Sunday, September 9, 2018

What's the inspiration?

A good question about art is, "What is the inspiration for creating art?" 

Many times an artist doesn't know. I have started painting on a blank canvas with no idea in mind. 
The next question is, "Does that work?"  Sometimes it does but I don't think it's the best case scenario for creating art.

At the moment I'm working on colorful, small paintings. My inspiration for what to put on the canvas comes from a variety of land areas and structures that stuck in my memory from different places I have lived or visited. 

However, we might also look at the great works of art in history to find out more.


This painting by Henri Rousseau is of a tiger caught in a storm.  Anyone who has seen his lush, beautiful, tropical paintings would assume that he lived in that environment.  Yet, that's not the case at all.  As many appreciators of Rousseau, I was surprised to learn that he never left France in his lifetime.  He was inspired by botanical textbooks and stories from others. Clever and imaginative man, that Rousseau!


This painting is one of 250 paintings that Monet did of his garden in Giverny, France. They were the main focus of his art for the last 30 years of his life. As anyone who has studied nature knows, the scene is never the same with light and color changes minute by minute.  The frustration that artist feels in trying to capture an ever changing moment and always failing is a major inspiration.  This is why Monet painted the same scenes over and over, trying to catch that elusive moment in time. Why didn't he get bored painting the same scene over and over? The more an artist gets into subtleties of what they are painting the more challenging and exciting the painting is to the artist.


Wassily Kandinsky's color studies drawing is one of his most famous works.  For Kandinsky color was the inspiration for his artwork.  He wrote about color and their effects on each other.  He felt he could hear color.  

Inspired by the Ash Can school of painting, Lionel Reiss captures a group of people ascending a staircase in New York in this watercolor, "Going Home".  The inspiration for the Ash Can group was that they wanted to tell the truth about the lives of the working class and middle class in urban settings.  They felt that art at that time focused on the genteel too frequently.  Their goal was to record what they saw.  The movement is an early 20th century one and during the 1930's some focused on poverty and the dreadful conditions of the lower classes.  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Video Cubism

Cubism, the video.  


I became interested in Cubism after I first left art studies and was struggling to find my path and style as an artist.  I went back to take a life drawing class and became interested in cubism at that time.  I learned that Paul Cezanne was the artist that first inspired Cubism.  Although, it was Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso who took the style further and were credited with inventing the movement. 
Paul Cezanne

Braque and Picasso were rivals but they were also friends who worked together.  Picasso said, "we worked so closely together that I couldn't tell his work from mine".  

Georges Braque

Pablo Picasso

After I finished with the life drawing class I started working on cubist drawings.  

At this time, I did not do very many oil paintings.  I did several portraits in oil but focused primarily on drawing. Many years later, I moved into Cubist paintings. 

This painting is fairly recent.  It took many years to develop my own style of Cubism.  Each artist has a style that motivates them to continue to paint.  For me, Cubism has been that style.  It's a very analytical approach to art that has many different paths and avenues of exploration.  That's the main reason that I find it fascinating enough to still paint.  There's always some new path to approach form and color with Cubism which keeps me interested.  For me, there's the added desire to work with color relationships, along with the cubist method of analyzing form. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Life Drawing Video on YouTube

Life Drawing Video on YouTube 

created with my art and the ios app, Splice

Friday, May 4, 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Shocking! Artists as Criminals

Artists who were Criminals

There are quite a few criminals, including Charles Manson, who have fancied themselves as artists but I didn't think their art was of high quality.  However, I found a few artists whose work is worthy of notice and they were of a criminal state of mind.  


The most famous and talented artist who was a criminal was Caravaggio.  When I started into art, I was madly in love with the artwork of this artist.  He is one of the best at dramatic lighting and shading.  His work is the definition of  chiaroscuro which is the classic technique of light and shadow.  Even though, I had studied Caravaggio, I had no idea that he was murderer.  As it turns out, he was a dangerous man.  He was aggressive and angry. He was ill tempered and armed with a sword.  He was in constant trouble for hitting and slandering others.  Eventually, he killed a man in a fight and had to flee Rome.  I don't know why I did not read about this in art history!

