Tag Archives: painting

It’s Labour Day. Put away that computer and make something creative

It’s Labour Day. Take a well earned break from your work. Perhaps you plan to relax and take it easy. That’s a good choice. If you are itching to be more active, though, why not do something creative?

If you are looking to make something, the Washington Post has a section on beginner diy projects.

Perhaps you always wanted to learn to paint? If so, Domestika has this creative watercolor sketching for beginner course.

If you have already started painting and you want to improve your skills, these
YouTube videos by Ian Roberts on Mastering Compostion are good. Likewise, if you can go to the artistsnetwork.com and get guides like this: how to thin acrylic paint and more.

Another source of education is My Modern Met Tutorials.

If you fantasize about going to art school but can’t imagine how you could pay for it, read this: Don’t Want to Pay for Art School? Here’s a Streamlined Syllabus for Getting your MFA.

If you want to do something musical instead, check out patatap, a fun way to make noises and visuals with your keyboard.

Finally, if writing is your thing, you can start a blog here at WordPress. If you want more people to read you though, consider writing for a larger audience and see if they will still take first person articles at The Globe and Mail.

There’s lots of ways to be creative. Have fun!

On the Basquiat work at the AGO in 2022

The AGO had a good show called “I AM HERE” packed with a great many works, including the one above. There were some other works like these…

There were even some drawings of food

For a Basquiat fan such as myself, it was all very exciting to see so much of his work here in Ontario.

It wasn’t until sometime later that I noticed the fine print besides the work:

That doesn’t mean to say that these are forgeries. It just says his family doesn’t vouch for them.

I can’t say one way or another. Basquiat was known to draw on all sorts of things, which made the food drawings seem real enough. To me only the head / portrait painting seemed a bit off. Not his typical pallet. But I think it seems like him in many other ways.

Given how much his work goes for and how much he produced, I think we might see more potential issues with works of Basquait on display. something to keep in mind the next time his work is on display.

Still Life is underrated. Let this interactive piece help with that

Still life is underrated. You won’t see crowds of people blocking the view of paintings of food and drink and plates. That’s somewhat understandable, but also too bad. To help promote the greatness of this painting genre, I’d encourage people to take this in:  Dutch Still Life – an interactive guide from the New York Times. It’s a fantastic study of one painting and what it can tell us. What all still life can tell us, really. A feast.

(Above image of Dutch still life taken at the National Gallery in London by me.)

The Surprise of Rousseau (be surprising too)

Henri Rousseau is the Great Outsider. An outsider to the Establishment of the Art World, from the Salons to Picasso. Despite rejection and mockery, he persevered and painted and exhibited.

Recently the Guardian featured one of his masterpieces, Tiger in a Tropical Storm (also known as Surprised!). It is seen here. (That National Gallery link provides a nice interface you can use to zoom in and out of.) You can read more about the painting here. I highly recommend you check both of those sites out.

In some way Rousseau surprised his fellow artists. Artists like Picasso were fans but mocked him too. You can read about that here (Le Banquet Rousseau: Picasso and Rousseau’s Friendship) and here (When Henri met Pablo, The Guardian).

Keep Rousseau in mind whenever you are doing something you love with little encouragement and even mockery. You may not be making something great, but you never know. Keep going nonetheless. Surprise them.

 

 

 

On the great painter, Christopher Pratt

Last week the great painter and printmaker Christopher Pratt died.

I was going to say Canadian or Newfoundland painter — for he was that — but it is better to leave off the modifiers. His greatness can stand against any painter of any time or place.  I am especially drawn to his hyperrealist paintings of roads and boats and houses. How the light in them changes, how your mood changes as you absorb them. There’s an abstraction to them, despite clearly recognizable imagery.

I’ve been a fan of his ever since I read Jay Scott write so eloquently of him back in the late 80s, early 90s and which was captured in this book, The Prints of Christopher Pratt 1958-1991 by Jay Scott; Christopher Pratt – 1991.

Canada has had many great painters. While many people say Colville is their favorite — especially when it comes to east coast artists —  I have always preferred the work of Pratt.

Though he lived and painted in Newfoundland, for decades he’s been represented by the Mira Godard Gallery in Toronto. If you want to read more about him or see his fine work, go there.

