Friday, December 30, 2011

Painting Under Rainbows

Today was a crazy day in the studio. It seemed to alternate between having a dark black cloud parked over my sky light hitting it with wind and rain blocking every last bit of my north light, to clear blue sky, big white clouds around bright rainbows filling my studio with glorious light. As magical as that sounds it was mostly dark and rainy. In general, a pretty rough painting day. As much as I have tried, shaking your fist at the heavens while cursing never helps the lighting situation.
I still managed to lay in a little diptych today. I pulled this off in a few hours and think I can finish it up easily next session- in a few days after it dries.

Cream and Sugar, diptych, Each panel 7" x 5", Oil on Linen, © copyright Richard Luschek 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Cracked that Nut

Just a brief update about my newest paintings. Aren't they just the cutest little things?
I am enjoying the process of doing paintings that have a relationship with each other. Sort of force the issue when the same object appears in both. My attempt is to have them work together, but to also be their own individual composition.
Below are the finished product after a bit of work to touch up the details and bring it into focus.
Nut, Washer, Nut, 2" x 3", Oil on linen
Bolt, Washer, Screwdriver, 2" x 3", Oil on linen
© copyright Richard Luschek 2011
The painting on the left is almost completely reliant on highlights and reflections for the composition. All else is pretty unified and evenly toned. The other has a more powerful and obvious abstraction. Despite the differences I think they balance each other nicely.
These paintings are revisiting a theme I did last year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Nuts and Bolts of Painting

I recently found a bunch of tiny 3" x 5" oval frames at the Castner Frame warehouse, so I made some canvas panels to fit them and am going to try to finish a set a week- until they are all filled.
I like doing these little guys, as I can play with composition in an oval rather than the normal rectangular format. I can cover the canvas and get some form, value and color fairly quickly- I spent maybe an hour and a half on these. If you design pictures you know that sometime the corners of the picture can be tough. Solution: paint pictures without corners.

So, here are the paintings with the setup to the right. Once these dry I will dive back in with a fresh eye and fix the problems- starting with the thing that is most off in a big sense. Probably value and color. Then refine the drawing a bit. I should be able to finish these up pretty quickly.

I shot these at an angle to remove the glare and now they are a bit wonky. I tried to square them up- but they are ovals, so...... I will post the finished paintings soon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Panorama of Cincinnati Art XXVI

Sorry to be so lazy, but I just copied and pasted last years announcement of being in the Panorama show- with some updates.

A panorama is any wide-angle view or representation of a physical space, whether in painting, drawing, photography, film/video, or a three-dimensional model.

I am honored to have been selected for Cincinnati Art Galleries 26th anniversary Panorama of Cincinnati Art.

Opening Day 1977, 18 x 24, oil on linen, © copyright Richard Luschek 2011
Click here to see the painting on their site.
There are two reasons I am sure this show will be fantastic. For one thing the title ends in -orama. Secondly, most of the paintings are by the "Old Masters" of Cincinnati painting. The list includes Edward Potthast, Joseph Sharp, and John Weis.  This is an Artorama of great art by wonderful dead painters. I have been quite vocal of my support for and love of dead painters. They have done the best art in the Western world and it is a club I hope to be part of in the future. In fact I have pretty much  guaranteed it

The opening was last Friday. Sorry, I should have told you.
Anyway, it cost $100 a person and will benefit the Cincinnati Opera. Now as much as I think it is completely fair for you to have to pay money to see my work, you can check Panorama for free the rest of the month. If you buy my paintings a percentage also goes to help the Opera. It's for a good cause. If you do go to the opening, I imagine  there will be wine and cheese. I don't know if there will be entertainment, but for the 26th anniversary, if it were up to me, we would celebrate Panorama with the band Bananarama. That would be incredible.

Anyway, below is the information about the show.

Panorama of Cincinnati Art XXVI
Over 100 works
by Cincinnati's most famous artists 
from 1850 to the Now.

Opening Reception Friday, December 2rd from 5:00 - 8:00pm
$100 per person (payable to Cincinnati Museum Center)
Located at 225 East 6th Street, Cincinnati OH
Please call Sarah at 513-381-2128 for reservations
*Ticket sales as well as a portion of all painting sales during the month of December will benefit Cincinnati Museum Center. The exhibition and sale will open free to the public Saturday, December 4th and will continue through January 31st. All items can be viewed on our website at
Exhibition and sale includes paintings by the following artists:
Stephen Alke, Paul Ashbrook, Tom Bacher, Herbert Barnett, Robert Blum, Paul Chidlaw, Mark Daly, Matt Daly, Julie Morrow Deforest, Frank Duveneck, Louis Endres, John Joseph Enneking, Henry Farny, Reginald Grooms, John Hauser, Arthur Helwig, Edna Boies Hopkins, James Hopkins, Charles Salis Kaelin, Kevin T. Kelly, Robert Knipschild, Thomas Corwin Lindsay, Richard J. Luschek, Lewis Henry Meakin, Emma Mendenhall, William Meuttman, Kate Reno Miller, Franklin Morris, Henry Mosler, Frank Harmon Myers, Elizabeth Nourse, Edward Potthast, Charles Reiffel, John Rettig, Wolfgang A. Ritschel, Paul Sawyier, Joseph Scheuerle, Dixie Selden, Joseph Henry Sharp, Leslie Shiels, William McKendree Snyder, William Louis Sonntag, Sr., Rudolph Tschudi, Louis Charles Vogt, Edward Volkert, John Ellsworth Weis, Bessie Wessel, Herman Wessel, Carl Zimmerman
& Others
Full Color Catalog available for $20

