Mr. Turner: A Film About the Life of Landscape Artist J.M.W. Turner Jan04

Mr. Turner: A Film About the Life of Landscape Artist J.M.W. Turner...

Joseph Mallord William Turner lived from 1775 to 1851 and was known as a landscape painter in the English Romantic period. While he lived, he created much controversy in the field of art but now critics revere him as an artist who showed that landscape painting could rival other genres for beauty and statement. At the time, historical paintings were very popular, and in retrospect, Turner’s work rivaled the content of the historical painting by just examining the local landscape. He was known as the “painter of light” in his day and worked in oils and watercolor. People today remember him for his oil painting, but in fact he was considered a master in both mediums. Some people consider his work a prelude to Impressionism, and part of the controversy of his style was in the way he would approach some pieces with a tendency toward the Abstract long before that style was conceived of let alone popular. He was an extremely prolific painter, and Wikipedia cites that he “produced over 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 paper works.” Turner experienced a difficult and lonely childhood, and later worked for several architects. During this study period in art, his sketchbooks show studies in composition and perspective. He also studied topography with Thomas Malton. The architect Thomas Hardwick suggested that Turner continue painting rather than pursue his interest in architecture. Enrolled in academy, he would spend his winters painting and his summers traveling, particularly to Wales. As he became older, he grew more eccentric. His dying words were reported to have been, “The sun is God.” In October 2014, British filmmaker Mike Leigh wrote and directed Mr. Turner. The film starred Timothy Spall as Turner and Spall won the award for Best Actor at Cannes. Timothy Spall also learned to paint when he accepted the role of the beloved and famous British painter. According to Wikipedia sources, Sony Pictures Classics will handle the United States distribution, and scheduled a limited release date of 19 December 2014. Fandango lists a limited release in New York and Los Angeles for the film as of the New Year with no other showings as of yet. However the film is meeting with critical acclaim both professionally and on public review sites. The film is a ‘warts and all’ depiction of Turner’s genius, wherein there is no bright shadow to applaud. Filmmaker Mike Leigh wanted to depict the life of Turner as a real human being subject to flaws, passions, depression and grappling with the world around him in a difficult period of history. He did outlandish things such as strapping himself to a ship’s mast in order to paint a snowstorm at sea. Turner’s love affairs were unusual and sometimes exploitative. He was a radical and a revolutionary, and an often anarchic member of London’s art societies. Film is useful to depict the otherwise silent stories that accompany artists to the grave. An artist may leave behind artwork by the tens of thousands and all of them fragments of a story, the story of their lives. In taking up those fragments and analyzing them, and sharing them again through a new lens with moving pictures, it is easy to see how one art, the art of cinematography, can renew public interest in another, the art of the landscape painting. Film reveals the man behind the art with the hope that the art left by Turner becomes even more precious to the...

Leonid Afremov Modern Painter...

Leonid Afremov was born in 1955 in Vitebsk, Belarus and has lived an international life as a modern impressionist painter with a politically neutral agenda. His purpose is to remind the busy people of the world that certain places are simply beautiful and worth a moment of study. Afremov has created his own unique painting style as well. He uses a palette knife and oils and the technique makes his work recognizable. The artist also uses the internet to promote and sell his work, rather than attending galleries or using exhibits and dealers. It was the internet which changed the game for Afremov and now he is a well-known and respected artist who works with landscape, still life and portraits. His work seems to glow like a stained glass window. Afremov has lived in Belarus, Israel, the United States and Mexico. One of his role models is Marc Chagall and he studied at the Vitebsk Education Institute. In 1978 Afremov graduated from the Vitebsk Art School as one of their elites before studying privately with a famous local artist, Barowski. Years later in 1990, he and his family immigrated to Israel under the political auspices of Gorbachev. At the end of the 90s, Afremov befriended the jazz musician Leonid Ptashka and began to paint a collection of portraits of popular jazz musicians. This brought about an upswing in his artistic career with respect to being able to exhibit his work. But after setbacks, his family immigrated to the United States and began to use the online auction system Ebay to sell his work. This proved to be extremely profitable and Afremov was able to paint whatever he wished. Psychologists found his paintings to be relaxing and calm and offered to buy them in order...

