There are times when I’m rushed, feeling lazy, or the muse is not holding court. Because I commit myself to publish weekly, I need to be creative when those situations occur. So, some weeks I may reach into the vault to update one of the 600 blog posts I’ve published on Art Marketing News since […]
The post How to Write 600 Blog Posts and Thoughts on the Art Print Market appeared first on Art Marketing News | Prosperous Ideas for Artists.
My childhood on a central Texas farm, while idyllic in many respects, was devoid of art education. Once the larger world of art books, galleries and museums opened up to me, I drank up knowledge wherever I could.
My English degree served me well in my marketing and graphic design career. During this time, I passed through phases in textiles, pastel portraits and figures, cut paper illustration, and greeting card design. When a major life change in 2013 took me to a place where I could gratefully say goodbye to my marketing career and embrace my studio practice full time, I took the leap.
Since the beginning of 2019, I have focused on contemporary figurative painting. It melds my love for abstraction with my obsession with the human face and figure.
I came to figurative painting after several years of creating non-objective abstract work. That love of abstraction still appears when I omit details and place my archetypal figures in ambiguous but vaguely familiar settings. While I enjoy landscapes and interiors, they exist in my paintings primarily to serve the humans who occupy them.
Several themes are evident in my figurative art. Human relationships. Human emotion. Social issues. Empathy. But no matter what the specific painting’s theme, the telling of universal stories through archetypal figures unifies the work. These characters invite the observer into the narrative to understand and to empathize. Each subject’s lived moment takes an honored place.
Color plays a dominant role in supporting gesture and expressing mood. Outlines and the absence of extraneous details endow the image with a symbolic quality. High contrast, with sunlight forming the face and figure and casting shadows, often appears in the work.
Acrylic paint is my foundational medium, but I relish the complexity and playfulness that happens when I incorporate patterns, marker scribbles, or scraps of vintage maps into the painting. I work on various surfaces—paper, canvas, wood panels and even corrugated cardboard. Any new material that raises the work’s tactile or emotional impact is a welcome opportunity to experiment.
Several sources provide inspiration. I sketch from life as opportunity arises, keeping a tiny sketchbook in my bag to record interesting postures. Movies and seminars provide venues for filling my sketchbook with drawings of the backs of people’s heads. I rummage through the family archives to unearth fuzzy but fascinating black and white images of kinfolk and unidentifiable oddballs from bygone days.
I may sneak a surreptitious photo of someone in a compelling pose and add it to my photographic library. Images of friends and family who are willing to act out my ideas go into the library as well. And sometimes pure imagination feeds the creative process. These sources are fertile ground for my practice.
My artist heroes include anonymous folk and tribal artists, the Abstract Expressionists, and David Park whose figurative work I adore for its confident expressiveness. They motivate me to boldly paint my own path.
My life has always revolved around art. When I was a child, I always preferred coloring and drawing to playing outside with the other children. Art allowed me to communicate with others in my own language while building my confidence and honing my skills.
After experimenting with many mediums, I discovered oils and fell in love. While I occasionally use watercolor, and always draw in graphite or pastel pencil, most of my work is oil-based.
I am inspired by beauty. I find it in nature and in the elements within my immediate environment. My still life paintings are created by carefully selecting elements that will both harmonize and contrast with one another.
Color, composition, texture and shape are painted with an eye towards how the various elements combine to create a cohesive whole. I sometimes employ a limited palette, to produce work of serene beauty.
Alternately, I use complementary colors when my intention is to create a more vibrant work of art. My overall aim is to create work that is technically excellent and visually striking.
My landscape paintings are inspired by an arresting color, or an interesting combination of man-made and natural elements. I love the contrast between the colors and textures of nature versus those that have been manufactured. For example, my series of kayak paintings were born of my fascination with the bright, crayon colors of the kayaks, nestled within the quiet environment of the marsh. This contrast is simultaneously exciting and yet tranquil—the balance, perfect.
I work in my studio, mostly from photographic reference. My still lifes are carefully composed in my studio, from which I take many photographs, and select the one with the strongest composition.
My landscapes, obviously, are photographed outside, but the rest of the creative process is the same as with still life. The drawing is the foundation upon which the painting is built, so it must be perfect.
I always paint from background to foreground, large expanses to smallest details. I am finished with the work only once my eye is not able to detect a problem or a flaw.
I was recently asked if I would paint even if no one were to ever see my work. I thought about it (for about two seconds) and realized that here was no question whatsoever. Art allows me to communicate on a grand scale, and I love to share my paintings with the world, but that was never my main reason for painting. Yes, it allows me to reach many people, which is so gratifying, but the driving force behind my work is the need to create. It satisfies my soul, and I cannot imagine my life without it.
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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