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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Celebrating One Year

One year ago this new adventure of writing a weekly blog began. I have come to greatly admire those who are able to write and post something sensible and worthwhile every day. 
The process, as they say, is much like eating an elephant. It can be done, but only one bite at a time...and, it's not too bad...but a bite a week is like a Thanksgiving Day meal for me.
So, 54 postings later, I want to share with you some things I classify as favorites... posted over the past year...not in any particular order, except for the first one.
Just click on the date and title below each picture and it will take you to the appropriate blog.
The First and the Last, The Son of God , Lamb of God, Jesus the Christ, Creator of the universe, only Redeemer of  mankind, Bread of Life, the Way, Truth, and Life, King of Kings, Lord of Lords
23 April '11 - "Humiliation, Sacrifice, Resurrection"

Favorite president
20 Nov '11 - "Thanksgiving 2011"

Favorite workshop hosts
18 Apr '11 - "Workshop: Value and Color"

Favorite deceased landscape painter
23 Jan '11 - "Corot: Later Landscapes"

Favorite plein air painting group
9 Oct '11 - "Plein Air Painting in the Flint Hills" 

Favorite patriotic painting I've done
15 Nov '10 - "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"

Favorite special friend who passed on to glory this year
7 Jan '11 - "Don Adair"

Favorite sport
26 Sep '11 - "Outdoor Painting"

Favorite automotive designers
17 Jul '11 - "The Amazing Italians"

Favorite food
25 Mar '11 - "Cornish Pasties"

Favorite award won in past year
5 Nov '10 - "A March School Day"

Favorite magazine ad of 2011
5 Feb '11 - "Art Show"

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. 

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. 

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789. 



Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Painting: "Afternoon Luncheon"

Finally, 'That Painting", is finished...signed, varnished, framed, and now boldly displayed at the G. Stanton Gallery in Dallas. HERE it is on my website. Click on the image to supersize.
I say, 'That Painting' , because that's what it became. It has pretty much been the focus of my thoughts and energy, when it came to painting, since the day I began it. Not that I worked on it for all these months...but awareness of it was always there. You may remember when this project began back in July. I spoke of it in this blog. You can read about it HERE.
Afternoon Luncheon - 32"x 46" - Oil on canvas

"Afternoon Luncheon" was a challenge from start to finish. If you want proof that not all my paintings go smoothly, this is it.
The idea for this work really began two years ago when I did a series of small color studies as preliminaries to a possible commission. The color study shown here was selected, but it was agreed that, for the room in which it would be displayed, it would be best to invert the image.

Color study

The study was done using white, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and cadmium yellow pale. Before beginning the studio painting, I experimented with other color choices. The switch was made to Prussian blue and lemon yellow. I also added yellow ochre and cadmium yellow medium.

Testing the selected palette

Prussian blue is a greenish blue. The thinking at the time was, it would be a more suitable color for capturing the tree covered hills descending toward Lake Como. By adding additional yellows it would also be possible to mix a greater variety of greens. I had only used Prussian blue one other time. It worked well for the color charts but, on this larger painting with so much green, it was difficult to control. If you haven't used Prussian blue, it is similar in color and strength to phalo blue.
I regretted selecting that color by the time the block-in was completed (shown below).Not sure I will ever use this color again.

Partial block-in showing some of the preliminary drawing

As the painting proceeded, it was necessary to redesign some of the architecture, as well as parts of the retaining wall. Since the original design was inverted, I felt the water needed additional consideration. With no suitable reference for what I wanted to achieve, the water was painted from imagination.

Completed block-in with some areas now fully developed

Nothing about this painting was easy, even the framing created a whole set of issues...but hey, it's done. The response to the work has been amazing...and that, dear friends, makes the challenge and anxious moments all worthwhile.

