Sunday, November 6, 2011

The practice of seeing (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote about an interview conducted by Alessia Masi in ARTnews, November 2011. She interviewed Wayne Thiebaud in an article titled “Object Lessons: Wayne Thiebaud on Morandi, light, color, shadows and more.” After Thiebaud discusses Morandi so expressively, Ms. Masi inquires about his own art practice, how he works in general, from reference, memory or imagination.

Thiebaud notes that he cannot work from photography, that he has a “kind of quarrel with them.” He notes that he does a lot of drawing, a lot of painting. He also talks about looking at other artists for his reference. He says that with a lot of practice, you can see a dime size piece of a painting and know whether or not it is a Vermeer, a Degas, a Seurat. He says you have to look a lot, see a lot, spend more time and look more carefully to learn.

One story that he related I found fascinating. He says that the painter Jean Ingres challenged his students to create a 100 step achromatic value study. The students rebelled saying it was impossible. Then Ingres brought out his own student work featuring a 1000 step value study!


Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique - Half-figure of a Bather - Neoclassicism - Oil on canvas - Nude - Musée Bonnat - Bayonne, France

Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique (1780-1867)

Half-figure of a Bather

1807; oil on canvas

Can you imagine a 1000 step value study? Amazing. Thiebaud says that by looking at the back of one of Ingres’ Turkish Bathers, you can see those beautiful subtle values.

In terms of practicing drawing, Thiebaud notes that Mondrian made thousands of little thumbnails. These drawings would be studies for placement and intersection of his lines and to determine “how much space in one area as opposed to another”. (pg 80)  Thiebaud notes that one has to test out different set ups, re-draw, adjust, move things slightly and pay attention to composition if you are serious about your work. He acknowledges that it can be neurotic but, how much you learn! Don’t, as Thiebaud notes, cast too early in concrete. Practice seeing, drawing, painting.

I’ve read many books about practice but I always get more inspired when I read interviews or articles or books that give you specifics. I feel like the artist is in the room with me, sitting next to me, encouraging me by example.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be visiting the Dallas Museum of Art to see the work of Mark Bradford and going to the Modern Art Museum of Ft Worth to see the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit. I’ve read a book on Diebenkorn, and have seen the ART21 video on Bradford. I look forward to checking out other books on both and reporting on my visits.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The practice of seeing (Part 1)

I read a very interesting article the other day in ARTNews, November 2011. The title of the article is “Not-So-Still Lifes: Thiebaud on Morandi.” In the article Wayne Thiebaud talks about the good lessons that can be learned from looking at Giorgio Morandi’s work such as the “wonder of intimacy and the love of long looking.” Spatially, there is something not quite right in Morandi’s still lifes and, also, dare I say it, in some of Thiebaud’s. This is what makes them more interesting than a traditional still life.

Thiebaud goes on to describe more of “long looking,” “of staring but at the same time moving the eye, finding out what’s really there, and there are so many things that are subtle and may look like something at one moment but not the next.”

Theibaud two cheese cubes webWayne Thiebaud, Two Cheese Cubes, 2011

Thiebaud also says that Morandi’s work was hard to appreciate initially, “These didn’t come to you, you had to go to them.”

 image Giorgio Morandi; Natura morta (still life), 1956, oil on canvas, 30.6 x 40.8 cm

Thiebaud goes on to talk about the formal qualities of light such as highlights, core and cast shadows and how to replicate or use these strategically as a way of determining volume. With Morandi’s work, and also I believe with Thiebaud’s paintings, he says, “the light is created through creating energy, by the juxtaposition of colors and the interaction of those colors to create light quite different from the modulation of volumetric rendering.” Other artists who use light by “way of color” are Bonnard, Matisse or Vuillard. The light can be discussed as “eternal or symbolic or a light that is sustained by energy.”


condiment bowls web thiebaud

Giorgio Morandi; Natura Morta (above), Wayne Thiebaud, Condiment Bowls, 2008 (below)

We are currently working with color to express the illusion of space two dimensionally in my classes. This article could not have come at a better time.

More on this article in my next post.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hunting for Treasure


sample_comm2 sample_comm1

Above: sneak peek at a commission not yet delivered…

Every year Seth Apter organizes a "Treasure Hunt" for favorite blog posts from the past. You can find links to other bloggers taking part in the treasure hunt, here. This post about Eva Hesse still gets lots of hits, so I know I’m not alone in my admiration.

In my opinion, no female artist has had the impact on art that Eva Hesse had in her short life. (1936-1970). I am particularly enamored of her drawings and her sculpture. Her drawings have a child-like feel to them and she was a master at using color. From the Estate of Eva Hesse site:

Untitled; 1963-64; Collage with ink, gouache and watercolor on paper; 22 x 30"

Untitled; 1963; gouache, watercolor, pencil on paper; 22 x 30"

Untitled, 1963; oilstick, ink and pencil on paper; 8.5 x 11"

Untitled; 1963; collage with gouache, ink and watercolor on paper; 36 1/4 x 27 3/4"

This book on her drawings is worth checking out if available in your area.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Show Opening

My show opening was a great success – a huge thank you to everyone who came out and supported me and my work. I’m updating my website with all of the new artwork over the next week, so be sure and visit there to see all the work in the show as well as my older pieces.
In the meantime, here is a shot of the east wall:


And the series “Fragments”:



Each is 6” x 6” and are honoring my grandmother with the fragments of leather gloves, along with industrial and unprocessed wool felt; machine embroidery.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New York Park Armory Red & White Quilt Show


You may have seen the overall image of the amazing four day show at the Park Armory in NYC. It was put on by the Folk Art Museum and consisted of over 650 quilts owned by collector Joanna Rose. She’s been collecting red and white quilts since 1956. Here is a slide show so you can see some of the quilts in detail. You can read interviews with one of the co-curators and the head of the exhibition design company here and here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Exhibit opening

I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to show my artwork at a small arts center in Irving, Texas (near Dallas). I am having an opening Sunday, April 3 from 2-4pm and would love to see you there! Here’s the information and a few photos of the new work in the show. I’ll be posting all the artwork on my blog once the show is over.
New Work by Rebecca Howdeshell
Exhibit dates: March 27 - April 28, 2011
Opening: Sunday, April 3rd, 2-4PM
Contact Information:
Jaycee Park Center for the Arts Directions
2000 W. Airport Freeway
P.O. Box 153581
Irving, Texas 75015-3581
(Note: the entrance off the service road is still open – just stay on the service road and turn in through the construction barrels)
Gallery 972-721-2488
Hours:12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, and 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Sundays. Closed holidays.


Sectional Dance II; 2011; industrial felt, thread; 6” x 6”

Modern Geometry I; 2011; industrial felt, thread; 12” x 12”

South and east walls of gallery with artwork installed

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Two recommendations


Recently, I had the opportunity to see a clip of the Oscar winning animated short “The Lost Thing.” I was intrigued enough to purchase it on iTunes for $1.99. Wow. This short, about 16 minutes long, is so visually arresting with a compelling story line to boot. Highly, highly recommended.

I challenge you not to watch the part that begins about 12 minutes in, over and over.

Second is a film that I’ve had in my Netflix queue forever due to another artist recommending it. The documentary is now available for free on demand. “Between the Folds” is billed as the science of art and the art of science. I find it hard to describe, it is so much more than the art of origami. The documentary starts small and builds into possibilities that you can’t even imagine. Watch this!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rachel Whiteread (cont.)

Courtesy of Jo Horswill at Mystory, a short video of Rachel Whiteread talking about her Drawing show, which I wrote about here.

Rachel Whiteread: Drawings from Field Studies on Vimeo.