(The image above, Summer on the SouthEast, is a link to the Mira Godard website. I can just feel the heat of the east coast summer as I look at it. I can hear the drone of flies, see the brightness of the sun. It’s perfect.)

 

 

Basquiat 101

People in New York City have the great pleasure of having not one but two exhibits dedicated to him at the moment. (Not to mention his works being on display at MoMA.) If you are not familiar with him or would like to know how to better appreciate him, this piece, How to Look at a Basquiat in The New York Times is worth a read. It’s like Basquiat 101.

Better still, read it and then go check out the shows.

On Maud Lewis and the art world and Henri Rousseau too


This is an interesting but odd view of the great Canadian artist, Maud Lewis. It’s somewhat about her, but really it’s more about the art world and how they go about. In short, it’s about how the paintings that she used to sell for a few bucks to buy food are now worth many thousands of dollars. It proceeds to speculate if they will continue to go up in value.

I think it’s worth reading. Her life and work are interesting. I still don’t think the art world knows how to think or talk about her.

If anything, she makes me think of the work of Henri Rousseau. They didn’t quite know what to do with him either. But eventually they did. I think the same is happening with Lewis.

Regardless what they think, I hope you will think she is a fine artist and seek out her work. (And Rousseau’s.) Your life will be enhanced the more you know of their work.

(Image links from Canadian Art and ibiblio.org)

On Auden, Brueghel, and the brilliant way the New York Times combines them

I’ve posted before on The very cool AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) section of the New York Times. That time it was concerning their exploration of the Apollo 11 mission.

The folks at that section have done it again, this time with a poem from W.H. Auden titled Musée des Beaux Arts. It’s a beautiful poem, and simply reading it by yourself is a fine experience. But click here and immerse yourself into it, with the richness of analysis provided, and you will come away with a deeper level of understanding and appreciation of the work both of Auden and Brueghel.

Five great links on three great (and one not so great) painters

  1. Duchamp:  I visited the Duchamp Research Portal and it is full of everything a fan of Duchamp like me would want. If you are a fan too, you have to check it out.
  2. Bacon: Francis Bacon: Man and Beast review. Bacon has a new show with a new angle and while I am not supportive of the review, I am highly supportive of new displays of Bacon’s work. If you can, check it out
  3. Hirst: Damien Hirst and the Art of the Deal. Unlike Duchamp and Bacon, I am not a fan of Hirst. I think this piece misses the point though. What Hirst is great at is not painting or sculpture. He is great at making money. That’s his art: money making.
  4. Thiebaud: Wayne Thiebaud Whose Paintings Were (Almost) Good Enough to Eat Dies at 101. RIP Mr Thiebaud. Unlike Hirst, you were a great painter who filled up the world with great paintings.
  5. Anonymous:  So many great paintings are actually painted by anonymous painters you never know. Here’s a good piece on them:  Without these assistants many famous artists would never complete their masterpieces.

(Image from atlasobscura.com)

On the new Basquiat painting in the Tiffany ad

Lots of chatter recently about this painting “Equals Pi”. If you want to see what I mean, read this, Tiffany’s Wants You to Think It Inspired a Blue Basquiat Painting, or this, Tiffany solicits help of Beyoncé and Jay-Z to draw younger buyers – will it backfire? | Fashion | The Guardian.

As for me, I am not sure what effect it will have. I do know the owners of Tiffany have a ton of money to acquire this picture and I am glad it is getting some display.  I always love seeing the work of Basquiat and I especially like this one.

For more on who previously owned it, see this: Austin Kleon — Jean-Michel Basquiat, Equals Pi, 1982 2021: Some…

 

On the new Vermeer painting

Recently I came across this story about the new Vermeer painting and like him it is blowing my mind a bit. It takes restoration to a whole new level. It seems restoration work is getting bolder these days. I remember some of the controversy regarding the Sistine Chapel restoration and how some thought the people restoring it had crossed the line by making the colours so bold. This Vermeer restoration takes things to a whole other level by changing the image and its composition. I’ll be curious to see if we see more boldness like this in the future.

For more on this, see this piece: A Restored Vermeer Painting Reveals a Hidden Cupid Artwork Hanging in the Background.

