Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Berkshire Museum to Dump Norman Rockwells

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts will be selling off Norman Rockwell's "Shuffleton's Barbershop" and 39 other paintings to raise funds for their "New Vision" for the museum.

Shuffleton's Barbershop by Norman Rockwell
The paintings will be auctioned by Sothebys in the next six months and are expected to raise over $50 million. 

Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop by Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell donated the paintings to the museum, which was founded in 1903 on the model of the Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. 


The Museum made the decision after consulting with local community leaders, architects, and education consultants. They have announced the new vision for a "transformed museum" with a "radically new interdisciplinary approach....Static museum galleries will be transformed into active teaching laboratories."

William-Adolphe Bouguereau,  L'Agneau nouveau-nĂ© (The Newborn Lamb)
The Museum risks censure from the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors for selling its art to raise funds for operations and renovations rather than acquisitions of new artwork. 

“Valley of the Santa Ysabel,” by Frederic Church, 1875
In in its guidelines, the AAMD states that “A museum director shall not dispose of accessioned works of art in order to provide funds for purposes other than acquisitions of works of art for the collection.”

Both organizations have joined in a statement opposing the sale: “One of the most fundamental and longstanding principles of the museum field is that a collection is held in the public trust and must not be treated as a disposable financial asset.”

Albert Bierstadt, Connecticut River Valley, Claremont, New Hampshire 1868
Apart from the loss of the paintings to public view, the decision may lead to other repercussions for the museum. Potential donors of artwork may have second thoughts about bequeathing paintings, artifacts, or other treasures that might be liquidated later as a cash asset.

Under censure by the museum associations, other museums may shun the Berkshire Museum for traveling exhibitions or loans. 
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Berkshire Museum to sell works by Calder, Church and Durrie (Berkshire Eagle)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tom Kegler's Niagara

Landscape painter Thomas Kegler recently completed a three-year project to paint a panorama of Niagara Falls. He documented the process on an instructional video with a running time of more than 8 hours. 

Thomas Kegler’s painting “Niagara, Psalms 84:11”

It's a big painting, more than 8 feet wide, and the video covers everything from the concept sketches to building the frame. Kegler produced it all, and he took time out to answer a few of my questions. 

J.G. What feelings went through you when you got close to Niagara Falls?

Thomas Kegler:
Having grown up near Niagara Falls and experienced it many times, I frankly was often turned off due to the commercialization and touristy atmosphere. As I embarked on this quest, I began to look at the Falls differently – through the lens of an artist. Once I was able to filter out the human distractions and focus on the majesty of this natural wonder, I was in utter awe. This especially hit home when I began the long-duration drawing and field paintings and got up close and personal with the Niagara River. The sounds, smells and sensations transfer you into a trance when you just sit and watch.



J.G. Do you think those feelings are different from those of someone 100 or 200 years ago?
T.K.  I think the feelings and emotions that Niagara can evoke are likely the same as they were back when the Hudson River School painters visited in the mid 1800s. In our modern society we are conditioned for immediate gratification sustained with a rapid paced life. Thus, it may take a bit more effort on our part to slow down and really experience what the Falls has to offer.


J.G. How did you deal with the precedent of Frederic Church's famous paintings of Niagara?
T.K.  Church had set the bar very high and I certainly was influenced by what he was able to capture. There was a part of me that at first was reluctant to take on this challenge. I intentionally chose a very different vantage, time of day, and emotional charge. This helped me design the painting with a fresh approach.



J.G. How did you decide on the length of the video?
T.K.  The amount of raw footage I had to work with was over 130 hours. My initial goal was to edit this down into a 5 hour video. Half way through the editing I realized that in order to convey all I intended, I did not want to limit the length of the film and jeopardize any pertinent information.

J.G. Were there aspects of the video-making process that turned out to be more difficult than you had anticipated?
T.K.  Since I self-produced the video, my most significant hurdle was to balance the emotional and spontaneous aspect of painting, along with the necessity of managing 4 running cameras. This meant that I would need to adjust each camera every 10 minutes as I moved across the canvas while painting. This took a great deal of diligence and patience to interrupt the creative act to deal with the cameras, and then get right back into it. I did hire some talented videographers to help occasionally, but the majority of the camera operation was overseen by me as I painted.

J.G. Thanks for mentioning me on disc 2! What did you make your maquette out of?
T.K.  The Maquette was made from foam, plaster gauze and acrylic paint.

J.G. You mentioned that you were inspired by Ruskin's view of God as manifest in nature, and you quote scripture in the title. Is the spirit of the divine that you experience when painting landscape distinct from the spiritual life that you encounter in church or when reading scripture?
T.K.  My faith and spirituality are manifested in my everyday life and my work and I try to not separate them. I look at my paintings as devotional works that celebrate creation. Having said that, the spirit I experience when painting is different and often more tangible than when reading. I invite the spirit to bless my hands and work through me. Often I feel my works seem to paint themselves.

