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Showing posts from May, 2012

The Watercolor Rules

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I never liked adhering to rules about making what some people call pure or true watercolor. That is the surfaces that you are required to work on and using only transparent watercolor without adding opaque white paint (body color) or any other opaque colors (gouache) to make corrections. They have these rules even though great watercolorists who they name as examples used opaque paints and body color in their work- Turner, Sargent, Homer.  
Durer made fantastic watercolor studies that were actually painted in gouache. Gouache is watercolor, just not transparent watercolor. I would be more concerned with making a great painting no matter what the medium. I really don't understand why people make rules for the medium- you can wind up with a great watercolor but a lousy piece of art or the other way around. I remember someone told me that they didn't consider a gouache painting serious art because it reminded them of the poster paint kids use in school! What would that person thin…

The Student Teacher

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“You are always the student in a one-person art school. You are also the teacher of that class.” Irwin Greenberg

“Don’t hoard your knowledge, share it.” Irwin Greenberg

A little while back I was browsing through the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan. They sell a lot of used and out of print books and have a great selection of art books. I have been browsing the store since High School when I h was a student of Irwin Greenberg, (Greeny). He gave me my first real art book and encouraged me to buy a book on John Singer Sargent that had just come out- the beginning of my book collection.

I came across an out of print book by James Fletcher Watson, an watercolorist whose work I was curious about. When I opened the book the first thing I saw was Greeny’s name on the upper right corner of the page, (Greeny had the habit of writing his name on all the books he owned). I immediately bought the book. I was thrilled to have a book he once owned by someone who influenced his work which in turn influen…

Copying and Experiencing Art

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I love working from life. I like going out doors and painting or drawing, sketching in the subway, etc. I also work from photos and from imagination. I read an artist comment that anything other than working from imagination is merely copying. I disagree.

Working from nature is an experience and an opportunity to add visual information to that mental library where your imagination draws from. When you work from life you decide what and how much information you need for your image. You add, subtract, rearrange, reinterpret the information before your eyes to convey what you find interesting about it. If you strive to explain in paint, or whatever medium the thing that you find interesting about your subject then I can't see how that can ever be copying.

I can see how working from photos can becoming copying unless you apply the same method of decision making you do in life drawing, extracting and subtracting the information you need for your image. In the end its the image that mat…

Reworking and Improving

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I remember when I was in Irwin Greenberg's class in the High School of Art and Design he told a story of an illustrator who was challenged by his art director to do a particular piece over again several times. After reworking his illustration again and again he saw how the piece had improved, he had learned from each one and knew better what to do as he progressed. The latest version was better than the last.

Its a lot of work to invest so much time energy and care into one painting and continue to redo it hoping to improve on the previous version.

The painting on the upper left is the first sketch I did of this figure. Initially I had no idea how I was going to paint his face. Not happy with this painting I painted the next one posted bellow it. Felt better about this one so I moved on to paint the rest of the figure in the next painting.

These piece's are studies for a larger painting with another figure to be added so I will be reworking this yet again. There is a great ben…