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Showing posts from May, 2011
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Mountain scape, photoshop.
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JEFFREY CATHERINE JONES (1944-2011)

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Jeffrey Catherine Jones struggled with battles that other painters never had to face.  His fragile nervous system supported his great talent the way-- in the words of Bob Dylan-- a mattress balances on a bottle of wine.


As a boy, I loved the beauty and elegance of Jones' work but I didn't understand the true scope of his achievement. It was only after I made contact with him later in life that I began to appreciate the demands that his personal chemistry placed on his courage.



In what should have been his most productive years, Jones was stalked by the Great Sadness.  His goals became more complex:
The goal was to somehow survive until morning while working my way ever upwards toward the coming morning light and the safety of the surface. I moved steadily, avoiding as much as possible, the swaying, reaching dead and the slabs of torn bologna spinning through the air.
Jones responded to his challenges with great valor.  In his life, he created some glorious work at gre…
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Renaissance Faire Folk.
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ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 36

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I like the combination of power and sensitivity in this lovely drawing by Kent Williams.


His composition is fearless; look at how boldly he plants that figure in the center of the page, perfectly balanced as if by a Zen master.  No need to hedge his bets with wispy lines implying a background.  His primeval "L" shape is a design so basic and timeless it might as well have been etched into a cave wall.

Yet, the strength of his design doesn't undermine the subtlety of his drawing.

Williams' shading starts our eyes at the model's face, but the shading is soon softened by gouache as we travel down her body.  The shading disappears altogether where her sparsely drawn toes form a  peninsula with his signature.


Williams' sensitive line displays the kind of clarity that only comes with genuine knowledge of the human form.



Artists have been drawing the human form since the world was new.  There is certainly nothing shockingly original about this basic pose.  Isn't it …

"BACKGROUND" IS ONLY A TEMPORARY CONDITION

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Is there such a thing as background?  Or is everything really foreground?


Illustrator Robert Heindel once said about his hero Bernie Fuchs, "Look at the things he does.  Who else would paint a tree with the sun behind it?  I would never attempt it."


But a painting of a tree with the sun behind it is also a painting of the sun with a tree in front of it.  Your eye has no choice but to start with either tree or sun, but truth shimmers back and forth between them.




Winslow Homer understood this well: that the distinction between tree and sun, and between foreground and background, and between me and you, is obliterated in the fullness of time:







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A painting from my "Painting in Gouache" class.
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ARTISTS AT WAR, part 3

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In September 1940 Hitler began his blitz campaign of dropping incendiary bombs on the major population centers of Britain, hoping to burn the civilians into submission. Night after night for months, London was set aflame. After a particularly vicious bombing run on December 29, Winston Churchill ruefully cabled Franklin Roosevelt, "They burned a large part of the city of London last night."        

Citizens risked their lives to form auxiliary fire brigades in an effort to douse the flames and save as many homes, factories and lives as possible.  A number of the firemen caught in the inferno felt compelled to record their trauma in art.

The painting above is by a fireman whose comrades were rushing with sand buckets to put out an incendiary. The painting below is by fireman / artist Leonard Rosoman who witnessed two firemen buried under a collapsing wall of red hot brick.  One of the two firemen had just relieved Rosoman who had been holding that hose moments before.


These…

Composition Workshop! Saturday May 14

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The skills of drawing and color are critically important and yet they don't find their full expression until they're teamed with a strong composition. If you're going to make a great picture you have to have a great composition.
That will be our topic of study for this years composition workshop on Saturday, May 14, 12-8pm. So whether you're a landscape painter, figurative or entertainment artist, if you're in the LA area I'd love to see you there.To enroll contact the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art at 877-695-2232. Their site is www.laafa.org. Read on for an overview:


Composition: design for dynamic picture making:
Slideshow presentation and lecture, 12-3pm: Lectures on the fundamentals of effective picture making. Discussions on the creation of mood and environment. Principles for organizing complex scenes into pleasing arrangements. Strategies for solving compositional p…

ARTISTS IN LOVE, part 18

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It's difficult to think of an artist, or a human being, who made a bigger, noisier mess of his love life than Augustus John.

Raised in a strict religious home, he rebelled with a life of free love and anarchy.  He proudly crowed, "Without much thought I act on the impulse of the moment."

John impetuously eloped with a fellow art student, Ida Nettleship, but shortly after they were married he began courting a second art student, Dorelia McNeill.  While Ida sat home tending to their new baby, John was pleading with Dorelia to pose for him in the nude ("Why not sit for me in your soft skin, and no other clothes-- Are you ashamed?  Nonsense!  It's not as if you were very fat.").

Ida gradually accepted that in order to hang onto her husband, she would have to consent to living in a menage a trois with Dorelia.  When Dorelia remained unconvinced, John enlisted his sister, Gwen (who was also Dorelia's art teacher) to write a remarkable letter urging Dorelia to …