Tag Archives: art

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.

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.

Ingrid

This is my sketch of Ingrid Bergman as she appeared in Casablanca — a movie I have always found to be as much about style as about acting and writing.  The gallery is posted at this link — here.  I think this will be my last of the classic movie stars — unless something or someone particularly inspires me.  I have branched out into landscapes drawn from imagination and enjoy doing those, but more importantly, I feel I am now ready to go back to black and white photography and see what I can produce.  Meanwhile friends “we’ll always have Paris.”  (grin)

IngridB_jeb_small

Garbo

I continue trying to progress in the ability to render sketches.  Not really where I want to be yet, but making advances from time to time.  The side benefit of trying to learn how to see and render various shades of gray with pencils, various blending tools, and shear luck at times is that I now can see a color scene in terms of its tonality whereas before I merely saw different colors.  I’m close to making  a side trip back into some B&W photography and see if any new skill has transferred over, but in the meantime, here is my latest.

I think Greta Garbo was one of the most photogenic movie stars in Hollywood.  She was one of the golden era stars where, regardless of what they did ‘off camera’ so to speak, social custom and strong studio PR departments produced the essence of glamour.  I intend to return to Garbo in different ages and poses as I find them because I think her face works so well in sketches.   The gallery version is here.

Garbo_small

Learning an old lesson

I had the pleasure of meeting Clyde Butcher at the Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida in the early 1990s I believe.  Clyde was just beginning to get some exposure for his superb work in black and white capturing south Florida landscapes.  Later I recall reading a comment by Clyde that when he first started as a photographer he realized his “art” work wasn’t selling, so he paired it up with a clock mechanism.   I guess his theory was that a buyer did not necessarily want a fine art photo from an unknown photographer, but might be willing to buy a clock for the wall which just happened to have the photographer’s work in the background.

Now if you have read some of my posts, you realize I do not consider myself a practitioner of “fine” arts at all — perhaps I am more of a crafter, fashioning what I consider a pleasing image from both the camera work and the digital darkroom.

But I have stumbled on featuring the work I do on useful (more or less) decor objects: items like beach towels, tote bags, smartphone cases, and the like.  I thought I might resent having to do that sort of thing, but it turns out I really enjoy it.

For example – I feature this image in square format for some objects and in 2:1 aspect for others.   I think it makes an extremely attractive beach or poolside towel, and in square format a beach tote.  John Sunset 1-2_small

Desert Noon

Another in my latest series.  A minimalist impression of the noon time sun in the heat and dust of a sandstorm.  I encountered these from time to time in Arizona.  I wanted to capture the oppressive nature of noon-time in the desert … where it was always good to find some shade for a few hours.  And hopefully have a couple of bottles of water around, as it is very, very dry there.

Others are on this digital minimalist thread and you can find them at minimalist digital art for sale

For all of the products I have with this image, check here.

Desert Noon small

Rebirth

Sunset 2 small

Weird title, I know.  But this has been a long, long period of little if any creative ideas.

So I took a course in art.  Obviously I do not have the muscle coordination skills of an artist, although I was at one time fairly good at mechanical drawing.  But my short familiarization session seems to have unleashed my sense of — get this – color!

I had always been interested in pattern and form in photography; color came along by accident.  I seem to have awakened an interest in color nowadays — lots of it.

So I experimented with some digital graphic drawing ideas.  There are more floating around in the gray matter and I will get to them as time allows.  Meanwhile – here is Sunset 2.

For those interested in digital art, check out digital art for sale.

As my ideas come to mind, here is another in the set this time in shades of tan.