The Approachable Art of Doodles Dec07

The Approachable Art of Doodles...

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines doodling as “to draw something without thinking about what you are doing,” and “an aimless or casual scribble, design, or sketch; also a minor work.” We might therefore associate the doodle with the open notebook in school when students fail to pay attention to the lecture and instead have created some artistic scribbles upon the page there. But what if you doodled with thinking about what you were doing, and what if that aimless or casual scribble became something a little bit more than a minor work? Of course the initial appeal of doodling is that it’s harmless, and that you can’t doodle incorrectly. Any line pressed to the page, no matter how uneven, no matter how quickly, may become anything. You can never be too repetitious with a doodle. There is no model and no right and wrong. So this is an encouraging and approachable choice for a sketch. An artist might even find that a doodle on the side lines of some piece of paper becomes the pattern for tomorrow’s more formal study. It’s clear that doodles can convey the same basic principles of art when they are finished. Looking at two doodles side by side there may be a particular mood evoked by one that the other doesn’t have. Composition may form organically based on the size of paper, margin or other factors involved in the free form flow of the pen or pencil, but in the end, there will more than likely be some compositional form if only that dictated by the space provided. A study of contrast is sure to show up in an eventual doodle, particularly one rendered in pen and ink. And a particular style may begin to appear in many doodles by the...

Art in the period of Jane Austen Dec07

Art in the period of Jane Austen...

The author Jane Austen is famous for her novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma. She is, to this day, wildly popular with readers. Her works stand the test of time for their comedy and their domestic realism, but many people don’t know about the context of her work. She was writing satire in response to a popular novel form of the day called the sentimental novel. Sentimental novels were closely related to Gothic novels in that the authors wished to evoke a strong emotional response in the reader through what some have called a “language of tears.” The novels feature dramatic plot points in order to progress feelings of emotion more than any workings of plot. In some ways these novels were the forerunner of the romantic comedy genre. They were designed to teach conduct to young ladies on the proper way to behave. In this we may get a glimpse into the lighthearted anarchy of Jane Austen’s writing style in her satires of current popular fiction. Critics argue that Austen’s novels did not always satirize the genre of sentimental fiction, and actually might have lingered upon the edge of it at times, just with more realism and less sensationalism than other authors might have attempted. It’s widely agreed that her writing was a transition point toward realism that began to dominate the literary scene in the 19th century. So the novel pendulum can first be seen swinging away from the rationality of the Augustan Age, into sentimentality, and then moving back again with Jane Austen and others toward the dawn of realism. Some of Austen’s contemporaries in this field were Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot, as well as Charles Dickens. Austen lived through the era known as...

Corita Kent an important figure in art Nov23

Corita Kent an important figure in art...

When we think of artists in this day and age, we don’t immediately think of the Catholic Church. When we think of the great artists of history we are more likely to consider that Michaelangelo was working in the Sistine Chapel for example. Perhaps that is what makes this feminist nun working through the revolutionary 1960s so intriguing to us. Corita Kent was celebrated across the net this week in what would have been her ninety-sixth birthday. She died in Boston in 1986 leaving a legacy in pop art. This famous figure was well known for her silkscreen work which took popular culture icons and mixed them with spiritual texts. In fact, she helped establish serigraphy as a fine art form. Corita Kent spent most of her life in Los Angeles at the order of Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Throughout her time with the order, she obtained a graduate degree in Art History, teaching art and later becoming the chair of the art department at Immaculate Heart College over time. Her vision was avant-garde and she drew to her famous figures that came to study such as Alfred Hitchcock and Saul Bass. She is most noted for her work in designing the 1985 version of the LOVE U.S. Postal Stamp. It is iconic and carries the themes of love and peace that are so representative of her artwork. Kent did not just use the writings from scripture as a basis in her artwork but also incorporated words from e.e. cummings and Gertrude Stein, among others. She would rearrange graphic elements from American consumerism, coupled with newspaper clippings, signage and even song lyrics. Wikipedia lists current exhibitions of her art in 2014 in Berlin and Paris, as well as Cleveland Ohio. Titles...

The Art of Traveling Books Nov23

The Art of Traveling Books...

