Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Missouri Valley Impressionist Society has a paint out scheduled.  They do not post the address on the web site, so you will need to contact a member of MVIS for directions.  Gregory appears to be the contact person for this event.  913-707-8337.  I hope the weather improves!

March 24th on Kill Creek Rd down in Gardner KS. This will be at Elaine's place, which is a great place that has ponds, woods, creeks, fields, a lot of interesting and fun material for the perfect composition. If you have not received address to painting site, and directions, please give Gregoroy a call at 913-707-8337

One more note, on cleaning products.  Today I read an article on using baby oil to clean brushes instead of turpentine or Gamisol.  I have used baby oil to clean my hands , but not my brushes.  You 'recycle' it just as you would a turpentine product.  Rotating jars of used oil.  Once the paint settles to the bottom of the jar, pour off the good oil and reuse.  Sounds good to me.  When I run out of Gamisol, I am trying it.  After the cleaning with baby oil, wash the brushes with something like Murphey's soap or Ivory soap.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mud Heads

More History of Mudhead Tradition in Provincetown

These amazing photos of Charles Hawthorne's and Henry Hensche's classes on the beach in Provincetown were shared with me by the family of John Whorf. He was a well known Provincetown painter, and I copied a short bio at the bottom of this post. The mudhead below was painted by him when he was around 15 in Charles Hawthorne's class. I am so excited to see a picture of Whorf's early mudhead. Pictures like these really help me understand the history of the mudhead tradition in Provincetown.

Hawthorne class in Provincetown, late teens or early 20s.

Mudhead by John Whorf. Painted when he was in his mid teens in Hawthorne's class. 16x20"

Hensche class on the beach in Provincetown painting mudheads. Probably around 1948.

Hensche class in Provincetown, early 30s. You can see how the students flipped their boards around to paint another on the back.

(b.Winthrop, Massachusetts 1903; d. Provincetown, Massachusetts 1959) American painter. Born in Massachusetts, John Whorf’s family had a strong connection to Cape Cod as fishing captains, traders and shipbuilders and Whorf felt strongly drawn to the sea. His father was an artist and encouraged his son’s desire to study art. Whorf was fourteen when he went to Provincetown to study with artists known within the Provincetown, Cape Cod and Islands community such as Max Bohm, George Elmer Brown, Richard Miller and Charles W. Hawthorne. He then studied in Boston at the St. Botolph Studio under Sherman Kidd and at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School. In 1919 he went to France and continued his education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the Grande Chaumiere and the Academie Colarossi. While living in France he took the opportunity to travel to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. He was a competent oil painter, but after his travels in Europe he embraced the medium of watercolor and became a renowned watercolorist. In 1924, the Grace Horne Gallery in Boston gave Whorf his first solo exhibition. His work has been recognized with medals from the California Water Color Society and the Art Institute of Chicago and an honorary M.A. from Harvard University.
(from askart.com)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Great writing by Robert Genn.

Six compositional boo-boos

March 2, 2012

Dear Peggy,

Last night, while on jury duty, my fellow juror and I agreed the most common fault seen among entries was in composition. Well drawn, well rendered and well coloured--all came to naught when the composition had significant faults. I've often written about what an artist should do. In this letter I'm giving six common pitfalls. Last night we noticed them all.

Weak foreground. The foreground appears as an afterthought. Wishy-washy, unresolved or inconsequential--it fails to set the subject onto a reasonable ground or to lead the eye to what the artist would have us see. Even in abstract or mystical work, a foreground needs to be implied and understood as a vital contributor to the whole.

Homeostatic conditions. Homeostasis means equidistant lineups of trees, rocks, blocks of colour, or other patterns that are too mechanical or regular. It includes trees growing out of the tops of people's heads. While sometimes seen in nature, homeostasis is a natural human tendency--a subconscious reordering and regularizing within the brain. "Even in front of nature one must compose," said Edgar Degas.

Amorphous design. The general design lacks conviction. A woolly, lopsided or wandering pattern makes for a weak one. Often, the work has unresolved areas and lacks cohesiveness and unity. "Everything that is placed within the enclosing borders of the picture rectangle relates in some way to everything else that is already there. Some attribute must be shared between all of them." (Ted Smuskiewicz)

Lack of flow. Rather than circulating the eye from one delight to another, the work blocks, peters out and invites you to look somewhere else. "Composition," said Robert Henri, "is controlling the eye of the observer." Effective compositions often contain planned activation (spots like stepping stones that take you around), and serpentinity (curves that beguile and take you in.) 

Too much going on. Overly busy works tire the eye, induce boredom and make it difficult to find a centre of interest or focus. Less is often more. "Take something out," said the American painter and illustrator Harvey Dunn.

Defeated by size. Effective small paintings often work well because they are simple and limited in scope. But when artists make larger paintings they often lose control of the basic idea and what is ironically called "the big picture." "The larger the area to be painted," says Alfred Muma, "the harder it is to have a good composition."

Best regards,


PS: "A well-composed painting is half done." (Pierre Bonnard

Esoterica: The path to stellar composition is spotted with potholes. Further, compositional design can be unique to the individual, and intuitive. This approach can be unreliable. Habitual poor composition can have long-term effects on otherwise excellent work. After our engaging juror effort (there were many excellent, compositionally sound paintings), over a straight-up gin Martini (for a change), my friend and I loftily decided to found a "School of Composition"--where only composition would be taught. Like the tattoos on the girl's back, it seemed like a good idea at the time.