Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

I finally finished my peanut better jelly painting, started about the same time as the snickers bar painting. Interestingly the Wonder Bread in the still life was purchased in early November. I had the bread for a while before I even set up the painting. It has been set up for about two months, and over 6 months later there is no mold on the bread at all. The sandwich I made and took a bite out of for this still life looks pretty much the same as it did the day I set it up. The peanut butter faded a bit, but it seemed almost edible. There must be a preservative or two in there. This was one of my favorite meals when I was a kid. Consuming all of those preservatives must be why I am so healthy and covered in head to toe in rippling muscles.
I resisted the temptation to eat the sandwich when I was finished- it went in the garbage. I have a loaf of bread that is missing only two slices. If anyone is interested you can give me a call. If you buy the painting I will throw the loaf of bread in for free.

The painting is now in the window at Rottinghaus Gallery in O'Bryonville if you want to rush down to purchase it. As soon as it was placed in the window it seemed to draw interest. People walking by were stopping to check it out.
I was also standing in the gallery window at the time, so maybe it was me they were checking out. You know, all those rippling muscles.

P B & J, 18 x 15, Oil on Linen

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Red, Red Wine

Sometimes you just have to set a painting aside and just look at for a while if it is not going too well. This is a painting that I started over a year ago. It is a bit of a crazy composition, but I was pretty excited about it. There were some things just not jiving. I even showed a very much unfinished version of it in a show last year.
I decided to go back into it working a bit from a reference photo, a bit from memory and the rest I just made up till I liked it.
A good friend of mine was generous enough to pose for this painting on her lovely back porch. She probably stood in that pose a total of about 12 to 15 hours. I did not keep track of how much wine was consumed, but it was good wine, as she was kind enough to share.

Red Wine, Summer Evening, 20 x 16, oil on linen

Monday, May 4, 2009

One more about art schools

I am going to post the Commencement Address from a local art college. This is taken word for word, without editing or any changes by me. Straight off the college news letter. Enjoy:

"I thought that I would come to the _____________ and learn what art is.

I thought that, by now, I would know what made art good, and I expected my teachers would tell me how to make it.

I thought that I would be sure of what I wanted to make.

I thought that I would have all the skills I needed.

I thought that I would learn how to make art that everyone would like and want to buy.

I thought that I would confidently call myself An Artist.

I did not get what I came here fro. Instead of confidence and certainty I have questions and doubts. Of course, I blame my teachers for this. They never told me exactly what art is. They always asked questions. They asked questions about who artist are, where art should be, and who it is for, anyway. Sometimes they revealed that they are uncertain about their own work. They never showed me how to do something exactly, but always suggested that there are many ways to do things…. And that it would be better to figure it out for myself. And they never revealed the absolute litmus test for proving what is and what isn’t art. They showed the artist not as a finished product but as a work-in-progress.

Whatever is received is due it gratitude, even when it is not what was asked for. Parents, friends, family…administrators and staff- I want to thank you all for helping us on this project. Gratitude affirms that we need each other. Giving and receiving links us in a mutual interdependence. Like breathing, what we take in we must give back in order to take in again. There is also a wider family in the community to thank for giving their unsolicited blessings and gifts of arbitrary generosity. I recall the clerk at Kinko’s who just let the bill slide when the copy counter didn’t work, the BBC Overnight World Service for stimulating conversations at 3 a.m., the baker who gave away free slice of foccacia, the sheet metal man who couldn’t bear seeing me dig for change. Thanks to the sales clerk at Norton’s who gave me a cheese Danish along with a verse of his favorite song (and I thought that I didn’t have the time).

But I mostly want to say thank you to the teachers for giving what I didn’t know how to ask for:

For hesitation instead of assurance…thanks

For more questions than answers….thanks

For turning things upside down and shaking them out….

For showing the many ways an artist can be…thank you ……All of you …..All. "

I was going to write something about the above, but I think I will just let it speak for itself.

The "Art" School Myth

I felt this needed more discussion than it got in the previous post.

If I am able to talk at least one kid out of wasting their time going to "art" school I feel I will have done my duty. Now, I am not saying that you don't need to learn how to make paintings. If you want to be a painter, you have to study with someone that has mastered the craft. Painters are made, not born. I suppose you could say that some are born with a certain genetic makeup that will allow them to become a great artists, but most anyone can learn to paint if they get good training, and then go off to paint miles of canvas so as to master the craft yourself.

Good training is not readily available in most if any accredited colleges. For one thing, the way to learn how to paint is to work at the basics; study of form, value, color, proportion.
You are studying drawing and painting. You are doing studies not making art.

In fact, it should not be called Art School. You are not making art in art school. A few years ago I fill two large trash cans with the "art" I made in college. I saved a few pieces for giggles and to humble myself a bit.

You will be funneled from room to room, with professional teachers, rather than professional artists, given silly assignments that have little to do with skill. When on the rare occasion you get to draw the human form, you will be put in front of a figure model, that will most probably take a vulgar pose and then told to express yourself on the paper.
In one advanced figure drawing class the teacher got angry that I was not experimenting- I was under the silly assumption that I was supposed to try to do a faithful representation of the model before me. Being the smart ass that I am, took a dollar bill out of my wallet and started drawing on that. The teacher exclaimed, "That's it Richard! Finally, you understand."
I understood enough to drop the class.

I had great fun in "art" school. I made some great friendships there. I even liked most of my teachers, but I graduated without the skills needed for a career in the arts. Why would you put yourself or your children through the same time wasting activity?

Of those friends that I graduated from college with, only a small few are working as full time artists. Most went back to school or moved on to other professions.
Those of us that studied under Paul Ingbretson, all are working as painters. Some of us even have hilarious and informative blogs.