Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Artwork of the month: Judith.

There was a time when the subject of "Judith" was a popular trend for artists to work on.  The character Judith is a heroine, the savior of her people as a result of her own sacrifice and belief in the Hebrew god.  Judith is a beautiful woman, widowed and del reliant.  Her anger with her people over their mistrust that God will deliver them from the coming invaders army, she sets off with her maid to take maters in her own hands.  
She promises the general of the Assyrians information on the Israelites, gets him drunk seducing him with her beauty.  When Holofernes passes out Judith cuts his head off and sneaks out of camp with it.  the assyrian army is demoralized and disbands not attacking the Israelites.  Judith is a hero.

The book of Judith is not in the Hebrew bible and as a result it is excluded from the Protestant scriptures.  The Catholic church has always maintained the the book of Judith is the word of god and can not be excluded.

The character Judith is a powerful archetype that has been played over and over again.  I would even consider Rosy the Riveter to fall into the same archetype as Judith.  A strong willed, self-reliant, powerfully intelligent god fearing woman, and a patriot.  The Archetype is common throughout history and used as propaganda when needed to inspire a nation.

Judith has been a very popular subject for artists.  The Minneapolis Institute of arts has over 20 "Judith" works in its permanent collection.

Agostino Carracci
Italian, 1559-1602
"Portrait of a woman as Judith"
Oil on canvas, 1590

Attributed to Antonio Gionima
Italian, 1697-1732
"Judith presenting herself to Holofernes"
Oil on canvas, first half of 18th century

Francesco Ladatte
Italian, 1706-1787
"Judith with the head of Holofernes
Terracotta, 1738

Pietro Della Vecchia
Italian, 1603/5-1678
"Judith with the head of Holofernes"
Oil on canvas, 1635-50

Giovan Gioseffo dal Sole
Italian, 1654-1719
"Judith with the head of Holofernes"
Oil on canvas, 1695

There are hundreds of works featuring Judith, but none of them have the impact as Caravaggio's "Judith beheading Holofernes" as it is and always has been the masterwork about Judith.  This painting is a perfect harmony of brutality and beauty.  This painting is at the National gallery of ancient art of Barbarini Palace.

Michelangelo Merisi detto il Caravaggio
Italian, 1571-1610
"Judith beheading Holofernes" 
Oil on canvas, 1598-99

I intend to paint my own version of Judith...
...It will be abstract, but you will know it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Working and school...

Today is by birthday, and I took the day off to hang out with my girlfriend and relax.
I have been working almost 7 days a week to earn some extra cash for my next series of oil paintings.  I have also been going to classes at the Red Cross for EMTB, and it is all very exhausting.  When i am done with this short stint of not sleeping and working more than anyone ever should I will begin my new set of oil paintings. 

I will continue to study and sketch for my next series of works, but things are going to be pretty slow for the next several months.  

Keep checking back...
...eventually there will be something new and exciting. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Artwork of the month: The Death of Germanicus.

The dirty little Emperor Tiberius poisoned his adopted son Germanicus.  Envy will do that to a guy if he is as twisted as Tiberius was.  This romantic painting is a stoic tribute to his death. 

Nicolas Poussin

French, 1594-1665
"The Death of Germanicus"
1627, oil on canvas

What I love more than anything, Poussin was giving respect to the past and at the same time taking the composition for his own, reinterpreted in his own voice.  The original composition was based on a roman sarcophagus relief.  Poussin connected the history of his subject matter with his composition.   His forms were an important part of his content, and I am very happy that someone understood the importance enough to record it.  

Painting history, it is a noble art...
...and one where I will be mistaken.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

3.5.1_On the study of the still-life and its use as an indirect associative narrative.

