Monthly Archives: September 2011

Arcadia Fine Arts Small Works Show

Arcadia Fine Arts Small Works Show: Daniel Adel, Jorge Alberto, Matthew Cornell, Nancy Depew, Robert Libarace, Joahua Suda, Jeremy Lipking, Joseph Todorovich
Arcadia Fine Arts is a gallery in New York noted for its devotion to contemporary representational art. The represent a number of artists I have featured here on Lines and Colors.

There current exhibition is The Small Works Show, a group show featuring several of the artists they represent, and a good opportunity to sample a cross section of those artists.

There is a slideshow style preview of works in the exhibition on the Arcadia website (best viewed at full screen, toggle at upper right of the interface).

Though the show is ostensibly limited to works under 12×12″ (30x30cm), I noted some in the preview that were larger. Regardless, there is a wonderful selection of work and artists, and more work from most of those artists can be accessed from the listings on the home page of the website.

Note that after the show ends, the link I’ve provided will be to a different show; I don’t think the gallery archives online presentations of previous exhibitions. In that case, just look through the gallery’s regular listing of artists. There are some terrific artists represented here.

The Small Works Show at Arcadia Fine Arts is on view until September 30, 2011.

(Images above: Daniel Adel, Jorge Alberto, Matthew Cornell, Nancy Depew, Robert Libarace, Joahua Suda, Jeremy Lipking, Joseph Todorovich)

Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard

Cherries from Chauvet's Orchard, Ruth Phillips, cover by Julian Merrow-Smith
Ruth Phillips is an English cellist living Provence, France. She is married to Julian Merrow-Smith, an artist I have written about previously.

After Duane Keiser, Merrow-Smith is one of the earliest pioneers of the “painting a day” painter/blogger model of creating small daily paintings and offering them for sale over the internet. He also happens to be one of my favorite contemporary painters. I’ve been following his daily paintings blog, Postcard from Provence, since 2006.

In one of my previous posts about Merrow-Smith, I pointed out that watching the images of his postcard paintings arrive by email day after day, as well as traveling back through time by looking through his extensive archive of previous work (over 1,600 at this point), was particularly appealing because I saw within the series of paintings a story, as the landscapes and the fruits and vegetables gathered from local markets for still life paintings changed with the seasons, and as Merrow-Smith worked, experimented and grew as a painter over time.

Here, then, is another side of that story, along with Phillips’ own, as she works to balance her life as a cellist, a wife, an artist’s assistant, an Englishwoman in Provence, a homeowner and an observer of the life, and lives, around her.

In her book Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard: A Memoir of Provence, Phillips has given us a verbal parallel to her husband’s postcard sized paintings — small colorful glimpses of other places and other lives.

In succinct, three or four page chapters, she paints vivid short scenes of life in Provence, lives of the villages in which she and her husband have lived, lives of the individuals they have encountered and lives of some of the people who have purchased Merrow-Smith’s paintings.

The latter glimpses are often told in the individuals’ own words, included in italics as chapter beginning or chapter ending quotes. They were gathered in response to a request Phillips sent out for the purchasers to write with short accounts of their particular Merrow-Smith painting or paintings, where they were hung and what they meant in their lives. She received a much more extensive response than expected, from which she culled down selected accounts to season the book.

Each chapter of Cherries is titled as one of Merrow-Smith’s paintings, sometimes directly related to the subject of the chapter, sometimes just in a metaphorical relationship. The quotes, likewise, are sometimes directly and sometimes obliquely related to the subject of the chapter.

Within these short postcard-like glimpses, Phillips manages to tell the story of her relationship with Merrow-Smith, the beginnings of their marriage and their efforts to make an uninhabitable shell of a house in Southern France into a living home and studio against the tide of an arcane rural French bureaucracy, as well as the story of how “the painter who never painted” became an early practitioner of the “painting a day” discipline, and eventually one of the most successful of the painter/bloggers — artists who pioneered the use of the internet to bypass traditional gallery markets and take their work directly to their patrons around the world, even from a small village in rural France with spotty dial-up internet access.

Postcard from ProvenceThe book, save for its cover, is not illustrated, but the perfect companion volume exists in the form of Merrow-Smith’s beautiful collection Postcard from Provence: Paintings by Julian Merrow-Smith (my review here). Of course, if you already have Postcard from Provence, Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard makes the perfect companion to that book.

I found it particularly enjoyable to have my copy of Postcard from Provence handy as I read Cherries, and leisurely turn between them, each providing “color” for the other.

Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard can be ordered directly from Merrow-Smith’s website, as can the Postcard from Provence volume. Both are also available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers in the US and UK (links are provided on the site). You can read a sample of Cherries on fReado.

In addition to her website, Phillips writes two blogs, cello notes and meanwhile (here in France). In the latter, she chronicles her life in Southern France, in some ways providing a continuation and extension of Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard.

