Friday, October 31, 2008

Words of Wisdom

In refining the modelling, and getting rid, if necessary, of hard edges made in the earlier stages, do not soften one tone into another by brushing them together.  If the earlier tones had been laid with sufficient deftness, nothing of the kind would have been necessary.  But perfection of handling is not one's constant experience, and something has usually to be done to mend imperfections.  Brushing two tones together, besides devitalising the paint, as all subsequent touching is apt to do, also produces a tone that you don't want.  Two tones come together too suddenly because another tone is needed between them to unite them.  And it is very unlikely that the right hue of this tone can be got by mixing the two together.  The new tone should be carefully made and deftly placed between them.  I say deftly, as it cannot be too often insisted upon that the canvas should be touched by the brush as seldom as possible in oil painting.  The more often paint is touched, the less vital the impression.
- Harold Speed,  Oil Painting Techniques and Materials
(emphasis mine)
In one way or another, I think every teacher with whom I have studied since college has expressed this idea to me, but, though I can mentally process this idea, I never seem able to execute the practice of it.  I overblend, or "lick" my paint.  I don't believe my values suffer during this blending, but I do think that the overall look of the painting does.  It is my goal to continue working on this aspect of my paintings, so that I may learn to be a more "painterly" painter.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Catalog to the John William Waterhouse Retrospective

Those of you who know me, know how excited I am about the John William Waterhouse retrospective opening later this year in Holland.  I probably sent you emails asking you to sign the petition to bring the show to the United States (we got it as close as Canada- at least someone in North America recognized the popularity of Waterhouse).  I ordered my visitor's guide to Montreal more than a year ago in preparation for traveling north to see the exhibit, and it won't even open there until October 2009!  When I heard rumors that this show might become a reality, I literally started drooling.  I stalked Peter Trippi for a while, asking him about the show.  Yes, I am that kind of fan of Waterhouse's art.

It is with great pleasure, therefore, that I am able to announce that the catalog for the exhibit, J.W. Waterhouse (1849-1917):  The Modern Pre-Raphaelite, is now available for pre-order through  The hardcover edition is currently $47.25 USD, though the list price is scheduled to be $75 when it is released.  Peter Trippi, the author of the monograph J.W. Waterhouse (2002), and guest curator for the upcoming exhibit, is the editor of this catalog.

The exhibition itself is the first dedicated solely to Waterhouse since 1978, and is expected to display 92 paintings, drawings, and sketchbooks compiled from private and public collections in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, the United States, Taiwan, and Canada.  I expect it to be a wonderful show.

Exhibition Schedule:  

December 14, 2008 - May 3, 2009:  Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands

June 23, 2009 - September 13, 2009:  Royal Academy of Arts, London, England

October 1, 2009 - February 7, 2010:  Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thrilla in Lambertvilla

Despite my proximity to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, my interest in American Impressionist Landscape paintings began with the artists in California, and not those artists who painted within an hour of my lifelong home.  It has been an odd transition for me that the artists of the west, and of landscapes foreign to me, have led me now to appreciate more these artists, who practically painted my backyard.  I am still learning about these Pennsylvania Impressionists, and have, as yet, not seen enough of their art in person to truly appreciate their body of work.

To increase my exposure to these artists and their paintings, I am planning to attend The Thrilla in Lambertvilla XX, a show and sale focussing on Pennsylvania Impressionists and Modernists.  The show opens Saturday, November 16th at 6:00 PM at Jim's of Lambertville, NJ, just across the bridge from New Hope, PA.  Jim's of Lambertville is a 7,000 square foot gallery which features 18th, 19th, and 20th century American and European Art, with a special interest in Pennsylvania Impressionism, and it hosts this event twice a year to present its recent acquisitions in this particular oeuvre.  The sale, on view until March 2009, is unusual, however, as there is no preview, and items are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis, so the sooner you visit the show, the larger the volume of paintings you will be able to see.

A partial list of artists included in this sale of 150 works includes:  Daniel Garber, John Folinsbee, G.W. Sotter, Wm. Lathrop, Walter Baum, and Clarence Johnson.

Jim's of Lambertville also offers New Hope for American Art, a 612 page book about the New Hope Colony, otherwise known as the Pennsylvania Impressionists.  It features 1000 color plates, and details 165 individual artists.  The price is $89.95.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Joseph Q. Daily (b. 1981)

Self Portrait at 26 Years

I first met Joe Daily in 2004 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  He had travelled there from Pennsylvania with his then girlfriend, now wife, Kathryn, to attend one of Marvin Mattleson's regular guided tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Daily is a former student of Marvin's at the School of  Visual Arts in New York City, and like me, Joseph was there to listen again as Marvin went through the museum pointing out some of the best paintings in the permanent collection, and the reasons why those paintings work so well as pieces of art.  I knew Daily only through some of his student paintings, which Marvin had posted on his own site as examples of classroom achievement, and I was already very impressed with this young man's skills.

