Monday, 31 March 2008

All my monitor's colours

... had seemed decidedly awry of late. The shadows were far too dark and I seemed to be doing a lot of photoshopping to get back to the brightness I seemed to remember when taking photos.

Some internetting yesterday unearthed a couple of useful tests to check and calibrate the monitor.

Keith Cooper's website, Northlight Images, has a whole range of articles on monitor calibration, and the depth of colour management. I stuck with the simple test to correct for darkness/brightness for the time being [yes, I know, I need some proper colour management for my printer, too - but that's for another day].

Have a look at Keith's article on Monitor calibration here

A simple check, no doubt, and just a recent discussion of my paintings with someone who sees colours decidedly different was fascinating to emphasise the importance of value over hue to determine good compositions. For him, the beauty of Hazy got pretty much lost as it was just a bland mass of too similar values.

From the above website I stumbled across some shareware on calibrating not only brightness/contrast but the individual colour channels for RGB - Hex2Bit, to download from here.

So, while I now see that my monitor at home looks similar to mine at work, but also that I can see all the variations in the test above, it still leaves me wondering about the communicatibility of colours and intersubjectivity - sorry, work morning, and work thoughts to continue...

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Paintings I like #1: Agrigente, Nicholas de Stael

It's a bit of an indulgent title for a regular feature - Paintings I like - but, I'll stick with it... also on the grounds that I'm not sure how regular and consistent that feature will be ;)

So, one of the spare large journals I had acquired, found a purpose: I don't quite remember where I read it, but it sounded like a fabulous idea: To keep a record of one's favourite pieces of art, along with some thoughts, ideas, and a bit of analysis of why they are favourites. As doing so would be one way of getting to what gets to you, fires your creative imagination and as such can also inform one's own art.

I mean, it's not really revolutionary, that insight - in particular Casey's excellent series of posts on his Wolf Kahn project does exactly that. Take a look here for a collection of his insightful and fascinating posts, along with some stunning new school color pieces of his own.

So, a bit of longwinded prelude for Painting I like #1. It's been only a couple of months back that I stumbled across a catalogue of Nicholas de Stael's work in my Saturday art group. And it completely threw me: those colours, spaces and lines. His work doesn't seem to be too well-known in the UK, if the unavailability of any English publications is something to go by, but I did one with good reproductions and some text in English, alongside the mostly French descriptions of the paintings.

It was de Stael's abstract, and yet figurative landscapes, which preceeded my recent, and continuing forage into Abstract Expressionism.

Enough said - some more saying to follow in due course. But this is my current favourite of de Stael.

Nicholas de Stael, Agrigente, 1953
Oil on Canvas, 73x100cm, Kunsthaus Zurich

A black sky: flat. Hanging over red and grey. How simple. How dramatic. There is some pale yellow around the sharp edges. A splatter of blue in the foreground.

In the process, I came across thisgreat image library which has by far the most extensive collection of de Stael's paintings online - the Spanish site Ciudad de la pintura, with de Stael's paintings at this site here.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Einmal Wegweiser...

... auf Deutsch.

Guck mal, Karsten, das hier sind die Bokelbilder auf Papier:
Die in Öl hast du ja schon so gefunden.

Hier ist der Link für meine Flickrphotos - die sind nach Kunst, Reise etc geordnet.

Und hier sind ein paar Beispiele von dem Papierschnipselprojekt aus aller Welt.
Bei den Papierschnipseleinträgen ist auch einer über Kurt Schwitters dabei - kennst du den? Einige seiner Sachen hängen in Hannover im Sprengelmuseum.

Viel Spass!

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Wild

by Barnett Newman kept me busy over the past few days.

I couldn't get either image or concept out of my head. I had finally ordered a couple of books on Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting - thank you Casey for the good suggestions. They had arrived before the weekend and I had been drinking numerous coffees while looking through them.

Barnett Newman, The Wild, 1950
Oil on canvas, 4.1x243 cm

The painting - now, don't mistake the white background as part of it: it isn't. The painting has one of the most unusual dimensions I had come across as a canvas: it's 4.1x243 cms, i.e., almost 60 times higher than wide. Two layers of red painting onto a blue grey background.

In fact, I must have come across it a few years back at the MoMA, but can't remember it - funny, how there seems to be time and place for paintings to hit you when you're (not) ready.

