Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Bottle Labeled "Drink Me"

As Alice in Wonderland discovered, physical size can be extraordinarily important. It can often be just as important with two-dimensional art. Some subjects clamor to be large; some are content to be smaller and more intimate.

An example of a large painting that needs its bigness is The Diver by Jasper Johns. Over 7 feet high, it's a dark presence that overwhelms in part with its size. To me, it needs to be seen in actuality to be appreciated.
When you look at paintings on the computer or in a book, any shrinking in size should be taken into account. Not only is impact lessened, but big paintings will appear both tighter and busier than they really are.

The painting above is a tiny 8x8 inches and wouldn't work as well if made much bigger. If I do another using the same reference, it would be both larger; and I think quite different in its mood.

Nimbus is an 8x8 oil on panel done during the Karin Jurick (master of the small) workshop in NYC.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Somewhere over the Rainbow...

"Pushing color" is an art expression that describes amping up the intensity (artists call it saturation) of color in a painting. One of the criticisms of the Impressionists, back when they were considered rebels, was that their color was too vibrant.

Saturation has only gone forward from Monet. Intense, vivid color is something contemporary eyes expect. Images in magazines, movies and on television all push color, sometimes to the max. The trick for the artist who also pushes is to keep harmony in the midst of the intensity. If he/she doesn't, it's a discordant confusion. Of course sometimes, that may be exactly what the artist intends.
The pink trees and rainbow sheep above are examples of color pushing that's meant to be harmonious. And though the colors are exaggerated, it was spring, the trees were sort of pink, the sheep sort of glowed.

Sheep's in the Meadow 20x24 oil. Displayed through Aug. 5 in the Leu Gallery at Belmont U. in Nashville, TN.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Woman at the Window

"Woman at the Window" is a painting from my open studio. If you're unacquainted with the term, open studio means a bunch of artists getting together and painting in the same studio and (usually though not always) painting the same thing or same person. It's a way of sharing costs but has many other benefits as well.

First by painting from life, you gain practice in converting the three dimensional into two. Even more importantly, painting from life lets you see colors and values missing from even the most accurate photograph.
Second, you have a deadline. The session will end, the model will leave, the set-up will be dismantled. You simply haven't the time to over think or overwork. Voila! You just may capture some freshness, some spontaneity on your canvas.

Woman at the Window is a 20x20 oil done in open studio.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"What's in a Name?"

According to the poet, "a rose by any name would smell as sweet." That's good because naming a painting is quite hard for most artists. Some choose not to name at all so as not to influence the viewer's perception. Hence the amazing number of Untitled's out there. Others simply describe their painting as Cecilia Beaux did in "Man with Cat" or label it with the subject's name, "Madame Georges Charpentier," the title of Renoir's complex portrait of Madame, her children, their dog, and a few treasures from Madame's Parisian apartment.

Then there are the artists who let someone else do the job. For instance, Andrew Wyeth's wife, Betsy, named most of his paintings.

Perhaps the most dangerous, but potentially the most fun, title is the witty one that suggests layers of meaning. It's dangerous because it can be just too, too cute, imply something the artist never intended, or simply miss in the wit department. One practitioner of the last method who seldom if ever misses is the contemporary artist Carol Marine. The fruits and vegetables in her still lifes burst with character and personality that's often reflected in her titles.

What's in a Name? is an open studio 14x11 oil.

Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...