Friday, May 22, 2009

My picture files

I can't possibly remember where I saw an image in a magazine nine years ago, that relates to a painting I am working on today. I receive many art magazines and any one picture in a stack of forty art magazines might as well be buried in the back yard. I don't have room to keep all the art magazines to which I have subscriptions . So here's how I deal with both of those problems.

Every couple of months I cut out all of the paintings in the magazines that interest me . I have a little plastic table easel on a ledge in my studio, I throw all of the clippings onto that. Then I can look through them and find the ones that interest me. Often times, I am looking to find the way an artist I admire, solved a problem with which I am confronted.

About twice a year when my little plastic easel is too full to receive any more clippings, I put them into my files. Here's how I do that. I have about ten three ring binders that are kept on my bookshelf. I have a different binder for various categories of images. I have one for Metcalf, I have one for Waugh and one for the California impressionists. I have about three for 19th century painting, divided into Hudson River school, Tonalism and impressionism, and another for Inness. You get the idea.

I trim the images neatly on a mat cutting board with my razor knife and a ruler, being careful not to trim my fingers. The razor knife is the most dangerous tool in my studio. Then I paste them down onto both sides of ordinary printer paper with a gluestick. I might consider acid free archival paper but, I am fifty seven. Besides the pictures themselves are printed on non archival paper. When the sheet is filled with four or more images I slide them into plastic sleeves and put them in my binders. The plastic binders I use come in boxes of 2oo from Staples and they are the medium weight.Then I know where any given sort of painting is anyway.

The binders usually allow you to slip a clipping down into a space on its front. I stick in an image that is typical of the content of the folder.

I don't just cut up magazines I plunder gallery catalogs, auction catalogues and even the occasional postcard. I have many hundreds of images at my fingertips and because they are in the plastic sleeves, they can hang out around my easel with out being damaged by flying paint. I routinelyl sit down with one of my binders and leaf through it, its almost like a stroll through a museum.


JAMES A. COOK said...

Very good tip. Makes good sence . We always need to study good paintings to learn and tp solve our painting problems. QUESTION, is it good for me to recopy master paintings so that that I can get a feel for the value structure, composition ,etc and experience what the artist went through to paint his subject. Would I learn anything from this or is this a very bad practice.


Unknown said...

Hey, speaking of the California impressionists, do you know any good books on them? It seems like there's not a lot of information out there on them (at least on the internet). I especially am interested in the ones that settled in Laguna Beach (20 minutes from me).

By the way, here's the link for the Carder method. You can see his students work and watch the first 10 minutes of his youtube video ("Mark Gives a Talk") to get the picture.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Ithinj it a very good practice. If oy can, you should work about the same size as the original though. Find a poster. Hold yourself to the discipline of making it as much like the image as you can. You will learn more on the last 15% than the first part of the project. Pull measurements as you go. I guess I could do a post on this couldn't I. I will soon.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Theres is a rather grand book on William Wendt. I don't have it. Its a big catalogue from a show. I will see if I can get the title for you. I have a book entitled California Impressionism. By William Gerdts and Will South. It is a decent overview. Its isbn is 0-7892-0176-3

Jesse said...

I could have used one of those reference libraries yesterday. I was painting the valley at the golden hour, before sunset. I've never painted one of those, and it was trickier than I thought. Seeing how artists in the past had dealt with the values would have helped.
I think I need to do some research!

julie susanne said...

Problem Solved: Whenever I go into the studio to clean out the magazines and catalogs, I end up leafing through them and decide to keep them. I like your method much better. Thanks Stape!