real v painted

When you have lots of painted flowers stacked about and real ones in vases sitting nearby as well, sometimes the real and the artificial get all jumbled together.  In the view above the real flowers blend right into the receding painted ones.


Red Idea


Sometimes I use a computer to get ideas, as here where a collage of images has been alterred in lots of fun ways.  I use things like this as sources from which to draw and paint.  It’s then that I fiddle around with the image using my own computer (the one between my ears).

Sorry, of Late

Sorry I haven’t posted any art today.  Of late, I’ve tried to post something everyday.  However, today the frogs have taken up all my time.  They’re quite unruly.

[Top of the post:  the frogs at home]

Here I really am?

With a question mark, here I am.  I took this photo to create a drapery I could draw à l’Ingres.  My being present technically makes this a self-portrait.  But I’m really just along for the ride.  The drapery is the star.  Beginning artists should make lots of drapery studies.  The old masters started the idea, and it holds more weight than at first one supposes.  Drapery in portraiture defines the figure.  Of course, times were better for artists when flowing robes were the fashion!  Ever since the decline of Athens, artists have fallen on hard times.  Praxiteles, we miss you!  I jest, of course.

Drapery is also this very pliable thing.  Look what crazy Gothic artists did with drapery.  Drapery is an inanimate subject whose amorphous forms can adapt very readily to whatever subliminal messages an artist — or a whole society– is trying to express.  It is very “true” and “realistic” and yet it is thoroughly “abstract” and sometimes conventional.

Drawing drapery leads one naturally into landscape or figure or still life.  It’s an artistic Rorschach test, a mirror of the psyche.  You draw the drapery and reveal — yikes! — the self.

Meanwhile, I’ll have to get back to you when I’ve done my drawings from this photo.

[Top of the post:  Drapery study, by Aletha Kuschan, digital photo]

Collage La Nuit

Abstraction is not always as devoid of subject as it appears.  There might be something that looks like this.  Lots of other artists have made pictures this one resembles.  And it resembles other pictures I’ve made that are pictures of something.  So, by following a trail of clues, being a visual detective tracking down myself, I might in time figure out what I was up to. One might in time discover what the other artists were up to as well.  If I am on the same wavelength as others, what wave is it?

On the internet once I found a wonderful website set up by two photographers, husband and wife.  They took amazing, high resolution photographs of the oddest things — bricks, stones, grasses, tiles, old rusted metal surfaces — anything with texture.  Their photographs looked like the most ravishingly beautiful abstract pictures you’ve ever seen.   And they invited anyone to use their work for free. 

I downloaded lots of their pictures, like a miser at a flea market.  Each image seemed more beautiful than the last, and I sat before the monitor for a couple hours, watching each image load and then copying it to use later.  My printer could not do the proper homage to their stunning imagery.  But I printed out some of the pictures to make a collage.  My printer started running out of ink, but I continued printing, letting the vagaries of the machine add a further layer of chance to the mix.

I had cut up some paper bags and glued them together to make a large sheet.  Grocery store shopping bags are incredibly strong.  Then I glued the prints of the couples’ photographs together into the pattern suggested by the moment.  I added a few pieces of gold foil wrappers from Lindt chocolates à la Bonnard, and voilà!

[Top of the post:  Collage, La Nuit by Aletha Kuschan, a collage made of borrowed pictures and whimsy]

Life Imitating Life

The light from trees refracted through the glass panels of my balcony look a little like waves upon a tree lined pond.  Since the panels are manmade, I suppose this is a different way of depicting.

Anyway, it’s certainly very pretty.  Also, it’s a reminder always to be alert to the visual metaphors around you.  (They are everywhere.)

[photo by the author]

Up close

A still life within a still life is visible in the reproduction of a Dutch 17th century still life that lays inside the blue and white Chinese bowl.  What strikes me about this set up is the contrast between the brilliant yellow and the black floral cloth.  I also like the red cloth as it appears through the blue compotier.  That would be wonderful to paint!  These distortions of patterns as seen through glass make a wonderful subject.

Looking at the Dutch painting, one sees how orderly the construction is.  The strong order of the Dutch idea in contrast with the dramatic heaping, confusion of my still life reveals something in itself about differing aesthetic sensibilities over time.

On the right,there’s a chalk board leans against the wall with some writing visible.  It is itself a commentary on mark making.

The art of the still life

Making a still life is an art too — before the painting begins.  Some beginning artists try to make a painting task simpler by creating a still life of a very few objects.  However, there’s something to be said for a bold statement and a riotous confusion of things.  There are so many subjects for painting in this one set up alone, so many angles of vision, juxtapositions of color, different textures, different patterns.

Arranging objects like this can be a primer for interior design too (for obvious reasons).  There’s some bold color combinations that one wouldn’t at first thought put together.  But don’t they look good?  The brilliant yellow and dark, rich, black floral cloth.  Strong opposition of red and green.  Lots of food for thought and feast for the eyes.