GC Myers “Truth and Belief” Opening Reception

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for the opening reception of the GC Myers solo exhibition “Truth and Belief” last evening! It was a wonderful turnout and we’ve had such an exciting amount of sales so far in the show. We love giving you all the chance to meet and chat with the incredibly talented artists that we represent, and the artists love it as well. Last night, as you can see up at the top left here, we even had a young budding artist present GC Myers with some of her own artwork inspired by his paintings! If you weren’t able to make it last night and you’d like to meet GC Myers, you’re in luck– he’ll be back in September for an artist talk, so be sure to follow our social media pages or join the mailing list to be reminded of the date!

To see the images from the “Truth and Belief” show, check out our website here!

Technique Tuesday: Stylized Art

What is it?

Welcome back to Technique Tuesday! With the GC Myers “Truth and Belief” exhibition opening just a few days away, it’s the perfect time to take a look at stylization! Stylization is a technique that’s been around for a very, very long time. In 1979, The Great Soviet Dictionary provided an excellent definition of stylization, explaining it as “the decorative generalization of figures and objects by means of various conventional techniques, including the simplification of line, form, and relationships of space and color.” To look at it from a different perspective, stylization is a deliberate step away from mimesis, which is defined as the close mimicry of reality (in art, this is very generally referred to as “realism,” though that particular term has evolved and is rather nuanced). Rather than trying to represent the subject in a way that is close to reality, an artist can use stylization to create images that, while they contain recognizable subjects and forms, do so in a manner that places emphasis on the color, lines, and oftentimes the emotive qualities of the work.

Examples from art history:

Stylization is something that can be seen as far back as ancient cave paintings, as recognizable subjects were visually portrayed in a simplified manner. Part of this no doubt had to do with the fact that humanity was discovering the visual arts and experienced a learning curve over time when it came to more accurate mimicry of reality in drawing, painting, and sculpture. As time progressed, the goal for many artists became increased mimesis, and stylization began to slowly give way to more realism in art. We can see from the height of the Renaissance through the 19th century that artists took a great joy in creating highly realistic images and exploring the very accurate representation of architecture, human anatomy, natural plant life, etc. As Impressionism broke from academic tradition in the 19th century and brought a focus back to experimentation with colors and light, and stepped back from strict mimesis, it spurred a renewed interest in deliberate stylization and in using the portrayal of recognizable subjects as a platform in which to also revel in color, line, and shapes. Because of its accessibility (one need not necessarily go to school for art or train for years to create stylized art) and its celebration of line and color, stylization is frequently seen in street art and graffiti-style art, as in the case of the late 20th century artist Keith Haring.

(left to right) an example of ancient Peruvian pottery; Henri Matisse, “Chat aux Poissons Rouges”; Pablo Picasso, “Pitcher and Bowl of Fruit”; Gustav Klimt, “Tree of Life III”; Keith Haring, “Statue of Liberty”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

While we carry almost solely representational art here at Principle Gallery, it does certainly vary across the spectrum of mimesis. Some artists here are more stylized than others, but perhaps the most excellent example of stylization and its focus on line, form, and color here at the gallery is the work of GC Myers. GC’s work goes beyond representation of landscapes and adds an emotive quality to the subject and forms, as they portray imagined vistas and use symbolism to create feelings and messages in the artworks. If you keep up with the artist’s blog, over at redtreetimes.com,  you can often get a detailed insight right from the artist into the emotions and symbolism that infuse any given work of his, but the wonderful thing about his artwork is that it’s also something that can communicate on its own. Feelings of confusion, triumph, peace, frustration, joy, melancholy, and joy all make themselves known to the viewer purely through the interplay of lines, colors, and shapes in these landscapes. While these works come from a deeply personal place in the artist’s soul, one of the magical things about this art is that it also leaves so much space for interaction and interpretation from the viewer, independent of any verbal explanation from the artist.

