Click the links for a look back at the main reds used by most artists, for a bit of history and a few tips.
“Artists are in some sense neurologist, studying the brain with techniques unique to them.” Semir Zeki*
One writer sees the future of science as the incorporation of the arts into science. Jonathan Lehrer wrote an article titled, The Future of Science..is Art, for Seed Magazine, detailing the many ways science and the process of discovery has come about through the study of artistic movements for insight. Lehrer believes science and scientific discovery will escalate when physics and neuroscience utilize the artistic process in research. By the same token, the arts have turned to science for insight and inspiration. Is it time for the arts to again turn toward the sciences?
One example Lehrer cites in his article is how, in the 1920’s, physicist Neil Bohr became fascinated with cubism. His fascination led to examinations of spatial relationships. From cubism, Bohr formed his thinking on the solidity of matter. Lehrer describes Bohr’s study of electrons and the spatial positioning of planets through the eyes of cubism. And Bohr is just one example in Lehrer’s article. It is well worth the read for a number of other examples of science utilizing art for discovery.
During the Renaissance, artists turned to science to develop spatial relationships like perspective. Di Vinci’s The Last Supper is a significant example of the use of perspective as a primary design tool within the picture plane. The progression of art movements since that time has moved in and out of the use of science in art creation. Many would argue the Abstract Movement veered totally from science but did it really? Doesn’t abstract art make use of the science of color?
As Today’s art moves into the next generation, it seems logical that the utilization of science within the practice of art making will lead to greater and greater discovery. Lehrer’s article outlines the many ways science can be helped by the arts. That same logic would also say the utilization of science in art will produce similar results. Science needs art. Art needs science. The future depends on art and science holding hands, walking together.
*Quote is from the article by Jonah Lehrer in The Future of Science… is Art, originally appearing in Fourth Culture and later in Seed Magazine
“But, luckily, he kept his wits and his purple crayon.” From Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) (from Sensationalcolor.com)
If you want to know more about this deep rich clear purple, look to the artists. Only the artists have an appreciation for this purest purple. Dioxazine Purple is a mainstay for today’s flower and nature painting but is little known outside of artsy circles. Some users of printer’s ink may have a basic knowledge of Dioxazine Purple. But to find more about Dioxazine Purple, ask the artists who know.
Liz Powley of Inspired Gumnut has most of the background scoop on Dioxazine Purple. According to Powley, Dioxazine Purple is a derivative of coal tar and was discovered by two Carls, Graebe and Glaser, in 1872. Carbazole is the extracted chemical’s name used to create this luscious, velvety purple. (Maybe they should have called it Carl-bazole??). Most makers of artist’s paint have this purple listed as Dioxazine Purple except Daniel Smith. Daniel Smith’s lists Carbazole Violet as a purple with, “intense,vibrant color,” and it “can invent an iris petal with each stroke.”
Color Curriculum from the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), features an article by Carolyn Payzant on the properties of Dioxazine Purple. Payzant describes Dioxazine Purple as, “one of the bluest shades of violet,”and says, “it mixes well with most any pigment.” Elizabeth Floyd, on her website, says Dioxazine Purple, “is a strong staining purple that can go a little crazy at times.” Floyd advises caution by starting with a small amount of paint on the brush as, “a little goes a long way.”
Fans of intense purples can be grateful to the Two Carls whose experimentation led to artistic abilities of reaching the highest of purple peaks. If the intensity and vibration of rich Dioxizine Purple becomes overwhelming, Zazzle.com offers a Dioxazine Purple mousepad with the admonishing words, “Keep Calm and Carry on.” If you find yourself overwhelmed by a wave of purple fury during an intense session of inventing iris petals, simply look down at your Dioxazine Purple mouse pad, take a deep breath, keep calm and carry on.
Here’s a demonstration of Dioxazine Purple by Liquitex:
“The day is coming where a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” Paul Cezanne (from The Painter’s Keys)
A look at another story on the sad state of the financial situations of art museums brings on more speculation as to how they have gotten into this position. Today’s story is on the Delaware Museum of Art’s potential sell off of a much-loved Winslow Homer work titled Milking Time. This news comes on top of the ongoing saga of the Detroit Institute of the Arts latest dilemma, as well as, the still unresolved downfall of the Corcoran Museum of Art and the Corcoran College of Art and Design.
