"ART is a word which summarizes THE QUALITY OF COMMUNICATION. "
L. Ron Hubbard

Monday, December 09, 2013

Cadmium is very expensive but worth it in some instances.

For some time, since I have been teaching beginning to intermediate art students and wanted to make the process of buying colors less painful, I have omitted cadmium reds and cadmium yellows from my palette. These are traditional colors, made from ground pigments (minerals) and their cost is in part due to the difficulty of obtaining the pigments. But I attended a plein air workshop this fall where the teacher insisted that we have cadmium red medium and cadmium yellow on our palette.

And I found something very interesting. they are opaque colors. Because of this, the visual message that they send to the view is very strong.

If you are painting yellow flowers in a green field and you DON'T have cadmium yellow on your palette, you have to find a work-around to the fact that nearly all yellows are transparent. So if you paint yellow over green, you will find that the yellow is overpowered by the green behind it.

So it may be a good idea to purchase the cadmiums but use sparingly. And, of course, shop around. paints sold in retail art supply stores are often 2 times the price as on line.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October 2013 is a busy time for shows!



August 27 – October 6, 2013: Group show by League of Reston Artists at Unitarian Universalist Church on Wiehle Avenue. I showed Great Falls, 2006, Beauty Spot 2, and Path, Riverbend (Limited Palette).

September, 2013: Reston’s Multicultural Exhibit (“Art Mirrors Culture”) at Lake Anne. I submitted Fisher Boats Unloading, Pine and Station Herndon, and Universal Liquor DC

October 1-28: at Reston Community Center Lake Anne, Show: “artReston”. I have three paintings entered: Orange Trees, Lake Fairfax Park, Waiting—Model in Black. (variable hours due to meetings in gallery room.)

October 1 – November 3, 2013: Portrait show at ArtSpace Herndon. Hours as posted on web. I’m showing “Cellist.”

October 4-6, 2013: 70th Annual Waterford Exhibit in the Red Barn. I am showing Carousel at Glen Echo, Great Falls in Early Spring, and 20 shrink-wrapped works in the Art Mart, ranging from $40 to $350.

 October 5-20, 2013: “Art @ the Mill”, 3 Tannery Lane, Millwood VA (hours?) Hanging: June Morning, Riverbend and Lucketts’ Antiques, with Mute Swan with Reflaction and Bouquet and lemon in reserve.

October 12, 2013 – January 11, 2014: “Small Wonders at Parkridge 5, 10780 Parkridge Blvd, Reston VA, open during business hours in main floor corridor. Small works (under 12” by 12”) by local artists. I’m showing 4 paintings.

October 19-20, 2013 – 10-5: “Art @ The Park”, 600 Quiet Waters Park Rd, Annapolis MD 21403. I’m in booth 9 with 20 or more paintings.

Coming in December: I will be showcasing a selection of recent works at the Reston Association, 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston VA 20191. Hours: 8:30-4:30 Exact dates not yet known.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

What is reality, REALLY?

Every once in a while I think, as a teacher, "am I steering my students right?" With beginning students, working from "reference" materials, such as photos or even other artists paintings, there's a great emphasis on correctly duplicating what is there.

It is important that the artist have sufficient confidence in his or her ability to duplicate, whether it be a photo or a live still life or figure.

But it's not the end-all and be-all. A work of art is not a copy. Long ago I was impressed by the idea that, if you sit 5 students in the same room painting from the same still life, you're going to get 5 different still lifes.


Let's take a painting recently done by student Greg Pirio. Greg "interpreted" the scene of a fisherman (shown in the resource photo below) and in so doing, came up with a painting that is very bright and alive. Much livelier, in fact, than "reality."






Thursday, August 29, 2013

Glen Echo Labor Day Weekend



Glen Echo Labor Day Weekend: I have two paintings in the student show: Glen Echo View and Carousel at Glen Echo. These were both "plein air" (on site) oils paintings with some finishing later in the studio. 
Glen Echo View, 8 x 10, oil

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Technical Info for Oil and Acrylic Painters

Winsor and Newton has a collection of videos on this link which explain various mediums for oil painters and acrylic painters.

One of the mediums discussed is Liquin (for Oils) which I've used for years instead of one of the "traditional" oil-plus-turpentine-plus-dryer mediums. Liquin dries in about 1/2 the time of traditional oil used alone. Since students have repeatedly asked about Liquin, I offer this as a helpful link.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Red

Uhaul by Coulter

Regarding both oils and acrylics, the degree of opacity or transparency may be very important to the effect you can create. For instance, most of the "new" synthetic colors, which can be identified by their unfamiliar names (such as quinacridone, napthol and hansa) are more or less transparent. They also tend to be quite a bit less expensive than the traditional organic colors, such as the cadmiums.

Not realizing this, for a number of years I bought the synthetics. They look as bright. But in the case of Red (for example) they don't cover as well as Cadmium and they interact with other colors differently when blending.

The jury is still out on this point. However, you (as artist) should be aware of the differences and perhaps allow yourself some of the more expensive colors (such as Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt, etc.) for use when the brilliance of the color is important.

