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Richard Crammer: into the forest of flowers

Right: Marsh Marigolds, graphite on paper; ©2005 Richard Crammer. The Bell Museum of Natural History is hosting a show of  Richard Crammer's artwork. If you have not seen the work of the talented artist, please make a point to do so now. The opening is on January 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. The show […]

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Profile: Dean R. Koutsky, painter

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Above: Grandview Lodge, oil painting ©Dean R. Koutsky

Fans of Twin Cities artist Dean R. Koutsky will shortly have two venues to catch some of his paintings at. Currently he has oil paintings up at Premier Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. 

Additional paintings are included in the Edina Art Center’s Faculty Exhibition, January 8 through February 21, 2009.

Join the artists for a reception on Thursday, January 8, from 5 to 8 p.m.!

Dean, who works both in the studio and plein air, paints a variety of subjects—from boat and water scenes, to landscapes, to people-scapes.

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Productivity: J. M. W. Turner

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Above: John Mallord William Turner's 1840 oil painting: Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On).

Today "my shoes feel funny" (read on to understand that) and I am going to be running around all day, so I have pulled up a small piece I wrote for my students in February 2007 on my now defunct update list and made some additions. Any time is a good time to think about our own productivity, but I find it particularly helpful to do so when it is cold outside and as a year draws to an end. What are my goals for next year? What is my assessment of this year's goals and my productivity? How can I tweak my process?

I've been reading about Turner (British painter born in 1775, loose watercolors, man Ruskin turned into a household word, that Turner, Joseph Mallord William Turner, who died in 1851).

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Adventures in Bookbinding

 

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Above: Hardcover Button Hole Stitch Journal, example 10.5 x 9 inches. To read more about this structure and the class see the second class listing below. Inset image: sketch from life drawing. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I know March seems a bit far off today, but January is right around the corner. I have classes in both months and since I’m only teaching a few classes in 2009 I thought I would share information with you now so that interested students can plan. 

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Waterborne: An Art Show Not a Disease or Parasite!

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Right: Chicago, November, by John Salminen, is just one of the large (22 x 30 inches or more) detailed and stunning watercolors by this artist in the current show. You will want to see this image in person to check out the delightful blend of colors Salminen uses to create a patina of rust on the large El-train support in the left third of this painting.

OK, "Waterborne" isn't what I would have called a watercolor show, but then I tend to spend altogether too much time reading about parasites and tropical diseases. As I stood outside the Katherine E. Nash Gallery on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Main Campus I couldn't help think of the double meanings in that title. But since parasites and such don't put me off I walked right in; and so should you!

Members of the Minnesota Watercolor Society will recognize the work of many of the included artists here (several past presidents of the society, and other office holders). Other regional artists are also included. In addition to the regional watercolorists there are watercolors from the Weisman's collection (including some really cool pre-1800 stuff and a couple George Grosz hand colored lithographs!).

A Thanksgiving Movie and the Need to Draw

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Throughout the country people are traveling home or gathering with friends to celebrate a holiday that means so many things to different people. Historically it celebrates a fall feast among Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. For some people the holiday means enduring more of the dysfunction with which they grew up. Kodak and other companies in their advertising would like us to believe we are all making warm and happy memories. Some people in this current economy will find their circumstances tighter than usual.

Whatever your situation past or present, humor can help you to a better future. When I think of humor and Thanksgiving I think of "Home for the Holidays," a 1995 film directed by Jodie Foster. The stellar ensemble cast includes Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Robert Downey Jr., and Dylan McDermott.

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Notan-beauty in Daily Life

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Left: Portrait of Emma, cut paper, ©1998. Using a sketch of my Alaskan Malamute bitch Emma I cut out pieces of Canson Mi Tientes paper in 3 values to construct her portrait.

Getting up from the computer yesterday after writing about notan, I started walking around the studio and house doing a variety of tasks. Suddenly it struck me there were prominent examples of notan everywhere I looked. This was because I had images I’d made of my two Alaskan Malamute bitches everywhere I looked. Most people who know me are familiar with my Daily Dots project (for what was to be the last five years of Dottie’s life I drew her daily). But before Dottie (and together with her for awhile) her Aunt Emma was the graphical beast in the house. While I never drew Emma daily she was a frequent subject of illustration.

I joke with my drawing students that if they want to have a dog for a life model a black and white Malamute is their best choice. Looking around at the art on my walls I realized that my statement is much more complex than I even intended. Beyond the ease with which one can locate points of reference on a stately and somewhat symmetrically marked Malamute there is the issue of notan-beauty. They embody it.

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Notan—What It Is and Why You Need to Know about It

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Left: Spotting Notan, a diagram from Arthur Wesley Dow's book Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color, ©2007 Dover Publications. Click on the image to see an enlargement.

We learn and then forget things all our lives. Sometimes we learn things and they fall from the top ten useful things we think about everyday, but somehow they still impact us. Notan is one of those things for me. I grew up in a home where a mother with an artistic bent would bring in little bits of beauty (knick knacks, paintings, ceramics) and combine them with other objects to create tableaux of beauty. Because of proximity and travel many of the items that drew my mother’s attention were Japanese. My childhood immersion has created a life-long interest in line and compositional cropping which people might dismiss as, “well that’s just Roz, she designs books after all,” (images are always being cropped for cover design effect or to make interesting chapter opening pages in textbooks). It runs deeper than that. It has to do with notan.

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Pentel’s Slicci Pen

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Left: Test sketch with Slicci pen on Nideggen paper which has a  laid pattern with a wavy chain. See notes below about this drawing. Click on the image for an enlargement. Later there is also a close up.

I like fine point pens and Tim at Wet Paint knows this. So the other day when I was in shopping he showed me the Slicci Pens from Pentel. They have three point sizes: 025, 03, and 04. I don't really understand what the numbers relate to (could it be millimeters, it seems smaller than that and I didn't ask), but I can tell you when you write with them they are fine, superfine, and microfine. I asked Tim what he would call this type of pen: "Is it a roller ball?" And Tim said, "I call it a needlepoint gel pen." When you work with the pen you'll find his description fits. There is a smoothness to the pen that many ultra fine points don't have. (Oh, and everyone at Wet Paint has decided to pronounce this "slick-ee.")

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Profile: Diane Wesman, Landscape Artist

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Above: August Eve, pastel on paper, 12 x 6 inches (approximate) ©Diane Wesman

The top 4 reasons everyone should have a landscape painter for a friend:

1. While you are busy painting rocks and insects they take in the big picture—they literally can see the forest for the trees.
2. They are always willing to brave the elements  and insects to sketch out with you. (See item 1 above for additional aspects of this willingness.)
3. On a road trip they will sketch while you drive, providing a delightful recap of the scenery of your journey.
4. When you give them a handmade journal (even it if has destressingly intense yellow pages) they fill it up with wondrous stuff.

I am fortunate that landscape artist Diane Wesman is a friend, for the above four reasons and a whole lot more. Read more about her art and an upcoming show of her work…

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