Monday, August 29, 2011

Beauty in Art

Oil Painters of America (OPA) is one of my favorite organizations to blog about because OPA promotes traditional representational oil painting.  Why do we need a group like this?  Simple; to defend ourselves as traditional artist from the cult of ugliness and to restore the value, purpose, and need for traditional art and artists!

With the onset of the 20th Century, art took a turn away from beauty and the spiritual, toward what some historians call the period of "What is Truth?"  Truth being raw, ugly, and its subjects objects of utilitarian purpose or minimalists images of a single shape or color.  If you were "creative" with something that hadn't been done before you were singled out as brilliant---example, a bottle of urine with an inverted crucifix in it! I could go on and name countless "masterpieces" but you know them when you see them.  If what the artist created assaulted the viewer it was considered great art and the creator of the assaulting piece a master artist.  Never mind words of explanation, or a printed message had to accompany a piece of art in order to appreciate it or even understand it.  For more information about this, read Thomas Wolfe's, "The Painted Word."

Currently, there is a movement on the West Coast of the U.S. attempting to bring back the romantic, classical style of art where academic training counts for something.   As I read about this small band of artists calling themselves Novorealists,  I came across a blog by Alexey Steele , one of these novorealists, where he posted a fantastic one hour video entitled Why Beauty Matters.,   It is worth the time to watch and it encapsulates all that I believe.

Year after year while I participated in the sidewalk art show circuit I encounter judges who would choose images that were anything but classical or beautiful.  They seemed to go out of their way to choose work that was anything but accomplished, and if the art was traditional and representational they would even just pass by and ignore the work all together.  I've been told that judges don't want to be labeled old fashioned in their preferences and believe that they must keep up an appearance of being contemporary and avaunt guard. As one judge told me privately, "If I choose something on the fringe, who is going to argue with me, and who am I to assume that I know better then other good judges who have acknowledged so called fringe artists. So judges frequently choose what is safe and not buck the trends."

So what is my point?  It is simply this: I don't know that Novorealism is or will become a real modern art movement perhaps similar to the Pre Raphaelites Brotherhood of the mid 19th century ( John Millais,  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Hunt)---I really don't care!

Ophelia, by John Millais


I do appreciate and defend what the Novorealists are attempting to do, and I applaud them for their efforts!  Point number two: Judges, pull your collective arrogant heads out of the sands dunes.  You may think that you are intellectually elite with your fringe choices, but instead I think you display your collective ignorance at best, or your bigotry at worst!   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

About Shapes

From time to time I Twitter what I call Artist Tips.  Twitter, as you may know, limits a Tweet to 140 characters, so the necessary brevity can cause confusion!   Sometimes, from these little notes I receive questions from Followers and requests for additional information and explanation.  Recently, I received a question from one of my Twitter faithful followers regarding shapes and lightness and darkness of shapes in a painting. I offer the following explanation with the hope that a more detailed explanation will help.  However, should I fall short, please feel free to ask additional questions to clarify your understanding this or any of the subjects I discuss here in my Blog or Twitter about.

In reference to "a dominate shape being determined by its lightness or darkness," here is a more detailed explanation:  All paintings are made up of shapes, large and small, representing the objects, or subject matter of the painting.  For a shape to have an identity, it must have contrast in value or hue, or an outline (edges, soft and/or hard), to distinguish it from its background.  Otherwise, we can't see it.  A large shape does not necessarily make that shape dominant; dominance is determined by the qualities mentioned earlier with lightness and darkness being two of them.  For any shape to stand out from its surroundings it has to be darker, lighter, more colorful, or difference in texture (example, use of brush strokes or palette knife) otherwise the intended shape is just part of the mass of all that is around it.  Keep in mind that I am talking about representational art here, not abstract art.  Things are very different in the world of abstract art.

Take a look at some of the images I have posted of my paintings; Simply Ming for example (to find it, scroll down to the Aug. 11, 2011 blog post entitled “Announcing a New Gallery”), is a good example of what I am trying to describe.  Simply Ming has a variety of shapes, sizes, color, and textures, all working together to create a complete idea and image.

Your questions are always welcome!  The only “dumb” question is the question never asked.  How else do we learn if not by doing and asking questions!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Painting White

Sometimes I wonder about my sanity when it comes to what motivates me to pick up the paint brush.  I know I get bored easily with simple set ups so I look for challenges that capture light, fabric, and objects of white.  Last week a friend loaned me this antique white tablecloth that had been in her family for years and she's 85, so it has all that I love.  It also has a lot of hand-made lace, cutouts, and embroidery.  It brings back long ago memories of my grandmother crocheting beautiful tablecloths and bedspreads.  Did I mention that I chose a 36 X 48 inch canvas to add to the challenge?  Here is a partial picture of the set up with a clay pot.  Sorry for the fuzziness.

