Friday, September 14, 2012

Unisex Art Club and Art Club for Women.

I have a small piece in a show that opens tonight at the Cincinnati Art Club.  

Unbolted, 3 1/2" x 5", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Signature Member Show Opening Reception
Friday, September 14, 6-9 p.m.
Exhibit open Sat., Sun., Sept. 15, 16, 22, 23

1021 Parkside Place, Cincinnati, Oh 45202

Yesterday I was honored to be asked to judge an art show for the Cincinnati Women's Art Club. The show is the Annual Members Exhibit, and will open this Sunday, September 15 through October 7th.

I had to chose 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Out of an entire room packed with paintings that is a challenge. I thought I would talk a bit about my method for choosing the works I did. I do enjoy judging art shows, as it is a solid lesson in what makes a painting successful. 
My first method is to do a cursory stroll through the gallery to quickly look at everything. I then stand in the middle of the room and slowly spin around to see what attracts my eye. I grabbed some cards they had stacked by the door as advertising for the show- I grabbed a handful and dropped cards in front of pieces I thought should be considered for the top prizes. I quickly narrowed it down to about 10. The only issue with this is that twice, club members strolled through while I was judging and tidied up the space, picking up my cards.
Then I made sure to slowly walk around and look at every piece. I found it interesting how many pieces I had not seen at all in the first two go arounds. Now that I was forcing myself to look at each one I was finally looking at some of them. Interestingly, this did not change my initial decisions at all. The paintings "invisible" to my initial look, were not helped by careful study.

So, the lesson learned- a painting has to have a powerful abstraction of lights and darks. When I say light and dark, I do not mean white and black, but some arrangement of values that catches the eye. Paintings can be monochromatic, but they should never be monovalumatic- is that a word? Well, it is now, it means having a single value. Paintings are going to be more successful with clearly stated value patterns with a pleasing arrangement.
I also considered good used of color and edges to control the space and atmosphere in a picture. There were a few paintings that had deep space, with good drawing, but the artists had not adjusted the color or edges at all to control space.

I want to stress how little subject matter influenced what I chose. A painting of road kill could have won if it was done well enough and had some beauty. A judge does of course have specific tastes. I tend towards realism, so any paintings that were merely abstract were probably not going to get much consideration. Sorry, life is not fair.  

I think most people see me as a still life painter. While a few still lifes were in my top 10, I did not pick a single still life for an award. Again, I may have been harder on still life, but again, I tried to make it a visual game.
I will be at the Fund Raising Event on September 21st, so anyone with paintings in the show that has questions about my thoughts on their work can of course talk to me. Be prepared, I may be a bit tipsy and opinionated, but my wife will be there to make sure I am well behaved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9-11 Remembered

Thought I would just repost what I wrote last year on the ten year anniversary:

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 huge 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 New Hampshire, 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 studio 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.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fall Landscape Class Starts Next Week

Pack your trunk and don't forget to sign up for my landscape painting class!

This student did not listen to my instruction and eventually sold his painting for peanuts.

Fall Landscape Painting Class
Saturdays, September 15th thru November 3, from 10 am to 1 pm.
Come enjoy the cooler weather and the fall colors.  With "Cincinnati's most charming painting teacher", we will meet at various  scenic parks around Cincinnati to learn to sketch and to paint with oils. Drawing on the ideas of impressionism, you will practice the techniques needed to complete painted sketches, including basic composition, value, pattern, color spotting, and covering the canvas. Then, building on those skills, you will complete a larger fully realized landscape painting that will capture the impression of light and color of the Cincinnati landscape. In case of rain, we will arrange in parks with overhead cover. Details and directions to the various locations will be given in class. No experience necessary- student must be a human. $199; supplies are the student’s responsibility. A list will be sent with your enrollment confirmation or see
Location: First class will meet in my studio in Eden Park; then at various parks thereafter 
To register go to the following link and sign up now.