Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paintings are Documents

"Paintings are documents." ~ David Hockney

David stated that paintings are documents. I would have to agree that the drawings, paintings, and photographs that we take are documents. These documents will, most likely, say a lot of things about our life at that time.

In my work, this is very evident. In the Autumn of 2007, I started to have some questions and issues about money. This went into my subconscious and the manifestation of this is my "Currency" series. The money made it into my art as background to my paintings.

"Currency #1" 
Pastel on Masonite 24x20"

When I was a student at Southampton College, I had an English teacher and she liked my poetry. She said that the more that I write, the more my work will have the full spectrum of emotions and life experiences. I never forgot that word of advice. She was perfectly correct. The more that I wrote the broader spectrum was in the poetry.

This is true with painting, drawing or photography. The more that you work the more that the work is in lock step with your life and perspective. The style emerges and it is never discovered.

With all this being said, create more frequently and the work will be more of who you are and this time in your life. Like a historical document, the work will tell details about you and in great detail.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why I Can No Longer Just Paint for Fun?

I always thought how noble it was for the artist to paint only for the enjoyment and the purity of self expression. To be an artist was something that was above self promotion and commercialism. I had this lofty opinion more on the subconscious level my whole artistic career. Then I had a conversation...

This weekend I was at an event sponsored at the High School of Art and Design, where I am an alumni. It was a draw a thon. It was an all day event to raise money for the students. Artists of all ages and levels drew and painted from the model for a fee. I met several people from the present and the past. It was a lot of fun. I met a fellow artist friend and he told me an artist who had passed away recently. This artist was a very accomplished painter whom worked his whole life. His technique was beautiful and his content was extremely soulful. He had shown me some of his paintings and they were like Rembrandt's portraits with beautiful colors and drawn perfectly.

He told me that there was a sale soon for most of his paintings and drawings. Most of the work had little monetary value in the art market. Many pieces were selling as low as $20. I felt my heart sink and the blood rush from my head. A sense of fear fell  over me. At first, it was unexplainable. I didn't know where this was coming from. Was I that empathetic of this artist who passed away? Was all this emotion for an artist that I didn't even know? Then it dawned on me.

The fear was for me! I have been wrong all these years. There is no nobility in painting and drawing without self promotion or commercialism. This attitude of art for art's sake does not serve the public or the artist. This great artist should not be in obscurity when far lesser artists are having one man shows with champagne toasts and huge articles in publications and books written about them. I wish that this great artist was more known and that his work was gobbled up by museum curator and collector alike. I can't do anything about that. I can; However, do something about my art and my career. I can continue to market and expose my work as much as possible and stop feeling guilty about the commercialization of my work. Part of the artist's job is expose the art to as many people as they can. I have decided, no more guilt and much more marketing.

I want my art to be revered and handled by museum curators and lovers of my paintings and drawings when I am gone. I know the only way for that happen is for me to increase imy art's reach as far as I can. I will be creating more blog posts, videos on my YouTube channel, as well as,instructional DVDs and e-books. My art career is not just about creating the work. It is only half the battle..

Thursday, February 16, 2017

If Rembrandt had a blog...

Here I am in the wee hours of the morning, on my Samsung Galaxy tablet, typing my blog post about my art and my inspirations. With the advent of  technology and the Internet, I can reach more people in a single morning than Rembrandt could have reached in years.

As an artist today, my sphere of influence is far greater and more autonomous than ever before in the history of art. In one YouTube video on my own YouTube channel, I have almost 60,000 views. This video is a speed painting of a pastel I painted of a young woman. This is why, as an artist, it is imperative that I adopt technology.  It is part of the artist's job to get the work where you, my audience can see it. It is my task to increase the scope and breath of my work and its influence. Exposure can not happen with the old methods of gallery openings and occasional  articles in periodicles.  Those old world ways are definitely not practical anymore.

It is not enough for the artist to create and be free of marketing concerns. If I continue down that road, I will be working in corporate until the day I pass from this world. Yes, I would have kept my work pure of such commercial concerns; However, at what cost? Will my time spent on business concerns, using the new technologies of the day, effect the purity of my art? Realistically, I believe it has to, at least to some degree. This is inevitable but the alternative of continuing to work in the corporate world is a far worse fate.

Necessity is the mother of invention.  I have come to the epiphany that the death of the gallery market in the village art scene in New York City, is not the end of the line. This is a new Era and if we, as artists adapt, we will thrive and grow even more than it was ever possible for a Rembrandt or Vermeer.

A Rembrandt or a Vermeer, needed the art world to get their work out there. They needed the collectors and newpaper editors to push and spread their influence. However, today with only a Samsung Galaxy tablet, I can and will reach more people with this single blog post than artists throughout history could have in many years.

With all this being said, I am embarking on a journey with YouTube and social media to be one of the most influential artists and teachers on the Internet. I know it will take lots of work and consistency on my part.  I have stepped up my video equipment and dedication to use this technology. I can do what the old masters couldn't do. My YouTube channel is: www.youtube.com/user/paintedglyphs333 . I would greatly appreciate it if you would subscribe to my channel. There, I share my painting and drawing techniques, as well as, my current artwork.

