Art Can Help

Art Can Help

by Robert Adams

Robert Adams, a photographer of the American West for over 50 years, writes about the art of photography. Before commenting on the works of 27 photographers, he shares his views on art in general, and he examines the work of his favorite painter, Edward Hopper.

“It is the responsibility of artists to pay attention to the world, pleasant or otherwise, and to help us live respectfully in it.  Artists do this by keeping their curiosity and moral sense alive, and by sharing with us their gift for metaphor. Often this means finding similarities between observable fact and inner experience.”  Continue reading “Art Can Help”

Stick Figures: Drawing as a Human Practice

Stick Figures: Drawing as a Human Practice

by D.B. Dowd

D.B. Dowd, professor of art and American culture studies at Washington University and faculty director of the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, writes that drawing is above all else a tool for learning. This beautifully printed book covers drawing as a means of discovery and communication, confusion between visual modes, a nostalgic look at the field of illustration, and musings about the teaching of art.

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Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People

Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People

by Henry Carroll

“Don’t take pictures of people. Take pictures about people.”

Carroll explains the rules of thumb for a traditional portrait, but the book is mainly about moving beyond that.  “Don’t suppress your subject’s physical nuances. This is what makes them who they are. There are rules in portraiture about how your subjects should stand, what they should do with their hands, and so on. These rules are fine for corporate headshots, because they’re designed to remove any trace of a person’s individuality. But that’s not what we’re about, right?”  Continue reading “Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People”

The Way of Beauty

The Way of Beauty: Five Meditations for Spiritual Transformation

by François Cheng

François Cheng is a Chinese-French writer who references art and language from both cultures as well as Taoism in his discussion of beauty. Cheng presents some interesting ideas, particularly in the fourth and fifth meditations, within an overall esoteric and meandering text.

Becoming

My favorite thought from this book is the idea of beauty as an experience as opposed to an attribute. “True beauty does not reside only in what is already manifest as beauty… It is a becoming, and the dimension of spirit or soul is vital to it… Beauty is always a becoming, an advent, if not to say an epiphany… Beauty implies interconnectedness, interaction, an encounter between the elements that constitute an occurrence of beauty, between the beauty present and the gaze that beholds it.”  Continue reading “The Way of Beauty”

Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green

Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green: How to mix the color you want—every time

by Michael Wilcox

“Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to mix the exact colors that you need? And why it is so easy to mix dull, grayed colors, commonly known as mud?… In order to obtain a wider range of colors we purchase a variety of reds, yellows and blues, together with several greens, oranges, violets, browns, and grays. Painting starts to become expensive and confusing.”

The main premise of this book is that the three-primary color system needs to be abandoned in favor a six-color system. To begin, we need to understand how portions of the color spectrum are either absorbed or reflected by a surface. A surface appears black because it absorbs all colors. A surface appears white if it reflects all colors.

So what happens if you mix pure yellow and pure blue? Continue reading “Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green”

The Figurative Artist’s Handbook: A Contemporary Guide to Figure Drawing, Painting, and Composition

The Figurative Artist’s Handbook: A Contemporary Guide to Figure Drawing, Painting, and Composition

by Robert Zeller

Unlike other figure drawing instruction books, this one begins with a 67-page crash course in art history. “Figurative art always conveys a narrative, a point of view. At the present, it is considered vital for a figurative artist to have his or her own artistic voice, and to exhibit some originality. How can you hope to be original, to continue the conversation, if you do not listen to the past, to those who have come before you?”

The instructional chapters of the book are divided by pose category: Standing Figure, Front View; Standing Figure, Back View; Reclining Figure; Portrait Drawing; and Portrait Painting. Here are some of the common themes.

“Gesture is a river of movement, energy, and rhythm that flows through the figure in any given pose… Once you understand gesture you will be able to see the essential rhythm of a pose, which will allow you to properly plan your drawing. Think of gesture as a conceptual road map. Before you start drawing with your hand, first learn to draw with your eyes… Begin by scanning the entire figure for gestures that flow through the various forms, learning to see how all of the parts of the figure are connected… Learn to see this axis of energy first so that when you draw, you will be able to forge greater unity among the various parts of the figure.”

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101 Things to Learn in Art School

101 Things to Learn in Art School

by Kit White

“Artists assimilate a whole range of psychological, aesthetic, political, and emotional data points, and they then make forms to organize and give meaning to them. That takes skill and practice, working in tandem with intelligence and keen observation… Basic form-giving skills help the student make the bridge between thought and embodiment.”

Kit White is an associate professor in the MFA program at Pratt Institute. Here’s a sample of his insights:

“Art is continuing a dialogue that stretches back through thousands of years. What you make is your contribution to that dialogue. Therefore, be conscious of what has come before you and the conversation that surrounds you. Try not to repeat what has already been said. Study art history and stay alert to the dialogue of your moment.”

“Composition is the foundation of image making. It is the spatial relationships between all of the parts in an image. Whether a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, a photograph, a video, or an installation, how a thing is composed determines its look, its feel, and its meaning. Compositional variation, like musical tunes, is limitless.”

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