Monday, August 22, 2016

Lord of the Manor

Dragon Attack, oil on linen, 24"X36", © 2016 Richard J. Luschek II
My newest painting in the series "Kids at Play" (that title needs work) is finished and hanging in the Cincinnati Art Galleries. I thought I would blog about the process of getting this image from idea to canvas.
Get ready for a sappy discussion about what these paintings mean to me and how they are developing into a series I think will keep me busy for a while.
I may even use the term 'cathartic' as some point, so grab your barf bag and get ready. Amongst the jibber jabber, I will be posting shots of the long process this still life went through on the way to being a final design ready to paint.
The basic idea was obviously a kid, me specifically, building a castle out of cardboard and the battle that would happen after it's construction. Plus I've been wanting to paint a picture with toilet paper tubes for some time.


I am lucky enough to be doing exactly what I want to do for a living. I get to draw, paint and create all day. Not unlike what I was doing in my childhood. Everyday I go to the studio and play. This fact has, I believe, severely slowed the aging process- at least mentally.
After studying painting, I was mostly worried about the visual. How do I make this blank canvas look like the objects in front of me in value, color and form. Now I'm using that information to tell stories.

Interestingly, the toy knights Ive had since I was 4. When I was in Jr High I painted them all with model paint so I could use them in Dungeons and Dragons games. I decided to spray paint them as they looked originally. They came in an amazing play-set with a big castle made in Germany.

And yes, I still have the castle in a box. Look for it to appear in a painting sometime in the future. This time around I wanted a childlike, homemade feel.


I generally have a terrible memory for past events. I tend to live in a small window of time. I have discussed in previous posts about the interesting things that happens to me when I work on these paintings. I get out my toys- that have been retrieved from my parents attic and basically play with them during the set up process- in a very intelligent and manly way.
Once they are set up I stare at them for hours while I paint. It is a bit of a window to the past. It's a look into the brain of 8 year old me. Its about building a story out of stuff. So, a lot of these paintings are about pretending, building, making and playing. During the process hidden memories pour out. Its like dumping an old box of photos into my brain. Yeah, catharsis! I'm also constantly getting new ideas for more pictures.

As you can see the set-up goes through a lot before I settle on a paintable subject. I want it to look carefree and random while being a powerful design. That takes days of play and experimentation.
I liked the idea of paneling, but I felt the cardboard castle- similar value and color-  got lost. 
I have to thank Carl Samson for the extremely appropriate Joan of Arc beans box he found in the attic of the Wessel House.
The label on the glue bottle was too modern so I had to print out an image I found online of one from the 70s.
I turned the background panels around and painted them blue which gave the appearance of a mysterious dark sky. A blue table would be too much, so I tried a table cloth, but it was too busy and the newspaper and white horses got lost.
The news paper was newish, but it had an old photo of Ronald and Nancy Regan on front so I figured that was good enough.
I spent a good three days adjusting and doing sketches to get from the above photo to this one.




This old red card table was perfect. It worked well with the rest of the colors and the black end caps and rivets had a shape and feel which went well with the castle. I had tried to have a chair in the front of another painting but could not get the design to work. We had some old chairs that I was able to take apart and put on stilts to get it to the right height. Using my adjustable still life table, I set up a bit lower than usual- essential from the viewpoint of an 8 year old. As a child I use a lot of toilet paper tubes and Irish Spring soap boxes to build things. The current Irish Spring packaging is very different. I found images of boxes online, built a flat box in photoshop and printed it on cardboard and folded up my own 1979 soap box. The purple dinosaur was the right size but the wrong color, so I painted it blue and added the complimentary orange wings.

Here is the painting and the final set up after two or thee days of painting.
I made some changes to the set up as the painting developed, adding the clock back in to the upper left and a red shield over the door to strengthen the center. I may do a second post about the painting process in my next post.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

River of Blood- Sugary Blood!

Battle at the Red River, 16x20, oil on linen, © 2016 Richard J. Luschek II




The recent theme for my work is kids at play- and more specifically memories of my own childhood, so they are about a young Richard Luschek at play. The above painting is an attempt to move away from the emphasis on the word still in still-life and focus on adding more life. I decided I needed to step up the game in realism, not so much in execution and technique but thematically. My focus is still on design and the visual abstraction but the mood of the painting has to feel like a child at play.
I discussed the development of this idea in an earlier post based on the following set up. It felt stiff and not very real. It actually was separated into two different paintings.



This new direction resulted in my studio becoming a bit of a construction zone as I built some sets for my still life arrangements. I bought fake flooring and base molding, and made any props needed to give this a feel of being on the floor in the corner of the room.


After a week of arranging the stuff I felt the center of interest was weak. I needed a strong diagonal leading into the picture. The idea of using Red Pop just happened. I cut some red paper into a puddle shape to get a visual idea and it all started to fall into place.



