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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Come visit my art studio

Welcome to my studio. I've been doing a little clean-up and rearranging to clear the decks for working on illustrations for the new book. Floor space keeps getting smaller. I had to add a folding card table to pile research books, file boxes and such for the book. I'll be using my long tables to do some of the art work and don't want to keep moving stuff on and off the tables. My dream studio would have the office and computer in another room so I could devote the entire space to making art. Not gonna happen in this lifetime, but maybe next time around. This is a great workspace, though, and has good vibes. I'm going to see if I can photograph some of the art here under the full-spectrum lighting. I was reading my new camera instruction book last night and it says I can take a reading from a gray card and lock the exposure to shoot several pieces. It's worth a try. Any advice out there?

Here's a link to information about studio setup.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Caravaggio on the Power of Art tonight

Read what Charley Parker has to say today about Caravaggio on Lines and Colors. I'll be interested to see which of Caravaggio's many personalities is revealed in the PBS show tonight (Monday). This artist's paintings have always seemed larger than life to me and apparently that was what he himself was like.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

New digital camera

Well, I did it. I've been reading reviews to a fair-thee-well and when I talked to my camera guy, Paul, at Fairborn Camera, he recommended the Nikon D40X for my purposes. There are far grander digital cameras, but they are mostly far heavier (and more $$$) and I can't handle much more than this camera with its 18-55 zoom--although I also sprang for the 55-200, because I have been dying for a longer telescopic range than I can get with my beloved Canon G6. All the wonderfulness of the D40X includes 10 MP for art reproductions, instant shots, instead of the digital delay, and in the longer zoom lens, image stabilization. It's heavier than the G-6, but I'll be using it with a tripod in the studio to record my artwork for the new book. I'm going to take tomorrow off and learn to use it. It's my birthday, and I can play if I want to.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Frida Kahlo on Charley Parker's blog

What would I do in these trying times without Charley Parker's lines-and-colors blog? He has a blog today on Frida Kahlo that is his usual well written and researched material, complete with links. Frida Kahlo is not a favorite with me. If she were alive today, she wouldn't be one of my best friends. But there is no doubt that she has her place in the history of art. Charley does a good job of summing her up. Check it out.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Power of Art last night

I watched the two episodes of the PBS show that were broadcast last night. On the whole, I prefer the book. The first, on van Gogh, was beautifully filmed and I loved the closeups of juicy mounds of wet paint being attacked by a brush. But there was a little too much of wind blowing in the wheatfields and shadows in unknown places and the actor playing Vincent tended to mumble his words (or maybe that's my hearing). I didn't get any of the passion of van Gogh. Schama as narrator of his own book was fairly good, but a little arch at times (and maybe that's just my perception). The Picasso segment was very informative on the history of the Guernica painting and I enjoyed seeing various stages of that great work. But again, a little too much TV art with bullfights and mysterious shadowy profiles of an actor puffing a cigarette or cigar and presumed to be Picasso. Both episodes were really quite beautiful, but I guess I expected something a little different. I'll watch the remaining programs in a different frame of mind.

Check out Charley Parker's blog on the Power of Art broadcast. He has images and links to other information about the program.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Power of Art on PBS

This eight-week series is based on a book I reviewed several months ago. I enjoyed The Power of Art by Simon Schama very much and I'm looking forward to the series. The first program on van Gogh airs in my area tomorrow night, (Monday, June 18) at 9:00 p.m. est. The second episode, on Picasso, immediately follows at 10:00 p.m. I believe the remaining programs are one hour. Check your local listings on the PBS website. You can request to be notified of upcoming Power of Art broadcasts.

What I found intriguing about the book was its coverage of the political influence and social, cultural and business aspects of the various artists. It will be interesting to see how all this is played out on TV.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

About masking fluid

My friend George Bussinger at McCallister's Art Store in Dayton emailed me a tip for my blog today. He had several customers complain that masking fluid turns rubbery and useless if it isn't used regularly. George says that his commercial artist customers drop several marbles into the fluid to keep the fluid level near the top so air can't dry out the fluid.

Another tip, from Sylvia Dugan (PainterBear at WetCanvas): Keep the bottle or jar upside down. This works well for the pointed tip mask applicators, too.

Does anybody else have any ideas on liquid mask?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It never rains...

But it pours. I know, I know. Terrible cliche, but true. Here I am working diligently on my book and over the past month, the following: Visit from Colorado son, who didn't make it home for Christmas because of the Denver bizzard. Visit from Durango son and wife who ditto (the good news). Visit to husband from a Health Monster (to be continued). Receipt of slides for judging a watercolor exhibition (Slides upside down in the carousel and my projector on the fritz). Visit to doctor for biopsy on skin lesions (results pending). I look like I got the worst of a fist fight. Nevertheless, the book is progressing, the weather has been fantastic and I will survive, although I may not blog much (the least of my worries).

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

How not to design a web site

Every artist who has or would like to have a web site should read Charley Parker's rant on web site design. He hits the nail on the head on nearly every point. I reread it this morning, including the 88 comments, which were interesting, too. Most felt the article was right on. Some didn't like the negative approach and sarcastic tone (which, by the way, isn't at all typical of Charley's posts). A few were highly critical or downright nasty, almost as though they missed the point entirely.

Take some time to read the entire article and the comments. There's a lot of valuable information there and it's free. It looks like Charley is planning to follow up this post with helpful how-to articles, soon to be released. Stayed tuned.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Shopping for a Style

One of the top ten questions in creative art classes is "How can I develop a style?" The bad news is you can't pick a style any more than you can choose a new personality. You can copy someone else's style and some artists are really good at this. But that isn't authentic style.

Your true style is like your handwriting. After you learn to form the letters of the alphabet and make them into words, your handwriting takes on a life of its own, influenced by your personality, physical energy and circumstances. You don't even think about it. And if you deliberately try to change, it may deteriorate beyond repair. I know, because I tried. My sixth grade teacher didn't like the slope of my natural handwriting, so she forced me to write "backhand." As a result my handwriting became an illegible scribble. So I took myself in hand and taught myself rudimentary Italic writing. For awhile my handwriting was fantastic. But when I let down my guard, I slipped back into my old ways, and now I can only say my editors are grateful for my computer and typing skills.

The good news is–you have within you the resources for a unique artistic style. But you have to let it find you. Read that sentence again. Your style finds you. You don't magically find your style. Style is the imprint of your personality–your spirit–on your art. It comes about as a result of your experience, as well as your choice of materials and the way you handle them. Style doesn't happen in a flash. It evolves over a long period of time. The only thing that can stop it is your determination to master a style that might be totally wrong for you. Don't force style, or you'll never cultivate one.

Even beginners have a style. After a couple of weeks of basic watercolor classes, I see differences in the way each student handles the brush, applies a wash, mixes color. It's important for a teacher to notice and encourage these differences, not to insist on a single "right" way of doing things. In time, when you hang a collection of your work, people will say they recognize your style. This may come as a shock to you, because you think you don't have a style. Well, you do, and it is always hovering somewhere under the surface, looking for a way out. Yes, style can change, but it's usually a gradual change, not a big jump.

Try many things and see what works best for you. Keep on doing it. Don't paint by imitation. Make every artwork a statement revealing something of yourself and choose the materials and methods that best express what you want to say. Tell your story your way–no one else can do this for you. Believe in the value of what you have to say.

The artist must have something to say, for mastery over form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning ....That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul. Wassily Kandinsky

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