Thursday, March 31, 2005
Welcome to FAS alumnus Richard Sandoval!
FAS alumnus Richard Sandoval has joined our growing list of graduates who have “gone public” with their positive comments about their studies with Famous Artists School, and the effect the School has had on their lives as artists.
Go to Richard’s page to read his testimonial, and to see other examples of his art.
Friday, March 25, 2005
The extravagant art of Salvador Dalí
Dalí described himself as “an eminently theatrical painter”. Nowhere is his capacity for self-dramatization more evident than in his Teatre-Museu Dali, in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain. The museum was created by Dalí himself, 15 years before his death, and it contains a wide panorama of his works, from early forays into impressionism, futurism, and cubism, and continuing on to the surrealistic creations on which his reputation is based.
When you visit the museum, you’re given a brochure that states,
“If we take into account the idiosyncrasy of Salvador Dalí, then perhaps we ought to recommend you not to follow a preconceived route. However, in spite of it a one way route has been laid out. It only has the intention of guiding the visitor from the entrance to the exit. It does not have, nor does it wish to have, any systematic function nor chronological sense.”
So, your own “idiosyncratic” tour can take you from a room designed to evoke Mae West, to small constructions and large scale assemblages, to paintings done with the finest of touches. It’s great fun, an adventure that makes you smile or shake your head at every turn.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Dolph LeMoult on Inspiration
FAS Instructor Dolph LeMoult offers good advice on the role of inspiration in creative work:
I’ve found that many of my students complain they are not inspired, and so use that as an excuse for not painting and drawing regularly. To me, this is a bit like the habitual smoker who decides to wait until he no longer feels like a cigarette before he will quit. Neither works; the smoker will always want to smoke, and the artist who waits for divine inspiration will not paint.
I’ve been fortunate to see this both as an artist and as a novelist, and I’ve found that there’s not much difference between the two. I’m hard pressed to remember a time in either discipline when I was struck with inspiration. The key word there, I think, is discipline. In both art and writing, my experience has shown that it’s probably one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Does that mean that art has become a chore for me? Far from it. I’ve been in the art field all of my life, as a designer, illustrator, and gallery painter, and the thought of not working as an artist would be unbearable. But I’ve had to put it in perspective.
Interesting word, perspective; just as its dictionary definition is, the effect of distance on the appearance of objects, understanding the creative process in art has taken the effect of time on my most cherished notions, and made me keenly aware of the facts:
First: Not everything I paint or draw will be good: There will be days (sometimes many in a row) when nothing works. It will seem that, no matter how hard I try, things just seem to get worse – and it seems as if that slump will never end. Not true: In over forty years of experiencing those dreadful times, I have always pulled out of them, most of the time for no good reason.
Second: If I stand at the drawing board or easel expecting to miraculously come up with an inspired idea I’ll be sorely disappointed. My most successful work has been the result of trial and error, of frustration and persistence, and, more often than not, the happy accidents that seem to occur to all of us when we put pencil, pen and brush to a surface.
So my advice to anyone who feels inadequate because he or she is not miraculously inspired is, stick to it. Work when everything you do seems awful; when you’re convinced that you haven’t got what it takes to be an artist. Believe me, you’ll work your way through it and one of those happy accidents will happen to you, and you’ll look at it in disbelief and wonder. And you’ll be an artist, and take it from me, there’s no better thing to be in the whole wide world.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Picasso, Miró, and Dalí—the Catalan connection
Catalonia and its capital, Barcelona, are justly proud of their connection to three giants of twentieth century art: Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí. Throughout Barcelona you’ll find museums dedicated to their work, as well as special on-going exhibitions.
Although not a Catalan by birth, Picasso spent time in Barcelona at several different periods in his life as an artist: during his formative years, when he began his art studies under his father’s tutelage and in La Lonja, the academy of fine arts; and later, while living part time in Paris, when he formed lifelong friendships with a group of Catalan artists. The first exhibition of his works was held in Barcelona in 1900.
In addition to showing numerous examples of Picasso’s works, Museu Picasso offers a “Biographical Itinerary through the Collection”. Although the collection features mainly the early works, a major holding is the series of 57 canvases called “Las Meninas”, inspired by the famous painting by Velázquez.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Barcelona: a feast for the eyes
We just spent ten days in Barcelona and the surrounding area, and I have lots of wonderful information to pass on.
