Art Doesn’t Transform. It Just Plain Forms

I’d always wanted to know the difference between a mark that was art and one that wasn’t. ~ Roy Lichtenstein

I’ve only completed the second unit of the online Illustration project I’m doing.  This is the third interpretation of Broncia Koller-Pinell’s nude portrait of Marietta.  A Klimt version during his golden phase was considered, mostly because Egon Schiele was his student and because Koller-Pinell’s work had a considerable influence on Klimt as well as Schiele. 

Eventually I decided that I’ve filled the brief to choose a painting that excites me and reflect on how different artists may have interpreted it.  I think I’ve also ‘let go and experimented without fear and played, simplified and allowed myself to feel the work using different material and techniques.’

So this is my third and final image, depicting my assumption of the approach of American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.  His vivid, sensational work draws on popular imagery from advertising, comics and cartoons, with their easily strong, comprehensible lines, flattened designs  and strict colour pallet of primary colours.  His instantly recognisable two-dimensional imagery is known for colouring much of his canvas, and especially women, with his signature Benday dots.

His female nudes referenced 1960’s comic book caricatures, with his compositional technique of contrasting stark geometrical shapes and lines with the curvier form of the female body.

His artworks looked machine-made, but were carefully designed and rendered by hand.

The above image was created digitally.  I wasn’t able to reproduce the Benday dots to produce tones, but I had a go. I’ve made her look like she has a very bad dose of chicken pox, but she’s still smiling!

Art Is A Line Around Your Thoughts

“The line has almost become a work of art in itself” ~ Theo Van Doesburg

Still on the second unit of my first online illustration course, this is my version of how I suppose that Egon Schiele may have drawn a portrait of Broncia Koller-Pinell’s Marietta.

Broncia Koller-Pinell had a considerable influence on Egon Schiele.  She and her husband were his influential patrons.

Schiele’s dynamic, raw works have a beautifully frugal sense of line, the line being a dominant element in the structure of all his works.  He was more interested in contour than volume.  Schiele ranks as one of the greatest draughtsmen of all time.  He had a remarkable touch when building a line and contour of any figures, his extremely distinctive style was formed on one main foundation and means of expression – the line. 

Although there is obvious toning on the body, I perceive an appealing sense of flatness to it, as with many works by Schiele.  The lines do all the work.  Weight is the essence of form.  It is comprehending the solidity of the form.

Can you tell I’m passionate and excited by great lines?

Schiele rarely portrayed graceful nude bodies like this demurely seated female nude, most were curiously distorted and uncomfortable. His interpretation of his models presented bony, knobbly bodies in angular, knotted poses. Evidently, he liked to challenge rather than please the viewer.

His lines show a tendency to peak at points of tension (the outline of the hip, the top edge of the left shoulder and forearm), a trick that makes the contour static but not heavy.  This was difficult to replicate as the model Marietta has considerably more flesh on her than his usual models appear to have.

Carefully outlined in black crayon or ink on tinted paper, crayon has been used to decorate the figure. He often left his portraits in an unfinished state, and rarely with any background details.

ILLUSTRATION: Brooding in a corner somewhere between art and graphic design….

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” ~ Charles Mingus, American jazz musician.

 

The second unit of my first online illustration course, was unexpectedly, both an intellectual and a creative challenge.  I’ve had to think back to school history of art lessons, analysing paintings and artists – it gave my  brain a much-needed nudge.

I was to choose a painting that excites me for some reason.

Then, I was to try out different versions of the same image, but demonstrate how different artists would have interpreted it, using a variety of materials and techniques.

The initial painting was to be faithful to the work and its meaning.

I chose an enchanting nude portrait of Marietta 1907, by female Jewish artist Broncia Koller-Pinell. I knew nothing about it or her until I stumbled  upon it when it was tacked on at the end of an Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt exhibition at the National Gallery in 2014. There is nothing quite like seeing it in real life – it blew me away, I gazed at it for a long time and couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks.

The portrait of this lovely seated female nude has a simple L-shaped composition, with little attention given to the background other than graphic elements; blocks of flat, pale colour and a gold rectangle behind her head.  In this way, she gives the nude particular significance, focusing entirely on the harmonious lines of the subject’s body.  Paintings of nude women were still considered scandalous in 1908, especially when made by a woman.  Although nude, there is nothing provocative in this pose.