DelawareOnline.com has the story on the possible Homer sale. The Detroit Free Press is stating the last offer to turn over the DIA’s art to a group of non-profits has been nixed by the creditors and the unions of the city of Detroit. NPR has an article on the hold up of the Corcoran’s hand off to the National Gallery of Art/Smithsonian organization and George Washington University. None of these articles have said much encouraging about the individual situations, but it is the NPR article that may shed a little light on how this sorry state came to be.
NPR quotes former Corcoran director David Levy as stating, “museums have to acquire more and more and more,” to stay in business. Further in the Levy quote is a reference to art students as, “scruffy kids wandering around downstairs.” Sounds like a costly fine buffet in the magnificent parlor is in progress, adding more and more scrumptious delicacies to keep the partiers happy, while the rats scurrying around in the basement are threatening to show themselves and spoil the party. Why are we even having this party and who is responsible for encouraging the rat behavior? Maybe Mr. Levy has an answer.
“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the cat is going somewhere.” Groucho Marx
Artists are divided on the use of black in painting. Many artists prefer to mix black from complementary colors believing this mix to have more depth than actual black from a tube. Some artists use no black at all. Rembrandt used black heavily in all of his paintings. Impressionists used very little. The most common and widely used black is Ivory Black. Ivory Black, in some form, has been available to artists for centuries.
The other name for Ivory Black is Bone Black. Rembrandt referred to the black he used as Bone Black. Both blacks are one and the same. This black can also be known in some places as Char Black or Bone Char. The obvious reason for the name of this black is the source. It was originally made from burning animal bones to charcoal using the powder residual as pigment. Early versions were made from the charcoal of ivory, thus the name Ivory Black. Ivory Black has not been made from burning ivory since the nineteenth century. The original Ivory Black was almost as expensive as the Ultramarine Blue made from Lapis Lazuli.
Gamblin’s website reports “Ivory Black is a good, all-purpose black,” but cautions that its use in a painting may cause the painting to look grey. Gamblin also says Ivory Black has good transparency and mild tinting strength. According to other sources, the use of black will create flatness in a painting. Ivory Black or any black may not be a good choice where more fullness is wanted in a painting.
To use or not use black in a palette is a personal choice for artists. The idea of painting anything out of animal bones may be a bit trying on the nerves. All current sources for Ivory Black say animals used for Ivory Black have died of natural causes. Maybe that helps! Still for those wishing to use black without the burned bone thing may prefer to mix their own blacks. Some say Pthalo green and Alizarin Crimson make a nice black. As do Viridian and Alizarin. And these mixes have a greater depth without the flatness of plain black.
Basic black comes in many forms. For depth, use the mixes. For flat black, go with Ivory Black from the tube. The choice depends on the artist. But it is still basically better to stay out of the path of the black cat unless wishing to press your luck.
More Rembrandt, (because you can never have too much!):
note: painting image is a licensed free use image
“If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.” Paul Gauguin (from Sensational Color)
Phthalo Blue is anything but a soft, peaceful calming blue. Phthalo Blue will knock the socks off of any mix it comes in contact with. Phthalo Blue is not for the feeble hearted. Generally blues are thought to be the color of quietness for soothing the soul. Or blues can also refer to sadness or depression as in “a case of the blues.” Whoever coined that phrase clearly had never met the Phthalos. The Phthalos are anything but soothing or depressing.
Phthalo Blue comes either with red undertones for a bluer blue or green undertones for a strong green. Winsor Newton first introduced a Phthalo Blue in 1938 known as Winsor Blue to replace “the capricious less reliable Prussian Blue.” Winsor Newton says Winsor Blue has good tinting properties but cautions to take care when using. Winsor Blue and Phthalo Blue can quickly “overpower.” Artist David Rourke says the Phthalo’s are “beautiful, lightfast and high in chroma.” But he doesn’t use them because “they are too bloody strong.” Artist Stapleton Kearns finds Phthalo’s “strength a drawback,” but says it also can be used to make “great greens.”
