From the time I was nine years old and living in Paris, viewing and creating art has been a passion of mine. This passion was nurtured through high school back in Virginia. But then went into hibernation through college and law school.
During my forty-plus years of law practice, I took up painting watercolors and pastels of landscape scenes during our vacations. Making art full-time remained an unfulfilled desire that I was finally able to start to satisfy once I retired.
After taking a few classes, I enrolled and completed the three-year course in oil painting at the Compass Atelier. I now felt that I was getting somewhere. The focus of the course was modern realism. This spoke directly to my own artistic interest.
While I have painted a full range of subjects, my two principal loves are landscapes and, more recently, figures. Capturing the specific moment when a scene has a special beauty that will pass if not captured is my muse. Sometimes this is presented by the way in which the light is hitting the features of the buildings and surroundings. For my figurative paintings, sometimes it is based on the fleeting expression of the person.
Scenes with strong light and shadow are a frequent source of inspiration, such as an archway with light shining through or sunshine hitting the face of an individual. Water figures frequently in my compositions. I love the play of color and light on water and the scenery that is reflected in it. These ever-changing patterns and colors offer me endless inspiration to capture these fleeting scenes of natural beauty.
I also find that some of my greatest interest and pleasure in painting comes from painting the shadows and teasing out the subtle colors found in them that give the work a unique perspective. I often draw inspiration from my travels.
With landscapes, my palette changes with the scene. Sometimes it is more muted such as with snow or foggy scenes; other times it is more vibrant and bold, such as with landscapes in bright sunlight and deep shadow.
I often look for seasonal scenes and enjoy the vivid and varied colors of autumn as well as the softer subtleties and more limited palette of winter. I enjoy varying the elements in a painting to enhance its impact such as the crisp sharpness of a nearby building paired with the softer lines of the more distant landscape. Likewise, I enjoy scenes with interesting sky colors and greater depth that appear when the sun is low in the sky.
As an older artist, I draw inspiration from structures and people that show their age and character, such as an older bridge or an old farmer beside his barn, and perhaps even from those “magic hour” scenes with the sun lower on the horizon.
My objective is always to be exploring something new with what I paint. I try never to repeat what I have learned from painting a particular setting that I have already fully explored. I feel that my desire for new creative inspirations helps to ensure that my art will continue to be fresh and interesting.
Artist Ken Bachman invites you to follow him on Facebook.
This series with cutout openings began when I was inspired by another artist’s painting. As I began working with this new idea, my approach grew and changed until, at some point, it would be difficult to trace the thread back to the original inspiration.
The piece from which I took my initial inspiration was a pattern that looked like a lot of layers with little holes peeking through to a lower layer. Based on this idea, I decided to make a three-dimensional monotype piece using two layers of paper.
On the top layer, I cut out two sides of little triangles and bent the third side back to reveal another pattern on the bottom layer. After making a few pieces this way, I found I liked it better if I cut out and removed the entire triangle.
Then I began experimenting by cutting out larger areas on the top layer. The cut out shapes grew in size from small triangles to wide lines. I am continuing on this path, cutting out different shapes, big and small.
I had no idea when I started with this three-dimensional thought, where it would take me. To me, the important part of my art—ideas—only come to me when I am working. I don’t get my ideas by sitting and thinking about what kind of piece to make. In other words, I have to use my hands, the materials and my eyes to make progress.
Sometimes I wonder why I like hard edges. I did my MFA in printmaking—mainly woodcut. Lines made in woodcuts have hard edges with no atmospheric brush work. Did this concentration on woodcut shape my ideas, or did I like it because I felt more successful with hard edges?
Another question I ask myself is why do I prefer working in a square format? One answer might be that I like balance and equilibrium. Another answer is that perhaps it gives me a feeling of being organized.
The shapes I use inside the square format are usually not squares. I like to use diagonal lines which, to me, show movement. I find curved lines more emotionally interesting than straight lines.
Previous to making cutout shapes on monotypes, I have basically used the same idea when working on two layers of plexi, leaving empty spaces on the top layer so the bottom layer shows through. This work on plexi preceded the cutout pieces on printmaking paper.
People occasionally tell me my work keeps changing; however, it’s my ideas that are actually progressing linearly even though the medium I am using may change.
Many artists dance around the subject of making art for money. There is among some, in and outside the art community, a persistent and pervasive notion that making art for money is somehow a bad thing. Really! Why? Look at it from within your authentic self. You likely will find making money from your art is […]
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Gamers gonna game: taking a closer look at SAAM Arcade 2019
If you didn’t get a chance to purchase one of the Crucible curved card scrapers, you can make your own with a dry grinder and an existing card scraper. It takes about 30 minutes.
Download and print out the following template. It’s a hand-drawn version of Chris Williams’s scraper, which is where our design started.
Cut it out and affix it to your card scraper with the help of spray adhesive. Or make a cardboard template and trace its shape on your scraper with a permanent marker.
At your grinder, set the tool rest to 0° – parallel to the floor. Dress the wheel of your grinder (we use an #80-grit wheel, but a #60 or #100 will also do) so it has a slight convex shape. This convexity in the wheel makes the scraper easier to shape.
Get a bucket of water and put it by the grinder.
(Hey wait, where are the step photos? I’m in a hotel room that’s 400 miles from my shop. You are going to have to use your imagination.)
Place the scraper on the tool rest and start grinding the excess metal away. Don’t work on one part of the scraper for more than a few seconds. Keep moving around the perimeter. After 10 or 15 seconds, try to pinch the scraper with a finger and thumb. If….
… you can pinch the scraper with no pain, continue to grind.
… your fingers reflexively jump away, cool the scraper in your water bucket.
… you smell bacon, also cool the scraper in the water bucket.
Once you have ground down to your line, you will have become pretty good at grinding flat shapes – congrats. Now you need to remove the grinder marks from the edges.
Use a block of wood to hold the scraper at 90° on a coarse diamond stone and stone the edges. Remove all the scratches from the grinder. Then move up to a #1,000-grit waterstone (or soft Arkansas) and then up to a polishing stone. Then you can proceed with normal scraper-sharpening procedures.
This is exactly how I made all of our prototypes. I promise that you will become emotionally involved with your scraper after putting all the work into it, and you might not ever want to buy one of ours.
So be it.
— Christopher Schwarz