After five minutes of dueling bids at Chris Christie’s auction house in New Jersey, Mary Ellis LaGarde’s digital painting “Ricardo’s Mundi” sold for $451.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. The winning bidder asked to remain anonymous to protect his mental health reputation but he was quoted as saying “It’s worth twice the price”.
The sale surpassed Wednesday night’s sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” that sold at Christie’s for $450.3 million. Chris Christie’s director of Young Master’s Art says “This is historic. We never expected it to sell for this much money. We just hope the buyer actually has the money to pay for it.”
I fininshed my first painting in the new studio in Naples. It is entitled “Looking to the Past”. It is a portrait of a young Native-American girl who was participating in a pow-wow ceremony in Houston. I was struck by her appearance. She was facing West and squinting into the sunset while all her tribal elders were looking East towards the arena where the ceremony was taking place. In a sense, painting her in the classical style is my own form of looking to the past. It would be easy and quick for me to paint an abstract version of the scene but I could only do her justice by painting her in the detailed and time-consuming classical Venetian method.
Day 4 of FACE began with a painting demonstration by Daniel Gerhartz entitled Training Your Eyes to See.
Gerhartz describes his paintings as “completely loose yet deliberate and faithful, not at all flashy.”
Next I attended a presentation by Dr. Michael Pearce entitled Throwing Down the Gauntlet. Quoting the Rolling Stones, Dr. Pearce noted that you can’t always get what you want when it comes to clientele in the art market.
Today’s market is looking for authenticity. Gallery systems are offering less variety because they are marketing towards buyers who are looking for “the spectacle.” Galleries offer a party-like music atmosphere to lure in the younger clientele with cheese cubes and boxed wine. The only way to pry them to look up from their cell phones is to create a “spectacle”. The art market today is not concerned with the age of enlightenment. It is the duty of representational artists to educate so the future of art does not continue in the abstract “specatacle.” We have a duty to refine and develop art in a neo-Renaissance movement. He blames college art departments for having dropped the ball. The younger generation of artists is taught that they don’t have to have quality or skill so long as they can come up with a theoretical basis for their abstract work. My takeaway from his presentation is that if the viewer needs an explanation of what an abstract painting means, it will not stand the test of time.
Next I attended a presentation by Virgil Elliott entitled Aspire to Inspire.
He said that great art has the power to inspire. Art that touches your heart endures. Although there are superficial changes taking place, artists have something universal. Great art has the power to awaken the viewers’ sensibilities and to bring out the better side of human nature. If we truly love art, we should inspire others in the same manner in which we were inspired.
His presentation was entitled Our Way Forward Is In the Past. Graves noted that quality is absolutely essential. Therefor it is imperative that you hold onto things that are beautiful and then pass it forward. Graves showed a slide showing eyes painted by famous painters. The top row of eyes were painted in the photorealist style. The bottom two rows were painted by the Old Masters. The photrealist eyes showed no distinguising characteristics. Therefore there is a loss of identity of the artist. Can you tell which artist painted each of these?
Graves noted that the Old Masters’ personalities showed through with each brushstroke. That is the translation of nature to art which makes representational art unique. He concluded by noting that what we paint or sculpt will be our legacy. It will forever be the record of our souls.
Max is a New York artist who witnessed prejudice both as a Jewish kid growing up in New York and in the Army when he was posted to the South where black soldiers were not allowed to use the restrooms but German prisoners were allowed to do so. As a result, his paintings take on social justice themes. As an art student, he and a group of fellow students rebelled against the art educators who discouraged realism and encouraged abstract art. They secretly met before class to pose for one another and to paint figurative art in the classical style. Ginsburg is heavily influenced by the Old Masters.
Today started with a sculpting demonstration by John Coleman. John is a member of the Cowboy Artists of America and has spent the past 50 years sculpting and painting. He used clay and plasticine to shape a child’s head, then altered it to form a woman’s head, and lastly altered it to create a man’s head.
John said an artist’s brilliance appears only for a couple of minutes a day. Therefore, it is critical that you become skilled and capture those brilliant moments as they appear.
