Thursday, April 26, 2012

Northern Light Workshop

This past weekend I was in Stockholm, Sweden, where I was teaching at a workshop together with my dear friends Jesper Ejsing and Justin Gerard.  The workshop was tremendously good organized by David Brasgalla and his charming wife Kate. Also, their friend Razmus was indispensable and provided us with virtually all we needed in order to make from this workshop an unforgettable experience.
There were more than 20 students (all very kind inspiring young people) from different countries like Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany and France. At the end of the workshop I talked to many of them about their impressions and they all agreed that it was very interesting, inspiring and that they have learned a lot and that they would love to come back next time. I was glad to hear that because, after all, that is what this workshop was all about.  

At the end we all agreed that the only drawback to this workshop was that it was too short…
As for myself, I enjoyed the introductory speeches of Jesper and Justin tremendously. These two gifted men are true masters in their own fields of artistic expression and they were a great source of inspiration and knowledge for both the students and myself.

Here are some photos from the Northern Light Workshop.

Jesper Ejsing  revealing the secrets of his craft.

Justin Gerard talking about his art and about (according to him) his best painting, that he made when he was only four years old (a beautiful story!)

(I don't know this guy )

The class full of busy young artists eager to learn new things and to expand their knowledge.

David and Raz(mus)

Justin showing us his digital “tricks”, with Jesper next to him.

Trying to figure out what is wrong with my painting

My unfinished demonstration piece.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Conan commission – final part

The Frost Giants, oil on mdf board, 65 X 50 cm / 25 1/2 X 19 1/2 inch

The Frost Giants painting is finally finished. It has been a gigantic struggle,  partly because of the sudden and significant shift in the composition, that took place due to the change of the background;  and partly because of the fact that I was not able to work on this painting in one piece, but had to interrupt the process many times. It was a real struggle and, to be honest, I don’t know who won the battle, the painting or me.

However, I would like to say a few words about the composition of the piece.

This is basically a central composition that is slightly shifted to the left in order to create a subtle and  necessary imbalance, for when created consciously and in the right way, imbalance stimulates the energy flow (motion) through a painting.  
There are four major directions along which the energy flows through the painting. I call it the “energy flow”, but I suppose it could also be called  “directing the spectator’s  attention, or gaze”.

The first is the circle (white arrows) that is created by the sword and the axe of the back giant, the Conan’s sword, and partly by the sword of the collapsing giant. I said “partly” because this last sword is positioned in a way that creates an opening in the circle. This opening allows the energy of the blow of the Conan’s  sword to break through and to flow out of the circle.

Secondly, The sharp edges of the cape of the falling giant, the outstretched giant’s left arm,  the bottom edge of the glacier (iceberg) behind him,  the giant’s hair and the long line of the cape (red arrows) are pointing out the direction of escaping energy. Following this last line created by the giant’s  hair and the long edge of his cape, the energy flows out of the circle but, because of a gentle curve at the cape’s end, it goes back  to the center of the composition via the outstretched left giant’s leg.  The general form  and  the direction of the glacier in the background, and the positioning of the snow-covered hill slope beneath the feet of the three figures (pink arrows), emphasizes the direction of energy flow of the Conan’s sword.  I could depict this movement even more dynamically, but I chose to use a more subtle solution, for I believe that this subtlety penetrates deeper because it is mostly subconsciously perceived.

Thirdly, the figure of Conan, with its outstretched left leg,  pierces like an arrow the central, relatively compact mass created by the giants. The energy (the spectators gaze) flows from the lower part of the leg, via the four points of highlight (blue, 1,2,3,4) towards the top of Conan’s helmet. It ends up in the center of the composition, but then  via the highlight 5, the energy moves further down the Conan’s arm, and at the highlight 6 it turns sharply to the right and goes to the red top of the sword. Than it follows the circle ( white arrows), or it goes back to the center of the composition via the line cape-curve-leg, or it takes the shortcut via the line cape- hair.

Fourthly, the major highlights are the three  green circles that form a kind of triangle. This triangle allows the energy to bounce back and forth between these three central points of attention. This, in combination with the previously mentioned lines of the energy flow, enables the energy to stay inside and to circulate freely through the middle part of the composition, instead of being scattered all around the painting. This scattering of the energy usually creates a pictorial cacophony which, if not consciously intended, reduces the impact and the general quality of the painting.  
At the end, if you think that I premeditated all this, you are wrong. I did it intuitively and later on, when I was halfway, I realized what I did and why… and it felt good. For me, this is the right way to do it. First feel, than rationalize.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The details

The following conversation between a professor and an art student is fictive, it never took place in reality. Nevertheless it addresses an important issue and sums up the discussions about this particular subject that I had during the years with my professors and fellow artists. The purpose of this little dialog is to raise the question and the awareness of the issue, more than to offer an answer.
I have used the segments and details from my own paintings to illustrate this dilemma and to make it more apparent. Basically this issue deals with two crucial aspect in painting ( or should I call it the crucial insights) – the problem of composition, and the problem of content ( in other words the atmosphere or the suggestive power of the image).

Professor - …Pay attention to the whole, don’t get lost in the details.
Student - But, I love details.

Professor - The composition in its entirety should be the subject of your concern, not the details. The whole is more important than the details.
Student - But, the details make up the whole. Therefore they are also important. What if a detail is really good, truly beautiful, and in fact better than the rest of the painting?

Professor – In that case we should “kill the darling” by repainting the detail in question.
Student – But, can I keep the detail and “kill” the rest of the painting? I like details…

Professor – No, you cannot.
Student – I mean, can I cut out the detail and call it a whole painting?

Professor - No, definitely not… You must sacrifice your “darlings” in order to save the whole. When you are finished with your art education and become a master in your own right, you can do whatever you like. But now, and for the time being, you have to follow the instructions.
Student – But…can I…?

Professor - That would be all for today. I need a cup of coffee. See you next week. Good day to you…