Wednesday, June 16, 2021

My Art Studio Workspace & Artists' Ateliers

Office Space

Now several years into my retirement, I am finally able to carve out a space to paint. Almost two years ago we moved into a new home with an extra bedroom that I use as an office. In our previous home, the spare room had a twin bed (for guests) and an ironing board and became the place for storing nick-nacks and other miscellaneous junk. My intention for my office was to use it for writing art lesson plans on the computer and for doing art projects. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't want me to paint inside the house! My art colleague recommended getting a portable easel so that I could paint outside en plein air. For Christmas 2020 I got my easel and took it with me to paint on our late Winter trip to Palm Springs. 

Shed/Studio Space

My new goal is to establish an outdoor, sheltered place to paint by this Summer. I purchased an 8'X11' resin shed and assembled it under our deck in the backyard. My daughter helped me and found an old used drafting table for my new workspace. I even bought another smaller shed to offload the lawnmower and gasoline. My next challenge is to provide the necessary lighting. There's a small window and a large doorway that will allow some light to stream into my space. There are steel rafters that would be perfect for hanging overhead lighting. The problem is how/where to hang the solar power source since the shed is situated under my deck.

Portable Bluetooth Radio
A neighbor of mine has built his own personal outdoor man cave, a pretty impressive place to hang out. Although he doesn't have a window or electrical wiring, he does have a rather expensive portable power source -- the Massimo MPS 500. He also has a heavy-duty ION Tailgater AM-FM lithium battery-operated radio with Bluetooth capability. And a battery-operated LED light switch for entry into the unlit space. A radio would be useful for listening to music while painting or to hear a baseball game while doing yardwork.

Artists' Studios

If you're a fan of the Wyeths like I am, then you have to check out the Gurney Journey blog post, N. C. Wyeth's Studio, from May 2010. Apparently, Wyeth didn't electrify his studio until 1923, so he was only able to paint during daylight hours. I may experience a similar restriction. James Gurney may have just inspired me to take a trip to Wyeth's home and studio in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania. 

The Artist in his Studio
(c. 1626-28), Rembrandt

Rembrandt's studio reminds me of my own small, dimly lit shed though even with his meager digs, he still couldn't afford to pay a model to sit for him so he painted over 75 self-portraits. I probably won't be making any self-portraits any time soon.

Claude Monet in Argenteuil (1874), Manet

Claude Monet had the luxury of painting on a small boat. Édouard Manet captured Monet while painting in his floating studio. I'm thinking about how difficult it would be to paint with the movement of the water. Perhaps a better vantage point would be the river bank.

Musée Atelier de Paul Cézanne,
Aix-en-Provence, France

In May 2011, we were fortunate enough to tour France and Italy. We visited Normandy and Monet's house and gardens in Giverny, France. You may also visit the homes and art studios of famous painters. One such studio is the atelier de Paul Cézanne. Notice the skulls and the bowl of fruit.

Still Life with Skull (1896-98), Cézanne

At first, I thought it could be that of New Mexico artist, Georgia O'Keeffe, because of the skulls, but then I remembered Cézanne's Still Life with Skull. Both artists also used walking sticks (canes). O'Keeffe used hers to fight off desert rattlesnakes.

Window in the Studio (1889), Van Gogh

When Vincent Van Gogh painted indoors, it was often with his friend, Paul Gauguin, in the yellow house where he wanted to establish a studio in which other artists could paint. During the final year of his life, he turned a small hospital room at a mental health facility in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence into an atelier. I am struggling to figure out the four paintings or sketches he has hung on his wall.


George Pappas
I'm dedicating this post to my high school art teacher, Mr. George Pappas, who spoiled us by playing music while we created our art in his classroom. Each year, we looked forward to hearing the soundtrack of 1939's The Wizard of Oz, which probably contributed somewhat to my love of the movie. Although it was beaten out by Gone With the Wind for the Academy Award, it grew in popularity over years of being televised. Both films were produced and released by Metro-Goldwin-Mayer Studios, Oz in August, and GWTW in December. The book, written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) and first published in 1900, was originally illustrated by William Wallace Denslow (1856-1915). See The Lost Art of Oz for the complete list of illustrators of these wonderful stories.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Fathers of Art Movements

Recently, while researching this topic, I found The "Fathers" of Art article on the website of the Park West Gallery of Southfield, Michigan. It asks, "Do you agree or disagree with this list?  Can you think of any others?" So, I thought, this sounds like a challenge!

