Using Technology to Sell Art

The Artist Nicolas Uribe

One of my favorite contemporary painters right now is Nicolas Uribe.

For me he’s a great example of an artist who really pushes the limits of colour and caricature but maintains a really solid sense of drawing and structure. His work feels like a continuation of the tradition built up by artists like Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, John Singer Sargent and Norman Rockwell.

nicolas uribe instagram painted life

Making Art for Instagram

Beyond aesthetic, I also find him interesting because of the business model he is developing. We hear a lot about the art market struggles, yet this is an example of a small actor who is developing a new economic model.

With a substantial instagram following Uribe has started making work that is meant almost exclusively for the small screen. Over the past couple of years he developed a series of small scale sketchbook paintings called Our Painted Lives : A Sketchbook-Life Experience. Throughout the process he shared the images to his instagram.

Nicolas Uribe sketchbook painting

When asked by James Gurney about the experience of creating art for instagram Uribe said, ” it’s a very direct channel for visual communication. In theory there are many other live channels, like youtube, twitch, or facebook, but the artist community is very active in Instagram. I also find that the default ephemeral quality of the live videos (they’re only up for 24 hrs), emphasizes the fact that you feel you have to be there when something is being painted. That same presence, that same sense of urgency is the one I feel when I have to execute a painting in two or three, one hour sessions.”

Instead of courting a gallery show, Uribe set up an Indiegogo campaign to have the series printed as a book. Followers were invited to support the campaign by per-ordering a book. For a higher fee you could also get an original drawing or a painting.

New Online Economy

I purchased a book and I am very excited to hear that they are now being shipped. In the email announcing the shipment Uribe unveiled he is starting a new online video education program.

Again all the content will be shared for free online and there will be a way for fans to financially support the project – if they want.

For me it’s a really interesting example of this new ‘pay what you can’ economy that is developing online. It’s exciting because the model makes culture more accessible – anyone can see his work online. But it’s also exciting because it seems to be viable. For his indiegogo campaing the artist raised 300% of his intended target.

For anyone trying to figure out how technology will impact the art market this is an artist to watch.

Parallel Visions in Exhibition

Velazquez, Rembrandt, Vemeer: Parallel Vision at the Museo Del Prado is my top pick for a museum show in 2019. Man I would do anything to go see this show!

For those of us not able to jet over to Madrid for a weekend there is a great interview with the show’s curator Alejandro Vergara on the Art Newspaper podcast. The show challenges the popular narrative around nationalism and art and invites the viewer to reflect on the shared traits of 16th and 17th c. Dutch and Spanish art.

What is especially interesting about the argument is that during this period the two regions were at war. Starting in 1568 now Holland and Belgium (then part of Spain) revolted against the Spanish monarch. The result was an 80 year conflict that ended with the creation of the two new nations.

Art history tends to celebrate Hollands independence by fixating on what made their art unique and “Dutch”.

Shared Style in Dutch and Spanish Art

Section 5. “Painting with Big Strokes of the Brush”
Izquierda: Portrait of a Man, Frans Hall, Oil on Canvas, c. 1635 ; Derecha: The Buffoon el Primo, Diego Velazquez, Oil on Canvas, 1644 (Image Credit Museo del Prado)

This show challenges the national flavour of both the Dutch and Spanish school. Instead it tells how both were influenced by 16th c. Venetian art.

It argues that artists like Rembrandt and Velazquez interpreted this shared legacy in a similar fashion and simultaneous developed a new artistic aesthetic that departed from the idealism of the renaissance creating a humanistic realist style.

What I love about this argument is it reminds us of the universal nature of knowledge. Something as personal as artistic style is not limited to a nation or an individual. Given access to past knowledge we are all capable of artistic breakthrough.

Brushy Art in Russia and United States

vernon lee john singer sargent
Portrait of Vernon Lee, John Singer Sargent, Oil on Canvas, 1881 (Image Credit Tate)

A fantasy curation project: I think it would be a real hoot to build on the thesis of the Museo del Prado show and explore the shared traits of other national schools of painting.