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Haven't yet purchased your 2012 calendar? This beautiful 12"x 12" inspirational calendar,  on  heavy glossy paper, features 13 of my paintings, encouraging verses from Holy Scripture and important quotes from America's founding fathers. Brighten up your home or office...$22.00 each, or $18.00 each for three or more. Price includes shipping and handling and all taxes. for further details.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Norman Rockwell and the Museum

When I was in college pursuing a commercial art degree in advertising design, Norman Rockwell was not a name you would mention among the fine art students. His name was often spoken of with disgust and disdain. "He's a sell out, just an illustrator," they would say.
His work was considered overly sweet, sentimental, and idealistic. "He's not a real painter."
Rockwell in his studio with Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas on the easel

Part of Main Street in Stockbridge, MA as seen today. Every year at Christmas they recreate Main Street to look as it did when Rockwell created his famous painting 

Rockwell himself was the first to admit he was an illustrator and he wasn't ashamed of it. "Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I've always called myself an illustrator. I'm not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life."
Norman Rockwell Visits a County Editor - 1946

Rockwell created over 4000 works in his lifetime and was commissioned to illustrate over 40 books. Born in 1894, he had a long and extremely successful career as America's favorite artist. I read somewhere that his work has been reproduced more than any other artist in far. No other artist is even close. It's possible no one will ever match his numbers.
Saying Grace - 1951

I'm no better than my job," he said, "and I put everything I've got into it. I don't want to paint for the few who can see a canvas in a museum, for I believe that in a democracy art belongs to the people. I want my pictures to be published."
This is Rockwell's studio at the time of his death in 1978. "The best studio I ever had," he said. It was moved in two pieces from the village of Stockbridge to this location, on the grounds of the Rockwell Museum

The early masters were Rockwell's greatest source of inspiration. Rembrandt and Pieter Brueghel were his favorites. While in his studio, I carefully examined his collection of books...a wide assortment of Dutch, Spanish, French and Italian painters. Even some American's were in there. His appreciation of art was vast.
A portion of Rockwell's studio. On the easel is...Do unto others as you would have them do unto you  - 1961

Breaking Home Ties - 1954

Rockwell was sort of a pictorial Mark Twain. He painted an America as he wished it to be...and as it was if you looked for it. It was an America of patriotism, respect of authority, wholesomeness, thankfulness, kindness, goodness, and childhood innocence.
In the 1960's America was convulsing. Everything was changing. Modern art had taken root and the "intellectuals" did not care for Rockwell's America. That was not the America they wanted and their teaching filtered into every college art department. I imagine Rockwell struggled with that. After a life of painting the positive side of America, his work changed. The world of desegregation, riots, demonstrations, politics and space exploration seemed out of character for a man who had always portrayed America's best attributes.
The Runaway - 1958

I first visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in 1993, just after it opened. This was my first return visit...and highly anticipated to say the least. The museum has become extremely popular. There was a constant stream of visitors paying $14.00 a person to view the magnificent collection of some 574 works. During tourist season, more than 1000 visitors per day stop in.
Well, what can I say? I stood among his work with a mixture of awe, amazement, and at the same time a deep sense of dejection as I was made brutally aware of my own inadequacies as an artist...and those know it all's I encountered in school didn't have a clue as to Rockwell's greatness.
Standing before his work, one senses perfection...perfection in concept, composition, drawing, values and color. Reproductions of his work do not capture the sensitivity of the subtle changes in color temperature, brilliant color, texture, and brushwork. There are thickly and thinly painted passages. Sometimes he worked on very course canvas. He worked from photos during much of his career, but his masterful knowledge of anatomy took him way beyond the photograph. His concepts, the ideas expressed, are simply and convincingly presented with each and every supporting cast member and prop carefully chosen and precisely rendered.
He was an absolute master of contrasts...dark/light, broad/fine, sharp/soft, large/small, young/old, homely/pretty, fat/thin, strong/weak, delicate/course, on-and-on.
This painting, using just black and white, shows Rockwell's masterful control of a paintings value structure

Doctor and Doll is one of Rockwell's best-loved Saturday Evening Post covers - 1929 

Shadow Artist - 1920

Filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are major collectors of Rockwell's work. They view Rockwell as a master storyteller, able to capture masterfully in a single frame stories about the adventures of growing up, and of individuals rising up to face personal challenges. According to these filmmakers, Rockwell created pictures with strategies similar to those they use. It is reported that Spielberg alone owns 50 original Rockwell paintings.
Since Rockwell is now in vogue with many art critics...they've finally seen the light...prices for original paintings have skyrocketed. The museum would like to own many more originals but with prices now consistently in the millions of dollars, it limits their acquisitions. In 2008, Verizon donated the two-million dollar Lineman to the museum. It's possible that such iconic images as The Runaway could fetch up to 15 million in today's market.
The Lineman - 1949

Norman Rockwell was a days a week, plus holidays. The time spent certainly shows in the work. I would strongly recommend that you go out of your way to visit the museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. You will not be disappointed.
The Norman Rockwell Museum

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