Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A 5 year olds take on Winslow Homer Image

I want my children to know and appreciate Art History. Recently I had been thinking about Winslow Homer.  Winslow is an  American landscape painter and printmaker whose work is highly
admired and respected, especially among plein air painters today. His work is simply inspiring. So I googled Winslow Homer and found an image of interest.  I found the work "Sleigh
Ride".   One key to appreciating art is understanding composition, or how the elements of shape are arranged in the space of a picture.   The key to thinking about composition is
developing the ability to see  simplified shapes in a image or scene before you.  Elements like squares, rectangles, circles, lines, and abstract or irregular shapes can be installed into a
picture that is arranged by the artist.

As an artist you need to see these shapes, and not worry so much about what the picture is of or distracting detail found within the shape.  Details can stifle you and prevent you from
seeing the big picture. Children around 4 and 5 have a fearless ability to make bold and confident shapes. I see it all the time in my kids and other children's work.  Children can arrange
these shapes in a way that is often natural, unforced, and pleasing to the eye, even if they stray dramatically away from the exact scene before you. Every child has this ability!  As adults we often
need to work at this skill. Imagine if you stopped signing your name at 10 years old?  Your handwriting skills and personal style of signature would not evolve. Since you sign something everyday or frequently you practice and practice.  Painting and drawing is the same way.- it is a language in the visual sense and you get more confident the more you practice.

We can be reminded of the quote by Picasso, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a life time to paint like a child.”

So I was curious to see what my daughter could do with the shapes found in the "Sleigh Ride" c. Winslow Homer below:

I mentioned a  little about Home from a Wikipedia page and my 5
year old got a bit bored with the history part.  The next step was to show my daughter  the basic shapes from a quick sketch:

Another helpful way to look at the image in grayscale eliminates color but enhances the dark and light value range  Do you think this helps see the shapes?

So after getting the water colors, paper, and brushes set up, I let her have go. About 10 minutes later she let me know she was finished and asked to go upstairs.  I was surprised
with the result, and her ability to lay in and control the washes to capture this likeness.  I  think I can learn a thing or two from my 5 year old daughter in my own work.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Wyeth next to mine?

The image on the left is titled "Window Within", a 28 x 34 inch oil painting I did from from a photo reference in the summer 1996 in painting class at Iowa State University. I'd set off every evening after dinner to escape the smothering Iowa summer heat to the smells of the college painting studio. I was looking at Andrew Wyeth's work that summer and unaware of his painting on the right titled "Geraniums", 1960 drybrush and water color. Only recently, while reading Wyeths's autobiography by Thomas Hoving the color plate "Geraniums" immediately struck me. Can my painting hang next to Wyeth's? I don't know but my painting "Window Within" impressed the professor she told me I could be a painter. That has sort of haunted me, because I done other things in my life that hasn't placed painting in forefront. Being a painter is scary occupation and you need lots of guts to do it, let alone well enough to make a real living at it. When I sell a painting to total stranger, its a big thrill but selling isn't the point or measure of success because I try to paint with my heart. I've met enough enough professional painters to have an understanding what it takes to achieve a high level and it often seems easier not to chase this goal. But I do anyways. Live on and pursue I guess.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stapleton Kearn's Snowcamp Day 3

Day 3 of snow camp feels a bit down, because its the last day.  You've established some comradery, traded art tips, personal stories, and made connections. After breakfast we all agreed to head out and paint
foregoing the morning demo. And thats what we did, and the result is something I can further develop.

After the painting session the demo and lesson was on installing a broken color scheme. Basically you are attempting to use two complementary colors of the same value in a painting passage.  The impressionists gave the world two new ideas, broken color and purple or blue shadows.   Here is my crude example of broken color.  The example in the top right is more successful with Stape's aid.  The key to this is the colors that are close in value can blend together while squinting but are separate enough to cause a vibration effect.

A friend at snowcamp who was there a year before remarked how much my paintings had improved from the previous year. Even though my paintings are rough starts I do feel each one had something to be developed.  Painting is extremely difficult although it appears Bob Ross relaxing, the good artists are mentally putting everything in their work.  Painters are in relentless pursuit of their vision. Painting is a mountain we can all climb and its so valuable to be able to be around other great artists like Stape who can help you reach new summits.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Stapleton Kearn's Snowcamp Day 2

Day one's result:

At night after day 1, went out on the porch and sketched this little scene which might make a good painting:

I keep a sketchbook handy and make a goal to scribble something everyday.

