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Ask the Expert…Haidee-Jo Summers

Question: How do you know when to stop working a painting?

Answer: How finished is finished?

allotment hens

“A fine suggestion, a sketch with great feeling, can be as expressive as the most finished project,” Eugene Delacroix

When I’m teaching I often come across artists who say “I liked it better before but now I’ve finished I’m disappointed with it.” I certainly can relate, and I think we’ve all experienced those feelings of heightened excitement and possibility in the early stages of a piece of work, only for that work to then come to an end borne of our own limitations to satisfactorily take the work further and a sense of frustration at not quite fulfilling the early promise, an opportunity lost.

Old milking parlour

I’m sure you’ll understand me when I say I’ve seen many a piece of work lose all it’s vitality and freshness when “finished,” and ending up with a range of malaise from muddied colors to having lost sight of the drawing. Usually an overworked painting is recognizable by being too stiff, somewhat lifeless and lacking in recognizable focus. Despite what anyone else thinks, as an artist we just know when we’ve gone too far.

fishermans shelter

Is the real problem here that we get too precious and the longer we work on a painting we may get quite defensive about all that time we have put into it and soldier on with a grim determination? If you find this happening I suggest you put it away for a while and when you come back to it be prepared to make a radical overhaul using your largest brushes or a thorough scraping down with a palette knife or a good “tonking” with paper. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Guard against being precious and working to tried and tested formulas. We learn far more by being daring and trying new approaches, and are more likely to recognize when something isn’t working and make the large changes it needs. To get a fresh view of a piece of work when you know something is wrong with the drawing but are unsure what it is, try looking at it in a mirror. Or turn it upside down and consider how the colors and values are working together as an abstract arrangement. Is there discord where you were seeking harmony?

Beach boys

When I was a student I read a quote by an American artist which said, “Say what you need to say in the painting then get out. There is no use chattering on after you have made your point.” I don’t remember who said it or where I read it, but I have never forgotten it. It struck a chord with me and has been my mantra for the past 24 years or so. Always I am striving to say more using less means. It’s important to ask yourself before you start “What am I trying to say in this painting?” If you can’t answer that then you can’t expect to know when you’ve said it.

penelope rose 1

My painting approach is to work on all areas of the canvas throughout, considering the entire composition right from the beginning rather than working section by section in a piecemeal fashion. I concentrate on bringing the painting along as a whole, and am always alert as to when I might have said enough. I may start a painting with quick linear marks positioning the subject but I am keen to soon move on to large areas of tonal value. I believe this approach helps me to form the main structure of the painting before getting involved in details that don’t add very much impact. I aim to make a concise statement.

If you suspect that sometimes you go too far in your own work I have a few ideas that may help.

When working plein air or from life, turn away from the subject from time to time and regard the painting rather than the subject. Ask yourself what’s the biggest difference you can make to move from where you are now with the painting to where you’d like it to be when finished. Go on from there to asking what else the painting needs to improve it and keep in mind the initial inspiration behind it or the feeling you are trying to convey.

hens

If working in the studio consider taking more breaks. A break is either a time to think and absorb ideas about the painting or to get away from it altogether and come back to it with fresh eyes. Looking at a painting in progress in a mirror can help you to see any inaccuracies with the drawing. Desirable as it may be to achieve a loose impressionist look to the work you still need the underlying structure or drawing to read well, otherwise you will lose the believability and it will be difficult for your viewers to engage with the piece.

Another idea for self-training purposes is to take regular photos of a painting during the stages of its production. You might find afterwards when looking at the series of photos that there came a point where you continued working and actually lost more than you gained from there on. This can be something of an eye opener and can help you to spot when and how you might bring future paintings to a different conclusion.

GracieAlso consider timed exercises. Painting en plein air is terrific training for getting an idea down quickly and developing a short term visual memory. Even when working from a static reference it is a good project to set strict time limits to train yourself to get a complete idea down quickly and with minimum fuss.

 

 

The thaw, Drove allotments

The level of detail and finish that you aspire to is a personal choice and it would be a boring world if we all responded the same way. What excites me is that people perceive a level of detail in my paintings that isn’t really there, and I love them to get up close to the surface and see the abstract marks, dots and patches which led them to believe that they could see a whole village on a mountainside. Knowing when to stop is hard, but think of your painting as a collaboration with the viewer and try to leave a little something for them to work on. Notwithstanding all of that, the very best way to finish a painting is to start on a new one.

pGpH_TyyTo learn more about Haidee-Jo Summers, visit her website.

