Monday, August 28, 2017

Factory Girl


Your movie for this Monday is Factory Girl.  It's a movie about Edie Sedgwick, played by Sienna Miller, and Andy Warhol, played by Guy Pearce, and what her life was like as Andy's "muse".  I put muse in quotes because this film doesn't so much portray her as a muse, as we've all been told she was, but more of a whipping post for pretty much everyone. I just recently watched this film, like last week recently, because I don't know anyone who enjoyed this film. It turns out that maybe people didn't like this film because it shows Warhol as a huge asshole and a bit of a sadist. He really was all about himself, according to this film. It sort of makes him look like the David Koresh of the art world. Really, those two were quite similar. Mediocre talent, but had the persona to sell an umbrella to a fish. I enjoyed the movie, not all of the acting was great, but Miller and Pearce's performances saved it.
If you're interested in a little info about the Bob Dylan/NOT Bob Dylan character in the movie you can read about it here. The movie is available to stream from several places like, Youtube, Google Play and Amazon.  It was on Showtime last week so if you subscribe to that you can probably find it there. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Campbell's Soup of Art School

Marigolds 4x6 oil on panel
Sharing some more words of wisdom with you today.  These words come from a book I picked up at the Half Price Book store called, "Art School How to Paint and Draw" by Hazel Harrison.  I picked it up because it looked "elementary".  Every once in awhile the local art association asks me to give an after school class and I really enjoy doing them so I thought it might have some good ideas for kid friendly classes. Turns out it's kid friendly and anyone who wants to learn about art and the materials.  Seriously, don't judge a book by its cover. This would actually be a great book for any of those self-proclaimed "self-taught" artists as it is like a condensed version, or crash course in college art courses, or the Reader's Digest version of art school if you will. At first when I started reading it I thought to myself, this feels like work, but it occurred to me, DUH, art school was work not just goofing off like some people probably envision. The author makes you work for the lesson, lets you think for yourself and gives great examples.  Here's an excerpt from the section on watercolour. After reading the last sentence you'll see that it doesn't just apply to watercolour. 
"For some reason watercolour has attracted a more comprehensive- and often inexplicable- lists of dos and don'ts than any other medium.  People feel that there is a "correct" way of working and that any departure from this constitutes a kind of unfaithfulness to the medium.  For example, we are told that we must never use opaque white because it will spoil the lovely translucence of the colours; while good painting aids such as masking fluid are described as "mechanical" and therefore in some way immoral.  Eyebrows are raised if you try anything new-it is simply not done.  Interestingly, all these theories of correct procedure have only sprung up in this century, while the more rigid rules surrounding oil painting were the product of 18th-and 19th-century academic tradition and have since been largely abandoned. The best 19th-century watercolours, particularly those by Turner, reveal an enormous variety in the methods used, as well as many practices which might be frowned upon today.  Turner used opaque paint; he moved the paint around on the picture surface and allowed colours to run; he smudged paint with his fingers and even scratched into it in places.  In short, he used the medium as the servant of his ideas rather than the other way around."

Monday, August 21, 2017

The World's Most Expensive Stolen Paintings - Documentary


Your movie for this Monday is a documentary about stolen art. It's actually a great documentary explaining why work gets stolen and what possibly happens to it. There's some great history in here too.  I love a good mystery and one that involves art theft is even better. Like this show says, it's much more "glamorous" than just a plain old convenient store robbery.  There's a lot more James Bond type stuff involved. Casing out the place, sneaking in through windows, smoke bombs and all of the planning involved.  It's not like an art thief simply walks into the building and grabs stuff off the walls. They have to be a little smarter than that. What I found really interesting is the theory of what happens to the work.  Mobsters using the paintings as a sort of currency, like bitcoin but in oil paintings. I never would have imagined.  This is a great show, only an hour long and worth the watch. 

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.