Colorful Fridays—The Rosy Red Siblings

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“Red is obviously such a stimulating color, it has so many connotations.” P.J. Harvey

Quinacridone Red and its Quin siblings, Rose and Magenta, cannot call up an intriguing history. No ancient minerals or archaic farming practices discovered these beautiful bluish reds. No Old Masters can be credited with having discovered this gloriously rich red family. All the credit goes to a wonderful unknown modern-day scientist who mixed some organic chemicals up in a lab and came out with these lovely, fully transparent, lightfast, nontoxic reds. Many a twentieth century botanical artist would like to pay homage to this brilliant chemist.

The “quins” are the colors of romance. Though rather strong, they are still the reds of orchids and carnations. The “quins” are the pinks of rose petals. They are the sunlight through a stained glass window. All of this romantic pinky, lavender, rosy color surely must come from the ground up petals of wildflowers gathered at midnight on a full moon. Wrong! They come from a boring test tube in a sterile lab located in the windowless basement of a huge chemical compound. (Actually, we don’t know where they are made today, but the windowless basement sounded pretty good).

Layering transparent glazes with the “quins,” according to Chris Cozen on his blog, “tend not to turn muddy or grey.” The Daniel Smith website states Naples Yellow can be added to Quinacridone Red to create nice peachy shades. Williamsburg Oils says Quinacridone Red can be used to make the “cleanest pinks, flesh tones and violets.” And who would want muddy pinks?? Okay, sometimes a muddy pink is needed in a painting for delicate shadows. In that case, go with the Cadmiums.

Daniel Smith demonstrates a wash with Quinacridone Red:

Let Them Make Art!

“ I gave them paint.  All it takes.  These politicians make things too complicated.”

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Put a group of people into a room full of art supplies and watch what happens.  People find ways to create things.  They experiment with materials, forms, and limitations.  They solve problems.  They begin to talk to each other in different ways. They even bond.  And, generally, they have fun.

Bob Bates is the founder of Inner City Arts, an organization to provide art -making projects to urban youth.  Bates, in an interview with It Magazine believes the process of creating art leads to better self- confidence.  Bates states, “Making art requires thinking and decisions: what color will I use, how can I make this stand up, how can I make this stronger, quieter, brighter, more bendable.”  The self -confidence comes as they see the evidence of how they solved the problems in making their individual art.

A research study by Julia Kellman of the University of Illinois, Urbana, found that people facing life -threatening illness were able to begin opening up and talking about their illness as they participated in art making projects together.  The group bonded in the process of making art, leading to a greater feeling of safety to expose personal feelings and talk about what they were experiencing.

Lisa Phillips, writes in The Artistic Edge, “Artists are constantly pushed to explore unchartered territory.  The truly great ones are those that produce new and exciting work that has never before been created.”  Artists are always, by their very nature, pushing for improvement, to do something better than the last creation.  Each piece is a learning experience that leads to the next one.  Creativity begets more creativity.

As artists know, art making brings about creativity, problem-solving and bonding.  It could be a very child-like, simplistic answer for much bigger problems.  Picasso is frequently quoted as having said, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain one when we grow up.”  Wouldn’t it be a hoot if all politicians were required to go into a room full of art supplies with orders to make art?  What a lot of problems would then be solved!  However, as the old saying goes, “If wishes were horses .….”

Reference:

Kellman, J (2005). HIV, art and a journey toward healing, one man’s story. Journal of Aesthetic Education. 39(3), Fall 2005

The “Life” of a Painting

While shopping for a night stand recently, I visited several popular chain home decor stores.  In each store, I took the time to check out the art being sold to a mass shopping public.  Each store had some nice pieces that would look pleasant in any home or office.   When builders set up model homes to show to perspective buyers, the houses are always decorated with nice pictures.  Nobody lives in these nicely decorated model homes with the nice pictures.  Model homes lack the signs of actual people living in them.  Likewise, the pleasant paintings lack the life that tells you a living, breathing person was communicating through art.

One particular print in a popular store was of a row of birch trees. It was a nice picture.   It would look nice in any home.  However, I found myself comparing this print with the “life” in a Wolf Kahn painting of birch trees.  The first picture would nicely coordinate with a home’s decor and blend well with furniture and drapery.  A Wolf Kahn print would immediately draw attention and dominate the decor.  A Wolf Kahn would have magnetic energy.  A Wolf Kahn would have “life.”

Do we seek to create nice pictures to blend with pleasant decor or do we paint “life?”

Wolf Kahn talks about his work:

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!