Tuesday 24 June 2014

Inspiring Image: Elevating History to Mythology

“Bocklin’s Tomb” (1901) by Ferdinand Keller (1842-1922)

Ferdinand Keller was a German painter classically trained in landscape and portraiture with an interest in historical subject matter.  In his later years, he was heavily influenced by the Swiss Symbolist painter Arnold Bocklin. Keller was drawn to Bocklin’s love of the Romantic era and his portrayal of fantastical worlds.  After seeing the work of Bocklin, Keller made the shift from historical themes to those of mythology and magic.

Upon Bocklin’s death in 1901, Keller honored his memory with the beautiful painting “Bocklin’s Tomb”.  Here he references Bocklin’s own painting “The Isle of the Dead”, and creates his vision of how Bocklin might wish to be visually eulogized.  The painting wonderfully combines a sense of the real with a feeling of fantasy, and somehow we know this place only exists on canvas even though it looks real.  In doing so, Keller has fittingly elevated Bocklin from art history to mythology.

Saturday 21 June 2014

From Behind the Easel: Pacific Rhythm

 Pacific Rhythm | 18”x36” | acrylic on board

This coming week we will be in the San Francisco Bay Area to help celebrate my youngest brother’s wedding.  As we return to our home of seven years, I am reminded of many wonderful times.  We loved to hike along the coast where the primordial elements come together in sometimes harsh, but always fascinating and beautiful ways.  Storms rolling in across the ocean inspire both awe and respect for the power you can literally feel as waves crash against the shore.

My painting “Pacific Rhythm” is from reference gathered near Halfmoon Bay just south of San Francisco along Highway 1.  Our planned hike originally had us continuing along this stretch of beach for a while, but as the storm rolled in and the tide rose quickly, we didn’t go beyond the rocky point seen here in the painting.  We were warned by some local folks that we would likely get stranded until the tide receded after midnight if we did.  Worse yet, we could easily get swept out to sea by the rising swells and crashing waves.  We opted for a hot chocolate at a cozy cafĂ© instead, and I lived to paint the picture you see here.

Thursday 19 June 2014

The Pensive Palette: The Value of Art

The most important component of creating anything visual is value and value relationships.  Value is the how light or dark something appears and is based on a grey scale with black and white at the ends of the scale.  Although we describe them as colors, black, white, and the neutral greys in between are not technically colors, but values of light and dark.  Every color, however, has a value that is used to describe its lightness or darkness.  This is particularly helpful when trying to see the relative differences in values between multiple colors.

When designing a image, it is paramount to think in times of value before color.  Experience allows an artist to see value and color at the same time, but it is still helpful to work in black and white (and grey) in the early stages of design.  Color rarely saves a bad value design and usually only furthers the issue.  In fact, when an artist begins with a strong eye for value , almost any color scheme can be used as long as the colors chosen match the values in the design.

In my painting, “Magnificat”, you can see how I’ve used many colors to enhance the visual interest of the lion, but in black and white the values of those colors are similar enough to not distract from the overall design. 

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Inspiring Image: Story in Art

"The Blind Beggar" | Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884)

I love an image that can tell an entire story.  The greatest paintings give enough visually to allow us go into our imaginations without providing everything.  We are free to interpret and create our own version of what we see.  Great art offers itself wholly yet remains mysterious, open to reinterpretation as we grow with it.  Great art offers a window into our own hearts.

What story do you see when you look upon this boy and his faithful companion? 

Thursday 12 June 2014

The Pensive Palette: I Am Robert Genn

As an artist, I feel a part of a greater community, a brother and sisterhood of creative people searching for beauty, truth, and meaning.  While I work by myself, I know I’m not alone in these pursuits.  When I see art that touches me, or a song that moves me, I feel connected to that artist because we have shared a part of the journey together.  I take a little part of that person’s spirit and place it within me, hoping to pass it along to someone else.  This is the greatest gift of art.

I recently wrote about the passing of artist Robert Genn.  His love of painting, and especially his exploration of the why’s and how’s of making art, live on in everything he touched.  A little piece of his spirit is carried by all of us.   

Here is a small study I did a few years ago in Genn’s style.  It is not a copy of one of his paintings, but an exercise in taking my own reference and trying to think like he did.  In making choices that are different from my own tendencies, I learn how to see outside of myself. 

Saturday 7 June 2014

From Behind The Easel: 'Another Time'

"Another Time" | Medieval Town North of Paris | 12" x 8" | oil on board

We had the good fortune to be invited to a lovely wedding in a chalet about an hour north of Paris.  On the way back, we meandered through this lovely town and I felt I wanted to capture the intimacy and charm.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Inspiring Image: Celebrating Artist Robert Genn

by Robert Genn (1936-2014)

On Tuesday May 27th, the art world lost a friend and inspiration.  Robert Genn was a Canadian painter best known for capturing the landscape of his homeland and many travels around the world.
His personal style was heavily influenced by the Group of Seven painters, as well as the iconic Emily Carr, whom he met when he was a boy growing up in Victoria, BC.  His career began in illustration but evolved into full time fine art pursuits when his passion could no longer be held in check.  He went on to enjoy a long and commercially successful career garnering international acclaim.
Despite his successes, Genn never lost sight of his love of painting.  The physical act and ritual of starting from a blank canvas fuelled his desire.  His passion for travel and painting outdoors only grew over time, and his art is beloved by many.
Perhaps his greatest gift was the free website he started many years ago to act as a meeting place for artists.  He brought like-minded people together, gathered art/inspirational quotes from around the world, and provided a semi-weekly newsletter about his ideas for making and selling art.
Robert Genn was an inspirational pillar in our artist community.  His generous spirit will be missed and never forgotten.  His legacy lives on as his daughter Sara Genn, a highly successful artist herself, continues the tradition of the weekly newsletter.
To see more of Robert Genn's work and check out his free resource website for creative minds, please go to www.robertgenn.com and click on the Painters Keys Community.