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Saturday, March 27, 2010

More thoughts on less is more

This morning I came across a blog post via Facebook; The author of the post wrote the book "I'd rather be in the studio." She echoed what Scott Christensen said last week about not putting just any and everything you paint out there, except she went a step further in saying, destroy those works you don't want your kids to have do deal with if you were to die suddenly. I have destroyed many paintings over the years, but some I am glad I saved. They have given me a vast playground on which to experiment without fear of "ruining anything." Luckily, I painted rather thin so it isn't a problem painting over them. With that thought, here is a painting that I was going to destroy from 2001, but decided to paint over. I found it when I did the deep dig in my basement a few weeks ago. My graphic tendancies really show up in my early work. I did not have access to the red pear this time of year, so I went with a red delicious. I added the plate and napkin, which is not yet complete. This is what I did when we got a half day off from work due to Wednesday's snow storm. I think my reflections are a bit too strong and the bartlett pear doesn't look like it should be upright (it didn't WANT to be upright, either) but it is a good study.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

An addedum to What Makes a Painting Good? Lecture

I thought of something else that resonated with me that was not in my notes but rose to the surface this morning. What Scott said about saturating the market with our art; I had come to the same conclusion a few months back. We are in such a hurry to be "out there" and we rush around slapping together paintings instead of taking time and really formulating what it is we want to say. I personally was caught up in trying to have enough to post in my blog so that my viewers would not get bored and forget about me between posts. It is hard to compete with the Daily Painting blogs where artists post a painting a day. Small paintings, to be sure, but still. I then came to the conclusion that I had to follow my heart and hope the rest would follow. I have slowed down considerably and painting larger forces you to do that anyway. But it was good to hear him say that. When you think about, Vermeer only had about 35 or so paintings that are attributed to him, but what paintings they are. We humans always feel better when our conclusions are validated.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Scott Christensen at the Denver Art Museum

This afternoon Scott Christensen was at the DAM. The price of the lecture was museum entrance, so that was a bargain. I have a membership. I had no idea going in what to expect, but it turned out he was going to try and answer the Question: What makes a good painting good? To try and answer the question, we first watched a film from the Lincoln Center of a "lesson" in music using Bach's Italian Concerto. We learned that Bach transcribed Vivaldi's violin concertos to learn "to think musically." (I would liken this to an artist copying from a master's painting in an art museum) And through the Italian Concerto, which was written for a harpsichord only (concertos were typically written for a solo with an orchestra) we learned how Bach did it using the left hand as the orchestra and the right for the soloist; truly fascinating. And a lot of the same terms that were used in describing Bach’s method in music also work for art, i.e. composition, variety, chaos, relationships, order, repetition, modulation, balance, unity and variety. I.e. Too much repetition leads to boredom and too much variety leads to chaos. That subtle shifts are needed; that the difference between great and average is infinitesimal and yet very great indeed. That Bach created tension and variety without being chaotic. He simplified to bring order out of chaos. This ties in to what Kevin seems to be hammering into me, which is to simplify!

Scott Said there are three "p's"...Preparing, i.e. learn drawing, composition, values, tones, relationships (the broken record for aspiring artists); Practice, i.e. do lots of studies and don't think about painting (where have I heard this before, maybe Mark Daily?) and Painting ie where the preparing and the practice come together.

A few things that Scott mentioned that resonated with me in particular were 1. That he had just been to an exhibit of John William Waterhouse paintings. That a few things struck him as very interesting indeed. One was how you could see the strokes of how often Waterhouse had reworked or changed an area to get it to work the way he wanted (I LOVE this as it is always heartening to know how the masters struggle just like we all do) and that out of this whole exhibit, 5 paintings kept drawing him in. That to him, a painting that stayed with someone or kept bringing them back, was a “good” painting.

2. That we have all “seen” a great painting waiting to happen while driving. You stop, you go back, and the scene is gone. The thing is, you saw it at “a glance” while you are driving, but you stop and everything is just there. The scene is overwhelming and the light isn’t what you “saw” at all. So the point is we need to trick the brain and glimpse, not over observe, while painting outdoors.

And I thank Marie for inviting me to join her today, not only was it a good time, and new ways to look at "composing" but lots of artist friends were there as well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Notable Quotes

Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it. ~ Brian Tracy

This is my quote of the week; last week I was letting "things" get to me and disrupting my peace of mind. This seems like a much better approach to life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Harvard Gulch Alley in Winter

after looking at this painting all week I saw a few things I wanted to do to it this weekend. First, I took Cynthia's advice and took the bright yellow numbers on the pole down to a more muted color; then I had this plan to make a "fan" out of the darks of the trees, flowing from the evergreen in the back, coming from the left, to the trees down the center of the alley. Again, unifying and simplifying as I went. I felt the lights were too light and distracting from my main focus, which is the ice melt down the center. I also darkened the sky a value or so and added more interest to the background trees on the right carving out another garage roof in the back distance. And when I put in the darker sky, I also finished up the power lines I wanted in there. Just enough to not be overwhelming but to add interest. I think it is pretty much completed; for now anyway.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Alley Progresses pt 3

This weekend saw more progress made on this ambitious (for me) painting. I went back in and simplified the big shadow shape on the alley road. I had gotten a bit carried away last weekend. While I was at it I darkened the whole road a bit. The snow was simplifed and given shape. The chain link fences were completed and I put the dead Virginia Creeper in on the fence by the red shed. While I was working on the dead creeper, I then united all the dead vegetation along the alley. I didn't like the tree branch going towards the upper left hand corner of the main tree so I simplified that but I am not sure it is where I want it yet. Last weekend I had also finished up the RV. I have to give Leslie Allen credit for this painting. We had painted at Harvard Gulch together a few years ago and I remember her saying that this looked like a painting waiting to happen. I have kept that thought all this time.