Monday, February 24, 2020

Artists I Like

You know how you can go a long time without doing any housecleaning?  Well, over the past few days I've been housecleaning my studio.  Literally.  My dust bunnies were more like dust buffalo.  Damn things were chasing me around the room.  So I got busy and have been cleaning up, throwing old stuff out, dusting (cough cough), and discovering things I'd totally forgotten were there.  I still have another day or two of work, but the studio is feeling much better.

Just now, I realized that I haven't done any housecleaning on this blog site for quite a while.  I went through my "artists I like" section and discovered that several of the links were no longer good or hadn't been updated in a few years.  So I tossed those out.  And, since I'm always searching for new artists, the ones I'm looking at now are not the ones I was looking at X years ago, the last time I updated this section.  So I added some new artists to the list.  Here are some words on who the new ones are and why I like 'em.

Adam Miller is a really skillful and talented painter.  Not only can he paint some wonderful figures, but he puts them into situations where they are actually saying something.  I've been thinking about how to do that with my own work, and then ran into Adam's paintings, and now have some new thoughts burbling away in the back of my brain.  Actually, one of my new paintings was already influenced by his work, but you wouldn't know it unless you listened to a way-too-long description from me.

C.W. Mundy is an American old-school painter.  He paints people, portraits, landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, you name it.  Cutting-edge he is not, but damn, he's good.  I've copied a couple of his paintings in an effort to learn something from him.  I did learn something - I learned that I really have to up my game.

I've written about Nick Alm in previous posts here, here, and here.  He's a Norwegian figurative artist.  While his subject matter (a bunch of young Norwegians getting drunk in cafes) doesn't resonate with me, how he puts his paintings together does.  They are far more structured than you might think at first glance - they're really based on abstract compositions that are made up of people.  This painting, for example, is a large V-shape that focuses attention on the young lady sitting on the table, and fades off to the right, and is bounded by a hard vertical on the left.  I have tried a few times to create a painting with this approach and have failed.  Another effort is on my easel right now.  One of these days, maybe the light will come on and I'll know what I'm doing.  Or not.

Jerome Witkin has been one of my very favorite artists since I was studying art at UNCA back in the early aughts. He's not afraid to tackle heavy topics, like the Holocaust, nor deeply personal subjects.  He can tell a story in an incredibly powerful way.  And, as I know from personal experience, he's the nicest guy in the world.  While his work has been very influential to me, I discovered that I cannot structure and paint like he does.  His paintings are small stage settings that are carefully constructed with an eye toward overall composition, color, movement, and narrative.  I have done a couple of model-in-the-studio paintings that follow his example, but beyond that, his approach doesn't work with my brain.  No matter - he's one of the best painters in America today, so enjoy him.

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