 

 

 


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Allan Duerr, publisher of Art of the West Magazine, is the July judge for Art Muse Contest.

You don’t have to enter a western themed piece of art in this month’s contest, however, if that is a genre you enjoy painting you should really consider entering.

Watercolor, pastel, oil, acrylic and mixed media 2D artwork are eligible to enter.

Compete at your skill level for the chance to win $500, $250 or $100.

Plus the opportunity to win 6 months of gallery representation and participate in the winners show in 2017.

Deadline is July 31st.

Click here to enter ArtMuseContest.com

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#westernart #westernpainting #contemporarywesternart #cowboyart #nativeamericanart

 

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Featured

Travel Art Kits

 

Summer is here and we know many of you are going to be traveling far and wide. Taking a break from working in the studio sure sounds like a great idea, but, you know in a day or two you’ll spot something that will have your painting hand itching to grab a brush and create. In this post we’ve included several ideas for travel art kits to help you scratch that creative itch while you’re globetrotting.

Each photo includes a website link for more information about how they were created, so click away and as you near the end of the list you might decide to hang onto all those Altoids tins you’ve been saving.

Everyday Artist Travel sketch kit

Everyday Artist Watercolor Kit

 

Billies Craft Room Kit

Billie’s Craft Room Drawing Kit

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mary McAndrew Watercolor Kit

 

Daniel Smith Sketch Kit

Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials Altoids Tin Kit

 

Altoids - Art history

Art History Essays and Art Gifts from Irina Altoids Kit

 

Altoids Content in a Cottage

Content in a Cottage Altoids Kit


Art Muse Contest’s July judge is Alan Duerr publisher of Art of the West Magazine. Don’t miss your chance to have the publisher of a major art magazine see your work, click here to enter today!

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Ask the Expert…Gone Paintin’

Ask the Expert is hanging up the “Go Painting, Fishing, whatever sign” for the next 3 weeks. We will re-post some of our favorite guests.

Adobe Spark (1)

Today, it’s Stanka Kordic’s post “Going Beyond the Representational Figure”. It’s fabulous read from a fabulous artist.

Click here if you missed the post the first time around or just needing a few reminders, it’s well worth the read.

CLICK HERE to enter Art Muse Contest for your chance to win cash and gallery representation!

Featured

Ask the Expert…Gone Paintin’

Ask the Expert is hanging up the “Go Painting, Fishing, whatever sign” for the next 3 weeks. We will re-post some of our favorite guests.

Adobe Spark (1)

Today, it’s Terry Miura’s post on “Anatomy of a Landscape Painting”.  An impactful post with great information.

Click here if you missed the post the first time around or just needing a few reminders, it’s well worth the read.

CLICK HERE to enter Art Muse Contest for your chance to win cash and gallery representation!

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Ask the Expert…

Ask the Expert is hanging up the “Go Painting, Fishing, whatever sign” for the next 3 weeks. We will re-post some of our favorite guests.

Adobe Spark (1)

Today, it’s Elizabeth Robbin‘s “What are the key elements in making a strong still life painting”. Elizabeth discusses everything from concept to harmony and much more.

Click here if you missed the post the first time around or just needing a few reminders, it’s well worth the read.

CLICK HERE to enter Art Muse Contest for your chance to win cash and gallery representation!

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Ask the Expert…Becky Joy

Don’t Tell Me Don’t

bj1

Don’t tell me I can’t build my own website. I learned and built two. Maybe my time could have been spent more wisely, but I’m happy about it now. Don’t tell me to not touch a cactus. I did it. Ouch! Don’t tell me to not do some electrical work in the house. I did it. (Just in case, I hired an electrician afterward. It was OK.). Don’t tell me I can’t make a living as an artist. I do and should have made the decision to do it earlier. Don’t tell me not to use black. That’s ridiculous. Don’t tell me not to mix more than three colors together. I do it all the time and even use the results. Don’t tell me to not over mix my colors. I mix as long as I want.

I’m betting that you are much like me, the word “don’t” is a green light.

bj8

Just the fact that you are an artist makes you a risk-taker to some degree. You may feel you had no choice but to be an artist, it is who you are. Ultimately, that is how I feel. Although, I tried to suppress it for a time, it didn’t work.

bj4

I’m much more likely to jump into something when someone tells me I can’t, shouldn’t or don’t. In fact, I have to admit I occasionally get myself into things I shouldn’t be doing. But, most of the time I learn and expand my horizons.

