May
12
2010

Why I Love the Renaissance by Heather Goldstein

 


One of my favorite painters of all time is Jan van Eyck because of his amazing attention to detail and impeccable technical ability. Jan van Eyck was a Flemish painter known for his oil paintings on wood panel in which he used a glazing technique to create realistic, extremely well executed, precise, objective descriptions of what he saw. He was one of the best Northern Renaissance painters of the 15th century. My favorite painting of his is the Arnolfini Wedding. The couple represented has been traditionally identified as Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife, Giovanna Cenami.

Why is this one of my favorite paintings? Where do I start? One of my favorite things about Renaissance art, in general, is its symbolism. A painting may be worth a thousand words, but a Renaissance painting is a epic novel! So, for our art history lesson for the day....

Giovanni Arnolfini holds his wife's right hand in his left, which symbolizes a marriage between people of different classes. The side of the room he stands on is by the window, open to the world where men work, while Giovanna is close to the domestic interior where the "woman's role" takes place being a wife and mother. The room is ruffled with religious details such as the convex mirror that has been interpreted as the all seeing eye of God and the roundels decorating it with details from the Passion of Christ.

There are crystal prayer beads on the wall, Saint Margaret (protector of women in childbirth) is carved on the chair next to the bed, the single lit candle in the chandelier could reprent Christ's presence, and the fruit in the window alludes to both fertility and possibly the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Some more symbolism:
-Discarded shoes signify the sanctity of marriage/ holy ground
-Dog represents fidelity
-The woman is not pregnant, but rather painted as the current queen who was pregnant at the time
-Red is, of course, a loaded color. It represents love and passion, but also cruelty and blood. In this painting, the former is usually used as the interpretation.

This painting has numerous interpretations and objects to interpret. I love it because every time I look at it, I find something new! But I will end with the best part of the painting... the back wall! It is believed that this painting was used as some sort of legal document, possibly a pictorial power of attorney. There are two figures painted in the mirror. One is a man in a red turban, possibly Jan van Eyck, and another unknown male. They are the witnesses to the betrothal. The final clue is the very clever signature. Above the mirror it says, "Johannes de eyck fuit hic 1434." This translates to "Jan van Eyck was here 1434." At only 33"x22.5" this painting is absolutely incredible!
May
12
2010

Three Steps to being a Better Painter in Three Months by Mike Rooney

 


Here's a three step list of things that are guaranteed to make you a better painter.
Paint.
Paint.
Paint.
There's no substitute for painting. Reading about it won't do it, watching DVDs incessantly won't do it, and taking workshops one behind the other won't do it either.

If you would challenge yourself to paint at least five times a week, i know for a fact that you'd be so much better in three months that you'd be ashamed of what you've done up to this point in your art career.

How do i know this?

Personal experience.

It started when i read a book on painting by Kevin McPherson and he stated that to get really good, you needed to do 100 "starts," which are small paintings where you block-in the scene. Finishing is not important. It's getting the big shapes in, in the proper value and color note. They should only take about 45 minutes to complete.

The rub was that you had to do it in 90 days. thats one a day and two on some days. what i learned from this was that you could see the vast improvement for yourself from #1 to #50 and then from #50 to #100. It was awe inspiring. The fringe benefit was that i learned painting discipline and to not let errands, or personal issues, or lack of inspiration derail me. I was going to do it! some days i had to do four to catch up if i HAD to take a day or two off from painting for something important.

four years later i still love to paint at least one painting everyday! and all you have to do is look at my stuff from four years ago and you'll see that painting, painting, painting is the sure-fire way to get better in a short period of time.

So go do #1 today and don't stop 'til you hit 100 three months from now! You'll be glad you did!

Take the challenge and post your work on our Flickr Page

Mike Rooney Painting Every Day
May
12
2010

Artist Statement: Sell the Sizzle by M Theresa Brown

Sizzle! That's what an artist's statement should be! It's not your biography or your story. It's about what makes you tick as an artist in your particular field. To quote Elmer Wheeler, "To sell the steak you have to sell the sizzle!"
What does that mean? Well we have observed two very relevant target areas of interest here. That of the person looking at your art or browsing your website, and that of the Gallery who is getting ready to show a few of your pieces.
When we are representing our own work, the average viewer asks predictable questions similar to: "When did you first learn that you had this talent?" or "How long have you been doing this?" To which we all answer something like "Oh, since I was a child" or "forever" or "I just started" or something along those lines. In self representation we are rarely asked what awards we have won, what galleries our work is in, or who else had bought our work. So it is easy to see why, when an opportunity arises for an artist to present or show his work in a Gallery setting, we might easily write our artist statement based on the questions that our clients ask. It makes plenty of good sense!
Save the Gallery some time and impress them by re-thinking your bland artist statement. If you are not marketing yourself, then these people are. They have to write blogs or post on Internet sites or insert a piece to the local arts calendar to market and promote you. YOU can actually do it best if you think outside the box.
Galleries also want specifics. Interestingly enough, your awards or who you studied under or who most influenced your art are of most interest to Galleries as it is their job to make you interesting to a prospect. Even if you don't have a wall of awards, the Gallery (as we were told) will "puff it up." That's their job!
As a general rule, when self promoting, your client is face to face with you and so your artist statement is, in essence, you. You are building a relationship with that client as part of your artist statement..
So how are you going to present yourself in that statement? How are you going to deliver the sizzle? Art galleries will tell you that the biggest mistakes that artists make when creating an artist's statement is make it predictable and boring. For starters, don't begin your statement with "I loved art as a child" or something to that effect. Everyone loved art as a child or started with a box of crayons! That sentence alone brings in the "ho hum" factor before the next sentence has even been read.
With that in mind, no one really wants to read a chronological history of your life leading up to your career as an artist. Use adjectives to add sizzle. Use a thesaurus to help you replace predictable words or boring phrases. There is nothing wrong with studying how another artist writes a statement but remember that you need to make it your own. What would happen if several artists decided to copy an identical statement and they all sent it to the same Gallery? Or all put it on their blogs?

Think outside the box with your artist statement. Be unpredictable but readable. Can you surprise a Gallery? You can if you back away from the standard statement and don't go all wordy and predictable. You may think that all of this is obvious but you are just one of dozens sending an artist's statement to a Gallery. Make yours the one that stands out!

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