Here are some of the challenges I experienced in researching this topic:

  • Defining the specific period in history when the movement actually began and its popularity ended or morphed into something else
  • Defining the Father of the movement (e.g. Cubism – Braque or Picasso or both)
  • Finding a list of supporting members or practitioners of the movement
  • Finding good examples of each movement
  • Deciding whether to list them alphabetically or chronologically
  • Deciding which movement to include/exclude from my list
I've decided to list them in chronological order.

1. Renaissance (from the 14th century to the 17th century) -- Giotto

Arean Chapel (1305), Giotto
The Father of the Italian Renaissance and European painting is Giotto di Bondone. Giotto is most famous for his decoration of the Arena (or Scrovegni) Chapel, in Padua, Italy around 1305. One site I visited claimed that he had ~40 artisans working on the paintings, working from sketches by the artist, as he directed them where to place the colors. If this is true, then I liken Giotto to glass artist, Dale Chihuly, who also sketched and directed the creation of his glass pieces and their installations all over the world.

2. Baroque (late 16th and early 17th century until the 1740s) -- Caravaggio

The Adolescent Bacchus (1595-97), Caravaggio

The Father of the Baroque movement is Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. While visiting Florence, Italy in 2011 we saw one of his most famous paintings at the Uffizi Gallery. The Baroque style applies to many of the arts and may be characterized by drama, dynamism, emotional exuberance, grandeur, movement, richness, sensuosity, and tension. The chiaroscuro technique first used by Caravaggio and Leonardo da Vinci was later employed by Rembrandt in many of his most recognizable works, including The Man in the Golden Helmet. The light and shadow added contrast and dramatic effects.

3. Realism (1830 thru the end of the 19th century) -- Courbet

The Stone Breakers (1849), Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet is known as the Father of Realism. His paintings of ordinary people doing ordinary tasks were unwelcomed by the rich of society who had been used to seeing paintings of wealthy people displaying their opulence.

I also enjoy the paintings of Jean-François Millet, whose paintings of peasant life influenced Van Gogh and inspired other impressionists.

4. Impressionism (The early 1860s to 1880s) -- Monet

Poppy Fields Near Argenteuil (1875), Claude Monet

Perhaps the most well-known and acclaimed painter of his time, Claude Monet is often considered to be the Father of Impressionism. Some may argue that its paternity belongs to Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, or Frédéric Bazille. Impressionism was a precursor to Neo-Impressionism (Seurat or Pissarro), Post-Impressionism (Cezanne), Fauvism (Matisse), and Cubism (Braque or Picasso).

Crinolines on the Beach (1863), Boudin

Maybe the credit should be given to French landscape painter Eugène Boudin, who met Monet in 1858 and taught him to paint landscapes en plein-air and observe the effects of light and tonal value. Therefore, Boudin may have been the Grandfather of Impressionism. Check out that colorful sky!

5. Pointillism/Divisionism/Neo-Impressionism (the late 1880s to the first decade of the 20th century) -- Seurat

Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte (1886), Seurat

Picking Peas (1887), Pissarro

Georges Seurat is credited as being the Father of Pointillism. However, my favorite Neo-Impressionist will always be Camille Pissarro. His compositions and color schemes are much more pleasing to me than Seurat's array of colored juxtaposed dots. While he still captures the lighting effects of Impressionism, his brushstrokes add texture without the obvious dots.

6. Modern Art/Post-Impressionism (1886-1905) -- Cézanne

Mont Sainte-Victoire (1895), Cézanne

Post-Impressionism evolved from the saturated colors of Impressionism and sought to reduce objects to their basic forms. The Father of Post-Impressionism is Paul Cézanne. Notice the shaded areas of color forming a patchwork of shapes that resembles later Cubist compositions. The 20th-century compositions will become much more angular and geometric, often using contrasting bold colors as opposed to the more analogous colors of this landscape.

7. Fauvism (1904-1908)

The Dessert: Harmony in Red (1908), Matisse
One of my all-time favorite artists, Henri Matisse, is also the founding Father of Fauvism. Inspired by the works of Impressionists like Van Gogh, Matisse also infused emotion into his paintings but instead of using the pastel colors of Monet, he used vibrant right-out-of-the-tube colors creating tension and contrast between warm and cool colors. In May 2011, on our trip to France and Italy, we stopped in Nice to visit the Matisse museum. Last Fall, in my post entitled, Top 15 Paintings that Use Primary Colors -- Red, Yellow, and Blue, I selected this Matisse work as #2 of my favorite Red paintings. Using unnatural colors was a way for the Fauvists to express emotion.