So, there it is: a significant line - bold and tall, decisive in red. It separates - yet at the same time unifies, provides connnections, holds together.

Lines as themes in my own work - they keep my eyes focused, draw attention to move along, to explore what's around: above, below, left and right. As such: how strict an order do they impose?

Back to Newman - a single line in red and its bold title. The title almost intrigues me as much as the format and concept. It makes me smile: this is almost as far away from wild, expressive and spontaneous as I can imagine. And probably therefore it's such a brilliant title.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

In all earnesty

... was how I was going to approach the Excellent Blogger award that Steph had passed on to me a few days ago... then I thought, C'mon, Gesa, Gie's a break - stop playing to national stereotypes here.
So, rather than getting a long rant about my thoughts of grading, and awarding grades - btw, an E in the UK system is of course the fail mark ;), I am chuffed (if slightly blushed) and am passing it on to a number of other blogs I enjoy. I may struggle though to make it up to ten - but I do like the generous idea of it... which means that soon every blog must get an E, and thus the whole grading idea been undermined.... Sorry... looks as if I can't help my earnesty here...

Well, here's my list:

Lindsay at Non-Linear Arts, whose curiosity towards projects and other people's work has provided much inspiration

Mithi's Creative Journey with loads of art school projects which make me imagine a different life

Jenny's South Belfast Diary whose take on NI politics and events is a good continuation of some of the coffees we used to share.

KJ's One Hundred Objects where I've been lurking frequently and hope to see some of her stunning abstracts live at some point

Tina's Cycling Artist. Her evocative landscapes - all colour and a few lines opened up a new perspective on landscape when I first lurked around WetCanvas.

Hahaha... and then she realised that it's rating not grading... LOL... that's where earnesty gets you to...

And of course: as for instructions, once nominated - if you feel like it - nominate 10 others and pass it on... as per usual...

Saturday, 22 March 2008

I've been practising...

... collecting stuff.

Well - admittedly, with a day on the beach I've always found it easy to come home with all sorts of treasures. The beach day this week fell right into the middle of a series of intense low pressure zones moving across the West Coast. So, wild winds, sea and waves washed ashore plenty of findings.

While the pictures are uploading to Flickr, here's what I've found: Some smoothed down ceramics and tiles, a bit of rusty metal (I hope it's not from one of the submarines that are busily moving up and down this coast) and some pretty rocks.

There were bigger finds that resisted moving.

And of course: the winds, the sea and the waves...

PS: that was once the rain had stopped...

Monday, 17 March 2008

Alternative supports

I've been receiving a few more envelopes stuffed with found papers - more on the content of these in one of the next posts, and a big thank you to those who have been sending material along!

Since my little lunchtime conversation on 'what's to do', I've been thinking around these collages from allover. And... kind of got stuck with content. Shifted sideways (mentally at least), and started thinking about form - one of my stumbling blocks had been the two dimensional support: canvas, paper. It seemed far too unified, homogenous and definite for the idea of getting incidentals from different people in different locations.

One of the recent posts I really enjoyed was Lindsay's report from her bookmaking course, and the concertina artist book she made around the word 'reiteration'. I had been collecting ideas on customising and making sketchbooks for some time (thought they haven't progressed further than a draft state so far).

So, some concerted googling and asking around - thank you Lindsay! - unearthed a couple of simple bookmaking ideas. Unsurprisingly, many on crafty sites for projects with kids.

I had a go at some simple designs from Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord's site

And ended up with these three ones here: A palm leaf book in the front, the hotdog booklet back right, and an accordion book back left.

This is them unfolded:

And, I must admit that my favourite is the palm leaf: as with the accordion design, it can be folded flat, but in addition, the order of leaves can be swapped around (provided the cord is long enough), and it can easily be taken apart and reassembled.

So: next step: size, actual support material and so on and so on...

Saturday, 15 March 2008

A bit(e) of irreverence

I'd been admiring this piece of chocolate for ages. It was near the counter at the place which has the nicest sourdough bread with rye near where I live.

There's something about the purpley violet sugar on milky white chocolate - it's texture, patterning and colour that kept whispering 'Gesa, I think you want to have me' - so I did.

But I haven't made up my mind if it's not just much nicer to look at than to eat...

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Eerily does it...

Eerily, oil on canvas,

... it lures, unsettles and seems to offer something behind those trees. Doesn't it?

