Wild Horses

I hadn’t planned to take a blog “vacation” these last two Fridays but that’s what they became.

I’ve fallen out of my usual daily art habit and I’m working to put it back into place. It’s too important to let it all slip away.

A few weeks ago I was practicing my direct brush technique by painting one of my Breyer horse models and I can see areas where I’d like to improve my proportions.

I guess it’s time to paint her again. That should get me moving!

As Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wrote… “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.”

Meditation – 03 August 2020

Irwin Greenberg – The Painter’s Primer… 5/5

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85.   Critics don’t matter. Who cares about Michelangelo’s critics?
86.   Structure your day so you have time for painting, reading, exercising and resting.
87.   Aim high, beyond your capacity.
88.   Try not to finish too fast.
89.   Take the theory of the “last inch” that holds as you approach the end of a painting, you must gather all your resources for the finish.
90.   Build your painting solidly, working from big planes to small.
91.   See the planes of light as shapes, the planes of shadows as shapes. Squint your eyes and find the big, fluent shapes.
92.   Notice how, in a portrait, Rembrandt reduces the modeling of clothes to the essentials, emphasizing the head and the hands.
93.   For all his artistic skill, what’s most important about Rembrandt is his deep compassion.
94.   To emphasize something means that the other parts of a picture must be muted.
95.   When painting outdoors, sit on your hands and look before starting.
96.   When composing a picture, do many thumbnails, rejecting the obvious ones.
97.   Study how Rembrandt creates flow of tone.
98.   If you teach, teach the individual. Find out when he or she is having trouble and help at that point.
99.   Painting is a practical art, using real materials — paints, brushes, canvas, and paper. Part of the practicality of it is earning a living in art.
100.  Finally, don’t be an art snob. Most painters I know teach, do illustrations, or work in an art-related field. Survival is the game.

 

A Fitting Tribute

On Thursday I watched numerous cultural luminaries sing the praises of Congressman John Lewis during his funeral celebration at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. There were family, friends and past presidents including President Obama, each one speaking glowingly, but only one captured my interest so completely. Jamila Thompson, John Lewis’ Deputy Chief of Staff spoke so eloquently I needed to revisit her speech on YouTube.

Thank you Ms. Thompson, you did Mr. Lewis proud.

As a staff, we are heartbroken; we are lost, but we know that the work continues, the fight remains, and we cannot – we must not get lost in the sea of despair. So if asked how you may honor the congressman, I will echo the words of the greats who stood here before. You can make sure that his work, his sacrifice, his message lives on, and that there’re actions that every person can do regardless of their age or their station in life. Be kind, be mindful, recognize the dignity and the worth of every human being. Be the best version of yourself. Be informed, stay engaged, even though the work is hard. And, if you’re of age and eligible, for the love of God, please vote. Thank you.

Jamila Thompson
John Lewis’ Deputy Chief of Staff
30 July, 2020
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Atlanta, Georgia

Meditation – 27 July 2020

Irwin Greenberg – The Painter’s Primer… 4/5

67.   Don’t call yourself an artist. Let others name you that. “artist” is a title of great weight.
68.   Be humble; learn from everybody.
69.   Paintings that you work hardest at are the ones you learn the most from, and are often your favorites.
70.   Read values relatively. Find the lightest light and compare all other light values to it. Do the same with the darks.
71.   Grit and guts are the magic ingredients to your success.
72.   Let your picture welcome the viewer.
73.   Add new painters to your list of favorites all the time.
74.   Study artists who are dealing with the same problems that you’re trying to solve.
75.   Have a positive mindset when showing your work to galleries.
76.   Don’t look for gimmicks to give your work style. You might be stuck with them for life. Or, worse yet, you might have to change your “style” every few years.
77.   If what you have to say is from your deepest feelings, you’ll find an audience that responds.
78.   Try to end a day’s work on a picture knowing how to proceed the next day.
79.   Don’t envy others’ success. Be generous-spirited and congratulate whole-heartedly.
80.   Your own standards have to be higher and more scrupulous than those of critics.
81.   Howard Pyle said, “Throw your heart into a picture and jump in after it.”
82.   Vermeer found a life’s work in the corner of a room.
83.   Rembrandt was always clear about what is most important in a picture.
84.   If, after study, the work of an artist remains obscure, the fault may not be yours.

