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Showing posts from October, 2007

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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This is something I did for my head painting class way back when I was studying at Art Center in Pasadena. I remember this one fondly because after several completely disastrous paintings, I finally started to understand how to control color and value.
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ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 14

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This beautiful drawing was done in 1915 by Rudolph Schindler, an architect in Taos, New Mexico. It was part of a proposal for an adobe home for a local doctor, Paul Martin.



This is a museum quality drawing, but it was far too useful to hang in a museum.


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EDWARD HOPPER'S VERSION OF THE INTERNET

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Edward Hopper loved to ride the elevated train through the city at night. As the apartment buildings raced by in the dark, he would catch flashes of unearned intimacy: lonely people staring at the walls... desperate couples... people whose privacy was protected only by their anonymity.





Sometimes I think that artists, like philosophers, are keyhole peepers at heart. They are observers, once-removed from the primacy of experience by the burden of consciousness.





If Hopper lived today, he might get the same glimpses of humanity from Google. He could access an endless supply of private moments, intimate photographs, agonizing diary entries and personal confessions, efficiently organized and served up with the speed of an electrical pulse. He could download and catalogue them without ever leaving his chair.
But art calls for a little less information and a little more rumination. Or, as Carl Sandburg said, poetry is "the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to gu…
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This is a place I visited last Christmas, north of the Great Salt Lake. As always, more travel sketches can be seen at the land sketch link.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF A FRAME

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There's only one thing that all art has in common: a frame.

The frame may be made of metal or wood or it may be purely conceptual, but it is a perimeter that defines where the art ends and the rest of the world begins. No matter how outlandish or varied the art is, no matter whether it is an antique painting or the latest performance art, it is always framed by a boundary that separates the art from the rest of the natural world.

It's pretty easy to locate the borders of a work of art if it's on a piece of paper or canvas. However, some artists provoke their audience to think by playing tricks with the location of that border. The great Saul Steinberg jumped off the paper and created illusions, drawing on a bathtub:


or a box:

The clever artist Peter Callesen escapes the bonds of the page another way:


Even the art of Andy Goldsworthy, who makes temporary sculptures in nature using all natural materials, depends on his framing a space where he makes aesthetic choices and alters …
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Nightscape
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ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part thirteen

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The illustrator Bernie Fuchs erased this lovely drawing in 1964


1964 was the beginning of an era of bold experimentation in the United States. The Beatles and Bob Dylan were revolutionizing popular music; Martin Luther King won the Nobel prize as the civil rights movement gained momentum; humans were orbiting the earth and headed for the moon; Cassius Clay became the heavyweight champ and changed his name to Muhammad Ali; clothing and hair styles became adventurous; and all across America, students began protesting the war in Vietnam and experimenting with meditation or mind expanding psychedelic drugs.
In this climate, Look magazine commissioned Fuchs to create portraits of the leading civil rights leaders of the day. Fuchs began with the sensitive pencil portrait above. Then he paused, erased the drawing and turned the illustration board upside down. Starting fresh, he selected a large crayon and used slashing purple lines to come up with this much larger and bolder version:



You can s…

NOT ALL THE GOLD IN THE VAULT CAN SMILE LIKE THE NIGHT-WATCHMAN'S DAUGHTER

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Sounds like an improvement to me.

(Quote in title is a paraphrase from Walt Whitman's poem, A Song for Occupations)

ARTISTS IN LOVE, part twelve

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Pierre Bonnard was a part time law student and a part time painter. A man of diverse interests and little focus, he also considered a career as an interior decorator, or possibly a set designer. But mostly he enjoyed an active social life, spending much of his time at the theatre or chatting with friends at the cafes.

Then one day Pierre saw a striking young woman getting off a trolley. He followed her to a small shop where she worked stringing beads on wreaths. Friends later described Marthe de Moligny as a "washed out Ophelia type...unstable and eccentric and morose." But Bonnard saw something special in her and persuaded her to leave the shop to become his model, his mistress, and ultimately his wife.

Pierre and Marthe were two very different people. They quarreled bitterly at first. Pierre was unfaithful to Marthe. Marthe was melancholy, a reclusive hypochondriac and a scold. When Pierre invited his friends over, Marthe would slam the door in their faces. And yet, Pierre a…
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Another watercolor demo for my sketching class to reference. This one doesn't use any gouache, just some masking fluid to protect the white paper for the flower.
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RECOVERING THE SENSATION OF PERCEPTION

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Victor Shklovsky, who was a pretty smart guy, wrote:
Habitualization devours works, clothes, furniture, one's wife... and art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things.... The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects unfamiliar, to make forms difficult.It's easy to understand what he means when you look at these brilliant pictures by illustrator and watercolorist Winslow Homer.

If you saw a boy in the woods with dogs, your eyes would recognize the subject and move on. But aaahhh, not so fast. Look at the wonderful service Homer has performed for you:



He has made commonplace objects unfamiliar, merging the patches of color on the dogs with the patches of color on the leaves. By showing us the abstract design in the world, Homer "increased the difficulty and length of our perception."



These stray branches would not be nearly so ast…