Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene's Road Trip

Once upon a time (that would be last week!), five painting friends and one non-painting husband went to Maine. We packed our art boxes, then our suitcases and boarded the plane for Maine. We had a week of glorious weather, luscious seafood, and a million and one beautiful scenes to paint (we couldn’t and didn’t begin to paint them all).

We were out of touch and happy as clams (so to speak) but then… along came Irene. Our plane back was cancelled (though the airline neglected to tell us so). Our summer place was both oceanside (good) and in the path of Irene (bad). Not wanting to brave the hurricane, we pulled out maps and planned our escape.
Our car left in the dark of night headed north away both from our final destination, Tennessee, (bad) and from Irene (good). Three days later and one rental car more (a meeting with a porcupine and a flat tire made the change imperative), significantly poorer (bad) but still friends (good), we arrived back home.
Pat Mayo, Jean McGuire, Gale Haddock and I would like to thank our dear friend Jean Gauld-Jaeger and her wonderful husband, Chuck, for a grand and glorious stay. Just next time, let’s not tell Irene where we’re headed!

Monday, August 22, 2011

"What... This Old Thing!"

A Trifling Matter is a 20x10 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.
Recently in open studio, our model appeared wearing a trifle of a hat. It was inspired, of course, by the beautiful, and now royal, Kate and her wardrobe of completely non-functional, delightfully whimsical toppers.

In addition to satin and net bows, the model’s trifle had a half-veil with dots.
When painting a la prima (definition here), veils are one of those things you add last. You hope you have everything right underneath and you hope that you do the veil part okay, too, because you have one chance. Get it wrong and you’ll have to scrape that part of the painting down and start over.

Did I say our lovely model has a mean streak?

Renoir did just such a veil perfectly.
Sorolla painted a couple of transparent, windswept veils beautifully.
Monti demonstrated why veils add mystery much beyond one’s expectations.
And some glorious ancient Greek sculptor made poetry in motion with his veiled bronze dancer 2,000 plus years ago.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Artful Definitions

A Thoughtful Man is a 24x20 open studio oil. We’ll assume that’s a dictionary on his lap!

I’ve made a new page of art definitions. There’s a link here and another tabbed link directly under the blog header (title to those more bookish).
I added the page for a couple of reasons, both more selfish than altruistic. First, I wanted the option of not defining art terms that I use in a post in the post itself. Second, I didn’t want to assume everyone understood every word as I personally might define it. I do try to stick to universally accepted definitions, but I’ve discovered even the experts sometimes disagree.
In the list, I’ve left out all the isms (impressionism, realism, abstract expressionism… you get the idea). I may add them later. I hope to add as I post. The definitions I’ve begun with are those I’ve used already or think I’ll be sure to use soon.
The definition style is haphazard and informal though the words are, at least, in alphabetical order. Sometimes, I use a sentence as the definition, sometimes a phrase, sometimes an example. Merriam-Webster, I’m not!
I also discovered that some words had to be researched for me to begin to define them. This leads me to think some definitions may be useful or thought-provoking for the painter as well as the non painter. I certainly hope so.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Belinda's Window"

Belinda's Window is a 12x9 oil by Shirley Fachilla.
This is a Daily PaintWorks Challenge (DPW) that I could not resist. I couldn’t resist for three reasons.
First, it let me paint a window-based still life a la Duane Keiser. Keiser is the artist who began the daily painting phenomenon. During 2004, he painted a small canvas every day, seven days a week and posted it on the web. He no longer paints everyday but he still paints very frequently. And one of his favorite subjects is a simple object placed on his sunny, or sometimes grey-day, window sill. Now of course, hundreds, if not thousands, of painters paint and post as "daily" painters.
Second, this challenge was like a grown-up artist’s coloring book. The challenge was to take a black and white photo and translate it into color. Doing this is a lesson in values (definition here). Values, along with composition, are the foundation of a good painting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a representational or abstract painter. Your work must have good design and proper values to be, well… good!
Third for me, a from-life painter who teases out color by intense looking, to be allowed to make it up was just too delicious.

P.S. This was last week’s challenge. Click here to see all the other windows. Oh, I titled it Belinda's Window because DPW artist Belinda del Pesco created this particular value lesson.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Impermanence of Art

We like to think of art as forever. In attempts to make it so, we artists often worry greatly about the archival nature of our materials. Is the paper acid free? Will the paint color hold fast over time? Should we use linen or a polyester canvas?
Of course, some artists celebrate art’s very impermanence. Ice sculptures, sand paintings, performance art are all meant to last the moment and no more. The most glorious recent example of artists creating a planned disappearance was the installation of The Gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in New York’s Central Park. It lasted 15 days and then was gone.
Some artists sadly create a different kind of impermanence. My favorite Jasper Johns painting, The Diver, is made of a combination of materials, some unknown. How does a museum conserve and preserve the unknown? Then there’s a Joan Brown painting whose paint is so thick that it remains wet inside so that the image will start to slide down if left too long in a vertical position. This is the sort of impermanence that archival concerns are designed to prevent.
Artists (even those who try for the long-lasting) also like to save money. That is why I opted for extremely cheap painting panels when attending Carolyn Anderson’s workshop. I was sure I wouldn’t like anything I painted. I even persuaded my friend to do the same. And then when one of Carolyn’s first lessons was to use quality materials, I squirmed. Later when I actually liked some of my work, I did more than squirm; I was sad.

The two paintings above are from the workshop. They are not the ones I especially liked; they are on especially cheap supports; one even has wall-protectors stuck on its corners. (Do not use this method to transport wet paintings!)
I think I’ve learned my lesson. Art, of course, doesn’t last forever, nothing does. However, I will do my best to make mine last as long as possible by using better materials.

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 ...