Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why Blue?

To see examples of my paintings visit

The Absence of Color
After art patrons look at my paintings I always hear “is this your blue period”. This statement is in reference to a phase Pablo Picasso once had. After a close friend killed himself, Picasso started painting all his paintings in various values of blue.

The answer to this question is no. I am not having a blue period.

So why blue?

Anatomy of a Painting
In respects to my style of painting and the problem I am trying to solve, a work of art can be broken down into the following layers:

A canvas is just a vehicle for transporting an artist’s idea into something tangible; a work of art you can see and touch.

At the fundamental basics a canvas is an empty piece of stretched cloth that could be made from hemp, linen, cotton, or some other relevant type of fabric.

A drawing is a two-dimensional work of art that consists of lines organized in such a way to create an image. Depending on the type of drawing, an image can express depth or take on a flat appearance.

When shade is applied with different values you can create the illusion of form and volume within the objects of the overall image.

Various object placements within the drawing create a composition for the image. A given composition will naturally control the viewer’s eye path and create a focal point. It is the artist’s intent to try and control this path and focal point by pre-determining the layout of a composition before executing the drawing.

Paint is made up of the ratio relationship between a natural resource pigment and a binding medium.

For example cobalt blue is made up of the pigments from the natural resource metal Cobalt and linseed oil. Back in the 1500s, egg yolk was used for a binder in creating oil paint with natural resource pigments.
Overall, paint is just another form of medium used in the process.

After a canvas contains a drawing or sketch done with a charcoal pencil, I usually stare at it for hours before I begin to paint it with an alla prima impasto technique. I try and envision the painting painted on the surface before I begin the execution.

This is a critical part to the process. The desired outcome is no different than the desired outcome in an initial drawing – a hope to control the viewer’s eye path and composition focal point.

The problem I am trying to artistically solve is how to split and differentiate the difference between a drawings composition focal point and a painting’s composition focal point.

Traditionally these focal points have been one of the same. When a painting is dissected as above, you can see we really have two compositions and focal points. One is in the drawing layer and the other is in the painting layer.

In order to splitting the two compositions and focal points, I need to increase the drawing layer’s z-axis depth on the canvas by creating the illusion of voyeurism in the composition. The focal point will be split on the painting layer composition described below.

Absence of Color
In order to focus on solving the problem and have it reflected in the final work of art, I need to re-define the meaning of a painting.

A painting is the result of the arrangement of pigments and binding mediums mixed and manipulated in a way to create the illusion of objects and how they relate to one another on a flat surface. It is the value of the paint that creates the illusion of form and volume no different than shading in a drawing.

Based on my basic definition of what makes a painting, color has no place in the final product. A painting should be created with the absence of color. Color is a distraction to the overall painting.

Because the true absence of color is white, and blue is the predominantly favorable psychological color for humans to gravitate toward, I substitute white for blue in my works of art.

Given the absence of color and my substitute choice of paint, the heart of my paintings is in the value study of the color’s tone and how both compositions work off each other in various mediums.

Bringing It All Together
After bringing all the layers described above together, the final step is to split the two focal points.

This is accomplished through a voyeurism technique in the drawing composition, but greatly enforced in the painting layer by painting its focal point an overall contrasting color to the balance of the overall painting.

For example, most of my painting layers are composed out of a value study of blue, and a primary focal point of green.

In respects to the layers control of the viewer’s eye in looking at a painting, the drawing composition has a natural flow based on the placements of the objects. The painting composition’s flow is based on the impasto style brush strokes that intentionally take on a new form within the painting. Brush strokes logically represent an object no different than an object in the drawing layer.

The final outcome each painting hopes to achieve is to create one primary split second focal point for the viewer and a secondary one that becomes primary after consistent viewing of a painting – they switch roles over time.

To see examples of my paintings visit

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How To Read Artistic Innovation In Fine-Art Oil Paintings

Definition of Innovation
Innovation can be defined as a new way of doing something. A process that may change the way wethink about a problem in ways that can be viewed as emergent, radical, or even revolutionary.

Innovators are often referred to as pioneers in a new process of executing an old task. It is thefinal process that shows the real value in innovation, and the experimental phases and sweat equityleading up the final phase that create what one would call a stroke of genius.

