Something to think …

I was having a discussion the other day about the transition from Academic/Salon style painting into Impressionism. This reminded me of Hockney’s theory of lenses, <digress>though I differ a bit (actually a lot) with his other views on art, he does present a very strong argument in “Secret Knowledge: rediscovering the lost technology of the old masters”</digress>. His investigative technique then got me into the idea of juxteposed images, either by time or subject matter.

When an image is placed against another image, perhaps I mean a piece of art against another piece of art, there appears to be a sympathetic vibration set up that causes each piece to resonate on a common frequency.

Put Manet’s “Olympia” next to Ingres “Odalisque and Slave” (not “La Grande Odalisque”). Try Picasso’s “Family of Saltimbanques, 1905” with William Hogarth’s “The Western Family” and Renoir’s “The Luncheon of the Boating Party”. What do you think?



Did a bit of gallery hopping recently. Checkout Eileen Graham and Steve Memering.

What I like about Eileen is an etherial quality I get from her work, I feel she has a good sense of color, especially in the way she uses it to separate the figure from the ground, and I also like her surface. Were “Morning Reflection” not sold I might be tempted to negotiate.

Steve’s work struck me quite differently. For me there is strong dynamic, he has a well defined color sense, and his dragonfly-koi series will seriously mess with your spatial orientation.

Here is another bit of what I’ve been writing:

4 – Evan, Michelle, and Trina

They sat on the bench under the plexi & aluminum porch. White jeans, legs drawn up crossed Indian style. The one in the blue top flips through her CD case, she has to find the right soundtrack for bus waiting. The one in the white top is sketching, tall slender women. She wants to be a fashion designer. The boy stands at the end, he doesn’t think they know he’s watching them. The girls think it’s cute the way the boy watches them, thinking they don’t know he’s watching. He gets on the bus, but the girls are waiting for a different one. They talk about him when the bus pulls away.


On the subject of writing, which I admit to less experience than visuals, I’ll still insist on basics. However in this field beware of “instruction” that doesn’t stress just WRITING. You can’t learn to write by reading about it any more than you could learn to draw without sharping pencils because you’ve dulled them marking up paper. Also you can’t learn to write without reading – like a vacuum cleaner. In my opinion it almost doesn’t matter what you read, because you will start to see what is “good” and “bad” for yourself. In the field of writing there is as much room for diversity as in the visuals ie. James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Neal Stephenson, Tom Wolfe, William Shakespeare, Janet Evanovitch, Aeschylus, Norman Mailer, Nora Roberts, Dante Alighieri, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf; read, read, read.

And my I suggest for punctugrammaritorical style; “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.


Last post I touched on instruction and mentioned basics. To pursue that further; I believe to have a grounding in the basics is the best thing an artist can do for themselves.

Knowing the generic location of facial features allows you to have a starting point for your portrait. When the relative proportions of a body are so understood you don’t have to think about them you can construct a figure without thinking about it. Additionally you will “see” how the model does or does not fit this “ideal”; and that makes getting it right simple, because you know what’s “wrong”. Therefore when I look for instructional information I’m looking for the fundamentals, the basics; hold the pencil like this to do that, a sable brush will do this differently than a boar hair, cold press vs. hot press – ‘because’.

Any suggestions meeting this criterion?

When you know these fundamentals you are grounded, you have someplace to take off from. All Masters had this ground and could then take off. This is true whether they are Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani or El Greco(Doménicos Theotokópoulos) all knew what they were doing.


Having been at it for quite awhile I have had to figure out a lot of things for myself. I am not averse to instructional books, however too many just show a series of stages without an explanation. I recall many years ago when I read an explanation of how to make something look round. This was great because it explained how the shadows fell and where the highlights and reflections were. I’ve used this ever since, whether on apples, wings of noses, or fat baby cheeks(actually I don’t do fat baby cheeks, but this datum was fully applicable to that).

So what I think is valuable in an instruction book is clear examples and explanations of the Basics. A ground in the basics of drawing or painting will carry you through your artistic journey.

I’ve been backed off of watercolour because I didn’t know any basics of where to start. Now I may have just found what I needed. Check out:

Watercolor Secrets by Tom Lynch ISBN: 1929834012

From Sketch to Painting by Wendy Jelbert ISBN: 0855329955

more art of film

OK “The Bucket List” is an old movie, but it’s still in the theatre. Go see it.

In order to evaluate or judge something you need a measure to gauge against. For film I have Casablanca(directed by Michael Curtiz, who manages to get the most Bogie out of Bogart) at the top of the all time list with Road to Perdition(directed by Sam Mendes) as the Modern yardstick. Those who might argue the ‘Die Hards’ or the ‘Terminators’ at the top miss the point; I’m talking about serious filmmaking not slapstick.

The Bucket List
Directed by Rob Reiner

Jack Nicholson

Morgan Freeman

Sean Hayes

Beverly Todd

Here Nicholson displays probably his broadest range(in drama) as an actor. Not to slight his substantial comedic abilities. From his torment under chemotherapy, through his adventure of life, to the look on his face when the little girl smiles at him; this man can act. Even his signature phsyco makes a brief appearance in the boardroom “It’s just a question, Have any of you read The Divine Comedy?”

That Morgan Freeman holds his own opposite Jack, and gets in some of his own licks, is testament to his talents. His scene with Rowena King(Angelica) is pivotal and so poignant. The consideration that passes across his face is one of the finer acting lessons you could get.

The support by Sean Hayes and Beverly Todd, brilliant.

John Schwartzman’s cinematography so nice to look at. For instruction note his use of focus and choice of camera position.

I’d like to comment on the soundscape(Marc Shaiman and Stephen Bashaw), but it was so integrated I was transported by it without notice.

It is truely a shame Hollywood does not recognize the potential audience for real film making. But then the pantheon of directors(working today) of this caliber; Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Rob Reiner, and that kid Peter Jackson, is so small.