Thursday, September 24, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
This is one of my favorite quotes ever. It speaks directly to painting what is interpreted by the painter. The internalization of what a painter sees and then translates onto canvas is about as intimate as it gets. Here, Picasso touches on that, as well as making a small social commentary.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I just really wanted to share this awesome piece with you guys! Some of you might recognize this from outside Coffee Perk Cafe in downtown Walla Walla. This is the third or fourth time I've seen it and every time I do, I am more inspired than the last. Stenciling has a special place in my heart and I have always enjoyed it. This particular piece is so simple yet very visually dynamic. The background is very neutral even with so many contrasting hues of grey and white. The different shaped lions provide depth and give the only "color" to the piece. Lastly, I think that the entire piece was framed particularly well with the white foliage in the bottom and black outlines of lettering up above. Not to mention that this is on a newspaper dispenser! All in all, I think this piece has a lot of things going on and every piece of it is executed perfectly, at least from a stenciler's point of view.
“I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect.” - Unknown
I like this quote a lot because it mirrors a lot of what we've been doing in class recently, how we've been deliberately going back to paintings that to some could be deemed as finished or done, but aren't. This is powerful motivation to continue to work on a painting. The view presented here also hinders the practice of obsessing over a painting until it is "perfect." That idea in itself is very appealing because it can be so frustrating when you just can't get something right, but with this "ancient Chinese" attitude, leaving it that way becomes a deliberate and humble move.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
When a group of people are given the same object to paint, each painting will turn out differently. The painter decides what to include in the painting, and it is open to their interpretation. This makes every painting unique.
Although not really about the act of painting, I like this quote because it reflects how art is constantly changing, and how people's tastes are constantly changing. I think that in my lifetime I will see a change in art, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
"I gazed down at my drawing of Rena, dotted with water from the sprinkler. Really, I didn't even like drawings. When I went to the museum, I looked at paintings, sculptures, anything but lines on a piece of paper. It was just that my hand needed something to do, my eye needed a reason to shape the space between Rena an the sprinkler she had running and her wobbly-legged tabel of rusted white diamond mesh that held one drink and an ashtray. I liked the way the tabletop echoed the black diamonds of her bikini and the chain-link fence, how the curve of her tumbler was the same as the curve of her raised thigh and the taller man's arm draped over the fence, and leaves on the banana tree at the Casados' house across the street.
If I didn't draw, what reason would there be for the way the light fell on the scallop of tiles on the Casados' roof, and the lumpy tufts of lawn, the delicate braids of green foxtails soon to go brown, and the way the sky seemed to squash everything flat to the earth like an enormous foot? I'd have to get pregnant, or drink, to blur it all out, except for myself very large in the foreground."
- Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.~ Edgar Degas
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Compiled & edited by Norm Nason
True art has passion and contains insight. It shows us a new way of looking at our world. As Matisse would say, it helps us to see with the fresh eyes of a child. Art is the great renewer of life. Impatience is the only threat to this prescription. It is all in the mileage invested. As Robert Henri says, do lots of starts and the finishes will take care of themselves.The following essay about Russian/American artist Sergei Bongart (1918-1985) is the best, most succinct treatise on painting I've ever read. Gleaned from notes taken by Sergei's students while under his tutelage, these insights are a priceless introduction to painting. This text may be distributed freely, but may not be sold for profit. Please give credit where credit is due: Sergei Bongart.
In art, the hardest skill to learn is to be simple. As artists, we have a natural inclination to create detail; we must overcome this tendency. The first rule is to begin big and simple, then move toward small and complex.
The best art amazes us because of what the artist left out, not because of what he or she put in. If everything is included, why not photograph the subject instead? Any beautifully rendered detail can be strengthened by this editing process. Even a photo-realist must leave some things out. It is the artist's job to only put in the information that speaks to the relevant issues.
Before you begin, ask yourself what should be seen first within your painting, and what you want to say about it. Areas of greatest contrast will attract the most attention. This is your first reading. A strong composition usually facilitates three good readings.
