Monday, August 14, 2017

MoMA Monday

This Monday I've chosen to share a podcast with you instead of a movie or show. I rarely ever listen to podcasts or talk radio shows, they annoy me to no end. Especially podcasts, they all sound like Delicious Dish to me.  If you don't know what Delicious Dish is click this link and thank me later. I'm sharing a podcast with you because I finally found one that sounds like a real conversation about stuff I don't understand, modern art. Sometimes when I hear people talk about "modern art" the scene from White Christmas comes in my head where Danny Kay is dressed in black, "doing choreography".  Whut? Oh that's choreography, it's modern so excuse me while I put on my old school Capezios and pirouette my tutu on out of here. This podcast covers all those feelings and tries to explain what we might not be getting and I love it. Here's a short Youtube video advertising the show. 

I've heard of Abbi Jacobson, not familiar with any of her work but I've quickly become a fan of her podcast.  You can listen to it here on the MoMA site. Or download it from Google Play or Apple Podcasts.  Like I said, it's a real conversation, not a weird delicious dish one, so there is a smattering of profanity, just put your big kid pants on and don't get so offended. Seriously, we need more of this in our lives. All of it, the show, the not being so offended, the bad dancing. More of it! Go listen and enjoy. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hopefully Yours

Hopefully Yours 7x5" waterolour on Strathmore 400 series cold press
This is the front of the former Hopefully Yours store.  It moved to a new location but I thought the old building had a bit more character to paint. Unfortunately when I went the lighting wasn't so fabulous.  The front of the building faces north and the sun coming up over from the east at least made the turret fun to paint.
James Gurney has begun a new challenge to "Paint a Storefront", and it inspired me to go find an interesting building to paint. I have a love for old buildings so I should paint more of them. I guess it's a fear of not doing them justice is what holds me back from painting more of them.  My paintings just don't capture the personality of the building. Old buildings hold a lot of history in them. The people who owned them, the people who would go in them, who built them who maintained them, a lot of memories are held within the walls of old buildings.
Some history on the building is that it's part of the original Manufacturing and Wholesale District which had a unique hybrid style of Romanesque Revival, Renaissance, Classical Revival, Craftsman and 20th Century Modern. If my brief bit of research is correct this particular building was constructed in 1892. The three story Romanesque Revival originally held John Blaul's Sons Company, which was a wholesale grocery business.  In 1903 a four story side addition  was built, and today is a tattoo parlour. The most recent history of this building is that it was home to Hopefully Yours.  It's a thrift store that helps raise money for Hope Haven Development Center. "Hope Haven is a private non-profit organization that provides vocational, residential, community employment and living services for over 530 mentally and physically challenged persons in Southeast Iowa". One of the services they provide is to help their clients get jobs.  I remember working with a couple of them when I was in high school.  I worked at a restaurant called Carlos O'Kelly's and every morning Janet came in to mop the foyer and bathroom floors. To the rest of us it was a crappy job that nobody else wanted to do so we were just glad Janet came in to do it. For Janet it was her job and she took it very seriously.  She was very professional, on time, there to work and never complained about her job.  We all should have tried to be more like Janet.
On a side note, I was asked to test out this Strathmore watercolour paper and so I did.  My thoughts are, don't use it. It may be useful for crafty purposes but a lot of techniques used in watercolour painting can't be done very well on this paper. I can do a more in depth review on it if anyone's interested.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Eric Hebborn - Portrait of a Master Forger


Your movie for this Monday, Portrait of a Master Forger.  Stolen art and forgeries fascinate me to no end. Why? I have no idea because to me it's all about people wanting what they can't have or can't afford.  It's like fake handbags and other fake designer clothing. I always laugh at people who buy fake watches and handbags.  I think to myself, if you didn't buy so many fake ones you might have enough money to buy an authentic one.
I'd never heard of Eric Hebborn before stumbling on this documentary.  The way he describes his own life compared to what others have written about him, it's hard to know who's telling the truth. He is a forger after all, so is he truthful? Something about the way he presents himself in this documentary makes me question whether to believe him or not. He seems honest about his personal life but as far as his professional life, not so sure.
If you have time look him up, he has quite an interesting biography.  His death is shrouded in mystery.  Beaten over the head and left to die in the street, it's sad and fascinating all the same. Did someone want him dead so he couldn't claim any more forgeries?  Was it an angry art "expert" seeking revenge for being tricked?  Was it someone with the notion that his work would be worth more after he was dead? It's fun to speculate on a Monday. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Experimenting on the Experimental

