Monday, December 27, 2010

Should Paintings be made to be Sold?

Exploration, oil on canvas
Should a painting me made solely to be sold? Or is it a labor of love only, with no pecuniary aspects attached to it? It all depends on the intention of the artist, I would think.

A painting originates in the mind of the artist. Much before the artist picks up the pencil or the brush, the image is formed, whether vaguely or clearly. An artists paints, first and foremost, to give shape to the image or idea in the mind. After the image comes the real making of the painting. This involves lines, color, texture and all the details that goes into the making of a painting.

Art always originated in the realm of the mind. But then, the existence of the artists engaged in making this art also becomes important. Artists have to make a living too. Hence, art came to be sold. For the artist to continue making art, her art has to be sold.

But the question, whether art should be made solely with the art market in mind, is highly debatable. It is considered that art produced for the market only does not have a uniqueness. It tends to adhere to the norms, rather than break norms to create something new. The entire purpose of art and creativity - which is to create something new - is defeated.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Human Figure in Painting

Waiting, oil on canvas
Status: available

Any artist, even landscape artists, should know about the human figure. And the way an artist should know the human figure is to know the anatomy in detail. But if one is a figurative painter, then knowing the human figure is very important. And for those who are portrait painters, and those who stick to realism, I don't have to explain much at all.

Knowledge of the human figure to an artist should be as clear as it is to a physician. The overall structure of the body and the curvature is what gets apparent in a finished painting. But to be good in that, an artist needs to know the details of the bones. Where are the long bones and the short ones, the joints, kinds of joints, musculature around the different limbs of the body as well as in the body. There is a lot of finer points that the artist has to keep in mind while tackling a human figure.

Drawing and sketching cannot be emphasised more when it comes to practising the human figure. Only with enough drawing can one get a grasp of the subject. No part of the figure can be ignored. Whether it is the fingers, the facial muschles, the shoulders, the legs, the back. The shape of the head too. If one likes figures in motion, then one needs to hone ones skills in that department too.

The Use of Color in my Oil Paintings

Evening Calm
Status: sold

Many of you would be surprised that I started painting from the beginning with oil colors. I started with oil, and it is only later that I also began using acrylic, pastel, and doing sketches. For me, the whole process happened in the reverse way. Art students in art colleges would find it difficult to believe this.

Actually, what influenced me to take up oil colors first? A friend. He is a good artist, who paints regularly. He has given up his day job, supports a wife, pays mortgage for a new home, with his earnings from art. Isn't that great? He has done well enough to do all this. I admire him. He has always been my role model. I have looked up to him. Initially I was in awe of his talent. Now I admire him as an excellent fellow artist.

So I began with oil colors. Those days I was living in New Delhi, India. Due to the dry weather characteristic of New Delhi, I had a great time painting with oil. Especially because it dried so fast there due to the minimum moisture in the air. In that period, I was able to paint quite a few oil paintings, and fast too. I did not have to wait ten days between layers, for them to dry.

After relocating to Santa Barbara, California, the drying of colors has been a major issue. Initially I was frustrated that the paint took forever to dry. Then I discovered a drying agent. That helped somewhat. But I had to wait for the color to dry anyway, of course for less time.

And now I discovered acrylic colors - its quick drying effects. For places like here, acrylic is great. I'm loving it. And then, I've also been trying my hand at pastel.

Framing of Paintings

Below are samples of different kinds of traditional ornate frames for painting:

Before the advent of modern art, before art installations assumed the centerstage in the avant garde art market, there was something that was the most popular way of bringing beauty into a house or a building. The two-dimensional painting. Artists painted scenes from everyday life like reading, kitchen, gardening, etc. Flowers were a popular theme. It gave both color, and simple beauty. And to capture everything in a painting, was the frame. The quality of the frame, how ornate or imposing in size it was, showed the status of the owner, as they came in high prices only. Frames were hand carved by master craftsmen, finished and polished. The gilt frames were most valued.

Even nowadays, in art galleries where old masters are exhibited, these kinds of frames are the only ones used with their work. They show off the effects, colors and brush strokes most effectively and to the best advantage.

With the minimilastic present day form of art, frames have become less or not ornate at all. Simple flat straight edged frames are used for water color and pastel artists. And many oil artists have done away with frames at all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pastel painting is enjoyable!

Landscape, pastel.
Status: Sold

I'm gradually discovering the magic of pastel painting. I've had a large box of oil pastels from years. Occasionally, I had tried using it, but not for long. Then one day I bought a book of pastel papers by Fabriano. And the wheel started spinning.

From vague sketches, I have graduated to detailed drawings, and then to paintings.

The most arresting feature, apart from the high saturation of the color of pastels, is the texture that goes with the application of pastels. Is it only me who is so hung up on texture? The whole premise of pastels is texture of the ground. No texture, no pastels. It is the ground that holds the loose particles of the color, and then a binding agent is applied when the work is completed.

The fascinating feature is also the different qualities of oil pastels as compared to soft pastels. Using soft pastel is like applying butter to paper. It is also like skating on smooth ice, isn't it? The painting gets done fast, and one needs to distrbute the colors and then fix it.

Usage of oil pastels requires a little bit more of pressure from the fingers than in soft pastels. But the effect is so amazing. And if I use smaller size paper, I finish quickly and get a new painting in a few hours. How about that. I can finish 2 pictures in a day. Isn't that great? There is such a sense of accomplishment when I am able to do that.

One of the important aspects of a pastel painting is to store, display or preserve it in the correct way. That means, it should be fixed. Fixing the colors is good for keeping the work appear the same as it was in the beginning. After the fixative has dried, the next step should be to keep it framed. It is the best way to enjoy a piece of art.

After all, isn't a thing of beauty a joy forever? And, when the thing of beauty can be seen on the wall, what more does one want to make a day beautiful and happy?