Saturday, June 27, 2015

Portraits in Oil

Self Portrait

An area that I specialize in is accurately drawn and painted portraits. If you are interested in commissioning a portrait in either oil or charcoal, please contact me. Here are a few examples of what I can do with oil paint.

Abraham's Prayer



Grampy with Rosie and Lily

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Biography: Maxfield Parrish

When I was newly married to Andy, I noticed some old framed prints in my inlaws' house. They were fantasy scenes with still-vivid blues, and neo-classical maidens in flowing white gowns. These belonged to my brother in law, Brad, and from him I discovered the art of Maxfield Parrish, and I have been a devoted follower of this artist-illustrator ever since.

Maxfield Parrish was born in 1870 as Frederick Parrish, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but later adopted his mother's maiden name and used it as his first name. His father was a painter and etcher. He discovered his passion for creating art early in life, and trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Drexel Institute of Art. At the age of 27, his career was launched with the illustration of a book by Kenneth Grahame, The Walls Were As of Jasper. From there, he went on to illustrate many books, advertisements, and magazine covers, including Hearst's, Collier's, and Life, as well as to paint murals and beautiful paintings. He became the highest paid commercial artist in the United States by the 1920s. Parrish's artistic career lasted more than half a century, and helped shape the Golden Age of illustration, and the future of American art.

In the 1920's he began to turn away from illustrations, and he focused on paintings instead. He lived comfortably off of royalties from his earlier advertising illustrations, which allowed him time to paint what he wanted. Parrish mainly painted fantasy scenes, often including androgynous figures and pretty maidens. He often used Kitty Owen, himself, and his mistress, Sue Lewin, as models.

His paintings had vivid, detailed backdrops of craggy mountains with high contrast between sunlight and shadow, and intense blue sky, castles, pillars, and trees. It is said that his method for painting included a blue and white monochromatic underpainting, and glazing, which involves many layers of thin color, which produces a depth and brilliance not often seen in other methods of painting. One method he used to build depth was by photographing and tracing objects or figures. He would then cut out the image on his canvas, and cover them with thick, clear layers of glaze, and then would paint over them.

In 1931, he told the Associated Press, :I'm done with girls on rocks”, and turned his focus to landscapes. Although never as popular as his fantasy paintings, he profited from them. Parrish was the most popular illustrator until the 1940's, when Norman Rockwell came on the scene. Rockwell studies Parrish's art and admired him in art school. Although their styles are not similar, Rockwell was influenced by Parrish, and he influenced the quality of his art and composition.

He painted until in his 90's.  He died in Plainfield, New Hampshire, at the age of 96, in 1966. His art has been studied by many art students, and he has had major influence on many successful artists and illustrators. His style preceded the photo-realistic and hyper-realistic styles of today. His original works sell at a hefty price. Daybreak sold in 2006 for $7.6 million. If you look hard enough, sometimes you can still find vintage prints or tins with his illustrations at a reasonable price. For an art lover, these are treasures, indeed.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Night at the Baker Heritage Museum

A few months ago, I received an invitation from Crossroads Carnegie Art Center, to come tour the Baker Heritage Museum. I, along with many other artists, went, and found inspiration for art in the artifacts, exhibits, stories, and people dressed and in character, at the museum. Upon entering the museum, one of the first people I met was a woman wrapped in a red feather boa, with a feather fan in her hand. Her real name is Elaine Logsdon, but her character's name was Diamond Lil. I imagined she had been a burlesque dancer in her youth, and now perhaps ran her own saloon and theater. I am sure she could tell some very interesting stories! I knew I had to paint her, and knew her personality would shine through on the canvas.

I decided with the other paintings I made for the museum, to go less literal in a way, I guess, or be more creative in the composition. Instead of painting the entire object, I chose to crop it in a way that would be visually pleasing. This wheel is from a very large wagon---I can't remember, but it might have been a fire wagon? When I go back to the museum I will be sure to write it down, and correct this blog. It had very large wheels, which dwarfed the seat. I saw a great composition with the center of one wagon wheel, with the spokes radiating outward. I didn't think about how complicated all those spokes would be, but I was pleased with the result after all the blood, sweat, and tears. I call it Well-Spoken.

