Making mountains by addition

I have a pointy rock in the backyard somewhere.

It’s about 10 inches tall. I could draw and redraw it on a single sheet and produce a mountain range. Worth a try, wouldn’t you say? For idle drawing.

Sometimes it’s good to make idle drawings.

Where do your drawing ideas come from? Leave some suggestions in a comment.

Art Tools

I had a Fine Art America site but I deleted it, And today I created a new Fine Art America account. I deleted the old one since my aim is the fill the world with original art rather than with reproductions. But the site is useful in other ways so I renewed my presence there — with a much smaller number of pictures — to use the site as an art tool.

I use a lot of tools to summon ideas. In the case of Fine Art America, it’s one of the places I use to envision works in large scale. It helps me as well as helps potential collectors to see how an image looks when it’s big (I like big art). The platform is only one of many tools I use for this purpose. I find “rooms” on the internet and insert my pictures, actual or simulated, into them, as here ….

Lots of things are tools. Notebooks, photographs, computer illustration programs all play a role. My favorite thing is simply to draw. I want to develop a drawing style that works well enlarged for original art.

Anyway, if you’re interested in the Fine Art America site, you can find it here. Aletha Kuschan Art (fineartamerica.com) The images will rotate: so as new things develop, older images will disappear.

I post information about the changing array of pictures on twitter, here: Aletha (@ModAmerArt) / Twitter

I do consult Nature also, please be assured! Mother Nature is actually my FAVORITE tool to use. What sorts of tools give you ideas for the visual adventures of your life?

If you like this post, please consider sharing it on your social media: thanks!

more blast from the past

Vase de Fleurs

I painted this still life in the first studio that I ever had outside my house.  The room had very dim interior light and huge ceilings.  The vault of air above my head was enchanting.  The room was badly lit and people coming by to say hello often asked me why I was sitting in the dark.  But my still life and the canvas were lit well enough.  I loved the diffuse light of that quirky place.

The painting became the DNA for several pictures.  Over the years I’ve made versions of the idea.  They all bear some resemblance to their parent and yet each one has its own identity too.

more brainstorming

bonnard flowers
Pierre Bonnard – flowers

I need to get some more flowers so that I have some for the new painting.  When I get them, it’s going to be wonderful making another painted study.  While I was looking for something else I found these above by Bonnard.  Found them at a wonderful site, link below.

https://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/list.php?s=tu&m=a&aid=449&p=3

I discovered the flowers while I was searching online for a painting from the book “Pierre Bonnard: Observing Nature,” the exhibition catalog for a 2003 show that took place in Australia. The painting is “The Green Path and Canal,” c 1919.  Somehow looking at the picture made me wonder if the view through the window (in my painting) should be a storm.  Bonnard’s painting is very dark and ominous looking.  We’ve been having lots of storms lately.  Summer storms can be so incredibly beautiful for color.  Then there’s the further heightening of contrast between indoor and outdoor, warm and cool, man and nature.

It’s not that I want to imitate the picture that I cannot show you here.  It’s just the source for an idea that popped into my head, which I’m not even sure I’ll use at long last.  An idea about blue-green and darkness.

We’ll see.

I’m putting violet around the edges of the picture.

more flowers will arrive

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I have to find more flowers for the bouquet.  I go in search of pictorial flowers.  I look for them in the pictorial gardens.  And a lot of things are beginning to bloom now that spring is here — even pictorial things.

Under the bright pictorial sun, with my face toward the pictorial wind, I walk through the pictorial field to pick flowers that I can bring back to my still life.

like a butterfly

leaf for butterfly wing2

I have been looking for butterflies without much success.  We used to have a garden that attracted butterflies, but not this year.  And the few I have happened upon accidentally have flitted away before I could fetch my camera.  They are known for their flitting.

However, in the absence of actual butterflies, I see no reason why one couldn’t invent one’s own.  So now I’m hunting things that are like butterflies and the first items that have answered my search are these two leaves that are early in their transformation, anticipating autumn.