Since the advent of the internet, communication has exploded in so many ways. It is easier to keep in touch with people. Easier to share. One of the more interesting discoveries within the online community is the idea of the traveling book. Most commonly these are little Moleskine journals or the like being sent from person to person on a distribution list kept online. It’s very similar to the idea of crowdsourcing but free and with art. Members who partake in this social experiment have to feel comfortable giving a mailing address out to others, but what comes about is a book filled with art and in no particular order. The pages are tackled one at a time by the next artist on the mailing list and the images are as random and unique as each individual contributor. Sometimes these books are themed but usually they are open to complete personal interpretation. The range of artwork may span from pen and ink to collage. Whole paintings may be followed up on the next page by simple word art, or an expression of hand-written ‘typography’ flooding the white space. Color stands in stark contrast to black and white. Mixed media may be followed by traditional watercolor or line art. Really, the sky is the limit. In the end, time produces a final product that resembles a portable gallery. It is then sent back to the original owner who can take the time to peruse every page and its artwork. These experiments in artistic social contribution are often found on groups such as Ning, Yahoo! Groups, Google, and other sites where people gather together for common causes. Artistic collectives may be said to contain only amateurs, but there is no mistake that the art upon the...

Art in Urban Exploration Nov16

Art in Urban Exploration...

Some people are discovering a new hobby, one that is slowly being revealed through recent media attention, and it is called urban exploration. Some readers may already know about this pastime through such shows as Discovery Channel’s Urban Explorers or other media sources that cover it from different angles, including the hip and horrific potentials for such expeditions. Urban exploration is like hiking or spelunking, except it focuses on the man-made world of industrialized environments. Explorers get into abandoned ruins, underground passages, or rarely traversed areas of cities in order to experience the raw, man-made environment which is often in a state of decay, neglect or exclusion from mainstream society. This kind of exploration opens up a vast amount of possibility for historical documentation and of course for artistic expression. Responsible urban explorers are careful not to trespass on private property where they are not welcome, but there is still a rush of adrenaline in wandering through a city’s ruins that cannot be denied. Explorers also need to be extremely careful with physical safety in decrepit environments as they uncover the underbelly of our societal structures, then reveal it, primarily through photographs. The motto of most urban explorers is, “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.” This phrase is a common philosophy of modern hikers in the natural world, but the urban explorer adopts it for his or her own ethical platform as well. Controversy about public safety is of course high and that’s part of what makes urban exploration alluring for some. Art has always pushed the boundaries of what is culturally acceptable and this undertaking is no different. Those artists who explore an urban landscape are primarily photographers. They capture the emotional thrill of ‘infiltration,’ a word...

Los Angeles City With Art Nov16

Los Angeles City With Art...

There are some cities in the world that just declare their artistic nature for all to see and Los Angeles is one of those cities. The sprawling city is home to several museums including the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). There are museums in satellite regions of LA worth visiting as well, including San Marino’s Huntington Library, Art Collection and Gardens and Malibu’s branch of the Getty called The Getty Villa which is a structure created to resemble a first century Roman villa located in Herculaneum, Italy. While traditionally viewed as the home of Tinsel Town, or Hollywood, we often tend to view Los Angeles first as home to the U.S. media empire. This is not untrue, but the city surprises us by also being home to so many museums with such extensive programs of art. And the museums house several kinds of art including sculpture and landscaping. Really it seems impossible to visit the Getty in less than a day. In fact, it nearly requires two or three trips to see everything on the campus. And it’s the same with the Huntington Library, particularly if you are fond of old books, letters, as well as gardens and art. History is strongly represented by the Getty, the Huntington and The Getty Villa. At the Huntington Library out in nearby San Marino, history is more immediate as visitors are encouraged to peruse letters, paintings and architecture from a time when the southwest United States was mostly orchard fields and Georgian mansions. The J. Paul Getty Museum located in the hills that divide Los Angeles from San Fernando Valley covers a thorough and diverse range of historical periods...

Art is a Measure of Society’s Success Nov16

Art is a Measure of Society’s Success...