Sensational Color says, “not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic—an engaging color that expresses exhilaration.” Phthalo Blue is the in -your -face blue. If you must make a statement but just can’t go red, Phthalo Blue can do the trick. Phthalo Blue will muscle its way in and take over, squeezing out all others. Most blues drift in wafting around in a whisper sliding carefully over the furniture. Phthalo Blue charges in knocking down everything in the path. Sometimes you just want to make a blow-out production that won’t be soon forgotten. That’s the time to call in the Phthalo Blue. But look out. He may take over.
Several articles have appeared recently in the Washington Post about the impending doom of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art. The most recent article this week by Phillip Kennicott describes the final deal reached between the Corcoran, the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. From the story, it appears that the Corcoran will cease to exist. GW will assume control of the school and the National Gallery will take over the art collection and the historic building. A sad, sad state of affairs but one a student saw coming over a decade ago.
This particular student was returning to school after a career with an international company followed by small business ownership. Though this student was older than the average college student, there were more in the same age group with similar backgrounds. Within the first week of school, the student recognized that some things were not quite right from a business perspective but assumed the constant influx of donor money must cover for the lack of good business practice. The Post article described the management of the Corcoran as having “incompetent leadership,” and “often obscenely inept leadership.” This student is in complete agreement.
Though the working- artist teachers in the community education classes were excellent, some of the teachers in the full time student program fell into that description of “obscenely inept.” One particular “inept” action of some teachers of the full time program was to encourage self-expression to the point of anti-social behavior. The teachers called this “artistic expression” and frequently graded work on that basis. This student’s favorite example of how “artistic expression” and anti-social behavior go hand in hand was in the Senior Show. Graduating students were given the opportunity to exhibit work in the museum open to the public of Washington, D.C. It was a great honor. Celebrities and other dignitaries regularly dropped in for the Senior Shows.
A group of male students who had been greatly praised for exhibitions of anti-social behavior were given permission to collaborate on their final project. The result was a platform about a foot high and around 10 to 15 feet long built from plywood and covered with green astro-turf. At one end was a large pile of paper airplanes of the kind children make in school out of single sheets of paper. At the other end of the platform was a treasure chest made from cardboard and filled with green pieces of paper decorated with dollar signs. That was the extent of the piece. These students were exhibiting what they had learned after spending four years and sixty-thousand or more dollars on their art education at this supposedly wonderful museum school situated in an historic building in the heart of Washington, D.C., barely a stone’s throw from the White House.
Decades of encouraging the building of paper airplanes over skills to help artists make it in the world is part of what led to the fall of the Corcoran, in this student’s opinion. Watching the end of the Corcoran brings great sadness but no surprise. The Corcoran-RIP. The headstone should read: “brought down by paper airplanes and other such nonsense.”
“You cannot open a book without learning something.” Confuscius
If you are sitting at your art table, easel, or whatever and can’t come up with any inspiration, try reading a book. The blog, Flavorwire.com has come up with “50 books to inspire artists of all kinds.” Check it out and wait out the next wave of the Polar Vortex with a good book or two on art. I’m searching Amazon as soon as I get finished here. Happy reading!
Miia Niskanen of the wonderful blog Pearlspotting.wordpress.com sent me this link in response to a post about the geometry of art, (here). Numbers keep coming up in art. Another post of mine on this subject was The Magic of Three on how the number three turns up frequently in art and in design. The number three is pleasing to the eye in any design or painting according to the latest research. When contemplating the numbers, a blue mist of fog comes right up and takes over my brain obscuring any attempt by me to decipher what numbers might mean. However, after these posts, I took a second look at past paintings and noted the more successful paintings many times featured various configurations of the number three. In my case, the number three was not a conscious plan. There is no possible way my brain was consciously telling me to do anything with numbers. It would never get through the blue mist anyway. But on some level it must have broken through. The numbers are there.
This notion of numbers in art has spurred me to look at other artist’s work with this in mind. It may be possible that many artists are following the numbers rule, consciously or unconsciously. The number three is not too hard to follow but Phi is another story altogether. The Fibonacci Sequence is really way too much for my art brain to take in from other parts of the brain. If I can figure out how to look for it in art, it would be truly amazing on my part to find it. It would definitely have to have come unconsciously. This is one of those conundrums where any available outside input would be very welcome and greatly appreciated. Please help me solve this conundrum by sending your valuable opinions. Do the numbers matter??