This is a photo after my first day lay-in. I poured red pop on the table and painted it as quickly as I could as it would slowly run off the edge and out of the set up. I was spending too much time cleaning up red pop. I tried to level the floor but the pop would find a way to run away or just slowly evaporate.



I decided I needed a something that would give me the look of liquid but not move. I thought I could paint it on the floor, but color and transparency were an issue. I finally decided that I could use the recipe for fake blood: Corn syrup and food coloring. The recipe for red pop is not that different- it was just too wet. I mixed up my concoction and drizzled it in to place. I had to use a brush to mold and shape the puddle into shape. It eventually set up and I had my stationary puddle. The only issue was that it would get a skin on it over time and wrinkle. I would just brush water on it to flatten it out and reactivate the liquid appearance. 
I eventually had to scrape the corn syrup up and clean the area adding real red pop to the scene again to finish the painting. The spill was the most difficult area of the painting. I repainted it for a few days  till I was satisfied.

So this is the start of my new plan to blog more. If you follow this blog you know I have said that before, but this time I discovered there is this cool app on my phone that will remind me to post. Its called the calendar app, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Landscape Painting Class with Me


Paint from observation and attack your subject matter.

I am offering a Landscape painting class this spring.
Saturdays, 10:00am - 1:00pm, starting on May 21 - June 18th.
This 5 week session will meet in a Cincinnati park with the goal of completing a larger multi session painting of at least 16 x20. We will begin with finding a scene, composing the picture in charcoal sketch, a color study and finally work on the completing a larger work on site. Each class will begin with a discussion and lesson covering the basics. Some experience with painting is suggested.
Class fee is $200 for returning students. $250 for new students who will be asked to attend a session on May 14th from 10-1 in my studio. Class size is limited. 
 
This class is for both hobbyists and professionals. It is also a good class for teens trying to build a portfolio for college. Students that have taken the class multiple times see continued improvement. I introduce the techniques in a simple, easy to understand manner, not mention it is loads of fun.

We will be painting in the same location for the entire class. I have yet to pick out the location. I am still scouting possible painting sites that will work in all weather and not conflict with any city events. There may be a small fee if I find a private location.

Please let me know if you are interested and RSVP as soon as possible. Feel free to email richard_luschek@yahoo.com or call if you have any questions. 513-479-3322

Hazy Downtown, oil on linen, 24x36, © 2016 Richard J. Luschek II.
http://www.richardluschek.com

Monday, February 29, 2016

Figure Drawing Class



Classical Figure Drawing -This class will be held in a lovely north-light studio downtown at the Pendelton.
The 8 week class will be from 10-1 and start  on Saturday March 26th- May 14th, running for 8 weeks.
Cast Drawing, 22"x 16", charcoal, by Richard Luschek

The class will cover the basics of drawing the nude figure in charcoal. Easels will be provided. A supply list will be sent to those who sign up for the class.

-          Participants will begin by learning the basics of the visual language, the craft and order of drawing in traditional media.

-          Focus of class: to provide initial or further introduction to the steps taken and principles applied to the art of Figure Drawing. 
This includes:
            i.       the basics of composition
            ii.       the idea of the ‘gesture’
            iii.       using the tools available (charcoal, good paper) and creating a comfortable setup
            iv.       the execution of a start, the idea of the light and dark, and flat shadows.
            v.       Main focus that drawing is the interpretation of form

-     A final session with the model will focus on the head, the drawing or painting (optional) of the planes of the head 

Class fee is $300 and include the model fees. Class size is limited
Email me at richard_luschek@yahoo.com to register.
Nikki, 12x9, charcoal sketch, by Richard Luschek


Friday, January 22, 2016

Time To Put On A Show!

After some reflection, some depression, some self flagellation and a round of the typical New Years promises, I have decided that I need to step up my game. While I feel like I am improving as a painter, the subjects and compositions have gotten stale and safe.
In December I started setting up a still life but it just was not making me tingle. I had a discussion with my friend Joe Slucher. While looking at one of my struggling still life set ups, he mentioned that it seemed forced, "Did your mother let you play with your toys at the table?"


The rough idea was there, but it was obviously not working. His comment was like an creative wedgie for my brain. It got me thinking about the realism of the subject. I am painting these scenes of kids playing- really memories from my childhood. These scenes of the 'kid version of me' need to be more truthful. How do kids play? More specifically, how did I play, and how can I create good design out of that?
Kids play on the floor. Kids are messy, nasty creatures. If you have boys you can't have nice things.
I am still pretty immature like most artists I know, but I forgot what its like to play. What did 8 year old Richard play like? Oh, I know what you're thinking- "He played beautifully and brilliantly!"

