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Archive for March, 2015

OrangeBlue
If you want to paint fast and in layers, acrylic is your best medium. One layer of gestural splashes, as in this painting by Keren Vishny, can dry in about ten minutes. This is quite an exciting way to paint. Though it may seem careless and easy, it is neither. Working like this takes a lot of concentration. It’s like doing a dance step with the same expression but allowing slight variations as long as they fit into the expressive range. Theme and variation.
BlueOrangeAbove is the finished painting. Here on the right, the almost finished painting, where the vertical drips in the middle were felt to be too insistent, too demanding on the eye because they were uninterrupted. (Enlarge and compare to the finished work.)
The painting can fall into the category “Abstract Expressionism” and also in “All-Over Painting.” When working in this “all-over” mode, patters tend to emerge with one element assuming a starring role. As soon as one element stands out, the all-over feeling is destroyed. The artist must always stand back and see the whole.  It’s  not easy to paint this way.
Painting by Keren Vishny, acrylic on canvas, 40”x30”
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FaceHand
When we have a model in drawing class, I sometimes can’t resist and I join in for a quick study. I love drawing hands.
Stabilo Aquarellable pencil on Gloss paper.
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PurpleGreenRectanbleFinal
In this painting, the rectangular shapes were added last. They add a counterpoint to the curved forms, create planes in perspective and play on the idea of frames within frames. The most startling discovery for us in class, however, was the fact that the purple square PurpleGreenRectanbleFinalLettersbecame green as it crossed the purple field. (This is barely perceptible in the small image here.)
The color of the line did not change, but our perception changed. The line (L) became green (G) because the purple of the line was cooler, i.e. more blue, than the warm, reddish purple of the field(F).
We don’t see a patch of color absolutely. We see it in relation to what’s next to it.
The authority on how we see color is Josef Albers (1888-1976), who was born in Germany, taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin, emigrated to the US and taught at the Black Mountain School in North Carolina.

JosefAlbers1

For an excellent overview of his work and dazzling examples of how color fools us, see http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/08/16/interaction-of-color-josef-albers-50th-anniversary/

JosefAlbers2
Painting by Michael Quoss, oil on canvas, 30”x40”.
Josef Albers, two examples from his book, “Interaction of Color.” 1963
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PicassoHead
It’s not really a triptych, it’s one painting. But there are prominent vertical lines that suggest a division into three parts.
Altar pieces in the Middle Ages often took the form of a triptych, where the center panel was larger and depicted the main theological message. In this painting, however, the center “panel” is rather vacant. It has the least detail. It leaves you peaceful and open to possibilities. Your eye is drawn to the edges, where the action is and this keeps you jumpin’, as they say in jazz.
picassoShadowAt the top left there’s a circular form, a sort of blue balloon atop a narrow black “stem.” Of course, we associate this to a human head. The artist’s intention was to balance the  disk in the lower right corner. But in the upper part of a painting such a round shape (especially on a “stem”) will trigger the human association. Once we have that, we can even find legs in the painting.
This reminded me of the games Picasso plays.
Painting by Michael Quoss, oil on canvas, 30”x40”.
Pablo Picasso, “The Shadow,” 1953.
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15StripesRibbon
What the artist saw was a ball and a ribbon. A ball and a ribbon can make an interesting drawing, but the challenge with a still life like that is inevitably the “background.” There’s no such thing as “background.” That’s a modernist credo and I uphold it. In the modernist sensibility, every square inch of the painting or drawing has to hold the viewer’s interest. What to do? You invent. Maggy Shell invented the stripes.
She could have invented a wall paper of polka dots or hibiscus with hummingbirds. Why are stripes a good, possibly the best, choice? Because the stripes present a variation on the ribbon motif which is the largest part of the still life. What we get, therefore, is a theme-and-variation–always engaging, in whatever art form we find it: music, poetry, storytelling, painting, drawing, sculpture. This invention takes the drawing out of the category  “illustration” and makes it art.
Drawing by Maggy Shell, charcoal, ~14 x 18.
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More Edgy

In the last post I said, “Up is very satisfying.” Let’s test that by flipping the drawing.

Jan2015StripesBallsFlip
Hmmm. Doesn’t this view lack the tranquility of the original? It’s edgy, isn’t it. Interesting, but here we tend to land on the stripes, which are disjointed, broken and, well, edgy.

The more  I look at this, the more I like it.  It feels more complex than the original, more modern.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/compositional-drama/
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Jan2015StripesBalls
There was only one ball in the still life setup. The artist invented the other two. The background consisted of studio clutter: easels, sink, shelves with stuff. The artist invented that vertically textured dark wall. In other words, all she actually saw was a crumpled up cloth with stripes and one spherical object. Cloth-and-sphere can make an interesting composition in itself, granted. But the artist pushed the composition to greater dramatic heights.

Jan2015StripesBallsNumbers
Notice how the  compulsion to focus on the spheres (2) is offset by the maze-like graphic of the stripes (1). Your eye is attracted to both and your attention moves between 1 and 2. But the dominant direction of your attention will be up, left-right, towards the spheres. Up is very satisfying. You are encouraged to land on the sphere at 2 by the sloping of the dark background towards 2 and the upward edge of the cloth, which also leads to 2. Brilliant. Hey, it’s art.
Drawing by Maggy Shell, charcoal, ~14 x 18.

(As happens so often, I neglected to take a shot of the actual still life set up. Maggy had a bigger pile of objects to look at but found only the striped cloth and the ball interesting. Selecting what to draw is a big part of the work.)
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