Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Blue Monster

In perusing the internet on websites that discuss artist marketing I came across this beauty from a blog by Clint Watson. The blog was rather useful and spoke about the concept of marketing more than a step-by-step approach. I thought he ended his article beautifully by saying:

"Successful artists want to change the world. They are Outside Zebras that avoid the Herd, they live on the edge, they make purple cows that become Blue Monsters via smart conversations with their clan."

-Clint Watson
The idea is a loaded statement and you'll have to read the article to deconstruct it but the gist of what he is saying is moving.   Essentially, if I were to spend a minute or two to dissect the meaning of this quote I would say that successful artists want to change the world, to be influential in a manner that challenges conventional thought, to make the world a better place through his/her art.  They are different in their own way as to suggest individuality but do not break to far from convention so as to preserve the sanctity of the group, the movement, or a school of thought.  They are ground breaking in their approach or their look.  Their work is not convention in that they do the unexpected.  This is key.  You must provide a unique product so as to differentiate yourself… must have a look.    These artists thus become a force unto themselves via the circles of artists and discourses that they travel among.

Billy Seccombe

6 Ideas for Better Painting Compositions

This blog posting from M. Stephen Doherty ( Editor-in-Chief of American Artist) is magnificent.  It speaks to stronger compositions.

Billy Seccombe

6 Ideas for Better Painting Compositions
Over the past 25 years, I've heard my friend Jack Beal address art students on the critical importance of pictorial composition—the ways in which artists can develop their paintings to create a convincing illusion of space and to direct viewers' attention toward the elements of primary or secondary importance. Some of his advice is commonly offered by other art teachers, but many of his recommendations are not generally understood or consistently applied. Here is some of the advice Beal and other knowledgeable teachers offer their students.
  1. Avoid putting the center of interest in the middle of the painting. It's very hard to engage viewers in a complete painting if they are focused on what's happening in the middle, or the "dead center," as it is appropriately called. It's better to move the horizon line up or down in a landscape, to make the focal point into one of the four quadrants of the rectangle, or to use one of the time-tested principles such as the golden mean to determine the best placement of the center of interest.
  2. Use a diagonal shape to bring the viewer into the painting from the bottom. Think of the bottom edge of a painting as a ledge the viewers have to cross to enter the space. If you show them where they can easily step over that ledge, they are more apt to feel invited into the picture. The diagonal can be established by a large, dark clump of bushes in the foreground; a road or pathway to walk along; a knife lying on the edge of a table pointed to the rest of a still life arrangement; or a shaft of light coming from over the viewer's shoulder into the space.

    Once you have persuaded the viewers to enter the painting, it is helpful to lead them through the space and out again. Don't take them down a road that ends in the middle of the painting or suggest they follow a piece of cloth that disappears behind a box within your still life arrangement. Use a well-defined diagonal shape to lead viewers out of the painting.

  3. Recognize that fences, roads, railroad tracks, and other pathways are like arrows pointing viewers' eyes in a specific direction. Make sure that if you point them toward one area of the painting you don't leave them there.
  4. Don't shy away from leaving some areas of the painting open and airy. Many people who work from photographs fail to adjust for the fact that the camera has a limited depth of field and will only document what happens within a narrow space. When they paint from those photographs, they wind up filling their paintings with all the leaves and flowers shown in their close-up shots or with just the foreground elements of a landscape. Since everything in the background of their photographs is a blur, they don't know how to develop those sections of their paintings. That's why it helps to take a lot of photographs of a potential painting subject—details, overall shots, various exposure settings, etc.—so that you have enough information to paint a complete view of the subject.
  5. Consider repeating colors, shapes, and patterns to help create interest throughout the painting. This is one of the "rules" of composition that often gets repeated, and it certainly has merit. If you only have one red object in your still life, it will overwhelm the rest of the picture. If you only have one orange shape in your landscape, it will likely become the focal point of the image. The best thing to do is to repeat colors, shapes, and patterns. You don't need the exact same mixture of red or the same textural pattern. Just make sure to maintain some level of repetition and variety.
  6. Try to look at the paintings objectively: Turn your paintings upside down or look at them in a mirror. Put them away for a few days. We all become so completely engaged in our drawings and paintings that we can't judge them objectively. It helps to turn the image upside down, put it away for a while, or look at it in a mirror so you begin to see it differently and can therefore recognize how to improve it.
M. Stephen Doherty

