Saturday, May 2, 2015

Putting the "Fine" in Fine Art

We artists are always trying to improve our craft. The established wisdom is that it's most important to paint more. Hours of "easel time," like flight time for pilots, leads to more experience and better skills. True enough, but it's also important to observe better, fine-er art. Which is how I excuse myself for the hours spent caught in the world wide web looking for artistic information and inspiration. To be fair I've "met" some wonderful artists online but nothing beats seeing paintings in person.

Studying Jacob Collins paintings at Adelson Galleries, Inc., NYC
So this week our little painting posse ventured off on a field trip to galleries in NYC where we basked in the glory of fine art by the likes of Jacob Collins, Steven Assael, Anthony Waichulis, Sharon Hourigan, Todd M. Casey and more.*

Getting up close and personal with artwork is as much about taking in the full essence of a body of work as it is about examining details.

Viewing artwork in person allows you to really appreciate the nuances, see texture and examine the subtle color shifts that add complexity and bring a richness that can't be appreciated online.

©2011 Todd M. Casey "Bottles with Books and Letters" at Rehs Galleries
Todd M. Casey's "Bottles with Books and Letters" is a perfect example. The background is full of interesting texture and yet it's still a quiet area balancing the "action" of the objects.

This painting, which is one of my favorites by Todd Casey, can be seen at Rehs Galleries in New York.

Take a close look at those letters! Such variety in the edges and shadows! How fine is the highlight on that open book! And the amber color where the light hits the bottle lying down is just perfect! It's really exciting to see this painting in person. There are several other wonderful Caseys at Rehs.

detail of "Bottles with Books and Letters" by Todd Casey

Currently Rehs also has an exhibit called SEXES featuring work by instructors and artists at the Ani Art Academy, of which Anthony Waichulis is a founder. You can read more about this exhibit and the philosophy of the Ani Art Academy on the Rehs website here. It's interesting stuff.

"A Love Story" by Anthony Waichulis, photo Rehs Galleries
My favorite painting in this show is Waichulis' trompe l'oeil "A Love Story." He is one of the best artists creating trompe l'oeil today. I've always found trompe l'oeil fascinating. It means "fool the eye" and is a time-honored technique where realistic imagery is designed to give the optical illusion of 3D. In Waichulis' work you would swear it's a collage of actual papers! Very cool!

Again, when viewed in person the details are clear and it's an enriching and educational experience.

So what did we learn on our field trip from the classroom/studio to the big city?

Galleries are spiritual places to renew the soul.

And observing fine art is somehow calming and invigorating at the same time - which is the perfect mindset for creativity.

And, finally... no need to pack juice boxes for this field trip, since New York caf├ęs serve wine. Win - win!

Get thee to a Gallery!
Taking in Jacob Collins works at Adelson Galleries

PS: It's not lost on me that there are few female artists on this *list - where are Angela Cunningham, Sadie Valeri and Stephanie Rew when you need a fine art fix! But our time was limited and I'm sure some of these outstanding artists are exhibiting somewhere in New York... more online research needed. And another field trip!

Thanks for sharing my art journey!

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