Freitag, 31. August 2007

Just a short note...

Just a short note to say I'm leaving on a short vacation this morning.

I'm soooo excited to go to France and all the way to the Loire Valley:

Loire Valley (French: Vallée de la Loire) is known as the Garden of France and the Cradle of the French Language. It is also noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular for its world-famous castles, such as the Châteaux d'Amboise, Château de Villandry and Chenonceau.

So there's everything: beautiful landscape, an impressive river running through it, historic towns (with nice coffee shops and good restaurants!) - and of course the famous Châteaux of the Loire Valley!

Just to give you an idea, this is Château de Chenonceau...

Château de Chenonceau as seen from Diane de Poitiers' gardens
I'll take my painting gear along and hope to do at least some studies... and take a lot of pictures like this ...

View of the arches and west facade of the Pont de Diane over the River Cher

So I'll be back end of next week....

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Dienstag, 21. August 2007

Experimenting - My First Collage Work

Experimenting is just so much fun!
I've thought about trying a collage piece for some time now, but never got motivated to really give it a go. Some weeks ago I took some great photos of my little niece, catching her personality, but unfortunately a little out of focus - she's definitely quicker then my digital camera!
So I used a 'reclaimed' canvas, acrylic paint, photocopies, Neocolor II (water-soluble wax pastels) and coloured pencils... et voilà!
I really enjoyed working with the different media, and composing a collage piece as compared to a plein air painting is very liberating and... inspiring.

Mixed media and collage on canvas,
30x30 cm

Ich wollte schon seit längerem eine Collage machen, und vor ein paar Wochen habe ich die richtige Inspiration gefunden: einige Photos von meiner kleinen Nichte, die leider unscharf wurden.
Also habe meinen Akrylfarben genommen, dazu Neocolor II (wasserlösliche Wachspastelle), Farbstifte sowie einige Fotokopien - et voilà, meine erste Collage!

Ich habe das Bild "Flutterby" genannt, auf deutsch wäre das wohl ein "Metterschling" - frei nach dem Gedicht "Der verdrehte Schmetterling" von Mira Lobe:
Ein Metterschling mit flauen Bügeln
log durch die Fluft.
Er war einem Computer entnommen,
dem war das durcheinandergekommen,
irgendein Drähtchen, irgendein Rädchen.
Und als man es merkte, da war´s schon zu spätchen,
da war der Metterschling schon feit wort, wanz geit.
Mir lut er teid.

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Dienstag, 14. August 2007

Pass me the Soup, please....

The painting I showed you in my last post was rather green... and while part of the intensity on screen is due to the difficulty of getting a decent photo on-line I must admit that it is still rather vibrant in real life.
I don't mind 'vibrant' and 'intense', but wanted to try to achieve a more subtle look. And since I was too lazy to go paint outside last Sunday I painted a second version of last week's piece!

This was also the perfect occasion to try out what I read on Larry Seilers blog post on Pigment Soup which is (in his words): "to mix up a hue (color) and then mix a bit of that color into every color mix used on the palette for the painting."
So I got out a tub of Davy's Grey, warmed it with a little Naples Yellow and used that as my pigment soup. This may not have been the best choice since the Davy's Grey that I used is absolutely transparent (more of a glaze) and rather sticky...

Apart form the Davy's Grey I used a limited palette of Cobalt Blue, Cad Red, Naples Yellow, Cad Yellow, Quin Violet and White.
Here's the result - I must say I like this version better than the first and I'm interested to here your thoughts on that! (and at the risk of repeating myself: it does look better in real life...)

