Friday, May 31, 2013

Abstract painting..not so easy!

Artist: Unknown

During my years as a painter, I have experienced many techniques in painting from copying great artists to creating my own paintings from my own photos. But, I have yet to experience plein-air painting or abstract painting. Plein-air painting is a French expression of painting done in the open air and abstract painting is a visual expression of painting that can be seen through color, form, and lines. However, I know someday I will experience plein-air painting but for right now,  I am experiencing with abstract paintings or attempting to. 

Currently, I am working on an artist copy of Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon)” 1907. It’s a very small painting 12”x16” as I do most of my artist’s copies on. This has been challenging because I usually work on a bigger canvas and use broader brush strokes but, working on a smaller canvas, I have to use smaller brush strokes and more detail than usual. The reason I am working on this particular Picasso because I like the lines and composition of this painting and the shapes within the painting of triangles and sharp edges.Even though, it's a cubism style painting, I do like it. The painting itself is giving me practice in my next abstract painting that I am going to work on. 

I have collected some old canvases to practice my abstract painting. In which, I am going to use painting mold and some old paint to practice some new techniques. I have never used molding before but, I am interested in the 3-D effect on a canvas. I am not sure if I will use this technique in my next painting yet. It’s always good to try new things and see the results you get while creating a new piece of art work. 

I still find that abstract painting is not as easy as everyone thinks it is. You can’t just slap paint on a canvas and say it’s abstract without visually thinking it through first. As I watched some demonstration videos on YouTube on abstract painting, it’s very important to keep all the seven elements of art in mind and visually see the image or images in an abstract form. I find that if you squint your eyes you can visually see the image you have in mind in abstract form.  I also found some helpful reading on “Can a 5th grader paint a Jackson Pollock?” Very interesting to read and the answer is no. The two videos I have attached are very different abstract paintings, one is more of an expression abstract that you can see the image, but the brush strokes are applied with ease, and control. The other video is more abstract with no image, but shows the layering of paint color upon paint color to form a beautiful painting. Notice that there is form, balance, and space used more on that painting.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Materials Around The House To Use In Painting

I have been a painter for almost 10 years or more. I have always been an artist since I can remember but, I fell in love with painting years ago. I started off with acrylic painting at first and then, switched to oil painting 4 years ago while I was in college. I still go back and forth from acrylic and oil depending on my vision of the painting.  As I am now a painting teacher, I was asked in one of my classes on what items can be used around the house for painting. I have collected tools around the house that I occasionally use during my painting sessions and I shared this information with the patron. I thought I would also share this information on my blog. Some of these are old painting tricks and some might be new to you. As always, experiment with colors and tools in painting can always give a different appearance, and have fun with it!!

Empty Paper Towel Roll- I use this on small detailed sections of the painting, especially in oil when you do not want to put your arm on canvas because the paint in NOT dry-can smear paint. I place it on edge of canvas with arm on top of it with brush in hand. I can move arm on the roll and not on canvas to make lines more straight and more detailed textures. An old technique I have used for years.

Empty Toilet Rolls and Plastic Lids-If you like perfect circles or want perfect circles in your painting, use toilet rolls and various plastic lids. I have used acrylic paint with this technique but, you can also use molding paste--to give a uplift texture or you can use oil paint. Make sure you wipe off access paint between color changes.

Empty Spray Bottles-These are great with acrylic paint to give the effects of dripping, spray, and fading of color on the canvas.

Card Board-If you split open the card board, you will find ridges underneath the flat surface. The ridges are very good to use to make texture, smearing of multiple lines, and cross-hatching appearance.

Bath/Sea Sponges-I like using these for several reasons. Gives a lot of texture and design depending on the pressure you use or the smearing that is applied. Also, it's very easy to clean and re-use.

Shoe Laces-I have never used this technique but, I have seen it used. Dipping the lace in paint and slinging it onto the canvas gives the appearance of a unattended mark or letting gravity take over. This technique can also appear to look like a Jackson Pollock's dripping technique if used correctly. I have never tried it in fear that it is very messy. Someday  I will try it.

Little Things- tooth picks, bottle caps, cotton balls, Q-tips, Syringes, and salt or sand.

Hair Spray-Aqua net-my professors would kill me for saying this. But, Hair spray-only the spray kind can be used for a fixed furnish on only acrylic painting (DO NOT USE ON OIL). It gives a Shinny appearance and it enhances the color of the painting. Make sure you apply in even coat about one foot away from the canvas to avoid dripping of the hair spray. It also seals in the paint color. Aquanet is the best to use.

The Paint Brush- I use my paint brush for a lot of things. I tell my classes that a paint brush is NOT only a paint brush it's a tool. I use it for measuring distances of the canvas, straight lines, point of view, and also the end of the paint brush to make little perfect circles.

These are some of the materials I use. If you have other materials that you use or have questions about using certain kinds of material. Please share or leave a comment.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Botticelli..Classical painter.

One of my influential classical painters is Sandro Botticelli. Even though I consider myself an expressionist painter, there are so many paintings out there that just catch my attention, either for the style of the painting or the meaning of the painting. I wrote a Art History paper while in college about Sandro Botticelli "The Calumny of Apelles" painting. Everything about this painting was interesting to me, the style, the meaning, and formation of this painting. Art History Paper below is copyrighted. Enjoy the reading. It's very interesting!