Like the inventor in The Artist of the Beautiful, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s haunting short story, I’m out to create my own do-it-yourself flitter critter.  My version of the quest is less haunting and romantic, more optimistic and can-do in spirit.  But mine is also less actual in yearning for painting is illusory from the outset — my quest more so, is unreal two-fold, an illusion of an illusion.

accidental pairings

One of the ways that I get ideas for new works is from chance occurrence. While I was looking through image files, I found these two pictures side by side — rather as they appear here.  The image on the left is a notebook drawing of the koi.  The picture on the right is a scene from an old studio where a large drawing was nearly complete.

Seeing the two works together like this, the one on the left could almost seem to be the same size as the one on the right — and that gives you an idea how it would look enlarged.  Making large works is not merely about enlarging small works.  The large picture ought to seem as though it is simply “the right size” but seeing this small drawing in this context does suggest that it might look good on a much larger scale.

The process could as easily work the other way.  You could see some huge painting in a museum and realize that it offers you a subject that you could do on a smaller scale.  The key, whatever the circumstance, is to be open to new ideas.

dix fois, cents fois: Degas’s advice for artists

1157_10200754970055686_113377938_nTen times is probably a good number for deciding if you like a thing.  And a hundred times is surely a good number for mastering it (or for beginning its mastery).

Degas thought you should repeat things the way that a ballerina repeats her dance steps or a musician practices a musical figure.  You gain skill and sureness with each repetition.  But sometimes you also gain ideas.  The differences between one repetition and another can sometimes lead to new ideas. Thus it’s a source of invention in art.

koi-small-reworked-2

“Il faut refaire dix fois, cent fois le même sujet.”  You must redo — ten times, one hundred times — the same subject.

across the room jan 6 2012

Certainly one hundred times is excessive if you don’t love the thing.  But ten times is a way of gaining skill.  And ten times offers enough repetitions to get to know the subject in a preliminary way — to learn it.  With ten repetitions you find out if you do love the motif — whether or not it’s the right motif for you.

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And if after you’ve done the subject ten times, you wish to explore it further then you know that your love is deep.

You could do ten versions of this, and ten versions of that, and discover through the process what kinds of things matter to you.  Somewhere in that process you will find that the subject holds deeper meaning (even if you don’t know what that meaning is).  At that point you want to plunge in and really explore its every aspect.  Exploration leads to invention.

 

detail of the drawing

I have certain subjects that I return to again and again.  I did not begin them with the idea that they would become my particular venues.  I went into the subject innocently.  But I was heeding some call — even if I was unaware.

I am not sure how many subjects I have — some I’m keenly aware of — the koi, flowers, seashells, certain kinds of landscape.  If I did one hundred of each — GOODNESS —  that would be four hundred right there!

Degas is a strict task master!  But this is all stuff that one loves.  It would be wonderful to do one hundred repetitions of each subject!

Today I’m beginning the Big Tidy Campaign of 2017 and part of tidying is taking inventory.  I begin this inventory with an inventory of my thoughts — and of my fishes!

looking back, thinking ahead

Dark and light, night and day

— elemental themes appeal to me.  They beckon like dreams. I do a lot of traditional kinds of pictures — and I love the discipline of tightly focused imagery like a vase of flowers — very basic — takes you to the foundations of seeing — it is to pictorial art what the sonnet is to poetry.  But I also venture periodically into stream-of-consciousness kinds of imagery.

Sometimes I hear that call again. I am not sure what sort of thing I’ve a yen for just now, but winter’s long nights and cold clear days are great for firing up the imagination.

Not knowing what’s next, I’m watchful for ideas.  In just such moods I find that ideas arrive.  Someone told me once that I needed to pick a theme and create a consistent portfolio, and I am NEVER — DOING  — THAT.  I follow the river current of thought because I know from experience that it leads to good places.

You go off in some tangent, but later you find that the wild explorations allow you to bring back knowledge — knowledge of a sort that you can apply again even to the traditional things — to even the simple vase of flowers.

Everything you learn enriches everything that you know already. So be bold, be daring.