I was drawn by her efficient use of line, conveying the contours of the body.  There is much information and intent in each line, which limit the functions to construction and not description of specific anatomical data.  The fluid, precise, pared back line defines the edges of the form, effectively creating the structure of the body, traces contour and leads the eye from one part of the work to another.  They have their own merit.  They inform the rise and fall of the surfaces as the line travels over the breasts, the rib cage, down to the navel, over the abdomen and finally, down to the pubic area.  They describe the mass and volume of the form.  Every single mark is intentional.

Herewith my quick watercolour, attempting to be faithful to the original painting.

This was to help me unconsciously assume the structure of the work and its meaning.  A copy of the original is below, which was a postcard bought at the exhibition.

As Soon As My Son Is Fit To Live With, He Goes To Live With Other People.

An empty room is a story waiting to happen, and you are the author. ~ Charlotte Moss ~

The sweet. beloved boy is now a 6’ 3” tall +man.  That soft little fat-cheeked face is angular and has stubble.  He achieved a distinction in his M.A. degree, flew the coop in July for a house-share with good friends, has just exchanged his sound engineering job for a dream lecturing position in London and he’s happy. We could not be more proud…and relieved!

There’s less laundry and the food bill has been cut by more than half but god I miss him breezing through the front door and so long to receive one of his wonderful bear hugs. 

Covid means we only “see” each other during our weekly online chat.  He’ll be spending his first Christmas day away from home with the family of a nearby school friend, so we’ll get to see him briefly, wearing our masks,  each in a corner of our sitting room.  I’ll throw one of those see-through dust sheets over him so that I can have one of his longed for hugs, plus it will make him laugh.

His room is freakishly immaculate, screamingly silent and vastly empty!  Not wanting to make it unrecognisable, (I can’t bring myself to call it our spare room) I had fun creating this watercolour to break up the now offensively naked walls.

Using beech leaves, I had my first go at mono-printing, which, if you’re interested, doesn’t really work with watery watercolour paints, so I also block-printed and then drew over the top using “pens” I’d fashioned out of beech twigs.  They worked really well, although as you can see, the ink did run sometimes off too quickly, but I fixed that by wiping the point on the side of the ink bottle.

Is it possible to have too much gold paint?  Yes, I went a smidgen too far, but think I got away with it.

I’ve ordered this inexpensive frame – and yes, the colour theme of the room is mainly blue…for boys!

Hurry Up Spring!

“I sit before flowers, hoping they will train me in the art of opening up,”

So says modern poet Shane Koyczan.

For five days I’ve been sitting in front of “a host, of golden daffodils” willing them to train me in the art of capturing their glory in watercolours.

“I gazed-and gazed” but found that yellow on yellow is really difficult!  Keep it loose and there’s not enough definition – add detail and it looks overworked.  Whilst the paint was still wet I went back in with a watercolour crayon which seeemed to work fairly well.  Oh and on the vase I used a white wax crayon to (kind of) define the water line.

Daffodils©Bunch-1.fwHere’s the best one out of VERY many attempts.

Daffodils©Crop.fw

Although after reading the very talented artist Kate Osborne’s excellent post on “Cropping” I tried this….

Daffodils©Crop-1.fw

…but decided that this one is probably best?  Actually, surprisingly, cropping is also more difficult than I assumed it would be.

Frustration aside, I enjoyed using my paints again – a necessary change from designing for my ** Zazzle store.

Ever the optimist, I plan doing some cutsie watercolours of themes suitable for children, which eill be incorporated into designs for greeting cards and various other items…you guessed…for my ** Zazzle store!

“And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.”

With apologies to William Wordsworth.

** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017

Experiments in Abstract Mark Making

You rarely get what you expect in life and despite it being almost Christmas you won’t see a stunningly beautiful festive painting as done by Lesley White nor this marvelous Thanksgiving watercolour by Carol King.  But I do promise not to whine this time.

Anyone who kindly reads my witterings know that the process of setting up my online shop has wilted the neurons in my feeble brain.  (Almost whined there.)  The remedy?  A first venture into abstract doodling mark making, some of which is influenced by images seen on the internet.

Abstract©WonkySquares

Abstract art isn’t supposed to look like anything, which is immediately freeing.  It can be whatever you make of it – or whatever you don’t make of it.

With ink and watercolour paints, I soon became totally immersed in making marks and shapes for their own sake, which was most gratifying.  Time zipped by.

Abstract©Waves

Making repetitive gestures was both relaxing and absorbing; sometimes it felt almost unconscious as I tried not to exert too much control.

AbstractLines©Horizontal+Spots

And yes, these images will be put to use in my ** Zazzle Store.

I’m considering running another site purely for commercial posts.  Maybe next year.

