The Sight & Insight Podcast

Busy, busy, busy …

Greetings Art Lovers,

Are you missing us? We hope so. We'll be back one of these days. Who would have thought it was so difficult to get three people together for a quick recording session!

However, David and Connie are busy teaching and Judy is busy promoting the Mysterious Lives: The Art of Winslow Wilson and Pico Miran Exhibition at Rockport Art Association & Museum. 8th June through 8 July 2019.

 

If you are interested in a Sight & Insight workshop check out David's website or Connie's for more information.

June 19-21, 2019 Sight And Insight Plein Air Design     $350.00 pp

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Join David P. Curtis and Lorwen C. Nagle as they instruct students in finding and executing a good design; the foundation of any successful painting.

Of all the principles of painting, design is the one that should inspire us to create the best composition we can, whether pictorial or otherwise. David and Lorwen will help students find their Line of Design in order to refine their work and execute a finished canvas. If the artist defines the line of design, or pictorial quality,  initially the composition will achieve the proper 'variety within unity.' Without this vital element, a painting may never succeed in manifesting an aspect of beauty that exudes refinement.

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Cheers,

Connie, David and Judy

 

Copying the Masters

Episode 37: Copying the Masters

"Perhaps one of the most essential exercises in learning to paint is the copying of master works in the museums." — Igor Babailov

Want to paint like a Master? Before you can paint like one whose works have stood the test of time, you have to study their work and comprehend what they did and how they did it. In other words Copy a Master!

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A. T. Hibbard, Belmont Hills in Winter, 15 x 18, RAA&M Permanent Collection, 12.1.4

This coming weekend, March 23 and 24, David will be teaching a Copying from the Masters workshop at Rockport Art Association & Museum, 12 Main Street, Rockport, MA 01966. Hours: 9.30 - 3.30.

Following the time-honored tradition of improving one’s painting skills through the study of master artists, this two-day oil painting workshop will concentrate on replicating masterpieces from the RAA&M Permanent Collection. David Curtis will guide students through the artistic process as students copy works from the Museum Collection. Throughout the day, David will circulate in order to assist students with their understanding of how the selected artists went about creating his or her work while providing insight into the student's individual technique and style.

Lorwen 'Connie' Nagle will also be on hand to provide assistance.

For sign up, please go direct to Rockport Art Association & Museum:

https://www.rockportartassn.org/workshops/painting-from-the-old-masters-with-david-p-curtis

Much can be learned through this process and it will enhance your work when you go outdoors to work on your own compositions. And because so many of the paintings in the RAA&M collection are from Cape Ann, many of these scenes may still be available for your to go and paint yourself.

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Paul Strisik, The Granite Pier, ca. 1960s, 24 x 30, RAA&M Permanent Collection, 02.1.3

Wishing you happy painting days and don't forget to join us in two weeks for some more Sight and Insight with David, Connie and Judy.

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Wagons West or The Texas Two Step

Episode 36: Wagons West or The Texas Two Step

This week our intrepid trio discuss plans to head out west to the Lone Star State to paint the early flora and fauna of the Texas Hill Country.

"Life is creation – self and circumstances, the raw material." — Dorothy Richardson

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Julian Onderdonk, Blue Bonnet Field, Early Morning, San Antonio, Texas, 1914, oil on canvas, 30 1/2 x 40, private collection

Although a painter should be able to find stimulating material even in his, or her, own back yard, there is nothing like a field trip to stir the creative juices. Of course, you always have to keep your fingers crossed that the weather plays its part, and the flowers bloom at the right moment, but other than that.... Still, if it wasn't for the unknown, life would be boring. The thought of creating the next great painting is what keeps an artist fresh and on their toes.

Connie and David talk about what they hope to achieve, and some of the problems artists come up against when traveling with all their gear. One wonders how artists managed it years ago. Jane Peterson, Gertrude Fiske, Frank Duveneck and 'the Boys' traveling throughout Europe, and the intrepid Anthony Thieme, who painted in numerous countries while traveling from his native Holland to Boston. Perhaps they had less rules and regulations to cope with!