 

Rest In Peace John Lewis

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

— Representative John Lewis
@repjohnlewis June 27,2018 on Twitter

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”

— John Lewis

I started this spread thinking of my own mundane life goals when I heard of Representative John Lewis’s death. Just reflecting on his life goals is aspirational.

Drawn from a photo of John Lewis at the State of the Union address on February 12, 2013. Photograph by Pete Souza for the White House – labeled for noncommercial use.

Meditation – 20 July 2020

Irwin Greenberg – The Painter’s Primer… 3/5

43.   When you’re in trouble, study the lives of those who’ve done great things.
44.   “Poor me” is no help at all.
45.   Look for what you can learn from the great painters, not what’s wrong with them.
46.   Look. Really look.
47.   Overcome errors in observing by exaggerating the opposite.
48.   Critics are painters who flunked out.
49.   Stay away from put-down artists.
50.   If you’re at a loss for what to do next, do a self-portrait.
51.   Never say “I can’t.” It closes the door to potential development.
52.   Be ingenious. Howard Pyle got his start in illustration by illustrating his own stories.
53.   All doors open to a hard push.
54.   If art is hard, it’s because you’re struggling to go beyond what you know you can do.
55.   Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.
56.   There is art in any endeavor done well.
57.   If you’ve been able to put a personal response into your work, others will feel it and they will be your audience.
58.   Money is O.K., but it isn’t what life is about.
59.   Spend less than you earn.
60.   Be modest; be self-critical, but aim for the highest.
61.   Don’t hoard your knowledge, share it.
62.   Try things against your grain to find out just what your grain really is.
63.   Inspiration doesn’t come when you are idle. It comes when you have steeped yourself in work.
64.   Habit is more powerful than will. If you get in the habit of painting every day, nothing will keep you from painting.
65.   There are three ways to learn art: Study life, people and nature. Study the great painters. Paint.
66.   Remember, Rembrandt wasn’t perfect. He had to fight mediocrity.

 

Out and About at Honey Field Farm

Yesterday was my first sketch out with my art group since the before times. I traveled light with only my sketchbook and two pencils since I knew I’d be socializing, even if it was at a distance.

5.6 mm Koh-i-noor Magic pencil lead in clutch lead holder.

0.7 mm HB mechanical pencil.

Many thanks to Honey Field Farm, Norwich, Vermont for generously hosting our group.

Meditation – 13 July 2020

Irwin Greenberg – The Painter’s Primer… 2/5

 

20.   Don’t be envious of anyone who is more talented than you. Be the best you can be.
21.   Prizes are nice, but the real competition is with yesterday’s performance.
22.   Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve.
23.   Go to sleep thinking about what you’re going to do first thing tomorrow.
24.   Analyze the work of great painters. Study how they emphasize and subordinate.
25.   Find out the fewest material things you need to live.
26.   Remember: Michelangelo was once a helpless baby. Great works are the result of heroic struggle.
27.   There are no worthwhile tricks in art; find the answer.
28.   Throw yourself into each painting heart and soul.
29.   Commit yourself to a life in art.
30.   No struggle, no progress.
31.   Do rather than don’t.
32.   Don’t say “I haven’t the time.” You have as much time everyday as the great masters.
33.   Read. Be conversant with the great ideas.
34.   No matter what you do for a living, nurture your art.
35.   Ask. Be hungry to learn.
36.   You are always the student in a one-person art school. You are also the teacher of that class.
37.   Find the artists who are on your wavelength and constantly increase that list.
38.   Take pride in your work.
39.   Take pride in yourself.
40.   No one is a better authority on your feeling than you are.
41.   When painting, always keep in mind what your picture is about.
42.   Be organized.