As an advocate of the arts I often look in to academic studies that champion their cause. Recently I came across a compelling case in Harvard’s Project Zero for valuing art for art’s sake in educational systems, particularly because linking art in the classroom to the success of other subjects is not keeping art in the classrooms during hard times. Rather than tying the value of the arts to other subjects, such as suggesting that an education in music will benefit math skills, the authors of Harvard’s Project Zero claim that we should focus on art’s unique and intrinsic value. Art is necessary for its own contributions as stated by Project Zero’s authors: The arts have been around longer than the sciences; cultures are judged on the basis of their arts; and most cultures and most historical eras have not doubted the importance of studying the arts. … The reason is simple. The arts are a fundamentally important part of culture, and an education without them is an impoverished education leading to an impoverished society. Studying the arts should not have to be justified in terms of anything else. The arts are as important as the sciences: they are time-honored ways of learning, knowing, and expressing. (p. 3) A lack of culture and an impoverished society; a big claim to make for the arts but a claim that is not without merit. In order to see what Project Zero might be referring to, let’s turn back the clock to 1943 when the motivational theory of aspirational psychologist Abraham Maslow first went to print. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a pretty familiar term in the circles of human developmental psychology, but for those of us not well versed in psychology it boils down to this:...

Baroque and The Three Musketeers Nov09

Baroque and The Three Musketeers...

If you are a big fan of The Three Musketeers, whether through various movie adaptations or because you’ve read the works of Alexandre Dumas, then you’ve certainly remarked that unmistakable flair in costume and setting that comes with the novel’s particular genre. The Three Musketeers is an action and adventure story set during the reign of King Louis XIII and set in the middle of the French Period of Baroque art. In short, we revisit the seventeenth century as we dash around a pastoral French countryside sporting royal blue and fighting with crimson red. During this century, art took on a much more lively form, or a style, that brought about a kind of drama and opulence rarely seen in art before. A good analogy would be to compare art before the Baroque period to a high school choir, and art during the Baroque period to going to your first operatic performance of Wagner in a grand theater. It’s big and it’s showy like a fantastic opera. The Baroque style of art was just beginning in Louis’ father’s final years, around the start of 1600. It’s useful to know that Louis’ father, Henry IV was a protestant in a Catholic country during the Protestant Reformation, and later converted to Catholicism in order to keep his state. The personal tale of a King and his future son threads into the larger story of a Catholic Church which had decreed during the Council of Trent that art should express religious themes with grandeur and more dramatic tension in order to evoke strong emotion. In other words, they wanted people to have the feels. Parisian architecture was not exempt from this and there are entire books devoted to the subject of Henry IV’s architecture and urbanism before...

Approachable Art: The Nature Journal Nov09

Approachable Art: The Nature Journal...

I first discovered the concept of a serious, nature journal after reading through Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth. The beautiful thing about keeping a nature journal is that your subject of study is both model and still life at the same time. A model is an organic shape which has an individual nature that you can readily identify and that may offer similarities of structure to other models. For example, a tree limb is unique and will be like no other tree limb in existence while still providing a possible similarity in design to the human arm. In this way if you practice drawing an organic form like a tree limb, you are simultaneously building skills to later draw a human limb because it’s also organic and some of the same foundational principles will apply. For example, the human limb is also prone to irregularities and is unique to all individuals. At the same time the journal provides the student with organic models, it is providing a still life. The value of having a still life is that it’s still. It’s not going anywhere. Unlike a squirrel, or a human being, it doesn’t get cranky or fussy with you for taking your time. But again, like the squirrel or human being it is organic so the principles are close enough for transferring skills to a new study of life models. Another perk of the still life is that it looks good when you’re finished. Most of us think of art and we think immediately of the framed still life as the primary example. During the sixteenth century the primary form of artistic expression was the still...

Sculpture: In the round – what a relief! Apr06

Sculpture: In the round – what a relief!...