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monster Attacks the Contests

My still life A Monster Attacks at Breakfast was selected as a finalist in the Artist's Magazine 28th Annual Art Competition. Pick up a copy if you want a magazine with my name in it. For a small fee, I will personally sign your copy. It is nice to see the painting be recognized like this. It recently won a prize in a local show as well.
This is my third year in a row to make it to the finalists selection. One of these days I hope to win one of the top prizes- you know the king where you get featured in the magazine and are celebrated with money and women. As always, it was an honor to be selected. There were some great painters in the finalists selection. So I am in good company.

A Monster Attacks at Breakfast, 22" x26", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2010

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A creepy new friend.

I have really been wanting a Mannequin.
I don't mean the 80's movie starring Kim Cattrall, though it was pretty awesome. Honestly I think I liked the sequel a bit more- but I digress.
I have been looking for a poseable manikin for the studio to use for doing portrait work or to set up if I need to do fabric studies. It is tough to get any model to pose for long periods of time, so it is useful to have something to dress in the costume.

The full-sized wood ones sold at art supply warehouses are pretty expensive and can run up close to $1000. I figured I could make my own or find something cheaper that I could make work. Even an old department store mannequin could be used somehow.
There is a local fellow that has a great suite of warehouses full of antiques. He has some great stuff and I am often dropping in to look for still life objects or for stuff I need to fix my 100 year old house. I called him and told him if he didn't already have something to be on the lookout. He just called and said he had found me a creepy dude. It is an old medical mannequin, and was not really in great shape, but the price was right.  I spent a day and an evening getting it fixed up. I built a new hip, made a wooden foot and fixing up some of the joints. The other nice perk is that I can practice my CPR technique.
I still need to fill the chest and stomach areas somehow, the light patches on the arms and legs are spots where you can practice giving the doll injections. They were missing in a few places so I sprayed expandable foam then trimmed it smooth.

The fancy new wooden foot I made out of a piece of 2x4

My next order of business it try to make it so I can set a pose. The joints are pretty loose so I can't lock a pose yet.

As it stands he is just a creepy fixture sitting in a chair in our basement. It freaks my wife out every time she goes into the basement.
I will probably be dressing this fellow up like a Knight Templar for a painting I am working on. Look for more photos of my new creepy friend in the future.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I will tell you a Secret

I just got back from the Secrets event. I had a great time. It was very crowded with lots of fancy Cincinnati people there. I ran into a lot of old friends and meet a lot of great people. Of course we can discuss the real reason I enjoyed it- the snacks and beverages. Very nice.
The event opened at 5 and I got there around 6 and my secret card had already sold. It's no longer a secret so I can post the image here.
Basement Bulb, 7 x 5, oil on linen. © copyright Richard Luschek 2011
Yes, I did another light bulb. This time I did a lit bulb. I have to say, it is a challenge staring at a light for that long. I was doing a lot of squinting, but still it took a toll. I hope who ever purchased it appreciates the possible long-term retinal damage this painting may have caused.

I knew the trick to getting this painting to read was to get the overall key of the picture correct. Even the lightest light in the painting has some color to it, a warm chromatic yellow. Very near white, but not quite. So I had to darken everything else down to get that to read as a lit bulb. In a heavy squint the aura around the bulb was an orange to red glow that filled the darks.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Psssst, Pssssst

Once again it is time for Secret Artworks.

Below are two Secrets cards I did a few years ago. I can't show the card I did this year, but I can tell you it is very cool.

Secret ArtWorks: The Masters

 The Party Starts Next Friday (Nov. 18th!)

Still haven't made plans to attend Secret ArtWorks: The Masters? Here are 3 reasons why you should:
  1. You could be the proud new owner of brand new, original work of art by some of the best artists from Cincinnati to Columbia!
  2. Proceeds from Secret ArtWorks supports ArtWorks programming! That means your money will help ArtWorks employ youth and artists, and engage the community to create public art that will transform our city! 
  3. It's a lot of fun! There's food, drinks, live music, and a room full of art-loving individuals like yourself!

Friday, November 18th, 2011
5 pm - 9 pm

MCA Event Center 
(former CAC, in the Mercantile Building)

120 E Fourth Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Admission: $125 (single), $175 (double).

Includes admission to the Event, an art voucher redeemable for one (1) Secret Work of Art, drink tickets, and hors d'oeuvres.

Additional vouchers can be purchased for $75.