Some of the traditional colors, on the other hand, like Alizarin Crimson, were manufactured from plant dyes and are notoriously "fugitive" (they fade.) Alizarin Crimson has been replaced by Alizarin Crimson Permanent (which I don't find as delicious a color as the original). I buy instead, Quinacridone Rose, or Magenta.

I did not intend this to be a lengthy post, but I've been holding off for a long time, so you get an extensive regurgitation. There's a terrific book, if you like to read about this kind of thing, called Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay. It's well written but is dense text. If you're more into experimenting then reading, I suggest you experiment with differences in Cadmium Red Medium and other warm reds in that band of the color wheel. Cheers.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Delicate pinks

Flower by Matt Courtney
This lovely painting (Flower) by Matt Courtney, one of my students, is notable for the careful rendition of delicate pink in the flower. Matt probably used Permanent Rose, a better choice than Alizarin Crimson for this particular pink. Setting it against the dark and underplayed background also helps. The camera used unfortunately doesn't capture some of the nuance of the original painting. Well done, Matt. Here's a link to his web page.

As part of the basic color-biased palette, I have been recommending that students include Alizarin Crimson (a cool red) or Magenta. But you might consider trying Permanent Rose for variety.

Some comparison of different cool reds.
Quinacridone Magenta

Alizarin Crimson

Permanent Rose Quinacridone

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What is success as an artist?


The following are just some musings on "success" as an artist. We tend to define success in this world by money. How much money do you make from your profession? Based on that perception (or conception) many visual artists would feel they were not a success. This is not just a modern day phenomenon. I was surprised recently on reading that many of the well-known French impressionists had financial difficulty throughout their lives. Or, if they were financially secure, it was not as a result of their art.

Edouard Manet — the oldest of the original group —came from wealth. His mother was related to the Emperor and Manet maintained his contacts in the leading circles.

Degas came from the same social background as Manet and was not poor.
Morisot — Refuge in Normandy
Berthe  Morisot married Manet’s younger brother and thus had the financial security to pursue her painting career. After her husband died, she continued to paint but was never commercially successful in her lifetime. However, she did outsell several of her fellow artists, including Monet, Renoir, and Sisley. She painted one of the first “impressionist” paintings, called “Refuge in Normandy.” 

Alfred Sisley came from a prosperous house and was able to follow an artistic career without any worries. In fact, he seems to have helped some of his poorer artist friends when they were in critical situations.

Because Impressionism wasn’t considered an important style at the time (mid to late 1800s), many of the so-called Impressionists who didn’t come from a wealthy background suffered severe financial hardship.

Camille Pissarro made almost no money, yet he had a family to support. He never found a rich patron.

Monet had financial difficulties as a young artist to such an extent that his wife died of an abortion attempt when pregnant with their fifth child. (She tried to abort because she felt that they couldn't support another child.) Later, in life, he had patrons and seems to have done well. 

Paul Cezanne came from a wealthy family but had serious financial difficulties for years because he was afraid of admitting his love of art and somewhat illegal living conditions to his father. (He later inherited, but by then was well-known as a painter. 

Auguste Renoir came from a very poor family and was in difficult financial straits until about the age of 36. 

I have embedded Morisot's "Refuge in Normandy" in the above blog just to show you another concept of success. We have a badly mixed up world. People with professions (or scams) that don’t really contribute to the survival of mankind often pull down extraordinary amounts of money. While artists of all kinds not infrequently either take a “day job” to supply the necessities of life or give up their passion for art entirely. And yet, it is art that contributes beauty and meaning to life. 

Note. Material for this post was taken from several websites which I reference here as (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Admiration is the artist's pay

Bouquet and Lemon by Coulter
I recently participated in 2 shows, one a 1-person show (mine) at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston (32 paintings) and one a 3-person show in which I had 20 paintings at the Rose Gallery in Reston. So there were two receptions. For an "artist's reception", the artist invites guests and provides a spread and hopes that some interest and — yes — sales of work will result. So when there are no sales, or the turnout is meager (one of the receptions was admittedly held on a record-hot day when the News told people to stay home), it can be a little depressing. (Oops. We don't use the word depressing anymore. You can feel the pointy ears of psychs rising alertly.)

So, anyway, I was discussing the lack of sales at the second reception with another participant and said, "well, you know, part of the artist's pay is admiration." She immediately brightened up. Well, it's true. And those of you who've admired my work (but never bought any) should feel less apologetic. I do pay attention to your admiration. It is appreciated.

But also take these words to heart:

"If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul"
- Muslihuddin Sadi,
13th Century Persian Poet

Art is an important part of your world. Art is created by artists. Artists have to survive. If we can't survive by selling our art, then we must become bankers, or bureaucrats, or engineers, or street cleaners. And if you look at the bankers bureaucrats, engineers, and street cleaners of the world, you may find frustrated artists of one kind or another.

Support your own artistic endeavors. And support artists as well as you can. Buy hyacinths for the soul.