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Monday, August 24, 2015

The Artists Statement

In the August 8th edition of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) - I can't remember if it was in the Off Duty or the Review section of the paper that weekend, but it was in a little corner called Notable and Quotable. These little tidbits are usually in the oped section but the day it wasn't. It was an excerpt from a piece written by John Seed and pulled from the online magazine "Hyperallergic." I have not read the whole piece yet but just from the excerpt it was obviously a piece making fun at the "required" artist statement of our time. If you have ever written or read one you know how awful they can be. The excerpt in the WSJ had the Mona Lisa with Leonardo da Vinci's artist statement on the work. It is unintelligible and uproariously funny to me.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Janice Nowinski Workshop Day 2 and 3

Day Two: I decided to start a new painting and leave the boats for now. I was a bit confused by the end of day one so I brought in a larger board and decided to go graphic with big simple shapes. I used a photo of my son since figures seemed to be the modus operandi. It is a photo I had taken to be part of a series I had started on reading years ago but had been distracted from completing. I started this series before the iPhone came on the scene but I have kept those photo references in an envelope as I add to it in case I revisit that series. NOTE: an ironic addendum to this. In yesterday's WSJ was an article on the decline of summer reading from its apex after WWII. The link to this article by Lee Siegel is not available but when I did a search I see that this is a recurring theme of his. I realized I had read other of his articles on this topic on the decline of reading books.
After quickly blocking the shapes in on this very slick surface I was ready to correct the relationships and start painting. It was suggested that I leave it as is. So I did. After looking at it awhile I think I did not have the right proportion board in relation to the photograph. My math is off, in other words. That is one reason I think the hands are so large. I can't find the photo to verify this.
I think this piece has potential. It was well received as is and deemed complete by the class and by Janice. Not sure I agree. You can judge for yourselves. What I may end up doing is starting a new one instead of my normal reaction to over painting the original. That is something Janice suggested that is starting to make sense to me. So there is a takeaway from the workshop.
Reading On a Jet Plane, 20x16, oil on slick board, 20x16
When I took these pieces to work one of my coworkers really liked this painting as well. Another coworker asked why I was taking a workshop and not giving one? Good question...Amazingly enough I had an email yesterday asking me to go to WI to give a workshop. I'm thinking on it.

Day Three:Another figure. I wanted to see what I would do with editing an image and not being so *literal in its translation. I left out quite a bit from the photo reference and am quite happy with this one. No one recognized it as the wall sculpture outside the Denver Art Museum. I don't think you are supposed to climb it but one day where I was meeting a friend, someone did!
Here are some photos from the critique at the end of the third day:
All three of these paintings were done from black andwhite photos. Nicely done, too.

Sampling of works completed during the workshop.

More the translation of Matisse.
*Note: "literal" became one of the hot button words of the workshop-not sure we all agreed on what that word means. I had to define the term "graphic" more than once when I used it to describe my work. Another interesting topic for another post. How we think we can redefine words to fit our own definition.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Janice Nowinski Workshop Day 1

I have not taken a workshop in years. In fact it has been so long I can't remember when the last one was. I took a three day workshop this past week with Janice Nowinski. I do not know her work but I was intrigued by the title description: photo as catalyst: Extracting and Transforming. I was hoping to break down some of my self-imposed barriers and to trust my instincts when editing and painting from photo references. Day One was Monday. Janice talked about what she meant by extracting and transforming as we viewed the photos and photos of art that we had all brought in as per the syllabus. We were to bring in 5 photos. Including postcards of favorite artist/painting. It was remarkable some of the themes that popped up on the display board. There were many Odalisques. One participant painted this theme all three days. Many had brought black and white photos of themselves or family members to paint. The first day I was the only one who did not paint a figure! I painted boats. It was interesting to see those who painted something personal vs those of us who did not. It seemed the class was half there to explore themselves thru their art. What can I say? I left the first day wondering what in the heck I walked into. Did I misread what the class was about? No. I was wondering if I was getting in my own way again and maybe I just needed to roll with it.

Here is the painting from day 1 of the workshop. It is not complete; but it is what it is for the time being. My goal was to make order out of chaos. The jumble of boats both in the foreground and the background seemed a challenge to me and I wanted to work on repeating patterns and colors. I think it is a good start.