Click here to purchase your tickets now! Online sales end at noon on Thursday, November 17th. After that, you will have to purchase your tickets at the door.

You've already seen the Online Preview of this year's Secret ArtWorks. Why not go ahead and see them in person?

Preview Week
November 14th - November 17th
Westin Hotel Atrium

21 East Fifth Street

Cincinnati, OH 45202

This is your chance to get up close and personal with the art that will be available at Secret ArtWorks: The Masters. You'll have the opportunity to decide on your favorite works. That way, when the doors open next Friday night, you'll know exactly what you're looking for!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Art Show Season

Fall is a busy time for art shows. So, if you have been thinking about how much you would love to drink cheap wine, eat cheese cubes and look at some art, then I have a few events for you!

43rd ViewPoint show at the Cincinnati Art Club
My painting A Monster Attacks at Breakfast is showing at the Cincinnati Art Club. You can see all the paintings in the show if you click here to see the slideshow.
I was also honored with the Viewpoint Chairperson Award. 
I did not get any photos of me receiving my award last Friday so here is another photo of me accepting an award.
Show continues weekends (Saturdays and Sundays)
November 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 2011
Hours:   1:00 to 4:00 p.m.  
Cincinnati Art Club's Wessel Gallery
1021 Parkside Place
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Indian Hill Church Art Show
I have done this show two other times. It is a pretty good show, though it can get crowded. They have a new  event this year that is pretty cool. Artists were asked to do a 6x8 painting, these "miniatures" will be on sale in a separate area. Here is mine.
Tea on Green, 8x6, oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2011

A social fund raising event featuring local artists. Each artist donates 30% of their proceeds to benefit the church's Outreach Programs.

Friday November 11th:
6 PM - 9 PM. Wine tasting, appetizers, complimentary valet parking.
$5 Donation for adults.

Saturday November 12th:
10 AM - 3 PM. Light refreshments.
Free admission.

Finally, I am in a secret art auction that is a fund raiser for LAM Foundation.
Here is the information for this event. I plan on being at the signing event on Thursday.
                             Who is the artist?

A charity/fine art show for which the artists will create an 8” x 10” unsigned original piece of fine art that may, or may not be in their style. (hence the Masquerade).

The signing of the artwork will take place on the last day of the show.

All artwork will be 8” x 10” and priced at $250 with half of the proceeds going to the LAM Foundation. The $250 price will be in effect until November 3rd when a silent auction will begin and end on Nov 10th.

To support the LAM Foundation Charity. (A lung disease striking mostly young women)

Participating artists include the following plus others:
Eric Franke              Richard Luschek                 Diane Young                        Bonita Goldberg
Lilnda Fisler              Mary Beth Thompson          William Cole             Rich Bitting
Carl Samson
Hosted and Sponsored by:
Christie Crawford
Cal Weigold
Laura Heidorn
Jim Aria
(All four of the sponsors are formerly associated with Closson’s)

Aria’s  Oriental Rugs
9689 Montgomery Rd.
Montgomery, OH 45242

October 27, 2011 through November 10, 2011**

Opening Reception – Thursday October 27, 2011, 5-8 p.m.  RSVP to 513-378-3836.
Show will remain up during business hours: 
Mon-Fri 10-7: Saturday 10-6, Sunday 10-5
Signing Event – Thursday November 10, 6-8.  Come and meet your artist.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

John Hauser- Cincinnati Painter of Indians.

 I was recently asked to write an essay for a new book on the life and works of John Hauser, an Indian painter from Golden Age of Cincinnati art.  The painter's house and studio are just a few blocks from where I live. The current owners of the Hauser house and studio are a lovely couple that have become champions of the painter, and have organized shows, given talks and finally, Mr. Harris has written a much needed book on the artist.
He recently sent me an email that the book is going to print soon. I thought as a preview I would share my essay here. You can see more information about the project and book here.

John Hauser in his studio.

We are very pleased to tell you that our book is now complete and in the hands of the publisher. It is scheduled to appear under the title:

*Straight White Shield* A Life and Work of John Hauser (1859-1913) with a Catalogue Raisonné
a preface by Phyllis Weston and an essay by Richard Luschek
xiv + 308 pages

In addition to being the first biography of this forgotten artist, it also offers a survey of his reception within the art world and a source book of the complete newspaper citations, a page of sample signatures to help authenticate and date his work, a section on the studio where he worked with a full set of photographs, an annotated bibliography and such extras as family trees.It is also, of course, richly illustrated with countless previously unpublished works.

