Uh, lots of pictures I still plan to post, but no time. Have been heavily procrastinating on all matters but painting – not enough self promo, not enough money making … and the worst: tax reports. They are giving me nightmares even with the few dusty coins I have to declare.
I’ll just add two quickly snapped work in progresses for now: This is a painting I will finish this Sunday. Head, second hand, legs, breasts…. all in one last sitting. This will be a challenge.
"Branka" - oil on canvas - work in progress
I have a good feeling, but then again – I always do. I really find myself a 100% in this quote by Bouguereau:
“Starting a picture is very pleasant, for you always believe that this time you’re going to create a masterpiece; you take pains, and little by little the painting takes shape, the effect comes through. You feel marvelous sensations. When it’s done however things are different. You want to touch up the arm, the movement of the body doesn’t seem graceful…and you end up doing nothing for fear of having to redo the whole thing completely.”
I took this from another great blog – Art and Influence – it’s full of interesting art history, in a much more relatable way that you see in your usual art book.
Caromble BG. For a lil' project I'm working on... one of those drawings where you look up when you finish and you're "what the hell did I do there?". I went way further than planned or needed.
The Redhairday led to some followups. One is the sister of one of the models - but there was not enough time that day. So her family came all the way from Utrecht to my place, so they can have pictures of both. Was really fun - thank you very much.
...and the result.
Nonredheadvisit, water color on 31x23cm paper
On that day I've also met these two red haired beauties. Although they were super sweet, I didn't dare to paint them from live - it is just too hard to predict how long they might sit in the same position (hah, I sure hope you looked at the picture before reading this paragraph). So the owner sent me a photo to work from. Thanks again.
Yesterday night I came from a concert with Konrad and Robert. When I looked down I noticed that I got shoes on. Which was weird to me, because I distinctively remembered how I was only in socks when I got in.
As I thought about it, I noticed more odd things – Jay Leno was the security guard back then, but his face didn’t look like him anymore.
I said: “Maybe this is a dream.”… It felt a bit offensive to tell my companions that they are not real but my imagination. They just shrugged. And as I looked at the surrounding I was sure the idea was ridiculous. Surely a dream would not feel so real. It didn’t matter that we just walked though the backyard of a video-games store which featured as promotion for a racing game an original sized replica of the great canyons (pretty nice I must say).
I woke up shortly after that.
Wait, whats goin on?
I told the story to a friend. As we were walking through a supermarket I told her how odd it was that a dream can feel so immersive and like such a rich experience.
For a moment there I was just checking if this is maybe a dream again – but it was just impossible. This felt real – this must be. Surely a dream is more blurry – simpler, more like a movie.
Mind you, I was walking around in underpants, since I lost my clothes (long story). But it didn’t matter much – odd things happen all the time, right?
I had this a third time last night. And each time my logical brain picked up the right hints and made the conclusion to the point: These things usually just happen in dreams. But it was unable to convince me – my experiencing self was convinced this had to be the real world.
This is the first night I have this so specifically. But I’m working on it since a while. Every now and then I try to consider if I’m just dreaming. Hoping that when I get used to it, I might do it sometimes in my dreams. As it turns out – it is tough to check. How do I know? I can tell from this night that you can’t just feel it. It doesn’t lack “realness”.
The telltale signs could have been the logical inconsistencies – but I wonder how much we have of those all day. I think we’re surrounded by them. Things we don’t understand – or don’t pay attention to. Misjudgments. Unhappy accidents. Weird conversations.
I will continue the research. So far though: I can’t tell if I’m dreaming right now.
These are some very interesting arguments by Scott Burdick about beauty in art (thanks to Sjan for pointing it out). Himself being a figurative painter, he criticizes the modern art establishment for completely excluding this style from museums or the collectors market. These four videos are not only thought provoking, but also filled with jawdroppingly beautiful art.
Here are links to some of the contemporary figurative artists he's mentioning:
I suppose when making such a video one has to go for simple statements. His observation of the state of figurative art in museums is absolutely on the spot - I noted the same when I wrote about my Dresden visit. Aiming to open museums and collectors for this art form is the right thing to do. But the more I think about it - I must I disagree with most of his explanations.
Maybe the biggest beef I have is the things he leaves out (or doesn't know). He can complain about Duchamp's urinal. But back when this was created it was similar idea as these videos: to complain about the undemocratic state of the art establishment. Back then it was the skilled academically trained artists that locked everyone else out.
Pablo Picasso - First Communion (1895)
..at age 15 - not skilled?
Mark Rothko - White Center (1950)
Beauty for one is not as easily definable as Burdock makes it seem. In a game of poker, a great hand is beautiful. It doesn't matter if its pretty paintings on the cards. That is actually measurable - the irises of your eyes will widen (which is why many players hide their eyes with shades). So beauty can be in abstract concepts, not just in girls with kittens. And beauty is specific to tastes. As a friend pointed out, maybe he is confusing pretty with beautiful?
Scientific fact: Your pupil widens if you see beautiful things.
I can see beauty in modern art as Pollock, and in some work of Picasso. And there can be beauty in ugliness. The "trash dump test" is misleading. Would we really want to loose all art that is not understandable on the first look?
Pablo Picasso - Guitar (1913)
Does beauty really need to representational?
Tawaraya Soutatsu - Ivy Lane
... got'cha with this one, didn't I? I'ts modern art from around 1600 - before the collectors bubble.
