Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday, A Day For Drying, A Day For Blogging And Sweeping the Garage

Slow going or going too fast?   I suspect the latter. 

I like my art in small doses and usually in doses that are specific: the Rauchenberg Show; the Picasso Show; the Drawings of Michaelangelo.   Before the Venetian Technique class started, I dragged Ellis to the DIA for a quick look at The European Art. I wanted to see  the Venetian School up close--in particular, two Titians.   After contemplating them for half an hour, we went to lunch; I had gotten what I needed.  Oddly enough as much as I like painting, I don't like looking at paintings,  UNLESS  they apply to what I am doing at the easel.  Perhaps that's why I was struck by the four giant, ultra realistic 2D finalists in Grand Rapids' Art Prize?

SO? DID ONE OF THEM WIN?

Yes, but not the big money.  Outcry, an oil portrait of a girl who had been dragged into the sex slave market, (you had to read the girl's incredibly sad story to get the sad picture),  by Greychyn Lauer, won $20,000. This painting was not one I favored. I don't think a painting needs text attached to attract interest. 

 A hair design, photographed and woven on canvas, The Haircraft Project by Sonia Clark, won $100,000.  

And the big money of the ArtPrize, $300,000, went to an installation titled Intersections, by Anila Quayyum Agha.  The installation won both the public and the Jurors' vote, a first in the competition's six year history. It looks spectacular, but this photo is missing what put it over the top: the shadows of the spectators interacting against the walls, ceiling and floor; The shadows of the viewing public brought Intersection to life and made it a popular piece. Everybody likes getting into the act.



                              






              

The ArtPrize iPad app saved me a lot of walking around.  It was the lazy man's way of seeing the exhibit, I confess, but it may get me to actually go next year. It taught me how to cut the art happening down to a size my rebellious knees can tolerate pounding pavement.  I now know the locations of the must see venues. I suspect there is some pre voting judging going on in determining where pieces are installed. 


A WORD ABOUT PHOTO REALISM

Before taking this class on the Venetian Technique, I looked down my nose at photo realism too. With five sessions under my belt plus hours at my studio easel, I'm relenting a little.  It's a technique to know if portraiture is your genre of choice. If still lifes  or landscapes turn you on, forget it! 

Photography has been and still is an important tool for insuring a good likeness in a more romantic medium than hp photo paper. The Venetian Technique, pulled from the 16th century, guarantees an excellent likeness with the added bonus of an obvious high skill finish. Back then one didn't want to lose their head over an unflattering sketchy portrait of the King; and today, no portrait artist wants to lose a portrait client willing to pay a kingly price for a keepsake portrait of their dead mom. Photorealism is just a modern label for a very old method of painting, a method worth having in the portrait artist's repertoire if commissions are important.  Both kings and the masses admire skill they understand. They don't give a damn about the artist's impressions, emotions or her need to express them. They just want a painting of their dear mom, child, father or dowager aunt.

 December 1st this educational stint will be over for me.   After that, I hope to digest what I experienced, while I splash watercolors freely under my blue umbrella.  By the sea, the info will percolate. Back home, it will become just one more way to tackle a painting. 

     

PS:  I only see this technique as being good for portraiture. Others in the class are painting large still life's, florals and landscapes.  I look down my nose at these subjects done super large, super realistically.  Done in that manner, they are more decoration   Better to have a good time wielding your brush on paintings, people can actually carry home without hiring a truck.


Unless something else strikes me, hugs for a great painting week. 



16 comments:

  1. A chance for my art critique of the day. I do like "Intersections" - looks to be a fascinating, interactive piece. The portrait is well done. But the hair design ...$100,000 .... no.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Intersections does look like something I would enjoy. I liked Soldier the best. Outcry is well do e, but you had to read something for the painting to have meaning. Soldier speaks volumes at first sight. As for the hair thing, you gotta say it is off the wall! If I ever wanted a weave I would go to that hairdresser. :-))

      Delete
  2. Good Morning Linda,
    Wonderful post. Of course, that may because I agree with most everything you said! :) You've heard me whine for some time now, about trying to paint more like an artist than a photocopier. The Grand Rapids show perfectly demonstrates why. Most of those works could be entered tomorrow in a photography contest and likely win awards. Judges likely couldn't tell they were looking at paintings! The incredible skill of the artists to create the works, in my always most humble opinion, still doesn't make them "art".
    I guess some of us have just seen too many works by emotionally-charged, flamboyant, paint-pushing, larger-than-life personalities. The trials and tribulations of their lives, their energy and struggles can be seen and felt in every brushstroke. Theirs are the paintings that move my soul.
    I'll shut-up now and get down from the soapbox. Sorry...one more thing: Some of us should NEVER accept commissions. That is, unless the commissioning party is willing to accept the work no matter what. Such a condition would most definitely weed-out the "non-believers", only interested in having a huge photographic reproduction for the wall.
    Have a nice Sunday, Linda, and enjoy the class!
    Sincerely,
    Gary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Commissions are crazy. Did that once, that was enough. Portraits are me though. I do like exploring expressions caught with candid camera shots. This method impresses the hell out of laymen. They don't realize it's a systematic painting process, which appeals to my designing self. Gallery owners like it because ultra realism sells. Lucky for me, I chose to make a living in design and to satisfy my artistic self painting for myself. If anybody comes along who wants a painting, I'm likely to just hand it to them. It depends who they are or how I'm feeling at the time.