/Straight White Shield/  will appear in early February, 2012, in conjunction with a major exhibition of the works of John Hauser at Cincinnati Art Galleries, 225 East 6th Street, in downtown Cincinnati. You’ll have ample opportunity to see and purchase the book.
For further information, please contact

A Critical Look at John Hauser

By Richard Luschek

Having lived in Cincinnati as a painter for twenty years, I have great admiration for the wonderful collection of painters from Cincinnati’s Golden Age. When we study the outstanding artistic heritage of this city, an impressive group of painters can be assembled, most notably Duveneck, DeCamp, Sharp, and Farny. One name, however, which is often absent from this discussion is that of John Hauser. This book sheds light on this forgotten Cincinnati painter.
I have been given the humbling task of critically analyzing the work of John Hauser, specifically his dependence on photographs rather than live models. I have chosen to begin with an observation taken from the brief biography of Hauser issued by the Altermann Gallery in Santa Fe: “. . . Hauser tended to model his subjects rather heavily, which could very well have resulted from the artist's over reliance on the photograph as a resource tool.” This quotation sets the tone for my discussion of Hauser’s work. This book offers a fascinating look at one of Cincinnati’s most neglected painters. Hauser captured the nobility of the American Indian, painting quiet scenes of them in their own environment. To quote the authors of this book, “Hauser’s output is uneven and many of his pieces left his studio that probably should not have. . . . His work is often derivative in the choice of subject matter and composition and he falls into the cliché trap often. That being said, however, he is clearly capable of creating an occasional masterpiece.” (p. 123)
This book offers a wealth of illustrations of Hauser’s work and you may judge them for yourselves. A complete view of the artist from my perspective can best be presented by discussing a few deficiencies found in Hauser’s work. In particular, I will offer some insight into his “uneven” output. Let me start by saying I believe any of Hauser's deficiencies are less a question of talent than that of his limited training and subsequent overuse of photography.
It is a myth that great artists are born geniuses. Most successful artists have studied long and hard to develop their craft, most often having studied under a master who was trained similarly. The techniques of a painter have been passed down through the ages from teacher to student since the Renaissance. The students learned these techniques through intense study of classical sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome, copies of great works of art, and intense study of nature. This worship of nature joined with a love of beauty helped guide understanding of a visual truth—a truth that could be represented in paint.
The advent of photography forever changed the art world. Artists had not only new competition in visual representation, but also a versatile tool at their disposal for closer study of the visual world, if they could avoid its pitfalls.
Many great artists welcomed photography as a means to aid their perception. They could explore new compositions and poses difficult to capture from mere observation. The additional motifs allowed by the camera aid the artist’s memory of a natural scene. Poses that a model or animal would be unable or unwilling to hold can now be captured with the camera.
Naturalists of the nineteenth century such as Jules Bastein-Lepage (1848–1884) and Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret (1852–1929) used photography to great effect along with their rigorous academic training. Their understanding and mastery of the rapidly developing craft allowed them to use photography as a tool rather than something to slavishly follow as the sole means of creation as is often done today.
Problems with Photography
Rarely does a photograph have the mood and atmosphere admired in history’s great paintings. What accounts for this difference? Painting's most manifest definition is the interpretation of form. The painter, when representing the visual world, directs the viewer into believing a two-dimensional surface is depicting three dimensions. Since a painter typically has been blessed with two eyes, when he is working from nature he is simultaneously able to see two views of the same scene. This dual view from slightly different perspectives allows for understanding form and spatial relationships.
I am sure you have heard it suggested that the camera adds ten pounds. Unlike human vision, a camera is monocular, offering only a single view. This flattens out the image, making it formless. Conversely, when we look at things with both eyes we see the shift in perspective known as parallax—background features hidden from one eye can be seen by the other. Our brain is able to blend these images into one. We see more of what is behind the object when using two eyes, making the object appear smaller. Thus, a binocular view is slimming. In seeing around an object we have more of an idea of an object’s form; a monocular view does the opposite.
In addition, and again unlike a camera, our eyes have a limited focal area. Outside that area of focus, objects can be perceived but not studied in detail. This area is our peripheral vision. A camera has the tendency to put everything into equal focus. Even further, a camera is just not as sensitive or accurate in perceiving half tones, shadows, and minute changes in color.
As if that were not enough, there is yet another problem involved in the overuse of photographs for painting reference. Photography is static. An artist can rely too strongly on the photograph as the final word. Happenstance events while painting from life can not only increase the painter’s understanding of the visual world but can improve the final work. A portrait model can move slightly; a fold of clothing shifts or a curl of hair may fall into the face, offering artistic possibilities the painter had not initially considered. When painting outdoors, a shadow under a tree will move with the sun, presenting the painter with variety. A camera does not study a scene through time or capture the dither and vibration of life.
Photographs are flattened, fully focused images which can cause the artist
to “model his subjects rather heavily,” missing the atmosphere and beauty found while standing before nature.
John Hauser and his Camera
There is little doubt as to the talent of the artist we are discussing here, but I believe that his limited training and overreliance on the photograph accounts for his spotty output. While he did travel to some of the best schools at the time, his studies appear to have been cut short for financial reasons. Upon returning to Cincinnati, he went to work with the tools he had at his disposal and, certainly by 1893 and his fascination with the West and the American Indian as his subject matter, he began relying on photography as a means to execute his paintings. Working in Cincinnati as a painter in this milieu, he was forced to use the reference photos he had taken during his trips west. This reliance on photography was a limiting factor on his growth as a painter. In working this way he missed the vibration of life, his work often appearing static and overrendered. He was left to repeat compositions from his collection of photos and drawings. Photos are copied, quirks and all. Some of his compositions are not explored as carefully and as thoroughly as one might when working directly from life or from memory. Assembling a scene from a variety of photographic and sketched sources can give a painting a harsh and cut-out, illustrative appearance.
Hauser’s “Laguna Pueblo” paintings (p. 159) offer a fine example of this effect. He began as early as 1895 to produce variations on a theme that could be modified only slightly and still claim to be an original. (He was not the only painter of the period to adopt this “business plan.”) In one case, Hauser found an appealing Pueblo background, a downward-sweeping main street leading into the old Laguna Pueblo which widens into the main plaza of the village, with the picturesque multi-level adobe structures stacked to the horizon. In the foreground he shows a variety of Pueblo Indians carrying out everyday chores: a woman with an olla on her head, a man bearing a bundle of sticks, children on burros, or sitting on an abandoned cart, all of which were taken from photos from the 1893 Pueblo album. (p. 158) It seems a safe assumption that he painted a number of identical background scenes, generally in an oblong 18 x 12” format, emphasizing the verticality of the scene, then filled in the foreground with a seemingly random combination of assorted figures modeled on the photographs as shown on the following page. Works in what we can call the Laguna series begin as early as 1895 and continue as late as 1905. Some of the photographs and four examples of the series are given on the following pages.
On page 160 is another example which may or may not have anything to do with photographs, but does illustrate a key problem with Hauser’s approach. The first two paintings have a group of Indians on horseback evenly arranged like paper dolls on a painted background. If we examine the image as an arrangement of light and dark shapes, each of the parts, while meticulously painted, is done without enough consideration of the image as a whole. Close tangents should be avoided in a composition. In the first painting the hand of the chief is just touching the tree at a right angle. At the center of this painting, the horses feel uncomfortably close with their noses just about to touch.

