Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My In-Between Weekends Sketches

Gouache painting done in my sketchbook

The hardest thing about starting a painting is knowing I only have a short amount of time to paint. It’s very difficult to break away from the work and go on with the rest of my day. I wish this was something I could do seven days a week.

On the week days, if I manage to get up early in the morning, (about 3 A.M.) I’ll have 3 hours in which to work before I head out for my 9 to 5. In the evening I can steal a couple of hours, but in either case it’s hard to do an oil painting or watercolor knowing I have to leave or stop soon. So during the week I try to fill that time with in between stuff. Little gouache sketches, pen and ink, pencil drawings, etc. Sometimes they may be things I want to paint latter but mostly random stuff most of which gets tossed out.

Gouache painting done in my sketchbook
This self portrait in oil I did on the weekend
The main goal of these in-between sketches is to keep me prepared for the weekend where I can devote more time to painting. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Comedy Of Art College

From a college sketchbook

I read an article recently that pointed out how useless art colleges are in turning out artist who can make a living from their art. The article was not talking about graphic designers, or animators but about the fine art that hangs in galleries.

This did not come as a surprise to me having experienced first hand the misery of art college. It was however a shock back then because I had come from an art high school, Art and Design, and had the opportunity to have been taught by some excellent teachers. The highlight of those years was the early morning painting group that I attended with Irwin Greenberg and Max Ginsburg . We gathered together every morning before the start of the school day and painted from the model for about 2 hours. Greeny and Max would work along side the students and after some time had gone by would make their rounds to offer instruction to each student.

At that time, (I don't know if they do the same now) The High School of Art and Design allowed you to pick your major (Illustration, cartooning, photography, fashion, etc.) and with  Greeny's help I was even able to manage getting into his class. The memory of that time continues to inspire me today.

Then I went to college.
From a college sketchbook

First I majored in illustration, which wasn't too bad and If I stuck with that, who knows I might have graduated. But I switched my major to fine art and entered the "Twilight Zone." let me share some highlights......

In one class while the model was posing the instructor played classical music (nice) and said that he wanted us to draw more from the music than the model in front of us (okay)  and then he turned out the lights. It was pitch black in the room. The model was posing, I couldn't see the model, I couldn't see my paper, I couldn't see my hand. If I could see the instructor I would've thrown my charcoal at him .

Another time I was asked to make a very careful drawing from the model. Which I did. When we were done the instructor asked us to rip the drawing into pieces then arrange the pieces randomly to form a new image. I failed her class.

Then there was the model who was also a performance artist and decided to combine the two as he posed for the class. Somewhere during the performance he found his way underneath the model stand, carrying it upon his back as he crawled on his hands and knees like a turtle across the room.

Oil sketch done while in college
If I could think of one thing I was most bothered by it would be the time I brought an art book to class on the work of John Singer Sargent. The instructor asked If I liked Sargents work and I told her that I very much did. She smiled and continued with the class. The next session she came with copies of articles about Sargent. She gave them to me and asked me to read them. They were all negative articles. At another session she gave me another article comparing  Alex Katz to Sargent???  Their work couldn't be father apart. What bothered me was that she wasn't trying to build on what inspired me or on my tastes but trying to change my mind and direction altogether. But then I guess that is a big problem with how art is taught in college, you should be able to pick instructors who you would want to learn from and usually if there is a good instructor space is limited and you get whatever else is left to fulfill your credit requirement.

 At one time French academies  (I know that's a bad word for some) were where you got instruction in everything but painting. To learn to paint you would have to be accepted in to a painters studio (atelier).  It would be nice if art colleges would work with artists ateliers so that students could get the instruction they prefer. There should be some program with art schools and local art galleries as well. A show once a year in a local gallery promoting new talent in their senior year would be a good way to introduce the artist to the art world.

In my humble opinion of course. 

Bellow is a video that was attached to the article I read.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Painting Isn't Always Fun

 "Don't call yourself an artist. Let others name you that. 'Artist' is a title of great weight." (Irwin Greenberg)

 I read an article recently about being a professional artist. The author said that if you, as an artist don’t enjoy the process of painting then you are doomed as an artist. I don’t know if I agree with that. 

The process of painting isn’t always fun. It’s a challenge to push yourself beyond what you know or what you’re used to. The results are often deflating. You start out with such high hopes and sometimes the final result is less than what you were aiming, but it can still be an advancement because you set out to do more than what you’ve previously done even if it’s just hoping to raise your skill level. In the midst of striving to be better you’re going to encounter frustration. It’s going to be difficult, but the fruit of that struggle is that you do in fact grow and so does your confidence. Like exercise you push yourself every inch of the way and though it’s possible to enjoy what you’re doing as you’re doing it, the big payoff is the results.

"Aim high, beyond your capacity." (Irwin Greenberg)

In that same article I read, and I wholeheartedly disagreed with, the authors opinion that in order to be a professional artist you have to concentrate and specialize in one medium. So many artist come to mind, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Sargent, Degas, Daumier, etc. All worked in more than one medium. Why wouldn’t you want to? It’s nice to be able to choose the best medium to create your image.  It seems to me the comment was more about marketing yourself than being creative or being a professional artist.

In my opinion I would rather strive to be better and be open to new possibilities. Stay curious and don’t settle. And that sounds like fun at the very least, rewarding too.

"Grit and guts are the magic ingredients to your success." (Irwin Greenberg)