Sunday, July 24, 2016

Norman Teeling Painting on Location

Dublin artist Norman Teeling (born 1944) describes the experience of painting on location. "When I paint a picture," he say, "I want to be elevated, I want to escape from the mundane and enter a world of the romantic whether it be an interior or a landscape."
Thanks, Garin.

Splitting Color Illusion

This optical illusion by  shows two identical, flickering colored stripes that remain the same throughout the presentation. As the background colors change around them, however, the stripe changes its appearance.

Discoverer Mark Vergeer says, "When the stripe is flanked by a yellow/blue pattern, drifting to the left, it changes appearance, and looks red and cyan, drifting to the right, while the same stripe, flanked by a red/cyan pattern drifting to the right, suddenly looks yellow and blue, drifting to the left. This illusion shows that one and the same object can look completely different depending on its surroundings."

"Splitting Colors" was awarded the "Illusion of the Year" in 2015 (Link to video on YouTube)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Joe Derrane (1930-2016)

Yesterday we lost one of the great Irish accordion players, Joe Derrane, at age 86. We saw him at the Paddy O'Brien festival in Tipperary soon after his triumphant return from retirement. Joe played the dance halls in Boston in the 1940s in a highly ornamental style that was all his own. 

"When I focus on it, I can crawl inside the music," he said, "and let it take me wherever it wants to go."

Brief video clip: (Link to YouTube
Wikipedia on Joe Derrane

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reminder: Food Truck Challenge

Reminder: The Food Truck Painting Challenge is ongoing. The goal is to paint a vehicle used for mobile catering. It's free to enter and the deadline is August 15.

This is an old milk wagon that I sketched when I was an art student.

Read all the entry requirements and parameters of the Food Truck Painting Challenge. (link fixed)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pencil Accents

Here's a sketch of a barn in upstate New York. 

After a quick lay-in where I carefully measure all the perspective and spacing, I lay down some big washes on thin watercolor, very slightly warm and cool, with a few orange color accents.

The pencil then describes textures and details, from the fine wires on top of the ventilators to the rough texture of the shingles. I like to use two pencils, such as an HB and a 2B pencil, one for the light lines and the other for the darker accents.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fine Art and Illustration

Blog reader Gary Gowans asks: "Where do you draw the line between fine art and illustration? How about galleries? Does it matter? I have been painting just short of photo realism and am in several good galleries BUT, I love the illustrators of the Golden Age as well as like Fuchs, English, and Robt. Heindel to name a few." 

Answer: Yes, Gary, it matters, because words matter. Words shape the way we arrange the furniture inside our minds. I believe that you can love the great illustrators while you paint for galleries.

I try not to draw a line between fine art and illustration, because both terms are impossible to define and the distinction is meaningless.

By "fine art," some people mean gallery art. For some people the term suggests a branch of art that's supposedly free from commercialism.

Having been involved in all sorts of art-making, I can attest that gallery art can be liberating, because you can paint whatever you want, especially when you're getting started. But once paintings start selling, things change, and the gallery career can become the most commercial of all. Gallery artists are always reminded of what's selling, and what's not, and are pressured by the marketplace to repeat successes more than any other kind of art.

There's nothing wrong with making art solely with the intent to sell it. We've all got to make a living. And it's possible for a gallery artist to be unaffected by thinking about sales and prices, but it's not easy. Are you going to keep doing those experimental things that you love doing when that last show got no red dots? 

The least commercial art form I've ever experienced is magazine illustration, where the individual work of art has no measurable influence on the ultimate commercial success of the larger work, namely the magazine. If any art is "fine" in the sense of being non-commercial, it is illustration.

“Illustration” is a term that means different things to different people. It can mean: 
1) work that’s commissioned.
2) work that tells a story.
3) or work that is reproduced. 

Those are very different criteria, and none of them should be grounds for disparaging artwork. There have been great works of art that fit one, two, or even all three of these measures. Work has been commissioned by publishers, and before that by popes and kings, often formatting them very specifically for altar pieces or tombs. Artists have always been capable of inspired work under such conditions.

Work that tells a story includes all great artwork, not just painting, but also movies and novels. How could that not be the highest calling? And work that is reproduced just brings it to a larger audience, as the phonograph has done for music. Live musicians don't disparage musicians who make recordings, so why should art that's printed be any different?

So let yourself love whatever artwork speaks to you. Whatever kind of artwork you do, throw your heart into it. Now I guess the next question is: So are we all artists, then? Too late to call ourselves artists, because musicians and actors have stolen that term!