So, here's the difficult child of the four... With the least distance between fore- and background, that tree line calls out. It's wintery, blurred, cold and yet somewhat... something... Don't know quite what it is.

But it makes it not easily likeable like beautiful haze and groovy primaries.

Over the past few weeks I've written down associations and memories to all these images. Funny, I think it would be difficult for me to get any scene, landscape, impression on paper or canvas which has more association and memories that these four, five scenes in the series of winter drawings and paintings.

And still, I struggle to trace back the uncanny in this one. I like it, though, maybe because of it's recalcitrant and diffident attitude to beauty.

Eerily, oil on canvas, 60x65cm, detail

Thursday, 6 March 2008

More wintery siblings

Primaries WIP, oil on canvas,

... to the earlier posted Haze. These two are not quite finished, they are slightly larger in scale (80x70cm) but worked with the same palette.

Little to say about them just now, so: Hello to the Works In Progress of Alongside and Primaries (I even used the thesaurus for some online playtime with titles).

Alongside WIP, oil on canvas,
80x70 cm

The canvas of Primaries was in an earlier life a very mishapen life painting in oil, so I am liking it already much better. These canvasses are not that much larger to the previous ones (80x70 to 65x60) but that extra bit of space is making a huge difference to how it feels - well, both in lugging the canvasses around, but more importantly to the painting process itself.

There's one more of this series - the outsider, ugly duckling and difficult child... will introduce it shortly...

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

One, two, three, GO!!!

The runner, Mixed media on paper, 40x50cm

Yesterday over lunch:

M: So, I saw the email you sent round about the art stuff. - I can't believe that you don't have a clue what you'll gonna do with those papers!!! Is that true, you don't know what you'll do with them? That's terrible!
G: Hm, yes - basically: I could do a whole range of things with them, but it'll need to rummage a little longer for it to become clearer what it may be.
M: That's so strange...


G: So, am I gonna get some papers from you? Why don't you just empty your pockets now?
M: Hey dude, I for sure can't do that [imagine good Canadian accent at this point ;)]. Well, it's not that I gonna give you any old paper. I need to get something for you that looks as if I have thought about it for a long time, something that is really clever and cool. You know, not just any old rubbish... So that you think I thought about it for a long time, without me having thought about it, you know what I mean?!

Yes... I do... and so he'll for sure will take a little longer til I get that really cool, ironic piece of found paper... LOL...

So, the race is on... at least for M., methinks... but it usually is...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Hoarding as hobby?

... I am not too sure about that one at all, and maybe that will be my ultimate downfall when it comes to collaging...

As much as I enjoy getting glimpses of other people's collections, I find it a bit difficult to remind myself to pick up things, keep things and think of them as possibly something else.

But I am trying... and these are some of my recent found papers: a little bag which brought me cardamon coffee from Jerusalem's old town, some scraps of leather when I customised my recent bag acquisition, a concert ticket, and some photo print outs from my recent art which had gone wrong (the print out, not the art) - and subsequent attempts at fixing my printer.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Found papers. Someone's #2

Here's another lot of found papers...

In fact, they were the first ones I received... They had been sitting on my kitchen counter for a while now. I keep taking them out of their envelope, look at them, arrange and rearrange, and arrange again.

I do like the eating options on the back of one museum ticket. And I do like the 'engineering wonder' of another.

I wonder though if I will beyond beyond this feeling that they all are just far too precious to use up? LOL - I'll wait and move them around for a little longer, I suppose.

In the meantime: if you have some found papers, you want to send me, see the original post here, and send me an email and I can send some further details.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Square distractions

I bought a few more of the 10x10 square boards - although the square format doesn't work too well for actual landscapes - for which just off square or portrait works much better for me - these little squares are good fun. Plus: they help me sorting out colour schemes and some ideas for abstraction.

So, before applying the most recent layer on the larger oils, I did a few small sketches - two to mirror compositions of the bigger ones, and two more abstract ones.

2x 10x10cm oil on canvas board

I find the small format too flimsy for complex compositions - or maybe I'm just too impatient? But in any case, the strength of the colours comes into play quite nicely in the second, more abstract lot. There's more possibility there, I reckon...

2x 10x10cm oil on canvas board

Seeing the colours on their own in the two square above is great - in the sense that it allows me to simplify, experiment - and with the limited palette, there is no worry of not getting to that colour again. I'm starting to get used to the palette and what it can do where... quite good fun, that is.