Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Titling Art - follow up insights

I recently offered a blog exploring the
importance of titles to artwork.  Review it here.
I asked for your opinions and you didn't let me down!
Herewith I am sharing some of your comments:

I start with a compliment:
Certainly to titles. I think they should not merely be, but add - as in causing you to go dizzying about trying to figure out why the artist chose that particular title. As in the one you picked for this painting. Way to go! (I also have done market research to confirm that a title can draw a judge's attention-poetry or painting.)
and briefly:
I like titles as long as they are not too abstract. A title helps me understand what the artist was thinking.

a friend shares:
 Sometimes I think I just can’t come up with another title for a seascape; however, I frequently have a painting named the minute I conceive it. Like “Femme Fatale” or “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.” I had a photographer friend who did a photo of a man on a street talking to a clown; yes, a fully-costumed clown. The clown was pointing down the street. The title of the photo was “So I Stopped and Asked Some Clown for Directions.” I saw the photo in 1983 and I never forgot it because of the clever title. 

Some of my favorite titles are derived from songs, like the one you did here.

from an artist:
I always hated to name my drawings, didn't want to influence the viewers interpretation. But at an art show, if a judge picked it for judging it needed a title, sometimes a real struggle ...(see judge reference in first comment!)

a two-step method of viewing:
A title should add, I want to be able to enjoy the piece "on my own terms" first and then be able to turn to the title for some insight into the creator's thoughts.

another artist:
 I like my titles to say something about the piece, even if it is a personal memory that someone else might not understand.  That often allows the viewer to ask about it, or perhaps dream their own interpretation.  I don't understand some titles; they are almost like the artist stuck it on as an afterthought, as in a piece with circles within squares and the title is "Forest"?  But then, maybe that is what the artist actually sees.  So titles to me are very important but I'm sure that's not true for all artists!

I mentioned that some artists just prefer to number their pieces, which I think, gives me no reference at all as to their thoughts. And "untitled" to me is just lazy; apparently I have like minded reader:
As for numbering systems, I think they have their place, as in Earth Study 1, Earth Study 5.  I do not like them as indicative of the number of pieces an artist makes.  And I am flummoxed by pieces titled "Untitled".  Surely it evokes something in the artist, else why did he/she make it!  Where did it come from?  What does it evoke?  That just blows me away.  So that is my two cents, for what it's worth!!

more to chew on:
Hi Cindy,

I think titles are important, since they can often give the viewer insight into what inspired the artist.  When I look at art, I first study it and then read the title.  I want to see if I got anywhere close to figuring out the artist’s intent.  Sometimes the title will cause me to look again and notice something new.

... I’m not keen on predictable titles.  Although I’ve used them (and will probably continue to do so, at times.)  But, I prefer a title that’s a little more poetic.  Something that sort of circles around the main idea.  Like my recent quilt with 3 large tomatoes.  That could have been the title, but instead I named it “Vine Ripened.”  Still not earth shattering in its creativity, but much better than the super obvious.  

Thanks to all who responded and/or thought about this topic, it was fun to read and share your opinions. I'll close with this delightful non sequitur sent in:

For some reason this topic reminds me of what Ogden Nash had to say about eels. 

The Eel
I don't mind eels.  Except as meals. And the way they feels. 

In Titular Color,
have you seen my FaceBook page?  to keep up with pieces as they come off the easel
LIKE ME here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Painting in High Key

Painting in high key is a lot like
singing in a high key: some of us do it better than
others and some of us just can't do it
at all!

When one refers to a painting as being rendered in "high key" or "low key" they are alluding to the range of lights (tones) to darks.  Imagine a piece reduced to a black and white photo; put your finger on the darkest dark.  Now imagine that dark tone on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being white and 10 being the blackest black you can mix.  If your dark is at 5 or below, the middle of the scale, the painting would be in high key.   If the lightest color used checks in at 5  (a midtone) and the darkest color registers a 10 (or pure black), it would be low key.  Read more here.

Of course I am simplifying something one could write volumes on.  My point is that artists usually favor a certain key over another if even subconsciously.  I know I love to get in the mix with deep darks and usually a lot of them.  I can even find myself in a "low key" quagmire where I suddenly realize I can't go any darker even though I need to.

To this end I attempted recently to paint a "high key" piece.

See the red browns off to the left? I couldn't resist, and this may have led me astray...Still I did a decent job of blocking out the scene in relatively light and mid-light tones.

Skies are almost always one of the lightest pieces in a painting and I did fine keeping this in the  2-4 range of tones.  I still could not resist laying in some "definition" telling myself I could adjust it along the way.  (Note to self: no, you cannot adjust, you must correct immediately!)

The tree shapes are ok but I better watch those blue shadow lines getting close to the brownish road definition.  I just might slip into the abyss of the dark side. But really, I am getting far more concerned at this stage about giving a credible rendering of the trees and their gradual shapes than I am the tones.  I know I need to see the trees before I can easily chase the light of the sun.

So about now I decide that the colors on my palate will have to suffice and I just "go for it."

Here it is currently and while I see more "tweaking" to be done along the lower tree trunk  line and the closer branches, I think I did ok in keeping it relatively high key, at least for me!  

While I work to finish this piece I am also going to find other scenes I can practice painting while staying higher key.  There is nothing wrong with using the range (say all 10 scales of the black and white tones) but there is a mood that can be created while working in one extreme or the other. My tendency in paint coloration is a lot like my personality: outspoken, loud, bold... definitely not quiet, demure or soft.  Maybe learning to hold the line in colors will influence my persona presentation??  I'll let you know!