J.G. In your timeline you indicated that it took about 1000 days to do the whole project—preparation, painting, frame, and video. How do you feel now looking back on the scale of the project?
T.K.  The first reaction when the final cut was delivered for duplication was a big exhale. I still see aspects that I would change or do differently, but overall I am pleased with the final result. I knew from the start this would be a long term endeavor, and thus I did not plan a final deadline initially. I wanted it to be just right. Nevertheless, it took twice as long as I anticipated.


J.G. Was it emotionally and financially rewarding? Do you want to keep doing other big projects?
T.K.  This project was by far the most challenging and rewarding endeavor I have attempted. The challenges were profound - both from the standpoint of the sustained focus for such a long time, as well as the expenses involved in funding your own publication. Emotionally, I am very gratified. I trust that the financial success of the video will be evident in the long term.

J.G. What will be the fate of the painting? Will it be in a private collection, or will it be visible in future exhibitions?

T.K.  The painting is currently on exhibit at the Castellani Art Museum on the campus of the Niagara University along with about 15 other works related to Niagara Falls. This exhibition runs until January of 2018. There is discussion of evolving this into a traveling exhibition to other Museums. I would like the final resting place for this work to be in a public space...ideally the Castellani Museum itself. We are currently seeking a patron to purchase the painting for the Museum. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Buffalo Niagara River Keeper organization and the Western New York Land Conservancy.
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Castellani Art Museum: "Painting Niagara: Thomas Kegler"
Thomas Kegler's website
"Painting Niagara" Instructional video, purchase or watch previews

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sleeping Pigs


These young pigs know how to pass a summer day, sleeping through the heat on the barn floor.
I'm using a graphite pencil with a Niji water brush filled with gray ink for the mottled coloration.

Don't miss the my latest YouTube video "Painting Animals from Life: 7 Tips for Success"

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Animal Painting from Life -- 7 Tips


I make a lot of super-short videos that are only 15-60 seconds long. I think that's too short to put on YouTube individually, so I packaged some of them up a group of them and tied them together with a theme.



So here are seven of my top tips for drawing and painting live animals.


1. TAXIDERMY (ALASKAN WOLF)
2. SLEEPING (BASSET, HUSKY)
3. HOLD THEM (LENNY / TURK / PATCHES)
4. PROFILE (PALOMINO)
5. TREAT (JEZEBEL)
6. MULTIPLES (CHICKENS, RABBITS)
7. AMUSE THEM (SMOOTH AT WINDOW)
(Link to YouTube).


Note the new title sequence, shot recently in a grassy field near here. I like the way the grass stems disguise the wires.
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Previously:
Answers to your questions about sketching animals from life

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Aposematism

Aposematism is a special coloration designed to scare off potential predators. It also includes other kinds of warning signals such as foul odors or attention-getting sounds.

Lowland streaked tenrec
It's effectively the opposite of camouflage. Instead of blending into the background, the aposematic color scheme reminds predators to stay away to avoid getting stung or poisoned, thus saving both animals from potential harm.

Poison dart frog
Young predators sometimes make the mistake of attacking one of these conspicuous species. If the attacker survives the experience, it learns to avoid them in the future. The system of defense therefore works best against predators who are able to learn.


The coral snake (above) is poisonous, but the harmless milk snake (below) mimics its coloration and derives a benefit.


Aposematic colors in insects are often red, yellow, orange, and black, colors that are can be seen by birds, lizards, and primates, their chief predators. The skunk uses black and white, because that pattern is most noticeable to mammalian predators.
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Aposematism on Wikipedia

Friday, July 21, 2017

Guest Post by Jeanette


Hi, blog readers and fellow artists. I'm Jim's wife Jeanette, the lady in the background of the videos. A few of you have asked to see what I'm up to, so here's a look into my recent sketchbooks. 


Remember the scene of the house in the Catskills?  What attracts me is that dark ridge of land brooding over the house. I also want to show the garage next to the house, because the owner keeps going back and forth to deal with his classic cars.

I usually prefer vertical compositions, so most of my sketchbooks are set up that way. I'm working in watercolor in a Stilman and Birn Beta Softcover Watercolor Sketchbook 5.5 x 8.5". 
I paint the Vanderbilt Garden on two peaceful mornings, standing under a shady pergola covered with grapevines and surrounded with ferns

The only interruptions are inchworms falling on my hat. Two sessions are really great to have for finishing a sketch, if the weather stays consistent. Seeing it with fresh eyes helps me to repair the inevitable mistakes.


This house undergoing renovation is lots of fun to paint, and luckily I have two sessions again. I like the contrast between the pile of heavy rocks and the delicate scaffolding. There's a bright red clump of hollyhocks bravely blooming amidst the chaos.

The last two paintings are done in The Perfect Sketchbook, produced by Erwin Lian in Singapore. The 7"x 10.25" hardbound book has Fabriano watercolor paper, which has a "softer" surface than my other watercolor sketchbooks and an ivory color to the paper.
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