8. Expressionism (1905-1920)

The Scream (1893), Munch

The Chapman University blog about Expressionism describes the movement as "A group of artists that became associated with the Expressionism movement, tried to express or capture these feelings of uncertainty through swirling, exaggerated brushstrokes or jarring and violent lines and combinations of colors." Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is known as the Father of Expressionism. While on our June 2019 Baltic Crusie, we visited the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. Munch has also been considered to be part of the Post-Impressionist movement.

From Thuringewald (1905), Munch
In 1905, German architecture students Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Erich Heckel became artists and formed the group The Bridge (Die Brücke) in the city of Dresden. Like Munch, their work was an emotional and psychological response to the world around them. While Munch's colors in his earlier works were more somber, German Expressionists' colors were more akin to its French Fauvist counterparts like Matisse. Matisse's paintings were happier and less anxious or angst-filled.

9. Cubism (1908-14)

(left) Ma Jolie, Picasso (1911-12) &
(right) The Portuguese, Braque (1911-12)
Cubism is yet another style that evolved almost to abstraction from the Fauvist and Expressionist movements. While they share some elements in common, Cubists went even further away from representational figures and forms to angular and geometric shapes and areas of color. Many will argue whether Georges Braque or Pablo Picasso is the true Father of Cubism. Even their works are quite similar. Supporting members of the movement included: Robert Delaunay, Henri Le Fauconnier, Albert Gleizes, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, and  Jean Metzinger.

Nude Descending a Staircase,
No. 2
(1912), Duchamp

Dadaist Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) is a work that was rejected by member artists as being too futuristic. The Dadaism and Futurism movements (1909-13) were overlapped by the Cubist movement. While in high school, my older brother did some futuristic paintings. The one I remember most is of the Frasier/Ali fight.

10. Surrealism (1924-1966)

The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dali

Although many consider Spanish artist Salvador Dali to be the Father of Surrealism in art, French writer, poet, and artist André Breton began the movement as a response to Dadaism (the 1860s-1970s) during World War I. Other notable Surrealist artists include Antonin Artaud, Francis Bacon, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Lucian Freud, Freda Kahlo, Paul Klee, René Magritte, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, and Yves Tanguy. The irrationality of the images is said to unlock the creativity of the unconscious mind.

11. Abstraction/Abstract Expressionism/Action Painting (1943 thru the mid-1950s)

While the first real departure from Realism and toward Abstraction is said to have been fathered by Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky, and other Expressionists in the early 1900s, the first generation of Abstract Expressionism didn't begin until 30 years later.

Still Life Interior (1941), Hofmann

German-American artist, Hans Hofmann, is also thought to be the Father of Abstract Expressionism, although he was apparently influenced by the work of Kandinsky. His early paintings were more Fauvist, such as his stylized still lifes and interior paintings. It turns out that Lee Krasner, future wife of Jackson Pollock, and an Abstract Expressionist herself, enrolled in Hofmann's art school in 1937. Later, in 1940, Hofmann experimented with drip paintings. Jackson Pollock followed in Hofmann's footsteps by dedicating his later career to Action Painting.

Fish Market (Seattle Market
Scene Sketch) (1943), Tobey

Water of the Flowery Mill (1944),
Arshile Gorky

Some say that Armenian-American artist, Arshile Gorky (left) or even Mark Tobey (right) is the true Father of Abstract Expressionism.

12. Pop Art (the mid-1950s and the '60s)

The Marilyns, Andy Warhol
Yet another controversy exists for Pop Art. Like Cubism, there are two artists -- Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and British collage artist Richard Hamilton (1922-2011) -- who get credited with starting the movement. We saw Warhol's exhibit at the Palm Springs Art Museum in the Spring of 2018. Let's not forget Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) and Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) both of whom are famous Pop Artists.

13. Op Art (the 1960s when JFK became President)

Cheyt Rond (1974), Victor Vasarely

Finally, the Founder of the Op Art movement is Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely (1906-1997), whom I've blogged about in several posts. Optical Art uses precise lines and contrasting colors often in geometric patterns to create optical illusions and even movement. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

My Art Blog Index by Artist

While my most recent post touched on more contemporary artists, I seem to write about the well-known Modern or Post-Modern artists dating from 1850-1970, as are discussed online in the Artst blog, 10 Most Famous Modern Artists. I use my own MS-PPT collage of artist self-portraits as a  warm-up exercise when teaching art to 5th-graders. Such guessing games may be used to gauge how much students already know about art or to test whether they've been paying attention to my lessons all year.