Lowering the Color Key,

Friday, January 6, 2017

Notes from Elio Camacho

I am often asked how one chooses what workshops to take. 
As a beginner I grabbed every class I could afford and/or get to 
hoping something might just stick.  As your style emerges you begin to
get more discretionary on who you take from.  My painting gang is
always generous in sharing the info culled from a class so here 
is a "share" from Carol Schiff on a wonderful instructor: Elio Camacho.

My friends and I drove to Fernandina Beach, FL to attend a workshop with Elio Camacho, one of my favorite painters and my very favorite instructor.
 We began each day with a beautiful sunrise over the ocean and then got to work.

 This is one of Elio's 36x48" demos painted in just three hours.

Here he met a challenge to paint without darks believing that a painting should 
bring it's own light.  I think this one meets that requirement!

 Another of his larger than life paintings.

This 25 minute demo was done on foam core.  He pushed the color even more
 than usual getting wild and crazy.

His brushwork is very exciting...something I am hoping to bring to my work.

Elio spent a year painting blue studies, then moved on and studied yellows and reds.  He likes to set up still life and challenge his students to render it all in a single color.
He believes red is the most difficult color to paint.  If you can do a red painting, he believes one can really see color.  This is a 20 minute demo he did for us one day.

Here is the last demo, painted in about 15 minutes, out of his head.  I almost cried when he scrapped it off the next morning.

Needless to say, we are excited to return for his next Florida workshop in the spring.  You can find his workshop schedule here.

Carol Schiff

Thanks Carol,   I've put Elio on my "wish" list for future workshops!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Finding Inspiration

What inspires you?  Whether you paint, craft, pot, garden
or read you are constantly in front of things that have
the ability to inspire new ideas and thoughts.
If we are intentional we can often trace a "sudden" flash of inspiration
back to its original seed.....

Such as...

This photo I took in a hillside town in Umbria, Italy as the sun was going down:

I was in the courtyard of an old castle cooling my heels while waiting on friends.  I loved watching the light come through these trees and get softer and more golden by the minute.  As I noted how the limbs had grown together and gotten intertwined I began to imagine that the roots were likewise tangled up below the surface.  In reality, I thought, these trees have become one in that they support each other visually and invisibly.  The swing made me wonder about the lucky child that was playing beneath the protection of such strong support.  I took a few more photos, watched the light go nearly out and rejoined my friends.

Time passed but every now and then I would re-imagine those limbs reaching out to each other as they grew.  Much like my friends reached out to support me as I grew.

And one day I was cartooning around with pen and ink and watercolor and transformed my thoughts into a more literal drawing of what those trees meant to me.

Yes, I am certain that with more time and thought I could more proficiently depict this...but sometimes whimsy can carry its own message.  I've sold a lot of note cards with this image on it.  People always ask about it.  But the painting remains.  I'm thinking that it is waiting for the right time in the coming year to share yet another message.  Who knows?

So, the next time you are hit on the head with a "great idea" think about where it may have can be a fascinating journey.

Best wishes for your journey into 2017,

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday in the Heart

The absolute best parts of the holidays
are the moments we share with others: the laughter,
the quiet evenings, our reflections, precious memories revisited...
My wish for your Merry Christmas is time,
time to savor it all.

Spreading a little joy is the surest way to 
experience some of your own.

Silly little shakers still give me a giggle...

my newest art acquisition from Maggie Black Pottery, tree votives
"Christmas elegance" 

We have downsized to a small but simple nativity, one my Mum
had in her collection, memories...

a star, a star....

Hoping your season was Merry and Bright and that health and happiness are yours in the coming year.

Joy FULLY Yours,

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dizzy Dancing Way You Feel

Have you ever listened to music and had
a line just jump out?  Often I am in the car and think
to myself "what would that lyric look like painted?"
I rarely go further as I can't make a note
while driving but every now and then...

Does the Title Affect Your Viewing?

Titles for paintings are funny things.  To some artists they are merely a locale, to others they become a marketing gimmick; sometimes one struggles for a title and once in a while the piece instantly names itself.  Purchasing a piece, I once asked the artist where it was. "Oh," he answered, "that was from Siena, Italy."  I paused writing the check and looked up. "Shoot, it reminded me of a place my husband and I stayed in Provence, France," I replied.  He grinned, "yes, that is just what I meant to say!"  We both laughed, I finished the purchase and simply re-christianed the piece.  All the same...

What does a title mean to you?

I am serious.  My husband and I go round and round (I won't say out loud that he likes trite references which he thinks are literary....oh, did I say trite??) and I wax and wane between what I feel and what I see.  Frankly I have rarely bought something for which the title was a critical component, yet I usually ask.    The selection is often a point of reference or at least starts a conversation with the maker.

Which brings me to the piece I share today.

We stopped by an amazing "You-Pic-Em" flower farm in Oregon which also had a winery and a gourmet food truck.  It was a spontaneous stop on a long but spectacular drive and with one eye on the dark clouds rolling in we stood in awe of the acres of flowers ready to be picked.  Wine, lunch, flowers...a few photos and we happily resumed our drive.

Can one ever re-capture that experience?  I think not.  The dark, mountainous backdrop and the swaths of floral color are perhaps better rendered in the abstract of masses.  But on another rainy day in the studio I can play and remember.  So I did.  And then to title, humming...I will borrow, with respect for Joni Mitchell's endless talent,  a line that is laden with meaning...for me.

"The Dizzy, Dancing Way You Feel"
24 x 18, oil

How do you feel about titles?  Do they influence your view of the art?  Or do you prefer a numbering system? I am really curious, so please share.

Dancing in Color,