“Indians on the Trail,” 1902
If we examine a variation on this subject within the same year in the painting at the bottom of the page we see a much more successful grouping and arrangement of these mounted Indians. We now see a painting with variety, rhythm and atmosphere.
“War Party,” 1902

Lastly, we have to consider the young age at which Hauser’s career ended. Most well-trained artists will continue to improve and hone their craft as they age. One can easily see continued growth in the works of Joseph Henry Sharp after the age of fifty. As we examine Hauser’s work chronologically we can see gradual improvements in his working methods up until his final years. We can only imagine how his work would have developed had he lived a long and full life and not been plagued with poor health.
In this essay I wanted to explore some of the problems in his work, put them in context, and give explanations for them. John Hauser produced a number of fine paintings. A Western artist, living in the Midwest John Hauser faithfully illustrated the dying culture of the American Indian. He did so with reverence, attention to detail, and studied execution, portraying his subjects with dignity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finally Done- World Series

I recently posted about a painting that I decided to attack after getting it back from a show.
It had issues, about a dozen or so cringe worthy issues. I quit way too soon on this one, so I did my best to set up the still life objects again and start painting. I did my best to not worry so much about the exact copying of nature but just made sure to make a good painting.
The main issue was the big empty area in the upper left of the picture. Here is an interesting coincidence for you. I wanted to set up a scene about opening day. I looked for opening day tickets on Ebay, and finally found some the size and shape I was after. I did not buy them, but just copied the photo of the tickets off Ebay, put them in photoshop to fix the color and adjusted them to the exact size (determined by a call the Reds Hall of Fame). I printed them out on card stock to arrange in the still life. Without really thinking about it, only considering the aesthetics,  I printed out the tickets from opening day of 1977.
Months later when I reworked the still life I was trying to find a way to fill the space in the corner, I just happened to remember a team photo my Grandma had purchased for me when I was a kid. It was hanging in the corner of my workshop. She used to take me to games during the time of the Big Red Machine. Oddly, the team photo was from 1976. So, it was meant to be. It worked both compositionally and with the subject matter.
The photo itself might be worth something if my six year old self  had not proudly written my name with a ball point pen across the top. While I reduced the value of the photo with my name, I think the addition of the team photo greatly increased the value of the painting.

Here is the finished picture. 
Opening Day (1977), 18 x 24, Oil on Linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2011

I listed the things I changed in the last post. This image is mostly a refined version of that first post. I made a few other changes- making sure the bottle was symmetrical, toning down the color of the hot dog bun and repainting the ketchup.   Rather than buy another hot dog, I looked at a painting by Chardin with bread to get some idea. Generally, I just painted until I was satisfied.

For comparison, here is the painting before the adjustment. I just noticed a new feature on this blog is the ability to flip through images from each blog post if you click on them to enlarge. Do this and you can flip back and forth to see the changes.
Opening Day (1977), 18 x 24, Oil on Linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2011


This painting is hanging in Cincinnati Art Galleries downtown. I believe it will be showing in their Panorama Art Show next month.

