Monday, November 28, 2016

Panorama of Cincinnati Art XXXI

This Friday I will have a painting hanging  in the Cincinnati Art Galleries Panorama of Cincinnati Art. The special opening featuring paintings by Cincinnati artists from the turn of the century as well as a select group of contemporary Cincinnati artists will be for sale.
Reservations are required for the opening night benefit at $100 per person. (Checks should be made payable directly to the Cincinnati Opera). I will be cleaned up and attending the opening, so that there is worth the price of admission.

Battle at the Red River, 16 x 20, oil on linen, © copyright Richard Luschek 2016
If you can't make the fancy opening the show will be open until January 31 and is worth checking out. I have a few other paintings there too if you need to do some holiday shopping. 

Benefit for the Cincinnati Opera

Special Opening Friday December 2, 5 - 8pm ($100 per person)
Music, Wine, Hors d’oeuvres, Desserts & Valet Parking
Opening night ticket sales as well as a portion of all painting sales from the month of December will go to benefit the Cincinnati Opera.
This exhibition and sale will be held at Cincinnati Art Galleries at 225 East 6th Street and will be open free to the public after the special Friday night opening.  For more information, please call 513-381-2128.

While you are trying to decide if you should go to Panorama, please enjoy this video by Bananarama.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Your Couch is Irrelevant

It was recently suggested that I write a blog post about art collecting. I have been thinking about this a lot lately as I feel there is a serious shift happening in the way people buy and collect art.
Art does not  have to match your couch. Though this is an awesome couch.
In olden times, way back before 2004 or so, the first place that came to mind if you wanted to buy art would be an art gallery. In the past few years a lot of old Cincinnati galleries I considered local institutions have either gone out of business or undergone significant changes. Even, major galleries in New York and a lot of the artsy fartsy touristy hot spots like Santa Fe have closed. Uncertainty in the economy has had an affect for sure, but I think another reason for these closings is that the internet has taken a bite out of the art gallery market. Many online galleries have popped up, with even is selling original art. Now you can order a New York Times best selling book, a three pack of underwear and an original Picasso in one purchase.
 Major auction houses have moved online and are offering new ways to find and collect art. Finally, artists are using the internet and social media for their own promotion and sales.
I am not sure how this will all play out, but I believe we should see this as a positive. While it may seem like interest in art is waning as people become distracted by the latest electronic device, they are still buying art. In 2015 the global art market raked in over $53.9 billion..... an all-time high! Now, while much of this is the Uber-rich over paying for "art" treated as commodity, there is without a doubt, still a thriving market.

I still believe, the time tested model of the brick and mortar art gallery is one of the best ways to find art. You can believe any successful gallery owner has worked hard to find good artists. By visiting a gallery you can learn about the artist, hopefully see multiple examples of their work and discuss your decision with an expert. Even if you like what you see of an artist online, there is nothing quite like standing in front of the original.

If you are thinking of becoming a collector, even if you've already started, here are some of my thoughts on the matter I hope will be of some assistance:

The Library, by Elizabeth Shippen Green, 1905

Learn about art. Unfortunately this not a subject that is well covered in our public school system, if it's discussed at all. So most of us are pretty ignorant about the world of art. Most people can rattle off some names: Picasso, Van Gogh, and Bob Ross, but that's where their knowledge ends. If you want to learn about the history of art you are going to have to specifically take classes on the subject or begin the process of teaching yourself. It can be fascinating to learn what goes into producing a work of art and how great artists developed. Of course, I have my bias and find most of the 'isms' of art after Impressionism to be self involved and painful to the eye, but... just start reading!
There are many books on the subject, the best of those are typically over 100 years old and written by great artists.
You might even enjoy taking a few drawing or painting classes. Again, if you do this, find an artist you admire and see if they teach.
Go to museums. Seeing great art in person can be a life changing experience. Spending time in great museums can help cultivate good taste. While you can learn some history in a museum from those headphone tours or from a docent, I recommend going back through the galleries alone for some quiet reflection in front of your favorite works.