Starting from scratch, I split this still life into two set ups. In order to do this, one of the issue I had was that the backdrop is not big enough and I'd like to have the option to work in a corner, which allows for various planes of value. Also, I needed an area where I could set up on the floor if needed. I had a small sheet of plywood on the walls that I could paint for back drops but it was not good enough. I had to go bigger.

So I built some walls in that spot. I thought about using drywall, but figured plywood would be more sturdy and could be moved to the other side of the room if I wanted.

I glued and screwed these flats and used joint compound on the seam. The side wall is just screwed so I can move it if I want. I added some old picture rail I found to the top and curtain rods on hooks so I can add fabric to any scene. I wanted a wood floor and found that you could buy sample boards of Pergo (fake wood flooring) for $5 a board. I added the base molding and had a faux corner of the room set up on which to assemble my scenes. One added feature I never thought of was that the back of the side wall now gave me a place to store my stretcher bars in an upright and organized fashion.


To the right I have another set up on top of my file cabinet that needed some work too. I decided to make a mini corner of the room even though this is a higher straight on view.
I built the small corner for the top a while ago and just needed to add base molding and a floor- all of which is loose and can be removed. The nice think is that later on I can repaint the walls a new color, paint the molding, change out the floor or even add carpet. 

I then was thinking it would be nice to have an outlet or light switch to add for more options.
I drilled out the rivets on an outlet and switch, then sanded them down till they were flat. I added some tape on the back to clean it up and I have flat set decorations.


They could be added to any scene. Here I even plugged an old cord- after cutting off the tines a bit.


I used some wax to stick the light switch to the wall in my other set up.
I am pretty excited about these new 'stages'. I look forward to working on the paintings for the next few weeks.
More about these paintings coming soon.



Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mother and Son

A few weeks ago a woman contacted me after taking a painting home from the gallery to try out in her home. The painting ended up being too big for the space so she returned it to the gallery and asked me to paint something smaller with the same Hadley cups featured. Her husband's mother had collected Hadley and they wanted something to remember her by. She asked that I just paint a cup or two to give as a Christmas present.
I thought it would be interesting to make a story out of it, to do a diptych of a mother and son having an afternoon drink. The mother having tea or coffee, the son having milk and playing with his truck.
Mother and Son, each panel 8"x6", oil on linen, © 2015 Richard Luschek
I decided to have the truck in both scenes and in different positions, as we all know if a boy has a truck he's gonna drive it through your space.

I thought I'd show a few stages of the lay-in process as I only had a few days to paint this to have it ready in time for Christmas.
Day 1
This was probably just done in a few hours to get the canvases covered. I wanted it to be dry the next day so I painted thinly and stored it near the furnace exhaust pipe in my studio to cook it dry.
Day 2
The week before Christmas was very cloudy and grim. So at times it was too dark to paint. I tried to just concentrate on drawing during those dark times. You can see things are starting to come into focus. For details I tend to continually paint them out and rework the area. Here you can see I got rid of the design on the right cup to work the form more.
I also added some milk to the boys cup.
Day 4
I tried to focus on the boys panel so I didn't have to keep moving the truck back and forth.

Day5
I flipped the panels on the easel so I could focus on the mother side of things. I added tea to the cup and changed the tea label from red to green. The label was actually green as it is Irish Breakfast blend, but I  initially thought it would look better red. I decided it was too much and changed it to green.
 

They were picked up a few days before Christmas. She seemed very happy with the paintings. They were still a bit wet as was still painting when she came to pick them up.
I had joked about drinking the milk when I was finished to celebrate, but did not look to appetizing after sitting in the studio for a few days- it was more cheese than milk at this point. Instead I went for a beer on the way home.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

30th Anniversary of Panorama

I will have a painting hanging at the Cincinnati Art Galleries downtown in their 30th Anniversary Panorama show. It is a benefit for the Cincinnati Art Museum. 

Doughnut and Coffee, 14x11, oil on linen, 2015

 This is a painting I did as a demonstration at a local art store, then finished in the studio. I wrote about the process here a few months ago. 

The opening tomorrow is a ticketed event, but the show will be up till the first of the year. If you want to come tomorrow, put your fancy clothes on, buy a ticket and come hang out with me over by the snack table.

Please join us Friday, December 4th from 5 pm to 8 pm for a special opening featuring paintings by artists of Cincinnati’s Golden Age.
This Panorama of Cincinnati Art is a benefit for the Cincinnati Art Museum. Opening night ticket sales as well as a portion of all painting sales from the month of December will go to benefit the Cincinnati Art Museum. Paintings by Cincinnati artists from the turn of the century as well as a few local Cincinnati artists will be for sale.
Reservations are required for the opening night benefit.
Exhibition continues through December 31st.