The unstoppable David Hockney

David Hockey keeps going and going and I love that about him. Now he’s using Apple devices to make more works of art, and they are wonderful. To see what I mean, go read this at artnet.com: David Hockney Has Made Beautiful (and Rarely Seen) iPad Drawings of the View From His Bedroom Window. Enjoy Them Here.

If that gets you excited, in theory you could order the book. However at a price of  $2000, it is more a work of art than a simple book: David Hockney. My Window (Limited Edition) – TASCHEN Books

I hope he continues to make art in one form or another. Based on this on Austin Kleon’s site, it’s likely he will.

P.S. I love that drawing above. The raindrops are especially good.

P.S.S. I recommend that Kleon post too. Or anything Hockney says about art.

(Image link from article on artnet.com)

When you don’t know what to create, record what you know

When you don’t know what to create, record what you know. I was reminded of that rule when admiring the paintings of Rachel Campbell, here:  Colorful Oil Paintings Depict Give a Glimpse into the Life of the Artist.

If you are trying to write or draw or paint, you may be stuck with two problems: being able to make things look “nice” and not knowing what to make. Recording what you know solves those two problems. You know what you are going to make: a recording of what is in front of you. And even if you don’t make a good recording (i.e. it isn’t “nice”), I can assure you years from now you will look at it and say “oh that! I forgot all about that, but I am glad I have a recording of it now!”

Here’s another tip: ask yourself what is something you know that you Love or think is Beautiful. Whether it’s a place or a person or a thing or even a time of day, record that. When you see it, you won’t think the lines aren’t great or the colour is wonky: you will see the Thing you Love or think is Beautiful. Others will think it too.

Here’s a final tip: record something of your era. Include something fashionable, or technology, or anything that is not long lasting. Years from now it will be fascinating to your or others. “Look at that old phone”,  they’ll say. Or “look how cheap everything is”, or “look at that dress”.  You get the idea.

Sure you can take a photo, and it may be a good photo. But put some creative thought and effort into it. Your art will get better, and the work you produce will be better.

(Image is a link to the article in My Modern Met.)

The last works of seven famous artists

This is interesting and something I’d like to see more of: the final works of famous artists. At Artnet.com they have at least seven of them: the Poetic, Heartbreaking Final Paintings of 7 Famous Artists, From Salvador Dalí to Marcel Duchamp.(They kinda gush a bit in that title. :))

Here is the last one from Dali:

That is interesting in itself. (Dali is always interesting.) But what makes it more interesting to me, as someone interested in the form of mathematics known as catastrophe theory, was that Dali was interested in and and inspired by it too. As artnet explaiins:

During the last years of his life, Dalí became obsessed with the mathematical catastrophe theory developed by French mathematician René Thom, who suggested that there are seven “elementary catastrophes” that occur: fold, cusp, swallowtail, butterfly, hyperbolic umbilic, elliptic umbilic, and parabolic umbilic. This painting, with its generous curves and sharp edges, mimics these catastrophic events in black lines painted atop what appears to be a crinkled white sheet of paper. The organic curves of a cello appear to one side along with, perhaps as a reference to his own famous facial feature, a handlebar mustache…

Fascinating.

On Paul Klee, later works

Paul Klee painting

The David Zwirner gallery has an exhibit on the late works of Paul Klee, here.

A good analysis of Klee and his work then can be read here.

His work is darker in this time period, as befitting of what was going on. Still beautiful and still uniquely Klee, though.

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How to make your rooms pop by using bright complementary colours

Last week I wrote about white paint. Now for something completely different: bright colours! This piece is a great guide for how to use colour in your home, which is especially good for people shy about using bolder colours: Complementary Colors & How to Decorate With Them | Apartment Therapy

In a nutshell: “Complementary colors, when used together in color schemes, are especially dynamic and pleasing to the eye.” So find your favorite colour, find its complement on the colour wheel, and use that as your guide.

My small tip: if you love a certain colour (e.g. orange), then look to use the complementary colour in the background (e.g. blue sofa, blue wall colour). Then you can fill the foreground with objects in your favourite colour.

Another tip: use artworks containing both colours. Obviously you should love the art first, but if you have many pieces you can hang or display, aim to use those that fit in with the overall colour scheme of the room. (See the image above for examples of this. It’s a good example of how blue and orange go together.)