Blog Archive

Now that I have posted over 100 articles about various art themes, I wanted to make sure that it is easy to find the specific topics that are of interest to you. My posts are listed in the Blog Archive at the top right of my blog arranged chronologically by date from newest to oldest. Even I have had difficulty finding the older ones and I know approximately when I wrote them.

In order to find topics more easily, I have implemented Labels, a set of categories you may click on to filter down to the select topics that may interest you. These labels are listed alphabetically below the Blog Archive. Although it may clutter the browser, I am adding the names of the artists whom I most often reference in my posts. Hopefully, you can find your favorite artists on the list!

Most of the time you will filter on an artist's name and get 1-4 articles to read. My most popular subject is Van Gogh, and when you click his name you'll get a dozen or more articles.

If you are using the PC or Web version of Blogspot, you can see the label links at the end of each post, allowing you to read further on associated topics or artists.

When viewing from a cellphone or iPhone, click on the View web version link below the Home button and above the About Me section. Similarly, there is a View mobile version link accessible from the web version. Now you know everything I know about navigating this blog!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Birds in Contemporary Art & Photography

Contemporary Art

Bird Spectrum (2019), James Prosek

This post is inspired by artist, writer, and naturalist, James Prosek, who was born on this day in 1975. His main subjects are birds and fish. He has written several books, including his first book, Trout: An Illustrated History (1996), which included watercolors of seventy species and subspecies of North American trout. His Art, Artifact, Artifice exhibition was on view from February through June 2020, at the Yale University Art Gallery. It showcased his Bird Spectrum, a color arrangement of 200 digitally photographed bird specimens from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History collection. At first glance, it looks like schools of colorful fish swimming in a rainbow formation.


Prosek has also written books about fly fishing. You may also enjoy reading The Art of the Fishing Fly by Tony Lolli  (Author) and Bruce Curtis (Photographer). I have a friend from Montesano, Washington who makes his own flies and he is another inspiration for this post.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum had a wonderful exhibition from October 2014 - February 2015, called The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art. Check out the beautiful artwork by multiple artists, including Prosek's mural depicting the migration of a flock of passenger pigeons.

What once was is no more: Passing like a thought, flight into memory (2014), James Prosek

Modern Art

Wheat  Field with Crows (July 1890), Van Gogh

By contrast, we have Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Crows, which though colorful creates an ominous scene with a road that prematurely ends. One of his last compositions, it remains one of my all-time favorite bird paintings. I recall how in grade school we used to draw birds as squiggly 'V' shapes.

Sailboat At Le Petit Gennevilliers
(1874), Monet
Magpie (1868-69), Monet

I also love Claude Monet's subject bird perched on a fence amidst a marvelous snow scene. And his very impressionistic cloud of birds swarming above a sailboat.

Sea Gulls (1938), Newell Convers Wyeth

You may also be aware of how much I am in awe of the works of the amazing Wyeth family of Chadsford Township, Pennsylvania. The family's patriarch, N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), is known for having illustrated many books, including Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Soaring (1942-50), Andrew Wyeth

His son, Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) began by painting watercolors and then tempera paintings such as his iconic Christina's World. The Seattle Art Museum showed his In Retrospect exhibit from October 2017 thru January 2018.

The Rookery (1977), Jamie Wyeth

Andrew's son, Jamie Wyeth was born one year after his grandfather's death and has carried on the Wyeth legacy with great skill.

In researching this topic, I stumbled upon this biography of British artist and bird illustrator, Eric Ennion (1900-1981). You'll have to check out the link, as his illustrations are copyrighted by his estate. Also, check out these 10 Stunning Bird Photos to Inspire You.


And one of my favorites by my sister-in-law. Karen Patterson of a bird on horseback. It looks like the bird is contemplating a snowy mountain climb.

Coopers Hawk, Enumclaw, WA

Here's a wonderful photograph by my friend and Black Diamond Arts Alliance colleague, Zbig Kasprzyk. The softened texture of the background with its lines and muted colors is a subtle contrast that harmonizes and unifies the composition. Even the stump repeats the same green, blue, and tan colors.