3.5.1  On the study of the still-life and its use as an indirect associative narrative.

     A still-life oil painting is a work of art depicting inanimate subject-matter.  Primarily it has developed into a decorative work of art with an implied yet obvious narrative.  The student of oil painting’s study of the still life involves the compositional arrangement of everyday objects as the subject-matter in a manner to study composition, perspective, and mostly light source for the decisions of a future work of art.  My attempt here is to address the still-life as such where the student of oil painting will learn how to work through a still-life from setup to finished work of art.  During this study the oil painter will see how the common objects we own, how we use and present them during our day to day activities, speak profoundly about ourselves and our world defining a portion of our lives.  The still-life is a philosophical work of art, even if it is not obviously so.  The aesthetic composition of these belongings, both the choice of what to use, and their placement within the still-life reveals a part of the artists mind.  In this I say these decisions tell us the secrets behind the artist’s motivation.  From casual observation, these subtleties will be missed entirely and will only be revealed through a deeper, quiet investigation of a work of art.
     It is important to discuss the still-life’s being as a compositional study and decorative item while addressing the still-life’s ability to communicate on many levels at one time.  Let us first focuses on the rudimentary fundamentals of the still-life as a purely pictorial study of compositional elements toward abstraction, and not an end to itself.  The fundamental lessons of the still-life are compositional balance, the use of light-source, the three dimensional content of form, and with that conceptual foresight a sculptural understanding of oil painting itself.  In the beginning of this study the student of oil painting works in monotone color toward rendering a work of art that looks realistic, as a pictorial representation of objects within the still life. 
     Although inanimate objects play a role in our lives, they have their own narrative. One that not only tells us their function, but recites the dialogue of the human drama within their purpose.  With an understanding of that silent narrative the oil painter is obliged to present the still-life as animated, alive, and full of purposeful action born from the vivacity of the human drama and our shared relationship to the inanimate.  While communicating that there is life to that which we define as not alive, the oil painter exposes the recurring history of the human situation.
     The act of designing a still-life teaches the oil painter the elements of spatial arrangement involved in composition, while focusing on balance and the three dimensional context of the objects within the still-life.  When designing a still-life, set up the composition just as you would a stage for a theater.  For the stage itself use a wood or cardboard box with three sides, left, right, a back, and a base.  
     Starting with a simple forward view, so the oil painter can easily see the entire composition, keep in mind that the vantage point you chose is what the oil painting will mimic.  Traditionally the still-life has been painted in settings where the objects within it might belong together, such as a cloth covered table top with a bowl of fruit.  This being a study, we remove all aspects of setting and focus on its fundamentals of process in preparation to reintegrate setting later. 
     For the purpose of this study we want the background to be simple and uniformed in its texture and colored appearance, so as to not distract from the objects of the still-life.  Paint the interior walls and floor of the stage with a basic middle grey, which is the standard in photography for calibrating light and adjusting exposer to capture true color.  This grey will be our reference point and our constant as it exhibits definable separations between the background, shadow and subject.  Middle grays’ stark neutral quality accents the objects individual characteristics of color and shape while allowing those color-forms to be as true as possible.  Middle grey defines all the forms within the still-life itself, easily separating the positive and negative spaces for the artists’ eye.  The use of middle grey as a background color for this study is essential. After the oil painter has completed no less then five works with the simple grey painted walls he can move on to the background as a form itself. 
     Use a sheet of fabric to lay over the stage so it covers all three walls and the base evenly.  Choose a fabric color that will not overpower and dilute the presence of the objects within the still-life.  Using a fabric color that is a complementary color to the objects will define the positive and negative spaces in the same manner as neutral grey does.  The fabric, how it lays in the stage, its wrinkles and texture, becomes a part of the design elements and are as compositionally important as the objects themselves. Hence, it becomes an object and its installation should be considered when choosing the items for the still-life.
     At first select no more than three to five items, keeping them simple but different in their surface texture, color, and shape.  The oil painter must consider these objects as three dimensional color-forms or geometric shapes, and not as what they are, thereby removing the identity of an object so as to see it without a preconceived idea as to its true form.  Because of our experiences, our minds have preconceived ideas about the shape, texture, and purpose of objects.  Subsequently we will represent them pictorially as our mind sees them rather than what our eyes tell us.  Arrange the items so they feel balanced among the stage by following your instincts and placing the items together in as natural an arrangement as possible; maintaining the guidelines of composition. To avoid your works looking contrived, just place the objects where they feel like they belong and do not put too much thought into it.  If you cannot feel balance instinctually, you are not an artist and should stop now, least you poison contemporary art with your desire to do something.  A deeper understanding of compositional balance will come with time, albeit, for the artist composition is as natural and instinctual as breathing; the oil painter need only learn to discipline his inherent talents so he may forget control, and let go to his mind’s voice.
