Friday, March 28, 2014

Westy's art class

Thank you to Mrs. Brenda Gunderson, the art teacher at Viroqua Elementary School, for having me in yesterday to chat with the 3rd graders about being an artist.

My son Westen who is in the class, was a very good sport in letting me pose him to give the kids a quick idea of what I actually do in producing a painting.

We didn't have much time but we made the most of it.

I blocked in a quick head of West then asked if any of the kids would like to come up and try it. Naturally all of them raised their hands!

Again given the little time we had, we attempted to get a few kids up.  I wasn't sure how they would respond to this and the first two children were actually a little more conservative when painting, just covering over something I had already stated.

So naturally reflecting back to my P & C days when if I was not happy with a head study I had been working on for 3 hours I would add a few self insulting touches as a reminder to myself to do better next time.  So . . . I made the comment that Westy is actually a big fan of Rudolph. I then proceeded to dab a nice red blob on his nose. That's all it took and we were off to the races.

Mustache, little devil horns, fumanchu beard, nothing like pushing their creative license. What a riot that was!

This was our turning point. :  )

Thanks again to Brenda and kids, they did a great job! I just hope I didn't damage them to much.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Thick and Thin

The more I paint the more I learn.

I realize this is a no-brainer and yet I am usually amused at what I learn day to day.

Recently I had a collector call about a painting. They inquired if it had texture or bold brush stokes, which is hard to tell on line.

I gave this some thought and remember back to the first time I saw an original Scott Christensen painting. I had seen his work in print but never an original. I assumed they were very painterly. So the first time I saw an original I was amazed at how they were very fresh, lush, and flowing and yet the paint application was held to a minimum, not thickly painted at all. I was a tad bit surprised.
This did not diminish my admiration for his work what so ever but it was a surprise.

As I look through my Russian books and marvel at their application of bold confidently painted paint I began to question my own work.

I have always admired an artist that is able to apply a stroke thick or thin as long as it was confidently placed and not mushed around. So many years of reading and admiring in person Sargent's work and his use of transparent backgrounds definitely creeps into my mind while working, and believe me I know it is always better to have a balance of both thin and thick paint.

While working on this Italian scene I was fascinated by the variances in the stairs be it color, value, and temperature and as much as I could have painted them thickly I was amazed at how they came together and stayed seated when the paint was kept thin. This allowed the linen to give them a sense of reflected light and natural qualities that I feel would have been lost with a thicker application of paint as well as the reflection of that thicker paint. Even within the light passages, the old adage of going heavy and impasto for your lights has fallen short in my eyes.
I really enjoy how much the canvas will reflect the light when it is kept thin.

With that said, I will continue to push on thicker paint when it is necessary but also appreciate the thinner passages without too much contemplation.

It may all still stem back to my watercolor days and yet maybe it is just my way of seeing the world.