Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cheating in Art?

I remember when I was in art college (referred to as the dark times) I was working on an oil painting of figures in a desert landscape. My roommate was in the illustration program and worked primarily with the software program Maya;  though he had an extensive drawing background.  I would often ask why he had put down his drawing tools for the computer, often inferring that he had given up something more valid, more challenging, and something that was more "art" since computers could do some of the work for you. He said to me one day "Art is about creating a window into a world, would you agree?" I did. He then said "in your painting, it's only one view from one angle, one time of day, one feeling... in mine I can literally go anywhere. My possibilities are endless and that is my goal." This opened up my mind a bit.  If his means of executing his art meant he could accomplish his goals, then was it really cheating or in any way less valid.  Of course, we all know that computers are just a trend and most likely won't stay around long.

Which brings me to the question, is there cheating in art?  For me, "cheating in art" now seems like a childish thing to say when someone doesn't like how someone else does things.  "You cut in line, you cheated" or "no peeking, you cheated" or "you had access to insider trading for the frozen orange juice concentrate industry, you cheated."  I find so often that people discredit art and artists after they learn of their process.  So the question is, should it be the end product that speaks for itself?  Should process be considered and where is the line drawn?  That being said, here is a list of aids I use to help create my work.  I would wonder why some are considered cheating and some are not depending on who you ask.

1) a black mirror
2) a knitting needle for measuring
3) photography
4) a mahl stick
5) color studies
6) drawing transfers
7) my wife's advice
8) coffee
9) ADD meds
10) viewfinder
11) hiring models

For the sake of the article and reader sanity, I will only touch upon a couple of these.

First up, photography.  So is photography and hiring models cheating?  Some artists feel you should be able to make up everything from imagination for it to have any real originality.  However, as we know from history, very few people "make up stuff" out of their heads, including many fine artists and famous illustrators, including Parrish, Rockwell, and Frazetta. Reference is integral to making anything look realistic, at least it has been for me. Even many fantasy illustrators will sculpt miniature dinosaurs, ships, etc, just to insure...ensure......make certain the lighting is correct. But again, this leads the question, should you only work from life as reference, or are photographs ok?  As many of us know, models are pricey, and their time is limited.  I use photos when I have no other choice, and defaulting to nothing but self portraits even though I look exactly like Ryan Gosling is not always what I want to do.  I use photos at times because I want to make the art I want to make, and often it entails figures that cannot pose for me for long sittings.  Many people however don't feel that way.  I wanted to show a couple examples of some paintings I liked that utilized photographs, and in my opinion, did it well.


Second on the plate, is it ok to reference the past in your work?  Is it derivative?  Is every idea expected to be completely original?  If so, I might be screwed.  Pretty sure everything that can be done in art, has been done, and legend has it people have painted fisherman, hunters, and still lifes before me.  However, there is a lot of bad info on the internet so it might not be true and I invented the genre.   I am doing a piece right now that is completely inspired by Raeburn's "Archers", both in subject matter and some compositional elements.  I wanted to include some examples of artists who I admire who utilized the past for inspiration, and in my opinion, still bringing something new to the table.


Is having help from other artists cheating?  If Kate points out a mistake, does that discredit my efforts.  (And I am referring to a painting mistakes in this case and not how she hates how I use the sink as a mop buckets instead of filling up the real one.  Seriously, try it, it's awesome.) Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to follow the path of the professional student, but if I have two colors studies and I don't know which to choose, then I get  a second opinion. I know there is a stereotype of the lonestar artist genius, but art is much more of a community than that I would hope at least.  Bottom line is, everyone is going to have an opinion, and sometimes these opinions help you out in your work.

Lastly, is memorizing all the words that use an "X" cheating when you play scrabble.  Kate's family does this and I say, damn right it's cheating. Which brings me to the main point of this article;  how much I hate playing scrabble with Kate's family.  They are so much more literate than I am, and will never let me use works like "turdify" or "spazztastic" because they aren't in their little dictionary of English "words."