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The Art of Emily Bickell (and where you can get it)

One of my favorite artists is Emily Bickell, largely for her paintings of water, which I think are sublime. You can get affordable print versions of them here:  Traces Art Print by emilybickell | Society6.

Better still, you can get affordable original versions of them here: Art Interiors.

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On Haring, Basquiat and the art that defined 80s New York


Some good links on the art of the 1980s, of which Basquiat and Haring played a big part, here and here.

Most of the time the links I post are mostly because I want other people to know about them. Links that talk about my youth are mainly for me. 🙂 But fans of either painter or art of that time should click through.

Painting above by Haring in tribute to Basquiat. May they both RIP.

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Mario Moore and his paintings of blue-collar workers who ‘really run things’…

…is a fantastic story you can read about here:  Princeton University portraits lacked diversity, so artist Mario Moore painted blue-collar workers who ‘really run things’ – The Washington Post.

His painting is fine, and the subject matter he has chosen especially so. Check out the story: it has many of his works on display too.

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Did Rembrandt’s use mirrors for his paintings?


It’s debatable for sure, but there are a number of people who think he did. This piece (from a few years ago) titled The Mirrors Behind Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits in The New York Times  looks into one paper that argues so

In a paper published Wednesday in the Journal of Optics, Mr. O’Neill lays out a theory that Rembrandt set up flat and concave mirrors to project his subjects — including himself — onto surfaces before painting or etching them.

By tracing these projections, the 17th-century painter would have been able to achieve a higher degree of precision, Mr. O’Neill said. His research suggests that some of Rembrandt’s most prominent work may not have been done purely freehand, as many art historians believe.

He is not the first to suggest that old master painters used optics for their famous portraits.

In 2001, David Hockney, a renowned British painter, and Charles Falco, an optical sciences professor at the University of Arizona, published a book in which they argued that master painters secretly used mirrors and lenses to create hyperrealistic paintings, starting in the Renaissance.

Their theory, known as the Hockney-Falco thesis, generated controversy among scientists and art historians, some of whom took the findings as an implication that old master painters had “cheated” to produce their works.

I’ve read Hockney on this and he makes a strong case too. Not everyone agrees though. It’s worth reading the article and get a better picture, pardon the pun.

My thought is it’s likely all artists of the time would have used them to some extent. But Rembrandt is such a remarkable painter that it can only account for some of his greatness, if any.

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All the Vermeers in the World

What if your goal was to see all the Vermeer paintings in the world? There are not that many: you just need to travel a lot to do it. One person set out to do that. See Vermeer Goals for details.

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Alternatives to Cloud White: two other Benjamin Moore white paints to consider

If you want an off white paint for your interiors, you can’t beat Cloud White from Benjamin Moore. However, if you do want to consider alternatives then these two articles agree that you want to look at either White Dove or Simply White, also by Benjamin Moore. These two pieces also go into detail as to when you want to use them (e.g. trim, kitchen cabinets). Before you start painting, check them out:

    1. Colour Review: Benjamin Moore 3 Best Warm White Paint Colours
    2. The Three Best Off Whites By Benjamin Moore – Warline Painting

It’s the weekend. You should be painting.

Now, you might think: ugh, painting is alot of work. But as this piece shows, there’s some good paint jobs you can do in a weekend that still leaves you time to do other things.

For example, you can paint a door:

Or even just part of a wall, like the moulding:


The piece in Apartment Therapy is worth looking at to get ideas. If you’ve been tired of looking at the same old space and you don’t want to get new furnishings, a splash of paint can do the trick of improving the space.

Another option: do a painting (or buy a painting if shopping vs doing is your thing).  This article has lots of examples, such as this:

And if you think: I suck at art, then read this piece in Hypoallergic about how making art, no matter how bad, can reduce stress.

Now head to the paint store and start your next project.

(See the articles for credits for the pictures.)

How to forge a painting in the Louvre 

Painting in the Louvre
Easy! Just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Apply for one of the 250 permits the museum gives out each year.
  2. Bring your supplies and stand in front of the painting you want to copy. You can do this most days in the months of  September through June from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  3. Start painting.