Friday, October 14, 2011


An artist friend of mine sent me an email after reading my last blog about a ridiculous museum show (click here), totally based on name recognition rather than actual artistic ability.
Really the point of that blog post was two fold- first to comment on digital art, and how portable devices are progressing this new medium. An advance that has a lot to owe to the genius of Steve Jobs and his Iphone/Ipad.
Second, the post was to once again show how the established art world (art market) is a small incestuous club that rarely steps out of it's own box to see great work being done all around them. Most major museums are working hard to promote concept over beauty- even if they do occasionally have a show of beautiful work they do everything they can to force their own agenda. A show on 'The Portraits of ________', becomes a comment on feminism, racism, or sexuality. Most art museums do not bother themselves with any discussions on aesthetics.

But I digress.
My friend Bruce Petrie is a local painter that does wonderful landscape paintings. I suggest you check out his work. He is also a well respected lawyer who I am very glad to call my friend. If you read this blog you know I am very sueable.
See his website here.

Bruce sent me one of his Ipad sketches. Despite being a digitally rendered image, it had breadth and beauty of the actual sketch. It is more than a photo of the sketch, it is an interpretation of the image. A visual note that has a lot of power. This image allowed Bruce to learn from a master and quickly, and cleanly take down the information. See his comment about using the iPad below.

i Pad drawing of Rubens Study, by Bruce Petrie, 2011.
"This summer I went to the National Gallery of Scotland and saw in person this Rubens "Study of a Head"....    so I did a study of the study.  One convenience for the traveling artist is that you can carry the tool with you without all the other supplies. The key thing about this, like every other tool, is the purpose to which it is put: i.e. not to elevate the electronic medium as an end in itself but as just one more tool in the paintcraft toolbox.  -Bruce"

Just to be careful, I am sure Bruce would want me to post the following disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed in the above blog post are solely that of Richard Luschek and are not necessarily the views of Bruce Petrie. In fact, Bruce barely knows the guy. I mean come on, Luschek is a jerk.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


After the very sad passing of Steve Jobs this week I wanted to do a post about his amazing influence not just on the computer industry, but on design and the arts. He made sure his product had both form and function. While I am typing this blog post on a PC, I have always loved the great products made by Apple. I very much plan on getting an iPad at some point to use as a teaching tool and as a digital sketchbook.

I check out pretty much everyday. Mostly I scan quickly for any good shows or current auctions of master paintings. More often than not there are articles that speak to my sense of beauty, then kick it in the groin and gouge out it's eyes. Some of the stories are so ridiculous you could not make them up.
Today it was an article about D H. I have mentioned him before on this blog. I am very confused as to why he is so popular and I will in fact not be using his name as that is exactly what he wants. The more I mention him here, the more he will come up in search engines. He will be mentioned as D H.
The article was announcing The North American Debut of D H's of "Fresh Flowers" at the Royal Ontario Museum. These "drawings on iPhones and iPads, an exhibition that reveals the artist’s extraordinary use of this novel new artistic medium and its impact on shaping visual culture today."
D H, Untitled, 10 June, 2010.

To be honest, they are not terrible, but it is interesting that this warrants a major museum show. It is a wonderful new medium and there are tons of artists using the Ipad to make sketches for both hobby and professional use. Just doing a Google search for "Ipad paintings" will bring up tons of interesting and well drawn work- not in museum shows. Of course their name is not D H and they do not write a ton of social BS to go with the work.
New York Artist David Kasan has actually gotten a lot of press on his beautiful and well crafted portraits on the iPad. He is even teaching workshops on his techniques. Here is a video of him at work.

While I do not have an iPad, I do similar drawings on my Nintendo DS.
Here is one of  mine. So, where is my museum show?
R L, Coffee Cup,  ‎October ‎05, ‎2010.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tid Bits of Fall

Thought I would post a few little things I have done recently.
First we have a quick painting I did as a demo for my Landscape Painting Class. Yeah, I know, it is not a landscape, but it was more comfortable in the studio that day and I was instructing on the use of the palette, the lay in, and the ideas of covering the canvas- applies to all kinds of painting. I only worked on it about an hour during the class and had to finish it up the next day.
Blushing Pear, 7x5, oil, © copyright Richard Luschek 2011
I did what I thought was a nice figure drawing in out Tuesday night sketch group the other night. Well, I at least had a great time doing it. We were very excited to have one of our favorite models return. She is very lovely and took some great poses. This was done in about an hour or so. I did not get a good likeness at all, but after she left I tried to clean it up and fix the face- though not that I see it here I think the head is still just a touch too big.
Rebecca, 11 x 9, charcoal, © copyright Richard Luschek 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Post Season

I rarely pull of a good design or well thought out picture quickly. The set up of a scene or still life needs to be tinkered with for a while before anything good comes of it.
This spring I did my best to do a still life fast so it could be in the gallery window before opening day of the Cincinnati Reds baseball season.
I set this painting up in a day and finished the picture in a week. It was too big a picture to manage in that amount of time. I even adjusted the composition by adding stuff to it late in the week. First I added the curtain, then the hot dog was added in the last few days.
Revisit that post here.
I just got this painting back from a show at the University Club and seeing it with a fresh eye made me cringe a bit. It was probably not ready to hang in a show.
So, I have set the still life up again, the best I could, and am attempting to make this picture a successful one.

