Friday, May 27, 2016

Old Master Preparation

The Belmar Arts Council is squeezing in a bunch of shows this summer.  The previous one, a youth art show about texture, was only open for about 2 weeks, and officially ended today.  Next up is the "Old Masters" show I wrote about several days ago.  A few years ago they switched from show entries being brought to the Boatworks on Friday night and early Saturday (and filling out entry forms and paying fees at that time) to doing all the registration in advance online.  Thus I had done the registration at the beginning of the week, but I still had to get the piece ready and bring it in.  Normally we still do the artwork intake on a Saturday, and we will have that tomorrow, but with this weekend being Memorial Day weekend, and Belmar being what it is, it was decided to allow artists to drop off work today as well.

So this morning I took the wooden frame I had picked up in Manasquan last week, removed the charcoal drawing I had in it, and put this ink wash drawing in its place.  And I drove it to the Boatworks  today, arriving at about 1:00 pm, the time they were scheduled to open today and that we could begin dropping off artwork.  Not surprisingly, I was not the only one there.  I think I heard that there will be about 40 pieces in this show, but I'll get the exact number later.  The show opens on June 1st (Wednesday), but the reception will be on Saturday, June 4th.  The show will run to June 24th, wo unlike the kids, we get 3 weeks on the wall.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Masters of Art

When the Belmar Arts Council started planning their summer exhibition schedule, one item put on it was a show called "Old Masters".  Did that mean a show of work from people who have won awards in previous shows (like the Masters golf tournament), because that could work for me.  I have a drawer full of ribbons and plaques, and for the most recent annual Juried show I loaned them some ribbons to hang next to the winners when the ones they ordered were late in arriving.  Actually it turned out to be showing art that was directly influenced by "old masters" art, however you interpret that.  I suppose that makes more sense.  Artists tend to be influenced by art they see and admire.  In my earliest days as an art student I tended to be influenced by whatever I was seeing at the same time in my art history classes.  And I have made more than a few pieces that were based in ways on the work of those who came before me.

The first one to come to mind was my William Blake piece, done as my contribution to a Blake themed print portfolio.  In this case not so much copying his visuals, but adapting one of his long form poems.  It's an excellent piece, but I have shown this one in Belmar before.  The show rules would permit it this time, but it's my policy to avoid repeating myself in the same location.

My mother, who is on their mailing list, suggested my Death on the Highway (above) piece, which borrows ideas and composition from an Albert Pinkham Ryder painting, but with some modern Jersey style.  Also an excellent piece (just sold a copy of it this past January), but again one that I've shown in the Boatworks before.

Another past piece of mine that would work is my History of Art (above) print, which quotes from Bruegel, Bosch, Winslow Homer, Frans Masereel, not to mention comic book and animated cartoon characters and locations.  Another excellent piece that I am proud of, but also shown there, and was invited to be part of a traveling version of that show, before it was banned from that space.  If I had nothing else ready to go, I could have shown something based on backgrounds from old cartoons, which I consider old masters.  I have a saint print from Carbondale that took it's setting from a black and white Fleischer Bros. Popeye cartoon.

My current project, a supermarket print that makes use of designs from the Bayeux Tapestry, would certainly qualify, but I've had to devote much of the past month to school and job seeking, so it isn't close to being done yet.  Another time.

Thought of another possibility that I could easily put together.  I've been teaching drawing at the college level for over a decade, a class that typically includes pencil, charcoal, and other basics.  Everyone comes in with pencil experience, and some have tried charcoal, but those who haven't have at least shaded with pencil which is the same idea.  Drawing with ink and wth conte crayons can be a new concept for a lot of the students.  I don't use the crayons myself, and most students I get are unfamiliar, but quickly grow to like them.  Expressive while being less messy than charcoal.  I don't use ink as a medium in finished art, but it is very much part of my working process for portrait pieces.    To help explain to students how to build gradually with layers of dilute ink wash, I did a demonstration piece.  It's based on a Lucian Freud painting (a portrait of fellow artist Frank Auerbach), adapting his layered painterly shapes and colors to value changes.  The demo piece is actually 3 drawings based on the same source- one very light early stage, one that also has some layers of middle and dark values, and one near finished with many layers of ink wash.  Typically I would show the class a slide of the real painting, and add some washes to the various state drawing I had.  A few years ago I decided to make a new demo piece, using a charcoal portrait piece of mine as the starting point, but I still have the Freud drawings, and this piece certainly qualifies for this old master show.  I have some wood frames that I occasionally use for showing charcoal drawings, but this piece is the right size for that display.  So this is what I submitted.  Not a juried show, so no reason it won't be part of it.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Critique Time Already

As of now, my computer is not ready to accept the photos I shot tonight.  Perhaps in a few days.  I can tell you now that around 6:00 pm I got a call from Molly telling me that she was likely not going to come to our critique group tonight.  I was already there, so I stuck around.  At 7:00 I had no one else there yet, but when she called again I told her I'd stay until at least 7:30 and see if anyone showed.  A few minutes late we had 4 more in attendance- Mary from my class, her daughter Katie (a regular, no work tonight), Margery, and Jane.  A nice relaxing and productive night.  When I get photos I'll give more details about what we saw tonight.

5/3/16- My computer and camera were back to talking today.

The two color pieces in the above photo were from Jane.  The watercolor in the upper left (sheep) is one we've seen in a less resolved version.  The sheep are pretty much unchanged since then, but the backgrounds have been given more texture and value.  The family portrait (lower right) had just been picked up from a show.  She was pleased that the personalities of the children came through in the piece.

The small black and white print in the upper right corner is the latest from Mary Lane, which I had seen at her house last week.  Below is a close up that shows some of the detail.

This is a work in progress.  Below we see the original photo she based the image on, plus two blocks.  She is considering a multi block print, though she is open to using the blocks to try different approaches.

Margery brought a new ceramic figure.  The shackles around the ankles were a last minute repair, when she learned it had broken there prior to firing.  The unusual modulated colors are a combination of glazes and oil paint, which I felt went well with the baked brie dish just behind it.  I had opened the evening showing and talking about my latest supermarket print, and the others thought this guy looked like a character who could be part of the Bayeux Tapestry, a warrior.  The artist was not opposed to that association.