     There are two simple rules to guide the oil painter in the installation of the objects.  First, the division of the painting surface into thirds, and second, the triangular color-form subject-matter placement.  Designing the overall composition with these guidelines regardless of artistic individuality will result in a work of art that is evenly balanced and pleasing to the eye both within content and composition.  The act of setting up a still-life involves all the fundamentals of design.  As a result of those design lessons, setting up the stage of a still-life teaches the oil painter to experience his work outside of the canvas.  With this insight, designing a still-life subconsciously instills a greater understanding of the three dimensional form and content of an objects complete being into the oil painters mind simply by arranging the items.  As the artist handles each item, he unconsciously catalogues their texture and shape, and with that inner sight paints the still-life silently remembering each objects’ total content.  In this way for the process of painting itself, the oil painter conceptually becomes a sculptor.  For oil painting is sculpting, in that the oil painter molds the oil and pigment by working the medium to develop a surface that represents form.
     The use of light-source in the still-life should be considered as a detailed compartmentalized element to the overall composition.  Its use in this study is primarily to develop the three dimensional content of each object.  In the beginning of this study the oil painter will use a single direct light-source, for it is more definable and dramatic than the soft quality of indirect light.  Use a small light fixed to the stage so as to make sure that it won’t move or change its position.  Once the artist has set the light-source up, it must remain in the same position until the painting is finished for the painting to be completed properly.  Light alters color as it reveals the depth and form of an object, in so where the oil painter directs his light source determines the demeanor of an oil painting.  Albeit, the artist treats the effects of light without discrimination, and as a compositional element of the subject-matter itself.  Although restricted in part by the fundamental guidelines of composition, the oil painter will find that he has more freedom to play with the compositional arrangement of light than the other elements of the still-life.  The wide spectrum of human emotion can all be represented by the subtle use of light.  It is lights’ most powerful effect, dramatizing even the most mundane setting with its physical effect on man’s belief structure.
     It is important that all the elements of the still-life are not disturbed so that when the oil painter returns to his work day by day, he sees the stage exactly the same every time until the painting is complete.  Changing any of the elements of the stage after the actual work of art has begun will cause the finished oil painting to end without resolution, have a poorly balanced and distorted composition, and as a result appear contrived.
     Along with altering the stage, the student of oil painting must not change the vantage point from which the still-life is observed; for it will also result in a contrived and disproportionate oil painting.  There must be a defined spot during this study of where to stand, look, and measure the subject-matter in the stage.  Mark a spot on the floor with tape for the desired vantage point of where to stand while looking at the still-life.  It is important that the oil painter only observe the stage from that marked position, separate from where he will view and work on the work of art on the easel.  Mark off a spot where to look and measure the work of art on the easel approximately the same distance as the mark to the stage.  Do not look at the stage while in front of the canvas and vice versa.  Doing so will distort the image in the oil painters mind and upset his actual and inner view of its total composition.  This criteria of observation teaches the student of oil painting how to see, which we all believe we need no instructions on.  Observing the stage and work of art separately allow the oil painting to evolve on its own, distinctly separate from the still-life.  Although it will be a pictorial representation of your still-life, the work of art will become an image with a life-force all its own. 
     A part of the arrangement of the still-life is the selection of its overall composition. Most of this is decided by the boundaries of the stage itself, but if the student of oil painting wishes to use a different frame for his composition, he can bracket off the dimensions of the desired composition where ever he sees fit with a plumb-line.  A plumb-line is a weighted string that is suspended in front of the subject-matter both for reference to accurate measurements and compositional segregation.  Use the plumb-line to mark the center of your stage, hanging it in front of the entire structure.  This method of study, cupeled with a defined vantage point takes the use of a plumb-line, a traditional way of observing the subject-matter and introduces the sight size method of artistic study back to a dogmatic formula.  Dogma can kill an artist’s potential, but for the student of oil painting, he is required to work through these ideas used before him so that he may come to understand his own ideas.  This formula fast looses its right of passage and evolves into an unconscious instinctual way to see, thus becoming unnecessary to adhere to.
     Now that the stage is set, the oil painter may begin his study of the still-life pictorially.  At this point the oil painter starts with a medium tailored for study such as charcoal, pencil, or pen on paper.  After completing several studies of the still-life and familiarizing himself with its visual content, the student of oil painting can then move on to his work in oil paints.  The oil painter should complete one oil painting for each study.   A minimum of five different studies of the still-life are necessary as a preparatory step for the artist to understand the lessons involved, and grasp the conceptual work involved in the study of the still-life.
     Every few years I take on the study of the still-life to its fullest.  It helps reground my mind so that I may continue my work in compositional abstraction.  Because I wish to not be associated with them; I do not sign my completed still-lives and give them away as presents to family and friends.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Artwork of the month: Philosophy.