Day two of Snow camp was met with steady snow throughout the day.  After our breakfast in the morning, we headed downstairs. Stape worked on the painting he did the day before. His intent was to show us how he was going to push this painting further.  Stape doesn't always finish his paintings completely outside or in one session.  They're often brought into the studio for refinement.  He had a digital reference photo captured by his phone up on his computer, but didn't really use it at all while working up the scene.  Instead he relied on his memory and  the help of some extraordinary guitar performance by Jeff Beck playing as background music from his laptop, was able to improve the painting.   Stape has painted a long time, and making paintings for your survival and living has to create a strong visual memory.  We did learn about an interesting technique called puffer pods.

Basically its tiny marks, dapples or dots applied around the branches of tree. This creates a flickering effect and visual interest for the eyes. Edward Seago(one of Stapes's Heros) uses them here in this painting.

John Singer Sargent below:

I can see a use for this technique in my own work.

After we ater lunch, we dawned our winter gear and layers to paint from the porch.  This back porch at the Sunset Hill House is large, and allows for shelter from the elements.
 I was closer to the edge of the porch and as the day wore on, my palette became  affected by the  snow accumulation.   The mix of medium oil paint and snow becomes this gritty slurry making it difficult to paint.  Here was the effort from the afternoon:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stapleton Kearns Snow Camp Day 1

It's nice to be up here again in New Hampshire for snowcamp with Stapleton Kearns.  Stape is entertaining, armed with quips and memorable quotes, stories, and phrases.  One quote I noted, "A painting is a lie well told." Stape shared the inspiring story "Acres of Diamonds"by Russell Cronwell. There was a pesky crow calling on occasion during the morning demo which Stape would look at one of us and ask "Who said that?" After few repetitions, I caught on to the game.

After lunch we all ran out to our easels to paint in the great expanse and presence of the mountains behind the inn.  Some things he mentioned to remember was looking for poster shapes, and rearranging nature in a pleasing manner.  Nature rarely gives you a good design, one often needs to install this into the picture.

 I constantly peppered Stape with questions.  He recently posted a picture on his blog of a picture of a  lovely night scene with a bridge on which I asked about the sky color.  I learned he used ultramarine with a touch of ivory black in that sky.

After the afternoon, we met for dinner and discussed art history and the work Williard Metcalf. Stape explained Metcalf's use of impressionistic rice grain strokes of color were painted in a manner to allow the appearance of white canvas beneath the paint strokes.  Metcalf learned some of this  rice grain technique from Childe Hassam.

Stape is a self made artist who sells pictures for a living, but his expertise level didn't come without struggle and some hardship.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hibbards Mitten

I signed up for Stapleton Kearn's SnowCamp again this year. I have a practiced year of plein air painting under my belt while reading Stapleton's blog. I feel like I really know this guy in a way that's different from other artists because he has graciously shared his knowledge and experiences as an artist from his blog.  He is living and had success living solely as a picture-maker. It takes an enormous amount of courage to be a painter let alone be able to make a living from it.

Another dilemma I have been thinking about id keeping my hands warm.  I don't remember freezing too badly last year, using warm packs in my gloves but I would have to break from time to time and take the glove off to do a detail or something else that required precision with a hand. That would get your hands cold fast. Last night I was looking into the hunters gloves - the kind that keep your fingers exposed but also have a flap over to cover exposed fingers but I'm wasn't convinced.

The word word Hibbard's glove popped in my head.  I googled it and arrived at Thomas Jefferson Kitt blog (another artist I like),  where he takes a wool sock and cuts a hole at the end to allow the brush handle.

I think I'll give this a go.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Video Store

Here's a piece I completed on a street corner in a local neighborhood Roland park.  The store is called Video American.  Something about this place struck me - perhaps its unique look or the fact that video stores that are not huge chains seem to be up against the ease of Netflix or streaming video, and I felt like I needed to make record of it.