Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18, 2013

School's out for summer! Well, actually only until June 8, when we'll be back for the ever-so-popular summer session. Except of course, for those of us going on exciting vacations (like Ellen) or engulfed in busy season at work (like Steve).

But we know why you're really here today. It's to see some "bad art." As you recall, we were all supposed to consciously paint a bad painting. Most of us chose to do portraits, figuring that would be easy to mess up. Some of us (Greeta, Mark, Tony and Alan) got a head start by using bad paper—or even the cardboard from the back of the pad. We tried all kinds of tricks—Elaine T painted with her left hand, Sara worked quickly and without enough paint, Ken used clashing colors and Elaine O tried a plethora of new tools and materials.

Still, as you might have guessed, we all failed! None of the "bad art" was truly bad enough. Everyone liked some or all of each of the paintings. For many of us, it was freeing to not be invested in the outcome and we got some very good results. And we all learned a valuable lesson—it's not easy to deliberately make bad art! You'll see what we mean below as we begin with what some of our artists think is the "bad" stuff (don't worry, we'll alert you when we move to good art). And we start with three life paintings of our own teacher wearing an actual work of art—a Koos dress!


And now we move on to the good stuff. (We felt compelled to tell you since the ones above aren't bad at all, are they?) But here's where we really tried. We begin with a good cat (in every sense of the word). We see Ken entering a new phase—watch for the Rothko series!—and continue through vodka, vacations and vegetation before moving on to lots of wonderful people and finishing with an unfinished sketch by Mark.


One final lesson can be learned from Susan's definition of a bad painting: It may look okay, but if it doesn't capture the artist's vision or feeling, it's a bad painting.
See you on June 8. Meanwhile, happy painting!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day! And what better way to start today's gallery than with a painting of a mother and child—followed by a Manhattan to toast her with! And because Mother's Day seems to herald the planting season, we continue with lush vegetation and other signs of spring (the White Sox?) before turning to higher things like Picasso, Ken and the Buddha. One of the paintings is part of a Planting Journal, which contains dated paintings of Greeta's garden as it blooms...along with notes and suggestions for future gardens. What a clever idea!

And if you continue to our Art Discussion Topic for the day, you'll learn more about what each of us has always wanted to paint....but hasn't yet.

Topic of the day: What's something you would like to paint...but haven't yet?

And here the responses varied, encompassing style and scope as well as subject. Ken wants to do an "all blooms" painting, making use of what many consider an accident. Steve is planning to paint a merman; he's particularly interested in capturing the texture of scales, water and rock. Elaine O. wants to paint a masterpiece but, barring that, will settle for having the courage to paint larger. And Vivian is the most courageous of us all—she says there's nothing she wants to paint but hasn't. If she wants to paint it, she does!

But most of our responses centered on portraiture. Mark would like to paint family and friends specifically, while Alan's goal is simply to paint a person...or any living thing. Tony's grand goal is to capture the essence of his subject. Greeta would like to do a big portrait and Sara would like to experience doing a portrait from life....with a real sitter and all! Seems most of us find portraits the most intimidating (and rewarding) subjects of all.

Quote of the day: If they don't get it, they don't get it! (a pithy summation of our discussion about gifting someone with a painting of yours and they are less than enthusiastic.)

Assignment of the week: Attempt what you said you wanted to paint....but do it badly. Frankly, this doesn't seem too difficult at all! So join us next week to see some big, bad paintings and some really bad portraits. What better way to ring out the term? Should be fun!

And since you're still here, we close with a class portrait under a banner heralding us as "Students of the Month." We're sure they meant us....?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 4, 2013

Considering how normally rebellious we are, we surprised ourselves by doing our homework—okay, with two exceptions, but that's not too bad for our group! As you may recall, we were to paint something ... anything ... from life. We want to compare that painting with our more typical pieces and see if there's a difference in the two. So let the viewing begin.

We start with Greeta ("Fruit changed my life"), of course, as she's our inspiration for this challenge. Each artist's life painting comes first, followed by their current works (whether from life, a photo or imagination). See what you think. You may also notice that we had some interesting pairings of orchids and self-portraits—coincidence? You be the judge.

While you're viewing, keep your eye peeled for a little painting humor ... besides the purple cow, of course. Elaine T. has begun painting things that remind her of other things. What do flying geese remind you of? And at the end, hear our thoughts on today's question of the week, "How do you know when your painting is finished?"


How do you know when you're finished?
The answer of the day seemed to be "Ask Greeta." But of course that's not always possible, so we had to ponder some more. After all, at some point, we do put our brushes down, call a painting "finished" and move on. But as you can see, we have differing styles and different states of finish before we reach that point. How do we know?
Most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes of Mark, a notoriously "alla prima" painter who stops when he runs out of time, and Ken, a surprisingly process-oriented painter, who sometimes revisits paintings many times after pronouncing them complete.
Some of us, like Alan, just know. Tony stops when it's all finished to the same level and looks all of a piece. Susan starts with a vision and stops when her last brushstroke completes that vision. It just "feels" right to them.
For almost all of us, there comes a point where we suspect we may be finished. Whether we "start to lose interest," like Elaine T. or "start using really tiny brushes," like Sara, we stop. Most of us prop our paintings up in places where we're likely to happen upon them as we walk by. Steve looks to see if his colors pop the way he wants them to. Greeta and Ellen check the values. And most of us feel like Elaine O., we're finished when nothing jumps out at us and anything else we do either won't add anything—or will actually mess things up.
Of course, there is also Ken's school of thought on the matter—it's not done until it's overdone. Sadly, some of us only discover we were finished when we go one step beyond where we should have stopped. It happens!
Join us next week as we think about what we'd really like to paint ... but haven't.