This is one of my favorite oil paintings in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
Italian, 1727-1804
"Head of a Philosopher"
1750-1760, oil on canvas

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Artwork of the month: Alexander Roslin.

There is an Alexander Roslin exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts showcasing the MIA's recent acquisition.  It is a worthy exhibit and worth taking a moment or two to walk through.  I am mesmerized by the fabrics, they appear so real.  

The Exhibit from now until Sunday, November 30, 2008
on the ground floor in the Cargill Gallery.  

This panting of his wife is by far the best in show. 

Alexander Roslin
Swedish, 1718-1798
"The Comtesse d'Egmont Pignatelli in spanish costume."
1763, oil on canvas

"Let them eat cake."
-Marie Antoinettee

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Artwork of the month: Temptation.

I am not the kind of man to fall for religious oil paintings, albeit this painting is a masterwork.  In fact almost everything Bouguereau painted was a masterwork.  The subject, well just make up your own mind.  I like to think mom is giving her "knowledge" not temptation.  
Go to my temple and see this painting anytime you want.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau
French, 1825-1905
1880, oil on canvas

A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Security photograph.

Athena and I had to bring her dog to the 24 hour emergency veterinarian clinic last night.  While I was outside waiting for them, I saw an opportunity to take this photograph.  I like the darkness, and the focused light.

"Security Camera"
Digital Photograph, Silver gelatin print.

It was a stressful night...
...this photograph made it all okay.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Artwork of the month: Walter Elmer Schofield.

This is my second favorite landscape at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  I really don't have anything to say except that I like it.

Walter Elmer Schofield
American, 1867-1944
"Mining Village in cornwall"
1920, oil on canvas

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

3.2.1_On the learning curve of art materials for the student of oil painting.