Edgar Degas, Visit to the Museum, c. 1877-80

Attend gallery openings and shows of living painters. Get to know artists if you can. We are often very entertaining and love to talk about our craft. When attending shows, keep in mind that you genuinely get what you pay for. There is a tremendous surplus of amateur artists showing mediocre work in fancy frames. This is not to say you can't occasionally find a hidden gem. It can be a way to get your collection started, but keep in mind, discount art is usually cheap for a reason.
I will also add, art openings can be fun. Galleries will usually have hors d'oeuvres, wine and even a musician or two. Plus, you'll probably meet other like minded individuals also admiring the art while drinking wine and eating cheese cubes. Think of it as a refined night out.
Being an artist is a job. There are romantic notions of artists that verge on the mythological. We are special creatures who get to do what we love, however we still need to make money. So, in addition to selling work in a gallery, many artists are willing to do commissions. A lot of people are afraid of offending an artist's sensibilities or artistic integrity by asking for specific work. It never hurts to ask. But, please don't ask an artist to try to be something they are not. Asking me to paint a Jackson Pollock style piece will likely start a fight!
Visit artist's websites or follow them on Social Media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Tinder and Facebook. (I just slipped Tinder in there to see if you're paying attention)
Online Galleries.  This can be a great way to investigate styles of art or groups of artists.

A few final thoughts:
Don't follow trends. Beautiful art is always beautiful. Buy what speaks to you. Great art is timeless. Trends often end up in thrift stores or the trash bin. Don't "money see, monkey do" your way into a Target to buy this years decorative posters. It's essentially  the "one night stand" version of art collecting. Have some self respect for goodness sake!
Art does not have to match your couch. Good painting should be able to hold its own. If you have to check with your designer or your Pinterest idea board, I think you may be over-complicating it. 
Buy original art. Or at least make that your goal. Prints of art you can't afford can be a "gateway purchase", but there is nothing like owning an original work.
Good artists tend to hang out with other good artists. If you find an artist whose work you admire but it is too expensive, that artist may know a younger, talented, up-and-coming artist whose work you can afford.
Buy work from living artists. Yes, some of the best artists are dead.  Many collectors buy art as one would collect baseball cards. They buy terrible paintings just because of the famous signature.
Instead of buying signatures, buy work you like by living artists who are on their way to becoming respected and famous.
Buy my art. Of course, I believe very strongly in this suggestion. Check out my website, follow me on social media (Click the icons to the left), read my blog (click the Follow Blog button below) and swipe right.

Most importantly, whether you're in galleries or online-
Promote the arts by buying original art from living artists!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Landscape Class- DO IT!!

Mt. Adams Summer Morning, oil on linen, 20" X 28", © copyright Richard Luschek 2016
See that painting above? I painted that all by myself. Do you like it?
Then you should take my  Fall Landscape class starting next weekend- Saturdays 10-1, Oct 8th thru Nov 5. Fee $180.
We will spend the entire class in one location (Mt. Echo Park) allowing folks the time to work on a piece for multiple sessions.

Interested students are not required to draw a turtle in a hat to be accepted but feel free to draw one on your check.
Come enjoy the cooler weather and the fall colors.  With "Cincinnati's most charming painting teacher", we will meet at a scenic parks 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. Details and directions to the various locations will be given in class. No experience necessary
One thing I will be stressing is that what we are doing is landscape painting- and not Plein Air. We are Americans! Students are not allowed to call it 'plein air' unless they are actually French.

I case you are wondering about my credentials read my bio, but I should also mention that I did watch Bob Ross a lot when I was a kid.

Email me if you have questions at
Or call 513-479-3322

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ctrl Z, Ctrl Y

If you paint long enough, you are going to have stacks of paintings that are of no use to anyone. They need to be destroyed somehow. I suppose an option is to toss them in the garbage making sure no one gets their hands on them.
I decided I would do a total redo. Someone gave me a few old cans of oil priming white. Each can weighs a few pounds. It is dense stuff, and perfect for covering and making work go away.
So, what's under this painting?
Caffeine Bagged with Cream, 16X20, oil on textured canvas, © 2016 Richard J. Luschek II
The above painting is part of a series I started of coffee cups painted over old paintings with textured surfaces. I love what heavy texture does to the paint, forcing one to work almost like one would doing a pastel picture. It minimized details, which I like, as my tendency is to push paintings to a fine finish. I still do this, but the surface does force me to keep things broad and loose.
As the subject is of items destined for the trash, the surface seems to play into that mood for me by being rough and untidy. The goal for me is to always make a pleasing and beautiful arrangement of shapes and colors that uplift the 'common', causing us to stop and really look at a bag of stuff on the table in a way me may not do otherwise. I personally am more offended by a badly designed painting of a Ming Vase full of flowers than I am of a well design picture of garbage. I caught some flack on the social medias for belittling my heritage by painting trash. While I insist a painting be pleasing, the subject does not have to be. If that were true, war scenes, some historical events and many religious subjects would not be appropriate for representing.  I totally accept this picture is not for everyone, but I believe it is worth painting.

So, as I said before, what's under the cup painting?
A not so hot 2 hour figure painting I did in one session in my studio about 10 years ago. I did not want it, but the canvas was good.