A pretty epic example is the portrait art of the late 19th c. in the United States and Russia. American artists like John Singer Sargent and Cecilia Beaux both painted in a brushy modern aesthetic that parallels the work of Russian artists like Ilia Repin and Valentin Serov.

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « valentin serov »
Girl with Peaches, Valentin Serov, Oil on Canvas, 1881
These artists were all heavily influenced by French art – both the academic system and the impressionist style. Interestingly you can also see a lot of Rembrandt and Velazquez in their loose brushy approach to painting.
Sita et Sarita cecilia beaux
Sita et Sarita, Cecilia Beaux, Oil on Canvas, 1881 (Image Credit Musee d’Orsay)

Conceptually their work brought ideas of modern psychology into portrait art. These portraits are oozing with attitude and feeling. I find this image by Beaux particularly radical. She juxtaposes innocence (the white doll like costume and the cat) with the girls cool self confidant expression and pose.

Throughout art history we can find countless examples of overlap and cross pollination between different national schools. The message over and over seems to be that we can achieve more collectively than we can in isolation.

Body and Mind

This is the preliminary sketch for my next Selfie. I wanted to push myself and create composed image with a character, costume, scene and mood. I wanted to push beyond mere likeness of a sitter on a static background.

Body: The Profile and the Public Self

For this picture I wanted to create a dialogue with the historic practice of the profile portrait from the early Renaissance .  The profile was the preferred mode for representing a Nobel Lady (to read more on this you can read Understanding Madame X). Because she looks away from the viewer we don’t get a sense of her internal world and any judgement of her is base slowly on appearance. Representing the wrong expression was risky because it could call into question the sitters virtue. Best to avoid the lady’s thoughts all together.

The profile also suggests her nobel lineage. From this angle we can most easily read her facial features and , for example, recognize her nose that resembles that of some important Duke. Underscoring her nobility, she would be dressed in her finest and positioned by a window overlooking the land her family owns.

selfie drawing courtney clinton artist
#Body, 2019, Graphite on Paper

What got me excited in all of this was this idea of presenting a public self. What is my identity within the society? I’m sort of tempted to leave it at that. I spent a lot of time thinking about the pose for this image and hopefully that expresses how I see my role as an artist.

Another key element in this drawing was expressing a sense of light. In those early profile portraits the treatment was flat or graphic. Although the subject was often in front of a window they were shown in full light. For my profile I wanted to signal our evolution as a society by showing my subject in natural light. This meant showing the sitter in shadow set against the bright light of the window.

Mind: A Secound Image in the Mirror

To do draw yourself in profile you need two mirrors. You face the first mirror in profile and you angle the secound so that you look into it to see the reflection of the first mirror. Looking into that secound mirror you also see yourself looking directly into the mirror. Working on #Body I couldn’t stop noticing the secound image of myself in the mirror. I was struck by how utterly different it was to the carefully construction of public persona I was trying to capture with #Body.

selfie drawing courtney clinton artist
#Mind, 2019, Graphite on Paper

In the secound image #Mind the sitter looks directly at the viewer. It’s extremely psychological. You can’t help but try and guess her thoughts. The open mouth, that gives the first image a sense of naturalism, comes off as a provocation. Is she about to say something? Even the composition feels more intimate. In the first image the sitter is seen from across the room. Our main attention goes to the ‘thinker’ pose. The secound image crops into the face, positioning the viewer only inches from the sitter. All of this intimacy invites the viewer into the sitter’s internal world.

Two Drawings About Truth

#Body #Mind are two completely different images. Yet they capture the exact same person, in the exact same pose, at the exact same time. With this drawing I invite the viewer to consider the complexity of truth. In #Body I build up a very composed image filled with references to art history. In #Mind I present a more candid and psychological image that seems to call into question the authenticity of the more composed image.

My aim isn’t to make the viewer takes sides (#TeamBody or #TeamMind). Instead, I invite the viewer to view the work as an expression of an external and internal self.