3.2.1  On the learning curve of art materials for the student of oil painting.
     The student of oil painting, whether aspiring to become a professional or simply doubling as a hobbyist, will benefit from the instruction and experience of using artistic mediums related to the application of oil paint.  We can no longer ignore that the consumer is fast becoming the voice of modern art today.  As a result of the consumers’ new strength within the arts the idea of study and training for the trade need more than ever to be reinforced today.
     The student of oil painting should not rely on oil paint alone to teach him to create works of art.  The student has not yet learned to control his hand to create what his mind already sees, and using oil paints is difficult enough to learn, let alone master.  The student of oil painting needs the training of not so much simple mediums at first, but mediums that are less complicated and involved as oil colors.  For this purpose there is a learning curve that progresses through several mediums before arriving at oil paint.  Typically these mediums are designed to study artistic principles.  Albeit, as a result of artistic innovations they have all found a place as mediums used as fine art.  As you will see, the student of oil painting treats each of these mediums as individual lessons but with the techniques of applying oil paint at the foundation of each medium’s course.  By applying each medium as oil paint is applied, the student of oil painting prepares himself for oil, gaining a much better grasp of its nature.  So for that reason we tailor these courses toward the technique of applying oil paint, where the medium is applied in layers to build a surface.
     Starting with charcoal, the artist moves on to graphite and colored pencil,  then soft and oil pastel sticks, then ink, and finally oil colors.  Through this process of study, the student of oil painting will arrive at oil colors with a firm understanding of basic artistic principles while discovering his own insight and artistic voice.
     The artist’s progressive training of mediums begins with the delicacy of charcoal sticks.  Charcoal is the perfect study medium and is commonly used in timed studies where the student works quickly to create a work of art.  Charcoal is naturally precise for applying dark and light values.  Charcoal is not easy to work with accurately and takes a soft yet resolved hand to master the ease with which it lays dark and light marks on a surface.  Allow the medium itself to teach the student how to use it.  Charcoal is easily disturbed once applied to a surface and it can be altered for good or ill by the slightest of movements.  It marks the surface immediately and although not permanently, its bold characteristics are difficult to erase. 
     Traditionally the contemporary student of oil painting works with vine charcoal sticks on newsprint or paper.  Vine sticks are best used in study because their delicate structure forces the artist to build his surface over time with several applications.  Charcoal is similar to oil paints in that the artist builds a surface with the medium to produce a work of art.  The intended purpose of working with charcoal sticks is so the artist concentrates on the accuracy of form and value, training his hand to be light but resolved.  Indeed the student is silently directed that way as a result of the nature of the medium itself. 
     There are a few simple tools to be used alongside charcoal sticks.  A sandpaper pad is used to sharpen the drawing point of the charcoal stick.  A gum eraser is the best choice to erase with as gum erasers collects larger amounts of medium rather than rubbing it off as other erasers; thereby not scaring the drawing surface.
     The next mediums for artistic development are the graphite and colored pencils.  Working in these different forms of pencil teaches the artist the basics of value, color, and tinting.  Pencils can easily scar the surface of a work of art if applied with too much pressure.  At times that pressure, when controlled, is exactly what the artist wants.  It is doubtless that the artist has used a pencil before.  Regardless of the artists experience now is the time to start from a beginning with no working knowledge of the pencil.  
     Graphite pencil reintroduces the lessons of charcoal, but takes the study of form, line, and the diverse techniques of creating the tonality in shading and grades of depth for contour value and perspective to a more precise form of expression.  Working in graphite pencil the artist refines his talents with the lessons of charcoal.  Pencil is not as easily disturbed as charcoal but can be easily erased, and although the process of editing with the eraser is often an approach to the technique to creating a work of art, it is a technique that devalues the basic lessons gained by using a pencil.  At this point you will erase nothing.  If you are dissatisfied with your work then start a new drawing with a fresh perspective.   
     With a delicately resolved hand the student uses the graphite to build a surface to create forms and values.  The artist needs to learn to control the application of graphite first, then add innovation when confident enough with the medium itself.  The first lesson is to attempt to have all marks go in the same direction.  That is not easy, all marks made includes what would be line, and line tends to go in opposition to the value of forms.
     The commonly known methods of working realistic values such as blending, cross hatching, the use of stipple, and my own scribble style all employ varying marks that are closer together to resemble darker vale, and farther apart for lighter values.  Distance within marks, giving the appearance of different values, is easy when compared to a unified directional pencil strokes.  The difference is that the student is training his eye to see value immediately, instead of creating value spontaneously.  Start by drawing in the darkest values and then working in the lightest.  Focus on the dramatic differences in forms values, then work towards the subtle discrepancies.  When the student of oil painting is comfortable with his ability to instinctually see the value of form, it is time to move on to colored pencils.  