Turquoise Edsel watercolour sketch on cotton paper
This looks like a 1958 Edsel Corsair to me.  Edsel was only in production from 1958-60 so I can't be too far off.  The Edsel began in 1955 as the "E car" and the "E" stood for experimental. Ford was trying to develop a car that would put them in competition with the other big names; Oldsmobile, Buick and DeSoto.   When it went into production they named it Edsel after Henry Ford's son.  Unfortunately the Edsel was a flop. I wasn't around for it but I can only imagine it was like Geraldo opening Capone's vault.  So much marketing and hype went into it and when the big reveal came it sold well at first but soon fizzled out. If you're a fan of The Simpsons you might be replaying, in your mind, the episode where Homer's brother let him design a new family car and it was a huge disaster. Edsel's disaster wasn't exactly due to poor design like Homer's monstrosity.  The people at Ford want you to believe it was due to a turn in the economy and the big bulky engine that required premium gasoline. In the late 50s a lot of people were moving towards more fuel efficient vehicles like the VW Bug. (It's hard to beat good German engineering) so the Edsel didn't sell well. Only 2,846 Edsels were manufactured in 1960 and the resale value made them so undesirable that dealers didn't want to sell them.  There was another one on this property so out of the only 118,287 ever made I got to meet two of them. It's fun to imagine where these cars may have gone and the conversations people had in them while tooling down the road.
Like the experimental vehicle I experimented with this sketch.  I can't recall ever trying to paint rust before and I knew it would be harder than it looks.  The parts where the rust and the paint mix, is difficult to render. Busting out your dry brush technique is helpful with that.   The parts, like the roof, where it's completely covered in rust was a little easier but the little bit of light hitting on it really makes a difference in the way it looks. You think you can just pull out your burnt sienna because it's a fairly rusty colour, but then you realise rust isn't just one flat colour. I ended up using a combination of burnt sienna, brown madder and raw sienna to get the subtle differences. If anyone has any tips on painting rust throw them my way, I have a few more of these old timers I'd like to paint.

Monday, July 31, 2017

1/2 Ryan Gander - The Art of Everything: The Culture Show


Your show for this week is an episode of The Culture Show. The show began in 2004 on BBC Two and covered artists, writers, music, fashion, performing arts, etc. The show lasted until 2015 so there's a huge catalog of episodes with film directors, actors, painters, sculptors and so on. At random I chose the episode featuring artist Ryan Gander. I must remember to be more like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade and choose more wisely.
While his work is not my cuppa it may be yours so keep an open mind. One thing I have to comment on was his "portraits".  He explains to Miranda Sawyer, the presenter,  that he actually destroyed all of the portraits and what you're seeing are the palettes on which the paint was mixed to make the portraits.  He wants you to look at the palettes and imagine what the portraits would look like from that.  I immediately thought, hmmm wonder how it would go if you went to a restaurant, ordered a meal and the server brought you a plate full of crumbs and told you to imagine what the food would taste like.
I walked away from this asking myself, what does this guy actually do? What does he create? From what we see in the show, he comes up with ideas and everyone else does the work. How does that work? Mr. Brainwash (Thierry Guetta and a whole other can of worms)  admitted to doing the same thing. He hired a team of graphic designers to do all of his work for him.  What is the deal with the people who actually make the work and allow the artist to take all of the credit? We need a documentary on that!  The Wrecking Crew is a wonderful movie about studio session musicians who are actually the geniuses behind most of the pop music from the 60s on up.  They're the ones who came up with the music but the guy who fit the suit got all of the credit in the public's eye. It feels like a similar situation with these artists who put their name on something but don't put in the work. Not sure what to think about it all.
This episode is split into two parts and the second half should start right after this one, if not here's the link to part two

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Halt, Put the Paintbrush Down

Salon 406 9x12" oil on panel
After another weekend of plein air painting I have come home with another fun story of my adventures. My friend Deb and I decided to do a nocturne Friday night. We parked a block away from a barbecue contest and a cover band from Omaha.  Deb set up on the sidewalk and painted a scene up the street and I set up in front of my car and painted a hair salon that was across the street.  Deb was done before I was so she started walking around looking at some of the other buildings while I kept working. When I was alone, facing across the street, a cop came up behind me and scared me. He thought I was trying to break into a car, which happened to be my own.  When he saw what I was doing he laughed and admitted that I scared him. I guess I know what I'll go as for Halloween this year.

Monday, July 24, 2017

How to fill a Sketchbook


Just a short video for this Monday.  How I stumbled onto this one I have no idea but it was fun. WARNING! She can be a bit crass, as you may be able to tell from the opening scene, so if you're overly sensitive and easily offended just skip this one. If you're not and you want some ideas on how to fill a sketchbook, take the time because she has some good ideas.
The reason why I'm sharing this one is because I just had a conversation with some friends about how people are so intimidated when it comes to painting, drawing, etc. There's some sort of fear of messing up a blank sheet of paper or canvas. What I can't wrap my head around is that as children we can't wait to be adults so we can make up our own rules. Kids are constantly told, don't do that, do this, that's wrong and on and on. Remember back to when you were a kid and you'll probably remember pouting and making all sorts of plans for how you were going to do it your way when you were older. Now that you're older are you doing it your way, or are you going back to the way someone told you how to do it?
Another reason why I shared this one is because this time of year is perfect for taking out a sketchbook and throwing down quick studies. Her idea of going to the library (I think she said libary) is great. Get some reference material and cool off in the air conditioning.