Sligo Boats, 16x12, work in progress or study for larger painting

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Legacy of an Artist

Here is the post (last paragraph) I referred to in my last article on my observations at the Sargent show at the Met. This is not the first time I have noticed this occurrence at gallery openings but it was the first time that it was my focus to observe and not just something I noticed but didn't think much about. I wrote this in April after a talk with a gallery owner.

I was grousing yesterday to a friend of mine about galleries and what, if anything, can I do to fit in. More so than ever galleries today want a name that sells, and who can blame them? After all, they are in the business to make money. It doesn't seem to matter if the work is any good as long as the artist is a great self-promoter and has a schtick. If an artist is a great self-promoter though, why would they need a gallery? I am not great at self-promotion. Although I am often surprised at how many people read my blog or go to my website, I am not one who gets thousands or even hundreds of hits or page views. Is that what it takes today to have a name that sells? Or is it through advertising and teaching classes? I don't know the answers which is why I was grousing. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Her answer was to suggest that I think about what I want my legacy of an artist to be.

That is not that hard for me to answer. I write this blog to share the journey as I continue to learn and grow. My intention is to educate; not just you the reader, but also myself. Writing about what I do and why or what the painting is about keeps the purpose in the forefront for me. A painting should tell a story. What is it I want the viewer to takeaway? Did I draw the viewer into the scene so that they feel a part of it?  Does it arouse the viewer to want to know more or to write their own story to go with it? Should it matter if the viewer relates to the subject or not? Shouldn't the art transcend what the subject is? How much a struggle it is to say what you want to say.

I would like to be remembered for helping others to understand the process a bit better; that they can understand art that they might come across; also for being universal in my subjects yet with a cant from the norm. I have recently been told that I don't have a recognizable style. I don't know that I agree with that but I can say I am not where I want to be...

I went to a one person art opening on Friday night and I was watching to see if I could take a photo of someone or a group of people looking at the exhibit. I felt like a stalker. People were trying to stay out of my way as I held my phone up to try and capture someone, anyone, stopping to look at the art. On my way out, I finally got a shot. Unbelievable. Most people were standing around talking; the others were doing a "walk by" much like a "drive by;" in other words, walking through the gallery glancing at the works on display, but nothing was drawing them in enough to stop and look. It was bizarre. I am not sure if it was the works themselves or just this particular crowd. It is for sure something I am going to keep my eye on. That is not what I want my legacy to be. If I never sell another painting, so be it, as long as people stop and LOOK. (note: I have not been to any opening since; at some point I will do a follow-up but I can say that I have seen galleries post photos from art openings and NO-ONE in the photos are looking at the art. The one exception might my 1261.)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Museum follow up - observations

A few months ago, I wrote a blog that I never posted. This one is a continuation of that theme but as it is on a museum and a particular show it is not the same, yet is similar.

After going through the Sargent exhibit at the Met, I then started over at the beginning to take photos of museum goers to see what were the most popular paintings; which paintings did artists get drawn to (and yes, you can tell when artists are looking at art vs "normal" people); and which, if any, got not much attention. I was trying to see if my previous observation at a gallery opening for a one person show was valid here. It wasn't.  Here are my observations with photos to go along to illustrate.

Another great "head"
I love this portrait. It is of an actor in character; can't remember which character.
 Artists tend to really study a painting and if with someone, talk about it.

 People who get the audio spend more time looking at the art.

the gown of this actress from MacBeth was made with insect wings to get the iridescent look.
A noticeable amount of museum goers take photos with their phones and don't bother to look at the art itself but "may" do a quick read for more info.
William Merritt Chase-commissioned by his students

Madame X always had a gathering
Those with no audio, spend more time reading the placards then looking at the paintings. They read, then look for whatever might have been mentioned, and move on to the next placard. I am not coming down on this approach, as I learned a lot from my husband who read way more of those notations than I did, but it is an observation. And this is not to say "all" who read the notes do this, but it was a commonality. My husband found things in paintings I totally missed and were not on the cards! He looks at the paintings.

The "known" paintings got more attention than the unknown. And in this Sargent show at the Met there were many (1/2?) that I did not know existed. A very prolific painter.

In the galleries of the museum outside of the "special exhibits" more of a percentage of viewers were actually LOOKING AT THE ART and talking about it. I wonder if this is due to the lack of crowds in the normal galleries. Even in the 20th century European gallery which was filled with wonderful works, people were either just walking thru unless something caught there eye (guilty as charged) or they were actually animated about the works.

Stay tuned...