What are the issues with the painting?
Opening Day (1977), 18 x 24, Oil on Linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2011
-The main problem I had was that it lacked 'punch'. Basically, it had a weak light effect. Also, the colors seemed a bit boring and seen as local color rather than impressionistically.
-There are too many overly chromatic colors in the edges and not enough bright colors at the center.
-The picture felt out of balance. It looks too heavy on the left side. That space in the upper right was begging for attention, so much that it drew attention.

I actually have had a lot of fun diving back into this picture. I am being less precious about it. I am able to ignore whether or not I am being accurate and concentrating on the quality of the end result. Setting up a still life months later is pretty much impossible to match exactly. As the light and scene are a bit different, I can only take bits and pieces, using the still life as a suggestion.
I have begun to address all the issues I had with the painting and will discuss them more thoroughly when I finish.
Here is the updated image as of yesterday.
Opening Day (1977), 18 x 24, Oil on Linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2011
Other than the obvious stuff, like raising the top of the hat and adding the team photo, I have been softening edges to add some breadth to the picture while strengthening edges, chroma and values in the center.
The team photo is barely past a lay-in stage, so it will need a bit more work, though I will do my best to keep it loose so it does not draw too much attention.
I think it is much improved.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Here Comes the Judge

The Innocent Eye Test
Mark Tansey, 1981
Yesterday I had the honor of judging the 6th Annual Exhibition for the CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) District Chapter 119. The show was located in the Sharon Center in Sharon Woods and will be open September 17th 30th, from 10:00-5:00.
I have judged a few shows before and it is not an easy job. I was asked a few times at the opening if I worked in Colored Pencil. I do not. I have of course used them, but never for finished work. That being said, I judged the work under the same standards that I would when viewing any other work.
One does not need to bring in a cow to judge a painting of cows, as in the Mark Tansey painting above.

I gave a small talk at the show and I discussed my method for selecting the winners.
1)Composition. This is where I started in the process. Did the picture have a pleasing and lovely arranged abstraction of shapes on the page? Was there a good and strong center of interest?
2)Color. I think most good work has some Red, Yellow and Blue- meaning, is there color variety (unlike the painting above).  Now, I do not mean specifically those colors, but at least colors in those primary families. So more specifically, something Reddish, something Blueish, and something in the Yellow family.
In addition, the color arrangement should be harmonious and pleasing. Usually, one color is prominent, and the rest are there to feature the "star" color and help set it off.
3)Breadth and Atmosphere. This is the area where drawing and painting can separate itself from photography. If drawing it the interpretation of form, a successful piece must be considered in this way. By carefully managing the relative hardness and softness of edges, the painter can direct the eye and begin to create the illusion of form. I will say this was the one thing most difficult to find while judging this show. Colored pencil, by its very nature, lends itself to extreme detail and sharp edges. It can lead to an image that is hyper-focused and flattened. If I could pick any one thing lacking throughout the show, this would be it. A lot of work would have been greatly improved had there been more soft edges and atmosphere. I would imagine much of the work in the show was completed by copying photos, which are not form, but flat images. A lot of the work would have benefited from more study from life.
4)Subject matter was my final consideration. I did look at mood, story, and the clearness of the message. If I was at all confused about the subject of the picture, it got crossed off the list. While subject is important, it must be clearly stated through good composition, pleasing color, and breadth of treatment. To do otherwise would be like writing a book full of misspellings and bad grammar.
This was a good show and I had fun judging the show, meeting the artists and talking to them about their work- congratulations to all the winners.
First- Cecile Baird  "Twisted Lemon"
Second- Tom Kinarney - " In the Woods"
Third- Cheryl Metzger- "Puppy Dog Tales"
Honorable mentions:
Jean Malicoat- "On the Chopping Block"
Margi Hopkins " Hot Dog"
Marcia Greenwald " All That Jazz"
Nancy Pugliano "Cherries"
Janice Glaser "First Taste of Snow"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

Of course we are all reflecting on this terrible day in American history. I thought I would post some of my experiences from that memorable week.

