Art School Part 1 (cont.)

Link the picture to Odd Nerdrum

This comment posted by Adam Robinson in regards to the Remembrandt posting blantantly asks for more.

"Very enlightening. Oh ha. Ha ha ha. Ha hahahahahaha!

Do you like Rembrandt? Do you like this painting? Where does Rembrandt fit into your appreciation of art? How do you evaluate the classics? Is there room for someone who paints like Rembrandt in the contemporary art world? Are there any painters who do?"

So here's more. The comment seems to, correct me if I'm wrong, say "That's good and dandy but can we talk about the important things like whether or not you like the painting. Whether or not you like Remembrandt, and how do you evalute the classics." I started thinking about this comment and how we respond to artwork and I came up with a couple of conclusions.

I do my best to avoid comments such as "I like it." I'm always questioning the person who "likes" it's self importance. I'm just not sure how it would be applicable or constructive. That assesses what the person's personal parameters of painting approval are more than the merit of the painting. And even though I try not to make comments like that, I still inadvertently do.

"I like the light that seems to be coming more from the work than the desk. Both sources have Divine implications."

I suppose people ask whether or not you like something because it should, eventually lead to an explaination of why you do or do not like something which can spawn interesting offspring. But so often it does not. So often you hear, "I don't like it... I don't know why, it just doesn't move me." Thats very discouraging as an artist but not nearly as discouraging as "I like it, but I'm not sure why." I personally would rather hear what the person thinks of when they look at the painting. What messages are they getting? Where is their eye drawn, and is their eye drawn there because of the rich subtleties, or because it lacks the attention that other parts of the painting have been given. For instance, the black-ness of the lower portion of St. Paul looks washed out to me. Vermeer has these wonderful rich dark colors that come from layers of blues and reds, glazes of brown and ochre. I wish that Remembrandt could have used some of the same techniques in these darker portions. The dark spot looks as though it does not want to be focused on which has the exact opposite effect.

As far as evaluating the classics, it seems like a kind of daunting task and I'm not sure the ends out weigh the means. I mean, I think understanding the classics will enrich your work greatly. I'm not sure if it's entirely necessary. It really depends on what type of work you're interested in making. I find the great divide in artwork to be between conceptual and aesthic artwork. If you have inclinations to either, the importance of the classics is integral. More so for the conceptual type. If your work is simply about the work, than I suppose you're asking the work to stand on its own anyway so backing it's conceptual framework with knowledge of the classics is superfluous. It goes back to the same old maxim. Piet Mondrian didn't start drawing boxs and filling them in with colors one day because he thought it would be cool. It took him years of studying painting to arrive where he did. So personally speaking...I guess I like the classics. I don't know why, I just do.


I Just Want to Fit In.

I saw it at A Guache's.
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the sentence on your blog along with these instructions.

So here goes:

"Piojosa heard him leaping through the trees like her heart inside her clothes, to drop to her path of black honey with his fingers like arrowheads to put her to death, seeing her closed eyes from whose seams, badly sewn by her eyelashes, butterflies emerged--he was not dead, and her catepillar tears had turned to butterflies--speaking to her with his silence, possessing her with a tooth and cactus-tree love. He was it's tooth and she it's cactus-tree gum."

Good thing it was page twenty-three because the fifth sentence on page twenty-two is:

"Roasted calabashes."



Art School Part 1

St. Paul at his Writing Desk is a perfect spot to begin a discussion of painting. Remembrandt goes no where without his "Chiaroscuro" (key-yerdo' skey-erdo) shadow following. Chiarscuro is just a fancy word for dramatic lighting. It's really the best way to teach drawing or capturing likeness. Most Figure Drawing classes will offer you an abundance of Chiaroscuro examples and a bunch of other gimmicky things that end up teaching you things you need to forget, like view finders and contour lines. For now, we'll stick with Chiarscuro.

To draw or paint successfully as a beginner you have to learn to unlearn yourself. You can spend a life time doing this. Picasso was quoted saying something along the lines of, "I spent my entire childhood learning how to draw like an adult and then spent the rest of my life trying to remember how to draw like a child." Cy Twombly and Antonio Tapies can help you with this endeavor. To draw a persons face, or body you must, must unlearn what an everything looks like. As soon as you catch yourself drawing a football shaped oval for an eye, stop and ponder how well your own football shaped tool works. An eye doesn't look like that. Look at someones eye. Very rarely is there a complete differentiation of color surrounding the entire eye. Usually the colors come close to blurring towards the top inner section of the eye and the lower outer section of the eye.

How does chiaroscuro help you do this? If you can dramatically light your own face with a flashlight or a models face with some form of dramatic light (turn all the lights off except one over the models head) you will automatically think of Metallica's Enter Sandman video. While humming "take my hand, offff to neva neva land Doom da do da doom" look at the person's face or body like you would a landscape. From far away you can not tell whether the flowers on the mountain are roses or lilies, you can only see vague colors and shapes. Egon Schiele was rumored to have taken some lessons from Auguste Rodin in regards to drawing landscapes and humans. His advice was actually just the opposite. When drawing landscapes walk around them as you would a figure. Thats all your looking for with Chiaroscuro. When drawing, I'm always picturing a 90 degree angle and configuring it with the shape I see in front of me. That helps to take away a lot of what I've been taught.

In Remebrandt's painting there are a couple of interesting things going on. One of the signature marks of a Remebrandt painting is the single light source usually above the model. This picture is somewhat unique in that it uses a double light source. I like the light that seems to be coming more from the work than the desk. Both sources have Divine implications. There's a good example of the dramatic effects that Remembrandt was known for, because the light coming from the table would reflect more brightly on his face than showing. It's more dramatic than accurate. The wooden divider helps to justify this. The emphasis, or the brightest spots of the painting are the book he is writing in and his head. This is a subject every writer and artist come to at some point. The translation from idea to thought, from thought to word, or word to hand or color to brush or pregnant head to drawn conception, is always, on the head of them (that sounded better in my head).

I just thought I'd add this picture drawn by Rene Descartes a couple of years after Remembrandts painting.


Latin American Literature

This was written by Mario Vargos Llosa in regards to Men of Maize (The Modernist Epic of the Guatemalan Indians) but I think it sheds some light on why people have difficulties reading Latin American literature (Especially Asturias and Cortazar).

"[Latin American literature] constantly develops through unexpected comparisons and vertiginous litanies, word games and puns, poetic and musical pyrotechnics in which the narrative suddenly catches fire and turns to smoke, only to reappear, a few paragraphs or pages later, clothed in almost literal realism.

The error lies in thinking of these difficulties as doorways or walls that conceal the hidden treasures of [Latin American literature]. In reality the treasures are those very difficulties. In other words, it is precisely that mixture of reason and unreason, madness and logic, myth and history, waking and dreaming, educated speech, popular speech and invented speech, the poetic and the prosaic, that makes this [literature worth reading]."