Saturday, June 16, 2012

Art at Your Door: Bird Nest, June 16

June 26:  The birds successfully took flight.  I didn't see them doing their flight training, but a guest here saw the mom with one of the new babies flying close by.  Success and now I have my front door back...all is well.

June 16: More on the birds nesting on my front door wreath:

 Mom and Dad are doing a great job and the babies are growing up nicely.  Someone did come through the front door the other day, so the nest and chicks swung into the house.  I can't imagine what the kiddos thought about their world moving on hinges like that!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Newsletter, June 2012

Here is my monthly newsletter for June, 2012
For the newsletter this month, I've added two pastels and a large new oil.  These new works are a bit more abstracted and I do like the results.  The two pastels have inspired me to do large oil versions and I hope to have the completed results in next month's newsletter.

July 21-22, I'll be doing a formal painting and pastel workshop in the Denver metro.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Video: Pierre - Auguste Renoir

This is unique, silent footage of the great Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919).  He is seen at home, working on a canvas, smoking, talking and thoroughly enjoying himself.

His hands were severely crippled with rheumatoid arthritis.
Uploaded to youtube by Nick Wallace Smith.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Oil: Golden Moment Against the Reds, 48 x 48 inches

Golden Moment Against the Reds
Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

I worked up this composition from a small oil I did some months ago.  In this large version there is much more depth and power throughout.

After going through a lot of permutations, I came back to this simple arrangement that allows the best interplay of the reds, yellows and contrasts of the trees.  This oil has been in the studio for a couple of months and it underwent a lot of painting sessions, but the work remained fresh and kept its subtle power.

I'm assembling the progressive photos of this oil into a little presentation that illustrates how this painting came together.  I'll post it here in the next few days.

Note:  I'll be teaching my oil and pastel workshop on the Strategies for Making Fine Art in Denver, Sat-Sun, July 21-22  Complete info

Video: Degas on film, early 20th Century

This is unique footage of the great Post Impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917) as an old man walking in a Paris street early in the Twentieth Century.

This footage was uploaded by Nick Wallace Smith on Mar 22, 2011. Nick remarks, "I'm amazed the film was shot - he seems to have been almost ambushed."

At this time, Degas was suffering from eyesight problems and as often the case, he was wary of being photographed.

The music is by the composer Eric of my favorites.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Art at Your Door: Bird Nest, June 10

The chicks have hatched!

The bird parents are not bird brains after all.  Four days ago, we had a major hail storm with 3-4 inches of sustained hail for an hour.  There was 3-4 inches of hail here! Since this nest is the the front door wreath and under the protected front door porch, the parents and chicks were undisturbed, short of the crazy lighting show.

Looks like these chicks will all be named Einstein after their parents.  More photos soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In the studio: June 6, 2012

In the studio June 6, 2012

On the easel is a 3x5 foot canvas coming from the pastel at the right. I'm two sessions in and this oil is coming along nicely. I say nicely because I'm not getting fussy, so I'm not bogged down and overly concerned about small, frustrating details. My concerns right now are the overall shapes, color and contrasts of the oil.  I'm going to continue to add power by any means and go for a dramatic painting that simply expresses the flow of color and light across the canvas.

At the bottom left on the floor is a 2x4 oil of red trees. Behind that are two finished canvases in frames. It's the red zone back there.

Little did I know that after this photo was taken, the lovely rain outside turned into an hour long hailstorm, leaving 3-4 inches on hail everywhere.  What an amazing racket!

By the way, for those of you following the birds nesting on my front door wreath, they are fine and looking like bird geniuses for nesting under the front door overhang.  Baby bird photos will be coming when the eggs hatch.

Perhaps you would like to attend my upcoming oil and pastel workshop:
Making it Fine Art
A two-day workshop in Denver, Sat-Sun, July 21-22.
Two-day workshop: $225. per person  Complete info
Also, there are plans for a 2012 Summer or Fall Houston, TX workshop as well.  Please inquire

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Workshop: Matisse and a technique problem

 Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) The Piano Lesson. 1916 Oil on canvas. 96 ½ x 83 ¾.  Collection MOMA, NYC

Here's more from my recent visit to NY.  
Matisse had been under some pretty intense criticism with the critics of the day and it had been going on for years. This oil was done after his trip to Morocco and it continues Matisse's exploration into more geometrical shapes and a very new visual presentation. The palette is more reserved for Matisse but the large amounts of grey heighten all the colors, even the off-white tones at the upper right. Black is a color too and it is used for outlines, shadows and dark areas.  This is a large work done in the studio and Matisse has made a number of painterly and intellectual decisions to produce a challenging and thoughtful work of art.

Here is a detail of the green vertical panel, left side. It appears that Matisse overpainted this area preferring the green shown here. This is a great color selection and it is one of the many components that make this work sing. Note that Matisse didn't get the black scroll work right on the first try, nor  was he concerned about how evenly the black lines were put down. You can see where he corrected some of the line work but he allowed the earlier marks to show through. This approach, coupled with the irregular line work, made for a more complex visual effect. It's one of the subtle hallmarks of Matisse's work and it creates more visual sophistication and appeal.  The rule is fat over lean: thinned paint under paint out of the tube or with medium added.

Also... don't paint thinned-out oil paint on top of thicker (fatter) paint. Even the master got a little too thin with the green overpainting and it cracked. Well, it does make another interesting surface effect but I'll bet it gave the museum restorers extra work.

I'll be teaching my oil and pastel workshop on the Strategies for Making Fine Art in Denver, Sat-Sun, July 21-22  Complete info

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Workshop: Art materials, don't let them get in the way

Paul Gauguin  Washerwomen 1888  Museum of Modern Art, NY

For Gauguin, funds were tight and sometimes he used burlap rather than finer canvases.  He did a very nice job of adapting to either canvas and made paintings of a lasting impact.  The quality of the art materials didn't interfere with his vision.  The point here is not that you should use inferior materials, just use what you can and get your vision out to the world by any means possible.

Detail showing the oil applied to the burlap
Jasper Johns Flag 1954  Encaustic, oil and collage on fabric mounted on plywood, 42 1/4 x 60 5/8 inches
Museum of Modern Art, NY

John's woke up one morning after dreaming about doing a large American flag. Note the 48 stars of 1954.  He went out an bought the materials that day.  It's not an extravagant surface to work from.  Note that the canvas doesn't even cover the edges in some places and it is tacked rather than stapled to wrap it over the plywood.  He got the work done and down the road, this work became the most expensive American artwork ever purchased at auction.  It's now an icon of contemporary American painting.

detail showing the encaustic and newsprint underneath

I'll be commenting on some other works from my recent trip to NY.  The Modern and MOMA now have new photo policies allowing photography as long as you don't use a flash.  I've got some great photos and close up to share.

I'll be teaching my oil and pastel workshop on the Strategies for Making Fine Art in Denver, Sat-Sun, July 21-22  Complete info  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Art at Your Door: Bird Nest, May 31

After returning from NY, ( more on that later) I checked the sparrow nest tucked into my front door wreath and there are now 3 small eggs carefully watched by the parents.  You can just barely see two of them here.  Just above the nest is a brass dragonfly door knocker.  Apparently the sparrows were unafraid.  So I'll be using the side doors going forward.  It's an interesting summer!