We are thrilled to be opening an exhibition titled “Truth and Belief” this Friday, June 2nd, which will feature 55 incredible brand new paintings from GC Myers. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the beauties from this show, and if you’d like to see all of them, head over to our website, shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com, or better yet, join us to welcome the artist and celebrate the exhibition this Friday evening from 6:30-9 PM at Principle Gallery!

“Truth and Belief”

“Race the Light”

“With Sanction of the Moon”

“Seeking Truth”

“So Well Remembered”

 

by Pamela Sommer

Technique Tuesday: Oil vs. Acrylic

Technique Tuesday oil acrylic

Today’s Technique Tuesday topic is often a hotly debated one in the art world; many artists and art appreciators have very strong feeling one way or another about the type of paint they prefer between oil and acrylic. Before we get into this discussion, then, let’s get one thing very clear.

Great art is not all about what you paint with. It’s about how you paint with it.

In this post, we’ll just be talking about the practical differences between each medium, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. As with many things, this choice is often going to come down to the personal preference of the artist. What’s “best” is often just a matter of opinion. There are a wide variety of materials to use to create art, but when it comes to creating relatively opaque paintings (as opposed to the more translucent effect of watercolor), today’s most popular paints to use are oil and acrylic.

The basics: oil paints consist of pigment suspended in an oil, usually linseed oil, where acrylic paints suspend pigment in acrylic polymer emulsion. Oil paints date back quite a ways, but they really became popular during the height of the Renaissance. Acrylic paints, on the other hand, only came onto the scene around 1934! Their popularity began to really increase in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

AH Acrylic Collage

(left to right) Andy Warhol, “Big Campbell’s Soup Can 19c” (1962), David Hockney, “A Bigger Splash” (1967) Mark Rothko, “Untitled” (1969)

Versatility: Acrylic paints take the upper hand in this category. Although they can be used straight from the tube, acrylic paints are also water soluble, and depending on how much water is used, acrylic paint can be applied to appear very similar to watercolor, very similar to oil paints, or even just take on qualities unique to acrylic alone. Acrylic can also easily be used on virtually any kind of surface, and unlike oil paints which possess a natural corrosive nature, the surface does not need to be treated beforehand to protect it. Oil paint has its own range of versatility, certainly, but it’s just not quite as wide as that of acrylic paint.

Drying Time: Acrylic paint dries a lot more quickly than oil paint, and depending on how the artist likes to work, this can be a great advantage or an obstacle. Oil paints can be applied to an artist’s palette and dipped into for hours, even days, as the medium stays soft and pliable. Acrylic paint will dry very quickly on a palette, often before the artist even has a chance to use as much of it as they wanted to! This requires more frequent application from tube to palette, and sometimes a waste of paint. When it comes to applying the paint onto the painting surface, whether or not it quick drying is desired comes down to an artist’s preference. Oil paints give an artist more flexibility for taking their time to create a work, including taking breaks and coming back to it and still being able to manipulate the paint. If an artist is painting with oils in a technique called glazing, which involves building up paint in very thin layers, then the slow drying nature of oil paint can be a disadvantage since it requires much more time to complete the work, as they’re waiting for each layer to dry before continuing. Some artists prefer this time flexibility, and will choose to work on more than one painting at a time to accommodate for the drying time of each. With acrylic paints, however, thin layers, or “washes”, can be built up quite quickly, and layering paint becomes a much faster process. This does mean, though, that an artist must work quickly when blending paints on the surface itself, as acrylic paint doesn’t give much time for this.

Color shifting: Because of their composition, acrylics will dry slightly darker than they appear when first applied. This can be tough, especially with portraits or other compositions where getting the colors just exactly right is important to the artist. The artist may mix what appears to be the perfect color, only to find that when the binder in the acrylic paint dries, it turns from white to clear, and therefore the color darkens slightly. With some practice, artists can get used to this and adjust the mixed paint accordingly, knowing it will shift, but it is still rather inexact this way. Oil paint, on the other hand, has no immediate color shift. What you see when you’re painting is what you’ll get when it’s dry. The caveat here is: oil paint will maintain its color….for a time. Oil paints have a slight yellow tinge to them because of the oil, and with the passing of years, oxidation can cause the paint to take on a more yellowed effect (this does take quite a long time, though). This is just a characteristic of oil paints, and must be taken into account by users. Laboratory tests show a lot of promise for acrylic’s durability over a long stretch of time, but the catch is, they’ve been around less then a century. Time will tell whether they truly do last well, but all signs indicate that they will.

