Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art Appreciation – Thomas Kinkade

A recent NPR story “Dark Times Befall 'Painter of Light' Thomas Kinkade” made me think about Kinkade paintings in a different perspective.  If someone mentioned how much they loved his paintings, I’d smile and nod, but think to myself “Are they kidding?”  I thought they’d make great backdrops to a Disney movie.  But, he has a tremendous following and, as any large successful company, he also had his critics and those who would like to see him fail.

Central Park in the Fall
Art appreciation is an evolving process.  In high school, I thought Renoir was the best painter – ever!  Now, I think so many artists are more talented and creative.  I enjoy abstract art more than before.  As my painting skills improve and my exposure to art broadens, so does my taste in art.  The reactions of friends and family to the paintings I have in my home are so diverse.  People think I’ll be offended if they say something disparaging, but I really don’t mind.  Some people intellectualize paintings, but I can’t.  I listen to my soul when looking at art.  Does it make me feel happy, calm, anxious, uncomfortable?  Only good reactions make it into my home.

There is a tremendous variety of art in the world.  Buy what you like.  If Thomas Kinkade makes you happy, Great!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Digital Painting and Rodney Dangerfield

A couple of years ago I purchased my favorite software program; ArtRage.  The infatuation started even before the download.  The modest $25.00 price immediately captured my attention (I love a bargain!)  The ease of use and how beautifully the program simulated the actual media (oil, pastel, etc...) was like sweet talkin’ and copious wine.  I was swooning. 

Like many early relationships, we just had so much fun together (Yes, I actually used the glitter in one of my paintings!)  We then transitioned into more serious work.  I painted a number of small still lifes, some portraits and started using ArtRage to create studies of future oil paintings.  We just go together like peanut butter and jelly.  (o.k., enough of the schmaltz)

Gerber Daisy

So, I created a few nice paintings, but now “I get no respect”!   I wanted to submit a painting to a local art club, but these are considered “prints”, not original art.   I spent a lot of time on these images and incorporated the same knowledge and skills used with traditional media.  I don’t feel like I fit in with digital artists creating beautiful graphical images.  Our styles and subjects probably attract very different audiences. 

I guess my masterpieces will just have to be happy in the print bin.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gallery Night and Champagne

Providence has a wonderful event the third Thursday of every month.  On Gallery Night, over 20 galleries and Providence buses open their doors to art lovers of all types.  This Thursday is a special night for an artist I recently spotlighted in my blog, Mary Jane Cross.  There will be a champagne reception for Mary Jane at Royal Gallery. 
Yes, I’ll say it again - Champagne.  If that doesn’t get you out, then perhaps the location on Atwells Ave. will help – the heart of fabulous Federal Hill food.  Or, the fact that a number of other galleries, each with their own personality and focus, are just a short walk away.  This area is a great spot to start (or end) your Gallery Night tour.
If you enjoyed Mary Jane's work or looking for a nice evening out, mark the date (Nov 18th, 2010) and time (5-9pm)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art and my Computer

Some people have a gift for seeing color, but I’ll admit it does not come as easy for me.  I use pieces of cardboard with a hole punched in the middle to block out surrounding areas and focus on just one spot of color. 

I’ve also developed a technique for doing the same thing using Photoshop.  This has an added advantage of being printed - I can put dabs of paint on the printout to check if I’ve mixed the right color.  You will need to know/learn how to create layers for this technique.
  • Identify the major areas of color.  Create and name a layer for each color.
  • Move your original image layer to the top.
  • Using the Color Picker tool (eyedropper) click on one of those major color areas.
  • Fill that layer with the selected color (Menu: Edit/Fill,   Keyboard: Alt+Backspace)
  • Using the Move tool, I shift the layers so I can see a little of each one.  I give the larger masses of color more exposure as I rearrange the layers.
Also, looking at just the final layers is a good way to assess color harmony.  You may decide one of the local colors in your photo needs to be replaced by a different color, for the sake balance of the painting.

Hope you find this helpful, too.
Towels on the Line

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Art for the Recession-ista

Last summer I started creating a few paintings using a 5x5 gallery wrapped canvas.  Because they were small and had deep stretchers, they easily stood by themselves.  As they dried, or always.  I realized there are so many other advantages of these little works of art.  

For the collector, they are affordable, make great gifts, and you don’t have to worry about having enough wall space (or walls).

For the artist, it is a great way to hone your skills, work out color harmonies, and easily create a series.

Many other artists work in small formats.  My friend Dianne Webb’s work can be seen at Voila Gallery, Wickford, RI   

Erin Spencer - Aquidneck Fields

If you have your own mini masterpieces, leave a comment with a link to your site (Google likes these links).  If you don’t have a website, just leave a comment.

Also, if you’d like a chance to win a 4x4 by Erin Spencer, you can visit her blog by clicking on the link below. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

From My Collection: Mary Jane Q. Cross

In my last From My Collection post I mentioned most of my paintings were purchased after making a connection with both the artist and the art work.   My spotlight today is the best example of this connection.

Mary Jane Cross first caught my attention when she donated one of her “red apple” paintings to the RI PBS Art and Antique auction.  I was awestruck by how she could convey so much emotion, innocence and spirituality in the face of her beautiful young subject.  She also captured a split second moment in time that kept me wondering what was on her mind and what had just happened.  Later, I met the wonderful woman behind the painting and found a soul with the same emotion and spirituality.  
Noonday Lull

I followed her work online and in local art shows.  One day I received a postcard with an image of ”Noonday Lull”.  This painting captured delicate sunlight, in a way very few artist can, and a sense of peace and contentment.  I propped the card on my desk because that contentment could sometimes drop my blood pressure a notch or two.

Weeks went by and I unexpectedly found Mary Jane’s booth at an exhibit.  And there was “Noonday Lull” in person – so much more beautiful than the postcard.  Mary Jane had once said to me “If a painting haunts you, you need to own it.”  I had been haunted for a while, and it now hangs in my living room. 

There is a fabulous story that goes with my purchase, but I’ll tell you in person if you are interested.  Below is a link to Mary Jane's bio and her  story of how she pushed through her disability (lost ability to hold a brush)  to produce beautiful art.

Mary Jane’s work can be seen at Gallery on the Green in Woodstock VT.
Her website is below. 

The painting continues to instill a little bit of peace and contentment everyday.