Posted onJanuary 12, 2023|Comments Off on On twitter and art and the aesthetics of a Canadian painting by Chris Flodberg
In mid November the Twitter account Canadian Paintings posted the above work by artist Chris Flodberg. At the time I said: “I see some people don’t like this painting but I think it’s fantastic. Just like the Gare St Lazare paintings of Monet are fantastic. They reflect our lives. I even like the palette of this one – it’s a muted palette that goes well with the subject matter. Good composition too.” That tweet led to a good discussion on the work and to aesthetics in general.
I really do think it is a great painting. For one thing, I love the idea of it. The viewer is on the precipice of entering the painting in their car. If you have ever driven on such a road, you can easily imagine going down the hill and merging with the traffic and then heading over the horizon. Flodberg has positioned the viewer so that the go down and to the left, then up and under (a bridge) and then to the right, giving the painting a dynamic feeling.
There’s almost a danger too, with the concrete walls everywhere. Plus the fact you are about to enter a high speed highway. The dynamic and the danger make the painting exciting to me.
It’s interesting to me what he has put in the painting: the office buildings to the right and a jumble of stores to the left. The objects that make up the painting could be anywhere in a big suburb in Canada (or the US). It has a universality in that regard. I thought it was of a part of the 401 near me: turns out it’s near Calgary. (Fun exercise: compare the painting with the images in that link…how does it make you think differently about the painting.)
Flodberg is not the only Canadian to paint a highway. If you do a search like this on Christopher Pratt or this on Jack Bishop, you can easily see that. Canadian landscapes contain many things, including highways: it makes sense good painters want to paint them.
Speaking of Pratt and Bishop, I get why some people don’t like Flodberg’s painting: his colors are dull and dark in comparison. But I think they perfectly capture many a day I’ve driven along stretches of the 401. Some of those days were mundane, and some were magical. They all get stirred up in my imagination when I take time to look at the work above. A great work, I believe.
I don’t think I would have come across this work if it wasn’t for twitter. Nor would have thought about it deeply if it weren’t for the comments people tweeted. Twitter has many flaws, but there are times when it does things no other site does. I am grateful for that
Speaking of the 80s, here are some good pieces on another artist from that decade (and more), David Salle. Here’s David Salle’s five favs. Other things on him are this and this. Must reads for fans like myself.
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!
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Posted onAugust 13, 2022|Comments Off on 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.
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Posted onJune 25, 2022|Comments Off on 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.)
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Posted onJune 15, 2022|Comments Off on 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.
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.
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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.
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.)
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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.
Posted onMay 9, 2022|Comments Off on 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)
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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.
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Posted onFebruary 3, 2022|Comments Off on Five great links on three great (and one not so great) painters
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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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…
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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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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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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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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:
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.
Apply for one of the 250 permits the museum gives out each year.
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.
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)
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… 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.
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Posted onSeptember 21, 2016|Comments Off on 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.
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.
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Posted onSeptember 27, 2014|Comments Off on 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: