Monthly Archives: July 2017

Do things smell better if your nose is held high?

I came across the most curious discussion.  I searched for a watercolorist presentation and discussion group on one of the popular artistic media websites.  What I stumbled into was an intense debate on the subject of “who *really* is an artist.”

It started with a discussion over whether a piece of work which was predominately watercolors but also included some ink lines was *really* watercolor art?  That moved on to discussions concerning *how much* of the work was ink and how much watercolors (ah, the artist ink police!).  Not stopping there, the discussion went one about whether one should use a pencil sketch as an underdrawing, and if one did were they *really* a watercolor painter.

That wasn’t the end.  The next subject concerned why watercolorists represented only about 10% of the marketable art world.  (Internecine fighting would be my answer)  Another way to interpret that was “are watercolors really art?”

So here’s what comes to mind.  Watercolors in basic sets are available to most kindergarten children, just as water-soluble finger paints are available.  The argument seems to be that if the medium is available at the kindergarten level, anything produced with that medium is probably not *serious art.*

Oh balderdash (I cleaned that up).  The result can be art regardless of how it is produced.  I would tell my new colleagues to stop trying to be so full of themselves, or to paraphrase Laura Ingraham — shut up and paint, don’t worry about what you use.

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Payin’ the rent

Every now and then I need to produce a post which shows potential buyers how to find the formatted pdf files from which they can produce their own A2 sized (e.g. Avery 8315) notecards.  I have them on sellfy and although these are not hot linked, the link is listed correctly in this screenshot.  Here for example is the hotlink to “Old Glory.”  And this link may show you the complete product catalog.  Read the descriptions carefully because some of the products are pdf files for full-sized photos.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 11.00.14 AM

Keeping at it – Old Glory

I continue to keep at the watercolor work, although for those that have followed my journey I have some ideas for photographs — just waiting for the right light conditions to proceed on that front.  The two of an old Spanish mission were pretty much learning pieces, but I did move the Old Glory painting to my art link here.  The Spanish mission pieces, which are posted on my FB timeline were about testing mixed media and a bunch of other things.  Anyway – here they are.

Art or Craft – My First Watercolor

If you follow Eric Gorges in his PBS series “A Craftsman’s Legacy” you know at some point in each show he asks his guest if they consider themselves artists or craftsmen.  This year I have experienced a journey from never having created a painting to sketching and now to watercolors.  At each step of the way I had to find someone who had mastered the technique I was trying to learn to “show me the ropes” very much like a blacksmith, just to name a trade, would start out as an apprentice to another craftsman who would teach methods.

It occurs to me that every artist, whether in music, writing, performing, film making, or in my case painting on paper or canvas must at some early point be shown the skills and techniques of the craft they want to pursue.  I suspect even naturally talented graffiti artists at some point are “shown the ropes” by an experience individual in that skill.  Having learned those techniques does not make the individual an artist, as hundreds perhaps thousands of people sitting around small town America thinking they are writing the next great film script can attest.

It seems to me that “art” is the vision and “craft” is the method by which that vision becomes a reality.  Every artist must be a crafter (to coin a less gender specific term) first — and a decent living can be made as a person skilled in techniques, but not every crafter is an artist.  Sometimes the vision is lacking, or simply not in tune with the times.

So here is my very first “craft” piece — an ink and watercolor wash drawing — Iris, 2017

Iris 2017 100dpi

The Red Barn

As I noted in my previous posts, I am really having a challenge with selection a true watercolor technique with which I am comfortable.  So far, my efforts are somewhat frustrating – showing promise, but not quite ready for prime time if you catch my drift.

Meanwhile, as images come to mind, I found that I am getting much better at simulating the watercolor wet on wet effect digitally.  Starting with Photoshop elements, a mouse, and a new white photoshop “canvas” and background layer, I was able to create this image.  A larger version is here.

 

Barn small.

A critique from long ago

Sometime around 1965 I took an undergraduate course entitled “Introduction to Modern Art” (I know that surprises those who are familiar with my subsequent career in computer science).   The paper I had to write as part of the studies was on Spanish artist Joan Miro.  I got the clever idea to produce a really catchy title page by including a representation of one of the amoeba like shapes Miro included in some of his works.  In making that representation I did not make a solid outline, but instead scrunched up the shape something like a kidney bean getting ready to spit out a watermelon seed.  My instructor graded my paper as perfect, but nicked me a half a grade over the tiny, nearly microscopic, gap in the shape’s outline.

I have spent 52 years thinking I had been “wronged” – that the error was so minor as to not detract from the intent, cleverness, or content.  As I experiment with various watercolor techniques to render my first true painting – the Spanish mission noted in my previous post – I decided to try color wash over an ink outline drawing.  When I finished the drawing I could not help but notice the places where I got “sloppy” with the pen and did not complete the lines correctly.  I decided I need to re draw the item, and that my old art instructor was right after all — in a drawing little details mean a lot.