David with the head of Goliath

Nigel Milsom

PHOTO: Nigel Milsom poses with his Archibald Prize winning portrait of Charles Waterstreet at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

Nigel Milsom was arrested for armed robbery and served jail time. This is not an artist I have ever heard of but it appears that he is talented.

Myuran Sukumaran

PHOTO: Australian drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran took to painting in Kerobokan prison. (AFP/Getty Images: Sonny Tumbelaka)

Myuran Sukumaran said dissatisfaction with his work led him to become involved in importing 8.3 kilograms of heroin from Bali.  Sukumaran was executed for his role in drug trafficking.  

Charles Bronson

PHOTO: Man Under Threat, by Jimmy Boyle and others from his charity organisation in Edinburgh. (Flickr: Summonedbyfells)
Charles Salvador — better known as Charles Bronson is an English criminal who has spent time in and out of various prisons since 1974. His crimes include: armed robbery, wounding, wounding with intent, criminal damage, grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment, blackmail and threatening to kill. 

Mark Chopper Read

PHOTO: A self portrait titled Tast Ful Old Criminal by former Melbourne gangland figure and cult author Mark "Chopper" Read. (AAP: Joe Castro)
Mark Chopper Read had a difficult childhood and was a ward of the state by his early teens.  After that, he turned to a life of crime.  He was involved in robbery, kidnapping, assault and finally murder.  He was acquitted of the murder as it was ruled self-defense.  However, Read spent half his life in prison.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Art Videos?

Art Exhibit Absolute Color

Colorful Blues, YouTube Video

Absolute Color: Tropical Art

I'm experimenting with YouTube videos.  I realize there are mistakes but I'm learning as I go.  
I'm using the app called Splice on my IPhone.  

Friday, April 6, 2018

Art and Life

The Ups and Downs of life create moods and turmoil for all of us.  

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon, Two Studies for Self-Portrait, 1977, oil on canvas  
"People have been dying around me like flies and I've had nobody else to paint but myself…  I loathe my own face. One of the nicest things that Cocteau said was ‘Each day in the mirror  I watch death at work.’ This is what one does to oneself.” - Francis Bacon, 1975  (

Käthe Kollwitz

Woman with a dead child

This is Käthe Kollwitz’s most famous image of war. The picture’s edges press in on its subjects like the mother’s despair.  Kollwitz's work represented the horror of war and was used to illustrate WWII.  Her work was done in the early 20th century and reflected the tragedy of losing her son in WWI and the poverty and trauma that she saw as a doctor's wife in Berlin.  "In July 1936, she and her husband were visited by the Gestapo, who threatened her with arrest and deportation to a Nazi concentration camp; they resolved to commit suicide if such a prospect became inevitable.[25] However, Kollwitz was by now a figure of international note, and no further action was taken." (

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Crazy Art or Crazy Artists?

Is it a myth that Artists are CraZy?  

Yes, it is a myth. Creative people may not be mainstream but that doesn't mean they are crazy.
Picasso painted images that might have looked crazy but he had a strong grip on reality.  Picasso had a tumultuous love life and he seemed to think that his lovers were crazy as this painting suggests:
Picasso's lover

Yet, in spite of most artists being sane, there are artists who seem to have had genuine mental issues:

Vincent Van Gogh killed himself at the age of 37 and suffered from some unknown ailment throughout his life.  He may have been bipolar or an addict but in reality, we do not know. This self portrait was created after Vincent chopped off his ear.
Van Gogh's ear

Edvard Munch suffered from a variety of emotional issues, depression and hallucinations. Mental illness ran in his family. He credited his mental illness for the creation of his most famous work, "The Scream".
Munch's famous painting

Francisco Goya at the age of 46 came down with a mysterious mental illness that affected his painting style.  This painting came after his breakdown.
Goya Painting

Georgia O'Keefe was hospitalized for depression and anxiety at the age of 46.  However, I'm not sure she was crazy.  This was a time when Georgia was living with a bossy, old man (Alfred Stieglitz) who also cheated on her.  After he died and she moved to New Mexico, she thrived and her art blossomed. Stieglitz who was a photographer, he created a beautiful series of photos of O'Keefe though the years of their relationship.   
Georgia O'Keefe

Alice Neel, like Georgia O'Keefe, went through a rough patch.  After an early marriage, Neel lost a young child to diphtheria.  Shortly after she had another child and her husband who was Cuban left Alice and took their daughter to live with his family in Cuba.  Alice was unable to get her daughter back and her relationship with both husband and child ended.  After that, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a nervous breakdown. Her life was filled with more relationship drama.  She went on to have two sons by different fathers and managed to support them as a single mother on welfare and painter in the government program, WPA which employed artists during the depression. Bohemian? Yes. Crazy? Probably not.  In the 1960's her years of success and fame began.

