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Art Critique February 2012

Sometimes sitting down with a friend and talking about art and inspiration with an occasional focus into current art production makes for an interesting and joyful evening.  This is what happened at the February critique.  I was expecting a bunch of people given some conversations I’ve had lately, the interest in the critique group and an element of winter/spring enthusiasm, but alas (and to my delight) ‘all’ that showed up was Thom.  He brought two of his latest works that were deriviatives of the one painting he brought in for the February critique.

The subject matter is Global Warming for both paintings which place the piece within the fold of a narrative.  The narrative focuses on the affect from the Global Warming phenomenon on the human figure.  The figures are acted upon by an array of external forces graphically described with lines, and geometric shapes.  Since it was ‘just’ Thom and me, I will speak from the first person, I liked the division of space very much.  Both positive and negative space was well resolved thus leaving room for more or less emphasis with the context of the work.  There is a dialog between the figures and the geometry of the motif that still needs to be resolved to have a fully harmonist image. My suggestion was to either make the figures more dominant, or pushing the geometric partitioning of space more; the former would be preferred.  Greater emphasis on the saturation of color and building up of paint could add additional impact to the eye of the viewer.  Also, paying close attention to the values of the lines will harmonize the whole of the image by provide greater emphasis on the large shapes.  There is an interesting textural quality of the mark making that should not be lost with further working of the painting.

The second Global warming painting, though less developed than the first one, is beautifully laid out.  It has been worked on since the critique, so I was pleasantly surprised by the image that he sent and how it has developed beyond his first showing of the painting.  When Thom sent me the pics he wrote, “The second one is more developed from painting today, but still at stage 2.”]  I look forward to future stages, but for now there is greater distinction between the figure and the shapes than the first one.  This adds clarity to the theme and at the same time leaving some ambiguity that will challenge the viewer.  It will be interesting to see how it will develop in character, motif and color scheme from the first one.

I’ve been repainting the Shipley En Plein Air series as a preparation for a larger painting of the same Subject.  I try hard not to change the painting colors and/or values in any way, just add volume to the applied paint and clarity to the image.  When repainting an en plein air painting it is difficult to be exact, but in many cases the ‘muddied’ painted areas need clarification, with that in mind, I allow for some additional interpretation of the motif extracted from my memory and attempt to repaint from that memory.  In any case, Thom likes the repaints (I completed all 12 of them) and he is particularly interested in the deep shadows.  As a technical note, I prefer to use alizarin crimson and phalo green for my darker shadows and I modulate the warmth, and tones, by using cadmium red and/or ultramarine blue.  In addition, a large variety of mark making is lacking from the surface treatment which flattens the space between background, middle ground and foreground, alternately there does exists enough values shifts from those partitioned spaces to elude to the illusion of depth.

Many things are discussed at this particular critique, as two friends will do when the wine begins to flow freely; we covered subjects from painting techniques to spiritual development to healing through the arts, but all in all it was a great time.  We look forward to your comments and perhaps attending the next critique.

2 thoughts on “Art Critique February 2012

  1. Another very good critique for me, Ron, and having the longer discussion really helped me to focus the two pieces to completion. These small paintings were very busy visually, so I removed some of the figures that compete for attention. The upper earth shapes became a cooler and luminous green that sets up the three major space divisions. I also added dark blue shapes above and below to unify the design and add more movements. Since then I have completed a third painting and am beginning a fourth. The latest one has no figures (yet), and is keyed in yellows, which were inspired by seeing the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit now showing at OCMA.

  2. First off, another good write-up! Thom’s work was fascinating! I love the compositions and the theme, and hope to see them the next time. If not then, certainly when they are done. I also liked the color palette. I too, was inspired by the Diebenkorn show, and I am wondering if my viewing of the show will rub off in my work.

    Ron’s little paintings are beautifully done. I look forward to seeing the larger paintings he does from them.

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