|Calaveras river-prior to recent rains|
|White Pines Lake (They are not Arnold!)|
Book Review #1:
This week I read two new books that I want to share. The first book has to do with the mechanics of making layered artwork through the use of negative space painting. The book is called Simplifying Design and Color for Artists: Positive Results Using Negative Space Painting Techniques. Linda Kemp is the author and I found the book on Amazon. One of the most challenging problems that I face as a painter is the ability to see spatially. Being able to envision multiple layers is difficult for me. I tend to see things side by side and if I see them layered together I have a difficult time imagining more than one way to layer those objects when I paint. It's one of the reasons that printmaking as a way to express myself never quite took off. However, why struggle with a weakness when you can learn to overcome it? I have tried a few times on my own to work in a subtractive way and have not liked the results so it seemed like it was time for some outside help.
Linda's book has been key not only in addressing working with layers and negative spaces (how to see things spatially on a flat 2-d surface) but in the concepts of design and color. She stresses design as a way to support the subject matter rather than the other way round. This section is pretty good and covers the basics of composition thoughtfully. However, the section on color is the real draw. I have read quite a few art books that cover color theory, namely color formulas. Linda takes things in a different direction. The information provided addresses the three properties of color: hue, intensity and value. She advocates playing up one property while playing down the other two. Each project illustrates an example of doing this. It makes a lot of sense to me in a way that I can understand. I looked at my own paintings and could see that all of this time I have been utilizing the property of value while decreasing the property of intensity. I fall down in the area of color schemes, however. It's never made any sense to me. The information on color alone and her unique approach to it gives this book a very wide appeal that goes beyond her methods of working with positive and negative space. That information is very good too though if that is what you are after.
Book Review #2:
The second book I read is called Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking and is written by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I strongly recommend this book for those of you reading who, like me, need a good solid kick in the rear end. Honestly, this will set you straight. The authors are artists themselves. They examine the reasons why artists get stuck with their art practice and quit prematurely. Or get older and stop. Or start teaching and stop. The book is written in a very matter-of-fact style by two men who are very straightforward in their phrasing. "Get over yourself now (because no one else cares)" is the way that I can best sum up this book. A worthwhile read.
I hope everyone has had a creative week. The end of the calendar year generally brings some re-tooling to my art practice and so I hope to have some new things to show shortly. In the meantime, thank you for reading and commenting.