Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wonder of Color

Today I saw a male Rufus Hummingbird.  He was a brilliant iridescent copper.  I love color.  People have argued over color for ages.. Ingres said:  "Enough of blazing color, it is anti-historical!"  The thinking of Ingres's time was that the highest form of art was historical statement....and all else was second class ( like portraits, figures, still life, landscapes, etc).  Telling a story was it!  He believed that "open color" was definitely at odds with the "high calling" of the artist.
Open color consists of two major elements:
1.  Taking the color outside the boundaries of line and form
2.  The use of color different than found in the actual motif.
To further consider the statement of Ingres, here is the thinking of Constable:  "The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth."  He believed that reality was paramount, nothing should differ from the 'true' color of something...or someone.
"Open Color" was out!!
Of course there are many other artists who did not go along with Ingres or Constable.  Like Gauguin:  "It matters not whether the haystack is yellow or purple, we shall paint it red if we wish."  He felt that there was another calling on the same level as historical statement: decoration.  In the words of Maurice Denis, " a painting should decorate."
Even today there is arguing from these two different camps: the commercial establishment saying that truth, reality, and a messsage are important.....and the fine art establishment saying that imagination, distortion, and beauty are important.  One group detested 'blazing color' the other loved it!
Why did they love color?
Delacroix said, "Color has a much more mysterious and perhaps powerful force.  It acts so to speak in spite of us."
Charles Beaudelarie explained, "It seems as if this color thinks by itself independently of the subkects which it clothes."
Van Gogh said: "I use color in an arbitrary manner to express myself strongly."
Oh!  The Wonder of Color!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Do you believe giftedness can be passed on by people?

I do.  There were three men who became very important to Michelangelo:
Ghiberti taught Donatello;
Donatello taught Verrocchio;
Bertoldo diGiovanni was taught by all three,
and it was this man, Bertoldo who became Michelangelo's mentor.

The gifts of these men were deposited to Michelangelo's account.
How about you?  What treasures have been passed on to you by gifted people?

Here is a work in progress I have been working on today:

I will be back blogging on Monday. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Calling

A student once asked Whistler: "Why are you a painter?"
Whistler answered quickly: "Because an artist has to do SOMETHING!"

Tomorrow I am sending this finished painting to Cindy Marabito, the author of , "Pit Bull Nation" and head of a rescue group called Reunion Rescue.  Every day she faces about 400 requests to save animals in dire need of rescue.  She has done this day in and day out for years, it is her calling.

We all have different callings .  Another word for calling is 'gift'.  A 'gift' is often something that comes easily to us so we are thus unfortunately often able to disregard it because initially it seems too 'easy'.  I have seen many people not embrace their gifts because it seems like no big deal that  they could do ______ (fill in the blank.... drawing, composition, singing, baseball, photography, teaching, speaking...etc).  We often think of a 'real' gift as something that others can do that we struggle with!
Evidence of a gift is usually a strong desire that will not go away.
Even though our gifts initially seem to come easy to us, for those who pursue developing their gifts they soon find that this requires absolute commitment and hard work. 
Cindy has been doing rescue work for over 12 years.  Everyday she does what she can to rescue more. Why?
It is her calling.

What is yours?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fundamentals of Art - Drawing

For me, one of the fundamentals of art is drawing.  For the most part not a day goes by that I do not draw.  I have heard many times from many people, "if only I could draw....then".  Well, you can draw - IF you are willing to pay the price required to learn.  I think this is true for most things.  Drawing for me is as fundamental as scales are for a musician, or writing is for a writer.  The best approach I have found for learning how to draw was developed by Betty Edwards.  Her book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" is exceptional and if followed will give you the ability to 'see.'  The discipline to continue drawing after completing her course is essential to develop in order to truly master line.
Here are some examples of my daily drawings:

"What is a drawing?  How does one learn it?  It is working through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.  How is one to get through that wall - since pounding against it is of no use?  One must undermine the wall and drill through it slowly and patiently, in my opinion.  And, look here, how can one continue to work assiduously without being disturbed or distracted from it - unless one reflects and regulates one's life according to principles?  And it is the same with other things as it is with art."  Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Beauty is its own excuse for being." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are many ideas and philosophies about what art actually is.  Briefly, for me, art is an expression of beauty.  I think some of the most interesting ideas about what is considered art can be found here in a book written by the Gorilla Girls.
Some of the most amazing art I have seen recently are in the area of textile arts:  quilts, slow cloths, weaving, baskets and much more.  I just finished taking an on line class with Jude Hill called Boro cloth.  I think this was the most encouraging class I have ever been in.  I also view encouragement as an expression of beauty ( in parenting and relationship theory, encouragement is considered the foundation of relationships.  Encouragement is not the same as praise, and it actually requires the use of  temporo-perietal junction and the posterior cingulated cortex of the brain to even be expressed.)
Here is a pillow I made while taking the class.  On the front I have hand painted and stitched the cloth to make the flowers.  The back of the pillow utilizes weaving and patching techniques explored in the class.
Here is the front of the pillow:

and the back of the pillow:

"We live by encouragement and die without it - slowly, sadly, angrily."   -Celeste Holm

Monday, March 21, 2011

Luna Moth

Here is a Luna Moth painting I have completed.  Luna moths can have a wing span of up to 4.5".  To draw and paint such a magical being is truly a joy.  Robert Frost said of butterflies, "But these are flowers that fly and all but sing."  What a beautiful description.

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."  ~Hans Christian Anderson

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Painting What I Love

Here is a recent painting I did of my dog Raven:

I have realized in my quest to paint 'Beauty', that for me what is Beautiful is what is Loved.  How can anything be truly beautiful unless it is loved?