Because we all have an internal and external self, I think it’s easier to understand these two conflicting ideas as true. But I challenge my audience to take this idea a step forward. We talk a lot about fake news and how technology allows for the manipulation of images. What I’d like to suggest is that truth is a bug concept that is hard to pin down in any one image. We should always consume images critically. We don’t have to write everything off as fake but we should always be considering how the image could look from a different perspective.

Courtney Clinton Artist Drawing Hashtag Selfie
#Body #Mind, 2019, Graphite on Paper

Learning to see through drawing

I’ve been told so many times that art technique doesn’t matter. It’s all about ideas. I would like to argue that ideas can come from the knowledge acquired in art training. An interesting case study for this hypothesis is the work of the 19th century artist Charles Bargues.

Bargues’ Drawing Course

Bargues is best known as the print artist who did the images for the Drawing Course. The idea of the book is that you copy a series of about 100 drawings by master artists. The book is brilliant in that each drawing introduces a new concept building on ideas presented in the one before.

Bargues did not do the initial drawings but he copied them to make lithograph prints. He’s considered the first student of the course.

How Bargues Art Changed

The image above is from the Harold Speed book, The Practice and Science of Drawing. It illustrates drawing what we know  (A) verses what we see (B). Beginner artists always struggle to let go of their conceptual understanding of the world and to actually look at the subject.

If we look at Bargues’ early work we see an artist who is producing the worst kind of orientalist art (large sense). Here is a First Nations women clearly not drawn from life presented as object of desire.

She is an idea, or a crude fantasy. After completing the Drawing Course project (which took over a year). The artist’s work changed dramatically.

Not only is his work technically more interesting but he’s now presenting a much more complex image of beauty and other cultures. Unlike his fantasy girl these images are done from life. He has seen a Mosque and seen men in the act of praying. From this lived experience he gives us a beautiful image of a spiritual moment.

Art’s biggest lesson is that we are naturally bad at observing. So much of how we see the world is based on preconceived ideas. Art forces us to challenge those ideas by really looking at the world.

Abstract Expressionism: Why is this Art?

CBC Arts is doing a great series called Art 101! The series tries to breakdown some basic ideas about art! In their most recent article by Lise Hosein, Why is this Art?, they explain the value of Abstract Expressionism (AbEx).

In the spirit of debate I do want to push back on some of the ideas Hosein presents. Her argument centres on an idea that AbEx is the pictorial embodiment of freedom of expression. I would argue that we should push back against this ideological reading of the movement and instead look to the canvas to understand the value of the work.

Art and the Cold War

Tetiana Yablonska: Bread (1949)

She rightly points out that the movement developed during the cold war at the same time as the Socialist Realist movement in Russia. The Russian movement was heavily monitored by the state and artists had little freedom over what they could paint.

What the article does not address is that AbEx was also a state sponsored movement. The American government sponsored exhibitions and the production of abstract art. What’s nefarious about the actions of the American government is that they didn’t tell anyone (including the artists). So there is this false belief that the abstract movement developed organically.

Just like in world politics I get really worried when we talk about something as complicated as art in black and white terms : AbEx good, Realism bad.

There was actually an exhibition of Socialist Realism here in Montreal in 1960. Maclean’s magazine has the original article up on their online archive. If you actually look at the art it’s fascinating. Despite all of the constraints these artists managed to make something beautiful and meaningful (examining ideas around community and work).

Celebrating abstract art as the art of Freedom of Expression is also problematic because it ignores that AbEx has alway been fairly aggressive in its attack on realism. You have to choose – ‘you are either with us or against us’. Case in point, Canadian critics and curators (all proponents of abstraction) refused to engage with the the Russian work when it visited Montreal.

With US-Chinese trade tensions we are entering into a new cold war. Recognizing that our rejection of realism is linked to cold war politics is important because it reminds us of what we stand to loose if we don’t listening to outside views!

AbEx and the Painting of Jack Bush

What I love about AbEx is that if you separate it from it’s ideology the work holds up.

To understand Abstract art I want to discuss the work of the Toronto painter Jack Bush. He’s arguably Canada’s most important AbEx painter.