Flexibility: The drying time we discussed comes into play again when looking at flexibility of the paint. Acrylics dry much faster; this means that if an artist uses thick oil paint to create an impasto effect, even when the outer layer of paint has “cured” and is dry to the touch, the inner part of the thick paint strokes may still be somewhat wet. Improper consideration of drying times of the paint can lead to cracking in the paint’s surface over time (yikes), though these days artists have found that there are certain additives which can speed up paint drying time for oils and therefore help to avoid this. Acrylic is much more flexible, simply because of its composition, and has only been known to crack under extreme cold temperatures.

Safety: To spread the paint more easily on the painting surface and achieve the desired texture and drying time, oil paints are mixed with a solvent or resin. These materials are also used in the cleaning of the brushes. The most effective and traditional solvents are turpentine or white spirits, but these create heavy fumes, which are dangerous to breathe in. This danger can be offset with preparation and proper ventilation, or by using alternative thinning materials with less odor (although these can often be much less effective). Acrylic paints, on the other hand, are odorless and non-toxic, and can be thinned with water. A properly prepared artist can paint safely with either option, but they do need to be aware of the necessary precautions for painting with oils!

Examples from Principle Gallery:

In the last week, we’ve had three incredible events here at the gallery and we all got a chance to learn more about both oil and acrylic paints. Last Sunday, we welcomed artist GC Myers to the gallery for his annual artist talk, and learned some more about his process in creating his vibrantly colored acrylic landscape paintings. Acrylics are especially conducive to creating the bright, saturated colors seen in GC’s artworks, and we were thrilled to receive a large number of new work from him that day, all featuring these lovely vibrant colors. Here are a few cool examples, and you can check out the rest on our website here:

9915183 Seeker of Light

GC Myers, “Seeker of Light”

9915230 Perpetua

GC Myers, “Perpetua”

9915234 Floating Melody

GC Myers, “Floating Melody”

The other two events from this past week involved the opening of Casey Childs’ solo exhibition, “Observations.” Friday night, we held an opening reception for the incredible show, which features brand new oil paintings, alla prima oil sketches, and stunning charcoal drawings. We were so pleased to have Casey himself join us for the opening, not to mention come back the following afternoon to give a live oil painting demonstration in the gallery! We watched fascinated as in just over three hours, Casey painted a beautiful portrait from a live model. Check here to see Casey’s whole show, including these beauties:

Girl with Braids HR

Casey Childs, “Girl with Braids”

Henna HR

Casey Childs, “Henna”

Repose(d) HR

Casey Childs, “Repose(d)”

And here is a collage to show you the stages of painting during the amazing live painting demonstration! We hope to have many more live demonstrations during the Saturday after the opening of upcoming shows–keep an eye out for announcements!

Childs Demo Collage

Casey Childs, “Portrait of Gail” during creation

Technique Tuesday: Using Leaf

Technique Tuesday using leaf

What is it?

Metal leaf is the term for metal that has been hammered into very thin sheets. Gold leaf has been created and used for thousands of years as a decorative element in painting, sculpture, furniture, architecture, tapestry, jewelry, and more. Other metal leafs often seen as decorative elements are silver leaf and copper leaf, which are comparatively much less expensive than pure gold leaf. With each type of leaf, the metal is pounded or processed with rollers until it is extremely thin (often 1/250,000th of an inch!), cut into sheets, and attached with an adhesive to the desired surface.

Examples from art history:

Gold leaf has been used since ancient times by many societies across the world, beginning with ancient Indian temples, Egyptian sarcophagi, and even some ancient cave paintings! It became very heavily used throughout Europe for religious iconography, painting and mosaics, often comprising the entire background of a work in a technique called “gold grounding.” The Japanese, however, were perhaps the most advanced in their use of gold leaf. They perfected their technique for using gold leaf through many generations of dynasties, and some of the most beautiful examples of using gold leaf on a large scale are found in Japanese screen paintings, though they also adapted their technique to create threads from gold leaf which they incorporated into clothing and tapestry.