Many successful artists have used black including Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas. The use of black should be a personal choice. I have seen artists that I believe abuse the use of black, having “dirty” looking paintings, black shadows or using black for graying of all colors. It’s easy to contaminate or overwhelm colors with black. But if an artist learns to control black and use it wisely, it can be very effective. Which is really the case with any color. I went through what I call my “yellow” period. I was told not to use white in my paintings to instead replace it with yellow. This must also have been a compliant period for me, for all my paintings had an overwhelming yellow tone to them.

bj2

Then there is the “gray issue”. Don’t mix more than three colors together. Come on, this just doesn’t make sense to me. By definition, gray is the mixture of all three primaries in various amounts. Does it really matter how you get there? Say I need my gray to be more violet. I’ve already mixed my three primaries to get my theoretical gray, but it’s not quite right. The dilemma: Should I just take a violet (that would make four colors in my mixture) or do I go back to the primaries of red and blue. Does it really matter? I’ll go for the violet every time, to quickly mix the violet-gray that I want. Now, this is a really big NO, I continuously clean my palette, gathering all the paint together creating a gray which I modify for whatever I need. Whoa! I didn’t stop to count how many colors I mixed together.

bj5

And of course, don’t over mix your colors. Why not? I want control of my colors. When I’m mixing colors together, they are often different values. If the colors are not mixed thoroughly, they often look too busy, muddy or not unified. If I purposely want several colors juxtaposed together, I will mix each color, thoroughly, and then place them next to each other. But, each of those colors that I mix and place together in a space will be the same value. To me it looks more cohesive and stronger. I’m not sure that I can suppress the urge to stand up and quietly defy when I’m told “don’t”. But then, it’s not something that I really want to do. I have learned many things on this journey and have continuously evolved on my own path. So don’t tell me “don’t over mix your colors”. I’ll mix as long as I want, besides, I love playing in the paint.

plein-air-painting-300x225

 

Visit Becky’s website to find out more about her work, online classes and workshops.

#beckyjoy #artmusecontest #intheartiststudio #paintingtips #oilpainter

 

 

CLICK HERE to enter Art Muse Contest for your chance to win cash and gallery representation!

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Ask the Expert…Studio Storage

Question: My paintings and art supplies are scattered all over my house. Can you show or suggest studio storage solutions?

Answer: Here are some ideas we found showing how artists store their supplies.

Paint and Brush Storage

 

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Paint Tube Storage

 

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Brush Wall Storage

 

Canvas/Frame Storage

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Works on Paper Storage

 

Paper Hangers

Taborets

Other Storage Ideas

 

Most art storage takes creativity. Always look for ways to adapt an item for
your best use. It doesn’t need to be beautiful, just functional.

Ampersand Feature

Don’t forget to enter June’s Art Must Contest. Lori Putnam is our judge. If you enter, you will be eligible to win a set of Ampersand Gessobords.

Click here to enter today!

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Ask the Expert…Scott Gellatly

 

Question: In respecting the rule in oil to paint fat over lean, which mediums thin out paints and which fatten them?  Can you make oil paint too lean or too fat?

Answer:

Fat-Over-Lean

The “fat over lean” rule allows you to build a painting that is flexible so over time there will be less cracking to your painting. Another way to think about “fat over lean” is “flexible over less flexible.”

Because of the high pigment load of artist’s grade oil colors, paint out of the tube should be thought of as “lean.”  Adding straight solvent to oil colors thins out the oil binder of the paint, thereby weakening its ability to form a strong, permanent paint layer. Thinning with a mixture of solvent and binder (described below) is a better choice, especially in the early stages of a painting. Painting mediums should simply be thought of as “fat” as they increase the flexibility of paint layers. If using a straight drying oil or Solvent-Free Painting Medium to thin oil colors, use these in moderation – up to 25% by volume – with oil colors.

Putting it to Practice

The under layers of a painting should be leaner than the upper layers. There are two different approaches to building paint layers following the “fat over lean” rule.

The first approach uses the same ratio of painting medium to oil color throughout a painting; however, the fat content of the painting medium is modified between each paint layer. In the initial layers, the oil medium (fat) is mixed with Gamsol (lean). As you add layers, increase the oil content of the medium by adding Galkyd oil painting mediums or a drying oil (Linseed, Stand or Poppy). The bottom layers will have more Gamsol and less oil. The top layers will have more oil and less Gamsol. The ratio of the painting medium mixture to oil colors remains the same.