Ctrl Z*- We will cover this up with oil priming white and fix everything.
Wow, much improved.
I palette knife it on and then brush it around till I like the texture I sometimes would push rags into the paint to get a texture and them smooth it out. 
A fresh white canvas. Doesn't this look inviting?
While the priming white is a fast drier, this stuff is on thick, so I let it set up for at least two weeks to dry before going on top with anything.

Ctrl Y- After two days I get it laid in.

So really, you are buying two paintings for one price. There is history to the canvas which was saved from the trash. The bag of cups has a history too- documenting my serious addiction to coffee.

You can see this painting and others from the series hanging at:
Rottinghaus Gallery.

1983 Madison Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45208
(513) 871-3662

*for those who may not get my hilarious, computer savvy joke, Ctrl Z, is the undo command on your computer. Ctrl Y is redo. If you don't already, start using them and improve your life.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lord of the Manor

Dragon Attack, oil on linen, 24"X36", © 2016 Richard J. Luschek II
My newest painting in the series "Kids at Play" (that title needs work) is finished and hanging in the Cincinnati Art Galleries. I thought I would blog about the process of getting this image from idea to canvas.
Get ready for a sappy discussion about what these paintings mean to me and how they are developing into a series I think will keep me busy for a while.
I may even use the term 'cathartic' as some point, so grab your barf bag and get ready. Amongst the jibber jabber, I will be posting shots of the long process this still life went through on the way to being a final design ready to paint.
The basic idea was obviously a kid, me specifically, building a castle out of cardboard and the battle that would happen after it's construction. Plus I've been wanting to paint a picture with toilet paper tubes for some time.

I am lucky enough to be doing exactly what I want to do for a living. I get to draw, paint and create all day. Not unlike what I was doing in my childhood. Everyday I go to the studio and play. This fact has, I believe, severely slowed the aging process- at least mentally.
After studying painting, I was mostly worried about the visual. How do I make this blank canvas look like the objects in front of me in value, color and form. Now I'm using that information to tell stories.

Interestingly, the toy knights Ive had since I was 4. When I was in Jr High I painted them all with model paint so I could use them in Dungeons and Dragons games. I decided to spray paint them as they looked originally. They came in an amazing play-set with a big castle made in Germany.

And yes, I still have the castle in a box. Look for it to appear in a painting sometime in the future. This time around I wanted a childlike, homemade feel.

I generally have a terrible memory for past events. I tend to live in a small window of time. I have discussed in previous posts about the interesting things that happens to me when I work on these paintings. I get out my toys- that have been retrieved from my parents attic and basically play with them during the set up process- in a very intelligent and manly way.
Once they are set up I stare at them for hours while I paint. It is a bit of a window to the past. It's a look into the brain of 8 year old me. Its about building a story out of stuff. So, a lot of these paintings are about pretending, building, making and playing. During the process hidden memories pour out. Its like dumping an old box of photos into my brain. Yeah, catharsis! I'm also constantly getting new ideas for more pictures.

As you can see the set-up goes through a lot before I settle on a paintable subject. I want it to look carefree and random while being a powerful design. That takes days of play and experimentation.
I liked the idea of paneling, but I felt the cardboard castle- similar value and color-  got lost. 
I have to thank Carl Samson for the extremely appropriate Joan of Arc beans box he found in the attic of the Wessel House.
The label on the glue bottle was too modern so I had to print out an image I found online of one from the 70s.
I turned the background panels around and painted them blue which gave the appearance of a mysterious dark sky. A blue table would be too much, so I tried a table cloth, but it was too busy and the newspaper and white horses got lost.
The news paper was newish, but it had an old photo of Ronald and Nancy Regan on front so I figured that was good enough.
I spent a good three days adjusting and doing sketches to get from the above photo to this one.

This old red card table was perfect. It worked well with the rest of the colors and the black end caps and rivets had a shape and feel which went well with the castle. I had tried to have a chair in the front of another painting but could not get the design to work. We had some old chairs that I was able to take apart and put on stilts to get it to the right height. Using my adjustable still life table, I set up a bit lower than usual- essential from the viewpoint of an 8 year old. As a child I use a lot of toilet paper tubes and Irish Spring soap boxes to build things. The current Irish Spring packaging is very different. I found images of boxes online, built a flat box in photoshop and printed it on cardboard and folded up my own 1979 soap box. The purple dinosaur was the right size but the wrong color, so I painted it blue and added the complimentary orange wings.

Here is the painting and the final set up after two or thee days of painting.
I made some changes to the set up as the painting developed, adding the clock back in to the upper left and a red shield over the door to strengthen the center. I may do a second post about the painting process in my next post.