Understand the basis of composing a picture in color. No color should be viewed in isolation, but rather in constant relation to what is around it. A color is what it appears to be only because of its relationship to the surrounding colors. Nothing exists in isolation. Each previous color choice must be re-evaluated as a new color is placed along side of it. If you change one color, you have in effect changed them all.
When we paint, we really aren't copying the colors of nature, we are painting the color relationships. We don't have the color palette that nature has, so we must give the illusion of truth through the relationships of the colors we choose.
As in chess, try to think several moves ahead, painting the color relationships that are deemed integral to the picture. Always make the next most important move. Don't paint in nose highlights, for instance, before you have established the background colors.
TO READ THE REST OF THIS STATEMENT, click here
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I thought I would send you something that came in the student list serve today in case you don't read it.
Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist, Joel Pett, will be on campus the week of September 21 and will, in addition to a public talk titled "What in the World is so Funny?", offer a couple of open forums directed at those interested specifically in cartoons related to environmental issues and those interested in issues related to free speech, the first amendment and corporate media (I will send announcements regarding these events later; please go to http://www.whitman.edu/content/global-studies/events for more information).
At this time, I would like to bring your attention to a workshop that he is offering that he describes thus:
DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS: A Hands-on workshop on originality, creativity and satire. A freewheeling demonstration and no-holds-barred discussion of the creative process. Joel Pett is certain that we all have "an innate and natural bent for forceful self-expression." So how do we tap into it?
Since this is an interactive session, spots in these workshops are limited.
The workshop for students is on Thurs, 9/24, 8-9 pm in Maxey 142. To register, please go to http://www.prestoregister.com/cgi-bin/order.pl?ref=globalstudies and click on the appropriate registration link.
This event is sponsored by the Ashton J. and Virginia Graham O’Donnell Endowment for Global Studies.
Director of Global Studies and Chair of the Department of Politics Whitman College
345 Boyer Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I found this work by Wilfredo Lam, a Cuban artist, in a biographical book entirely in French (this made it difficult to decipher much about the artist). It’s titled “Femme (Portrait de H.H.),” meaning Woman. What I like about this piece, like a lot of the artist’s other work, is that even though the figure is quite abstracted, you can still see exactly what Lam is painting, as well pick out what I think of as the more formal elements of drawing and/or painting: line, form, texture, color, shadow, etc. He’s not creating a naturalistic painting, but he’s not just lobbing paint at a page either (not that I’m against that). It’s like that saying… something about, it takes a really skilled singer to be able to sing out of tune. Just as I think it takes a really skilled artist to be able to represent an unrealistic whole in a realistic manner. I love the way the woman pops out of the page against the orange background and the almost unfinished look of the color next to the black line. I think of Lam as giving us a chance to finish the piece ourselves in our own minds.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) made this piece in 1997. I was fascinated by detail Geisel paid to the objects in this piece. It looks as though the streetwise cat is actually in a smokey bar about to take a shot on a strange pool table. Sometimes it looks natural, but a second later I'll see the cat's eyes or the odd blocks on the table and the whole piece appears dream-like. This piece seems to play jump-rope with reality.
This painting by Maria Skrebstova fascinates me because of its colors and openness to multiple interpretations -- at first, I saw a pheonix in the painting, then a tulip in the wind and lastly, a colorful frog about to shoot out its tongue. I like how the abstract can seemingly become anything. Also, the brushstrokes all in a similar direction add to the flow of the work, making it seem effortless.
This painting was created by Georgia O'Keeffe in 1919, and it is an oil painting on canvas. I was intrigued by this painting while I was looking through a modern art book. I was first attracted by the colors, but then I looked at the way the waves and lines move your eyes down to one focal point. I found myself examining each part of the artwork, but I always ended up at the same spot. I enjoyed looking at the painting because of the movement and hues, but I further appreciated it after seeing the title which is Blue and Green Music. I imagine music to flow just like the lines in this painting. There is also contrast with the dark streak in the middle, and music also has contrast. I think this depiction of music is unique, but works wonderfully in connecting art and music. In my mind, the title and what is depicted coincide perfectly, which is why I enjoy looking at this piece of art. Some people, myself included, might look at it and think the colors flow well, but without looking at the title, I believe the painting cannot be fully appreciated.