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Jose Arpa y Perea, Verbena, oil on canvas, 24 x 34, Texas Prize, 1927

So, let's cowboy up, and see what gems come out of this trip. Until we talk again,

Happy painting to one and all.

Connie, David and Judy

"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art." — Leonardo da Vinci

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Episode 35: Play in the Production of Paintings

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." Carl Jung 

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A. T. Hibbard, Lane's Cove, oc, private collection

Creativity, as Jung says, is - or should be - a playful thing. A. T. Hibbard, the noted Cape Ann painter, would tell students that painting is 'hard work,' and that 'if you're not worn out when you're finished, you haven't been doing it right!' However, it is easy to see from any Hibbard painting that despite the hard work aspect, there has also been a playful element included in creating the design. The rhythm seen in a Hibbard scene, especially one of his plein air winter landscapes, shows that despite 'suffering for his work,' he also enjoyed himself immensely. The feeling of excitement and pleasure in the exhilarating moment of creation is easy to discern.

So how do we learn to play with our art? Join Connie, David and Judy as they look at different ways to improve your design creativity by changing the way you look and see things. For instance, what do you see below?

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Or how about this?

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Intriguing, right? How easily the mind can play tricks. Hope you enjoy this week's podcast, and it's not too late to sign up for Sunday's critique, February 24, three paintings person, with a brief introduction by Connie on the Voyage of Vision. Come join the fun. Refreshments will be served. Tuition $35.

Email davidpcurtis@comcast.net to register. Location will be Gloucester, Massachusetts. Directions will be given on sign up.

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Have a great week.

Cheers,

Connie, David and Judy

Episode 34 A Voyage of Vision: From Right to Left and Back Again

"The creative act is not hanging on, but yielding to a new creative movement. Awe is what moves us forward." —Joseph Cambell

In today's episode, Connie introduces the two modes of thinking that work together, for an artist, when painting. Understanding how they work will enable you to become even more creative and, thus, more artistic!

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Connie and David enjoy a great discussion on moving back and forth, from one side of the brain to the other, whereas Judy is apparently stuck in her cubicle and couldn’t even see the bridge from left to right, never mind finder her way to it! Perhaps she’s reading too much. She is currently absorbed in ‘M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio’ by Peter Robb.

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Michelangelo Meriti da Caravaggio (1571-1610) Martha and Mary Magdalene, c. 1598, oc, 38 1/2 x 52 1/4, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI. PD-US. 

All this is a precursor to the Sight&Insight presentation and critique by Connie and David on February 24th. Stay tuned for how to reserve a seat. Space is limited. 

Generally, Connie says, the left side of the brain, the language side, dominates our thinking. But, as our resident artist and psychologist, Connie is going to give us some unique ways to help the "silent right side of the brain come out and do it's thing!" Sounds like a plan, Judy, for one, needs all the help she can get. In viewing the cartoon of both sides of the brain, she didn't even notice the bridges! 

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In the meantime, happy February, and join us the week after next for the continuing saga of working with your brain for greater creativity: Episode 35, Play in the Production of Paintings. 

Cheers,

Judy, Connie and David

"Do not let it look as if you reasoned too much. Painting must be impulsive to be worth while." —Charles W. Hawthorne

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Episode 33: Sight and Insight - What does it really mean?

Greetings, Art Lovers, we're back!

We had hoped to be back right after the holidays but, unfortunately, a case of the sniffles kept us from getting together to record a podcast. However, everyone seems to be healthy again, so here we are to share some more thoughts with you about all things Art.

Today, our theme is Sight and Insight. It is the name of our podcast, as well as the idea behind David and Connie's workshops to help students take it to the next level.

“It is this perfect accuracy, this lack of play, of variety, that makes the machine-made article so lifeless. Wherever there is life there is variety, and the substitution of the machine-made for the hand-made article has impoverished the world to a greater extent than we are probably yet aware of. Whereas formerly, before the advent of machinery, the commonest article you could pick up had a life and warmth which gave it individual interest, now everything is turned out to such a perfection of deadness that one is driven to pick up and collect, in sheer desperation, the commonest rubbish still surviving from the earlier period.” ― Harold Speed, The Practice and Science of Drawing

So how do we, as artists, get more sight, and insight, into our work? We can study some of the great artists and teachers of bygone days.

