Painting in Your Own Backyard by Deb Bartos

This sounds like something you would do if you were three and your mother was hanging clothes on the line.  It is really excellent art education advice.  Ordinary and mundane objects can be the best subjects ever.  An added advantage is not wasting time or money on the commute to painting expeditions.

Consider the impressionists and what they painted.  Their subjects were their families, each other, a table set for lunch, a vase of flowers.  OK, there was Renoir and the women and Degas and the ballet dancers, but they generally painted every day life.  Impressionism was just a phrase coined by an art critic who said they were not finished paintings, but “impressions.” He saw them as rough sketches instead of the smooth blended strokes of Salon and Academy paintings.  The artists who exhibited their work together and were eventually called “The Impressionists” were interested in capturing the everyday moments that mattered to them.

I always think I’ll paint if I travel, as there will be subjects to inspire me.  Truthfully, I’m inspired to paint when I start painting something.  It gets more interesting the more I pay attention.  When I travel, I am captivated by eye candy everywhere and can’t stand still long enough to paint. I have to go see everything there is to see.

Walking down Santa Fe’s Canyon Road with a photographer friend, she asked me to stop as she just had to shoot something.  It was a cigarette butt.  I got a good laugh and a good reminder of “beauty in the eye of the beholder.”  It was a stunning composition with great color and background design. I would have never seen it otherwise, as I was too busy looking at the wonderful architecture and art in abundance there.

Another artist friend received instruction in an art class to “find something ugly and paint it beautifully.”  This is an interesting idea, and an even more interesting value judgment. What makes something ugly or beautiful? How do we as artists decide what to paint and how? What do we see and invite others to look at?

Art has endless possibilities. There are always enough subjects to go around, and painting from life is more challenging and real than painting from reference photos. You can get away with it if you do both, but life is the best! It is warm outside and summer in most places so even better! Enjoy, and keep on painting!

Poppy Passion 9 x 12 oil by Deb Bartos ©2010                 Backyard Poppies 8 x 10 oil by Deb Bartos©2010



Paintings Paint Themselves by Valerie (Valry) Drake

At least in my dreams they do. Vibrant slashes of brilliant hues dance across the canvas. Big wide paintbrushes dip into soft, buttery mounds of paint on huge pallets and then lift and float to add to the beauty. Sometimes I can actually see the paintings in progress. Other times I only see paintbrushes and paints. Bright peacock blue on the brush, the brush meets the canvas and gently bends, the bristles curve, the brush moves along the canvas leaving a bold trail behind. And I can smell the paint, the rich aroma of oil paint and mediums, cleaners and varnishes. Then there is the feel of the soft cotton rag in my left hand, open to receive the brush with paint residue still on the bristles, my fingers close around it and wipe the paint off. Feel the dampness of the paint that now stains the rag, the slight bulge of the paint globules now contained in the rag – the rag which becomes a thing of beauty in itself. I turn the rag in my hand waiting for the next visit from the brush. Then the brush returns to the pallet and dives into a mound of crimson. Sometimes instead of a brush there is a painting knife, its sharp edge scraping across the canvas: scritch, scritch, scritch – blending and squishing, scraping and gouging – vigorous and decisive. So many rich sensations. I wake with my brain itching and my fingers twitching. Ah! The joy of being an artist!






Last night I went to go see "Exit Through the Gift Shop."  A friend recommended the film and I saw the reviews.  I knew I would love it but I never guessed how inspiring and thought provoking the film would be.  It is the story of Thierry Guetta, an eccentric French "film maker" who befriended and filmed some of the most famous and elusive street artists.  Beginning this journey by following his cousin, Invader, he traveled the world following such amazing artits as Shepard Fairey, Neckface, and Swoon.  His filming spans over a decade and we learn of his obsession with finding the infamous Banksy!  Much to his suprise, and completely by chance, he does get his wish.  And slowly but surely, he gains Banksy's trust and friendship.

I can only imagine how inspiring it must have been to follow all of these prolific artists and how much it would make anyone want to do what they do.  Well, after a scary attempt at putting thousands of hours of footage into a 90 minute film, Banksy sent him on his way back to Los Angeles to "do some art" while he edited the footage himself.  After six months of what one can only compare to Warhol's Factory, Thierry (now Mr. Brainwash) set out to have the biggest street artist show which he called "Life is Beautiful." 

Half of this film is an amazing documentary of the unseen underground world of outsider art, but then we really learn what Banksy had to say with the making of this film. 

Mr Brainwash was never an artist.  He was the equivalent of a tag artist groupie.  Taking from other artists and conceptualizing his piece, he handed off his ideas to hired artists who created his work.  With his amazing, LITERALLY OVERNIGHT SUCCESS, it begs to ask the infamous question: what is art?  And what makes someone an artist? Is it internal or the external world (art collectors, gallery owners, etc) that decide who is an artist and who is not? 

Leaving this film inspired me to create and truly sit down and think why I paint what I paint.  Why do I paint at all?  I paint in oil but all I wanted to do was grab some Montana GOLD and a stencil and find a wall!

Is Mr Brainwash an insult to artists who have been working for years (decades even) to become the artist they are now?  Is he an insult to art collectors and dealers?  Is he completely insane or a total genius? On the car ride home, there was a debate and the wheels in my head just kept on spinning.  Each question lead to another question instead of an answer.  But it was not frustrating.  It is what art is about. Banksy created something amazing here and for that I thank him.  As for Mr Brainwash...well...I guess I'll have to let that thought marinate a little longer.



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