Friday, April 22, 2011

I thought I would post these pie charts my friend Bruce Erikson sent me.
To be honest, as much as this chart is meant to be a cute joke, it is pretty much dead on. There are many folks calling themselves artists who could not draw their way out of a paper bag- many even teach college courses.
Interestingly, most painters that can draw and paint know that all good painting begins in the abstract. I good start on a painting should have accurate, color, value, and approximate placement. What I mean by approximate placement is that the basic composition, shapes of light and dark, should be down. Any strong reading edges are indicated, but much else is very loosely stated. The early stages of a painting are abstract. Let's get professorishy and state the dictionary definition of the work abstract: expressing a quality or characteristic apart from any specific object. So, it has the qualities of, but not the specifics. 
Now the fine art definition: of or pertaining to the formal aspect of art, emphasizing lines, colors, generalized or geometrical forms, etc., especially with reference to their relationship to one another.  Also a good description. It is about the shapes of value and color that make up a picture that will make up a likeness. Shapes and masses that do not add up to a likeness are not something I am interested in, to me it the equivalent to gibberish in writing. Just my humble opinion, which if you read this blog, you know is always right. 

Here is another funny pie chart. 
 If you have told anyone you are an artist, you have likely heard at least a few of these. Of course I would add the phrase "Too bad you ain't going to make no money till you be dead." 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cut and Paste

My most recent painting needed a frame. 18" x 24" is a fairly common standard size- meaning you can easily find frames for it. I had a very nice frame of that size sitting around that I have been wanting to use but the style was just too fancy. I decided to go with a simple wood frame. This is a style of frame that I have been using a lot lately and are made by local painter and frame builder Joe Stewart.
He had one in stock and dropped it off at the studio this weekend. It looked great on the painting. Only problem was that the opening was very close to 18 " and the painting was a bit bit less than that. So, once in the frame it was just a bit too small.
There are really only 3 ways to fix this- a new frame of the exact size, add a liner piece to make the opening smaller, or make the painting bigger.
A new frame would take time, the liner goes around all 4 edges and cuts off some of the painting at the sides. I chose the last option. It was the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to go- and did not cut off any more painting.
I thought I would show a bit of how this was accomplished.
You can see at the top of the painting is a white strip- which is the canvas showing. It was a dark line showing the top of the canvas but I added a strip of wood to the stretcher bar to make it a bit bigger. I have a workshop with a table saw and sander.
Here you can see the back of the canvas. I removed all the staples holding the canvas on the side to be lengthened. I cut a strip of wood to be screwed on the stretcher bar that was 24 inches long, about 3/4 thick, and then ripped it on my saw the depth I needed, which was about 3/16" thick. I drilled pilot holes so the screws would be counter sunk and not split the wood. I then carefully screwed the piece on and then restretched and restapled that side of the canvas. As the canvas had been stretched, the part of the canvas that was the corner is not lower and in the painting. That can show as a line. I could have ironed it flat, but one is twas stretched it was almost invisible.
Then I just had to paint that strip so it did not show as white. I scraped the painting to removed excess paint that may have been build up on that corner and then painted the 1/4" of white to match the rest of the painting. It took about 20 minutes.
Here is the painting, in the frame with the strip painted. It is almost unnoticeable. The heavily figured Oak frame stained in a warm tone looks great with the painting.
To purchase these frames, contact Rottinghaus Gallery and ask for the Joe Stewart line of frames. 513-871-3662
Stop in to see some of the other frame designs. I have some of my newest still life work there as well.
1983 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45208 
 Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Friday, April 8, 2011

Root, root, root for the home team

Opening Day (1977), 18 x 24, Oil on Linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2011
Finally finished a painting, that I planned on completing in two or three days. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I ended up working on this one for 6 days.

I thought I would post the photos I took after each day.
A friend of mine that is currently studying with Carl Samson wanted to watch me lay in a still life. She took a few photos of me in action.
Action shot.
I think this was after about 2 hours. Honestly, at this point the lay in looks a bit too edgy- meaning I have done too much drawing and have not kept it loose enough. The edges should be a bit more amorphous and movable. I have no problem moving edges, but it is probably best to leave it in that blurry eyed view for as long as possible. I was trying to get the painting done before  Opening Day- a Cincinnati Holiday, so I used Liquin in the paint so it would dry fast and I could work it the next day.
Here it is at the end of the first day.
Day one lay in.
Here is an example of why I rarely do a quick set up. The composition is pretty bad. So, you have to ask yourself, "Do I throw in the towel? Start over? or Try to fix this mess?"
I decided to push through. Here we are at the end of the second day, after adding a Hot Dog to help balance things out. I had also called the Red Hall of Fame Museum to find out how big to print the 1977 opening day tickets from the image I found on Ebay.
Day two- the wiener addition
It still has way too much space at the top. More help is needed. I set up a screen to cast a shadow on the right side of the set up and added a curtain as if this is near a window I did not want to change things too much so I picked a curtain with colors similar to what was already in the still life and with a value not too different from the back ground.
Day three- hang the curtain

Clearing things up a bit.
Day four- Tighten and adjust
I found some drawing issues. I adjusted the bat and glove on the left side.
Day five- think about destroying everything
Carl Samson stopped by studio and offered some good advice. I was having issues with the space and atmosphere feeling flat. He suggested the hat was too in focus and too intense for the rest of the painting. Meaning that the object in back was pushing to the front visually, thus throwing things off. He suggested a scumble over the hat with Cobalt violet to adjust it towards blue and kill the chroma. This is a very transparent color and it worked wonders, not really changing things too much and it got the whole hat wet so I could then paint into it adjusting as needed. I did my best to lose all the edges around the hat and some on the bottle. In addition the back corner of the table was too in focus so I darkened and lost that edge as well.  Finally I popped some of the edges toward the front. 
Day six, Opening Day (1977), 18 x 24, Oil on Linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2011

Unfortunately the Reds lost yesterday, destroying all hopes we had for an undefeated season. I still think they will do quite well.
As an added bonus, if you buy this painting I will throw in for free the hot dog that used in the still life. I am a vegetarian and this is the first hot dog I have purchased in 20 years so I don't want it to go to waste. It is a Skyline hot dog with mustard and ketchup. Don't miss your chance at this bonus offer. It is a bit gray and crusty but it would look great on a shelf near my painting.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Learning from old work

I was cleaning up in the basement today and found some folders of my old work. Most of the work I found from college and just after should be burned, the ashes beaten with sticks, the resulting mess shot with a machine gun, gathered up and flushed down the toilet of a poorly run Mexican restaurant, shut down by the Food and Drug administration before everyone involved is executed by ninjas. The work is that bad.

Though I found a few things I really liked. It is interesting when you see your innocent, untrained work and discover qualities that may be missing in current efforts. I feel like I have learned a thing or two since this drawing was done.  Now I have a need to finish and finesse work, fixing any thing that looks wrong or off. I will say that I may be losing something in that quest for visual truth. This drawing got me thinking; how to do that without loosing immediacy and energy.
Below is a self portrait from at least 15 years ago. Interestingly, I like a lot about it. I am not sure a self portrait done right now would have a similar feel.
It lacks form and good proportion, but it has personality. I had long hair then,roughed up into dreads  and the beard had some color. This is a drawing of me as a young hippy. I knew little to nothing when this drawing was done but I still like it. A self portrait today would not look like this. Of course it would be a drawing of a 41 year old and not a drawing of a 24 year old- big difference in subject matter, but I am thinking only of the works execution. How would the work look now.
I will have to work on a new self portrait to compare.
I should go through more of my old work to see what I can learn from hippy Luschek.