Saturday, February 25, 2006

An abstract point of view

As a student I never really liked Picasso, cubism or abstraction, but as I progresse more as an artist, abstraction and cubism etc becomes more and more interesting to me. It seems that as we develop our skills realism takes a back seat to experimentation and abstracting. I think it is the artists desire to create from within and not just copy from nature.

Abstract: (Websters says: Etymology: Medieval Latin abstractus, from Latin, past participle of abstrahere to drag away, from abs-, ab- + trahere to pull, draw
-having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content )

Some proponents of abstract painting , particularly the great Lawren Harris of Group of Seven fame, believe that an artist could abstract purely from thought, that there would be no relationship to any given form or natural occurrence. This may be true but since our thoughts are completely impacted by our senses, particularly sight then that may be hard to prove. But, abstracting can be as simple as painting an apple, the minute you lay brush to canvas that painting is abstract because that apple is never going to look quite the same ever again. This may be pushing the envelope but to a degree I believe it to be true.

I think that every conscious and subconscious thought we have goes into our work, abstract or not, therefore our work is impacted in some degree by our experiences.

Even high realism and photorealism I consider to be abstract because it is too clean, too perfect, too precise to be natural. Yes it has pictorial sense and narrative but it it is hyper-real, too real for real, therefore in a sense it could be called abstract just not in the classic sense.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Referring Back

Recently while doing an inclass painting assignment with my second year students the question came up about using reference. Specifically reference photos. How true to the photo should you stay? Can you use other people's work as reference? etc etc. Well, as far as other people's work, as long as you are abiding by copyright laws and not copying or reproducing other artist's materials then it is fine to look to those who have gone before for guidance.

As for how true to stay to the photo really depends on what it is you are trying to achieve in recreating the image. If you are attempting a photorealistic image then I guess it is best to stay true to your reference. But personally, I see little value in trying to exactly recreate what you have already done on film or digitally. It should be your goal to add your feeling, emotions, point of view etc to the work. There is nothing better than a piece of handmade artwork, where you can see the artist at work through each brushstroke or the placement of each piece of whatever media it is you choose. As A.Y Jackson said (and I paraphrase) "The recreation of nature is never the artist's intention and is of minor virtue".

Besides all this, one must be careful not to let the reference dictate the piece you are trying to create. One must work beyond the limitations of the reference material. See what the camera eye misses, see past the photgraphers lens.
Never be afraid to alter or interpret the reference material no matter what it is. And remember that the camera tends to distort
the image even to a slight degree and you have to use the knowledge you have gained through true observation to discern between what is assumed and what is believed.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

the Art of Females

Recently, while trying to create a project for my 1st year students I was searching for 20th Century Female figurative artists. Now first off, it is sad that I could name few on my own. But when i searched it was tough enough to find them on the internet as well. I did find a good link to a general list of female artists here it is:
Woman Artists
Now, I was trying to find 'masters' but that term seems to either be over-used in the case of male artists and under-used in the case of female artists.
It also shows a failing in my art education, specifically from an art history stand point that there wasn't enough emphasis put on this important and large segment of the art world. This should be addressed as it seems there is a small majority of females to males taking art at the college or university level.

Moving on, there also needs to be more education in Canadian art history. Not enough of the students I have contact with know who F.H Varley or the Group of Seven are let alone Painters Eleven and others.

Anyway, just had to make that point and I hope the link helps you out.