Archive for pastel

New Studio and New Work

Posted in Leisure, Studio Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26 August, 2010 by endlessslug

I just started setting up the new studio now that everything else is unpacked and organized.  It will still be a couple days until the new studio is complete, however.  I’m also working on finishing a new book for the Johnny Rook company which will hopefully be completed by the weekend.  I did receive a small commission for some paintings or drawings for a friend’s livingroom, paid in advance, and this has saved my financial ass.  Ok, I didn’t so much get a commission as socially strong-arming my buddy into making his pad a swingin’ chick magnet-verse.   It’s still appreciated greatly and I shall endeavor to produce some fine ass-capturing works in short order.  Spank-spank.

I have a few pastels I need to take some shots of and put up at my Zatista page as well as some B/W illustrations for Johnny Rook to post, although I have to wait for the latter until I get the ‘OK’ to officially post them.  I was allowed to post a couple of the new images in my facebook gallery – check me out there – but only 1-3 images from the new book.  I believe I posted 2.

Anyway, looking forward to beginning some new work in a new place with very positive surroundings.  Although a job would be nice.  It’s hard to pay the rent on nothing but hope.

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Art Student Handbook Part I: General Definitions

Posted in Art Student Handbook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 17 June, 2010 by endlessslug

This post is part I of my multi-part series of blog entries for the up-and-coming hopeful art student of any age.  I gear this towards folks interested in going to a university for a fine art degree and for the so-called “self taught” genre of artists that seem to be very popular (for some reason) these days.

Art Student Handbook

Part I: General Definitions

Every hear of a “trade secret”?  It means something that folks who practice a trade do not want the rest of the non-member public to know.  Trade secrets are present in the fine art world and stretch far beyond the tricks one learns as an artist.  Many of the great trade secrets are being lost, however, due to the popularity of concepts of process, spontaneity, anti-establishmentism, and forced originality that are cross-cutting all realms of art worlds.   This is unfortunate.  As I learned from my own university training, even the academies and universities who should be the champions of refined fine art and the science of art are falling away from practice of work and instead focus on gearing a student towards mass-production; readying them for a pro-consumerist world where most artists have to subsist on their minimum wage jobs and selling a painting once every half-decade, while the rest of their college mates move on to high-paying, so-called “real” jobs.  The world has few starving artists, it only has depressed ones in a sea of sameness.

Let us try and move forward.  Below are some definitions which all artists should know.  I want to be clear about the concept of definitions and the art world: It is, in fact, very possible to define what art is and is not.  The problem most people have is that they live in a world where the media has informed them that “art is everything!” But that is wrong.  Everything may have something aesthetically pleasing or something maybe artistic, but not everything is classified as art.  Further, art has many sub-classifications and functions.  A careful reader will notice how closely art definitions resemble definitions about language and science.  The definitions which follow are mostly from the discipline of Anthropology but merged with some very old sources on painting masters.

Art:  Complex communication, usually one-way, where words (or other forms of communication) no longer can adequately express a certain complex of thought or experiences. Art may be literal, symbolic, coded, or a mixture of these elements.

Fine Art: Complex communication demonstrated through symbolic representation which has been subsequently refined and modified as to make such communication as efficient and pleasing, at the same time, as possible.  The most successful Fine Art is that which says the most clearest idea to the largest number of people, over the longest span of time, in the most pleasing and efficient manner.

High Art: Refers to art of the wealthy, elite, or art considered of a quality suited to public or private display, removed from any original context.  High art is often opposed to “folk” art.  High art, as a concept and term, is often used interchangeably with fine art but these terms should be thought of as two separate things.  All cultures, for example, have elements of folk and refined fine art but only cultures assuming themselves dominant of another have a high art distinction.

Folk Art (general western public): Art of the people; unrefined, often said to carry deeply personal meaning to the artist.  Often, folk art taken out of context becomes a form of “high” art for westerners – westerners see folk art as anti-elitist, anti-establishment, and a ideal of the way ‘art ought to be’.

Folk Art (Anthropological): Temporary art constructed by one or more people of a community used exclusively for that community.  Folk art is further divided into sub-categories such as: Indigenous art, Ritual art, Trade/Gift art, Contract art (art which is exchanged as a symbolic bind to a contract such as marriages), and Animatistic art (art used to bind spirit energy or spirits directly for use in amulets and power devices).  Ritual and Animatistic art must often serve a dual-aesthetic purpose to please divine entities besides the common public.

