Why Paint

Why paint?

Why painting still matters


Painting – an urgent medium

(excerpt: It just goes to show that just because paintings don’t move doesn’t mean they are still. They’re very dynamic things—they come, they go, they approach, they recede, they disappear—and that’s because they are pure feeling, like a fog or a cloud. But they are also a form of memory. It’s very interesting if you think about painting as memory, because in this age where we have more and more information, having more and more information doesn’t mean that we also have more memory. Amnesia is at the core of the digital age, so I think the continuous practice of painting is also a process against forgetting. But it’s not the type of static memory that very often gets corrupted, it’s the opposite—it’s a dynamic memory, just like how our brain isn’t the only locus for memory but is part of a broader process. So I think painting is very much a protest against forgetting.)


Looking at and interpreting art:


Slow viewing and what it has to offer:




Drawing and Painting from Life


Listen to what Diebenkorn says about starting a painting.  He articulates the struggle that is present for beginners as well as seasoned painters. It is the dilemma described by Durer in Melancholia.


Working from live models is an important experience for any visual artist, because of the complexity, the variety, the tradition and the opportunity to connect eye and hand without time for self-judgement in quick poses. Discern, draw, discern, draw.


This link from a blog by Catherine Kehoe (artist noted in re: to portraits)  has several examples of loose and expressive figure drawing, as well as some ideas for gesture drawing:


Here is a slide show on a variety of figurative paintings:


And some dressing room figure paintings by Ken Kewley:


In 1949, David Park rejected Abstract Expressionism and the painting he had done in the 40’s to become a figurative artist:

David Park

This show, linked below, at the Getty focused on the relationship and sometimes the struggle between figuration and abstraction. The artists featured in the exhibit, Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerback and Kitaj,  are worthy of further investigation for anyone interested in figurative art.




More on drawing and thumbnails for Art of Everyday

Consider tonal drawing and how light on a surface describes form.




In addition to thinking about mark making, the idea of intentionality leads to consideration of composition, including placement on the page, scale, balance, and opposition.

Here is an informative video on thumbnails, planning the composition by mapping out the basics.


The thumbnail will be a useful tool in your sketchbook as a means to explore and to get the most out of your ideas:


(EA# 1A)  Regarding the process of building up a drawing with tone from a gestural drawing:



(EX#1B) Richard Diebenkorn worked in both painting and drawing with the same seriousness, creative exploration, curiosity, seriousness, and aesthetic goals.

Here is his advice and a glimpse into his sketchbooks:



In EA #1 B, you will think about using line in various dilutions, with or without a wash as a ground to describe a still life, as Elzabeth Blackadder does. You may also use, exaggeration, and stylization, with intention for the overall feeling or expression you want to convey.


Or, as Diebenkorn does in this and other images in ARTSTOR.





Choosing a Path



In thinking about your final series, the following links are useful discussions of finding your style and artistic “voice”,  which constantly evolve:

finding your style

finding your artistic voice


Really, the significant goal of working in a series is to think more deeply about art and the ideas it addresses, which are not always immediately evident.

art as result of thinking deeply

This is a brief interview with Luc Tuymans about the artistic process and his goals in painting:

Interview with Luc Tuymans

This is a longer video (linked below) on the artist Ida Applebroog who has a plethora of interesting ideas that she addresses in her work. (She is a provocative artist whose filmmaker daughter, Beth B, has just released an acclaimed documentary on her titled, Call Her Applebroog.)

Art 21 Ida Applebroog



Part 2 – Learning from Tradition: Appropriation and the Visual Dialogue

Picasso was a major 20th Century artist who both loved and rivaled previous artists and art.  This led to visual manipulations of subjects, themes and styles of artists in history that can be seen as “visual conversations”, through appropriation, manipulation, and imagination. Almost all of his work is a tribute, homage, or commentary on other art. The articles below discuss this aspect of his work.



Picasso addressed Manet in a number of “conversations.” (You will also see works by other artists and even advertisers joining in the conversation.)


Picasso addressed Velasquez,in a number of “conversations.”


You might also look up Picasso and Goya, or Goya and Oliveira, a California artist from the last 20th Century.

The article below also considers the visual connections artists make through appropriation, emulation, and “visual conversations or conversions.”


Here is an in depth article on Leon Kossoff’s visual conversation and thoughtful engagement with Poussin.



Although your visual dialogue will be with a work from 1800 onward, Alfred Leslie is a late 20th c artist who reaches back to Caravaggio for inspiration and creates a visual dialogue in the Killing Cycle paintings:


(Skip ahead to 2:19 in the video for the work like Caravaggio.  Also, google Caravaggio’s The Conversion of St. Paul for comparison.)


And, the following interview enumerates his multiple sources and inspirations:


Here are 10 artworks inspired by other artworks that may give you some inspiration. Notice that those are more derivative are less of a “conversation” and more of an homage:


You may also want to research Van Gogh, Millet, and Hiroshige; Larry Rivers and Washington Crosing the Delaware, the Dutch Masters, and the Last Civil War Veteran; and Robert Collescot’s work. Examples abound.

Part 1 – Learning from Tradition: Imitation and Emulation

As this Cennino Cennini document shows, during the Renaissance, artists in training were expected to copy and then to emulate the works of their master artists in order to learn.  You still find today, some museums encourage and most museums allow artists to copy from works in the collection. Copying a good way to learn while emulation is a good way to build upon another and to develop personal distinctions. It requires one  to pay deep attention to the subtleties in the work. From Verrochio to Leonardo and Ghirlandaio to Michelangelo and so on, artists copied from, worked on, and worked with their masters, eventually emulating them and often supassing them in their own work.


Creative Copies, a show linked below at the Drawing Center, highlighted drawings that supported significant connections through drawing. Some excerpts will be read in class.


This site, highlights the working process of Vermeer and some misunderstandings about his work.  As with all artists, nothing can replace looking at or working from the original.



While there are variations on the classical techniques, both as they are passed down and as they are modernized, this artist shares his approach to Venetian glazing.


Listen to these discussions about Titian and his painting and you will gain insight into his artistic temperament and the evolution of his later works over time.

The discussion of this Watteau painting shows his dependence upon drawing and the way in which he worked up his paintings from a composite of drawings, superimposed upon an already painted landscape.

Here is a simplification of a glazing technique:

Here is another adaptive and modernized method of underpainting in oils from a well prepared ground, using acrylic materials as ground.



More about Color

To train your eye, try this color test:


A paper on Chevreul’s Color Theory and Consequences for Artists by art historian George Roque:


This article has more good information about color phenomena:


Color and Shadows


Basics of Colour Vision and technical details:


Colour Constancy and more technical information:


Here is a article on Goethe’s psychology of color which has fascinated artists from the 19th to the 20th century, especially Kandinsky and Turner.  Of course, since color is relative, both experientially and culturally variable, these are known now not to be not universal ideas. See what make sense for you or come up with your own theories.


A discussion about color theory and real life experience with color.