Pumpkin Carving

Let's finish with my 2020 pumpkin carving of a raven spreading its wings in front of a harvest moon. I look forward to selecting and carving pumpkins every year, taking my inspiration from multiple sources. I copied the design from an image I found on the web to challenge myself and hone my carving skills. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Mother's Day Dedication and Artist Inspirations

Mom (ca. 1958)

I'm dedicating this post to my Mom, a very snappy dresser who expressed her artistic side through clothes, costume jewelry, handbags, and shoes; she was the Imelda Marcos of the U.S. My favorite photograph of her is a black-and-white portrait with me and my older brother. Her haircut is reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor’s short 1950s hairstyle from Father of the Bride. Even Lucille Ball dons a new hairstyle during the Black Wig episode of I Love Lucy (1954) where she tries to fool Ricky into believing she is an Italian temptress.

Liz Taylor (1963-5), Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol famously silk-screened portraits of Liz, Lucy, Marilyn Monroe, among others. Warhol and Ball share August 6th birthdays and iconic hairstyles -- Andy with his white wig and Lucy with her red henna-dyed hair. We saw his Marilyn exhibit while visiting Palm Springs in 2018. His work is currently on display at the Tate Museum in London, the birthplace of Ms. Taylor. As a mother, she had three biological children and one adopted child.

Vue de l'asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy
(1889), Vincent Van Gogh

She once owned a rare Van Gogh painting. Apparently, her art dealer father paid $130,000 for it in 1963 on her behalf, and it later sold at auction at Christie's in May 2018 for $39,687,500.

Portrait of the Artist's Mother
(1888), Van Gogh

Vincent's mother, Anna Carbentus Van Gogh, an amateur artist herself, is credited as having introduced him to art. He colorized her portrait from a black-and-white photograph.

Green Acres (1965-71)

Mom sported many hairstyles. One day I came home from school and was shocked to find a blonde woman talking on the phone in the kitchen. It was my Mom, but she looked like Eva Gabor from the 1965 sitcom Green Acres. Her hair was in a French twist, the signature hairstyle of Ms. Gabor. Mom remained a blonde from then on and even wore her hair like that as the mother of the groom in my wedding.

I bet you recognize the couple's pose as that of Grant Wood's American Gothic (1930). You may see it hanging today in the Art Institute of Chicago.

We even compared Mom to actress Dina Merrill, who appeared as a brunette in 1963’s The Courtship of Eddie's Father opposite Glenn Ford with little Ronnie Howard as Eddie. Earlier in 1959, she starred with Tony Curtis in the Cary Grant movie Operation Petticoat as a blonde. We’d watch her in the 1970s on the game show Match Game.

Mom was also on TV as a 3-day winner on the game show Concentration, hosted by Hugh Downs. I remember watching her in my older brother’s 3rd-grade classroom where we made Christmas wreaths on paper plates. It felt like I was the Beaver, spending time with Wally and watching Mrs. Cleaver on a game show. The show inspired us to create our own rebus puzzles after we exhausted all the ones that came with the board game.

One of the most prominent game show stars was Betty White, who often appeared on her husband’s show Password. In Mom’s later years, she was definitely channeling this Golden Girl. Mom also caught the acting bug when she imitated Betty Hutton by lip-synching a song for a church variety show. 

The song, "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?", was actually from a Fred Astaire movie and was sung by actress Jane Powell. Ms. Hutton was famous for her portrayal of sharpshooter Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun (1950).

Mother and Child (1914), Mary Cassatt

Now let's look at some of the more famous artwork depicting mothers. I included this beautiful pastel painting by American portrait and figure artist Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) in my April Easter Eggs post.

Whistler's Mother (1871), James Whistler

One of the most iconic American paintings is James McNeill Whistler's portrait of his mother, Anna McNeill Whistler. Known simply as Whistler's Mother, its actual title is Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1. Not the most flattering image, though it made it into the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Pietà (1498-99), Michelangelo,
St. Peter's Basilica

Michelangelo’s Pieta, a common subject in religious art, is certainly one of the most well-known sculptures in the world. Sorrowful Mother Mary is compassionately cradling her dead son. She seems so robust compared to the frail Christ. Even under the magnificent amount of folds of her garment and his shroud you can see her strong lower legs supporting his weight. 

When we visited the Vatican in May 2011, St. Peter's was unfortunately too crowded for us to visit. The lines were too long and we had just finished winding our way through the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel. Maybe next time!