The last painting is a simple Dazey butter churn. I discovered this on the upper level of the museum, where they have many exhibits showing different eras and rooms, full of interesting artifacts. Even though the butter churn was outdated when I was a child, my mother and my sister (when she was married) had one, and I can remember making butter on them a time or two. I love painting the illusion of glass and metal, and this one had some interesting reflections in it caused from the lighting in the room.

These paintings were displayed in a collective show for the museum at Crossroads in the month of April. I was fortunate enough to sell Diamond Lil, but the other two, as of writing this blog, are still available. They will be on display in the month of July, at the Baker Heritage Museum, where you can view all the artwork from this show, and then discover the pieces that served as inspiration, and perhaps learn a little local history as well.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Art History: The Lascaux Cave Paintings

The Caves at Lascaux in southwestern France, are famous the world over for the paintings on their walls. These are some of the earliest paintings found, and are dated around 15,000-17,000 BC, and were discovered by a group of teenagers in 1940. Like the Chauvet Cave Paintings, the Caves at Lascaux were protected for thousands of years by a landslide which sealed off all access.
The caves were open to the public in 1948.By 1955, some of the cave's art began to deteriorate due to all the visitors and the change in the cave's climate. Lichens and crystals and fungus appeared, which were not present before. As a result, the caves were closed in 1963, with access granted only to a few scientists. Still today, only a few scientists are permitted, and the scientific community is working to preserve and restore the paintings.

In 1983, an exact replica of the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery, created under Monique Peytral, was opened a short distance from the original cave, for visitors to see. This is known as “Lascaux II”.
The caves contain around 2,000 figures of animals, humans, and abstract signs. They are simply drawn, and depict humans and animals that were native to the area, including horses, stags, cattle, buffalo, cats, bears, and more, as well as abstract geometric shapes, and hand stencils. These were painted onto the walls with mineral pigments, and some were etched into the stone. This is one of the earliest examples of color painting that has been discovered.

The prehistoric artists used broad, rhythmic outlines around areas of color. The animals are depicted in a slightly twisted perspective, with heads in profile, and horns painted from the front, similarly to the perspective used in Egyptian art.
Do not think that just because these paintings are primitive, that the artists were not intelligent. On the contrary, these paintings required much preparation and forethought. The artists had to create their tools and gather resources: they had to create their painting and engraving tools and collect their painting pigments, which included charcoal and specific minerals, and grind them into powder. Preparation of the painting surfaces was necessary, so they would need to scrape and clean the cave walls and roof, as well as do the preparatory sketch. Scaffolding had to be built to reach high areas.
What is the meaning behind this art? There are a few different ideas on this. One idea is that hunters would paint the animal that they were about to hunt and kill. This painting would place the animal under a spell, and dominate it. This is called “sympathetic magic”. It was a type of visualization exercise---if they could visualize it, they they could achieve it.

Something important to note, is that each animal species painted, represents a specific period on the calendar, according to their mating habits, such as horses represent the end of winter and beginning of spring, stags represent fall, etc. The abstract signs can also be divided into twelve different groups; perhaps this cave was a type of calendar or hunting guide.
The most accepted explanation for the Lascaux Cave Paintings is that they were part of a spiritual ritual. Some type of ritualistic ceremony was performed there, whether for hunting, coming of age, or some kind of sacrifice.

Regardless of the original meaning, which we can only guess at, this remains: early man was intelligent, resourceful, and artistic. He was able to classify animals according to type as well as separate them into mating seasons. Also, he left us a pictorial record of the animals native to that area of France, as well as a simplistic beauty in the art itself.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Shows and Appearances for June 2015

Do you want to see more of my art? Well you are in luck! Find me and/or my art at these events in June:

June 5, Baker City:
First Friday Art Walk will be going on, from 5:30 to 8pm, and the display lasts through the month. My art will be displayed at:
 Crossroads Carnegie Art Center, 2020 Auburn Avenue
 Short Term Gallery, 1829 Main Street
 Cabin Cowboy Designs, 2013 1st Street.

June 12, Nampa, Idaho:
Nampa Art Walk begins at 5:00 pm, and the display lasts through the month. I will be featured artist at:
 Third Hand Antiques, 1212 1st St. South

June 27, Boise, Idaho:
The Community Progressive, Julia Davis Park
This is a one day event running from 11am-7pm. I will be there in my booth, with plenty of art, prints, cards, and wearable art.