2-D Disciplines or Conceptual Approaches of Fine Art (in general)

Note that I refer to the following as “conceptual approaches”.  Often, we find the the most confusing thing about artists is although an artist might define themselves as part of or not part of a category of artists, outsiders often view artists by what they see the artist do.  This is incorrect.  For the student of art, you must be aware that your medium of choice does not define you as much as your approach to the form.  For example, illustrators may use oil paint, painters may use pastel, watercolorists may use gouche and pencil.  It is how they communicate with their mediums that sets an artist’s identity in the art world, not the medium.

Illustration: Literal pictoral communication of a given narrative; illustrators draw or paint for a select audience.  Their work can sometimes last a long time in terms of meaning, if the illustration sufficiently and efficiently conveys a message which first must last.  Illustrators are often the most versatile of all artists as the need to illustrate narrative or image requires a wide grasp of medium knowledge.  The depth of meaning in illustration often suffers in favor of client-required imagery.  Illustration has many subfields such as: historical illustration (textbooks), scientific illustration (medical books), fantasy/sci-fi illustration, magazine illustration (see 2-D below), and caricature.

Painting: Pictoral communication of intersecting levels of meaning, knowledge, and experience; painters paint for you and me and all with an emphasis on human development over time.  A successful painting is one which has a variety of complex meaning over a very long period of time and across cultural boundaries. Painters are usually further divided into Portraitists, Still-Life painters, and Landscape artists although there are more.  In paintings, symbolism takes precedence over literal meaning. This symbolism may be represented through aspects of painting such as color, form, composition, value, or size but the public is best aware of the symbolism of subject matter when present.

Drawing: Pictoral communication of various levels of meaning, usually somewhat literal or shocking and involving social, political, or religious problems; drawers want to communicate an idea very directly to a wide audience although often these drawings take the form of personal or social therapy and are often short-lived in terms of functional meaning.  Drawings tend towards mixed-media, where an artist will use a number of juxtaposing mediums, such as wet and dry, to create a tension, ground, and texture to the work.  Graffiti and so-called “urban” art tends towards this category.

Watercolor/Wash art: A grey-area definition falling somewhere between Painting and Drawing, watercolor relies entirely on preservation and manipulation of light on the canvas paper.  Watercolor paint is rarely very opaque, requiring transparent glazes of color for light manipulation and the construction of very unique color systems.  Generally thought of as only a medium used by artists and not a distinct style or form of art.  Very rarely, and unfortunately, do contemporary artists consider watercolor a  legitimate painting medium, partly due to the limitations of watercolor in terms of longevity, portability, and depiction.  By depiction, we mean that watercolor is limited in what it can convey and is best suited for highly contrasting images with 70% or more light effect – usually outdoor scenes and landscapes.  Wash art, however, is often just the opposite.  Although relying on light still, wash art has much more successful darks.  Watercolor is often used in children’s book illustrations and magazines requiring a “lighter” feel than a painting or general illustration.

2-D Design  (Marketing): A pictoral representation of an “ultimate” experience as a means to sell a product.  The imagery here is distinct from illustration in that 2-D Design may mis-inform, mis-direct, or somehow deceive the viewer in an effort to sell the product or idea.  All religious art (not ritual art) tends to fall into this category as does most science fiction and fantasy art, although the latter overlaps with general illustrative approaches.  In other words, the best contract illustrator is the one who can illustrate what it is you are going to buy with a little help from general mis-information in order to make someone buy the product.  Note that we do not consider this form of art as ‘bad’ or ‘poor’ art, it is simply another approach to creating art.  All language can be deceptive and manipulative as a salient, amoral feature.

Contemporary Art (Movement): Devoid of any sense of thought or aesthetic; simple, direct meaning tied often to shock value.  Themes often include violence, size-alterations, or simple construction of a thing via parts from opposite things (building a 30′ vagina out of 24″ dildos and spray-painting them red, etc).  This form of art is very short lived; often the meaning passes the moment the work is first experienced.  Post-modernism thrives in this form of art.  A more pure definition of “contemporary art” would be: art made now by peers and colleagues, but our contemporary sense of a “historical now” has appropriated this concept into a definition of the movement as a whole.