     Colored pencil is commonly overlooked, being considered as a business medium, most commonly used by the designer, architect, and illustrator.  I have even heard color pencil compared to the crayon, and whereas they are both a wax-based medium the comparison is prejudice.  The colored pencil is a world all to itself and indeed is a medium who’s purpose reaches fine art.  As a wax based pigment, the colored pencil has the ability to blend colors in refined layers of lightly applied color.  Wax builds up quickly and the student of oil painting will have to refrain from adding too much too fast.  The student’s hand will have the muscle memory now, after working in charcoal and then graphite pencil, and consequently trained for the delicacy and pressure needed.
     Working with color for the first time as a student will at first be more difficult than expected.  To grasp an understanding of how to work with colored pencil, the student will have to memorize the basic color wheel.  Knowing all the aspects of color mixing and how each color interacts with the other will come in time with practice of this colored wax-based medium.  
     After the introduction of color, the student of oil painting moves on to both soft and oil pastel sticks.  Using pastels combines the lessons from all of the previous studies, while truly preparing the artist for the complications of oil painting.  The technique used within pastels integrates value and color together while foreshadowing the use of a brush.  
     Soft pastels are basically chalk, and similar to charcoal in their application.  I find them distasteful, and hopefully the student of oil painting will avoid them as he avoids the disease of acrylic paints.  Soft pastels mark a paper’s surface, but they do not hold onto paper and more times than not the pigments fall off unless the paper is treated with a fixative before and after your work.  Sandpaper is a perfect drawing surface to use for your soft pastel work of art.  Sandpaper, if quality glue was used in its construction, holds the soft pastel firmly between the grains.  Using sandpaper as a drawing surface solves the majority of your staying issues with soft pastels.  Do not spend too much time on he study of soft pastels.  They have little to give to the study of oil painting except the experience of a new and challenging medium.  
     Oil pastels are the closest relative to oil painting.  Oil pastels are most commonly made with a non-drying oil and wax as vehicles to bind the pigment.  The technical accessibility of oil pastels combined with the lessons of the charcoal, graphite and colored pencil, and soft pastels makes their use a true study material for the oil painter invaluable.  The pigments within oil paints are the same as those in oil pastels and you will notice instantly how when mixing color there is a bit of a grind to it until you work the stick until it is warm.  Oil stick are slightly cured oil paints.
     Because they are oil-based you can use oil based mediums such as linseed oil to create painting-like effects.  I have used WD40 for the effect of sharp textured painterly strokes of color by spraying the WD40 onto a sheet of folded wax paper, and then rolling the tip of oil stick in the medium until it mixes with the color.  The WD40 dissolved the oil pastel stick yet bound the stick to the drawing surface.  Just as oil paint, apply the mixed medium and color to your work of art.  It cannot be erased but it can be covered over or scrapped off the drawing surface.  Oil pastels layer fast and blend easy.   They should be used to study throughout the course of an oil painters life.            
     For the next stage in the learning curve of art materials, the student of oil painting works with ink.  Ink is irrevocably unforgiving and permanent, and like the improvisation the first mark is the final mark.  As a result of the editing limitations of ink, the artist will find that the execution of applying ink is philosophically similar to the improvisation.  Using ink to create works of art teaches the student of oil painting to be comfortable with his intuition and to react to his subject-matter as he replicates it.  By that same limitation, the use of ink familiarizes the artist with the abstract idea of positive and negative space.  The artist will find himself prone to working with the negative space to complete forms of positive space.  Working this way is thinking like a painter.  In oil painting, the painter uses negative space to develop the positive.  The negative space is more important than positive space.  
     The added benefit of studying ink last is removal of color.  Removing color as the student of oil painting adds line and composition brings the mind back to the fundamentals of composition.   I work with ink as often as possible for studying composition for my works.  Oil painting is next.  As you start your first oil painting, work in monotone, simple white to black just as ink.  It will be more difficult than expected.
     All of these artistic mediums are traditional for the student of oil painting and not to be set aside once the artist is working in oils, but to be used alongside oil painting.  For each work of art to be created, the student of oil painting usually starts with one or more of the lesser mediums as a study and sketch for the painting itself.  Eventually the student will develop his own method to study for oil painting.  The oil painter should explore different mediums and methods of creating works of art throughout his entire life.  