Lucy M. Inserra
                                                       Art History II

Sandro Botticelli

“Calumny of Apelles”

Sandro Botticelli is an Italian Renaissance painter who mastered the unique style of Naturalism and Classical by using dimensions of lines that curved, lined to show motion within a painting. Botticelli essential style in bringing a balance of images between realism and idealism was influenced in Rome, Italy where he became influenced by the Classical and Naturalism of paintings of other masters, Dante’s Poetry, and worked for the rich and famous family of Medici.  Botticelli’s “The Calumny of Apelles” 1495, was a painting copied by a Greek Artist Apelles, who lived in the 4th century B.C., described by a writer named Lucian. The original painting of   “Calumny of Apelles” is now a lost painting that can be only described by those who had seen it. The painting came from an important Florentine family named Segni. The painting was eventually transferred to Florence from the Pitti Palace in 1773.  An ancient painting that Botticelli painted with such detail, and contrast by the simple description of the words by Lucian, is now held at Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi. 
The Painting, “Calumny of Appelles” is 62 X 91 cm painting done in tempera on panel. This allegory of the painting tells a story with the composition of the figures with a lavish architectural backdrop. The painting is read from right to left, starting with King Midas with two women beside him, ignorance and suspicion. In front of Midas is malice, who is pointing or reaching for Midas’s crown, and at the same time has a hold of Calumny’s arm with the torch. Calumny is shown to be dragging her half nude male victim by the hair, while her assistants envy and fraud fix her hair.  Followed behind Calumny, to the left of the painting is penitence and further to the left is truth.  The story beginning with King Midas, with ignorance and suspicion, the middle of the painting with malice, Calumny, envy and fraud, and then followed by penitence and truth. In detail of the gestures and the composition of the painting brings a story to life.
In more depth, the meaning could be interpreted in many ways from King Midas and his ignorance of the thrown, and his ruthlessness of his daughter, Calumny, or Apelles influence to the government, or the King during his time that shows malice, envy, and fraud in the kingdom and would only be ended with penitence and truth. The allegory of the painting could be political or part of a morality setting. If morality, the descriptions of the painting’s characters seem to be close to the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth. Botticelli’s detail on the painting brings interest and intrigue of the story behind the painting of   “Calumny of Apelles”.
The facts of the painting, was from a Greek myth of King Midas, who was a greedy and foolish man, who wanted to be rich so, that everything he touched turned into gold. King Midas wish came true, so that everything he touched turned to gold, even food and drink. Midas’s daughter Calumny was full of hatred.  Calumny had two female servants named envy and fraud to help Calumny with her ornaments, robes, and hair style.  Calumny herself was led by malice, envy and fraud like her father King Midas. Calumny seems to bring forth a man that has done her wrong, to King Midas. While the half naked man is praying for rescue, Calumny shows little remorse or guilt of punishment for the young man that will have to face his king.  While an older woman, with dark color robe and hood is looking away from the scene of Calumny shows penitence will soon come, by looking back at a beautiful, nude woman that resembles truth will some day reveal all things. 
The Classical aspect of the painting shows signs of bare feet on all characters meaning that they are standing on holy ground. The columns in the back ground are engraved with such detail of soldiers or priests that seem to be witnessing this scene of Calumny.  The three oval openings of the columns, view a vast empty field with a horizon that seems to never end. The
contrast of the windows being open to field is a meaning of choice within the characters of the painting. A choice to the truth rather to fall under greed and malice of life is the Naturalism of the painting.
Botticelli’s influence in Classical and Naturalism he studied in Rome brings more of a realism and idealism to his painting. To name a few famous paintings such as, “Birth of Venus”, “Portrait of Youth”, and “Mars and Venus” reveal more of idealism verses realism aspects than the traditional Classical paintings. By using some Classical and Naturalism, Botticelli uses draped clothing, marble floor, and the arched columns that are recognized in most Classical art.
The colors used in “Calumny of Apelles” are of deep red, in which line the floor of the palace, and also matches King Midas’s robe. In the center of the painting is envy, she is draped with a lighter red color. The color red used in this painting might resemble the blood shed under the feet of the characters, and the lighter color of red on envy resembles passion, lust, or love.  The dark colors are black, presented only on malice and penitence that seem to be equally balanced in the painting. Malice being closer to the King and penitence closer to the truth could only resemble that the color black represents death, evil, and the unjust. The surroundings is a mixer of gold and brown, in which gold resembles the lust for gold to King Midas, and the browns are of the natural world.
This allegory of Botticelli’s painting of “Calumny of Apelles” is brilliantly done with a simple description from a writer, Lucian who a viewed the original painting by Apelles.  Botticelli brings forth such detail in a story-telling landscape of characters, that is a shame not to  view the lost painting of Apelles to compare its originality. Although, Botticelli version is magnificent in presenting the work of a 4th century Greek artist Apelles, that the painting itself is worth talking about. 

Work Cited
Basta, Chiara. Botticelli. Art Classics. Ed. Julie Di Filippo. Rizzoli Libri Illustrati.
RCS Libri Spa, Milano. 2004

Salvini, Roberto, All the Paintings of Botticelli. Translated from the Italian, John Grillenzoni. Part 3 and 4 (1485-1510). Hawthorn Books, Inc. Publishers.
New York. 1965.