Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the studio must be disemboweled

A strong word, but I feel strongly about getting this room cleaned out. Once the family wedding is over and all the wedding guests clear out of town, I must clean out this mess! I can't find anything, let alone my peace of mind until I make sense of this stuff.
Between a new year of teaching, putting up a show, wedding preparations, and traveling in August, my studio room became the general deposit for everything that no one could think of a better place to place.
Bonus of studio cleaning, I found this painting that I never finished. I really want to get to the lower half of it, there are two little rabbits that need my attention. I am so interested in this, I might put off the rest of the studio cleaning just to get out the watercolors and finish the painting.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

the romantic ideal of a wedding chapel

Of course! lots of people think this is what it should look like.

Monday, September 6, 2010

romantic food art

Food and drink to be served at a wedding, and more illustration samples.

I really love to eat those chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

more romance

Continuing with the wedding theme-and this is the week of our own family wedding! I have prepared a few more samples for the client who wants to see some wedding themed art. Just a coincidence in timing but could not be better, since I have wedding planning fogging my brain these days.
(I am not getting married,whew!  it is the wedding of one of my children.)
This could have been the honeymoon of my dreams but now it is also the vacation scene of my dreams.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

to be compared to Sargent!

Painting is hard, that is what makes it so worthwhile as a lifelong, never quite finished goal.
Of course  John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was the most successful portrait painter of his era, as well as a gifted landscape painter and watercolorist.
Which makes the comparison all the more startling with my effort!
Here is the rest of what Stapleton Kearns had to say instructively about painting, light and how to make a work into poetry.
"               Most importantly this painting needs something the French call raison d'etre, that is reason to exist. rather than just showing us a fountain, the painting needs to say something more. It might describe something about the fountain or the light on the fountain or a romanticized description of the fountain. The picture needs to have a treatment, a way of seeing the fountain that is special.
It needs to say more than HERE IS THE FOUNTAIN. Below is a fountain painted by Sargent.

This is more a exposition of the light, the glowing shadows and crisp details against an amorphous background than it is a picture of a water spewing masonry doodad. It is an opinion, a poem painted about the fountain. It is often a good idea to think about painting the radiant light more than painting the subject. Painting the light has made lots of ordinary subjects noble.


Its not what you paint, but how you paint it that matters.

It might help to ask yourself, what can I say about this fountain,? How does this fountain make me feel? How can I make this fountain look cool? It is all in telling a story about the subject rather than showing up and recording it."

And here is another cool fountain painting by Sargent. This one was painted in Spain, someday maybe I will follow his footsteps to that spot.

Friday, September 3, 2010

the critique

Here is my humble little cringing painting of a fountain in a park in Wheaton, Illinois.
And here is the critique as given by the worthy Stapleton Kearns.

"I was sent this image by a reader and it seemed like a good piece to critique. I might do a few more of these, so if you have something for me to eviscerate send it in. I will of course, only critique those pieces that have something wrong with them. If I don't choose to use your submission you can assume it is perfect.

I am going to shoot bullets at this piece, so let me jack a round into the chamber.

               The painting lacks a clear subject. I expect the artist wanted to portray the fountain, but the trees on either side are equally as important. The path, the trees and the fountain are given equal importance in this tableau. It would be improved by the subordination of these competing elements to the fountain. Sometimes it is possible to allocate space on the canvas in proportion to the importance of the element in the picture. It is often useful to begin a painting by asking yourself,"what is the name of this picture?
               The values are muddled. The underside of the bowl of the fountain for instance. Is that in the light or the shadow? My guess is that it was in the shadow but bathed in reflected light. The artist has overemphasized that reflected light and made it as bright as something in the light. When you look at the shadow alone out of context with the lights, the reflected light seems very bright. But if you look at the larger scene the reflected light assumes its rightful place in the shadow world. Remember

Here is a post that explains the parts of the light.

               Look at the shadow on the ground to the left of the fountain, its value is about the same as the trees in the foreground which I think are supposed to be in the light. This doesn't read. Every time you touch your brush to that canvas you need to know "is this passage in the light? or is it in the shadow?" The shadows are going to be from one end of the value scale ALL OF THEM, and the lights from the other end of the value scale, ALL OF THEM. No value exists in both the lights and the shadows. They are two different worlds and wholly separate. ( You have heard me say this before, haven't you?)"

Tomorrow I will post the rest of his critique because Mr. Kearns becomes even more helpful by showing a fabulous painting by John Singer Sargent (one of my all-time heros) which contrasts all too starkly with my own work.

a critique is a good thing

I feel honored when an artist whose work I respect is willing to critique my work. To be given the opportunity to learn from another who really knows what they are talking about is good, but to also hear that person talk about your  work in a helpful constructive way is a great gift. A critique is different from a criticism, and it takes a while to learn this point as a young art student.
I have been following the blog posts of several artists for a couple of years now, some of whom are amazingly generous with information. Since I have discovered the world of blogging, it has opened up a lot of new ideas for me, I think I would have to attend a pretty amazing graduate school program in painting to get all of this, and it is free.
One artist whose work I very much admire is Stapleton Kearns (isn't that a cool name) , he is an accomplished and successful landscape painter. I consider my reading of his blog to be a graduate level class online.
One of the many generous things Mr. Kearns does is to offer a critique of reader's work. After reading a few of these, I sent in a jpeg of my recent painting of the fountain in the park. Within that week, he had posted my work with a very instructive critique. With Mr. Kearns' permission, I am going to quote his words here and post my work again to demonstrate.
 Stapelton Kearns in his own humble words explains his approach to the critique; "Thank you mystery artist for letting me crit your work. I know it takes a lot of courage to allow me to rip into your painting. I hope you and the other readers will profit by my criticism. Of course you are you, and the painting is something you have made. I critiqued the painting, and not you. For our mental health it is important to understand that. What a great guy I would be if I could improve myself as easily as I can improve my painting."

Here is the link to Stapleton Kearns' blog
And here is his website with a selection of beautiful landscape work.