The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith is a fictional tale about the theft of a painting. Gliding between present and past, Smith weaves his tale around the painter and his aging owner, and the curator who intimately encounters both. The highly structured descriptions in the book are reminiscent of books like 100 Years of Solitude. Smith makes the tale of romance, detective work and curatorial work intriguing for his audience. Though at times a tad tedious, Smith weaves his reader into the history of the Dutch painting and shares with his reader the intimate privilege of owning a piece of the past.
From the stand point of a painter, it was nice to read a book that admittedly depicts the privileged few interested in Dutch female painters. In this book and in life, the link between good painting, good technique and commitment create a continuum which is what, as artists, we are all looking for.
Process and Information Seeking
Today I am writing about my summer reads, I recently finished a couple that I’d like to share. Let me begin by saying I function seasonally as do many other artists. In the Fall I am in high production mode, making paintings, drawing, doing some prints, reading books and watching videos. My readings around this time are focused on academic topics like color, painting, art theory, art criticism and all kinds of history.
In the Winter my production slows because usually I am diligent on my 9 to 5 job. I do draw a lot in the winter months, however rarely do I accomplish much in personally guided reading as I am reading a lot for work.
In the Spring I read drama and love stories for enjoyment and relaxation. I love to watch movies that have simple story lines, lots of comedy and sitcoms. In the Spring I don’t spend a lot of time in the studio since I am still diligently working.
In the Summer I am making stretchers and lining up my readings for the Fall. Normally I am meticulous about getting work started, but I am also traveling and seeing a lot of art in museums. I travel to Philadelphia annually to see family, discover new topics and be inspired. I can start between five and ten books and finish about three finishing the rest in the Fall. So I am sharing some of the information that I thought readers may like.
I know I am late and everyone has probably seen this already, but it was new for me and I like to share my findings. While perusing the library I came across this gem, Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace 2014 PBS Show of Force. This documentary is an invitation into the super star artist Kehinde Wiley’s world of art making, travel, fashion, art assistants and exhibitions. For any artist this is the dream, since rarely do artists get to live in such a glamorous lifestyle. It is fantastic to see his work and even more enlightening to see his process.
It is striking to experience African American artist own European art historical traditions, reminiscent of the way Neoclassical artists did Greek and Roman themes. This is significant because the encouragement to attach the self to African themes often seems foreign to artists like me who were raised under the auspices of a hierarchical Western tradition.
This is a good film for the layman as well as the practicing artist for the sheer fact the art star exists even if in rare form.
To preview this video click below:
So today I make this connection to Creative African at the Philadelphia Art Museum. On view densely patterned fabrics that references current subjects. The central display with its dark background takes your breath away. The designers enhanced traditional African fashion and intricately altered the fashions to reference nature’s forms, snakes, bird’s wings, leaves, flowers; through careful embroidery and dense folds the designers share story and form. The myriad of displayed pattern designs lend infinite insight into the many personalities that inhabit the continent. It is a go see show; go see it.
On display in the Philadelphia Art Museum’s Perlman Building until December 4. Go see it!
"The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting five exhibitions and many programs featuring a broad spectrum of the arts from across the African continent. These exhibitions will include historical works of art as well as contemporary fashion, photography, design, and architecture." philamuseum.org
Learning to draw involves multiple skill sets. Primarily this involves the following:
Most college programs require proof of some mastery prior to acceptance. If all an artist needed to do was master a technique, making art would be easy. The complication of the subject lies in the content and mastery of content takes a lifetime. The context is the overlooked but integral part of the artistic process. Context is the connection between the choice of media and its content. Formally, drawing is the initiation of every medium. The artist must choose that media with which he has his most personal connection. Drawing therefore is a means to an end, not the end itself.
With this said, I viewed two drawing shows this weekend during the First Friday Art March that were worth discussing. The drawing displayed in Sketch-An Informal Art Show, at Sulfur Studios, (one never to miss on the March) had an inviting simplicity. Each drawing created within a day scaled between fantasy and representation. Many have an intimate sweeping beauty such as the serendipity of a rose on a post it note or the ink study of the sweeping cape of the grim reaper. Contextually the reality of a rose demands attention, however fleeting the reality of the rose may be. In such a ballpoint pen drawing in the recall of office procedure, this beauty of a drawing bears witness to the same. My affinity for sequential art has difficulty enjoying it outside its context.
Upstream at Non Fiction Gallery, Franklin Delgado presents his thesis show and his resolved portraiture was on display. The MFA Shows enable students to place two years of working with experienced faculty on exhibit. The large charcoal portraits are intense and intimate drawings. The large white walls provided a clean vantage point for the pieces. It was not difficult to make the connection between these pieces and those of SCAD Professor Chin-Chen Hung, nor is there a shortage of figurative references. In each piece, Delgado uses a sensual treatment of hair in the mastery of his technique and the mystery of the profile. There is variety in the choices of subject; still the future holds a material challenge as charcoal gives way to pastel and pastel to painting, in the resolution of content, context and conviction one faces with each commitment.