Friday, August 30, 2013

DOTD 2.0

Posted by: Dave

I have been exposed to the Day of the Dead theme quite a bit in my recent side venture of tattooing.  For those who aren't familiar with the theme, it's a holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember loved ones who have died (though Day of the Dead is also the title of an awesome Zombie movie from the 80's).  Part of that holiday entails building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls and flowers.  Painting one's face to resemble a human skull is also quite common.  I find something strangely beautiful about a face bearing a mask of death while simultaneously being graceful and celebrating those who have lived.  Maybe death isn't so bad after all and I should buy that sweet motorcycle I have always wanted (even though "you know who" wouldn't mom)  It was a subject matter I was very excited to explore and follows the vein of Vanitas paintings I do.

This painting is heading towards some areas of completion at this point, but the background still needs quite a bit of work, as does the blouse and lower hand.    

 The ébauche is pretty much finished at this point and I am moving into first painting.

Now for my annual 2 seconds of glazing in a painting.  Whenever I hear someone ask if I "glaze", I always tend to get shivers.  For some, glazing is some magical end all solution that every artist in history used that ever did any blending.  We have even had to argue with people that we really don't glaze except in rare circumstances.  Well, for one, most 19th century artists didn't glaze (or there is little evidence that they did).  Bouguereau did not glaze to get a high finish.  Tadema did not glaze to get a high finish.  However, Dunkin Donuts does use glazes, as does any good mother for their yearly Hannukah ham.   Bottom line is, just because something looks blended doesn't mean it's glazed.

Ok, so now I am going to talk about my glazing in this painting.  Glazing is using a semi-transparent layer of pigment, usually combined with a hard varnish.  In my case, I used Canada Balsam; a hard varnish with little to no yellowing over time, which is important as it is being used over white (it  was even used in microscopes and telescopes in the past).   I try to use as little varnish in my paint layers as possible as it can lead to cracking and de-laminating of paint.  Really, I only glaze areas of very high chroma that I cannot achieve with pure paint.  In this case, I wanted the candle to feel as if the light was emanating from within. I started by having every area I wanted to be very chromatic blocked out in lead white.  I used a combination of the Canada Balsam medium and pigment applied very transparently over the white to achieve the desire effect.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Icarus II--SOLD

Posted by: Kate

I have a not-quite-alla-prima for sale.  Dead birds are a hard sell with collectors, but I know you emo artists love this stuff.

Icarus II
Oil on linen on panel

 Please get in touch by leaving a comment if you are interested.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Craft or Sullen Art

Posted by: Kate

The first person to correctly guess Cold Comfort Farm was Barbara Tschantre.  For those of you who have not read the book, the "something nasty" is what crazy old Ada Doom saw in the woodshed when she was a little girl.  I think we can all safely assume it involved a farm hand, a cow, and activities that are illegal in most states.

Enough about Something Nasty, aka, Shadow of my Hand.  It's done with and waiting for a good photo, and then I'd like to talk your ear off about the meaning of it, but for now let's talk about another painting I did earlier this summer.  And by talk about it, I mean here are some in progress pics.

I actually did most of it during the Whidbey Island workshop.  My easel was set up in the antechamber where there is a fresh spread of cookies and cake every morning (and Cary is an excellent cook).  I was feeling kind of up and down about my painting so I probably put on about five pounds that week.  It's funny because the art center's motto is "Feeding Your Artistic Soul."

It's not the most interesting project to look at in progress.  It flew out really quickly and subsequent stages don't look that different from early ones.  However, it was an important painting for me because it required a lot of invention.  Normally I say that painting out of your head is a great way to prove that there's nothing worth painting in your head, but more and more these days I'm challenging myself to paint my interior impression of the scene and not just what's in front of me.  I'm not always successful, and when I'm not, I have Dave to let me know.  And it's not like he has any filters or anything.

The subject is Dorrie.  Dorrie is the grandmother of one of my cousins, and the reason I wanted to paint her is because she is pretty much the only other artist in my vast family connection.  Some people like to get all supercilious up in my grill and say that quilting and other textile arts are crafts, not fine art, and of course I can see that there are plenty of unartistic people knitting and weaving and quilting.  But Dorrie exalts textile media and she approaches her crafts like true art forms.  I think there was a good long period of time when most women couldn't be artists, but instead found an outlet in the crafts that were available to women and women only.  Sometimes I wonder how many Artemisias were stuck with thimble and thread, and that was the end all of their artistic expression.

I think if I could show you pictures of Dorrie's studio, everyone would immediately agree that she is an Artiste and practically has a beret built into her head.

The title of this painting, "Craft or Sullen Art," comes from a poem by Dylan Thomas.  I lurve Dylan Thomas.  You can google the poem if you feel like it (I'm not going to force you to peer into his esoteric verbage here), but if you don't I'll just give you a brief synopsis.  Thomas writes his poetry not for "ambition or bread," for the proud men or the dead, but for the "lovers [who] lie abed."  When I visited Dorry in her studio this spring to take photos, she told me that she made a quilt for each of her children and grandchildren when they were married.  It immediately reminded me of Dylan Thomas's poem about laboring at his art for the sake of the lovers in the world.  And of course I totally dug the juxtaposition of "craft" and "art" in one line.  Because art will always have a relationship, sometimes contemptuous of and sometimes dependent upon, craft.

UPDATE: Someone asked for a link to the poem.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's Happening

Posted by: Dave

It's been awhile since I updated and I have a very good reason.   I didn't feel like it.

Anyway, we just got back from a very fun but very exhausting road trip down to San Francisco.  About two minutes into the drive, we realized that the car we were borrowing had a broken air conditioner, and we found out the hard way that northern California gets hot....really hot.  We had to stop off at Wal-mart to buy a giant bag of ice, and took turns cradling it like a small ice baby to keep cool.  When I was about to drive the car into oncoming traffic to end the pain, I started seeing signs for San Fran so we held off on suicide.  When we finally got there, we stayed with Sadie and Nowell Valeri, of Sadie Valeri Atelier, where both Justin Hess and Felicia Forte also teach.  For those who have not been to the school, it wins Best Dressed award because it's hands down the nicest looking atelier inside.  We also got some touring of San Francisco and I got to see my first hippie drum circle.  It was like a band but with no audience or rhythm. 

Us artists hanging out (Alicia Ponzio, Justin Hess, Kate Stone, mwah, Nowell Valeri)  Wait a minute, somethings wrong...

That's better.  Now we look like cool Cally artists with our fedoras.

On the way back, we stayed with our friends George and Tania from Natural Pigments.  We got to visit the factory and see what new colors are being made.  One nice surprise is they are now carrying more than just Lazurite blue.  We got some Ultramarine, Prussian, and Maya blue.  For those who were kvetching about a higher chroma blue from NP, well, their Prussian will blow your retinas out with it's brilliance.  I also got some black oil, which is a leaded linseed oil, and you know what they say about black oil, "Once you go black, you never revert back to a non leaded oil in your darker notes..."  Kate also picked up some dispersions, but I will let her talk about those. 

As far as my artwork, I have finished up the still life but decided to throw a landscape in behind it.  I am just not a big fan of big empty spaces, and this adds a nice mood and dimension to the piece. 

 I also just finished a drawing of Tara that is going to be a half length painted portrait.  Also, you can see the beginnings of the painting.  I have some other stuff on the go as well, but that would require more work to post it.  I would rather just stare at my roomba and make R2-D2 noises and feed it nachos as it vacuums.

Oil transfer complete 

 Start of ébauche