To start with, I want to talk about the unique and amazing work of the architect Antoni Gaudi. It weaves in and out of the Barcelona street scene, popping up where you least expect it: from the monumental Sagrada Familia church, to the whimsical facade and roof of the Casa Battlo, to the streetlamps along the Passeig de Gracia. Gaudi’s inimitable style is everywhere there, which is as it should be—he was a fervent Catalan, and Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia.
(As an aside, I have to mention the Catalan language. All the signage throughout the city is in Catalan, with only an occasional nod to Spanish. When you first see it, it seems impenetrable. But if you have some familiarity with Spanish and French, you can begin to decode it with a little contemplation. “Avenue” is “avinguda”; “welcome” is “benvigut”. Some translations defy expectation, though: “with” is “amb”!)
Gaudi was a master of light and space, in addition to creating fantastic decorations. Some of his houses look like illustrations for fairy tales. In most cases, though, his decorative flights of fancy have practical uses. The structures on top of the apartment house known as La Pedrera may look like medieval knights, but they actually house stairwells and ventilation systems.
He took much of his inspiration from nature. In the Sagrada Familia, for example, the soaring arches of the nave effectively recall tree limbs, making visitors feel they are standing in a grove of massive trees. In the Casa Battlo, a private home which he remodeled, the details recall elements of the sea: waves, nautilus shapes, and so on.
This site will give you an overview of Gaudi’s work: Gaudí Central
Click here to take a virtual tour of the Sagrada Familia.
To learn about La Pedrera, go to Fundacio Caixa Catalunya. Once on the site, click on “English”, then “Culture”. Choose “Visits to La Pedrera” and “Espai Gaudi” for full information about the building and other Gaudi works.
Friday, March 04, 2005
2,000 Years of Latin American Portraits
If you’re interested in portraiture, visit www.retratos.org, where you can take a virtual tour of this exhibition, 2,000 Years of Latin American Portraits.
The exhibition does literally cover two centuries of art created for a variety of reasons: to memorialize the dead, to celebrate the powerful, to comment on political issues, or to explore the psyche of the artist. From early pre-Columbian portraits, both painted and sculpted, through the whole turbulent history of Latin America, the exhibition opens a window on the events and culture of the region.
The online visit to the collection offers close-up views of a number of works from the different eras, with background information about the artists, the sitters, and the contemporary environment.
A Treasure Trove of Images On Line
The New York Public Library has a vast collection of images, including prints, maps, posters, photographs, illuminated manuscripts, sheet-music covers, dust jackets, menus, and cigarette cards—and it can now be browsed on line, at digitalgallery.nypl.org. About 275,000 items can be found by subject, collection, name, or keyword. They can be downloaded, enlarged, and printed at no charge (for personal use). (This feature is getting so much traffic that the NYPL is in the process of upgrading the web server—so the site may not be available all the time. Keep trying—it will be back soon.)
This is a marvelous resource for artists, who often turn to image collections in libraries for reference material or inspiration. But be warned—it’s easy to wander for hours in this huge and varied treasure house!
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Robert Heindel—a “latter-day Degas”
FAS Guiding Faculty member—and alumnus—Robert Heindel is perhaps as well known today for his paintings of dancers as Edgar Degas was in his time.
Both artists were inspired by the physicality of dancers….but there’s something more. In Tour à Tour (a publication of Neenah Paper), Heindel says, “Each successful dancer is far more than a handsome man—a pretty woman. There’s a dedication a dancer has that’s almost tangible. A steel in their spine. An almost obsessive intensity. It’s this special quality I strive to communicate in my paintings.”
Heindel has worked with many ballet companies, in San Francisco, Atlanta, Kansas City, Dallas, and London, among others. Most often, he paints his dancers only in rehearsal, not in performance. He also made a conscious decision not to learn too much about the technical aspects of ballet. He says, “I prefer to concern myself with the emotional qualities I discover. Knowing too much can cause a serious interference with making art a viewer can bring himself to—and become part of. After all, it’s what you bring to a painting that makes it important to you. That’s why I cover all my paintings with glass. The glass literally reflects the viewer so he becomes an integral, important, visual part of the painting.”
He starts by taking hundreds, sometimes thousands, of photos of the dancers at work. After choosing an image or group of images, he begins to draw, discovering, as he works, how best to capture the desired attitude. Then he begins to paint.
“I am endlessly awed by the dancers’ grace, even in repose,” he says. “Their awareness of their bodies is constant, and constantly enchanting. My purpose is to attempt to describe and highlight their inner strengths.”
Robert Heindel credits his experience as a student of Famous Artists School with teaching him important lessons in self discipline which have stood him in good stead as he distills the essence of the dance into painting after painting.
Page 1 of 1 pages