AH Collage 1

left to right, a gold leaf painting from an ancient Thai temple door, a Japanese gold leaf and glue tempera painting on paper, and a Byzantine religious icon from Europe

Both the Byzantine mosaics and iconography as well as the Japanese tradition of using gold leaf in paintings had an influence on the “golden phase” of 20th century Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. In fact, of all Klimt’s work, the pieces containing gold leaf are among the most popular and well-received. Here are a few cool examples:

Gustav Klimt collage

left to right, Gustav Klimt, “Adele Bloch-Bauer I”, “Judith and the Head of Holofernes”, “The Kiss”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Several cool examples of using leaf in art have come through Principle Gallery over the years! A couple of years ago, we were treated to a few landscapes by GC Myers with brilliant copper skies:

Myers Collage

left to right, GC Myers, “The Elemental Moment,” “Iconic Moment,” and “Elemental I”

The use of metal leaf gives these vibrant, stylized landscapes an extra glamorous dose of visual interest and texture, and the coppery color paired with the scenes of trees seems to almost offer a nostalgic aspect. A few of the other works the gallery has shown that involve the use of leaf include some gorgeous portraits by Argentinean artist Alejandro Rosemberg, one of which uses silver and gold leaf and another with gold grounding, as well as a beautiful figurative piece by British artist Fletcher Sibthorp that uses silver leaf:

PG Leaf Collage1

left to right, Alejandro Rosemberg, “Luciana II”, “Gold Leaf Nude”; Fletcher Sibthorp, “The Idleness of Spring”

There’s something truly delicate, lovely, and eye-catching about seeing these painted figures with a background of leaf. It adds such an understated level of elegance to the already beautiful paintings. We also often see the use of leaf on the more ornate frames surrounding the paintings that come into the gallery, a nod to a very long historical tradition of using leaf on frames for decoration. Sometimes, there’s really nothing better than leaf to add that perfect glint to a work or its frame!

Technique Tuesdays: Arbitrary Color

Technique Tuesday arbitrary color

 

What is it?

Arbitrary color refers to a choice of color in an artwork that has no basis in the realistic appearance of the object depicted (think purple cows, yellow sky, pink sun, etc.). When painting, many artists choose their colors with the intention to portray the realistic appearance of their subject. However, sometimes an artist will change up the colors of what they are depicting, often with an emotional or expressive significance, but sometimes for the pure sake of playing with color!

Examples from art history:

Arbitrary color is widely seen in today’s art, from all areas of the world, but the Europeans were a bit later to join in with the use of it. Arbitrary color was not commonly seen in Western fine art until the 19th century, but it has certainly appeared in the art of many other areas of the world for a long time, with Aboriginal art, Mesoamerican art, and Asian art serving as only a few examples. As European artists began to broaden their spheres of influence, painters like Paul Gauguin were greatly inspired by the bold use of color found in Asian art, such as the brightly colored woodblock prints of ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai from 18th century Japan.

Hokusai collage

Katsushika Hokusai woodblock prints: “Waterfalls in All Provinces” (left); “Landscape with Two Falconers” (middle); print from series “One Hundred Poems” (Right)

Gauguin’s work began to reflect the influence of Japanese art like that of Hokusai, and works like his painting “The Vision After the Sermon” mark the introduction of the arbitrary color trend into European art.

1888-PaulGauguin-Vision_After_The_Sermon-Jacobs_Struggle_with_the_Angel

Paul Gauguin, “The Vision After the Sermon”

As it took a foothold in European art, the use of arbitrary color appeared more frequently, particularly in the brightly colored works of the Fauvist movement, as well as the Expressionists. Picasso’s famous “Blue Period” is also full of excellent examples of the use of arbitrary color for emotional significance.