For example, Picasso did not invent painting, but rather give the art community a new way to thinkabout an old problem: how to render a three dimensional object – form. The innovation in answeringthis problem falls in challenging the traditional definition of what makes a form a form.

The result of Picasso’s sweat equity and experimentations created a new process in creating a form.It also redefined what a form means. This process was picked up by other artists and became known asCubism in the 20th century avant-garde art movement.

Artist Statement
For an innovative artist, his or her Artist Statement must be clear in defining the problem statementone wishes to solve. It should also list a collection of experimental options he or she has or willtravel down.

It is the artist’s defined theory and list of conjectures that need to be proven true or false thatmake up the heart of the Artist Statement. This information is the core communication message betweenwhat the artist is trying to do, and an enthused art patron interested in understanding the artist’s work.

Body of work
A collection of artistic work is created during the experimental phase of innovation. It is criticalthe Artist Statement is updated and revised during this process and as the process comes to closure.

Once the artist is able to solve the initial problem defined in the Artist Statement, consistency needsto be reflected through consecutive works of art over a short amount of time. Looking back in hindsightat the body of work, the artist will know if this process is coming to an end and the craft is being matured.

Putting it all together
I can’t recall how often I heard “my child can do that” when looking at a Jackson Pollock painting. The truthis perhaps they could, but with a little bit of luck. Not to mention a lack of understanding in its socialmeaning and impact.

It is highly unlikely that the masses would see value in such a one hit wonder.

What the art patron who is not familiar with a given artist needs to do first is read the artist’s statementto understand what he or she is trying to do. Once you have an understanding of the artist’s objectives,review the body of work in sequence to see if they have accomplished their set goals. In reading a body ofwork, you are looking for consistency and predictability.

This knowledge will be priceless in making an investment into the artist as a collector, benefactor, or supporter.

For more examples on this topic see

Artistic Thoughs For Self Awareness

Current Oil Painting Project
I have currently set forth the following goal: To fully master the concept of value, composition, form, volume, and focal points, with out the use of color.

For me, at this time, color does not belong in a painting;it is simply a tool. It is the physical characteristics of the paint, when used correctly in its simplestform that can create the illusion of an object. It is also important to separate the focal point from thecomposition within the painting. Try and create two distinctively different logical layers within the finalproduct. The composition is intended to balance the objects within the painting, but the focal point of thepainting, not the composition, should direct the viewer's eyes. That is correct, we do have two focal pointsto think of: one within the composition and the other within the painting - two different things to enrich theviewer's subconscious and conscious levels. Color is only added as a tool to channel the viewer's eyes towardthe painting's focal point.

Once a body of work is created for this goal, I intend to publish it on-line and attend fairs throughoutthe United States.

You can view my portfolio(s), statement, biography, and resume

Recent Artistic Success
Success is a relative term. I view success as setting a goal and reaching it.

In terms of my painting style, I set a goal and through a couple of finished paintings I review the body ofwork to see if that goal has been reached in each painting. If the body of work reflects the goal and is consistentthroughout the later paintings, then I view this as success. I have reached a goal and mastered it.

As far as financial success, I have sold several drawings and paintings, but it is not the financial rewardthat drives me.

Special Artistic Expertise
Although my art career has spanned over 20 years, I have not had traditional commercial success as a result tomy interests and motive.

In the beginning I copied paintings of the impressionists only to have one teacher ask me a life-changing question.Why are you trying so hard to master a 100 plus year old style, was the question. This question made me realize theimportance of art history. It is only through studyingthe history of painting, and understanding what goals were set forth for each style by each artist, that a studentartist can break away from the pack and truly challenge oneself in a new direction.

It is the avant-garde, the innovative ideas and techniques that motivate me to fully understand what one can do withthe basics of oil painting. In the end, it is the innovative ones that are remembered and immortalized. Allothers take second place. The cost of this path and dedication turns majority of the artists off and they fall into thecommercial success formula that currently works today.

Most collectors invest in styles and ideas that fall within a well-known formula of success to minimize their return oninvestment. Very few target the high-risk artists were the return on investment is high - resulting in delaying thecollector's financial gratification.