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John's Blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jeff Legg

If you don't know the work of Jeff Legg, you need to.
I've known Jeff for at least 20 years. We met at the Midwest Gathering of the Artists Art Show in Carthage, Mo. I was a participant when Jeff, a visitor, introduced himself and showed me photos of his work. I think, at the time, he owned a bicycle shop in Joplin, MO.
Jeff Legg in his studio in Estes Park, CO

From that first meeting, after seeing his work and considering his talent, I encouraged him to pursue still life painting
And pursue, he has. Today he is recognized as one of the best in the business. Considered a living master by the Oil Painters of America, he's the recipient of many national awards.
Tatanka Fire - 36"x 36" - Oil/Canvas

Currently, he is having a solo exhibition at the Astoria Fine Art Gallery in Jackson Hole, WY. The paintings featured here are some of the works from that show.
Red Eucalyptus & Apricot - 16"x 20" - Oil/Canvas

Jeff was born in Joplin, MO but now resides in Estes Park, CO.
At age 13 he began a four year mentoring program with Darrel Dishman. Later he studied at Atelier Lack and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Eucalyptus & Melon - 12"x 16" - Oil/Canvas

In the August 2011 issue of American Art Collector, Jeff states, "I want to communicate a sense of wonder and mystery about our material world while simultaneously evoking a sense of something that goes beyond the material realm...something...that might resonate deep within a person's spirit."
Brass and Mandarin - 12"x 9" - Oil/Canvas

Among his artistic influences are the great masters, Chardin, Rembrandt, and the Wyeth's. With a nod to these great artists, fellow artists and collectors worldwide are attracted to Legg's paintings because of his subject matter and inspired use of chiaroscuro.
Clementine and Brass - 12"x 9" - Oil/Canvas

Luminous Progression - 12"x 16" - Oil/Canvas

Verdigris and Red - 11"x 14" - Oil/Canvas

"For those who have never had an appreciation for still life, I hope this new body of work will change that. Still life can be so many different things; throw away your preconceived ideas. It's wide open. It taught me how to paint," says Legg.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lake Como Villas

I've written previously of my affection for Italy's magnificent beauty, its architecture, and the amazing contribution they have made to the world as artists and as designers of beautiful, useful products. (To read that article, click HERE).
I think it's impossible to go to Italy and not be impressed with the architecture. What you see in Italy today has been learned and passed down from the ancients.

The Greeks perfected the column and established a formal, idealized standard/order of beauty. They considered their buildings, the significant ones, as sculpture...intensely geometric and structural. Site planning and movement of light, over, around, and through structures received uppermost consideration.
The amazing self supporting arch

Following the Greeks, the conquering Romans absorbed some of the Greeks art and culture. The Romans were the first to fully realize the potential of arches for bridge construction. The arch became an ingenious way of spanning a void by making stones support one another through their mutual compression. The arch lead to the vault and cross vault, making it possible to create expansive interiors unencumbered by columns.
St. Peter's Basilica (1506-1621)

The Renaissance (1400-1600's) was a rebirth, a revival of the classical vocabulary and style of these ancient cultures. Symmetry, proportion, geometry, order, the use of semicircular arches, and hemispherical domes became the norm.
All of these influences contribute to the architectural beauty of Lake Como. So, it's with a tip of my Italian made hat that I once again display my latest painting, "Coastline Dwellings" (now shown with its beautiful frame).
John Pototschnik - "Coastline Dwellings" - 20"x 20" - Oil/Canvas
(Click HERE for availability)

With the Alpine mountains as a backdrop. the lower regions covered in dense foliage descending toward Lake Como, the deepest lake in Europe...all this provides an idyllic setting for some of the most incredibly stunning villas in all Italy.

Lake Como is only 25 miles north of Milan and just a few minutes from the Swiss border. Many of the amazing villas on the lake were built in the 17-19th centuries. My particular favorite is the Villa del Balbianello in Lenno. It was created by Cardinal Durini in the 18th century. (Hmm, I wonder where he got the money? Sorry, I couldn't help myself). Today it is considered one of the most beautiful and romantic villas on the lake.
Many of these larger, spectacular villas are now owned by the State or an International Organization.
Not far from Lenno is Azzano. It is in the area called Giulino that Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta Petacci were shot to death in 1945.
Howard Friedland - "Lake Como Villa" - 12"x 16" - Oil/Canvas

I would like to introduce you to an incredibly talented artist, Howard Friedland. I first saw the painting, shown above, at this year's Salon International, hosted by the Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art in San Antonio, TX. It was selected as one of the Jury's Top 50 paintings. In 2008, Howard won "Best of Show" at the Oil Painters of America National Juried Show...a difficult achievement to say the least. His credentials are pretty impressive.
He was born in the Bronx, New York and currently lives with his artist wife, Susan Blackwood, in Bozeman, MT.
"Some painters prefer to render a picture tightly to a literal level of finish. However, I prefer to paint only enough for the viewer to get a clear vision of what the subject is and suggest the rest. When the painting is viewed close up you can see the many colorful brush strokes. As you step further away the brush strokes disappear and your eye pulls the whole painting together. That is what the magic of painting is about for me. This allows the viewer to use their own imagination and participate in the painting."
To view Howard's work, click HERE
John Pototschnik - "Italian Estate" - 18"x 24" - Oil/Canvas

For the past two weeks I have posted blogs stressing the importance of determining your painting concept before beginning to paint. Howard and I painted the same villa and yet with totally different concepts. He was interested in the relationship of the villa to its environs, I was interested in the architecture. Exciting isn't it?

