Thursday, July 28, 2016

Finding Vivian Maier 2013 Documentary | Biography

Tried to post this on Monday but my internet connection was in and out during my wild west road trip.  I wasn't surprised to find I had no service while at the top of a mountain. I chose this film for the movie this week as a bit of inspiration for my trip. I knew I wasn't going to have a whole lot of time to paint so I was going to have to do my best at taking photographs.
When Vivian Maier's work first came out I was in awe.  Her work is captivating to say the least. With a lot of artists you admire you want to know what makes them tick, what makes them so great, how do they make their work seem so effortless. After watching this I'm on the fence about whether or not I wanted to know more. It's a documentary about her life told by the man who found her unprocessed work. After he started developing the rolls and rolls and rolls of film he took it to the next step to learn more about the photographer. He interviews the people who were in Maier's life and it's a very interesting story.
You can watch this on Netflix or here via Youtube. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

World Watercolour Month

Who knew there was a whole month dedicated to watercolour? Here's a link to more information. It's not too late to participate. If you're on social media you can hashtag your work with #worldwatercolourmonth to share with others and check out what other people are sharing. This top sketch is of my crabby patty from lunch done in my Pentalic sketchbook
This is from the Anamoly Gallery. This is the second time in my life that someone insisted I go into a bathroom to look at it. The first time it was because the business owner did some really fancy tile work. This time it was the useful recycling of an old stainless steel tub to use for a sink.  This was done in a sketchbook that I made with Fabriano Tiziano paper.  It was in the drawer labeled watercolour at the store so I assumed it was watercolour paper. Turns out it's supposed to be pastel paper. I can't even imagine using it for pastel so it's a good thing I used it for watercolour instead. 
Enjoy the rest of World Watercolour Month! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Thomas Hart Benton - The Making of a Mural

I didn't forget about the Monday movie, I was just busy looking for one. I came across this 10 minute movie about Thomas Hart Benton making a mural and wanted to look for a full length movie about him. I found one but can't seem to figure out where you can watch it.
Here's a link to the Ken Burns' documentary with two parts of the movie but not the whole movie.
The 10 minute video, that you can watch here or on Youtube, caught my attention because I enjoyed watching the work he put into the mural. There are some artists who like to play magician and let you think they pulled their ideas out of a hat and waved a wand or pulled some slight of hand and the finished painting just appears. On the other hand there are patrons who seem to think artists just pull paintings out of hats. Those are usually the patrons who never understand why you charge what you do for your work.  In just 10 short minutes this shows how much preparation can go into creating a painting and that it's not all fun and games all the time. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Goya's Ghosts

Goya's Ghost is the movie for this Monday. It seems appropriate as the anniversary of the end of the Spanish Inquisition is coming up. What a silly thing to know but it did disband on the 15th of July 1834. This is one of those movies where you get a little bit of everything, good actors, tragedy, romance, war, ignorance. So similar to what you see on CNN today. Anywho, it's a fairly good movie and it's available to rent on Netflix or watch it for $2.99 via Youtube. You could also check your local video store, if your town still has one or your library. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Get in Shape

This is not the best composition but hopefully it will work for the explanation of looking for shapes. Looking for the shapes in your subject probably doesn't come easy for most. When you were a kid it was super easy. We were given toys that were made in basic shapes and we built things with them and fit them inside other things and shapes just made sense.  
The biggest problem for beginning plein air painters is what to paint. After you get all the fun gear and pack up to go out and paint you must then decide what to paint. I covered a solution to that problem in a previous post. After you decide on what to paint the problems really start to mount. The light changes, your subject moves, you dropped your paintbrush in the river, so on and so forth. Since you're going to have these obstacles up against you don't want to add the painting experience into the pile of misery. (Honestly, if you've dropped your box of pastels or had your oil painting face plant into a pile of weeds as many times as I have you'll know it's just best to laugh and not be miserable.) 

Solution two to the perils of plein air painting: getting things into shape. This is what I do, may not work for everyone but if you find it helpful that's great. I look at my subject like I'm going to pack it up and ship it UPS. John Preston likes to refer to it as putting the instrument in its case. I used to work in a music store and most days I did both, put instruments in cases and then had to find very creative ways to package them up and ship them out. Imagine if someone asked you to paint a row of guitars, it seems pretty overwhelming at first but if you can see, in your mind's eye, the rectangular box that it was shipped in around it you start to notice things. I tried to demonstrate on this lazy goat. It seems like an overwhelming subject, there's a lot going on here. Once you box him up to get ready to ship out you start to notice the relationships of the head to the body, the legs to the head, etc. This will help you get the proportions right too. You can see, after boxing him up, his head is about 1/3 the length of his body. Seeing the box around the figure also helps you see the smaller negative spaces. Now the bales of hay on the right are a different way of getting in shape. Sometimes you just have to look for the shape, you just want to find the obvious shape and get the perspective and angle correct. Consider how a child would draw a house. Most of them draw a rectangle and put a triangle for the roof. It's helpful if you can still do that sort of thing, but if you're going for realism you still have work to do. The hay seems like a duh moment, they're just rectangles, but until you actually stop and look at them you may not notice that they're going in different directions. If it helps to lightly draw in the basic shapes first go ahead and do it, you should have no shame in your game. We all have different ways of working. There's no law or commandment that says we all have to draw/paint the same way. If you're having a hard time wrapping your head around how to find these shapes here's a link that may be very helpful. There are three pages so make sure to look at all of them, although the first page does a great job of illustrating what I was trying to with this goat. It shows how to "site size" and this is very effective. This is basically how I find those shapes to box the goat up in.
Again, there are many ways to go about this so try things out and adopt whatever method helps you get the job done.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Winslow Homer: An American Original

Since it's 4th of July I thought it would be nice to choose a US American artist for this week's movie. Finding a movie about an artist from the US was harder than I thought it would be. There are movies about Warhol, Basquiat, O'Keefe and Pollock that most people have probably already seen so I went searching for other artists who didn't get the big screen treatment.
I knew a little bit about Homer before I watched it but it was very much the Reader's Digest version. I didn't know he was actually paid to illustrate the Civil War. I thought he was like Picasso, painting Guernica from the sidelines. Homer was actually in the thick of it, not as a soldier but as an illustrator. Harper's Weekly paid him to illustrate the war. It's not all that crazy, other artists have been asked to illustrate the war as well. I know of one in particular who put his talents to use drawing reconnaissance maps in Normandy, but that's another story. Homer was affected by the war to the point where he tried his best to become a bit of a hermit.  He probably had PTSD or something.
If Homer were still around he would be the one to ask, what's the difference between an artist and an illustrator. I'd love to know his answer to that question.
You can rent the full movie for $1.99 at Amazon or check your library to see if they can get it for you.