 Although I am not finished, I have it all blocked in and some of the lace partially finished.  Besides rendering the lace which in of itself is a major challenge, determining all the values of white both warm (in the light side) and cool (in the shadow side)  are causing me to loose what sanity I have left.  At one point I went back to a book on Sargent and looked at his beautiful whites in shadow. It did the trick.  I think I will make a T shirt that says . . . . What would Sargent do?  After the initial block-in of what I thought was correct, I have had to adjust and readjust the values.  Keeping edges soft is a must for it to look lacy and soft.  I'm doing a lot of talking to myself in the form of pep talks.  I work on a section a day for three or four hours at a time so I don't get too tired and start making mistakes.  It's important not to try to render every stitch and every detail of the lace.  Constantly squinting keeps out extraneous information but does cause wrinkles.

I see another week or two of daily work to finish this piece.  If I pull it off, it will be a painting that I don't think I will be able to part with unless the price is right.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Below is a close up of some of the lace work I have laid in.  I'll post a picture of the finished piece in a couple of weeks

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Painting Workshop Oct. 17-21, 2011

Through The Glass, 16X20, oil on linen

There is still a few spaces available for my workshop "Painting Like a Master" beginning Oct. 17th through Oct. 21st, 2011.  If you are a budding Classical-Realist or Novorealist painter, this is the workshop for you! You will learn the techniques of the new and Old Master's using the indirect painting method creating    a painting with multiple layers of paint, and the use of various mediums and glazes to achieve the deep and    rich luminosity of the painted surface as experienced in the works of Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens.

    Each workshop day will focus on a technique used by the Masters.  Day one will focus on how to create     strong compositions including value studies, lighting, and color harmony.  During following days, you will come to a better understanding of your color wheel to achieve color hues, tints, and shades and how to achieve beautiful grays for use in your art works.

 A demonstration of the skills needed for that day's work begins at 9.  Shapes, edges and values will be emphasized, as well as the creation of a middle layer painting made from opaque colors to establish the lightest and darkest values of your paining. Finally, you will practice various glazing and scumbling techniques used by New and Old Masters including a final glaze layer that modifies the opaque colors to finish your art peace making the surface very rich and luminous.  And there will be ample time for discussion, questions and answers during and after workshop hours.

Don't miss this opportunity to become an active artist community member of the Resurgence of Beauty and Excellence in Art movement and oil painting in particular.  Call the studio today (386-756-3068), or E-mail the artist and master teacher today ( to reserve your workshop place!  A complete Information Packet will be mailed to you by Express Mail. For detail information check out the July 11, 2011 blog or just scroll down. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oil Painters of America-Addison Gallery

Just a short note to all about the Eastern Exhibition of the Oil Painters of America.  Check out the website for Addison Art Gallery, Orleans, MA and all the beautiful paintings being exhibited this September.  Scroll down on the home page to the bottom and click on the painting labeled OPA.  I was surprised when I saw my painting used for the link. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Announcing a New Gallery

I am so very pleased to tell you that I will be represented by M Gallery  of Fine Art, SE in Charleston, SC beginning Aug. 16th, 2011!  Maggie Kruger, the gallery owner, has created a Petite Salon of OPA artists; I am blessed to be part of this prestigious group.  Check out the M Gallery website for more information and take a look at some of the fantastic works of art at the gallery and on line too. Make a point to visit the gallery while in this great city; the gallery is a charming space right in the heart of Gallery Row there on Broad Street.  And the gallery staff is the very best; I can't say enough positives about Maggie and her staff, particularly the gallery manager, Carlen. Be sure to make an opportunity to meet her; you will be impressed!

I continue to be hard at work every day (except for my teaching days; that's a different type of hard work indeed!) creating new works to fill my "pipeline." Here is an example of what I am working on and just finished; I call this one "Simply Ming.".  This painting is about textures and how light plays off of the surfaces of these  different objects.  The 24 X 30 size presented its own challenge and gave me quite a workout!  I love working in a larger format for they give me lots of space to arrange my objects.  As always, shapes---both positive and negative---are the underlying name of the game along with light shapes and shadow shapes, color, and brush strokes. While I appreciate artists who paint with in-your-face social messages in mind, there is still a place in the art world for quality and beauty (e.g. Art Renewal Center); the message may be less obvious, but it is just as real and just as important.  And while I am thinking about it, I might add that I strongly believe artists who paint   representational art have to understand the abstract structure that underlines each arrangement.  As mature artists working in the representational genre, our art is not a "photograph" of our setup!  Our art is heavily edited as we interpret the artistic scene we create, not just paint what is there.   I will now step down off my soapbox and go back to my easel.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to Paint Silver

I love painting metal, especially pieces that are highly reflective and polished.  This small silver cup reflected everything around it including me.  To paint silver you have to remember to look at the colors.  Usually you will see grays, blacks, and whites.  Anything around it will also be present in the metal.  Paint what you see and forget what you think silver looks like.  On one of the days, my shirt was a dark pink and that reflected right down the middle so I put it in.  The next day I wore a black shirt and the pink wasn't there.  Lesson learned:   wear black if you don't want to put your reflection in the metal.  Look closely at the long striations of color and determine if the edges are soft or hard.  Blend according to how diffused the edges appear.  Reflected objects are never as clear and bright as the real objects.  The reflected lemon was bright and very clear in the metal but I took down the intensity to make it read correctly. 
If you have painted silver before please share your experience and any words of wisdom for my readers.
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