Monday, July 29, 2013

Resting, Recovering, Reading About Art

 While recovering I’ve had plenty of time to read, starting with Richard Schmid’s “Alla Prima” and Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty: A Novel.” I figure if I can’t make art then I might as well read about it, right?

Reading Schmid’s how-tos about direct painting when you can’t paint, but really, really want to is some experience. Normally I wouldn't have the patience, I'd much rather do it, even if it's wrong. Schmid reduces painting to the essentials, the simple steps that may not necessarily be easy to accomplish. He does a great job of breaking down a lot of valuable information into bite size pieces; selecting subject matter, palette choices and management, execution and finishing, and then smoothes it all out with some memorable tips. Squint at your subject matter (not at your painting), what to learn from your failures (figure out what is wrong and don't do it again), how to keep it simple (beware the lure of ostentatious techniques) and how to manage color to create harmonies (light does not lighten or darken without changing color). If you don’t already have this book, and are considering buying, know that there is an Alla Prima II coming out this fall – an expanded version.

Steve Martin’s novel takes the point of view of a collector. In that framework, it’s interesting to read some of his thoughts on what sparks an interest in a work, or erodes it. Along with the story, the dialogue is witty and relatable. “There is art in Los Angeles that rivals New York’s, but to see all of it you would need General Eisenhower to plan the attack. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is miles from the Getty, which is miles from the Hammer, which is miles from the Norton Simon, which is miles from the Museum of Contemporary Art, and if the dots were connected on a map, you would see a giant circle running around the periphery of Los Angeles with no convenient route connecting them." And, trying to pinpoint the current non-art movement state of contemporary art: “There are a hundred categories. There’s ‘pale art,’ faint things with not much going on in them. There’s ‘high-craft OCD,’ you know, those guys who take a thousand pinheads and paint a picture of their grandmother on every one. There’s ‘low-craft ironic,’ a fancy name for wink-wink nudge-nudge.” Plus, there are reproductions worked into the narrative adding to the vicarious thrill of the "winding path that leads a collector to his prey."

One good read leads to another and I'm moving on to The Art Forger, Modern Art, An Almost Perfect Copy, and Eric Fischl’s Bad Boy.

3 comments:

Kathryn Hansen said...

i have the art forger on my list too...the Steve Martin book sounds wonderful...definitely have to read that one too!

Katherine Kean said...

Kathryn, I think you might enjoy it. Martin is an art collector and knows the "scene."

Ramona said...

Cool!