Monday, September 30, 2013

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite on paper
 "My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Here is a sketch, enhanced in PhotoShop to emphasize contrast, that I'm making to map out the trajectories of raindrops at night as they are lit by holiday twinkle lights. In one of the neighborhoods where I walk they start putting up lights early. Even though summer officially ended less then 10 days ago, they are in fact already up, have been up, albeit in orange. I suppose that the orange is meant to signify Halloween, although I'll never get what twinkle lights have to do with Halloween, no matter what color they make them. Halloween, to my way of thinking, has nothing at all to do with little, sparkly, twinkle lights. Cobwebs and crypts, bats and crows, yes. Little, sparkly, twinkle lights, no.

 Once it seems like I have a satisfactory plan on paper I'll start this painting. The drawing will be a guide for when I get lost in the drops, as is bound to happen. I can't wait!

In the meantime, savor the first days of fall. The early days of fall. No need to run out and start decorating your trees just yet. Wait, at least, until after the leaves fall.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Favorite Questions and Answers From Twitter's Ask A Curator Day


Wednesday was Twitter's Ask a Curator Day. Once a year, museums of all kinds around the world make their curators accessible to the general public. Anyone with a Twitter account can ask questions by using the #askacurator hashtag. More than 500 museums registered officially to answer questions. This global online event took place over a 24 hour period and due to the time zones it looks like New South Wales got to go first.

Here are just a few of my favorite questions and answers from the day:

Bluemooie, "Regarding your collections, how do you ensure that you're not purchasing stolen works?"
ArtGalleryofNSW,‏  "Great question! The gallery has a rigorous process for researching provenance. Read more here "

All About Art, "How do you come up with new exhibition themes? Market research, a curator's vision or...?"
Tyler Collection, "Great question! We look carefully at our collection & think about new ways of interpreting it."

Jessica Cham, "What has been the most outlandish request from an artist involving the installation process of their work?"
ArtGalleryofNSW,  "The relationship between artist & curator is sacrosanct! Often the most outlandish ideas are the best!"

Steve Puttrich, "As a Curator, what's your #1 pet peeve?"
Museum of Inuit Art, "Seeing "the Inuit people" anywhere. Honestly. Inuit means "the people" so it's redundant but so prevalent."
Orphan Train Depot, "People getting offended when we decline an object that has nothing to do with our collection."
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Stop,‏ "When people leave objects for the museum with no information about the history of the artifact."

CaFE, "What advice do you have for an art student (both undergrad/grad) just starting their career?"
Boca Museum of Art, "Best advice for art students: have good quality images of your work for submitting to museums, galleries, etc."

Steve Kahn, "What is the best advice you would give an artist?"
Whitney Museum, "Don’t judge your success as an artist by success in the market—it’s not the same thing."

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Guggenheim Museum, and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston all got together to answer questions directed to their JAmes TUrrell exhibitions. You can find the conversation here: .

It was as much fun as last year. Just as it ended I realized that I neglected to ask a lighting question that's been on my mind. I guess it'll be first on my list for next year....

Monday, September 16, 2013

Is It Done Yet?

Marsh House 2013 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 6 x 6 inches

How do you decide when a painting is done?

 For me this has always been something that's mostly intuitive, but as I go along I realize that these days I spend a lot more time thinking about it - especially as I'm approaching the end. Lately it seems to be a matter of whether I feel 've reached clarity on what I think the painting is about.

What do other artists say? Here are some quotes on the subject:

"To put it as simply as possible - and this is a simple answer, not a total answer - I know when a painting's finished when I understand why I wanted to do it in the first place." James Elkins

"The painting is finished when the idea has disappeared." Georges Braque

"One always has to spoil a picture a little bit in order to finish it." Eugene Delacroix

"That's the terrible thing: the more one works on a picture, the more impossible it becomes to finish it." Alberto Giacometti

"When a painting is done I feel it actually recedes from me. Everything coalesces and moves away, and I can no longer focus on a single part of it. It suddenly does this gestalt." April Gornik

"It can be difficult to assess when a painting is complete. For this reason, I often set aside the painting to prevent overworking it. When I am unsure, I ask myself if doing more would add or take away from the purpose of the painting." Mary French

"I paint until I become the audience staring at the painting staring back at me. It’s how I know the painting is done." Eric Fischl

"When nothing is wrong anymore, then I stop." Gerhard Richter

Monday, September 09, 2013

Watching Clouds Float By

Clouds Sailing Over Tweed River Valley small original contemporary oil painting 6 inch square
 Clouds Sailing Over Tweed River Valley ©2013 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 6 x 6 inches
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."
John Lubbock

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." Sam Keen

Cloud watching is high on my list of ways to not waste time, along with reading, bird watching and gardening. What are your favorite ways to not waste time?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Smooth, Dark, and Fast

I wrote previously about the end of the original Blackwing pencils and how disappointed I was when Eberhard Faber stopped making them. At the time I didn’t know that I was far from alone in my admiration for this particular pencil, and it seems to be a particular obsession here in LA.

My pencil supply has been dwindling, so knowing that other than the name, and a reputation and quality to live up to, and that the Palomino Blackwing and the Pearl have no connection to the original, I went ahead and ordered and have tried out both.

From top to bottom: the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602, Ebony,
Palomino HB, Palomino Blackwing, and Palomino Pearl

After working with them, I’m starting to lean towards liking the Pearl the most. It seems a little smoother and blacker. They both live up to the slogan, are smooth on the paper, dark, hold a point a bit longer than most, and they smudge and erase well. For now I’m happy to have the familiar shape (not round, so they don’t roll away) and the removable, replaceable (and customizable) eraser. These are made by the Palomino Company, the same company whose pencils I turned to when I first ran out of the original Eberhard Faber Blackwings. The tagline printed on the original and new pencil is “Half the pressure, twice the speed” – clearly the choice for anyone with a light touch.

Another plus in my estimation is hearing back from Customer Service at that "No animal tallow is used in the manufacture of our pencils. Some lead suppliers used to dip their graphite leads in the fat from whales, but this practice ceased a long time ago. Pencil leads are now dipped in a petroleum-based liquid."

Will it live up to its predecessor? Seems promising. I guess we'll see.

Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop

The Bolton Hall Museum Gift Shop   is a great place to do your holiday shopping! Carrying a wide range of unique items, all are created l...