Monday, November 28, 2011

Secret life of the artist, Chapter 4

OK, so you've been reading this blog and you haven't seen "Secret life of the artist, Chapter 1, 2 or 3, so what's going on? I thought I'd give myself a little room for previous entries and start a little later. Besides 4 is a much funnier number than 1. So my thoughts today are about the influence of school, not art school, upon the young artist. I went to public school and while I don't particularly remember any art on the walls of grade school, there was quite a bit in high school. I remember a large oil, probably 30 X 36" under glass (to keep us grubby little kids from touching it. This was a landscape of woods, trees leaves on a cloudy day. I can see it now all these many years later there on the wall of the third floor hallway and how I used to stand by it while I waited for my next class. How often I looked at it and wondered what it would take to do something like that. I never saw anone else but me connecting with an artist and their work -- I don't know who did it, but it sure caught my attention. Another painting was a winter scene of snow piled inches thich on a bridge railing with the sun shining on it. That wa in the science classroom -- and how I looked at it while I should have been paying attention. Oh, I didn't have ADHD, I did my lessons well -- I just saw another life out there for me -- at least I hoped so. Then there was art class and all the disasters I committed there. Well, one couldn't expect a lot from the lame assignments we were given. Some were good, but most were not. It was my first life drawing experience -- and I found out that I could really do it. Then there was the "make a fish out of paper" assignment. What an embarassing mess I created and had to look at it among the others hung from the ceiling. You'll never know how I wanted to take a match to it and watch it burn. I went right into the garbage can when I got it back. Years later when I worked for a college, I was sent back to my old high school to evaluate the appropriateness of the learning environment (or some such nonsense as that). I got to go back and see the school as it is now. There on the third floor hallway, the painting I loved --- it was gone. No more art on the walls. What happened that a kid can't make a connection to the art world in an everyday place without paying some outrageous Museum fee. Maybe that's one reason I was a Waldorf teacher -- I did art for kids for eight years and eventually entered more deeply into the art world. So....enough musing..... the picture I have posted is of me in the background and my buddy Jack with the mustache painting in art school. I only have a couple photos of actual working at the school and i'ts fun to look back.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fall into Winter

This is an oil, 12" X 16" that I painted last week. I had taken a trip to my favorite area in Wisconsin and found this along the road. This is somewhere near Cambridge, WI, if I remember correctly. Last week we traveled to Mineral Point, WI. Mineral Point was founded by miners from Cornwall along the southern coast of England. The original houses there are made of stone. We stayed in the "Miners Cabin" built 1835. The town is very arty, but not touristy -- no T-Shirts and junk. This area of Wisconsin was not touched by the glaciers thousands of years ago and there area many hills and the farmers have had to adapt their techniques to the local terrain. The town of Mineral Point has very hilly streets as well. One of my favorite books, which I used when I taught the Farming block in 3rd grade at the Waldorf School, is "The Land Remembers" by Ben Logan who grew up on a farm near this area during the 1930s and 1940s. They were still using horses and steam threshers then, quite different from now. It was a great time and I will have to return.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pencil drawing

If this winds up in a frame it will be "Graphite on Paper" rather than "pencil drawing", but that's a subject for another blog entry. I have done this particular subject two times: once is this drawing and I've done it in oil. When you get a good subject and it motivates you to work realize that everything cannot be said in one statement. The real trick in all of this is to retain the feeling of out of doors and not turn this into an architectural rendering. Keep the "painterly" quality. It's easy to overstate things and kill the work of art before you've even finished. This was photgraphed with just a mat thrown over it -- we will see whether it makes a frame. If I don't think it looks painterly it will just be put away.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Success and failure -- or is it the other way around?

This is a little (6" X 8" -- sorry I'm a little challenged on the Metric system) painting that I did this week near the beach at Lake Michigan near Wilmette, IL. Along with the subject of my title for this post, a painter often has as many successes as failures. I went painting with my 80 year old friend, Isaac. I did one painting and wiped it off the canvas with turps. Next I did a completely bad and boring job on a group of trees in the sand dune. I left that on the canvas but intend to paint over it. I am not going to post that or perhaps you will never visit my blog again. Now long ago in art school, Mr. C, also known as Thomas Cushing, told us (at least I'm going to attribute it to him) that the difference between an amateur and a professional is the amount of garbage in his garbage can. Look back a few postings to the one that shows my palette and you will see in the background a full if not overflowing garbage can. Mr. C., you taught me all I needed to know about art, life and garbage.