Avenue in the Rain by Childe Hassam (1917)

It was going to be a memorable day for me no matter the events that occurred that morning in Manhattan. I happened to packing my car getting ready to drive 900 plus miles to New Hampshire. I had only been married 3 years to my wife when I got the idea in my head that I needed some serious training if I wanted to be a painter. Laura was very supportive in this decision and traveled with me to Italy to look at a few Ateliers. Oddly, I chose The Paul Ingbretson School of Drawing and Painting in Manchester, New Hampshire without having visited it. It came highly recommended by Carl Samson.
I would like to stress, that I am not much of a traveler. I am also not a very good driver (I was in an accident just a week before- having driven into the side of a tour bus). So the idea of leaving my new wife in Cincinnati, while I drive 900 miles to a place I had never been, not knowing a soul, with no arrangements for a place to live, for an undetermined period of time was pretty daunting already. The plan was to leave early on September 11. As Laura and I where busy packing the car, I decided to check my email and received one from a  friend in Sweden asking "What the hell is going on in NY?" I had no idea.
We turned on the news and so ended the preparations for the trip. We were glued to the TV the rest of the day.
I won't go on about that day, as we all had similar feelings of shock and fear. I did not leave that day. I think it was a few days later before I finally decided the world was not ending and  it was relatively safe to leave. One thing that sticks in my mind about the drive, was to listening to the radio discussing the events and heroic rescue attempts at the site. A few times it was too much and I worked to find any station that was just playing music. It seemed most of the time I was able to find a 70's rock station that was not playing too much news. The nonstop coverage on the stations was just too intense. It is hard to drive if you are crying.

I finally made it to my new home away from home, arriving at the studio the next day. I was of course very anxious in a new place but it only got worse when I was meet at the studio door by a student. I was lucky enough to meet the only student, in Paul's 20 years of teaching, to have been kicked out of the school. He was actually voted out by the other students. He was there packing up his stuff to leave and was not happy about it. There was no one else in the studio.He was very excited to learn that I was also from Ohio and then  went on a tirade about how everyone in the studio was of "noble blood", unlike us Ohioans. He said they were all going to look down on me as being a "lowly Midwesterner".  I began to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake.
He took me on a tour of the area and then out for a beer. He spent the evening telling how he was going to be the next Michelangelo and that he was kicked out of the studio because everyone including Paul was intimidated by him. He also went on and on about how the events of 9/11 were the beginning of a holy war started by Louis Farrakhan and that we should both go sign up with the military to fight the fight. He kept asking me if I loved my wife. If I did, I should go home to her.
This was not what I was expecting to find when I got to the studio. Now, I am a pretty good judge of character and had figured out that this fellow had some issues. Turns out he had a lot of issues. He was very sick and troubled and left offensive and threatening messages on the studio voice mail for years- some mentioning UFO's, black helicopters and Gandalf.
After he finally left for the evening, I was alone in the studio to sleep on the couch  as it stormed outside.  It really was a surreal evening.

Well, once that "introduction" was over, the next morning I finally meet Paul and his students. As soon as Paul began to speak I knew I was in the right place. The students were all there for the same reason, to study the art and craft of painting. We were all there to learn how to see the beauty in the world and represent that beauty on the canvas.
As I reflect on the events of ten years ago and the days following, I have mixed feelings. Of course that day changed things for all of us, but for me it was also the beginning of a life long struggle for Truth and Beauty.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Art Students- then and now.


I thought that title may be overly dramatic, so I went with  "Art Students -Then and Now".
Why am I all worked up again, you are asking. Well, today it started with a post I saw on the site This is a site which posts the terribly infuriating and sad news of the arts today. "Why torture myself by reading this" you ask? Well, it does occasionally have some sort of interesting bits of news about  museum shows, artists, archeological discoveries or art auctions. The rest of the stuff .........

I am not a fan of BS. If I were I would have gone into politics.
Truth is beautiful in life and in art. I respect art and artists that follow that model. The rest I dare say borders on being evil. Most contemporary art today is closer to vandalism than it is anything else.

Just to set the tone: In reading a book on one of my favorite artists, Jean-Baptiste Chardin, there were some quotes by him discussing the hard work involved in becoming a painter. He talked being a young student in dusty academies with backs bent over drawing boards copying from the antique and from nature. The years and years of hard work he put into his studies  before he was able to paint beautiful pictures. The genius of Chardin owes much to the training and study he received.
Below is a painting by Chardin of an eager art student working diligently.
Fast forward 300 years.
Here is a photo I found today on Art Daily of art students in training.
These are students of the Royal Academy of Visual Art in The Hague, The Netherlands

Let me repeat that... " THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF VISUAL ART!"
Below we see the eager students "diligently" participating in a "Graphic Design workshop".  
They are hard at work with an improvised drawing tool. To quote directly from - "Pencils, pens and brushes are stuck to a vibrator that makes drawings on the paper. At the start of the new school year students participate in all kinds of workshops."

I bet they do.
I don't really have to say much more do I? This is not drawing, this is not training, nor does this fit my definition of "Royal" or "Academy". It is a self important playground for a culture with too much free time and too little respect for beauty and truth.

The only thing that should be vibrating on the end of a pencil is an eager and intelligent art student with respect and love for the world around them.

Of course there are schools out there that offer training similar to that received by Chardin. They are not in Universities, Academies or Colleges, they are private training studios. Though they are rarely, if ever mention on Art If you want good training, find artist you like and go study with them. If they hand you a sex toy during a drawing class, ask for your money back and contact your lawyer.

I am still waiting for that fiery Apocalypse.