May
12
2010

Looking at art in Person by Valerie (Valry) Drake

 

Have you ever seen a Picasso in person? WOW! I saw one recently and was absolutely mesmerized. There is so much about it that you just do not see from books or online representations. For one thing there was SO MUCH texture! Some areas were almost smooth and others had a LOT of impasto. It gave a whole new aspect of depth to the painting. Another thing I noticed was that there were areas of canvas that had NO paint. Now I don't know about you, but I just do not have anywhere near that much confidence. If I have a piece of bare canvas showing through I figure I just have not done it right and I dive right back in there with my brush and muck around and, first thing I know, I have muddy edges. Not Picasso, he just left that little blank spot and didn't mess with it.

Then there was The Goldsmith by Rembrandt that I saw in Chicago. I had seen this work in a book or online or something so I recognized it but it absolutely stunned me. This thing is only a couple of inches tall! And it is absolutely exquisite - the detail, the expression, the pose – intimate and loving and a total story. I have done some miniatures, but I will NEVER achieve such perfection. It was humbling.

I sat in front of a Monet for who knows how long trying to absorb those colors and the shading. It is just totally impossible for any reproduction to accurately reproduce the richness of the original.

O'Keefe is amazing. Did you know that she did not mix her colors on the canvas? She planned it all out ahead of time, what colors and where and then she pre-mixed every shade before she started painting! The Georgia O'Keefe museum in Santa Fe has some of her preliminary drawings and I realized how much planning and care she put into her work before she ever got near the canvas. Such discipline!

If you are like me you do not have large, unoccupied chunks of time to visit the museums. A lot of my studying the old masters is done on-line in the middle of sleepless nights. But every time I go to a museum I learn so much about art, so much that I do not think could be learned in any other way.

p.s. - My museum kit now includes: a folding stool that is easy for me to carry (there is not always a seat in front of the painting that I want to spend time absorbing), my camera (with a no-flash option) and a tripod (without a flash there is no way I can hold it steady enough to get the shot), and a sketch pad and pencil for notes and quick sketches - or take-my-time sketches.
May
12
2010

Painting Inspiration by Wilson Bickford

 


I'm very often asked, "How do you get the inspiration or ideas for all of your paintings?"

The truth is that I'm not really sure. Inspiration is one of those things that you don't always see coming and can be triggered by just about anything.
Every artist has subjects which are of particular interest and appeal.
For Monet, it was his water lilies. Van Gogh had a penchant for hay fields.
That's not to say that these subjects were all they painted, but they appear to have held a certain fascination for them, as they rendered them so frequently.

For me, I'd have to say that my favorite subjects are birds and old barns.
I don't know why exactly, but I never tire of those themes.

Now having said that, I also love doing landscapes, still life and florals.
I have found that as the years went by, the scope of my artistic focus has broadened. There are very few things that I don't enjoy painting. Each and every subject has its own challenges, which is an invitation to test yourself and your skills. As an artist, the only way to improve is to keep going a little farther each time you pick up a brush. I've heard the phrase, "You have to go out on the limb, because that's where the fruit is." That is the truest statement I've ever heard, whether in regards to art or just life in general.
As for true inspiration, it's all around us. Keep your eyes open and you'll know when something grabs you. Inspiration simply means that something has struck a chord within you and you feel "connected" to it to the point that you want to capture it on paper or canvas. (Or perhaps with clay, for you sculptors.)

It can be something as dramatic as a spectacular sunset, or as simple as the soft shadows on flower petals. As I've already said, you won't always see it coming, but you'll feel it when it does arrive.
It can knock on your door at any time and that is what makes art such an unpredictable pleasure.

www.wilsonbickford.com
May
12
2010

Art is a Universal Language by Deb Bartos

In addition to being an artist (a painter of oils and watercolors) I am a nursing instructor.
I love teaching. I love learning. I love caring and teaching others new skills in caring.

I also believe that every profession (and every life) has 2 sides. There is an art and a science to everything. The science is doing things right (left-brain.) The art is doing things well (right brain.) Every painting, every snowflake, every person, is a unique individual. Every situation is unique, and deserves our unbiased attention in the moment. Just because you know someone with a similar disease or problem doesn't mean you can turn off your right brain and treat them the same as the situation you already know. Just because you have painted a landscape before doesn't mean you can put your brain on automatic pilot. This is not just too easy; it's not honest to yourself or anyone else.

I had a wonderful mentor years ago in a nursing preceptor program at a community hospital. He was an internal medicine physician who had practiced for many years. In spite of all of the new diagnostic tests, computer-age information, etc., his urgent message was "90% of the information you need, you will get from listening to the patient and their history." Listen and learn. In this age of computerized diagnostic testing and infinite knowledge on the internet, it is too easy to think we, the (medical) professionals, know everything. How awful that would be if it were true. Labels do not convey understanding or knowledge; they are just categories and boxes. Sometimes useful, sometimes they are not.

The world needs creative solutions now as always. Artists learn to be creative, it is a skill that can be developed like any other. Creative thinking and critical decision-making skills are important in any profession. Self-discipline and self-expression are important skills for anyone who wants to accomplish anything good or new in life. Practicing an art form gives you this experience.

Robert Henri in "The Art Spirit" says, "Art when really understood is the province of every human being. It is simply a question of doing things, anything well." His book is timeless and his words from 1923 are inspiring. I recommend it to anyone who wants to live an artful life.

I tell my students that their education is self-directed. They need to ask the right questions at the time they need the answers. It is an on-going, life-long process. As Robert de Niro, as a patient (and a mentor) says to Robin Williams (who is playing Dr. Saks in the movie "Awakenings") says, "Learn, learn, learn, learn. Learn!"

My response to comments that I think "outside the box" has always been "what box?"
There is life outside the box when you learn to color outside the lines. Like Nike says, "Just do it!" and then you will be one of us. You will be an artist in the best sense. You will be living your own best life. Whatever you do!

www.yessy.com/debbiebartos


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