"Weiningen, 6:01pm"
acrylics on canvas panel,
30x24 cm

Das heutige Bild ist eine neue Version von "Weinigen, 6pm" von letzter Woche. Mein Ziel war, das intensive Grün der Wiese und der Bäume etwas zurück zu nehmen und eine harmonische Farbgebung zu finden. Dazu benutze die Idee der "Pigment Soup" - eine Grundfarbe, die in klein(st)en Mengen jeder anderen benutzen Farbe beigemischt wird. In meinem Fall war das "Davy's Grey", einer neutralen/gräulichen Farbe, die ich mit Nepalgelb etwas 'angewärmt' habe.
Mir gefällt diese zweite Version besser - und Euch?

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Freitag, 10. August 2007

Sunday, 6pm

In my last post I decided to concentrate on building two bodies of work - Everyday Still Lifes and Plein Air.

This Plein Air painting is the result of a rather hurried and too-short-for-me painting session last Sunday. I meant to paint part of a little pond but realised the evening light was just not right for that view. So I turned and searched the area... and settled on this view. Nothing spectacular really - what caught my interest was the long shadow on the grass contrasting with the sunlit area. Needless to say the shadow moved way to fast for my liking...

I'm not sure what to think of the end result... it's definitly green! I read another great post on Larry Seiler's Blog about his use of "Pigment Soup" - one common colour (often greyish/neutral) that's mixed into every other colour used in a painting. This pulls everything together and assures a harmonious look. I guess that's a way to master those greens - I'll keep it in mind for the next piece!

"Weiningen, 6pm"
acrylics on canvas panel,
30x24 cm

Letzten Sonntag wollte ich den Blick auf einen kleinen Teich in der Nähe malen, aber das Licht am Abend war nicht wirklich geeignet. Also habe ich mich kurzerhand mit dem Rücken zum Teich aufgestellt und dafür diese Wiese gemalt. Der lange Schatten, der sich (viel zu schnell!) über die Wiese legte, war mein Fokus bei diesem Bild, aber ich hatte dann doch etwas zu wenig Zeit nach meinem Geschmack. Das Resultat ist... nun ja, sicher mal ziemlich grün!

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Dienstag, 7. August 2007

My Style ... Musings and a Decision
(August 7, 2007)

In the last few days I was thinking and wondering a lot about a/my personal painting style. I enjoy painting a wide choice of subjects, trying out new techniques, just going where my whim leads me. And still I feel the 'need' for finding (and following) MY way, my style.
And as so often when I'm interested in something I know I can rely on the internet in general and more specifically on my fellow artist bloggers. Seems I'm not the only one to contemplate that question – just look at the links at the end of this post.

Seems everybody is in search of style.
Why am I searching as well, what is my aim? - I would like to get to a point where my paintings are recognizable as being MY paintings. I want people to look at them and say: "that must be a Regula Scheifele's painting".
So how do I get there? – Probably by developing a very distinctive style.
This leads up to the next question: what is (a) style? - Wikipedia says:

"In art and painting, style can refer either to the aesthetic values followed in choosing what to paint (and how) or to the physical techniques employed. […] Some of these [styles] are closely associated with certain techniques, such as Pointillism, while others are more flexible, but each has a characteristic "look" that becomes more and more distinctive as it develops. […]By changing the way they paint, apply colour, texture, perspective, or the way they see shapes and ideas, the artist establishes a certain set of "rules". If other artists see the rules as valid for themselves they might also apply these characteristics. The works of art then take on that specific "style"."
Another definition:
"A characteristic handling of media and elements of form that gives a work its identity as the product of a particular person, group, art movement, period, or culture."

Ok. So style can refer to one or many of those points:
-> Choice (and handling) of media
-> Choice of subject
-> Technique (including choice of colour pallet)
-> Composition
-> Aesthetic values
-> Individual perception of the world
-> Message, statement of a painting

What is my style (so far)? - I'm not sure I have one. Meaning I do not have a distinct and consistent style.
I paint mainly in acrylics, but I also use coloured pencil, do sometimes dabble in oils (figuratively speaking!) and have just been working on a mixed media piece.
Subject-wise I love doing portraits, I've done quite a few still lifes (mainly fruits and cups) and started painting Plein Air.
My colour pallet is not restricted at all, though I have my favourite colours like burnt sienna, naples yellow, cad reds and cerulean blue or king's blue.
Composition is something I find very interesting and intriguing - down to applying mathematical rules (see my post on mmmmm) – but I'm not consciously concentrating on composing my paintings.