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Painting Concepts 2

Paul Strisik, the featured artist of last week's blog, was a master artist and teacher. If you haven't yet read the post, I think you will find his views about painting helpful. Foremost, before beginning a painting, he stressed having a clear "conception of the subject". I call it "your painting concept".

What is meant by a "painting concept" and how is it determined? Let me explain.

When someone designs and builds a house or just purchases existing blueprints...before any of that...a decision has been made, an idea is finalized as to the style of house desired. It might be a colonial, ranch, country, contemporary, or Victorian; whatever the choice, that decision is the concept. It is called that because everything that follows is a result of that choice.

For example, if the concept is Victorian but all the design and building choices are ranch, will the result be Victorian or ranch? Obviously, it will be ranch. What happened? The original concept was not adhered to.

Similarly, for us artists, if the decision is to depict a landscape shrouded in fog but the painting actually produced contains intense color and high value contrast, the concept and finished piece have become incompatible.

So, even before the canvas is selected, a decision must be made as to what we want to communicate. Once the concept is established, don't deviate from it or the likely result will be a confusing, discordant painting or one significantly different from the original concept/idea.

Below are a few of my paintings illustrating the point. Each achieved painting is preceded by the photo used to inspire the final work. The camera merely records the subject. Paul Strisik says, the real measure of an artist is what we do with it.

Photo concept

Rain's on the Way - 16"x 20" - Oil/canvas

Photo concept

Lifting Fog - 9"x 15" - Oil/board

Photo concept

Another Snow Coming - 9"x 15" - Oil/board

Photo concept

Places in the Heart - 16"x 30" - Oil/canvas

Photo concept

Call of Dawn - 14"x 28" - Oil/canvas

Land of Plenty - 7.5"x 14.5" - Oil/canvas

Photo concept

Tuscan Village - 12"x 30" - Oil/board

Here are some helpful tips for determining a clear concept.

  • Paint what you enjoy and understand. Painting is difficult enough, so begin with something that stirs your soul.
  • Think. What do you want to say? What made you stop to paint, sketch, or photograph this scene in the first place? Fine painting is more than an emotional outburst.
  • What is it about the subject that deeply and instinctively appeals to you? Some possibilities are: composition, color, lighting (overall mood/value relationships), and the emotion activated within you.
As you can see from all of the above images, my motivation was inspired by the composition. From that point, I brought my concept of the subject to the final work.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Painting Concepts

"I feel that God's Sunlight on a single blade of grass is such a miracle and so difficult to capture in paint, it is worth a lifetime of trying" - Paul Strisik

Paul Strisik (1918-1998)

After writing about the passing of Paul Calle in last weeks blog, it caused me to reflect on that 1984 painting trip to Spain/Portugal, and the exceptional group of talented artists that participated. One of these was Paul Strisik.
North Light Books

Cherished memories of him and our conversations prompted me to reread, this week, his book "Capturing Light in Oils". It is basically a rewrite of his first book, "The Art of Landscape Painting", both of which are packed with helpful advice for the artist. All this from a fabulous artist and noted teacher.
The chapter that captured my attention is titled, "Conception and Composition".
Motif 1, Rockport

If you have been reading my blogs at all, you know that a running theme has been "painting concept". Paul Strisik identifies it as "your conception of the subject". He considers that a most important consideration...and the real measure of a painter.
Chimayo Garden

The question then that must be asked is, "What do I want to communicate?" The answer to that one will most likely be found in answering this question, "What made me stop and look?"
Whenever something grabs you and you feel you must take a photo, or capture it with paint, Strisik believes it is not the details of the scene you're responding to but instead your emotional reaction to it.
You're responding to the affect of light falling upon the subject, thereby creating an irresistible combination of light, halftone, and shadow.
Eastern Light, Gloucester

The job of the artist is not to create a blueprint of the subject but rather to capture your reaction to it. If facts alone are enough, just take a photo. The camera does that pretty well, with a lot less effort.
Autumn Mantle

"Your eyes don't tell you what to paint, your mind and feelings do", says Strisik. He believes it is beneficial to create smaller paintings en plein air because it forces the artist to capture the very essence of the scene without all that "additional entertainment"...detail.
So if you're an artist about to create a painting, or for you non-artists who are just looking and enjoying...ask yourself this question, "What is there in this scene that interests me?" You'll both be the better for it.
Docks, Cape Ann

Next week, I'll present some of my painting concepts.

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