Modern Art (Movement): Following modernist literature, art which although stems from the structuralist salon approaches of the previous century, decided to demonstrate “breaks” from the rules of previous art in order t construct something wholly new.  Modern art is art for artists and although is important in terms of demonstrating what you can do with art, is also important for demonstrating what should not be done with art or done only once and never again.

Outsider Art (Movement): A term used for art made by “unknown” artists by folks who consider this sort of art non-mainstream art and thus, it “must be fresh un-biased” art.  In actuality, outsider art is the most biased and worst art there is.  We know the term originates from the classification of insane asylum art (“outside of the culture” and social rules sense thus it must be beautiful without meaning), but outsider art, as a term, is developed and maintained by pseudo-elite art collectors attempting to land their hands on an unknown master, first.  Unfortunately, with a heavy decline in structure and meaning in contemporary art, most collectors are so removed from general aesthetic, they will collect anything, regardless of the quality.  Mostly, this is due to an intense mis-understanding and lack of education as to what aesthetically pleasing fine art is and is not.  Probably 95% of all online artists fall into this category.  The unknown attempt to be known in the most economical and socially advertised ways, especially in the contemporary age where basic social skills and education are increasingly lacking in development and quality (…so does the art which symbolizes the experiences of these people, and so on in an ever-declining cycle of terrible art).  For the student, outsider art is what you DO NOT WANT.  If somebody tells you your art is outsider art, they are either mistaken or you have done something wrong.  You should re-criticize yourself immediately to be sure.

Claude Monet. Haystack. End of the Summer. Morning. 1891. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France.

Afterword

There are numerous more definitions, but the set above should get your basic working vocabulary going.  The most important thing is to not read Wikipedia entries for definitions and try not to read any book definitions written after about 1975.  Another source you should avoid is artist statements.  I have no idea why people started letting artists talk about their work.  The work should speak for itself, that is the point.  If you require a short story to explain your process and meaning in the works you’re showing, you have failed, go work in a factory or in fast food.  However, this does not mean that the entire general public will understand any given painting.  Most of the public has not been taught how to look at a painting – this is fine – although, we ought to paint for everyone.  Should the public need to be taught? No, they don’t have to know, that’s a trade secret.  Just because someone reads a lot does not mean they know how to read.  We use our eyes every day, but only artists know how to see.  But a successful work of art is one which appeals to specialists and the public, even if on different levels of experiential meaning.  Don’t believe me? Go to your nearest art museum and sit near the Money Haystacks.  Watch the people come and go.  Listen to them.  Everyone “gets” the Haystacks, even if they do not know they do…because they stayed awhile.  The student artist must be aware of this, and must never blame the public for knowing too little, but may blame the specialist for knowing so much as to exclude the public entirely.

New Summer Series

Posted in Art, Contemorary Art, Pop-culture, Social Science, Studio Work, Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21 May, 2010 by endlessslug

I decided to do something a little different and try pissing out mass volumes of pastel drawings and try selling them at reduced rates.  It’s a big experiment, so don’t worry all you hard-core followers of the slug, I’m not selling out.  I have a hypothesis I’d like to test.  It’s mostly a color hypothesis but in order to test it adequately, I need to sell a mass of work in a short time.  Reducing prices to affordable decoration range ideally will do the trick.

Here’s the first one of the new series.

I named this one, which I rarely do.  It’s name is “Breakfast Nook” and is a contemporary surrealist approach to a still life of an apple, a pear, and a banana.  Interested parties can buy prints over at imagekind or buy the original drawing over at zatista.  I hope to put a drawing up like this one about every other week, possibly every week this summer, and then firmly stop before I have to move out of my apartment around late July.  This means, mostly a June series.

-Slug

Busy Bees and “Art Students, Please!”

Posted in Art, Artists, Studio Work, Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14 April, 2010 by endlessslug

Hi all, the Slug has been pretty busy as of late running some business-end things and working on some new projects so I haven’t been able to write as much as I had intended.  I have a few saved posts ready for rainy days but I don’t believe the time is quite right…

With that said, I’ll leave this post short but I will add a sort of teaser of things to come:

Top 10 Things Art Students Should ALWAYS Refrain (that mean’s “do not do this” kiddies) From Painting:

1 – Aliens.  No one cares man.

2 – Pot leaves.  It’s just advertising.

3 – Any other drug references.  If it’s a cry for help, go elsewhere.  If not, stop using and experience the world a bit and see if you still want to paint this.

