkness<       >light

friends<   >strangers

EXPERIENCE       >         OBSERVE       >       CREATE        >        BE

Creative Sparks – An Index of 150+ Concepts, Images and Exercises to Ignite Your Design Ingenuity by Jim Krause

Art Quote of the Day

” Another dilemma that confronts many students occurs when they have been working on both abstract and representational pieces.  They are equally  interested in the two directions and at the same time feel they are suffering from a visual split personality.  Admittedly this is a problem, but not the hopeless one it might seem.  Contrary to what you might suppose, these two modes of expression are not irreconcilable opposites.  They simply allow for responses to different aspects of the same phenomena.  Artists working in a representational vein are concerned on some level that the subject of their visual experience be identifiable.  Nonobjective artists dwell  on components of visual experience in ways that do not necessarily add up to anything other than these components.  The important point is that they have a common base of departure.  Many  artists have commented on this frequently close relationship.  Charles Sheeler’s work is representational, but he wrote, ” I had come to feel that a picture could have incorporated in it the structural design implied in abstraction and be presented in a wholly realistic manner.”  Wayne Thiebaud said in connection with his painting that realism seemed ‘alternately the most magical alchemy on the one hand and on the other the most abstract intellectually.’  Overtly , Mark Rothko’s abstract paintings couldn’t look more different from Thiebaud’s, yet Rothko wrote, “I am not interested in relationships of color or form or anythign else… I am interested in only expressing the basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on….And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point.”  Richard Diebenkorn, who worked as both a representational and an abstract painter, made the conncetion this way: ” Abstract means literally to draw from or separate.  In this sense every artist is abstract….. a realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference.  the result is what counts.”

The Blank Canvas – Inviting the Muse by Anna Held Audette

Art Quote of the Day

” Composition is what’s left over after you’ve eliminated everything it’s not.  Composition is not how; the hows of painting are technique, the different ways pigments are applied to achieve different effects.  Composition is not subject matter; the identical composition can be equally effective as still life, figure, or landscape.  Composition is not drawing; otherwise, nonobjective art would not qualify as art.  Composition is not color; if it were, Rembrandt’s etchings wouldn’t be art.  What’s left?

Composition is where– simply putting the right mark and the right color in the right place.

You’ll find the secret to good composition in your kitchen drawer with your everyday silverware.  That drawer is partitioned off into a grid  that illustrates the prinicple of alignment. Knives, forks, and spoons each have their own compartment ( the principle of proximity). The drawer may hold dinner forks and salad forks; regular knives and butter knives; teaspoons, tablespoons, and soup spoons ( the principle of theme and variations).

Next to the silverware drawer there’s probably a junk drawer containing all those odds and ends that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.  Compared to your silverware drawer, it’s a mess. The junk drawer is comparable to the order found in nature.  There may be some kind of organization to it, but it’s not apparent to rational man.

Every organization is a hierarchy in which some things are more important than others. Similarly, a well-composed painting is an organization chart of its elements.  The viewer knows right away what’s important and what’s not.

Yes , a painting may look as if it were uncomposed in the same way a dance may appear spontaneous.  Watch the title dance number ,

Singing in the RainWe recognize (at least on an intuitive level) that Gene Kelly’s dancing is composed.  A work of art is always composed, and it requires considerable artifice to make it look spontaneous. ”

Conversations in Paint – A Notebook of Fundamentals by Charles Dunn

Art Quote of the Day

“Art schools and art departments try to help students develop a “style” ( or “voice” or “manner” or “set of concerns”). That seems natural enough , but it also puts constraints on what can be done.  Many artists that we call “great” did not have distinctive styles until they were well past the age when most students get their degrees.Rembrandt was still struggling with basic matters of technique.  Titian was a virtuoso, but his later styles had not begun to appear.  Other arts have similar examples.  Robert Frost’s first book of poetry appeared when he was thirty-nine, and

Wallace Stevens when he was forty-three.  Could anything useful have been said to them when they were eighteen or twenty?  In premodern China, the idea of developing a style of one’s own was scarcely promulgated at all, and some of the greatest Chinese painters spent their entire lives emulating one predecessor or another.

In part the difficulty that teachers have with students who have many styles is that it seems they can’t be taught.  If a student is approaching the  M.F.A. and is still showing abstract work alongside realist pieces, or doing aluminum sculpture along with prints and holograms, it begins to look as if they haven’t learned how to choose.  And that is because teachers naturally look for what is called in poetry a “voice”: a single identifiable set of concerns or styles, a character or a manner.  The ideal student is in between a monomaniac who keeps to one style, and a schizophrenic who can’t decide on  a personality.  A student’s work has to be fairly coherent- otherwise it won’t seem “right”

Why Art Cannot Be Taught by James Elkins