The second approach uses varying amounts of the same painting medium throughout a painting. Since oil painting mediums are fat, when you add medium to oil color, the oil content increases. In the initial layers of a painting add a minimal amount of painting medium; then increase the amount of painting medium as you build up paint layers. The ratio of medium to paint increase as you continue painting.

Fat over Lean

scott gellatly

Scott Gellatly is a landscape painter living and working in Portland, Oregon, and the Product Manager for Gamblin Artists Colors. To learn more about Scott and view his work, visit his website.

For more information about Gamblin Artists Colors, click here.

 

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Ask the Expert…Adam Clague

Question: What do you look for when creating a portrait sketch and what decisions do you make to create the final painting?

Answer:

 

golden
Golden, Oil

Of all the subjects I enjoy painting, none has brought me more enjoyment than the head study. People have always been my favorite subjects, but I was not introduced to the joy of painting portraits from life until figure painting class in college. The adrenaline rush from the limited time frame coupled with the challenge of capturing a complex subject quickly had me hooked.

The typical brevity of a life painting session simply does not allow enough time to capture everything. This time limit can be exhilarating, but it is also challenging, as it forces the painter to set goals, prioritize, and simplify.

My goal is to truthfully capture the subject’s beauty. On a technical level, this can be achieved by faithfully depicting the subject’s appearance in these four areas: drawing, value, edge and temperature. By prioritizing these four in this order, I find I can capture the most important information in the shortest time possible. I don’t always meet my goal to my complete satisfaction, but I find I can consistently come close using the systematic process I’ll demonstrate.

judy
Judy

I build a head study (or “portrait sketch” as I call it) as one would build a house–from the ground up. I start with the foundation of drawing (the act of placing the correct marks in the correct places). I then build a framework of general shapes of value (shades of dark and light). At the same time, I consider the basic relationships of temperature (a color’s relative “warmth” or “coolness”). Next, I analyze the edges between each shape of value. In the beginning, the shapes I paint are broad and simplified, but they become gradually smaller and more specific as I progress. Likewise, the edges, temperature relationships, and colors become gradually more refined. I paint the details last.

Toning & Drawing

Becca 1First, I tone my surface. Darkening the initial stark white of the canvas makes it easier to gauge values. I usually tone my canvas with a grayed version of the scene’s overall, average color. Using a flat brush with a fine edge, I draw with thin, precise lines. A general outline of the head establishes its size and placement. A line down the center of the face helps capture any tilt and/or rotation of the head. Perpendicular to this line, three lines can be drawn to place the center of the eyes, the base of the nose, and the mouth opening. Remembering a few general rules of proportion can greatly assist the drawing.

•  The centers of the eyes are halfway between the bottom of the chin and the top of the skull.
•  The base of the nose is about halfway between the brows and the bottom of the chin.
•  The mouth opening is at the top 3rd between the base of the nose and the bottom of the chin.
Once I’m confident I have a reasonably accurate foundation of drawing, I’m ready to start thinking about value. However, there is never a point in the process when I stop drawing. Even as I make my final brush strokes, I am still concerned with placing the correct marks in the correct places.

Establishing a Value Range

Becca 2Capturing the effects of light and creating the illusion of 3-dimensionality begins with value. Painters must carefully analyze the relationships between the values in the subject, or else risk the painting looking “flat.”
The first values I paint are the very darkest value and the very lightest value in the subject. I paint these first to establish a value range for my painting. These initial two values serve as anchors against which I gauge the other values.

 

Blocking In General Values of Light and Shadow

Becca 3It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the vast array of values visible to our eyes. That’s why it is essential to simplify the subject’s values, especially in the beginning stages. At this time, I paint two more values–one average value for the lit side of the model’s face and one average value for the shadowed side. To mix these values accurately, I study them with my eyelids halfway closed. Squinting like this makes comparing values easier. While squinting, I look at the lit side of the model’s face and ask myself, “How much darker is this value than the very lightest value?” I look at the shadowed side of the face and ask, “How much lighter is this value than the very darkest value?” I compare the lit side to the shadowed side in the same way. I mix one average value for the lit side of the face and one average value for the shadowed side, then paint these two values as large, general shapes.

Certainly, there are many variations of value within these two shapes. However, a careful inspection reveals the variations are surprisingly very closely related to the initial average values. When I become preoccupied with painting all the minute value variations too early, I usually break the delicate relationship between the lit and shadowed values of the head, and my portrait ends up looking “over-modeled.” I also resist the urge to become preoccupied with color. Remembering my time limit and priorities, I resolve to put value above color at this stage of the painting. Now is the time to establish a strong foundation of value to capture the appearance of light and form. Later, I can take time to mix more specific color, but for now, one average color for each value shape will suffice.

