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Showing posts from 2017
Art - What is it? "Artist Flopparoo" by Craig Burkhalter, printmaker I follow several media outlets that report on the visual arts. Obviously I want to know what's going on. Retrospectives, museum collections, works on loan, "Artists to Watch," changes in programs of study at university art departments, etc. I have mixed feelings about practically everything I read. I must be slipping. Why else would I feel totally disconnected from what the art world deems worthy? This is my perspective on what makes a work of art. 1. Art is personal. I remember being told that every painting is a self-portrait. When I was younger I thought that was total hogwash but now I know better. Everything an artist makes comes from within. It can't be anything but personal. 2. On the surface, it's decorative. I'm not saying art has to be pretty (although I've had enough of this world's ugly meanness and I'd much rather create beautiful things)
Visitation I was in an upstairs room putting laundry away, not thinking about anything in particular. I was "in the zone," crossing off a list of chores. I had assumed the days of seeing my grandmother Frances in dreams had passed and sadly had not thought of her in awhile. When I stood up from my task, the atmosphere in the room had changed. I closed my eyes and waited. I can barely describe it. It lasted less than two minutes. It is simply that her scent is so distinctive--a complex mix of skin cream, perfume, clothing, perspiration. I am probably freaking you out--I certainly don't mean to--but if you've lost a loved one you may know what I'm talking about. My culture doesn't make room for these experiences. If something doesn't fit neatly within the confines of protestant tradition, it is dismissed, or (mis)labeled, and certainly not entertained. Pretty tragic. Our loved ones are no longer confined by a physical world. Do we reject the poss
The Intrinsic Motivation  Principle of Creativity* (the propensity for creativity to flourish  when  motivated by a personal enjoyment of the work itself) When friends sent me this photo--taken in Tuscany during their sabbatical last year--I was pleased to have the opportunity to paint it. There are few things I enjoy more than painting (drawing, maybe?). I could obsessively reproduce the image, but I don't think I will. They could order an enlargement and hang it on the wall. Jennie has an artist-mother and a craftsman-father. Bradley is a classically trained architect. They'll expect me to paint my own interpretation. And an interpretation it must be as I am not at the location to experience it myself. I must imagine it and try to capture it as best I can. Not everything in the photo will stay. The roses in the foreground stumped me for awhile. They are stunning, but so large compared to the other elements in the landscape, I decide not include them. Also
Serendipity: Peony 4x5, acrylic Jim put in a request for a pair of abstract paintings for the living room. So far, I have spent two days working on them. It's physical work, whether I'm standing before them or hovering over them. And it makes a considerable mess. A heavy vinyl drop cloth covers the whole room. On top of that is an absorbent fabric drop cloth. Depending on my "activity," some drop cloths are strategically hung on the walls. I wear two aprons to cut down on the possibility of transporting wet paint to the rest of the house. My uniform includes socks that have to come off before I head for the stairs. (I once transported paint footprints into the kitchen.) It's a completely different environment and mindset from when I'm painting a room. I don't even tape things off when painting interiors because my hand is so steady and my edges are so straight, but put a blank canvas in front of me and I'm like a child on sugar. I was pl
A Painter's Responsibility Shell Seeker I have had a few painting instructors and each one has told me what they do with the paint left on their palettes. Some seal it in a container so that it doesn't dry out. Some guiltily confess to discarding it. The habit I prefer is one I learned from my friend and painter Catharine. When she is finished for the day she applies the paint to a panel for that singular purpose and when it is full, or done, or however you wish to qualify it, she shows it. I have purchased one of these paintings of hers and I confess, even though I own one of her lovely figurative oil paintings as well as a reclining pregnant nude sculpture she made that is quite excellent, her painting below is a favorite of mine. Is it actually art, you ask? Well, I guarantee she applied the paint with intent. How could she not? The result is a lovely study in texture and color. It has so much texture, in fact, I decided to frame it under glass because I was concer
A Bit of Promise When I first started (whatever this is) I explained that I hope to shine some light on the thought and effort that goes into creating a work of art. Too many people have the impression that artists are geniuses or magicians -- that one simply stands before a piece of paper, a canvas, a block of wood, a piece of stone, a lump of clay, and just goes at it like one possessed. And ta-dah, it appears before your eyes. Really, it isn't like that at all. I have heard artists speak flippantly about their work, "Oh it's nothing. It just took me a couple of hours (blah, blah, blah)." The worst offenders. Why would you devalue what you do? I want to say to them, "If you did THAT in a couple of hours, perhaps you should be doing MORE." I certainly do not wish to give anyone the idea that I think I am mastering this. I have spent twenty years practicing what I was trained for: graphic design. My professional experience informs the art I am attempt