4 – Crosses, thorn-crowns, crucifixions.  Do you work for your church?  Even great historical painters ALL hated painting this stuff.

5 – Black female jesus.  This isn’t profound, it’s stupid.  Why not paint actual religious females with your g/f’s image in them? Oh wait, there aren’t any. What?

6 – Girlfriends.  Note, I do not say boyfriends – why? cause who paints that?

7 – Erotic art.  Why? because for students, it’s just porn and nobody ever tells them otherwise.  Skills first people.

8 – Famous people.  We’ve seen it. Stop.

9 – Animal portraits.  Seriously get the fuck out of the house.

10 – Your friend’s band promo.  [facial expression of ‘geh?’]

We’ll add an addendum list…

Top 10 Ways in which Art Students Should Stop Working (e.g., the technique guide):

1 – Never bring anime into an art studio.  We’ll kill you.

2 – Stop using ‘graphitti’.  To artists this translates to: “ignorant fuck who thinks themselves better than 40000 years of art history.” Cave paintings are better than gra-shitty art any day.

3 – Cray-pas.  What, are you 7?

4 – Painting with ‘non-traditional’ tools such as leaves, stems, twigs…  it’s all about the process right? No.  It really isn’t.  How unnatural is a sable brush?

5 – Stop sticking things to canvases.  It really looks like shit.

6 – Stop sewing into canvas.  Make a quilt, don’t paint.

7 – Don’t use hemp canvas.  Hemp is useless for anything, don’t believe the hype, listen to your painter ancestors who have tried it numerous times with no useful results.

8 – Don’t let your canvas peek through your paint for that ‘painted’ look.  It’s a painting, ass.

9 – Quit “expressing” all over the place.  I certainly don’t want to clean that up.

10 – Quit using perishables.  Potatoes strung up over a piano?  Dude, “Fuck” and “Off”.

-Endless Slug

Recognition!

Posted in Art, Artists, Contemorary Art, Criticism, Gallery Talk, Studio Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27 January, 2010 by endlessslug

One of my pastel drawings was the favorite work on zatista.com by guest curator Anthony Cochran!

Endless Passage (Reversed)

Check out what he said about it and read his article HERE.

It’s nice to finally get a little recognition for something I’ve done.  The only problem is that over the winter, I realized that many of the images I posted on my portfolio sites were reversed due to the scans of the slides I used.  I re-packaged the original works to protect them a bit more, and realized that the slides were backwards.  I switched all of them out – except for the ones on Zatista.  Doh!  So, apologies to Mr. Cochran, but if you flip that image, I hope it isn’t any less your favorite!  Also a note to would-be buyers out there, take a look at the image in reverse and see if you still want it – hope you do!

-Endless Slug, endlessly slugging.

Endless Passage (Correct)

*** UPDATE ***

The very active folks over at Zatista gave a read to my blog today and noted the image flub.  They’ve kindly switched my image on their marketing materials to show the corrected image.  Who feels like an idiot? Slug do.  Anyway, thanks to Zatista for being so tenacious with their aid and interest in my work as well as all the other artists over at their site.

Glimpses of the New Year

Posted in Art, Artists, Criticism, Studio Work, Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , on 22 December, 2009 by endlessslug

I decided to post a couple of very low res pictures of some of the new work I’ve been doing over the past few months.  None of these works are finished, but they’re far enough along that the content should be identifiable.  I tend to work on new drawings and paintings over months to years at a time, so there is no expected time of completion.  Sometimes I don’t even feel like working on a project any further either, so what you see here might be all that will happen.  I hope to continue on these, however.

New Organic Geometrics (2009)

First, this is a return to my organic-geometrics.  I still can make a pretty nice pile o’ floating blocks.  It’s been about six years or so since I really did one of these and it’s nice to see I still have it. Now, if only people cared enough for these to buy them, I’d make a mint.  As one of my old art teachers once said (and I paraphrase), “the shapes, textures, compositions, colors, and techniques are all fantastic, but there is no energy.  If anything, these blocks are an attack on energy.”  He was very correct.  I hope to one day figure out the energy aspect of the work and make these floating shapes exciting and meaningful to the viewer.  At the moment, I think of them more lately as if Rothko made forms.  These are for contemplation, not for shock.  Are they about anything? No – as Francis Bacon once said, painting shouldn’t be “about” anything.  Not that I entirely agree with that, but I think I know what he meant… (there’s a painting joke there somewhere).