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Artwork of the month: Minnesota Art history.

With Minneapolis being the center of the art world now its good to look at artists in Minnesota's past that helped build our current art scene.

Robert Koehler is a serious figure in the development of the arts in Minnesota.  Koehler was the director of the Minneapolis School of Art (the Minneapolis College of Art and Design) in 1893, and he was also assisted in the establishment of the Minneapolis' Museum of Fine Art (the Minneapolis Institute of Arts). Koehler was an integral part of training artists and creating a local appreciation in Minnesota.

These painting are on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Robert Koehler
American, 1850-1917
"Head of a Woman"
1881, oil on canvas

"Rainy Evening on Hennepin Avenue"
1902, oil on canvas

Philip Little
American, 1857-1942
"Portrait of Robert Koehler"
1910, oil on canvas

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
-Mahatma Gandhi 

Friday, May 30, 2008

Artwork of the month: The Gamblers restored.

Hendrick ter Brugghen
Dutch, 1588-1629
"The Gamblers"
1623, oil on canvas

Hendrick Ter Brugghen's painting The Gamblers returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles where it was restored to its original composition and color.

During the restoration it was discovered that smalt was originally used in the painting.  Smalt (a fugitive pigment) is a transparent blue pigment made from ground glass that is colored with cobalt oxide.   Smalt will discolor from exposure to light and air, as blue will eventually appear gray, as the blue smalt turns black over time.

This exhibition documents the complete conservation process of the painting.   Saturday, May 24, 2008—Sunday, August 3, 2008

X-radiograph before restoration.

Hendrick Ter Brugghen
Dutch, 1588-1629
"The Gamblers"
1623, oil on canvas,

Hendrick Ter Brugghen
Dutch, 1588-1629
"The Gamblers"
1623, oil on canvas

Two strips of canvas were added to the sides of the painting, extending the original dimensions of the canvas.  The extra canvas was removed, the surface was cleaned, and the pigments restored.  

The exhibit at the Minneapolis institute of arts details the restoration process.  Go check it out, the exhibit runs until Sunday, August 3, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Warren an Artists Habitat opening

This month Matt Mcgorry and I had an art opening at "The Warren an Artists Habitat" 4400 Osseo Rd, Minneapolis, Mn. 

It was a fun casual opening with friends drinks.  Exhibiting at the Warren is always chill and a good time.  The owner Duane Atter is a photographer, and easy to work with.  

Our work

Mat Mcgorry

Mat Mcgorry

Seth, Chris, Athena and I... Rob in the background.

Christi and Ruth

We had started drinking at this point.

Matt Mcgorry, Ryan Lee, Alison and her husband

Ruth, Christi, Athena and I

Rob McBroom

Athena, Chris and I

Thanks to all of you that showed up...  
...I hope we can do it again at the Warren.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

3.1_Intro to Chapter III.