Naughty Pete was a comic by Charles Forbell that ran in the New York Herald; this strip is from 1913. A lot of the conventions of the comic strip from this time period are evident here: the tall, narrow format (this would have likely taken up an entire page), numbered panels, and flat, two-dimensional staging (before the influence of film began to produce more dramatic angles) all set this squarely in its time. However, Forbell makes some interesting choices here with color and composition. Most of the strips of this time were lavishly handcolored (Winsor McCay's Little Nemo being a famous example) and I find it interesting that for whatever reason, Forbell chose to limit his palette to this cream-of-spinach green and red, leaving only the statue and the child white. The writing and story in this strip is pretty thin (and there are a lot of bizarre moments: for example, the father seems to be carrying the statue in like it weighed as much as a coatrack, and once it's unveiled as the Venus the Milo, he decides the best place for it is on the bannister?). But Forbell's composition is here is really cool. It was rare for cartoonists of this time to experiment with slanted panels, and he carefully lays out the page so that Pete's narrative proceeds up a metaphorical and visual staircase of escalating tension, until at its climax the single long panel perfectly conveys the length and speed of his descent. As a single image, the comic actually works better than a lot of McCay's compositions- the color and the big diagonal lend it a unity of form. Hell yeah comics.
This painting by Chagall interested me first because of its vibrant blues. Though the painting seems somber, the colors are not, in actuality, dark or depressing. The blue is intense, while splashes of yellow, orange, and red stand undefiled, suggesting a certain endurance and hope in the face of confusion and sadness. To me, "Around Her" is most certainly about the painter's beloved wife, Bella. Bella Chagall passed several months before this work. Chagall often obsessed over brides and grooms in his artwork, and one other of his paintings featured Bella as his bride a full nine years after their marriage. This leads me to think that in this painting, Chagall himself is the painter with the upside down head. His wife is his bride still, even after her death, which I interpret from the bride and groom in the upper right corner. An angel brings Chagall an image of his former happy domestic life in the bubble at center. The woman in red I take to be Bella, because she seems to be in the clouds. She looks lovingly at Chagall, though he looks out of the work, incapable of seeing her in return. Her head tilts empathetically. I love the romantic longing expressed in this painting. I love the use of color and the unexpected twists. Happy viewing!
This is called The Rock, painted by Peter Blume using oil on canvas in 1948. I was drawn to the movement in the painting--there seems to be a lot of chaos going on around the rock, which sits right there in the middle. But the rock also draws energy towards it with its crazy jagged shapes. I really also loved the way Blume depicts people - they seem sort of cartonish, especially the bend of the shoulder of the man hammering in the front center. I really also enjoyed the billowing of the smoke and the construction site, adding to the hectic actions of the painting. There are details in the book that got lost in the scanning process - such as the debris (broken bottle and Coca-Cola sign) that the man is shoveling into the fire, or five men hauling wood and rigging lines within the construction site, that seem to move the energy towards and away from the rock in the center.
This is a photograph of an art instillation done by a man named Wafaa Bilal. Enclosed in a bullet-proof plexi-glass room, Bilal spent a month eating, sleeping, blogging, and being shot at by online gamers with a robotic paintball gun. Bilal's "message" is that war is messy and seeps into every aspect of life, disrupting normalcy and highlighting flaws. I found his instillation unique because he allowed thousands of participants to paint him and his room, not with brushes, but with paint-filled bullets.
Daruma, or Bodhidharma, was a Buddhist monk from southern India. He is creditted with introducing China to the way of Zen and is thus hailed highly as a patriarch. Daruma is depicted as ill-tempered, profusely bearded and a wide-eyed barbarian. This particular painting exemplifies the paradox of a simple medium utilized to create a very complex, tension-filled image, which could be an extention of the paradox of an irritable man, Daruma, spreading the art of peace that is Zen. The thickness and boldness of the simple lines matched up with the quick, angry strokes of Daruma's facial hair work together to create this unique portrayal of the ancient patriarch. While many depictions of Daruma are pleasing and very "Zen" as it were. I think that Hakuin's rendition does a fantastic job in capturing the tenacity that is central to Daruma's characterization.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009