Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mary's Wise Words

Pencil Sketch of a blue heron with the guidelines left in. 
I mentioned that I've been reading lots and lots of books about drawing and painting, I've also been reading lots and lots of blogs as well. Most of the books are old and the language is as well, but the lessons are still worth learning. As for the blogs, they're certainly more modern and most of them are written by artists who are still working and teaching today so they have a pretty good insight as to what's going on here and now. The thing I've noticed is that the language may be a little different but the lessons are still the same. Funny how that works.
The other day I read Mary Byrom's blog and I thought it was worth sharing here.
"This past week I discovered that what I did everyday had a name…the process I go through day after day and week after week is called mastery.  Wow, was that a surprise. I knew what I set out to do wasn’t easy but I didn’t know that I had so many kindred spirits out there on the same path doing the same process. Its great to encounter this.  The four things I do in my painting process are 1. Practice  2. Persistence  3.Patience  4. Perseverance.  5. Repeat #  s 1- 4 over and over."
You can read her whole post here and I recommend you do, it's well written and gives links to other artists.  What she says about going to art school is relatable to almost everyone who's done it.

Monday, September 26, 2016

BBC History of Art in Three Colours 3of3 - WHITE

I've always had a slight obsession with colour and I think so has everyone else. You may not stop to think about it but most of the things we see and do revolve around colours. Green means go, red means stop. Yellow means the banana is ripe, brown means it's too ripe. Blue skies generally mean it's going to be a nice day and grey means not so good. When we describe material objects it's usually by size, shape and colour. If colour meant nothing to us then our houses and cars would be the same colour. We'd all wear the same coloured clothing and so on and so forth. Some people even study the effects that certain colours have on people. Does seeing the colour red make you angry?
I found this show called History of Art in Three Colours, the first two are gold and blue but I couldn't find a video that would play so we have the third episode, white. It goes even further into the notion that colour is associated with strong feelings. White is meant to be virginal, pure, blah blah. It's true though, we associate colours with specific things and feelings.
It starts off kinda funny, going on about a marble sculpture of Apollo and how because it was all done in white that it made it intellectual and stimulating. Sure we can say all that mumbo jumbo now but perhaps it's white simply because that's what was available at the time. It reminded me of this house in a town just north of me. It was purple and it stood out like a sore thumb. As a child I always wondered why someone would want a purple house, unless your name was Ken and Barbie. The story goes that the house was originally painted purple during the war. The family couldn't afford paint so they mixed up all the half empty paint cans they could find and used that to paint the house. When the colours were all mixed it turned out purple so ever since the homeowners continued the tradition of keeping the house purple. The house always got so much attention all based on its colour.
Colour can give you a sense of comfort as well. Don't believe me? Next time you travel and stay in a hotel check the sheets. I'm pretty sure you'd feel more comfortable seeing clean white sheets rather than dingy grey ones.
Admittedly I didn't find the show all that great, but it sure did get my brain going on all of these thoughts and ideas. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Great Artists - Romantics & Realists - Courbet

This documentary is just under an hour and fairly informative on the artist.  I chose this one because it goes along with my recent post that shared Harold Speed's words about keeping your work honest. It's quite hilarious that Courbet is known as the father of realism yet he pretended to be something he was not.
I also found it amusing how they pulled back the curtain to reveal that this "self-taught" artist actually had a fairly impressive education.
Something that really struck me though was the commentary on his lack of knowledge of perspective. A few posts back I wrote about how I'm compiling notes and things I've collected over the years into a book. In that post I asked where to begin. Where should you start a book, or better yet where do you start your education? If you want to become a painter where's the most important place to start? So many books I've been reading claim that perspective is an essential, some say most important aspect, part of the puzzle. In this documentary it's noted that this is where Courbet lacked knowledge. So in his self-guided art education he may have danced around this topic.  After it's pointed out it's pretty obvious that he did have a lack of knowledge, or chose to not remember it? Either way, it helped reiterate the fact that perspective is extremely important. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Honest Words of Wisdom

Watercolour study of the Skunk River
"Unflinching honesty must be observed in all your studies." -Harold Speed
More words of wisdom, this time from Harold Speed. This one can be interpreted in many different ways.  I think Speed was referring to putting in the time on your work and staying honest to yourself meaning don't go for a gimmick or a trend.  How tiring it must be to work under some guise or continue to chase the latest trend. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Edward Hopper and the Blank Canvas

Envy is not in my nature but there are two artists who I'd give my left eye if I could paint like them; Edouard Manet and Edward Hopper.  Maybe I should change my name to Edward? This is a great, hour long, documentary on Hopper, it even has interviews with him.
Here is a website with more information about Hopper. And some wise words from Hopper,  "No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Nuggets of Wisdom

Zorn palette in watercolour 
For the last year and a half I've been working on a book. Nothing that I intend to publish but something that I set out to do for myself. It's just a book of information that I've gathered over the years and colour charts. Lots and lots of colour charts!
Recently I hit a fork in the road while compiling my information. So far it's a lot of notes on random pieces of paper that need to be put together in a way that makes sense. Where to start? If you were writing a book about the most important things to know about painting where would you begin? Do you start with colour theory, drawing basics, composition? It's all important, but where to start?
In my quest to put my book together in a way that makes sense I took up reading other books. While reading these books I've come across a lot of great little phrases and nuggets of wisdom that I think are useful and thought I'd not be selfish and share. It only seems fitting to start off with this one from Andrew Loomis.
"If there is any way that one man in the craft can really help another, it's by increasing his knowledge of the craft itself, not in the particular qualities of the man's own work.  The knowledge of our craft must be pooled, as it is in the sciences and other professions, each of us absorbing and in turn contributing."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fall Clean Up

It's that time again when I've become overwhelmed with clutter. Throwing out a lot of stuff but it didn't seem quite right to throw away these three since they won awards. If anyone wants any of these claim them because garbage day is Friday. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

BBC Sickert vs Sargent

The movie this week is an hour long show that BBC 4 put out back in 2007.  The art critic, Waldemar Januszczak, profiles the artists John Singer Sargent and Walter Sickert. The title can be a bit misleading as a lot of people thought it was a battle between the two artists. The show actually doesn't put the two up against each other to compare the work side by side, but more or less the lifestyle and how it helped influence their work. Never does Januszczak try to say one artist is better than the other, he's simply comparing and contrasting.
The reason why I enjoyed it so much was that he touched on two things that very much interest me. With Sargent he greatly discusses the dress that Madame X wore and how it was so scandalous. To me that always intrigued me about that painting. How did he ever get away with painting a woman showing that much skin at that time? The other thing is the Patricia Cornwall book about Jack the Ripper and how she claims that Sickert was the Ripper. I remember when that book came out, I got into a seriously heated conversation with someone who believed everything Cornwall wrote about Sickert.  All of the "research" she did to come to that conclusion. Obviously I said it was a bunch of malarkey and it is, but the people in this documentary agree, the evidence is lacking.
It's a nice one hour long show that takes you around London to see where the artists worked and some really great shots of the art work.