Hmm…. so is there a common denominator in my list? A style evolving?
It might actually be easier to say what I'm NOT doing (pet portraits, wildlife, fantasy…).

Then I read some blog posts (including Maggie's and Katherine's) and articles and though I did not find THE answer to my questions I found a way to proceed. It's actually something I've always felt was important, but didn't really act upon: building a body of work.

1) "A body of work is the term used to describe the collection of paintings an artist has done that are typical of their style, approach, or techniques."
2) "A collection of developed and assembled works (usually by one artist) that represents an investigation or study."

OK, now we're talking. In order to build a body of work I need to decide on a well-defined and focused way of working. One media, one subject matter, maybe one size, one colour pallet,… you get the meaning!
Imagine I'm doing an exhibition and want my paintings to have a coherent and harmonious look. I don't think I'd mix and match all my paintings and drawings on one wall, coloured pencil portrait next to acrylic kitchen still life, Tuscan landscape next to abstract piece. Instead I'd want to focus on one theme like "Under the Tuscan Sun" or "Coffee Time". If I can't come up with a (distinct) name for the exhibition then I probably haven't built a distinct body of work either. puts it that way:
"Decide on a style, subject matter, palette, and value range that you love, and are comfortable doing. Narrow it down. Dogs? Too broad. One breed only. Too broad. One specific dog only. That would definitely help narrow down your palette. Do that one dog over and over, in the same narrow range of colors."

Soooo…. at the end of this long and winding post, what does this all mean for me?

-> I decide (for the time being) not to worry too much about my personal and distinctive style but trust that It'll develop more and more with each painting I do.
-> I decide to (further) concentrate on building a body of work.
-> In addition I'm "allowed" to experiment.

Ok – doesn't that sound good?
So much for theory. Here's the 'but': Going back on what I just said I probably will be building two bodies of work. I just don't feel like narrowing down my choice of subject matter to just one but want to keep exploring two directions I'm really interested in right now: Plein Air Painting and Everyday Still Lifes.

Plein Air "translates from French to English as in the open air, and describes painting outdoors rather than in a studio. In Italian the term alfresco is used." ( I started painting Plein Air in Tuscany this June and really enjoy the experience and challenge. Painting Plein Air teaches me to observe and translate what I see in a totally different way to painting from a reference photo. It also forces me to loosen up and focus on the essentials. By "Everyday Still Lifes" I mean smaller paintings done at home (or 'in the studio' if I had one) whose subject matter may be anything at hand. In my case either fruit or (coffee) cups, again done from life and mostly in one session - and ideally several similar paintings (same subject) in a row.

So (assuming I haven't lost all my readers somewhere in this long post) - what do you think?

I've promised you some links, here they are:

Interesting reads with reference to 'Style' / 'Body of Work':
"Art - creating a body of work and your own show" by Katherine Tyrrell
"Cookie Monster Has Style" by Maggie Stiefvater
"How to Create a Body of Work and a Distinctive Style as an Artist" by Martha Marshall
"Painting Style Problem Solver -- How to Create a Unique..." by Marion Boddy-Evans

Artists whose work I admire:
Carole Marine is one of my role models, her daily still lifes are vibrant, fun, exciting – go take a look!
Jelaine Faunce - again beautiful still lifes, esp. 'Chamomille II' and other glass / china pieces.
Mick McGinty posts and excels at both landscapes and still lifes – I like to see this mix on his blog and just love his food themed still lifes.
Michael Chesley Johnson - great Plein Air painter
René's Plein Air Blog - lives and works in the Netherlands
Karin Jurick - her paintings are a feast for the eyes!

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