Jun 30, 2014

Miniature Painting - No 53 - Appaloosa Foal

OK, I think with this post I'm finally caught up on my miniature paintings posts. I know, these aren't "technically" miniature paintings. I think I'm above the limit by one square inch. But, to me, anything smaller than 8"x10" is a mini painting because it's hard to paint that small! If it's just as difficult to paint a 5"x7" as a 4"x6" then I think we deserve the same "miniature" painting credit. :)

Appaloosa Foal
7"x5" oil on Multimedia Artboard

Original: SOLD

Jun 27, 2014

Miniature Painting - No 50 - Bay Foal

I seem to be falling behind posting newly finished paintings. I have a few more to go to catch up. Here's another painting I completed a while back (this one in April) but didn't get around to posting until now, a mini painting of bay foal soaking up the warmth of the afternoon sun.

Afternoon Glow
6"x6" oil

Original: SOLD

Jun 26, 2014

Red Dun Horse Painting

Just finished the other day, a rather majestic looking red dun horse. I couldn't really think of a good title for this painting so, for now, I'm going with Big Red. Because of the angle, and his head being held high, he just looks like a very big and strong horse here, so that title just seemed to fit even though it's not exactly an original title.

10"x8" oil on Multimedia Artboard
Original available here.
Fine Art Prints available here.

Jun 21, 2014

Why Can't I Say Some Art Is Bad?

Why does it seem to be a crime punishable by death (at least to other artists) to say a piece of art is bad, or that an artist has no skill or talent?

I said something recently in an art forum that, let's face it, some "artists" are just bad and lack potential. Goodness! I was surprised at all the hostile responses I got. If it had been medieval times I would have been put in the stockades, or even beheaded.

Let me point out I did not mention any artist's name or any particular piece of artwork. So all the nasty responses I got about how offended people were by my comment seemed a bit silly to me. If I was not talking about you or your art, why would you be offended?

And, PLEASE! Before you go off on the "art is subjective" argument, let me say that I agree with you ... somewhat. Art is subject ... to a point. Yes, subject and style are subjective. But, I'm sorry, quality is not subjective. Let me point out that dictionary.com defines fine art as "something requiring highly developed techniques and skills."

Note the term "highly developed skills" there. Skill is defined as "competent excellence in performance; expertness." That means you can't just squirt a tube of paint on a blank canvas and call art. A blind monkey can do that. If a blind monkey can do it then it does not show any "excellence in performance" or skill or talent and, therefore, by definition is not art.

I can hear you saying, but art is subjective! It's all up for interpretation! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Etc. Blah, blah!

STOP! I've already heard it a thousand times!

I already said I agree. But only to a point. I would still argue that art is only partially subjective. The fact that art has a long-standing official dictionary and encyclopedia description declaring certain elements and qualities be present to be considered art, means there is also an objective element to it. So, I would argue that art is subjective in style and subject only, but not skill, or "excellence of performance" or "expertness."

Personally I don't care for abstract art, or nudes, or cubism, for example. In the subjective sense it's just not my thing. But on a more objective level I can still tell when it's well executed. Even if I don't like the painting, I can still see that the artist had control of his/her medium, understood composition, color harmony, anatomy, and other elements that exhibit "highly developed skills" and "excellence in performance." On the other hand, subjectively, I like realism in animal, nature, and landscape art. But, despite my subjective preference for these subjects and style, I can still tell if it's done badly. If a chicken's head is coming out of the middle of its back, or a tree looks more like a lollipop than a tree, then it can be pretty obvious the artist does not possess the skill and talent to create what is defined as fine art.

Some would argue that people of all skill levels produce "art" and that, just because they are beginners, doesn't mean I have the right to call their art bad. Mind you, I would never go up to a beginner and tell them their art sucks. We all started out drawing lollipop trees at one point. I repeat, I was not specifying any particular artist or piece of art when I was attacked for my "blasphemy." I freely admit my earlier paintings were bad. Most everyone's earliest work is bad. What's wrong with saying that?

Just because you can pick up a brush and apply paint to a canvas does not automatically make you an artist and therefore, does not automatically make the product a piece of art. At least not good art. Most of us can agree that just because I can hammer a nail into a piece of wood does not qualify me to call myself a carpenter. Just because I can measure a cup of sugar doesn't mean I'm a chef.

if I call my doctor an idiot, or my lawyer greedy and incompetent, everyone agrees and laughs. I'm sure the doctors and lawyers don't find that amusing. But for some reason that's OK to call doctors, lawyers, dentists, mechanics, plumbers, etc, bad at what they do if they are bad ... and sometimes even if they're not bad. And that's even worse. They're actually making fun of those doctors and plumbers. I'm not trying to make fun of artists. I'm just saying if you're 50 years old and your trees still look like lollipops than I can probably safely and objectively say your art is not good. But, even so, to call an artist bad is just socially unacceptable. Why should artists be protected against such criticism when people of other trades, hobbies, or professions are not?

Sorry to burst your bubble but, by widely accepted dictionary and encyclopedic definition, art is partially objective. There are some rules and definitions as to what constitutes fine art. Yes, there is a hugely subjective element to it as well. But there are still the objective elements of excellence of skill or talent and, if a piece of "art" lacks any sign of either, then I should have a right to point that out without being sent to the slaughterhouse.

Jun 10, 2014

New Bird Painting - Hummingbird Heaven

I just finished up another oil painting of birds and flowers. This is a picture of hummingbirds among fuchsias and petunias. Although these flowers come in all sorts of colors, I tried to keep a color harmony of only pinks, pinkish reds, and pinkish purples. For these colors I used only permanent rose and mauve (and white, of course). Permanent rose is a perfect complement for the phthalo green used throughout much of the background. They mute each other nicely. You can see permanent rose and phthalo green mixed directly together in the light background without any drab grays or muddy colors being created by the mix. I like the way these colors work together here.

Oil on Multimedia Artboard

The birds are broad-tailed hummingbirds. They look very similar for the popular ruby-throated hummingbird and are often mistaken for the ruby-throat. Because rubies are probably the best known and most popular of the hummingbirds, I had originally planned to use ruby-throats here. The reason I ended up using broad-tailed instead is for color harmony. I really wanted to use the complementary colors of permanent rose and phthalo green. One way to distinguish a ruby-throated hummingbird from a broad-tailed hummingbird is by the color of the throat. While both are red, the broad-tailed hummingbird's throat is more of a rose colored red, while the ruby's leans more toward reddish orange. Sometimes the ruby's throat can appear very orange, even yellow-orange, when the sun hits it at certain angles. Because I wanted to keep my colors on the rosy side and not introduce orange, I chose the more rosy colored broad-tailed hummingbird. They are just as pretty as the ruby-throat so perhaps it's time they get more attention. :)

Btw, another way to distinguish a broad-tail from a ruby is by the shape of the tail. The broad-tailed hummingbird's tail is straighter along the bottom. The ruby-throated hummingbird's tail is forked, forming an inverted V. The tail shape is probably the easiest way to distinguish them. Read more about the broad-tailed hummingbird here on National Geographic.

Prints and notecards of this painting are available on my Fine Art America page:

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