Ok, it’s not quite that easy. Even if you can perfectly reproduce the work you stand before, the staff of the Louvre take steps to insure no one mistakes your work for the original, as this NYTimes article points out. For example, in this article, they made sure that the copyists used

canvases that were one-fifth smaller or larger than the original, and that the original artists’ signatures were not reproduced on the copies. Then (the staff) stamped the backs of the canvases with a Louvre seal, added (the staff’s) own signature and escorted (the copyists) from the museum.

It’s a fine article highlighting a great tradition of the Louvre: well worth reading.

(Photo by IVAN GUILBERT / COSMOS and linked to in the article)

On  George W. Bush the painter, or, the importance of good teachers

Whatever you think of George W. Bush as a president, most agree he is  not bad painter. There are two reasons for the latter: one, he had good teachers, and two, he is a good student. How do I know he had good teachers? According to this, Art critics alarmed to discover that George W. Bush is actually a pretty good painter, Bush…

… didn’t have to sign up for classes at a local art school or the museum, of course. Instead, he took private lessons from a prominent Dallas artist named Gail Norfleet. Norfleet wrought a change in Bush’s worldview. He began to see the colors even in shadows, the subtle shifts of palette in a clear blue sky. “I was getting comfortable with the concepts of values and tones,” Bush writes in the introduction to his book. Norfleet also thoughtfully introduced the once monochromatic president to her mentor, another well-known Dallas artist named Roger Winter, and it was he who gave Bush the idea to paint world leaders. Bush also consulted a landscape painter, Jim Woodson, whose visions of the vast, untouched terrain of New Mexico are nothing like the conventional bluebonnet vistas many still associate with Texas art. It was Woodson who introduced Bush to, among other things, larger canvases and thicker paint, and guided him toward a more complex view of the world about him. (Underlying by me for emphasis).

Bush took the lessons from these teachers to heart. But he was fortunate to have access to good teachers. A lesson for us all.

40,000 home decor links to make your place more attractive

Ok, not quite 40,000, but quite a lot. Some are very practical, some are inspirational, and some may even have you building your own furniture (as I did).

First, here are a bushel of links from the Apartment Therapy web site. They have lots and lots and lots of pages filled with ideas for people who rent apartments that can be used by anyone, renter or owner. Very practical, low cost, smart ideas and approaches to home decor. Good stuff.

Not so how to oriented, but this handful of links might give you some ideas and inspiration to improve your place:

Now that you are inspired, here are some good links I found for buying furniture:

Or if you want to build vs buy furniture, you might want these links:

Finally, if you are not so much into furnishing your place but more into painting it, then consider these few links:

(The lovely entrance at the top of the post is from a link to How to Make a Small Apartment Feel Huge | A Cup of Jo)

Two random Gerhard Richter links

I am always on the lookout for links to Gerhard Richter, one of my favorite artists. Here are two good ones:

  1. An oldie but goodie: images from the show, Gerhard Richter: Panorama at Tate Modern – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian.
  2. How to paint like Gerhard Richter ▶ How To Paint Like Gerhard Richter – YouTube.

What do Renaissance artists and animators have in common?

Cartoons! Well, there’s more to it than that, as this fascinating post shows: The secret to great Renaissance art: tracing (Vox).

I knew Renaissance artists did sketches: I didn’t know that they used them as stencils. In hindsight, it makes sense: to make such great paintings, it is best to work them out in detail first and then focus on paint.

Two good articles on David Hockney in the Guardian

The first one is a summary of his new show in L.A.: David Hockney unveils new works on perspective created in Los Angeles | Art and design | The Guardian.

The second one is a meaty interview: David Hockney: ‘Just because I’m cheeky, doesn’t mean I’m not serious’ | Art and design | The Guardian.

I enjoyed the interview alot: it is a great review of his career, plus it talks about many other great artists of the second part of the 20th century.

Anyone interested in modern art would enjoy both of these.

Thinking of painting one wall in your house a different colour? Before you do, consider this

Not for everyone of course, but this article shows you a novel way of turning a good idea – painting one wall of a room a different colour to make the room more interesting – and going one step further. The result is something like this:

If you are still interested, see Before & After: Maura’s $13 DIY Wall Art! | Apartment Therapy. Get the lamp, too.