AH collage

(left) Andre Derain, “Charing Cross Bridge”; (middle) Pablo Picasso, “Crouching Figure”; (right) Franz Marc, “Large Blue Horses”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Once again, a prime example from Principle Gallery comes to us from the feature artist from this month’s solo exhibition, GC Myers. Asian woodblock prints are one of many influences seen in his beautiful landscapes, and examples of arbitrary color can be found everywhere. Sometimes, it appears that the choice of color is tied to the emotional symbolism of the work, while in other examples, it appears to simply be part of his rich explorations of color harmonies. Either way, enjoy some of these gorgeous examples of the use of arbitrary color, and check out our website here to see the whole “Native Voice” exhibition!

Bejeweled 72

GC Myers, “Bejeweled”

A Call to Council 72

GC Myers, “A Call to Council”

Blue Zone 72

GC Myers, “The Blue Zone”

Odyssey 72

GC Myers, “Odyssey”

Technique Tuesdays: Pointillism

Technique Tuesday PointillismWhat is it?

Pointillism is a painting technique that popped up in the late 1800’s as an off-shoot of Impressionism. Essentially, pointillism uses small, distinct dots or strokes of different colors in a pattern to form an image. This technique relies on the ability of the eye to blend the dots of color–it’s actually quite similar to the way that computer screens and printers use tiny pixels of just a few colors (most printers have just four inks, CMYK) and posititions them all just right so that our eye blends them and sees a smooth image with normal-looking colors. So instead of mixing colors on a palette, the artist presents dots on the canvas that we mix with our eyes. To give you a very basic idea, here’s a visual example:

Seurat detail

detail of a crop from Georges Seurat’s “La Parade de Cirque”

In the close-up detail on the left, you can see a wide variety of colors–yellow, orange, red, different shades of blue, and shades of green–but take a look at the upper left corner of the crop on the right. That’s where this close-up comes from. But, when we’re a bit further away, we see the dots begin to blend into a warm shade of green. And check out how blended everything becomes when we take another proverbial step back to look at the painting as a whole:

3716

Georges Seurat, “La Parade de Cirque”

Examples from art history:

Fun fact: when I (Pam) was in the eighth grade, my art teacher taught us our first art history mnemonic device with the rhyme “Seurat knew a lot about dots.” Yes, indeed he did! Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” is probably one of the most well-known pointillist images ever:

A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884

Georges Seurat, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”

Georges Seurat and Paul Signac were the original pioneers of the use of pointillism, referring to it as Neo-Impressionism. “Pointillism” was actually a derisive word coined by art critics, but the connotation of the word is no longer mocking. Many artists began to experiment with this technique, including Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Maximilien Luce, among many others. Later, a group known as the Divisionists would tweak the idea by using larger, more square brushstrokes to create similar blended colors and patterns.

AH Collage

(left) Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait; (middle) Paul Signac, “Le Clipper, Asnieres”; (right) Camille Pissarro, “Apple Picking at Eragny-sur-Epte”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Several artists that we represent here at Principle Gallery occasionally dabble in pointillism in their works (check out the work of Mia Bergeron and Colin Fraser!), but one artist springs to mind in particular, with his classical and frequent use of the technique. GC Myers, whose annual solo exhibition opens THIS FRIDAY, has a knack for using pointillism to create a lovely and magical effect in the skies of many of his colorful landscapes. The dappled effect can give a sense of starlight, the glow of a sunset, the sparkle of bright sunshine, or sometimes just pure, magical texture.

The whole exhibition will be on display at the gallery by the end of this week, so please join us for the official opening on Friday, June 5th, from 6:30-9 PM! If you’d like to see a complete digital preview for the show earlier in the week, just send us an email! For now, please enjoy this sneak peek!

The Singular Heart 72

GC Myers, “The Singular Heart”

Freed to the Wind 72

GC Myers, “Freed to the Wind”

Solitude and Reverence 72

GC Myers, “Solitude and Reverence”

Clair de Lune 72

GC Myers, “Clair de Lune”

Technique Tuesday: Painting from Imagination

Technique Tuesday from imagination

What is it?

