Sketchlife

You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.”

                                                            John Singer Sargent   (from Brainyquotes)     

Sketching is vital to developing artistic vision.  For some artists it requires focus and discipline. For others, sketching is the artistic vision.  As sketching evolves by the hand of the later, it gains an energy and drama that is quite compelling.

The blog, Doodlemum, is one such example.  The artist’s doodles became the story of the artist’s life.  The richness and poignancy of the work is immensely compelling.  We want to be in Doodlemum’s life.  Doodlemum’s doodles went on to become a book.  Doodlemum’s doodles will inspire artistic vision and bring on a smile.

It is not always easy to make the effort to prepare for painting by making preliminary sketches.  If there is an image in the artist’s head, it can be difficult to slow down the process and take the time to develop the concept through sketching before picking up a brush.  How many frustrations can be avoided by taking the time to expand the “head” image by sketching first?  And who knows, our sketchbooks may just take on lives of their own!

Swamp sketch

The Case of the Forging Forger

Every good painter paints what he is.” Jackson Pollock

CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday told the story of hugely successful art forger, Ken Perenyl. It appears that Perenyl has had an immensely lucrative career as a forger of the works of a number of mainly eighteenth and nineteenth century artists. He boastfully demonstrates his techniques for aging canvas and frames. Perenyl goes on to show the evidence of where Southby’s sold one of his forgeries for $650,000. Ken Perenyl has never come close to paying for the crime of forgery and deception even though the FBI did sniff around a bit at one time. Watching this left me feeling torn between admiration of his skill and disgust at his gleeful attitude toward his crimes.

Grossman LLP is a law firm that deals with issues in the art world. On the firm’s blog, Art-law-blog, is a recounting of the case of the owner of the New York art gallery of Salander-O’Reilly. Owner Salander was convicted of crimes of deception in the art world. He was driven into bankruptcy and is paying the price of his shady dealings. Yet Perenyl not only walks free, he brags about his crimes.

If we take Jackson Pollock’s quote as truth, what does that make Ken Perenyl? And why should we care? What effect if any, does this forger have on the majority of honest artists out there?

To watch Pollock creating his paintings go to The Museum of Modern Art and The Terrain Gallery

Pollock

A Heart Falls in the Woods

“Art is Literacy of the heart”—Elliot Eisner

The heart speaks through art as any artist can attest but do others always hear?  Does it matter as long as the heart speaks?  Artists are driven to continue to speak whether anyone is listening or not.  Does it matter to the artist whether or not his/her heart is heard?  Is the point to give voice to the heart and not worry about whom, if anyone, is listening? No.

As long as an artist can make art, that is vital.  However, when you have worked so hard to give the heart a voice, it becomes important to follow through and also make a way for that voice to be heard.  The art is not complete until its voice has been heard.  Frequently, for whatever reason, we neglect this part of the art equation.  The heart is speaking.  We must see that it gets heard.

Photographer Tom Kostas states, “Art and poetry have revealed more to me than any other field of study I have encountered, including philosophy, in my life.”  What is revealed from the heart through art is important to pass on, to share.

Helping the heart get heard can be difficult for some artists, especially if introverted.  Perhaps that makes it even more important to find a way to get heard.  Does the heart break if we don’t carry the work all the way through to the end result of being heard?  Art made in isolation and not put out for others to experience is like the tree that falls in the woods.  Does it make a sound if no one is listening?  Thoughts anyone??

Hear more from Dr. Elliot Eisner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h12MGuhQH9E

Attachment Syndrome

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (from Goodreads.com)

Many artists become attached to paintings. Each painting is a self -portrait in a sense, regardless of subject.  Creating a work can feel almost like birthing a child.    It’s hard to abandon a painting for someone else to possess when so much of self is in it.  Abandonment is painful. And once the painting is gone the abandonment is complete.  Maybe we delay completion, to delay the pain of separation.  Each artwork is the outward expression of an inner emotional reaction.  It can be difficult to let go of that response.  In some ways, it feels like abandoning our self to someone else.

Artist Emily Rose describes her process of emotional expression through her painting.  Depending on the emotional space of the artist, as Emily Rose describes it, a painting can possess various levels of the manifestation of feelings.  Likely, this same thing happens to many of us.  A painting then becomes the outward symbol of our inner feelings.  Letting go of a painting means letting go of inner feelings.

How do we objectively let go of paintings with feelings splattered all over them?  How have other artists overcome this dilemma?  Any suggestions?

Pueblo2

Stop Signs

“Art is never finished, only abandoned” Leonardo Da Vinci (from artpromotivate.com)

Where is the stopping place on any painting?  Does a red light come on and say, “Stop?”  How do artists know where that place is?  Ask any artist and you will likely get different answers.  It is not easy to come to the finished place.  There is always something more to do.  It can be something small or something much bigger.  It may be something that has to be looked at over time until the finishing touch finally makes itself known.

Agonizing over where to stop can be stressful enough to get out of the mental painting mode.  Essentially, concern over the finish can be strong enough to keep pushing to the point where the painting loses spontaneity.  To stop when the intuition says stop can take courage.  It also takes listening to that little voice.

Artist Paul Gardner is quoted on Artpromotivate as saying, “A painting is never finished-it simply stops in interesting places.”  Perhaps, that is a significant difference from the Leonardo quote.  Instead of forcing abandonment can we accept the inner voice that says, “This is an interesting place to stop!”  It could be so much less stressful to look for the interesting place than to face abandonment. 

Reports say that Leonardo never found the finishing place in the Mona Lisa because he is said to have kept the painting with him throughout his life.  Maybe he couldn’t abandon her.

For more about Leonardo Da Vinci: 

http://www.leonardoda-vinci.org/

 

Image

The Courage to Paint

“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

Was O’Keeffe right?  Does art take courage?  Painting takes time, effort and energy.  But is courage behind the time, effort and energy?  Courage is perhaps the necessary force for getting art out of the studio and into the public domain.  Is it also the main force in the studio? Does it take courage to look at a blank white canvas and begin to create?  I think so.

A blank white canvas can be very frightening.  There may be an image floating around pushing to get onto that canvas but taking those first steps to get it there are sometimes slow in coming.  For many artists, the first step is actually placing the paint on the palette, deciding what colors will go into the painting and how they will be mixed.  For others, it is deciding which brushes to use.  Will you start with a round brush?  For me, it is deciding what ground color to lay on first.  The process of preparation may also be the process of gathering courage.

Gather courage. Proceed to paint!