Monday, November 17, 2014

Beginners' Oil Painting Workshop: December 6,7,13 & 14

Amazingly enough, our new studio is done.  It's been a long ride and I can't wait to share some pictures of the process in my next post.  This post is all about my upcoming Beginners' Oil Painting Workshop.  I'm throwing it together short notice because up till a week ago I wasn't even certain when my teaching space would be functional.  But low and behold, one Friday morning four days ago, it suddenly was.

This four-day workshop will cover some oil painting basics--materials, colour mixing, step-by-step process for approaching a still life, plus some handy exercises that will expose the beginner to the concept of paint quality and edge quality.  You don't have to be an absolute newb to fit in.  If you've been painting casually with oils but would like to firm up your foundation and fill in some gaps, or if you've been using acrylics but want to switch, this workshop would be a good fit.  The good news is that I can keep my class size small (3-6) since I'm not paying a hosting fee to someone, and small class size means that I have more time for each individual student to meet their needs on a one-on-one basis.

Fee is $450 +GST, including materials and it runs from 9-4pm with an hour break for lunch.  Come, grasshopper.  I will teach you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Contemporary Realism" at Gallery 1261


Dave and I have three paintings in Gallery 1261's new show opening on Friday, October 24th in Denver, Colorado.  Among them are this new painting, "Cod Fish," by Dave:


Give a man a fish, and he can do a passable alla prima.  Teach a man to fish, and he can catch a fresh fish every day and make a proper painting.

I have my own two lovely ladies from the Women Painting Women show last year:


A complete catalogue of work can be seen here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Opening Night of The Uncanny

 

 The opening was unreal.  Period.  Dave and Teresa and I don't really know how it happened.  Actually, we do.  We put a whole bunch of magical ideas together into a proposal, handed it to our gallery, and somehow on opening night there was a costume party, a live opera singer on classical guitar, champagne, hors-d'oeuvres, and hundreds of visitors.  Dave and I talked until we were hoarse, slugged back some champagne, and talked some more, this time less hoarse and more slurred.

But back up.  Here are some pictures of the gallery display that Teresa took before the opening:








Pretty swell.  The thing I really like about Steve Brennen's West Palace location is that it feels like the inside of someone's house, so one can imagine that collectors get a better idea for how a painting will fit into their own house, than if they saw the same painting in one of those conventional commercial spaces that some galleries have.  And there are something like seven fireplaces throughout, so everyone gets to be a special butterfly and have their work above the mantel.

So wait, what was the bit in the invitation about everyone being in costume?  Well, to help people identify us amidst the swarming, roiling masses of art lovers, we thought it would be a good idea to dress to match our paintings.  Teresa was decked out in her Rococo inspired gear as per usual, and I dressed to match the painting of my sister, "The Huntsman's Bride."  I wore a wedding gown, stole, and had a skull in my hair.  In Dave's case, we decided he should just focus on looking presentable.  Nobody wanted him in drag and face paint as one of his ruffed ladies, anyways.

Getting all dressed up in wedding gear was kind of like recreating our special day.  Dave got to be a princess for a day--again.  We essentially got to retake our wedding photos, except now we're so much better looking, with nicer clothes and better haircuts.


Dave has a rat skull ascot pin he made himself with, well, a rat skull and a pin and piece of bubblegum.  I'm wearing a mink skull in her hair (can't see it, unfortunately), so it was kind of like prom with matching corsage and buttonhole.


And yes, there were quite a few attendees in costume, thank goodness.  The gallery director, Martha Goetz, master of accessorizing, is wearing a skunk and a chicken.  You see, some people see cute animals and want to pet them, and other people want to put them on their heads.  It's really a matter of preference and luckily there are enough bantam hens to go around.



Teresa with "The Lamentation"

The stunning AnnaMaria Cardinalli loaned us her haunting vocals for the night.

Martha channeled some Giuseppe Arcimboldo in her magnificent vegetable lady.
And presumably in honor of Dave's vanitas paintings, Martha made this lovely chocolate skull.  And about another hundred mini skulls with walnut brains.

Unfortunately there was nothing we could do about the random homeless man who came in for the free booze.
When the opening was over and it was time to get after party drinks, we were a little worried about finding a place where we wouldn't be too out of place.  Then we walked into this lounge.  Red brocade wall fabric?  Check.


