Monday, May 30, 2011

Questions artists get

Once in a while you get the question -- "What's the best painting you've ever done?" Usually from a non-painter, but once in a while from a beginner, you get this question. Always before I just never had an answer (or a dumb answer) except to say something like.. "The next one." Yeah, right -- how clever that retort is. You do a painting -- it's one among many -- and it's either successful or not; of better or lesser quality than other random paintings you've done. After I finished this painting I actually did feel it's the best one I've ever done. Really! I never had this much success painting water or for that matter getting the brushwork just the way I wanted. So, for now, this is the best painting I've ever done. I was really unhappy that the experience of doing it was over because I looked forward to working on it each day. Every once in a while you reach farther ahead in the context of your work. I remember being a first year student in art school and doing a painting far above the quality of the rest of my work -- a harbinger of things to come. So with this just finished, a 20" X 30" oil on canvas called "Farm at Honey Creek", this is the best work I've ever done up until now. There's always tomorrow.
By the way...... following up on my "Claim Jumpers and Carpetbaggers" story, this photo is only a detail of my painting. Sorry. I plan to enter it into some shows, especially the Barns & Farms show at the Next Picture Show Gallery in Dixon, Illinois. So come out and give it a look.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Ambush Portrait

This is a portrait of April from a watercolor class I take. It's on Arches 140 pound cold press 7 X 10" paper. I did this while she was working on her own painting unaware that I was doing her portrait. The secret to this is to remain calm while your "model" is turning their head this way and that and never remaining still. Otherwise it's just the same as doing any model -- looking for shape, value and color. I did another of these last week however I gave it away and don't have a photo. I managed to take this one home to photograph before I gave it to April. Like my old painting teacher Eugene Hall used to say, "The best ones are the ones you give away."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Claim jumpers and carpetbaggers

I read a lot of history, but these are two terms I've known since I was about 8 years old. They both have to do with people who come in and try to take over what's yours. Since I have this blog I check to see where the traffic comes from. Looking recently at the "Stats" I found out that a certain search engine thinks it can just take over my -- and your -- pictures and post them. It leads over to my blog, but did they ever ask my permission? A couple times I have posted a detail of my paintings and I guess I will just have to do that in the future. I'm old fashioned and I just believe that what's mine is mine and doesn't belong to anyone else. You can read from my last post that I made nothing from a poster that's made thousands of dollars. I agreed to that, but I am a little unhappy about the rest. I just read an article about "exposure" and sales. "Exposure" doesn't put a dime in your pocket. Blogger beware.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Waldorf Curriculum poster revisited

Every once in a while it happens -- it may be two or three years, but eventually someone somehow finds me and asks where they can get copies of the Curriculum poster that I did many years ago. I posted this and some of my chalk drawings that I did for the students as their lesson several years ago on this blog. (See my older entries, May, 2007) When I was in teacher training for the Waldorf School we were given an assignment to express the Curriculum in an artistic way --- what kind of artistic way was up to us. My son's dear teacher Ron Richardson gave that assignment to us. I thought about it and decided to do something that would be fun. I chose to have it resemble a board game, like Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders or Sorry. Done on an illustration board about 18 X 24 inches, I spent a good long time on it, including archetypal images from the curriculum and a few inside jokes along the way. Ron saw it and wanted me to give it to the school and have posters made. About 1500 posters were made. I never made a dime from it and it hangs in Waldorf schools and homes across the nation. As far as I can recall, I think I did this in 1995 or before. Anyhow, 16 years later I still get inquiries about it. Someone called up my signature of "Steve Johnson Construction Co." on the front as a Google search. I had intended to use that as a name for a career in illustration that never took off. At one time the teacher training powers that be asked me about teaching a class on blackboard drawing but their classes got smaller and it wasn't feasible. I did this with colored pencil and did many, many chalk drawings for the students' lessons which led me on to do pastels ---- so I guess that is my reward.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

detail from "Farm at Honey Creek"

This is a detail that I took a few days ago, which has since been changed a bit. I liked this section -- about 5 X 7 inches as pictured here -- from a 20" X 30" oil painting which is now complete. Why? -- I liked the quality of the brushwork. I like doing layers of texture of grass upon grass or tree against the sky. I've had this up on the easel for several weeks, I think. I don't tend to remember dates and times exactly. But what I did have is something to look forward to, to contemplate while I was and when I was not working on it. Now that I have finished it I am rather bothered by that. Since I really liked working on it, it was something I looked forward to each day. I don't have my next idea waiting, so that's another reason I miss working on it. I'm sure everyone has some let down when a project is finished -- at least the ones they enjoyed. I've done plenty of things I wanted to run screaming out the door after they were done. This is another one of my Wisconsin farm paintings from a study along highway 20 in Honey Creek. Man, I love that area. This is waiting for the next Barns & Farms exhibition at a gallery near me.