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Harold Speed, The Alcantara, Toledo, by Moonlight, 1894, Tate Britain, UK

David brings his years of experience as an artist and teacher to help with ways of 'seeing,' while our resident psychologist/artist, Connie, gives us some insight into what the word means in terms of the creative process.

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Harold Speed, Old Tom, oil on canvas. 63.9 x 51 cm, Southampton City Art Gallery, UK, presented by the artist, 1930, #545

Can't get enough of us? Then look for our next episode two weeks from now. Yes, sorry about that. We know you like your weekly dose of the Sight and Insight Podcast, but various commitments in the upcoming weeks mean it is going to be hard for us to get together as often as we'd like. 

Until then, stay warm and happy painting.

Connie, David and Judy

"There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight." — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Happy Holidays 2018

Well, so much for posting a Christmas episode, Life has been so hectic, we didn't even get one done last week. Apologies to our fans, who we know, rely on us to keep the art talk going...! You'll just have to talk among your selves until after Christmas when, hopefully, we'll be back, gathered around the festive mic. 

In the meantime, we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all good things for the new year.

Best of Good Wishes to All

for a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 
Peace and Love

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David P. Curtis, Silence, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 (detail)

And all the best for a great New Year!
Cheers,
David, Connie and Judy

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Episode 32 - Can you paint an effect of Light?

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"The sky is the source of light in Nature and it governs everything." – John Constable  

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John Constable, Dedham Lock and Mill, c. 1818, oc 27 1/2 x 35 3/4 Private collection

Join Connie, David and Judy as they consider the question, "Can you paint an effect of light?" Obviously our two resident artists, David and Connie - as plein air painters - believe that is the whole point of American Impressionism and painting on location, is to capture that rare moment in time: an effect of light.

It is the prime motive for any artist wanting to work out of doors direct from nature. Judy waxes lyrical on the attributes of Leeds painter Atkinson Grimshaw, while Constable and Sorolla are also held up as masters of the light effect.

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Atkinson Grimshaw, Park Row, Leeds 1882, oc 30 x 25 Leeds City Art Gallery

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Atkinson Grimshaw, Scarborough by Moonlight, c 1876, ob 11 x 17. Private collection

"Light is a thing that cannot be reproduced, but must be represented by something else – by color." – Paul Cezanne

David poses the question, does movement represent light, or space? How do you create the optical illusion of an effect of light with color, brush and canvas? What do you think?

Of course, when it comes right down to it, perhaps the best purveyor of of Light is the Spanish Master, Sorolla and so we will leave the last word, or rather image, to him....

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Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, The Carob Tree, 1898, oc 19 3/4 x 38 1/2. Private collection

Episode 31: Gestalt!

Have you got your Gestalt on?!

"There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear." Buffalo Springfield

Join Connie, David and Judy as they explore the idea of Gestalt; what it means and how it can help the artist create a better painting.

One of the great masters of Gestalt was Johannes Vermeer, who - as early as the 17th-century knew that a composition - or its properties, should be viewed as a whole. Variety within unity is the idea. 

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Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632 – 1675) The Astronomer, c. 1668, oil on canvas, 20 x 18, Musee du Louvre, Paris

Gestalt is a German word meaning form, or shape, and Gestalt theory in terms of art refers to the concept of perception, holding that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. 

As human beings, we tend to try and organize our perceptions of a chaotic world. Thus as artists we can utilize several principles of gestalt to improve our painting:

1. Figure-ground - this refers to relationships between an object and its surroundings. Do we see the figure in front of us, or the background?

2. Closure - it is important to keep the viewer involved by completing an image or form. The principle of closure applies when we tend to see complete figures even when part of the information is missing.

3. Continuance - the viewer has a tendency to follow a path, river, beach, fence line, etc. These compositional elements give the viewer numerous ways to enter, and move around a painting.

4. Similarity - things which share visual characteristics such as shape, size, color, texture, or value will be seen as belonging together in the viewer’s mind. 

