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Archive for September, 2016

jeanneptolomyupsidedown

jorgsyrlinptolomyupsidedownWhen I bring in photographs of figures or faces to draw, my students more often than not choose to draw upside-down.  This may seem counter-intuitive.  I must have been persuasive, about three years ago, when I presented Betty Edwards’ theory and research on the subject:  when you draw something upside down, you are able to disconnect your expectations and verbal labeling, allowing your brain to go into visual.  And then–ta-tah!–you actually see.

Yes, the drawing you see here was made as you see it, upside-down, from a photo that the artist/student was looking at, also upside-down.

jorgsyrlinptolomyjeanneptolomy

This is Ptolemy with is model of rotating heavenly spheres. He is one of the many historical and mythical figures that the sculptor Jörg Syrlin the Elder (1425 – 1491) carved out of oak for the choir stalls in the Ulm Minster, around 1470.

jorgsyrlinselfHere’s the sculptor, portraying himself at the end of a row of his figures, surveys his work.  These sculptures, btw, are perfectly preserved.  1470!  Very moving.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulmer_M%C3%BCnster

Building on the Ulm Minster in Southern Germany was begun in 1399 and completed in 1890.

Drawing by Jeanne Mueller, graphite on paper, ~14″ x 11″

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/drawing-on-the-right-side-of-the-brain-by-betty-edwards/

jorgsyrlinulmmuensterAll contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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16maynobounds3d

Are you allowed to do this?

Yes, you’re allowed to do this.

But it’s not done frivolously. There’s surprise and a sense of liberation in the act of attaching found objects to the canvas.  It’s done with a sense of history, referencing Rauschenberg and Johns, for example.

16maynoboundaries

Terry Fohrman, mixed media, ~30” 24”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/found-objects/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/shapes-and-light/

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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pavement1

At a distance you see an engrossing painting in muted complimentary colors, blues and orange-browns.  If you move pavement1numbersclose to this canvas you’ll see that things are glued onto it.  At (2) there’s a distressed black rectangle with a yellow band at the bottom that has a zig-zag line on it.  At (3) the artist painted a continuation of (2).  At (1) we find a rich brown patch that is actually a piece of sand paper. At (4), some pieces of cloth and frayed canvas.

The realization that these banal objects on the canvas [(2) is some rubber that was found on the street] are used so harmoniously in the painting is thrilling to any modernist.  This juxtaposition of aesthetics and the mundane marks modernism.

Before 1912 painters did not glue anything onto their drawings or paintings. That summer in 1912, however, Georges Braque saw some fake wood grain wall paper in a store window, bought a roll and pasted strips of it into his charcoal drawings. The audacity!  You call that art!? Art was expected to emanate from some higher power and remind us of lofty ideals to live up to.  Now this!  Even Picasso was shocked.  But he immediately understood that collage was another way to subvert the ideals of the Renaissance and so, of course, he was all for it.  Thus we have the beginning of Synthetic Cubism, which gave us a new way of staying alert when looking at art and life.  Thank you, Braque!

Georges Braque (French, Argenteuil 1882–1963 Paris) Fruit Dish and Glass, Sorgues, autumn 1912 Charcoal and cut-and-pasted printed wallpaper with gouache on white laid paper; subsequently mounted on paperboard; 24 3/4 × 18 in. (62.9 × 45.7 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection (SL.17.2014.1.8) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/490612

Painting with mixed media by Terry Fohrman, oil on canvas on board, ~20” x 16”

Georges Braque 1881-1963

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/?s=picasso

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/?s=braque

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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15octpanel

That divide between the green and red fields tempts you to see a landscape with a high horizon. It’s a recurring temptation, isn’t it.  Feels so nice, ah, a 15octpanelnumberslandscape and so you stay with it and think landscapey thoughts.

Then the forms take over. The foremost shapes are the green cross, red rectangle (1) and the two circles (2) (3).   Shapes lying flat on the canvas simply destroy the landscape illusion. Good.  Now you’re sliding into an aesthetic experience. Shapes and light.

Terry Fohrman, oil on panel, 24” x 30”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/exhibit-at-ethical-humanist-society/

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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16septredunder

There are twelve people in the Mondrian group and every one of these artist/students has a different approach.  We admire each other’s work, but do our own thing. This is enormously satisfying to me.

Here’s Keven Wilder’s first painting of this fall term, oil on canvas, 36” x 36.” The under-painting is red.  The red lines were scraped in while the greens were still wet.  Making a statement by a process of subtraction is exhilarating.  You don’t see this in the reproduction or at a distance.  You have to move in close and then the red lines strike like a revelation, which, in fact, they are.

I invite you to see this saying-something-by-not-saying as a key to entering abstraction.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/treesnot/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/confetti/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/exhibit-at-ethical-humanist-society/

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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16septcharlstilllife

One of the reasons we draw from still lifes is that they are so forgiving.  A pot looks just as convincing whether you draw it fat or 16septlstilllifeskinny. Drapery can be pushed and pulled and ironed out.  This forgiveness leaves us free to experiment with the feeling of the drawing itself, feeling that comes from line quality, dynamics of light and dark, rhythm and composition.

Working from this pile of round forms and edges, the artist could have chosen to draw any passage in great detail.  He chose, instead, to draw the sweep of the whole arrangement.  It formed and arc.  As he drew from left to right, some aspects captivated him more than others and he shaded them for greater emphasis, time being 16septcharlstilllifearclimited, after all. Limited time is a good thing.  Because with more time, more details might have been filled in and we would have lost this lovely arc.  The drawing now has not only content, which anybody can get with due diligence, but also form, which comes out of a deeper crinkle of your brain. Tickling that crinkle is more than half the trick.

Charles Stern, graphite on paper, ~12” x 16”

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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16sept1

The “Mondrian Class” once again filled up this fall. After three weeks it feels like a running start and I’m trying to keep up with the blog posts about the work. Here’s the first painting this term by Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” 24.”  Makes perfect sense. Now, how can we articulate that?

For more by Bruce Boyer, see links listed at

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/untitled-xii/

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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