Ben Briggs  44" X 67"

When next I ran into Joe, it was at the 2005 International Portrait Conference in Reston, Virginia, held by the Portrait Society of America.  His entry for that year's competition was, to me, a rather ambitiously large portrait of his future father-in-law, Ben Briggs.  Briggs, a bag-piper and a proud Scotsman, appears in the painting in Highland garb, with the Blackwatch tartan behind him, standing before a stone fireplace he himself built.  Before the conference was over, the painting had taken both the Best of Show and the People's Choice awards, and at the banquet ceremony, Joseph was being courted by galleries before he had even had the chance to return to his seat after being handed his awards.

Minnie S. Churchill

Zoë Churchill

Daily's fortune continued from that point.  The Guest of Honor speaker at that year's conference was Minnie Churchill, granddaughter-in-law to Sir Winston Churchill, and co-author of Sir Winston Churchill:  His Life and His Paintings.  She we was so taken with Joseph's portrait entry that she commissioned him to come to England and paint a portrait of herself, and other individuals from her family.

The Sillars Girls

Guy Innes

Maria Peers

Charlotte Snoxall

Since then, Daily divides his time between his home in New York state, and in Great Britain, creating portraits on both sides of the Atlantic.  It just goes to show you what timing, a little bit of luck, and a large heaping of prodigious talent will do for you!

Portrait of Kathryn

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Upcoming Art Fairs

There are several more art fairs scheduled here in the east coast, similar to the USArtists Show recently held in Philadelphia.  In fact, many of the same galleries which participated in the Philadelphia event will also be showing at these upcoming fairs.  The events include:

The American Art Fair:  This is the inaugural year for this event, and it promises to be a good venue for American art of the nineteenth century.  It will be held at the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts in New York from December 1st through the 4th.

"Hoodie" David Jon Kassan - Gallery Henoch
Gallery Henoch will be at Art 20.

Art 20:  The focus of this international fair is art from 1900 to the present.  This looks like it will be a large event with many, many galleries participating.  The event will run November 7-10, 2008, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.  Admission is $20, and proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood.

"Peonies" Sarah K. Lamb - Spanierman Gallery LLC
Spanierman will be participating in both the American Art Fair, and at the Boston International Fine Art Show

The Twelfth Annual Boston International Fine Art Show:  Running from November 13-16th, this fair features forty galleries from America, Europe, and Canada offering traditional and contemporary fine art.  Admission is $15 at the door, with proceeds from the event benefitting the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

"Reclining Figure"  Jeremy Lipking-  Arcadia Fine Arts Gallery
Arcadia will be at the Boston International Art Show

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Painting Knives

"You get what you pay for."

I was reminded of this statement when I opened my pochade box one day in search of my little painting knife.  I had just purchased the inexpensive (ie. cheap), small-bladed, trowel-shaped painting knife, and  "lovingly placed it inside" my painting box.  It was only the second time I had brought it into the field with me.  You would expect that it could withstand being jostled around while walking  a few hundred yards into the woods, or, as in my case, stand up to some bumps while I packed quickly under the watchful eyes of an armed and badged art-lover.  When I opened my pochade, I was disappointed by what I saw.

My nearly-new painting knife looked like someone had put it through a tube-wringer.  Actually, it looked as if someone had used it to prize masticated gum from under movie theater seats, then used it to gap spark plugs, AND THEN put it in a tube-wringer.  It was, at best, a palette knife now, or could be used for some funky looking branches, but if I wanted to use it for hard, straight edges, I was out of luck.  Perhaps I could use it to defend myself against squirrels, in a pinch, but that was not what I had originally intended for its use.

I have nearly two dozen painting knives and palette knives.  I'm not sure why.  There was a sale, I think, and there was a large set for a good price, and I convinced myself I was going to use them for painting.  Instead, I picked my favorite shapes, and used them for paint-mixing only.  Some broke over time, and I tried to fix them with epoxy or glue.  Some broke the first day out of the gates and were unceremoniously tossed in a flurry of rude gesticulations and loud, inventive swearing.  Others found new lives in my DIY home repairs, filling nail holes, or adding mastic to some mighty small bathroom tiles I had to adhere to a wall, one at a time, after firing an incompetent contractor (in a flurry of rude gesticulations and loud, inventive swearing).

Then one day, I felt a burning in my backside.  I happened to be in an art supply store at the time.   It turned out, I had my wallet in my rear pocket, and in that wallet was a little bit of money, which was causing me pain.  I've noticed that this combination of art supplies and cash tend to cause this problem for me, and the only cure is to discard the money as fast as possible.  So I bought another painting knife, but what a painting knife it was!