3.1  Intro to chapter III.
     The world of abstract thought is as varied as the diversity of life on Earth.  Abstraction is limitless.  There cannot be, indeed there must not be definitions and rules to the creation of an abstract work of art, and yet there must be defining points of accomplishment in the work of an abstract artist’s career.  All artists, regardless of their chosen medium, require a disciplined study of the elements involved within their chosen form of artistic communication. 
     Purely as an artist, the abstract oil painter must become familiar with the different mediums and methods of creating works of art during his study toward abstract oil painting.  The abstract oil painter should be required to study pictorial representation, all of the mediums related to oil painting, and the iconic fundamentals of modern art; those being the still life, the landscape, the figurative, improvisation, the discipline of composition, and color-form theory to allow for the natural development of an artists individual voice within abstract painting.  After pictorial representation has been throughly studied, the oil painter can then investigate his personal ideas of abstraction one subject at a time.  As an artist the oil painter must know his subject matter intimately to have the insight in order to abstract it.  He must first know abstraction and his reason for it.  Albeit, the abstract oil painter intuitively knows his own methodology, and with that knowledge of capability and possibility the abstract oil painter does not reject dogma but embraces its devices and makes them his own.  With that sense of ownership, the abstract oil painter takes responsibility for his study and the future direction of contemporary abstract art itself.  
     Western societies recent focus on the cultural marketability of individualism has fostered a generation of abstract artists that identify with nothing more than the vanity of style, the popularity of image, and immediate expression.  Anyone can express themselves using the term “abstraction” with the hasty ease of its common pictorial results and fabled simplicity of its technical grasp.  Many artists use abstraction as a classification of aesthetic choice, leading themselves to an established Ism to solidify their intent without understanding that creating works of art is more than a look or definition (These artists are not artists but charlatans playing a part in a game of identity that they eventually lose.) Ism.  Regrettable, artists who mimic the pioneers of abstraction through a pictorial choice of ism that represents their short-term identity poison themselves and the art world unknowingly.  Without an understanding or consideration of the general language of abstraction, the emotional fever of the consumer artist, hobbyist, and soul seeker skip the ideas of a disciplined study, and without purpose speechlessly imitate the masters.     
     Although abstract art does not have a defined alphabet it does call for an understanding of its pictorial fundamentals, those being the whole of the language of composition.  Abstraction grants a sense of liberty that is unavailable to any other form of aesthetic simply because it is visually accessible, without rules of appearance or expectation and seemingly easy to invent a theory of intent to sweet-talk past the ability of talent.  Truth is arduous to obtain in abstraction, and it is a discipline built on the traditional rules of technique more difficult to resolve than any of the arts because these traditions are conceptual thoughts physically applied in practical application.  The fundamentals of abstract oil painting are philosophical.  Those traditions while being on stable ground are evolving, changing, and growing as the technology of the materials and tools an artist uses to oil paint do the same.  With the consumer in control of today’s art market we find those traditions abandoned and forgotten.  It is not unfitting for the artist to reject tradition, if at first these ideas in question are inspected throughly and exposed for their flaws, and not simply rejected because of their status as defined traditions.  To do so is to rebel and eventually self destructive. Simply put, any yahoo with a paintbrush can call himself an abstract oil painter as a result of the confinements and unstable anarchy of the postmodern pop-cultural subjectivity as the cause of each amateur.  Innovation first comes from discipline and exploration under the influence of control and not accidents of stylistically pleasing moments.
     The work of the undisciplined abstract oil painter is simply the work of self-discovery.  In saying this, I am not belittling the immature abstract oil painter, nor am I using the word “immature” derogatorily.  I am simply disclosing that the young artist has not developed his mind and medium but works off the immediacy of appearance.  I did, until taught better.  The artist I am speaking of works off emotion and is setting free the needs that a juvenile or a maniac subconsciously desires for a cathartic release and possible moment of self-discovery.  Confusion and intangible communication are not hidden genius.  There is more to the abstract oil painter than inner need.  Albeit, it is inner need that drives the truly ambitious oil painter toward mastering that, which satisfies his being. 
     Since ideas are the nature of abstraction, abstract works of art consist of subjective moments independent of representation other than cultural and generational metaphorical associations.  Abstract works of art cannot be defined, in that there are no rules or set standards to creating an abstract work of art.  Therefore there must be a set of credentials that can define abstract oil painting as a disciplined art form.  Intuitively the oil painter understands that which he wishes to express but needs the proper vocabulary to do so.  A disciplined study of the fine arts traditional fundamentals will grant the oil painter his dictionary.  The oil painter will possibly begin to abstract his subject matter when he has mastered its actual representation.  The truly ambitious and devoted (stoic) oil painter will see the need for understanding the representational forms of the world around him pictorially by the means of a careful examination of his world as a prerequisite to abstraction.  Naturally, the oil painter becomes aware of the world and his position in it during his study and as expected the oil painter progresses toward his own language and ideas on composition, color, intention, methodology and philosophy toward creating works of art. 
     The following chapter is simply an explanation of the path that I followed to become who I am.  It was both passed on to me, and initiated by me.  They are not rules for each artist to pursue but guidelines from my experiences where I discovered them one event at a time.  They are the discipline that I created for myself.  The aesthetic and compositional choices in each work of art the oil painter creates reflect his identity and reveal his mastery over his medium.

     Every work of art has its importance, even the industrial agesi mass produced poster can teach. That is not to say that all works of art are equal.  Each of the arts also has its limits.  The discipline of oil painting has no equal in its variety of representation simply because it has less limitation then the other forms of art.  Nevertheless, do not be fooled by undefined intolerance all art is important and relevant to its creator.
     Oil paintings are not meant to be viewed in a museum where we teach and collect mans’ intellectual history.  Works of art are intended to be looked at, and to communicate.
     Art that has to be in a gallery to be art, is not art.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Artwork of the month: True beauty.

This marble sculpture is one of the most beautiful marble busts that I have ever seen. It is on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  It will surprise you with its perfection if you let it.  

Jean Antoine Houdon
French, 1741-1828
"Portrait of Madame de Sérilly"
1780, marble

"Positively, my social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity.  Let no one however say that I have borrowed my philosophy from the French Revolution.  I have not.  My philosophy has its roots in religion and not in political science.  I have derived them from the teachings of my master, the Buddha."
-B. R. Ambedkar (founder of the Indian constitution)