The first thing I would say is like any artist you really need to look at their body of work to understand the works value. If you just look at one of Bush’s colour fields it’s reasonable to write off as simple. But if you start to look at a period of an artist work (I’ve chosen his work from the 1960s), you start to understand the artists language and artistic ideas.

In this period, I see the artist using colour shapes and pattern to create a sense of movement or interruption.

Little Yelow, Jack Bush, C. 1960s

In this first image the dominant shape is a flat yellow rectangle. To the right, this wash of yellow is interrupted by a rainbow pattern of colour. The artist is contrasting both colour and pattern to create a sense of vibration between the two parts.

Green Thrust, Jack Bush

In image two we have a a strip of raw canvas running across the dark patterned background. Not quite making it across the canvas the strip feels like it is in motion racing across the canvas. Using a completely abstract language the artist has created a sense of movement (this series was called ‘thrust’).

Purple Thrust, Jack Bush, 1974

In this final example a blue vertical line is invading the horizontal rainbow pattern. We have a similar feeling of contrast (like we did in image one) but this time he is using line direction to create that tension.

Jack Bush was also a prominent illustrator with a good understanding of traditional technique. I can’t help but read his work as a kind of narrative abstraction. His work avoids all references to reality (space, light, form) yet his use of colour and shape still manages to tell a story!


#Sleeping Beauty

Project Proposal for Residency

The online satirical newspaper The Beaverton had a great headline a couple years back. The tag line read “Artist takes time out of their busy grant writing schedule to actually make art.” For any artists this can feel all too familiar. Over the last couple years I have written dozens of applications for grants, residencies and shows. When you’re lucky it works out but so much of that work never gets seen.

For this months blog I’ve decided to share a project proposal I wrote for the Banff Centre‘s Digital Promises residency. The inspiration for this project comes from a series of photos taken by my long term partner.

sleeping beauty

I mean when you are sitting on a conceptual gold-mind you just have to create!

Selfie Painting Series

#SleepingBeauty is part of my ongoing #Selfie series. The series is made up of self-portrait drawings and paintings. The final product will be a quadriptyque painting based on a series of voyeuristic digital images taken of me sleeping.

Throughout my #Selfie series my aim is to interrogate this relationship between image production and reception. Social media apps like instagram stress the importance of authenticity through their design: Instagram users can only upload photos through their personal phone. Despite this pretense of authentic reality, the selfie is criticized for depicting a ‘filtered’ or idealized version of the self.

A Look at Image Sharing Online

In #SleepingBeauty I will explore how this conversation around truth is further complicated when the image is shared without the authorization of its subject. So prevalent is the sharing of non-consensual images that it has now entered the criminal code. What makes these crimes so painful is that with digital technologies, private images circulate rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another.

The source images for this piece were taken by my long-term partner over a four year period. These images have become an inside joke and I consider them a sign of affection. When I look at these images I don’t see a representation of myself, I see my partners gaze. I can imagine my partner watching me sleep and I feel loved.

I’m interested in how easily these intimate tokens could be weaponized through non-consensual sharing online. What makes these images permissible is an underwritten understanding that they are not intended to be seen by anyone outside our couple.

In my painting, I will use repetition to visualise this shift from personal to public. The final work will be a quadriptyque painting made up of four equally sized square canvases each depicting one of the images of me sleeping. This echoing of subject suggests the general dissemination of such images.

The central focus of this work is this shift from private to public and how it changes the perceived meaning of the image. Once the consumption of this images expands to a wider audience its meaning changes. A larger audience, who doesn’t know the photos context, can’t know who is behind the camera. The focus of the image’s meaning shifts from its creator to its subject. All meaning and judgement is now placed on me, the subject.

My sleeping state highlights the power imbalance between subject and creator. In these images the subject has no control over their depiction. In contrast, the creator has what feels like total access to the subject.

The intimacy and access afforded to the viewer gives the images a sense of authenticity. To challenge this assumption of objective truth and to stress the manufactured nature of these images, I will give the work a grainy or pixelated quality – playing off the realist work of Gerhard Richter.

