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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You're Ruining the Art Market, Sotheby's

In a short list of things that really make me angry this is one of them. Let me introduce you to Barnett Newman. While being a fellow artist and Aquarian, I am tempted to love him in spite of my anger just because we have to stick together. Why am I angry?

Because of this article. Because ANYONE can paint these paintings. Maybe not 10,000 monkeys with sable bristle brushes as they lack sufficient attention span for such a huge undertaking. But any, ANY, human being on the planet can paint this! I can make this on pickmonkey in about 4 minutes if I didn't have a monkey's penchant for distraction.

This is his wiki article. In it, the author states that he is considered one of the foremost of color field painters. So first, we have a term for what this is called; color field, a sub genre of abstraction. And this seems to suggest that he is on par with Rothko, Kandinsky and Mondrian, more so with Mondrian obviously. Secondly, let's face it... blocks of color representing whatever the artist tells the audience it represents is the same thing be it color field abstraction or neoplasticism, associated with Bauhaus, de Stijl or whatever. It is the same thing!!!!!!!

The difference between these guys hawking their wares and the average Joe Painter is that their prowess for bullshit is unmatched by any other skill which they might possess. How can I say that? For one, anyone with a huge canvas, a roll of frog tape and some paint can paint a pane of blue with a white stripe. For two, this excerpt from Wiki:
 Utilizing his writing skills, Newman fought every step of the way to reinforce his newly established image as an artist and to promote his work. An example is his letter on April 9, 1955, "Letter to Sidney Janis: is true that Rothko talks the fighter. He fights, however, to submit to the philistine world. My struggle against bourgeois society has involved the total rejection of it."

He wrote this to Mark Rothko's agent Sidney Janis. And in the 40s he destroyed a good chunk of his work. I'd say in destroying it he really did totally reject the bourgeois-iness of the bourgeois. I don't know how you can call this skill. It isn't like Impressionism, in which the entire structure in the creation process is flipped on its head. There are no gradient under paintings, no washes of color built over the tones, smooth brushstrokes to emphasize the ploy of reality. Impressionism was thick, visible, bold strokes of barely defined planes in which color and light do all the work of the under paintings in the realism of the Old Masters. And it was so different, so ethereal that it jarred the senses.

I will grant you that abstractionism is as jarring to the senses of one accustomed to the work of preceding eras. I will also grant that some abstraction is wildly fascinating. Kandinsky's work does have structure which try as I might, I can not fathom. His is not the work of an elephant with a brush and 14 cups of tempera paint. It has rhythm and motion, pattern. Mondrian as well is pattern. There is something to the work. But Barnett Newman's work is all in his words..... his skill as a busker.

Enter Sotheby's. As the link says... they sold it for 44MILLion dollars.
As I said on Facebook:
At that price you'd better be able to hold a black light up to it and find the cure for cancer, AIDs and class stratification.

You can call this whatever you want. Cathedra is what Newman called it. So on the right.... any number of options I could call this. Other than the fact that this is a statement of protest, this is not art either. It is expression. But it isn't art.

Go home Sotheby's, you're drunk.

Friday, April 4, 2014


This has been one crazy motif to resurface after 30 years. I couldn't stand them when I was a kid. And I can't stand them now. But they are everywhere. So a little pic monkey tomfoolery and hopefully this owl nonsense can be put to rest.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Today the Undershaw Preservation Fund announced that the home of Arthur Conan Doyle has been saved from demolition and despoiling by privateers. It will be renovated in the character of the home that Arthur Conan Doyle first envisioned to become a school for children.

Well done, I say!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Playing with Picmonkey

I was going to play with the new fonts at picmonkey, and then I ended up playing instead with the textures while I've been listening to Benedict Cumberbatch in Cabin Pressure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

And something to do while the paint dries....

I started another project to work on while the paint on the poppies is drying.

I really like the composition in this one and the fact that I offset it this way on purpose. I had an initial vision that the more I look at this, the more I don't like the original plan. When I laid this down in the sun to take a picture I got the shadows of the trees outside cast on it. And I like the directionality to the shadows. Originally I had planned to work on something more nebulous.

I had also planned to keep a lot more white here in the top of the bulb. However, the paper that I am working with, Canson 140#, soaks up water faster than I thought it would and the Aureolin yellow that went down for the first wash had much sharper edges than I meant. My bottom yellow faded up into the Aureolin like I wanted it to so there was a bonus. I think that was a regular cad yellow in my Cottman travel pack. Now the vermillion and other red washes are a hodge-podge of whatever looked good in the incandescent light while I watched the umpteen millionth episode of Poirot for the night so I don't even know what I did to get those colors. I only know that I will leave them alone.

Green Gold and Sap green were the mid range tones over Aureolin on the leaves. The darkest greens are Green Gold and Antwerp Blue. I left all the hard edges to dry overnight and stain the paper well. The Antwerp lifts better than the green gold so today when I smoothed everything over I got some really nice results in the leaves.... it actually looks like I know what I am doing.

So far my favorite part is the potato chip curl in the leaves on the left and the one strong leaf curled to the right above the fruit. Now that I have smoothed everything over again, I need to go in with another layer of mid range green, maybe with a little viridian to make some of the olive leaves a bit bluer a green, deepen the separation between leaf sets and hit a few details with some very thin lines. While the fruit is spot on from the photo... at least it doesn't need more touching up, I still think that my favorite part of this will be the leaves.

What do you think, purple grey for the background? Or purple green-grey?

with a background

Here it is with the first layers of background color. I wanted to contrast with the poppy pods and went with orange-pink ( a mix of Holbein's Opera and Green Gold from Windsor Newton) but the yellows and greens in the iron patina washed out.

At least with the obnoxious amounts of poppies the wash pushed them into the background a bit so that I could pick out just a few to high light with details.

Then the problem becomes the poppy fading into the background. I am debating the addition of some lavender tones to the bottom of the background around the poppy petals. I know green won't work and I don't want to do brown either because I want to keep it bright.

The bottom of the poppy, where all the goodies show through the paper thin leaves could be made a bit purple near the stem and then that color could come up to background and fade up..... I don't know. I am a bit stuck here to be honest.

But it gives my brain something to do when I get overwhelmed with moving again. Or with the idea of finding a second job. Interview's today.

And the plumber keeps setting off the fire alarm with his torch. You'd think he would take the batteries out of the thing.