Continuing our mini-series on different reference methods artists use, today we’ll be looking at painting from the imagination. Nearly everyone who has ever had an interest in art had at some point created an artwork from imagination or memory; most all of us have at least doodled from imagination! When there’s an image that an artist wants to capture, but they either cannot or do not wish to use reference photos or a live subject, an artist can rely on their own memory and imagination to provide all the inspiration they need. As it’s difficult to accurately remember all of the details and shadows of a scene just from memory, some artists will use reference photos or a live subject to help enhance the realism of a scene they are creating from their mind, but the overall combination and placement of subjects still spring from the artist’s imagination. Other times, the realistic rendering of the image is not so important to the artist as the subject and content, and in this case, they can paint from pure imagination alone!

Examples from art history:

There is little doubt that painting from one’s imagination or memory is an art form that goes back as far as art itself (after all, it would be a bit difficult to get the buffalo to come pose inside the cave for those ancient cave paintings!). Additionally, when ancient cultures created artworks depicting scenes from their mythology and lore, particularly those involving strange creatures or deities, they had no option but to create from imagination, and as we can see looking at ancient art, the imagination is as diverse and prolific as humanity itself:

ancient art collage

artworks depicting deities from Ancient Egypt, Greece, and India

In addition, outdoor subjects were very difficult to paint from anything but one’s memory and imagination, as before the innovation of paint in tubes, it was difficult to paint en plein air at all! Many artists sketched outdoors, observing and copying details so that their final paintings would be more realistic, but in the end the works were created indoors and the artist had to rely on their mind to fill in the blanks. This was a large part of why nearly all landscapes preceding the 19th century were painted as what is termed an “idealized landscape.” But even when it became more accessible to paint en plein air, some artists chose to continue to use their imagination to help create a composition, for a variety of reasons. Take Van Gogh’s famous “Starry Night” for example–that scene does not actually exist anywhere in the region of France where he painted it; rather, Van Gogh was inspired by the surrounding landscape as well as by his thoughts of home, so he created an imaginary village and churches that reminded him of his Dutch homeland.

imaglandscape collage

(left) idealized landscape by John Paul Rubens, “An Autumn Landscape with a View of the Hetsteen in the Early Morning”; Vincent Van Gogh, “Starry Night”

As the twentieth century dawned and artists began to explore expressionistic painting more in-depth, many different styles of painting from one’s imagination evolved. One of the most well-known of these styles is Surrealism, a movement from the 1920’s in which artists explored themes of dreams and the subconscious through irrational pairings of images. All of these movements encouraging artists to use their imaginations and emotions as reference for their art have continued to have a major effect on art today, both in the world of fine art as well as urban art, which relies heavily on the artist’s imagination.

collage 3

(left) Salvador Dali, “Ship with Butterfly Sails”; (right) Urban art from Atlanta’s fourth ward

Examples from Principle Gallery:

At Principle Gallery, we show the artwork of a wide variety of artists, each with their own preference for what they use as reference. We do have two artists in particular, though, who delight in painting from their imagination. Francis Livingston, an artist often known for his city scenes painted in brilliant color, also enjoys the playing with odd and unexpected juxtapositions of subjects as you can see from his combination cityscape/animal artworks. Plus, if you happen to remember our post last summer on National Ice Cream Day, you can see some more examples of Francis’s ice cream paintings, which he also creates from memory alone. The results of his imagination-infused work are whimsical, beautiful, and intriguing.

Livingston Collage

(left to right) Francis Livingston, “Deference”, “Mating Season”, “Triple”, and “Night Moves”

 

Another Principle Gallery artist who paints from imagination, GC Myers is a painter based in upstate New York who creates colorful, stylized landscapes from his imagination alone, resulting in lovely, emotionally charged scenes. Keep an eye out, because our annual solo exhibition for GC Myers is coming up next month, so we’ll be getting in a lot of great new pieces!

MYERS COLLAGE

(left to right) GC Myers, “Interconnected”, “Happy Trails”, and “Allura”

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