Sailors, 1966, Gerhard Richter
Sailors, 1966, Gerhard Richter

Knowing the work is unauthorised raises questions around the representation of self. If the subject is not an engaged participant in the image do they not become a mere object? While we are presented with the physical form of the subject, it is the implicit voice of the person behind the camera that narrates the scene. In this way the image carries as much bias as the idealized selfie.

A Book List for Learning to Draw

Being an artist, for me, has always meant learning the craft of drawing. When I started my journey as artist I was sad to learn that institutions which taught classical drawing technique were disbanded throughout the 20th century. Classical technique is no longer taught at the secondary or post secondary level.

Unable to find the information I craved in the present, I looked to the past. Through my research I discovered that many artists have actually written manuals on the craft of drawing. In this post I share some of the books on art technique that have influenced my own development in drawing.

If you’re like me, and interested in the developing the technical skills to under-gird your creativity, this list is a great starting point.

Movement and Form, By Samantha Youssef

Movement and Form

Book Author: Youssef

Youssef is a former character animator for Walt Disney Animation, has directed at Ubisoft Digital Arts, and is an award winner at the Toronto International Film Festival for her animated short film La Fuga Grande.

Art Student Level

Like all good art books, this one has something for artists of all levels, but I would especially recommend this book for beginner students. Youssef goes over the fundamentals of how to hold a pencil, how to set up your easel and the proper arm (not wrist) motion for drawing.

Book Overview

The book is a comprehensive overview of gesture drawing. Youssef offers a five step process on how to sketch from a model. The book teaches the young artist how to think in the abstract. She stresses the importance of thinking in terms of line and shape when building a drawing. The book also gets the reader to think of drawing in terms of communication. Each line should communicate some information about the model’s pose. Youssef offers a very interesting overview of the art philosophy on straight versus curved line. Reading this book reminds the reader that sketching is a kind of note taking for the artist or a way to build an understanding of nature through observation.

How I used this book

The book is deceptively short. While you could easily read this book in one sitting, I recommend breaking up each chapter with a couple sessions of life drawing. In life drawing sessions I would force myself to follow Samantha’s process. Only once I was comfortable with a particular stage of her process would I keep reading.

Fundamentals of Drawing, By V.A. Mogilevtsev

Fundamentals of Drawing V.A. Mogilevtsev

Book Author: Mogilevtsev

A. Mogilevtsev is a leading professor and a Head of the Department of Drawing at the Russian Academy of Arts (the Repin Art Institute), where he has taught senior students since 1995. In 2011, Professor Mogilevtsev received Gold and Silver Medals from the Academy for his teaching achievements and for his books Fundamentals of Drawing and Academic Drawings & Sketches.

Art Student Level

I would recommend this book to students with an intermediate level of drawing. The artist should already feel confident drawing lines and have experience drawing from a model. This is a great book for someone who wants to take on the challenge of longer poses and incorporate more detail into their art.

Book Overview

The book builds on the concepts covered by the Youssef book, discussing how to give a figure drawing a sense of structure and form. The book is set up as two demos: a portrait followed by a figure drawing. Like Youssef, Mogilevtsev stresses the importance of the gesture. The book teaches the artist to first lay down an overall impression of the portrait before zeroing in and developing each feature. Each step is illustrated with a sketch. This book invites the artist to think of form in terms of connected planes. Beside each sketch is an analytical drawing that shows the image in terms of its planar structure.

How I used this book

Like most art books, the best way to use this book is to copy the drawings. It can be tempting to copy only the final drawing from each demo but to fully understand the artist’s process I recommend building your drawing by following each illustrated step.  I come back to this book to a lot. When I am working on a portrait I will often have the book beside my easel as a reference.

Drawing Course, By Gerald Ackerman


Book Author: Ackerman

Ackerman  completed his studies at the University of California at Berkeley, then at the University of Munich and finally at Princeton, where he received his PhD. For twenty years, he was a professor of art history at Pomona College in California. He was a specialist of Gerome and published studies on other 19th century American and European artists, as well as on the theory of academic art.

