living room

Trace Elements

Flower Wall, Birds and Flowers, by Aletha Kuschan, 48 x 48 inches, acrylic on canvas
Flower Wall (Birds and Flowers), acrylic 48 inches square, in a lovely setting

I place my paintings in beautiful settings through the magic of photographic editing, getting them ready for their natural migration into other settings far beyond the studio. Paintings are ideas — they are ideas about how the world looks. And ideas have their own migrations. Like the migrations of birds or butterflies, ideas like to fly. They move when they are ready.

Until that apt moment, it’s fun to imagine the future places where the pictures will live — once they are released into the wild — into the wide world. Their internet travels are just one fluttering of wings.

Perhaps we learned to think of art as inhabiting museums. Museums are wonderful. But most art lives somewhere else. The great art of the past lives on museum walls, but much of the wonderful art of our…

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Monet on my mind

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Monet-like imagery created on watercolor paper using acrylic paint, by Aletha Kuschan, study for complex technique
experimental image for learning complex technique using acrylic

Willie Nelson had Georgia on his mind. Monet has been on mine. The image above is a further development of the image I posted yesterday. I added more color, more lines, all rather capriciously — though with yet a bit of method to my madness. After I had made these additions rather randomly, I began recognizing that some of the effects resemble passages in Monet paintings when their surfaces are seen very close. That realization in turn caused me to think that these lively marks might be the next technique I need to use in order to have my Meadow come alive. (I have a large meadow painting in the works.)

These were good discoveries because, as so often happens, while trying out these new-to-me methods I began wondering if my efforts were too much of just “fiddling around.” I spent a…

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Metaphors behind everything

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bowl of fruit, neocolor crayons

Each day of late I have been drawing fruit in bowls or in the compotier, beginning drawing early in the day, then continuing drawing late at night. I reflexively follow the contours of the fruits, but I could — and should — generalize them more. If I want to be a good student of Cezanne, that’s definitely what I ought to do.

bowl of fruit, neocolor crayons

The more generalized they are, the more they are like other things — though I suspect that their metaphor potential doesn’t need to be stressed particularly since, if it’s present, it’s already hard-wired into the brain. Why do we like fruit, apart from its flavors and nutrition? How did fruits figure in so many myths? The subject has a certain je ne sais quoi from the get-go.

study for Flower Wall

For me the fruits are visually most…

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Nose on the glass

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bowl of fruit, study

Look closely at things. Put your nose right up to the window-glass of reality and peer very intensely at everything. One of the great benefits of art is that it lets you rev up your perception to Level 11 and there are no adverse side effects. You are only using bits of time. However, looking closely at reality is time well spent. Reality is here for a reason. It deserves our appreciation.

Seek to be, as Henry James put it, “someone on whom nothing is lost.”

drawing close up

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Shifting Gears

Just a reminder that I’m using this blog much less now (doing a few reblogs and redirects from time to time) and am shifting my attention to a new blog Trace Elements. Come see what’s going on at the new blog, which you can find HERE.

Being Bold

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Meadow & Sky, notebook drawing

Delacroix advised artists to be bold. He felt that most artists are not bold enough. He was also the champion of the small, quick idea made in a rapid sketch. I find that when I want to do something new, it helps greatly to “talk” the idea through to myself in small drawings. I think of the drawings as little experiments. One feels a readiness to experiment when the stakes are small — literally. The above drawing, for instance, was an experiment in radical simplicity. In my imagination the drawing above could even be large. You can pretend. Never lose that childhood skill: Nature gave it to you for a reason. Draw on the cave wall as did the primordial humans: start with the cave wall of your mind.

Mountainous Scene, notebook drawing

You can imagine the gesture that you make with a pencil being…

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Simple Mountain

Trace Elements

Mountains are ideas as well as being places. Even people who have never spent time in the mountains respond to the idea of mountain. The idea pared down to its most spare form, as a pyramidal form, or as a word in one’s language, has some pull. I can think of ideas that mountains can mean — shelter, permanence, grandeur, sublimity. However, what I want is to discover various emotions.

Colors can evoke emotion, too. Apart from associations with particular things, colors have their own evocations. Putting together the idea of mountain and certain color harmonies — I’m not sure where I’m going with these things — I just made a little drawing. I’m thinking a bit about beginnings, ways of drawing at the beginning, the broad forms from which more complex pictures are derived.

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