Six paintings sold by the end of opening night, and more sales have been trickling in ever since.

Dave and I need to extend our most sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this show possible:

Steve, thank you for reading the proposal and being, I don't know, at loose ends enough to let us have a show?  Seriously, thank you for seeing the potential, for giving us the most beautiful space in which to host our show, and for the wonderful hospitality.

Martha, thank you for...gosh, where to begin?  Calling up every single magazine editor?  Packaging and marketing our product?  Fabricating vegetable women and pouring chocolate skulls?  Hanging all 28 paintings so beautifully?  Doing all of the above with a flawless chignon bun and three feet of pearls around your neck?

Parents, thank you for trekking all the way to Santa Fe with us just to watch us be entirely self-absorbed for the entire time, and not giving us crap for it.  Thank you for supporting us through this as only parents can (because who else puts up with entirely one-sided conversations about how great we are?).  Thank you for coming to the opening to see what exactly it is that we do when we're not clad in paint smeared pajamas (we're talking about 0.0002% of our time).

Models--Paul, Emily, Allie, Fred, Brian, Jill, and ESPECIALLY Tara, who appeared in four paintings--thank you for letting us exploit your natural good looks for our personal gain.

Friends, thank you for making the trip to see our show.  Most of you came from far away and it was delightful to have familiar faces in the crowd.

Attendees, thank you all for bringing your energy, your love of art, and your appreciation of free booze and live music.  You made our night a blast.

And thank you Martha, Teresa, and Susan for letting me steal your photos.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Workshop in Carthage, North Carolina in May 2015

San Francisco too far away?  No prob, Bob.  At least, no prob if you live near Carthage, North Carolina.  From May 6-10 of next year I will be teaching a still life workshop with my lovely assistant, David Gluck.  As everyone knows, two teachers are more entertaining than one, especially when they're married and have nine years of artistic differences of opinion to work out in public.  We will be hosted by Carmen Gordon of Oak Hollow Studios.

If you are interested in enrolling, please get in touch with Carmen directly by email: oakhollowstudios@gmail.com

Another really neat studio space.  Love that rug.  Can I butter-side-down this one too?


Oh, and I can't wait to eat my face off while I'm there.  Photographic evidence suggests that there is a talented cook at Oak Hollow Studios.  Will there even be time for painting?


Friday, September 19, 2014

Workshop in San Francisco, January 2015

I will be offering a workshop in San Francisco at the beautiful Sadie Valeri Atelier from January 5-9 in 2015.  Have you seen pictures of this place?  Gorgeous, functional, and professional.  I've got a feeling she doesn't resort to bubblegum and paperclips to patch up dysfunctional light clips and rocky easels.



I have to admit, I'm a little nervous about painting on carpet.  I just know I'm going to be the first one to drop my palette butter side down.

My workshop will be a still life workshop and you can read all about it here.  Or you can read about it here:

"Learn some new tricks from award winning still life painter, Katherine Stone. Kate will share her four-step process for paint layering and her methodology for creating a work of art that will not yellow, delaminate, crack or peel. With the help of a slideshow of close up photos of her own work, Kate will also share her techniques for creating textural and optical effects.
While students work on their individual paintings, particular emphasis will be placed on using the natural behavior of oil paint to arrive at convincing textures. Katherine will share her own approach for tackling wood grain, reflections, shadows, and peeling paint. She will also discuss artistic choices in paint application: when to impasto, when to scumble, when to glaze. Students will leave the workshop with a logical step-by-step approach to still life and new confidence when confronted with complex textures and challenging visual effects."





 Or, if you'd rather get tattooed, my husband will be working out of Tattoo Boogaloo for the duration of my workshop.  And at the end of my workshop we'll all get matching tattoos that say "SVA Workshop 2015" on our left ass cheeks.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Icarus VII: Auction!

Found: one sad little red-breasted nuthatch who never lived up to his full potential.   He never wrote that book.  Never made that trip to Paris.  People.  Life is short.


So go buy some art.