You may notice the faded color around the edges – this is only because the final layers of color have not yet been added.  The final step in this process is more color and a bit more water.  I’m waiting to do it though, I don’t quite know why.  Oh, incidentally, this is a soft pastel drawing on arches watercolor paper.  I add some white charcoal for a blending mechanism and spray with water.  Delightful.

Portraint (Unfinished)

Portraint (underpainting)

Second, is a new portrait.  This is intended as an underpainting of the final portrait, thus the blues and reds, but I’ve stopped painting on it at the moment.  I may re-start it.  This is oil paint on hardboard but I was experimenting with oil mediums and the surface is a bit uneven.  This does not show up in the photo, but if you were to touch the surface, you would feel it.  I let it dry a bit so I could work adequately back on top of it, but I waited too long and it pretty much dried completely.  So, this one is pretty much done as is.  If anything, I might hit it with some other material like soft pastel, but that rarely works.  This portrait was also painted from a photo of a model which I hate doing, but once you’ve painted real models, you can usually work from the photos later.  You must always remember, however, that you’re painting a painting, not painting a photo.  The photo should only help remind you of small details your mind may have missed.

"Come, Join the Dance" (2009)

Lastly is this monster of a painting.  I won’t even bother explaining this, but it should be obvious that it is very much incomplete at the moment.  I just wanted to give a small example of where I’m heading with work now.  I started working on this back in October, and have taken a small hiatus from it.  I used walnut and poppy oils on it and some of it is actually still wet after about 1.2 months of a break from it.  I ran out of steam working on it and hope to be renewed in the coming year to finish this thing.  It’s a large separation from what I usually do (see above), and it came out (so far) rather successfully, I think.  Comments from viewers are always appreciated, whether pro or con.

And that’s a few new things for a new year to come.

New Work and Days Lost to Video Games

Posted in Art, Pop-culture, Studio Work, Technique, Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21 October, 2009 by endlessslug

I decided to begin a new series of about 10-15 new pastel drawings over the weekend.  I cleaned up the dusty studio a bit but then decided to move a tarp to my bedroom/livingroom and work like I used to when I was in college.  It was pretty sweet.  I was able to churn out one nice new drawing in a few hours – at least to a done but not quite finished state – and fix up an old drawing that was sitting in my studio for a couple of years.  The older drawing still needs to be finished, but I completely re-did the thing and it looks much better than the one before.  I was also able to check out a new medium I was experimenting with on oil paintings about two months ago.  I wanted to see what this mixture looked like after drying for a time.  It looks pretty good.  Now I just need to finish the painting.  So many works unfinished these days…

Once I locate a means to take new images, I will post some of this new work on the blog and on my artspan and possibly zatista sites.  I have a large amount of work to add to these sites, and I need to invert a number of the images too since my slides were backwards when I scanned them.  I didn’t realize they were backwards until I went through the original works last month and re-boxed them.  I had the originals stored in a very nasty spot which caused a bit more damage than I would have liked to the drawings.  They are still fine, just not “as” fine as they were when first completed.  The impermanence of pastel is unforgiving.

I’ve lost a few days of working from being addicted to Civilization IV.  I have loved these games since the first one many many years ago.  I should note, however, that by “lost” I refer to losing days of working on art directly.  I never really feel a day has been “wasted” which “lost” usually implies, while playing Civ.  This game has brought me endless ideas and understandings of systems and processes, even if the newer games are falling quickly to an inane multi-player, speed-gaming, pro-combat world.  The games, to me, are engaging and refreshing (of my mind).  Once, I tried scheduling days just for civ, followed by days of working on paintings or drawings.  Wow, that was a mistake.  Now I let my mood guide me like I should have from the start.  If I wake up today and want to draw, I will draw.  If I wake up and want to finish that war with Montezuma of the French, I will end him.

Yesterday, I lost a day to Grand Theft Auto 3.  I bought this game when I bought my PS2 back in 2004.  I played it a couple times but never really got into it very much and had trouble with a couple of early missions.  So, with nothing really else to do, I decided to try it again but this time just run around the city and not do the missions right away.  Much better.  A whole day lost to the island.  But then the rest of my night I spent sending destroyers against triremes.  Awesome.  Tomorrow, I am sure to hit the oils.