Throughout history, sculpture has been used primarily as a monument art form. The earliest sculptures were thought to be made to supply “magic” to help hunters in their quests. Later, as civilization unfolded, sculpture took the form of gods or ancient kings; likenesses carved to honor greatness. In 15th C. Italy, sculpture of biblical heroes adorned the streets. Military victories were depicted by the ancient Sumerian sculptors. Even today, great writers or politicians are honored with likenesses in parks or government buildings.  It’s all around, but what do we really know about the art form? Sculpture is a branch of visual arts depicted in three-dimension. It is the carving (removal of) or modeling (addition of) of material to depict an image or scene. Typical materials used include stone, metal, ceramics, wood, glass and in more recent times, other materials, since Modernism took the sculptural process to an almost complete freedom of material use and process. Where sculptors used to carve or model, now they can cast or weld together found objects or materials that were not available in ancient times. The sky’s the limit in today’s sculptural world. There are two basic types of sculpture. Sculpture in the round; a free-standing sculpture that is not connected to anything except at the base, and relief sculpture; sculpture which is attached to a background and can’t be viewed from all angles. Relief sculpture is typically classified by the amount of projection it has from the wall; bas-relief, mid-relief, and high-relief. Bas-relief having the lowest depth of carving and then moving up to high-relief or that which is carved more deeply into the object. Much of relief sculpture is seen on architecture or decorating objects such as pottery. The term sculpture also includes many types of smaller...

Mosaics – Pieces of Art Feb16

Mosaics – Pieces of Art...

Mosaic art uses small pieces of material, placed together to form a pattern or image. These pieces are called tessera and usually consist of glass, stone, ceramics, mirror, or shells. The space (or interstices) between the tesserae are then filled with grout to solidify the artwork. There are several different techniques used to create mosaic art: Opus regulatum: the tesserae create a grid where the pieces align both horizontally and vertically. Opus tessellatum: the tesserae created a horizontal or a vertical alignment, but not both. Opus vermiculatum: the tesserae follow the edge of a particular shape highlighting the shape. Opus musivum: similar to Opus vermiculatum but extends throughout the entire background. Opus palladianum: the tesserae are irregular shaped and unevenly placed. Opus sectile: a single tessera creates a major shape. Opus classicum: a combination of vermiculatum, tessellatum and regulatum. Opus circumactum: the tesserae are set up in semicircle or fan shapes that overlap. Micromosaic: the tesserae are extremely small, used in jewelry or Italian panels. There are three main techniques to laying mosaics. The Direct method, used where surfaces have a three-dimensional quality, is when the tesserae are glued directly to a support piece and then grouted. The Indirect method, which is mainly used for larger or vertical surfaces, is when the tesserae are placed upside-down on an adhesive-backed paper and then transferred to the structure. The Double Indirect method is used when seeing the design is important. The tesserae are placed face-up on an adhesive or sticky surface, then after the design is complete, another adhesive surface is placed on the facing-side and then carefully removing the one below. This is the most difficult of the three techniques. The history of Mosaic art is rich and examples from various cultures can be found...

Cubism: The Birth of Modern Art Feb02

Cubism: The Birth of Modern Art...

One of the most recognized art styles of the early 20th century, Cubism rejected the concept that art should copy nature and instead highlighted 2-dimensional, geometric forms in their art work. The subject matter (often recognizable), was fractured into multiple facets, and then reassembled to convey the same thing, but often times from different perspective views. The term Cubism was coined when Braque’s landscape art, L’Estaque (right), was first viewed by French art critic Louis Vauxcelles, calling the work “cubes”. But landscape painting was rare in Cubist art. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, perhaps the fathers of this creative, abstract  style, were best known for their representation of motifs such as bottles, musical instruments, playing cards and the human figure. Picasso’s Still Live with a Bottle of Rum (left), is a prime example of Analytic Cubism with his abstract view of a bottle of rum. Exhausted with the traditions of Western art, Cubists were drawn to other cultures and drew much inspiration from the expressive nature of African art. Gaining insight from Paul Gauguin’s indigenous Tahitian themes, Picasso often used the traditional head masks of African art as reference for his work. When the new technique of collage, pasting colored or printed paper into artwork became vogue, Synthetic Cubism evolved, removing any representational aspect of the piece and letting the cut-out shape allude to the subject matter. Picasso’s Still Life with Mandolin and Guitar (right) embraced this collage-style artwork. Cubism revolutionized traditional art form, creating an avant-garde movement contending with the innovative technology of photography. It spread across most of Europe, planting the seeds for other emerging modern art styles such as Futurism, Constructivism and Expressionism. Although it has been argued that Cubism is not an actual style or movement, it is considered to...