Though I don’t focus on specific color right now, I do consider the basic temperature relationship between the lit region and the shadowed region. Because the model is illuminated by a light that is cooler (whitish or bluish), the resulting shadows are comparatively warmer (containing a bit more yellow or red). Very early on, I strive to establish this temperature relationship by mixing my average color for the lit region cooler than my average color for the shadowed region.

Blocking In Midtone Values / Most Intense Color

Becca 4Next, I block in the “halftones” or “midtones”–the values that occur between the lit and shadowed regions. I maintain accuracy by continuing to squint and compare. It’s a good habit to paint the most intense or saturated color at an early point. Much like I use the very darkest and lightest values to determine other values, I use the most intense color to measure other colors. When mixing a new color, I ask questions like “How much grayer is this color than the most intense color?”

 

 

Blocking In Other Elements

Becca 5Just as I “blocked in” the face, I now simplify the other elements into two values for each–one value for the lit side, and one value for the shadowed side. Still squinting, I compare each new value to ones I’ve established previously. As I mix each new value, I ask myself, “Is this value lighter or darker than one I’ve already painted?” Then, I ask “HOW MUCH lighter or darker?” Asking and answering these questions helps establish correct value relationships, which in turn enables the convincing portrayal of light and 3-dimensionality.

 

Painting Smaller Shapes

Becca 6Once I’ve laid a foundation of broad, general value shapes, I start building on top with progressively smaller and more specific shapes. For each new shape, I squint and compare. If you squint at this image, you’ll notice that the large initial regions of light and shadow are still evident. Even though I now add value variations within these regions, I strive to carefully keep these variations properly subtle and closely related to the general value families I’ve established. To keep from pushing these subtle value variations too far, I remember that within each object, no value in the lit side can be as dark as any value in the shadowed side. Conversely, no value in the shadowed side can be as light as any value in the lit side.

Painting Even Smaller Shapes

Becca 7Once the basic shapes and values of the eye sockets are in place, I begin painting the smaller, more specific shapes on top. At this point, time has run out for the life painting session, but I will complete the portrait later using a photo.

 

 

 

 

Interpreting Edges

Becca 8The block-in stage helps to properly understand the subject’s forms in a simplified fashion, as though the forms were composed of a mosaic of angled planes or facets. However, now it’s time to consider the edges between these planes. An abrupt angle change between planes will yield a harder edge. A gradual, rounded transition between planes will yield a softer edge. A “lost edge” occurs when the boundary between two shapes is indiscernible. To avoid my painting looking labored, I strive to paint edges with as few strokes as possible. I create softer edges in two main ways– 1) by dragging one shape into another with a clean, dry brush or 2) by adding a shape of intermediate value between two other value shapes.

Typically, very few sharp edges occur within the human face. While relatively sharp edges may occur in spots like the top edge of a nostril, the highlight of an eye, or the outer edge of the jaw, the majority of edges within the face tend to be relatively soft. At first, I like to slightly over-soften the facial features. Later, I may place a few smaller, sharper-edged strokes on top, but only if necessary. Just a few of these sharper-edged shapes, contrasted by an underlying foundation of softer shapes, are enough to convincingly convey the great variety of edges that occur in real life.

Painting Details

Becca 9Here is a close-up of the mouth in the block-in stage.

Becca 10

I soften the blocky shapes of the mouth to more closely match the edges in the subject. Softening can also reduce glare by flattening the surface of the paint. To do this, I use a dry, soft-haired brush (such as a mongoose hair or sable brush) to make very light vertical strokes, so that the brush hairs barely touch the paint.

Becca 11
Now, the mouth can be finished with just a few smaller, firmer-edged shapes on top.

Becca 12
This is my framework of basic shapes for the eyes.

Becca 13

Painting on top of this framework, I bring the eyes to completion with a few little shapes of detail.

Finishing

Becca 14
Becca, Oil

A question I’m commonly asked by students is “how do you know when your painting is finished?” Artists have many different answers to this question. I consider my painting finished after I’m satisfied I’ve met my goal of truthfully capturing the subject, but before I ruin visual energy and vitality resulting from the life session. At this point, it is time for me to call the painting “done.”

Adam Clague has a Masters degree in Fine Art and lives an Missouri. To learn more about Adam and his work, visit his website.