Alice Neel

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Chuck Close

The art of Chuck Close 

Here is a brief bio: "Charles Thomas "Chuck" Close (born July 5, 1940) is an American painter, artist and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist, through his massive-scale portraits. Close often paints abstract portraits of himself and others, which hang in collections internationally. Close also creates photo portraits using a very large format camera. Although a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint and produce work that remains sought after by museums and collectors." (

'Big Self Portrait', (1967-68)
acrylic on canvas (107.5"x83.5")

'Big Self Portrait' is fifty times life size and was done by using a half a teaspoon of black paint which was thinned to the consistency of water. Close used both brushes and airbrush.  He blended with an eraser attached to a drill.  

Chuck Close Self-Portrait, 1991For this painting Close used a Polaroid photo that he mapped into grids.

Self-Portrait, 2004-2005

This is from Chuck Close's Red, Yellow, Blue exhibit at the Pace Gallery in 2015.

Things to know about Chuck Close: 
He revived the art of portrait painting.
He was a key figure in the Photorealism movement of the 1970's.
Chuck Close struggled with dyslexia and partial paralysis.
He used the grid system in his art. This became a creative expression and an area for growth for Chuck.
He also used a variety of techniques and medias. 
His work has remained relevant long after Photorealism lost it's popularity.    

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jean and Raoul Dufy, two brothers that did well as artists

Modern Art of two brothers 

Here is the bio of the younger brother: "Jean Dufy was a French Art Deco painter best known for his colorful depictions of post-war Parisian society, notably Jazz musicians who arrived with American soldiers. He was born on March 12, 1888 in La Havre, France as the brother of the well-known French Fauvist painter Raoul Dufy, who would serve as a mentor to Dufy throughout his career. Though he had no formal training, he decided to become a painter after seeing a gallery exhibition of Modern Art in La Havre—he had his first show in 1914 at Galerie Berthe Weill. For almost 30 years, Dufy was employed at a porcelain manufacturer hand-painting decorative designs of animals and flowers, for which he would win a gold medal at the 1925 L’exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs—the very exhibition where the term Art Deco was first coined. Dufy was for a time the next-door neighbor to Georges Braque, who would encourage the younger artist to experiment with Cubism. He died on May 12, 1964 in La Boissière, France."

Raoul Dufy's Beautiful Paintings

 Raoul is the older brother.  He left school at the age of fourteen to work in a coffee-importing company. In 1895, when he was 18, he developed an interest in art and started taking evening classes in art at Le Havre's École des Beaux-Arts.

In 1900, after a year of military service, Dufy won a scholarship to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he concentrated on improving his drawing skills. The impressionist landscape painters, such as Monet and Pissaro influenced Dufy profoundly. His first exhibition (at the Exhibition of French Artists) took place in 1901. 
Henri Matisse's artwork which Dufy saw at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, was a revelation to the young artist, and it directed his interests towards Fauvism. Les Fauves (the wild beasts) emphasized bright color and bold contours in their work. Dufy's painting reflected this aesthetic until about 1909, when contact with the work of Paul Cezanne led him to adopt a somewhat different technique. In 1920, Dufy developed his own distinctive approach. 
His work was very beautiful and decorative which caused some critics to not take him seriously.  His work has aged well and is popular today.  It is light, loose and easy to look at but that doesn't make it less significant. 

 By 1950, his hands were struck with rheumatoid arthritis and painting was difficult for him as he had to fasten the brush to his hand. In April he went to Boston to undergo an experimental treatment with cortisone. It proved successful, and some of his next works were dedicated to the doctors and researchers in the United States. Dufy died on 23 March 1953, of intestinal bleeding, which is a likely result of his continuous treatment.