In conclusion, the artist today has much more control over their work and the scope of influence they enjoyed in all of art history. The imperative goal is to be consistent and know that the artist's job does not begin and end at the easel. We are our own marketing team, the public relations firm and directors of development.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Timothy John-Luke Smith, PSA
"Prosephone in Autumn #2" 
Pastel on wood panel

Seeing the World Through the Four Seasons

About a year ago I started to work on the "Prosephone" series. I was initially inspired by Dante Gabriel Rossetti's version of Prosephone. I am painting the myth of Prosephone as an allegory of  the stages of life and relationships. My paintings and drawings of Prosephone and her situation are even more specific to the four seasons and how Prosephone is effected by this yearly cycle. This is both a very personal and  a universal theme. 

We are all effected by stages of life both on a small and a large scale. Whenever I see the work of other artists depicting subjects in different seasons, I can't help but to think of the seasons of our lives.

For me, Prosephone represents the cycle of trials, struggles, hopes, perseverance and happy times in all our lives. In my life, this has been very much like that of the four seasons. Now that I am getting ready to paint, "Prosephone in Winter", certain feelings and memories of the winter seasons of my life flood past me. Those times were as cold and as long as the winter nights. It seemed as though there was no end in sight. We must remember Prosephone's story, in the spring she returns to Paradise each year.

Prosephone  by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Haystacks by Claude Monet

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thinking Outside The Box in Pastel

The importance of thinking "outside the box" with pastel.

Currently on my easel is a small portrait that I am working on in pastel.  It measures 11x14", on wood panel treated with my marble dust and gesso mixture. The portrait is close to life size ( one side note, when painting the portrait it is always best to scale the artwork life size or smaller when at all possible.

As I am painting this portrait I come across some instances when the medium of pastel does need a little help from other mediums, to get the clarity and vision in the contrasts between the light and the dark. I am unable to get the intensity that I am striving for to key in the values. If the dark is not dark enough, even by one value on the value scale, it will effect all the other values in the portrait.

My dilemma is, how do I get this rich color dark value with pastel, while not overloading the surface with excess pigment. The only answer is the airbrush. I approach the painting with the airbrush applying light passes of that rich dark color ( as always you will need to do all that you can to avoid the dreaded over spray). This method does two wonderful things. The first is that it achieves the wonderful dark color while maintaining the textured marble dust surface of the board. The second advantage is that the airbrush, the use of free hand shields and/or frisket film, will create and reinforce marvelous edge variation. This will be almost impossible to achieve without this technique.

The artist is able to go back and forth between the airbrush and the pastel pigment to push and pull the edges until they are pleased with that particular passage. As long as the marble dust surface is not overloaded, this could be done many times. Why live with the limitations of a medium? I do not feel the painting becomes "mixed media" because the artist finds solutions to make a better painting.

This reminds me of Bruce Lee's fighting style of Jeet Kune Do. This is said the be a defensive fighting style of martial arts without any set form. Bruce felt that if one adhered to one fighting style that the martial artist would be too rigid in their approach. In an interview found in the DVD, Little, John (1973). Bruce Lee: In His Own Words. Bruce stated:

To obtain victory, therefore, it is essential not to be rigid, but to be fluid and able to adapt to any situation. He compared it to being like water: "Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. That water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend." Lee's theory behind this was that one must be able to function in any scenario one is thrown into and should react accordingly. One should know when to speed up or slow down, when to expand and when to contract, and when to remain flowing and when to crash. It is the awareness that both life and fighting can be shapeless and ever changing that allows one to be able to adapt to those changes instantaneously and bring forth the appropriate solution. Lee did not believe in "styles" and felt that every person and every situation is different and not everyone fits into a mold; one must remain flexible in order to obtain new knowledge and victory in both life and combat. One must never become stagnant in the mind or method, always evolving and moving towards improving oneself.

I feel that Bruce, was onto something that also applies to the fine arts. If we are not looking for new solutions to both old and new problems in painting and drawing, we are in danger of repeating ourselves, becoming derivative and predictable. Be like water and we will be able to respond to the subject and the painting or drawing as we are working on it. Each painting is a moment in time and this one moment is just as special as the creation of the Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Paint as Though You are an Old Master today?

"Prosephone in Summer"
(Detail) work in progress
Acrylic on Wood Panel

This is the Christmas Season and I am always loving this time of year. Even if things are not perfect or are sometimes sad, I love the holiday season more than all others. How can one not love Christmas lights and Christmas trees? How could one not love the amber glow of the Menorahs?

Lately it has been a time of introspection with my art. Do you ever have one of those months? Do you get in those moods when you wonder if anyone is paying attention to your career? Do you ever have that scary notion of, what will happen to all of your art in the future? Will it be in museums, important collections, or will it end up against a wall at a garage sale for 2 dollars?

The truth is that I would paint even if the world thought it to be terrible. The process gives me peace. It always has, even when I was just 3 years old drawing with a red pen on envelopes on the kitchen table. I am not saying that I don't have the hope that my work will be important in the grand scheme of art history. I am painting and believing that my work will be important. It's all about the work isn't it? Did Manet know that his work would be so important? I believe in his heart he did but he had to have had his doubts.

I think it is important to maintain that belief and faith that what you are painting and drawing is important and will be for all of art history.That is the fuel that will get us past the introspection and self doubts. So paint like as though you are an Old Master today.

Paintings are Documents

"Paintings are documents." ~ David Hockney David stated that paintings are documents. I would have to agree that the drawings...