Saturday, July 31, 2010

Odds and ends

Hi Stape,

First, I'd like to say I love your blog. Thank you for taking the time to teach young painters a thing or two about how to be a pro. All of the questions I've been struggling with you have answered for the most part on your blog. Thank you so much!!!

I have a 2 part question to ask you. I was reading your post about making a morgue of paintings from magazines and books and it sounds like a great idea. However, I can't seem to bring myself to cut the images out. I have issues of American Art review from 1998 until now and I love going through and reading the articles. What are your thoughts about this?

And I guess this is a more important question: Do you photograph your paintings after you varnish them or before? Do you photograph them yourself? Do you recommend any photographers?

Thanks again!

Best, (name redacted)

Dear redacted;

I cut the magazines up because I would never be able to find the paintings I want to see if I left them all in the magazines. I order them by periods and geography. Also if they are open in my studio when I am working, putting them in plastic sleeves protects them from flying paint. Here is the link about building a picture morgue.

About photography. I used to have many of my paintings professionally shot, particularly if they were going to be reproduced. That was in the day when I used 8 by 10 transparencies. They were expensive, and like color slides one of a kind, unlike a photo from a negative that could be printed out in quantity.

Today digital photgraphy has made things much easier. I shoot my own photos. I usually do that outside, but not in direct sunlight. The best thing about digital is I can open them in photoshop and "tune" them. I have the small version of photoshop, photoshop express. It is enough for my needs.
I try to shoot the paintings before I varnish them. It is hard to shoot a freshly varnished picture without getting glare, or hotspots. I am not an expert photographer and I have a very inexpensive camera. I shoot everything on the blog with it though. I have also shot my own paintings for advertisements in national magazines.

In the comments I was asked;
Question: what did you mean by "you cannot observe good design into a painting?"
I am confused by the term "into". I read it first as "in a painting", but that didn't sound right either.

What I meant was that design is a human construction and can not be copied from nature. You use decision making to add it to your painting. Design is a decision making and not a transcription process. No matter how carefully you copy that which is before you, you won't end up with a designed painting. Design is a construct, a geometric armature upon which you build your painting.

10 comments: said...

If you are reading the blog today:This is a tough group to convince that Alex Katz's work has merit.I've given it my best shot, especially around design. But...

Onto the subject at hand: I photograph my paintings varnished with re-touch varnish. The re-touch varnish clears up the darks and lights so the colors and values are as I intended BUT the re-touch varnish isn't glossy enough to give me hot spots of reflected light. That seems to work for my paintings.

tom martino said...

Hi Stape,

I traveled up from RI to attend your Demo at Rockport. As expected, you pulled off a wonderful performance -- with just one large brush! The painting semed to need nothing further; it looked fresh and spontaneous. I take it you must have sold that gem on the spot! Your talk was also a good summary of the ideas you have been hammering home on the blog. I tried to remember your remarks as I stopped on the way back to RI to paint at Rocky Neck the next day, but I ended up doing a rather boring scene with boats! (This after I could have painted at Bass Rocks which had wonderful color that day!) PS. I was the old guy asking you about the palette knife vs brush decision. Thanks again for that Demo.

Terry Krysak said...

I also started a "painting morgue" several years ago. I found it more practical to cut the photos out of the various magazines I was buying such as American Artist etc. If I came across a good tutorial, I took all the pages of that tutorial out of the magazine and stapled the edges together to form a small booklet.
I then recycled the magazines to save myself having to transport them around when I moved, as I had over one hundred of them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

This is a tough crowd for Alex. I happen to be rather fond of abstract expressionism, they cared what the pictures looked like. Alex paints like Ray Charles.
Yes, a little retouch is good. I find that I am photographing relatively new paintings and since I wallow in Liquin, they are not so dried in.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks for coming! I remember that question. There was a full house and I didn't get to meet everyone. The next time I have a crowd like that, when I am finished I will wade in to it and try to do a better job on the meet and greet.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I only work on the morgue about once a year and in between the stuff builds up in big piles. If I had a real slow fire, I would rescue the morgue after my cats.

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Todd Bonita said...

Regarding photographing work: A photography friend recommended using a light polarizing filter attachment to your lense to reduce cost about twelve bucks and works great. There are many great tips online about photographing art work (google it for endless quality tips). For works 11x14" and smaller, I scan the paintings and then clean them up in Photoshop as well.

Bill said...

@mariandioguardi glad to hear someone likes Alex. Although I haven't read Stapleton saying this, I find a lot of modern realists dismissing modern art implying that it is easy to create abstract paintings, and that such artists are lazy and untalented. For example, someone commented on the Rational Painting group that "Matisse couldn't draw," which is a pretty outrageous thing to say in my view. In reality, all the successful modernists I know of work very hard at what they do, and many of them are technically very sophisticated. Take Cezanne for example - he certainly could not draw like Ingres. Yet, though a lifetime of determined hard work, he created great art within the limitations of his own abilities.

I do agree with a lot of what the critics of modernism say - my art education sucked for the most part thanks to lack of emphasis on technique. But I think that if everyone painted like Bouguereau then art would be very boring.

Bill said...

I hasten to add that I love Bouguereau. I also love Jackson Pollock. I think it's the range of possibilities that makes art wonderful.