I have been learning art from different sources for years. Early on I was naive and took the first few lessons as the exclusive way to do things. As time as gone on and my personal art education has grown, I have learned that to learn new art techniques you must consult multiple sources to come to a determination about what works for you. At times I feel that an artist is passing on a valuable tip, but at other times I feel the artist is simply telling me that their way is the only way and that simply is never the case.
I have been following a weekend online art course and listening to this landscape artist give tips on using photographs to assist in landscape painting. While I have picked up some interesting ideas, I do find myself sighing in annoyance as I feel the artist is coming down on other methods that do work for other artists. As an example, one student submitted a photo of an old 16th century stone building in the middle of this luscious green landscape and wanted to know how to manipulate the composition to produce an effective landscape painting. The instructor said he “wouldn’t paint this even if he was paid to” because the structure is too straight and straight lines bother the eyes. The problem I have with this answer is the implied denouncing of anything man-made in paintings. With his explanation, he is saying only nature is worth painting. Sorry but that is garbage because how many paintings have we seen that include man made structures that work well for the viewer? I have seen marvelous paintings of the Golden Gate Bridge, New York Skyline, and the Great Wall of China. How can this instructor allow his personal preference to pass as a “lesson?” I also have a problem with how he addressed the question. He essentially stepped on the student’s desire to paint something she loved. Not all paintings have to be done just to make money. This is a hobby before its a business.
So now I have learned to filter out the egos that many artists tend to dish out. I also find it hilarious when artists refer to themselves as “Masters.” I recently responded to an artist in a forum, who claimed he was a master artist, with some harsh but structured words. In essence I said a true master is not labeled as such until generations of artists, collectors, and academics have reviewed the works of the artist and determined the work to be exceptional. The overinflated sense of self this guy has will keep him from ever getting better because he thinks he can do no wrong. We have to identify and learn from mistakes to get better – he never will as I told him. I’ll spare you the rest of the flame war that ensued, but let’s just say I had more supporters that he did in that forum. Please oh please…leggo his ego.
Meanwhile on the easel, the next post should provide you with some information about my newest painting. I will also be talking about my next project and why I chose it.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled painting.
There are so many great places to view art in southern California. I have been to museums, public art shows, and private artist galleries. Having lived in Long Beach for 10 years, I have been fortunate enough to see many paintings by classic and contemporary artists. In all those years however, I never knew that I lived in a city that was in the record books for an art related record. When driving in downtown Long Beach, you pass by the Long Beach arena. The arena is used for sporting events, trade shows, and other events. Though I’ve never been inside, it’s what’s on the outside that grabs me. The entire arena is painted as a continuous sea life mural. There are many kinds of fish, dolphins, whales, etc. adorning the arena. While it has a nice look to it, I never gave a second thought to the fact that the mural might be in the record books. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the mural is recognized as the largest painting in the world to have been painted by one artist. If you are familiar with contemporary artists who deal in marine life then you might guess the artist here. The clock is ticking…. Give up? The correct answer is ‘Wyland’. Wyland has multiple art galleries across America but he does a majority of his work in Laguna Beach which is about 15 miles south of Long Beach. I’ve visited his galleries in Laguna Beach and in San Diego and appreciate his love of the ocean and the environment. I had only just learned about him being the artist behind the mural last week when I decided to check out his website (Wyland’s Art Studio) which I got from his PBS show. It’s funny that things you see everyday that hold significance and you don’t give it a second thought. If you go to Google maps and check out Long Beach California, you will see that the top of the arena was also painted. The world’s largest painting of the earth is featured on the top of the arena. Again the artist is Wyland and his message is clear: protect the earth and its creatures. It’s a great way to communicate your message – through paintings.
Another interesting and fun fact I learned last week was Google has started the Google Art Project. The project is all about bringing the world’s museums to your home. This is not just a place to view photos of paintings. You can really zoom into a level of closeness that you couldn’t achieve if you were in the museum itself. In some cases, you can zoom in to see the individual brush strokes of the artist. You can see the cracks in the paint from the years of exposure too. This is a great entertaining site that could also hold some educational value for students of the arts. Check it out at Google Art Project.
As for my easel, I have been slowed this past week in my work on the pirate painting but none the less it is about 65% complete with about 2 weeks worth of work to go. I look forward to sharing it with you all. In the meantime I have been working on ideas for my next painting and I have narrowed it down to either a landscape or a portrait. Either way, I plan on completing both ideas before the year ends.
As mentioned in the previous post, the website will be undergoing a face lift in the coming weeks. I have been working on a new layout and color scheme and I think I am close to finalizing the changes. Look for the new improvements soon.
If you haven’t subscribed to the blog please do. I offer not just my own thought on my work but I enjoy sharing the developments in the art world, the history, and in this case – the records.