The prices for modern art are not based on any real value. That is true - but how much is this not true for classical art? The whole art market is a bubble - it just won't burst as long as we can afford culture. It has no basic value needed to survive. If any of us would be on the edge of starvation, we would sell a Rembrandt for a carrot. Beautiful or not.
I think this is a typical example of how we humans are generally bad with higher concepts. Things like beauty and "what is art" defy explanation nearly by definition. If we stick to the simpler down to earth questions like: Should museums be more democratic? Should the art establishment stop shutting out entire art forms? I think then we have a ground we can all agree on - and I am totally behind Scott Burdick on his mission.
On this water color I changed the hair a lot after the model session.
I waste a lot of money when buying materials. Its just an personal obsession – I can’t stop myself from always getting the most expensive option there is. In retrospect it payed off though (at least in that case) – erasing colors like this can only work with quality paper. You want to be able to add a lot of water, rub it with brushes and scratch around on it without damaging the paper itself. It’s 300g Arches paper hot pressed. It never let me down so far.
End of this month – Saturday October 30 – will be another Sketchmeet. A get-together of artists from Holland. This time in Rotterdam at the Image-Festival. Not sure if we actually go into the exhibit – I guess we rather just hang out, share sketchbooks and draw like mad as usual – join the fun if you can.
And to make this not too short, here’s a quickie from the other day.
Since I enjoy water colors so much, I aim to do more of them. One thing I notice slowly is how big the range is of what you can get. The following one is Maroesja, who I painted with oils before. I had more time for this one than just the 20 minutes of the other portraits. I went really into the darks here. Could have done it maybe even more on the skin tone. Fixing some mistakes is also easier than I would have thought. Going with a wet brush over dark areas can bring brighter colors back (you can see it a bit on the cheek here).
Maroesja 2, water color on 23x31cm paper
To see how much is possible with water colors just look at some examples of the master: John Singer Sargent. At the Art Renewal Center website they mistook some of these as oil paintings – and you can’t blame them. I have no clue how he can have these soft washes everywhere, and yet hit all the details super precise. The faces of the young guy and kid here – both are soft yet every value is where it should be.
John Singer Sargent - A Spanish Interior (1903)
Anders Zorn is another master from the turn of the century.
Anders Zorn - Modersgladje (1882)
And here is an unsung hero. I found these at an exhibition in Berlin. It is hard to find anywhere else anything about Eduard Hildebrandt, an German explorer/painter – but I have not seen anything of his water color quality before his time. I will post more about him later. Especially amazing is the color precision – the water in the ship reflections look nearly photographic real.
Eduard Hildebrandt - Panorama at Rio de Janeiro (1844)
To balance out after my post about not so smart people I follow it up with not stupid people. Starting with one really exceptional guy – Nassim Nicholas Taleb. In contrast to Sam Harris he is actually seeing science and mathematics as extremely limited.
His idea of “Black Swans” is one example. These are extreme events that change everything. And no probability or science can possibly predict them. Here’s a short explanation (an excerpt of this talk):
It goes even deeper though. We have the impression often that math and science nowadays describes most of everything – but he argues that there is a huge difference between this “academic knowledge” and our “experienced knowledge”. And that in fact academic knowledge does plays the much smaller role in our every day life.
Besides all that – he used to write incredible little quotes on twitter. Every day 3 mind-openers. Well, he deleted the account recently, but posts still some little gems on his facebook account and plans an aphorism book. Some examples:
You will be civilized the day you can spend time doing nothing, learning nothing, & improving nothing, without feeling slightest guilt.
Unlike a well-defined, precise game like Russian roulette, where the risks are visible to anyone capable of multiplying and dividing by six, one does not observe the barrel of reality.
You EXIST if & only if you are free to do things without a visible objective, with no justification &, above all, no narrative.
Modernity: We created youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur.
Would you rather be a lion in captivity and live 24 years, or in the wild and live 10-14 years? Answer the question every morning then look at your condition.
Charm lies in the unsaid, the unwritten, and the undisplayed. It takes mastery to control silence.
Ouch, this text got way longer than I expected. So I will only add one more and make another post about other smarty pants later.
Contrasting again with someone that the former person would maybe not appreciate having in the same posting, since Mr. Taleb dislikes Atheists and has a grudge against TED-talkers (and does care a lot about my blog obviously): Richard Dawkins.
Although he’s so different from Nassim Taleb in many of his views, I still cannot say that I ever heard one wrong word from him. Damn, sometimes I wish the world would make it simpler to stand on one side. Dawkins changed our view on evolution, gave us the word “Memes” and popularized the concept. Everyone knows his stance on Religion, so I won’t bore you with that. Here is one of his TED talks – it’s called “The Queer Universe” and one of the most inspiring I have seen to this day:
This portrait shows Jan Kal - maybe some Dutch readers heard, or read of him.
With the painting I added one photo of my palette. There are the colors listed that I used on this picture. Alizarin Crimson (a dark red), Yellow Ochre (an earthen yellow) and Phthalo Turquoise (a powerful green/blue) plus a Flake White. I've read before that limiting the number of colors is a good idea, but it took somehow a long time until I was able to do it. It gets tougher to reach certain colors - in this example to get the dark saturated brown of the hat took me some trying. But it's worth to resist adding new shades. The colors become more harmonious, and in the long run it saves time, because it is less work to remix colors and to create intermediates.
Jan Kal, oil on 50x40cm linen - (Info about prints and prices are on the gallery page)
Colors on the Palette before starting to paint. It's Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre and Phthalo Turquoise.