The episodes in the book’s short chapters, some sweet, some sour, are like the eponymous cherries picked from their Provençal neighbor’s orchard. They can be read as a memoir, a love story, a series of character sketches, an account of an artist’s progress or the chronicle of the early stages of a shift in the paradigm of how art is created and sold in the 21st Century. Take your pick.

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement
Edgar Degas, the member of the French Impressionist group who maintained traditional academic values more than the others, spent much of his career fascinated with the ballet dancers of the Paris Opera.

He drew and painted them again and again, in the process creating some of his most memorable works, including the strikingly innovative pieces in which, to the consternation of critics at the time, he shattered the traditional rules of artistic composition (two top images above). It’s difficult for us, in our jaded post-modernist position in time, to appreciate what a leap that was.

Degas used innovative divisions of the picture plane, in addition to the positions of the figure, to convey the motion of his dancers.

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement is a new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London that traces the artist’s fascination with ballet dancers and movement over the course of his life and artistic development, along with the corresponding impact of the new visual technology of photography.

Aside from an introductory video, the Royal Academy’s site doesn’t do a very good job of picturing the exhibition. The Guardian comes through again with a review and slideshow that features works from the show.

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement is on view until 11 December 2011. There is an exhibition catalogue and CD accompanying the exhibit.

James Gurney on Gamut Masking

James Gurney on Gamut Masking
A gamut is a range of colors. More specifically it is a range of colors that can be created or reproduced on a particular device or with a certain set of beginning colors.

Those working with print reproduction are very familiar with the concept of the CMYK gamut, or the range of colors that can be reproduced using traditional Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black printing inks, a smaller subset of the colors available, for example, on a computer monitor.

It’s not a term that painters use as often, but “gamut” also applies to a painter’s palette. When starting from a particular set of colors, the gamut is the range of colors that can be produced by mixing those colors (usually with the addition of white).

You will often hear me mention a “carefully controlled” or “limited” palette when talking about specific artists, particularly those working in film and gaming concept and visual development art, where limited gamuts are used to dramatic effect.

James Gurney, a highly experienced artist who works both with paintings for reproduction and for easel painting, has posted a series of articles on his blog, Gurney Journey, that delve into this often misunderstood aspect of color choices.

He started several years ago with a three part series on Color Wheel Masking, The Shapes of Color Schemes and From Mask to Palette.

His recent posts on the Gamut Masking Method, (Part 2 and Part 3) carry the principles into the creation of variations in color scheme for alternate versions of the same painting, making the process even clearer.

The most recent post, Part 3, Gamut Masking Method is particularly informative in that Gurney has included an excellent short video in which he explains the essential principles of gamut masking in a demonstration.

These principles are also covered in some detail in Gurney’s excellent recent book, Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (my review here).

Pochade boxes (updated)

Pochade boxes (update): Sienna, Mabef, Jim Serrett, Fazwan Barrage, Open Box m, Alla Prima Pochade
Even though the end of the summer is rapidly approaching for those of us who live in then northern hemisphere, the time for plein air painting is hardly over; and many, myself included, find this time of year ideal for painting outdoors.

In 2008 I wrote a rather extensive article on pochade boxes, those combinations of palette and portable easel, often with provision for carrying panels and supplies, that mount on camera tripods and have become a staple tool in the modern plein air painting revival.

In attempting to find the right pochade box for my own use, I went through a fairly exhaustive search of all of the pochade box makers and models I could find at the time, as well as researching articles on making your own pochade box.

The result has been a popular Lines and Colors post in which I listed all of the resources I could find for the various kinds of pochade boxes.

I’ve just revisited the post, adding to it two more makers of pochade boxes, Sienna and Mabef, as well as expanding on the sections on tripods and painting panels.

I’ve also included an additional resources on building your own pochade box from Jim Serrett and Fazwan Barrage.

(Images above: Sienna, Mabef, Jim Serrett, Fazwan Barrage, Open Box M, Alla Prima Pochade)

Robert Tracy (update)

Robert Tracy
Robert Tracy is an artist I have written about previously. Tracy had not updated his website for some time, but recently added a number of older works he has made available for purchase.

You can find even more of his work on his deviantART gallery, which contains an archive of pieces going back to 1965.

The deviantART galleries are more extensive (if you don’t mind the occasional intrusive ad, which is now deviantART’s policy if you are not logged in), but his website contains both older and more recent work that is available for sale. Navigation there is a bit disjointed, with links from various places on the homepage that are not accessible from the other pages.

Tracy is a self taught artist with an interest in traditional art, and his range of work chronicles his path in tackling a variety of subjects and media as he explores the possibilities of each.

You will find landscapes, portraits, still life, interiors, florals, animals, copies from the masters and narrative images in oil, watercolor, gouache, egg tempera, acrylic, colored pencil, pastel, graphite, charcoal and even silverpoint.

I find particular interest in seeing him tackle related subjects in different media; for example, painting similar still life arrangements in acrylic, watercolor and oil.