5. Proximity - The Gestalt law of proximity states "objects or shapes that are close to one another appear to form groups." Even if the shapes, sizes, and objects are radically different, they will appear as a group if they are close together.

As our resident psychologist explains it is possible to suffer from proximity flow, then we can lose the 3rd dimensional depth, leaving us with only 2 dimensions, which means our painting is all of one plane with no depth of field.

Think about your own painting compositions. Do you achieve 'variety within unity?' If not, it sounds like your gestalt needs tweaking. Tune in to learn more from David, Connie, and Judy.

"A cloudy sky to make it mysterious and a fog to increase the mystery. Just imagine how suggestive things are..." John H. Twachtman

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Episode 30 Jane Peterson

Episode 30 Jane Peterson: Artist Extraordinaire

“Sex has nothing to do with it at all. Art is one activity where being a woman is neither a help nor a hindrance. Even a woman’s intuition means nothing when she is facing a canvas.” - Jane Peterson

[quoted in J. Jonathan Joseph, Jane Peterson, An American Artist (Boston, 1981): 43. This is the primary source for biographical information on Peterson. For information on The Group see Jarzombek, “Mary Bradish Titcomb and her Contemporaries” in Mary Bradish Titcomb (1858-1927) / Fenway Studios (Boston: Vose, 1998).

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Jane Peterson, Gloucester Harbor, oc, 30 x 40, private collection (Sold at auction for $520k in 2005, after estimated between $250,000-$350,000)

Artist Jane Peterson (1876-1965) was active in Massachusetts, New York, Kansas, IL., as well as Europe and North Africa. Born Jennie Christine in Elgin, IL., she changed her name (at the age of 33) to Jane Peterson; a name that now resonates through the art world as a talented and skillful artist of the finest caliber. She studied with some of the best-known instructors of the day, including Arthur Wesley Dow and Frank Vincent DuMond in New York, as well as with Frank Brangwyn in Venice and England. In addition, she learned from the master himself, Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida in Madrid. From Sorolla she learned to lighten her palette and heighten her chroma, while also painting rapidly to capture the fleeting effect of light. 

Like many women artists, Peterson went into teaching, becoming the Drawing Supervisor of the Brooklyn Public Schools. She continued to travel and paint as circumstances allowed, frequently working in North African countries such as Algeria and Egypt, until the outbreak of World War I. However, as soon as an Armistice was declared she resumed her travels, sojourning even farther afield in 1924, when she spent six months in Turkey, exploring Constantinople (Istanbul) and Broosa (Bursa), a daring and audacious undertaking for a woman voyaging alone.

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Jane Peterson, Afternoon at the Market, c. 1910, oc, 24 x 30, private collection

Peterson was adept in oil painting, watercolor and gouache, which - being a quick drying medium - was highly practical for a traveling artist. 

She has been called an Impressionist, and an Expressionist as well as an Abstractionist, but Jane Peterson is not one to have her talents curtailed by a pigeonhole. She painted what she wanted, where she wanted and, in the recent Strokes of Genius: Women Artists of New England exhibition at the Rockport Art Association and Museum, it was obvious she could work in many styles, with each painting presenting a unique appearance and finish.

Often described as a 'vigorous realist,' who favored luscious color and bravura brushwork, perhaps the final word on Peterson's work should go to the critic of the Christian Science Monitor who, reviewing her solo show at Boston's St. Botolph Club on January 23, 1909, was moved to admit, “There is an athletic dash and swing to most of the paintings that is stimulating and captivating.” [quoted in Joseph, p. 27]

Captivating, indeed, and none more so than Peterson's oil paintings of Gloucester Harbor, Cape Ann.

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Jane Peterson, An Old Pier, Gloucester, c. 1919, oc, 24 x 30, private collection

And on a final note:

Connie will be hosting an Open House at her studio, the weekend after Thanksgiving. Consider this your invitation....

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Lorwen, Forsythia, oil, 24 x 20

Thanksgiving Weekend Open Studios
Lorwen ‘Connie’ Nagle invites you to see her latest paintings on 
November 24 & 25, 10am-5 pm, at Art On The Hill, 78 Government Street, Kittery, Maine

Art On The Hill