Art Student Level

Originally this book was intended for young artists looking to be accepted at the French Academy. In many contemporary ateliers this book is taught at the beginning of the program as an introduction to drawing. I would argue that this book is best for intermediate and advanced artists. Before you start thinking about shadows and rendering you should already be comfortable with the fundamentals of structure that gesture drawing teaches. For the intermediate artist it is a great way to learn to see and articulate shadow shapes. For the more advanced artist the book is a great introduction to the art of edges.

Book Overview

The original book was a collaboration between the French lithographer and painter Charles Bargue and the French painter Jean-Leon Gerome. It was intended as a study manual for young artists. The art historian, Gerald Ackerman, reprinted the manual adding contextual and historical information on the artists, the original book, and the French academic system. The core of the book is a series of cast drawings. The drawings are broken down into steps. For anyone who has read Youssef and Mogilevtsev, the Bargue’s method will feel quite different. In the same way the two previous books focused on gesture, this book focuses on design. With this process the artist blocks out the general silhouette of the object using straight lines. Next, they divide the drawing into shadow shapes and light area. Only in the last step does the artist think about form. Form is expressed by laying down a graduated shadow between the light and dark areas.

How I used this book

I first came across this book when I started to investigate the atelier movement blossoming in the United States. At this stage I was still struggling to understand the relationship between shadow and form. I did about 20 copies from the plates and developed a good understanding of how to see and block in shadows. A couple years later I came back to the book. At this stage I was used to working slowly and committed myself to making more refined copies of the plates. In spending more time with the drawings I realised that the Bargue was treating his edges with incredible sophistication. I had been struggling with the concept of edges for a while and finally understood to think of edges as another way to communicate information about form.

Research on Teaching

Contemporary art puts a lot of emphasis on free expression, because of this there is a bias against teaching methods that prescribe a specific process. Through my research I’ve learned that no two artists work in the exact same way. To learn from another artist you need to give yourself over to their process. When working with these books commit to the process described by the artist. As you encounter more and new methods of working you will naturally pick and choose what you like from each artist and develop your own personal methods. Happy reading, and let me know which art books have helped you develop your craft!


Top Art Podcasts

Podcasts on Art from 3 perspectives

In the past year I have become completely obsessed with podcasting!

The internet is revolutionizing education and making it more accessible and democratic. I’m blown away by the generosity of people who choose to share their passion and knowledge through blogs, vlogs and podcasts. I have a particular love for podcasts because I can listen to them while I paint. Podcasts have been a great way for me to investigate different areas of the art world.

In this blog I want to share with you three of my favorite podcasts which look at art from three different perspectives: the artist, the critic and the market.

Suggested Donation on the Artist

Hosts: Artists Tony Curanaj and Edward Minoff

Tony Curanaj and Edward Minoff are working hard to change the face of academic realism on their show Suggested Donation. Both are former graffiti artists who got their start making animations for MTV. They are also founding members of the Water Street atelier under Jacob Collins. Now teachers at the Grand Central Atelier they interview contemporary american artists working in the classical realist tradition.

The podcast has a casual, conversational tone. The two have been friends for years and have a natural chemistry. You can expect the conversation to jump from Bouguereau to Star Wars and back to Tiepolo. Each episode is structured around an interview with a guest artist. Both have an impressive knowledge of art history and their conversations explore a guest’s process and artistic influences.

Episode to start with :

Da Vinci Salvator Mundi
Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c. 1500

Episode 21: Robert Simon Back before “Salvator Mundi” smashed auction records, Suggested Donation sat down with Old Master Dealer, Robert Simon, who was a central figure in the discovery of the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s a fascinating story!

Episodes I hope they do :

I’m waiting for them to interview Colleen Barry who just took on the role of director of the Grand Central Atelier! I would also love to hear them talk to Nicolas Uribe about self publishing and his live demos on instagram.

The MAN Podcast on the Critic

Hosts: Art critic and Historian, Tyler Green

Tyler Green is reviving the lost art of the interview in his show the Modern Art Notes.  His questions are well researched and each interview has a structure. His knowledge of what seems to be any subject puts his guests at ease and allows for a truly in depth conversation about art. At least once an episode, his guest will say (in ernest), “that’s a great question.”