      What I am getting out of this monochrome is a real understanding of values, a professional manner of working, and an understanding of what brush does what best. What I'm getting out of the class is connections with other artists. I like live discourse occasionally--but not enough to pursue it if it's snowing. :-))

      There were two groups judging ArtPrize: art jurors and the public. The painting won the Public's vote--all the paintings I showed won the Public's vote. Soldier and The Hair Project of all things were on the jurors' short list. The public and the jurors put The Hair Project in the winners' circle. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the gal who did The Hair Project was a hairdresser. Todd Burroughs, my teacher, does very exact stuff but not just a copy of something in a photograph. His paintings exhibit great imagination, poetic images. I would catalogue his work as expressionistic realism. He is excellent and does very creative work. My imagination got lost somewhere back in the early eighties. I guess it was squelched by reading too many news papers and watching my parents slip away.

      Delete
  3. It's so interesting to read the opinions about the art in the Grand Rapids Art Prize. Fascinating! What I learn over and over is that there is no solid "answer" about what is "good" or "great". I'm glad people are engaged -- can you imagine if artists went to the lengths they do and people had no opinion at all, that would be a real bummer. Anyway, I am liking the progress on your painting. It is really looking so good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I like all artistic efforts whether they be super realistic or spontaneous alla prima or totally abstract. Installations are interesting. Sculpture is great. I like the doing of art, of literature, of music, the same way I like houses that have books all over the place, paintings on the walls--or weavings--or a musical instrument or two--or a woodworking shop. I like that people are involved in some form of expression. How skilled doesn't matter--unless the person is doing my hair. The Hair Project hanging in a salon's window would make me a walk in if my tresses were long enough. :-))

      Delete
  4. If someone commissions me to paint a portrait of their mum it is because they like the way I paint a portrait. And that is definitely not photo-realism. So good to see you persevering with the Venetian, and gaining something from it. You won't forget those lessons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, but that didn't happen to this gal when she was seventeen and hadn't painted much of anything. You like the painterly approach. I do too-. And once I have all the information I need about determining values and employing glazes, I'll probably go back to approaching painting more loosely with a full command of my tools. This class has been great. And this artist has now been added to my outstanding teacher list right under the other one, Russel Keater.

      Delete
  5. Whew - just spent some time on your blog catching up on all I have missed over the past several weeks, Linda. The Venetian Method that you are currently studying is fascinating in itself but even more fascinating to me is how you well you have taken to it and how beautifully your work is coming along. Even at this stage it exhibits real skill and professionalism. The pose and expression are beautifully rendered .I understand when you described how you are becoming more familiar with what brush does what, how your materials and tools of the trade behave. This is important no matter what your style of painting. I think I will be even more fascinated to see the direction your work takes in 2015, after you have painted under the blue umbrella on the white sandy beaches and after the Venetian Method has percolated for a while! Thanks for all the info and for your opinions, Linda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :-))! I am opinionated on what is art, what is design and what is commercial decoration. I thought a long time about what photo I was willing to spend hours painting. I used myself as the model, because I am available all hours and willing to be the subject of selfies till I get a photograph suitable for this method, which works well with a complex composition like a clothed figure, an interior space with details and an exterior vista, albeit a landscape. It's the most complicated painting I've ever done and excellent training. I was a bit worried walking into class the first session. I thought I might not be up to it, but turns out my the years of drawing and painting were beneficial. I'm curious too where this education will push me. After our get away and the holidays, I'll find out. It's been a great eye opener on professional methods. My equipment and my studio have benefitted. Good to see you back. I do hope that woman knows what a gem she has in that portrait of her husband. A Susan Smolinsky is a prize.

      Delete
  6. Your self-portrait is amazing so far, Linda!!! I LOVE it...you took the perfect reference photo!!! I look forward to your next post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reference photo was a task in itself. The Venetian criteria was a single light source. If you look at the painting from the Venetian school closely, they all had a single light source. I chose natural light from the window. I also chose to wear white, and to sit on my off white sofa. I wanted to keep the colors neutral and the clothing/furnishing details simple being my first attempt at this method. The hard part was setting the timer on the camera and rushing around the tripod to get into a casual, unaware I was being watched position. I took a lot of photos till I got the one where I looked natural. Agnes told me, after the fact, that there's a remote for setting the timer! Then there was printing the photo. That was time consuming. My computer shows one exposure; my printer prints it two to three tones darker. I wasted a bit of photographic paper till I got just the right ratio of lights to darks. I told Todd, the teacher/monitor of the class, that a word or two on taking a good reference photo would be a good idea. I didn't know, he was doing the photography for other students. The class really isn't a class. Todd does monitor your painting progress and makes suggestions, but he only teaches the ones who have lesser skills than I do. Mostly he has left me alone. The first day of class, he handed out a paper which outlined the Venetian process. I understood it immediately. I could have done it on my own, but the other reason I wanted to take a class is because, I wanted to meet people who shared my interest. It gets lonely painting by ones self sometimes. Now I know Joe, Walter,Kathy,Mary and Terry. We all speak the same language. I'm having a great social to time and at the same time I'm polishing my value skills. I have plans to redo JD in this manner, over the winter--only minus such an extensive grisaille. More than you wanted to know, I know, but I wouldn't have gone to such lengths producing the reference, if I hadn't needed a quality,photograph to go forward with the rest of it. Besides, I really dig photography as much as I do painting. It is an art.

      Delete
  7. Linda: Separating what is art from what is not continues to be significant to me. I agree wholeheartedly with Gary. Enjoy the remainder of your course!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heart. Passion. Imagination. Energy. A new way of seeing something old. Then skill with any tool that works.

      Delete
    2. Understood. I am a Dali and Picasso fan because I don't like confining parameters and rules.

      Delete
    3. Dali hardly compares to Picasso. Picasso had no painting rules, but Dali was a realistic surrealist. His paintings are articulate in execution--so were Picasso's, till he kicked out of his blue period. Dali had no parameters with regards to his (symbolic) imagery. Todd's realistic paintings are surreal in imagery too.

      Delete