The Sight & Insight Podcast

The Paradox of Painting

Episode 40

[P]erception and thinking cannot get along without each other." Rudolf Arnheim, Visual Thinking, University of California Press, 1972, p. 188

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Roger W. Curtis (1910-2000) Break, break, break, on thy cold grey stones, O sea! o/c, 25 x 30

Seasons Greetings, Art Lovers!

Join Connie, David and Judy for a chat around the coffee table as they discuss the Paradox of Painting.

By definition, a paradox is "a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities." So what are some of the paradoxes we come across in painting? Well, there's the notion of Concept (ie interior thoughts) -v- Percept (external, action-oriented). Or Light -v- darkness. We also have Improvisation, rifting off one thing to come up with another;  winging it -v- a literal, by-the-rules approach. There's also ambiguity -v- the clearly defined and, lastly, just as magnets can both attract and repel, there is the paradox in painting of Attraction, or Forms that Welcome us -v- Repulsion. Too much of anything can also rebuff us. In painting, balance does not necessarily mean equality of elements.

In learning to work with these paradoxes, we have to turn to the Grand School of Nature: the artist's greatest inspiration! George Inness, the prominent American landscape painter is a wonderful example of what can be achieved with paint and canvas.

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George Inness, The Storm, 1885, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC, US

We hope you enjoy the conversation. Join us next time for more thoughts on art and the people who make it. Until then:

Happy Holidays from

Connie, David and Judy

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Deck the Halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

The music to Deck the Halls is believed to Welsh in origin and was reputed to have come from a tune called "Nos Galan" dating back to the sixteenth century. In the eighteenth century Mozart used the tune to Deck the Halls for a violin and piano duet J.P. McCaskey is sometimes credited with the lyrics of Deck the Halls but he only edited the Franklin Square Song Collection in which the lyrics were first published. The first publication date of Deck the Halls is 1881.

This and That and Alexander Cozens

There is No Direct Path to Reality, or Alexander Cozens and the Blot on the Landscape

Connie began reading about the psychology of Cozens' work - preceding the Roscharch psychological test by a decade or more - and passed on her findings to David, who also became intrigued. They will be covering Cozens' work in more depth in their upcoming book, In Focus 2020. Judy then picked up the baton and started researching Cozens and was, of course, delighted to find he has English roots, albeit he was born in St. Petersburg, or thereabouts, where his father was working at the time on creating Peter the Great’s imperial navy. 

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Alexander Cozens, Vale near Matlock, Derbyshire, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 35 1/2, private collection

Cozens (1717–1786) studied in London from 1727, and by 1733 had learned etching. After his father's death in 1735, Cozens returned to Russia to assist his family who were suffering hard times. In spring of 1746, Cozens sailed for Italy, and settled in Rome. He worked in the studio of the eminently successful French landscapist Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-89), making Cozens one of the first British artists to study and work in Rome.

Sadly, Cozens lost many of his Italian works while traveling through Germany on his return to England in 1749. Interestingly, those paintings that did survive were recovered in Florence by his son in 1776. Want to know more? Here is a great link to further information and images Alexander Cozens - Experimental Painter, His Tercentenary

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Alexander Cozens (1717–1786), A Blot-Lake with Boat, Surrounded by Trees (date not known), brush and black ink, 16.2 x 21 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1930), New York, NY. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, via Wikimedia Commons.

If you have enjoyed discovering the work of Alexander Cozens as much as Connie, David and Judy have, then check out more of his work online. His method of landscape painting is truly inspirational!

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Alexander Cozens, A Blot: Landscape Composition, c.1770–80. Watercolour and graphite on paper, Tate, London, UK, purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
Ref.: T08114

Cozens's famous 'blot' technique was fully evolved by the 1750s. However he did not explain it in detail until the publication of 'A New Method of Assisting the Invention in Drawing Original Compositions of Landscape' (1786). The idea seems to have originally been developed by him as a teaching aid, to liberate the imagination of the student who, he felt, spent too much time in copying the works of others. He wrote that the blot was a 'production of chance, with a small degree of design'. The true blot was 'an assemblage of accidental shapes', 'forms without lines from which ideas are presented to the mind'. Blotting was done deliberately, the 'rude forms' which result having been made 'at will'. [Tate, London, UK Gallery label, September 2004]

"Everything that is painted directly and on the spot has always a strength, a power, a vivacity of touch which one cannot recover in the studio... three strokes of a brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at the easel." — Eugene Boudin

Until next time, happy painting, happy art loving,

David, Judy and Connie

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Catching Up

Greetings, Art Lovers!

Well, it's a while since we were able to gather around the coffee table and talk art. Where did the summer go? Life in the 21st century can be very hectic. Technology is great - while it's working right. When it isn't, it can be frustrating. That's why we really need art, painting, creativity, music, writing and all those things that feed our soul.

Join David, Connie and Judy as they catch up with each other after a busy summer.

David and Connie, and their friend artist Tom Heinsohn, will be hosting an exhibition in Kittery Point, Maine, on Saturday, September 28 and you are more than welcome to join them for good food, great art, and scintillating conversation.

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Please park at the First Congregational Church of Kittery Point parking lot, 23 Pepperrell Rd, Kittery Point, ME 03905 and take the chauffeur driven limo to the venue.

Cheers,

Connie, David and Judy

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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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