A New Portrait (Part 4) This is where it gets tedious, the point at which I want to quit and take up quilting. (Quilting isn't any easier, but it would be a distraction from painting.) The likeness is looking less like Frances than it did at the end of Part 3. I have to dig around to find my Glover genetic code and wave it around like a war baton, psychologically speaking. There will be no quitting now. In an earlier post I stated it's a good idea to measure to make sure your proportions aren't out of wack. The arm still didn't look right and after a good deal of comparing measurements from the photo to the canvas I think I found the culprit. The bend of the elbow is lower than her waistline and it's throwing everything off. To raise the bend of the elbow, the old shadow has to be covered. Correcting a painting gets ugly before it gets better. You have to cover your mistake and start that area over. If there are paint ridges upsetting you, sand the
A New Portrait (Part 3) This is where I left off in Part 2: I don't even know how I arrived at this point. Psyching myself up, dancing in place. It's time to mix skin tones. I want a pile of light and a pile of dark on my palette. Yellow Ocher + Cadmium Red + Titanium White = light skin areas. Yellow Ocher + Cadmium Red + Ultramarine Blue = dark skin areas. I'm showing my palette below but with this disclaimer: I do not actually know  the names of half of my paints because their labels fell off. I just roll with it. Mixing unidentified paints is my version of living on the edge. Below, is my focus area today. I rough in some clouds and perform corrective surgery on the shoulders. (I could spend all day painting clouds and if I let myself, I could procrastinate and avoid tackling the facial features, but the sky is not the point of this painting.) Placing highlights on the face. At this point, the figure could be anyone. I alternate placing light areas
A New Portrait (Part 2) I rarely get enough time to paint. Even when I plan ahead, chaos interferes. I spend a lot of time feeling frustrated. To avoid going  mad with the paintings that are trying to pry themselves out of me, I paint in short spurts. If I'm lucky, I'll get a few hours to myself on the weekends. This is why acrylic is my current medium of choice. I use the same painting approach as I would with oil but everything dries faster. Decisions have to be made more quickly. With that said, it's just paint. You can paint over it if you're not happy with it. Just, for the love of Pete, don't use black paint from the tube (unless you like starting over from scratch). Mix your blacks and try not to use them until last. So this is where I left off: For the first session, I started working at a table. Today I decided to use my easel. I need to see the panel upright so I can stand a distance away to check my work. I work everywhere: on the floor,
A New Portrait Ever since my grandmother Frances passed away I have been thinking about her portrait. I knew I would do one at some point when I felt ready. Ready in this instance means that she stopped appearing in my dreams. It has been a year since I've seen her while I've slept. People look different in heaven. It skews my ability to represent them as they were before. I'm not trying to weird you out, it's simply how it is with me. It is impossible to show how I go about this portrait without revealing quite a bit about Frances, and of course, myself as well.  Tant pis.  We'll try to bear it. I will post photographs at the end of a painting session to show progress with some mention of the decisions made along the way. It is my hope to demonstrate the mental exercises an artist goes through, a few practical techniques of putting paint down, but most of all, the amount of time it takes to create something in paint. I chose my panel back in the summer. I
Map Making on a Local Level - Part 2   - After sketches for the buildings and streets in the downtown business district were checked, I drew the entire image again in ink, adding paper as needed to squeeze in critical structures around the borders (ex: City Hall). The drawing grew to 20x18 inches. Inked drawing Then I scanned the ink drawing and began to add color. Color was layered in Photoshop. Street names were handwritten to fit, scanned, and added to the Photoshop document. Of course, thanks to Constant Progress, as I was finishing color in the digital world, back in the real world, building facades were being renovated, business names were changing, I had to keep up by redrawing those areas and adding them to the master map. Once I was satisfied with the image, I laid out the map document in InDesign, identified what went where on each soon-to-be folded panel, and had a full scale print made of the front and back of the map. Visual aid for house calls SH
A detail from the finished map Map Making on a Local Level - Part 1 - WHEN I VISIT A CITY FOR THE FIRST TIME, I bu y a map, find a cup of coffee, and try to get a sense of the place before heading off to explore. I have at least fifty maps I've kept as trip souvenirs (and many more are bucket list reminders). At a glance, I can tell you where I went, what I saw, and the people I met. A few maps in my collection Maps are curious things, the perfect storytellers. Beyond sources of basic information, they can change our minds about a place and have the ability to convince us certain things are worth checking out. A year ago I began work in earnest on an illustrated map of my city, specifically the downtown business district of Macon where I spend the majority of my time. Downtown is the place where interesting things are happening and the area deserved an illustrated map. First I had to ask the question: Why didn't a map already exist? Technicall