Each episode is broken into two separate interviews. Guests include artists, art historians and authors. There is a nice mix of historic and contemporary art. While he does cover the major Getty and Met exhibitions there is also an an effort to look at small shows across the country.

Episode to start with :

Thomas Cole , The Oxbow,1836

Episode No. 326 Featuring curator Betsy Kornhauser. Green’s area of research is 19th century landscape so this interview with the curator of the Met’s exhibition, Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings, is particularly interesting.

Episodes I hope they do :

I would have love to hear his interpretation of the show Women Artists in Paris curated by Laurence Madeline at the Denver Art Museum.

The Art Newspaper Podcast on the Market

Hosts: Art Newspaper features editor Ben Luke

A weekly round up of the top stories in the art world cover by the The Art Newspaper. This podcast is journalistic in tone. The main host is Ben Luke but interviewing duties are shared with other contributors to the newspaper. Stories are presented through interviews with artists, critics and dealers. A really nice mix of historic and contemporary art. Although their London home base gets quite a bit of the coverage, there is an effort to look at international stories.

What’s fun about this podcast is that it looks at art from a conceptual and market standpoint. Almost every episode will include a review of a current museum show with equal attention given to market issues.

Episode to start with :

Episode 13 : The dark side of the art market. In this episode former editor Jane Morris interviews Georgina Adam about her book Dark Side of the Boom. In this episode they look at big issues like the impact of art fairs on the market, auction prices for contemporary art and the disappearance of mid-range galleries.

Episodes I hope they do :

This year the Berkshire Museum was embroiled in controversy after they announced they were going to sell 40 works from their permanent collection. One of those work was Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop (for more info see my post). The sale has now been approved and many are speculating that George Lucas has purchased the work for his new museum. I would love to hear what this story means for museum policy and what impact all of this could have on Rockwell’s market.

Do you ave a favorite art podcast? I want to hear about it!


Using Geometric Forms to Refine Process

Geometric Shape Painting Study


A big question in my work right now is painterly approach. By nature I am a loose painter. I like big bold strokes and I like to work fast.

A teacher of mine once told me that to be a great artist I needed to overcome style. He said that painting is like boxing and style can be a force but also a weakness as it makes you predictable.

So in hopes of avoiding a knock out I am forcing myself to slow down and trying to understand how to conceal my brush work. The idea is that in having both a loose and a tight approach I can create works that play with focus (pulling in on sections and letting others hang loosely).

Studying Form

For this first study I am working from a collection of geometric forms. The idea is to have a really concrete understanding of these regular shapes so that when faced with more complex form I can refer back to these shapes as part of my decoding process.

So as I so often do when I’m starting something new I cut colour out of the equation to focus on value in a black and white study of these geometric forms.

Value (light to dark) is the foundation of form. It expresses the direction of form in its relationship to a light source. So if a plane is light it is facing the light and if it is dark it is turning away from the light.

My process for this painting was a hybrid of my normal practice and that of the artists I was trying to imitate.

In terms of more refined painting style my main influence is the Grand Central Atelier where I’ve taken a handful of workshops. The main idea of their process is explained through an analogy of an ant crawling across form.

Modeling Form

Working on a mid-toned canvas I draw each shape and then mass in my darkest darks and lightest lights.

From there the idea is to to describe the path from dark to light using value scales that follow the contours of form. Scales are built in whats referred to as the tiling process. Paint is laid down in individual “tiles” of value.

The most important and (of course) challenging part of this process is understanding the direction or line that these scales need to follow to properly define form. The only way to really engage with this process is to work line by line.

On a first pass I quickly blocked in value shapes for my cylindrical triangle and my cylinder. Both had an angular feel to them and it was only by scraping away that work and following the circumference of the shape that I was able to smooth out the form.

Overall I was pleased with this first effort but I still need to learn how to clean up my transitions (really hide the strokes). I’ve decided to redo the exercise once more in black and white and then again in colour. Using a warm light I want to explore the shift in colour temperature as light moves across form. Stay tuned…