Monday, July 30, 2012

44th ViewPoint show at the Cincinnati Art Galleries

One of my basement paintings was selected to be in this years ViewPoint. A show normally at the Cincinnati Art Club space in Mt. Adams. This year they have decided to have the show at the Cincinnati Art Galleries downtown. It is a great space for a show. I hope to see you at the opening this Friday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

X's and O's

My third post on my most recent painting- sorry but I have more to say.

"Ok boys, get out there and design the hell out of them!"
I will offer some thoughts on composition and how it affected the design of my latest picture. Composition is by far the toughest part of picture making. I think that is why you see so many paintings today that are very well painted technically but have not even give composition a thought. I think the art world is just now coming out of the "dark ages" caused by the lawlessness of modernism were there were no rules. While the realists have started to wade through the technical part of painting and rendering, composition still seems to be a mystery to many "classical painters". I will say, I see an good effort by illustrators, for whom picture making seems to more than just realism.
Just so you know, taking a still life object and placing it on a table is not composing- even if you look at it through a viewfinder- or better yet if you look at through that double L thing you can do with your hands. I mean it looks cool, but composing takes more work than that. There have been times were it seems as if I have spent more time setting up a still life than painting the picture.
One of the great benefits of studying with Paul Ingbretson was his insistence on studied composition.  Composing with Paul was not like what you find in books on the subject with with all the tiny lines drawn in to show you how the "picture moves".  It looks like a chalk board analysis of a football coach. Paul talked about bigger things and in a way it about understanding the "game"- the Main Line or general movement of a painting. That with the big abstraction of lights and darks
Interestingly, the act of composing a still life or any picture for that matter still terrifies and mystifies me. Though the more I do it the less excruciating it is, though it still seems mysterious to me. 

Now I will act as if I have some idea as to what I am talking about.
What do I see as the main line of the painting?
Main Line
Basically a big visual movement though the picture like this (big red arrow).
Once that is observed you have to make sure any lines work with the main line in a pleasant way. That there is some variety and interest in those lines. It is a game and once you know the system you have to play.
As I stated before I found some lines that were fighting it or interacting in an unpleasant way.

Making corrections
 I had some lines that repeated over and over to monotony. They also were all pointing in exactly the same direction, so I moved the spoon. The table was in an awkward spot so I moved it up as well.

Repeating lines.
So with the main line I made sure the lines in the painting worked with the main line. Many of the lines radiate out from the scone. By moving the spoon over, it worked with the system while not repeating it exactly. So when I faked the steam from the spout I made sure it worked with that system. With you main line and all repeating lines, there are of course counter lines- the movement from the cup through the spout for instance. Those counter-lines should work with, or even refer to the center of interest.

Of course now that I have written this I am breaking out in a sweat thinking about what Paul will say about my compositional ramblings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Premature Exclamation

I have to apologize for posting about a painting as if it were done, before it was.
I was checking out the painting on the computer and noticed a few issues I will talk about now.
When I finish work quickly, I try to leave the still life up for a few days just in case I find any major problems. I like to have a few days away from the work, so I can look at it fresh. If I am satisfied with the work, I disassemble the set up and frame the painting.
Painting with no no's.

I knew I had an issue at the handle of the coffee cup. A bunch of lines all coming together at a point. I had tried to fix this by controlling the values- making them very similar so it was not an issue.
It was still an issue, I decided to raise that line of the table up so it was higher on the cup.

Next I had a series of spaces that were all the same size. The handle of the coffee pot, the spoon and the space between them were all the same size, evenly spaced and the same angle. Another no no. I could not stop looking at it.

So, I stood in front of the painting, used my maul stick to flagellate myself on the back to teach myself a lesson and then got to work.
While I was at it, I fixed a few other thing, tweaking the color in the coffee pot, darkening the left side of it, and sharpening some edges on the wax paper. 
Here is the final picture, framed and in the Gallery.
Off To The Races, 12"X 9", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Now I am satisfied with it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Totally Sconed

Off To The Races, 12"X 9", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

For my latest still life I decided to add a pastry to my typical coffee still life. I am not sure the percentage of still life paintings I have painted that include coffee but it is pretty high. It is probably pretty close to the same percentage of foods I consume- which is mostly coffee.
I was looking for some biscotti to add since I needed some 'yellow' to the picture but ended up getting a scone. I think this apricot, but I am not really sure. While it looked delicious, after a few days in the hot studio and evenings in the fridge I was not willing to eat it. Not sure about the title, I just chose that because the big nosed cartoon Italian on the coffee maker looks to be firing a gun to start a horse race.

3 hour lay-in, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

I am sure I have mentioned it on this blog before, but the lay-in is my favorite part of the painting process. Working fast to get  the "big" look is when I have the most fun. Even though I am making all the decisions that will result in a picture that will hopefully have the big impression, it almost seems like magic. While I enjoy the process from start to finish, everything after that first day feels like work.

Painting on the left, the still life set up is on the right.

Day 2, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

The second day, the picture is made to look more like nature, slowly coming into focus. I made up some coffee in cup. I had picked up some coffee to put in the cup, but I drank it all.

Day 3, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012    

This time I managed to save some coffee to put in the cup. I was doing my best to finish the painting on the third day. I didn't, but I got it close.
On the forth day I decided I needed to improve the design, correct some of the values and make sure the wax paper looked a bit more transparent- which means I had to repaint it. I strengthened the light effect and worked some of the leading edges. I added some steam to get a bit of life into the painting.

Day 4- Off To The Races, 12"X 9", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Paxton on Painting

The Nude,24x33, by William MacGregor Paxton, Collection of Boston Museum of Fine Arts
"Let the surfaces flow into one another in a supple envelope of light and paint"
"Find a new motive"
"Make the picture look as if it were painted in one sitting"
"Paint as large a piece as possible at once" 
"Never paint on one piece too long at a time"
"Do Something somewhere else, to rest your eyes"
"Paint neither too thickly nor thinly"
"The quickest way is the best"
"Compose by masses of light and dark or dark and light"
"Chiaroscuro is what makes pictures rich"
"Seek a noble and ample design"
"Make the objects swim in the air"
"Paint all things in relation to the focus"

William MacGregor Paxton, 1901
The Letter, 30x25, by William MacGregor Paxton

Monday, July 2, 2012

Digital Plein Air

View from Bellevue, 1 3/4" x 2 1/2", Digital painting, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
During my Saturday Landscape Class this weekend, most of the students has bailed due to the heat or because they had lost power from the Friday storms that hit the area pretty hard. The few that did show were blessed with a lovely day in which to paint. It was approaching the nineties by the time we left at 1:00, but it was comfortable in the shade and there was a great breeze by the river. My wife made sure we had lots of ice water and spray bottles that we would use to mist ourselves cool.

With only 3 students to deal assist, I had time to do some work of my own. Unfortunately I had not packed my easel. I did however have my little Nintendo DS with me and thought I would try some plein air digital painting.

 Using the stylus on the little screen which is about 1 3/4" high by 2 1/2 wide, I laid in the above river scene. I imagine I spent about an hour on this. It is not easy to do this outside due to the glare on the screen. The glare is what resulted in the overly saturated colors. I also should have ignored that brick wall at the bottom but I added it to try to show a student something about the color and shape in their painting- it adds nothing to my picture.
I am intrigued to do this on an iPad. The increased size and much more advanced software could make for a very fun, clean and fast way to study nature. Or maybe I should just bring my easel next time.