What did my $31.80 (with coupon and a membership discount card) get me?  A HK Holbein, hand-forged, stainless steel, Series SX, No. 2 painting knife!  These knives are made in Seki City, Japan, a region settled by master sword makers 800 years ago, who chose the area because its natural resources were so beneficial to metal working.  It is forged from a single piece of metal, and the blade is of a uniform 0.1 mm thickness which enables a delicate flexibility, yet with a fine tempering for nice bounce back to its correct shape.  The neck has a 12 degree bend which keeps your knuckles out of the paint and off the canvas, and the overall weight and balance are excellent.  As you use them, the blade thickness wears down, making it more flexible and sharper (for use against squirrels and contractors).  I was so happy with the knife, I bought another Series SX just a few days later.  I have never had an issue with either of them.
Therefore, I would recommend these knives to everyone, except for one small problem:  they've been discontinued.  You can still find them in some art stores, but the prices have not been marked down, and you'll have to settle for whatever is left in inventory by this time.  Holbein makes other knives, which may be just as good.  There is a Series MX which I came across that are, I think, the same quality knives in a matte finish, though there are fewer shapes from which to choose .  The Series 1066 steel, and the 1066S stainless steel also look good, though perhaps a little less substantial.  The Ecolse line of painting knives are the student grade, and although they are not hand-forged, they are still made in Seki City.

These may cost more than your average painting knife, but if you need a new knife, and want an exceptional quality art tool that will last for decades, keep your eyes open for the Series SX while there are still a few left out there (in other words, before I find them).

Christie's Auction: California, Western and American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture

If you had asked me a few years ago to name my favorite landscape painters, I would have immediately named the Hudson River School artists.  I like the "brown school," and artists like Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church.  The detail those artists placed in their paintings is remarkable and beautiful. 

As I get older, however, and spend more time painting en plein air, I find my tastes have been changing.  The artists whom I have had the most interest in of late are the California Impressionists.  Their work is, of course, more immediate, and offers a brilliancy of color that really appeals to me, and I wish I had more access to view their art in person.

Had I the opportunity, therefore, to travel to California next week, I would visit Christie's Auction of California, Western and American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture.  Many of the artists associated with California Impressionism are in the auction, and due to the renewed popularity of many of these artists, such as Guy Rose, these works will probably continue passing from private collection to private collection, without many of us getting the chance to see them.  Once again, an auction like this offers a great possibility to examine these works which might otherwise be relatively hidden away for generations.

Some of the artists whose paintings are up for bid include:  Guy Rose, Granville Redmond, Edgar Payne, John Marshall Gamble, Marion Kavanagh Wachtel, William Keith, William Wendt, and Maynard Dixon.  Also on display will be an American Indian painting by E.I. Crouse, and a couple of paintings by Nicolai Fechin.

The lots in the auction are available for preview at Christie's in Los Angeles from 1-5 PM on the 25th and 26th, and from 10 AM - 5 PM on the 27th and 28th.  The auction will be held on the 29th. 


Monday, October 20, 2008

The 17th Annual USArtists: American Fine Art Show Reviewed

Yesterday, I attended the USArtists American Fine Art Show in Philadelphia.  The galleries participating were mostly from the east coast, but there were a few from farther abroad, including Ohio, Illinois, and California.  The event, held at the 33rd Street Armory, was well organized, and well-attended, even bringing in local celebrities like M. Night Shayamalan to investigate the art, though I was told the crowds were down from last year.

The majority of the art on display was landscape, with a strong emphasis on  Pennsylvania  scenes.   Of the artists featured, the predominant school was of the Pennsylvania Impressionists,  who were associated with the town of New Hope on the Delaware River, and with the surrounding, rural Bucks County area.  Clarence Johnson, Walter Baum, Daniel Garber, and William Sotter, of this school, were all represented.

Other artists on exhibit include William Trost Richards, who was shown in abundance, and whose seascapes were very impressive, Birge Harrison, William MacGregor Paxton, John Singer Sargent, Andrew, Jamie, and Henriette Wyeth, and Walter Launt Palmer;  a new discovery for me and whose snowscapes showed an amazing control of value and impressionistic color.

Of the contemporary artists on view, those who stood out to me were Jeremy Lipking, David Jon KassanMichael Klein, Nancy Depew, Robert Liberace, Matthew Cornell, Travis Schlatt, Kate Lehman, Donald Jurney, and Natalie Featherston.  Most of these artists are represented by the same galley in New York City, Arcadia, and of the contemporary galleries, I think Arcadia seemed to have the best sales even in this tough economic time.

A few modern galleries were also there, but there was nothing there to interest me and get me to explore their booths.  Unfortunately for those galleries, it seemed most of the other visitors felt the same way.