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Salmagundi Demo

I will be holding a portrait painting demonstration at the Salmagundi Club on Sunday June 21st from 1-3 pm.  There will also be a $20/ person brunch prior to the presentation.  Please visit or register by calling (212)-255-7740.

Billy Seccombe

Friday, May 15, 2009

Delia Brown

I came across this painting in an article of "W" Magazine and it was a feature on figurative painter Delia Brown. I must say that I enjoy her semi-erotic paintings paired with an academic realism. These figurative subjects are often complimented by patterning and sometimes various prop-like elements. However, I must say Delia is a bit edgier than my work. She is certainly someone that I am looking and will continue to look to for inspiration.

Billy Seccombe

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What to do with all that unused wet paint on your palette?

A quick note to those of you wondering what to do with all of your unused paint on your palette after a day of painting. You may be wondering what to do to avoid that unwanted skin which begins to form on your globs of paint after being left out overnight. I have tried everything from adding extra drops of linseed oil to covering it with a damp towel. Both approaches do little to actually preserve the paint's integrity. Instead, try getting yourself a small plastic or rubber container such as a Tupperware bin or a plastic chinese take-out container which is more my speed.

You can scrape off any good remaining paint at the end of your painting session and with your palette knife place it into your container. Place the container in your freezer and your paint should last a good length of time and sometimes upwards of a couple of weeks however I wouldn't wait that long to revive it. You can also simple place your palette (if it is smaller enough) in your freezer as well. Happy painting.

Billy Seccombe

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Phillip Pearlstein

Recently, I was compared to the great Phillip Pearlstein by my friend Tim Coolbaugh. I had the chance to see some of his work before I ever knew who he was and I must say that the work was impressive. I especially liked the the random props which he incorporated in his work to provide strong compositional elements such as wrought iron, inflatable chairs, and neon lights. I was not overly impressed by his painting technique but the over all presentation of his work was certainly effective. Additionally, it's interesting to know that Phillip Pearlstein was a close friend of the late Andy Warhol and had travelled with Andy from Pennsylvania in the 1950's to become an artist in New York. Taking all of these things into account I will greatfully accept that comparison. Thank you Tim.

Billy Seccombe

Figure Drawing by Time Dose

Above is a figure drawing from my good friend Tim Dose which he did while studying in Russia last year. He stresses that I must include the hand of his teacher in this entry but I can assure you that 99% of it is Tim's hand alone. To make him happy as he is a humble guy I will put his instructor's name (Vladimir Mogilevtsev) in here as well. Onto the work. I find this piece to be an excellent example of just how to approach the figure both in drawing and painting alike. As a good drawing is intrical to a successful painting it is easy to imagine how this study might appear as a finish. At first blush the piece seems to take on a highly polished approach with an almost saccharine-like sensibility to detail in the upper portion of the figure however at further examination it's clear to see that this feeling is attained simply through accurate observation and solid academic draftsmanship. In sculpting terms, his marks take on a refinement of small and accurate chiseling developed from larger forms. The study really starts to become interesting in his decision to leave certain parts of the piece unfinished. It is here where you begin to observe the carved and sculpture aspects to the work and discover it's true strengths. It is this dichotomy of a highly rendered torso to a nearly unfinished and suggestive lower-body which simotaneous directs the viewer as to where to look but also indicates a stage, a process, with an underlying structure, and Dose offers us a glimpse into these thoughts in his development of a strong academic drawing. I'd encourage you to visit my friend Tim's website as it offers a great source of both solid draftsmanship and portraiture alike.

Billy Seccombe