Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Finding Motivation to Paint

I haven’t been motivated to do much in a while. I don’t know why it happens but every now and then I just find it hard to find the motivation to paint. I know that sometimes I feel like my work is not all that good and that there’s not enough time for me to focus on painting anyway. No matter how I feel or what I feel the only answer is to continue working. There will come a time where I will feel more inspired. I will still feel that there is not enough time to paint but it would not be a hopeless feeling, it will be a positive one, I will believe that goals are achievable and that I would be able to make the time because it is that important to me.

The important thing is to keep working in this in-between time. There are times where I find the motivation in the life around me or as I keep drawing I find it in the sketches I make or in museum visits or pouring over art books, etc. A new medium or new materials- brush, paper or a new technique, just keep going until something catches and then I’m off again.

I keep several sketchbooks. They have either different types of paper or different sizes. One of my favorites is a book of toned paper. Sometimes I would use white opaque paint or a white pencil to put in the light struck areas. Working this way I would use a black graphite pencil or black ink for the dark values; the tone of the paper as a middle value and the white for the light areas. I find working with these materials fun. The other day I stumbled on a pen I had forgotten about- a ball point pen filled with white gel ink. I used this in place of the white paint.  After several drawings I can see this pen along with the pencil and toned paper being very useful for sketching outdoors.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Art and Beauty

“Beauty is an intangible thing; cannot be fixed on the surface, and the wear and tear of old age on the body cannot defeat it. Nor will a "pretty" face make it, for "pretty" faces are often dull and empty, and beauty is never dull and it fills all spaces.”    Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Often times when I hear an artist say that they are interested in painting beauty what follows are paintings of pretty women. Though not always so, still often enough, this is the case. I find that these images don’t hold my interest.  It is not always surface beauty that moves me but images that are beautiful because I find something familiar; beauty to me seems to be the things we all share and can relate to as human beings. It can be relatable, it can be interesting, but when it’s only about pretty face‘s and buff bodies it becomes worship, an acknowledgement that these beings are better than everyone else.

 I don't try to look for subjects that are ugly nor do I try to look for subjects that are outwardly beautiful, but try to find what is interesting in the variety of people that exist. People are interesting and some of the most interesting people are hardly what society would consider beautiful or handsome.

 Socrates, who was the opposite of the Greek ideal of physical beauty, argued that his bulging eyes and snub nose are better for seeing and smelling and his thick lips better for kissing, so therefore he is indeed beautiful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

J. C. Leyendeckers Sketch Canvases

Long ago when I attended art school a friend of mine got a gift from an artist. It was a portrait sketch done in oils by our instructor. I remember he said he loved the fact that it was a sketch because it revealed to him more clearly than a finished piece how the artist was thinking. When my friend said that it immediately hit me how true his words were. To this day I continue to enjoy the sketches and preliminary works that an artist makes sometimes more so than their finished work.

 It’s not that their finished works lack for anything, it’s just that the sketches leading to the final painting seem more like a conversation, “will this work”, “ I want to try and get this just right” Or as my art teacher,(Greeny), used to say, “What If?’. What if I move this over here, what if I make this darker or lighter, or what if I add or take some element from the composition?

Among the sketches I particularly enjoyed were the sketch canvases of the illustrator Joseph Christian Leyndecker. I have always marveled at how every single brush stroke in his paintings have seemed so perfectly placed and you can see in his sketch canvases how he has worked out the details and considered the placement of every stroke of the brush.

An example of J. C. Leyendecker's finished work. He was the cover artist for the Saturday Evening Post Long before Norman Rockwell. Rockwell's hero as a matter of fact.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

American Illustrators from The Golden Age

Howard Pyle

Long ago Illustrators were the celebrity’s of their day, household names whose artwork sold magazines, books and products from household appliances to clothes to cars, in the same way that the endorsements of sports figures and actors sell products today. Now apart from Norman Rockwell the public, and a great many art students are unaware of the rich visual past that is the golden age of American Illustration.

Over the past few years there have been a steady stream of books being published about either half remembered or long forgotten illustrators. A reprint of a book on Dean Cornwell came out a few years back and a book on his mentor Harvey Dunn was published a short time ago. There was a book written about Norman Rockwell’s hero J.C. Leyendecker, also an exhibition and catalogue on the father of American illustration Howard Pyle. Robert Fawcett, known as the illustrator’s illustrator also got a book recently with a book on Albert Dorne, founder of the Famous Artist’s School, soon to come from the same publisher. Andrew Loomis’ how to draw books are finally being reprinted.

As excited as I have been about the works that have been published recently it is only scratching the surface of all the great work and artists that remain unknown or unremembered. It takes a bit of research but there is a wealth of images and information about illustrators to be found on line. There is also a great magazine that is published quarterly on American Illustration. The images I post bellow are both a wish list of the artists who I discovered in years ago while an art student along with artists whose work have been collected and printed. 

 Charles Edward Chambers

 Austin Briggs

Dean Cornwell

 Edwin Austin Abbey

 Frederic Rodrigo Gruger

Tom Lovell

Mead Schaeffer

Franklin Booth

Albert Dorne

John Gannam

Thursday, October 25, 2012

If I Had More Time...

 Some days I’m just trying to find something to work on, other days I have so many ideas and so little time.

Pre-inked Red Death Illo
Inked Red Death illo.
I want to work up these illustrations for Edgar Allen Poe’s story ‘Masque of the Red Death’. I have an idea to illustrate the story and I’ve been working up a bunch of thumbnails for it. I think since it’s my own project I’m going to give myself all the time in the world to do it as best I can.

 The Illustration on the left is the pre-inked illustration for the opening of the story. On the right is the inked version which I think I'll redo. I feel I can do a better job.

I also have a number of watercolors I want to paint but all I’ve had the time for lately is to a bunch of quick sketches. Need more time.

 Left and right, a couple of self portraits.