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Jean Cauthen…another installment of the Mini Art History Class

Breaking Bad

Those landscape painters among us can’t recall a single fist fight breaking out over our humble art form (Okay, maybe that ONE time. But SHE hurled the first swing. But really. I digress). Historically speaking, most would not consider landscape painting as the controversial art form we think of with, say, a Jackson Pollock or Damien Hirst .

For heavens sake, landscapes are so harmless that THIS was my last year’s Christmas Card.

JC Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_Hunters_in_the_Snow
Hunters In The Snow, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Flemish, ca.1565) Oil on panel, 46 in × 63¾, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

But perhaps, like your cat, those greeting card landscapes aren’t as innocent as they look. And among their ranks, are the artists of the Netherlands.

BadAss Dutch Landscape Painters

You could fit the Netherlands into Maryland. But you’d have to shove pretty hard to include all its groundbreaking artists as well. Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Bosch, Breugal, Vermeer, Mondrian, Van Eyck, Van der Weyden, Frans Hal…well heck, they can’t even fit around this table at Applebee’s.

 

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De Staalmeesters, Rembrandt, 1662, oil on canvas, 75.4 x 110, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Many of those on the list are landscape painters; landscape painters with an axe to grind. And the object of their discontent was none other than the Catholic Church.

Not So Sunday School Suitable Anymore

Like all the the European artists of the time, previous 15thc. themes of the Dutch centered around religion. However, after the Spanish Wars and subsequent suppression by those conquerors, painters voiced their protest (get it? Protestant?) in paint.

Landscape painters of Northern Netherlands (Again. Protestant), like Bruegel, sought to break from the religious-themed paintings that served of reminders of the rule of the Catholic Spanish Kings. Instead, they chose more secular themes in rebellion against those.

Their home-town team fight-song came in the form of paintings of farms and hunters and peasant weddings.

Later, it would be the English who chose Landscape as their messenger of choice.

Those crazy tree huggin’, outdoor lovin’ Romantics

In the early 1800’s English painter, John Constable bucked the entrenched system of hoighty toighties by choosing NOT to paint the mythological, historical settings, and instead, as he put it, “I should paint my own places best.” This mantra is the writers’ workshop equivalent of “write what you know.”

Golding Constable's Flower Garden John Constable 1815
Golding Constable’s Flower Garden, 1815 John Constable (British, 1776–1837) Oil on canvas, 13 x 20,Ipswich Borough council Museums and Galleries

He and other Romantic artists warned against the encroachment of the Industrial Age. Constable’s diary reads like a Sierra Club handbook.

Likewise, the American version of the Romantic painters. A stern “talking to” in paint.

It is harder to find Waldo than the moral message encoded in a American Hudson River School Artist, Thomas Cole landscapes.

So take the ruler with which he is rapping our knuckles and draw a diagonal through his 1836 painting, The Oxbow.

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Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow, 1836, oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 76, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In a time, when Western Expansion was a political hot potato, he gives us this flip chart demonstration of what civilizing might look like.

If you ever read From Rembrandt to Diebenkorn , painters like to supply other painters with good rules of painting and living. One Dutch artist, Karel Van Mander (master of Frans Hals. In his popular Painter’s Book ), he supplied this list of do’s and don’ts. It is pretty telling.

  • Do not get drunk or fight
  • Do not fall in love too young and marry too soon. The bride must be 10 years younger than the groom. (Uh…)
  • While traveling avoid little inns. Always examine the bedding. (okay that’s a good tip)
  • Be careful in Italy for there are many opportunities for wasting your money (That 6 euros for a gelato, for example)
  • Keep away from prostitutes. It is a sin and they make you sick. (yeah. I would say so)
  • Show Italians how wrong they are in their belief that Flemish painters cannot paint human figures.
  • In Rome, study drawing, in Venice, painting.
  • Finally, eat breakfast early and avoid melancholia.

Later, in France, those crazy Impressionists would continue the rebellious tradition. Their patches of unblended color, the spontaneity and the everyday subject matter would cause the critics to claim ‘foul’.

So. I ask you.  Are you badass enough to landscape paint?

Jean ProfileJean Cauthen is a Painter and fake Art Historian. She has a studio in Mint Hill, NC and teaches Arts and Culture classes at UNCC. Her painting workshops in Italy always include a “Gelato and Art History” tour of Florence, Italy where she asks that participants keep any discrepancies to themselves and focus on the gelato.

www.jeancauthen.com

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