Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's Derby Week!

One of the things on my "Bucket List" was to attend the Kentucky Derby just once in my life.  I didn't want to party in the infield with a bunch of people who wouldn't even see the race.  I wanted to sit in the stands.  I wanted to sip mint julips under the rim of my especially bought hat. I wanted to sing My Old Kentucky Home.   I wanted to bet on a winner.

In 1999, a friend of mine, whose son was the lawyer for the National Thoroughbred Horse Racing Association, took me to the Derby.  Because of her son's connections we sat high in the stands on Millionaire's Row!  I stood next to the owner of the horse I bet most heavily on, "Stephen Got Even."
He told me the story of how the horse got its name.  We all sang "My Old Kentucky Home, and as I do every year, I got so choked up I couldn't finish the song. 

Well, Stephen didn't get even, though he led most of the race.  That was the year that Charismatic, a long shot at
 50 - 1, beat the field!  The only person around me who bet on the winner was a woman who said she just liked the name!

Charismatic went on to win the Preakness, and at the Belmont was on the way to becoming a Triple Crown winner when he broke his leg.  For almost a year they tried to save the horse, but in the end he lost that race.

So here is my tribute to Derby Week. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Photographic References


 Generally, I don't use photographs as references.  I use them as idea generators or sketch material.  I will look at photo I've taken long and carefully, put it down and then sketch it from memory, changing the composition as suits the need for incorporating design principals. 

     Unless you are using a photo taken by a potential buyer who has specifically given you permission , it is highly unethical to use a photo taken by someone other than you, especially if you are relying on their composition.  Copying photos from calendars, guide books, magazines or other copyrighted material could also land you in hot water legally if you display your work outside your home.  You may use objects or people as references if you build the majority of your composition independent of the photograph. 

     I have juried and judged shows, and though I might not explain it to the individual, I nearly always reject paintings of lions, tigers, and other exotic animals, especially if they are placed in their native habitat  because I am dubious that the artist went to Africa or India and took the shot themselves. 
If an artist goes to their local zoo and photographs the animals, that would be acceptable.

     That said, here's a rare choice to paint from a friend's travel photo.  She's in Italy right now, and wants the painting as a reminder of her trip.  It is a private transaction between two people, and other than illustrating my point, I would not have shown it in a competition or gallery. 

      Just be mindful when using photos that you don't borrow other people's creative work.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Overlapping/Complementary Colors

This post is for Dave Anderson, who told me he looks forward to getting my blog postings and was eager to see the next one.  It's been a while because of illness, but I'm all better now!

J. S. Bach once committed himself to writing a prelude and a fugue in each of the 24 keys so each time he sat down to compose, he had a place to start.  So it is with my goal of painting in a different color combination: analogous, complementary, split complementary, triads, etc.  Here's one in just two complementary colors:  red and green.

What gives the painting depth are the overlaps: distant shore, middle ground cliffs, and foreground cliff. Since each overlapping plane is progressively lighter as you approach the far shore, the values help establish receding land masses.

Overlapping is a great way to achieve the feeling of depth.  It's also fairly easy to paint, too, because you start with the lightest area of the background, proceed to the next plane a little darker and with more intense color, and finally the darker foreground which sets off the middle ground by contrast.