Until then, a huge thank you to all of you who have supported me by stopping to look or comment and I sincerely do wish you all a very merry festive holiday.

** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017.

Hello Zazzle, Goodbye Life!

Anyone who wants to make money by selling their art online, let me warn you that it is a deeply formidable task.

When I naively thought it would fun to open an online business little did I realise what I was letting myself in for. Every day sees me investing long hours on activities which do not include painting pretty pictures.  I’ve had to…..

  • Decipher what and how to adhere to the site requirements on setting up the store front.
  • Learn every damned thing alone as Zazzle don’t really offer much advice.
  • Interpret and complete complicated forms to keep the taxman happy.
  • Know what size images are required for each individual product.
  • Be proficient at using imaging software – I’m self-taught on Adobe Fireworks.
  • Think up original ideas.
  • Create new images, not just with paint and inks, but digitally as well.
  • Become a champion at tagging.
  • Delve deeply into my box of descriptive words.
  • Open promotional media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Zazzle©Desk.fw

But still…all I hear is crickets.

It’s going to be a long time before I see any reward for my efforts and I’m realising that it will be necessary to open new stores with other online platforms in order to appeal to a variety of audiences.

The thing I’ve found the most difficult is to not be timid about pushing my Zazzle store on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not enough to simply upload a few items and sit back waiting for them to sell.  Constant promotion of each item is vital and I’m convinced that I’ve probably irritated my friends and lost a good few followers in the process.

On the plus side, Zazzle do print my designs on good quality merchandise and I am enjoying the process; the novelty hasn’t worn off…yet.

I just saw an article proclaiming that those who succeed with these online stores have been doing it fo approximately fifteen years, (FIFTEEN!!) producing more than one item per day – I’ll probably be dead in fifteen years.

Well, much as I’d like to, I obviously can’t sit here chatting – got to get back to consistently and persistently producing for my Zazzle shop.

Zazzle Dazzle Greetings Cards – Making Art Pay

I don’t have any controversial unmade beds nor hideous dead creatures suspended in formaldehyde to flog – and I don’t want my art just sitting around taking up shelf space – so as passion and creativity won’t generate an income, I’m commercialising; selling (very cheesy) greetings cards and other merchandise on the internet. This allows me to paint and draw what and when I want without pressure.

June-Malones_zazzle©lcards

Initial enthusiastic research rapidly dwindled into bewilderment and I had to enter a darkened room for a little lie down.

I’m currently limited to creating for greetings cards and various items such as t-shirts as my technical ignorance regarding converting images to acceptable vector file formats excludes me from contributing to Stock sites for now.

Being under no illusion, I admit my cards aren’t particularly original and realise that just because I’ve decided to put them out there doesn’t mean people will actually buy them; I’m a small voice in a very crowded room.  So definitely not a “get rich quick” scheme.  Nevertheless, even a few pennies here and there, must be better than a deft boot to the derrière.

Here is a link to the first site – my ** Zazzle store front… which will be regularly replenished.

One benefit of shopping here is that nobody will have to endure “All I want for Christmas” played on a perpetual loop just because it’s November.

Perseverance!  I’ll let you know how I get on.

** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017.

The “C” Word

I know it’s only October but…and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this…but I’ve made my own Christmas cards!  Sorry!  It’s most unlike me.

Moving swiftly on, if you have always been put off by the time and effort that making your own cards usually entails, then perhaps you should reconsider.

There is an abundance of inspiration and tutorials online.  This is the one I used.

ChristmasTree©StencilFirst you make a triangular stencil and place it over the centre of the card.  Then, using water on a brush, paint small squiggles within the triangle and follow through with a small brush containing green watercolour paint, once again, squiggling loosely.  I decided to splatter as well.

The photos are a bit pants but you get the idea.

Hand-made Christmas card with Christmas tree and gold star.

The card paper didn’t react well to wet-in-wet watercolours as does proper watercolour paper, but once the triangular stencil was removed, the overall effect was still pleasing.

Craft stores sell economically priced blank cards with matching envelopes and everything else required – just don’t get carried away and buy up the entire store as I did.  In this case, less is more effective.  I used some self-adhesive glitter stars and tiny gem embellishments.  I already had some gold ink for writing “Happy Christmas” inside, but you can even buy stickers for that.

This was a really simple, fun thing to do.

Apologies again for mentioning Christmas so early – I find nothing more soul-crushing than walking into a store and seeing Christmas supplies on the shelves at this time of year.  I’m not sure what came over me.