He utilizes modern technology to create his monumental sculptures. For example, he recently created a 17-foot bronze statue by sculpting a five-foot tall clay maquette. He then used a 3D printer to expand the statue to a 17-foot tall styrofoam statue. He coated the foam structure in clay and then coated the clay surface in rubber to create a mold.
Next, Steven Assael gave a presentation entitled Evolution. His basic argument was that a great drawing is the essential basis for a great painting. Drawing is the foundation for everything visual. It is important that when you are working on a two dimensional surface, you can only see three sides of a cube at any time. Therefore, you have to create the illusion of completeness.
Philosopher Stephen Hicks gave a presentation on why art became ugly. He described what was happening in the world when classicism went off the rails and devolved into abstract art. Artists at the time of World War I, World War II, and the atomic age had difficulty telling the story of what was happening. They turned to abstract art to express their feelings. Modern society has created alienation from others, alienation from reality, and alienation from one’s self. It was simpler when religion guided every aspect of our lives. As man became more intelligent, and as the world became grotesque, art soon reflected this change. He quoted Jackson Pollock who said ” Modern art to me is nothing more than the expression of contemporary aims of the age that we live in….the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atomic bomb, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.”
Hicks notes that today’s revival of representational art is poking its finger in the eye of the recent abstract era.
The last demonstration of the day was by Juliette Aristides. Juliette is the founder of the Aristedes Atelier at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle. She is recognized as a Living Master by the Art Renewal Center. She gave a demonstration of figure drawing. Her quote for the day was that “[T]alent is just another name for a deep love of art.” She says it takes both skill and practice to attain the goals you set for yourself in art.
She discussed steps to achieve a great drawing. First, set your easel, as Leonardo DaVinci described, three times as far back as the subject is tall so you can see the entire subject at a glance. Next, begin a block-in with a light charcoal stroke to present abstract shapes to form a loose figure. Next, work your drawing so that the shape and form begins to settle. Start using lights and shadows to develop the form. Free yourself to use large corrections as needed. Next, use gradation on a value-scale of core shadow, half tones, and light to model the form. Remember that the larger shapes dictate the smaller shapes. Next, work in the details and particulars. It is important to remain patient and delay, for as long as possible, the particulars so you are certain of the dimensions and proportions.
Day 2 of the Figurative Art Convention and Expo 2017 began with a painting demonstration by Sherrie McGraw who studied and taught painting at the Art Students League of New York. She is the author of The Language of Drawing.
Next was a presentation by Elliot Bostwick Davis, Chair of the Art of the America’s Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She spoke about the place of figurative art in the Americas.
Following the lunch break, Jacob Collins gave a presentation entitled The Art World in Crisis. Collins is one of the leading figures in the contemporary revival of classical painting.
Following Collins’ presentation, David Leffel gave a painting demonstration. Leffel is recognized by his peers as a painter’s painter and some consider him to be the artistic reincanation of Rembrandt.
The highlight of the day was my dinner at the Palme d’or restaurant with one of my favorite art instructors, Virgil Elliott. He is the author of Traditional Oil Painting–Advanced Techniques and Concepts from the Renaissance to the Present. Virgil has taught art for 35 years. He is ranked as a “Living Master” by the Art Renewal Center and has a burning passion for his art. He is obsessed with creating the best paintings he can while he still has time. One of his favorite quotes that he shared with us was from the movie Babette’s Feast. “Throughout the world sounds one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me the chance to do my very best.”
It is a “first of its kind” gathering of figurative artists from 42 states and 17 countries. One of the lead speakers was Dr. Donald Kuspit, a distinguished professor emeritus of art history and philosophy at State University of New York. He’s one of America’s most distinguished art critics and is the author of The End of Art. Dr. Kuspit spoke about the New Objectivism movement which emphasizes representationalism and classicism in the arts while celebrating allegory, fantasy, and present-day subjects.
The evening ended with a portrait painting demonstration by New York artist Max Ginsburg. Mr. Ginsburg opened his demonstration by explaining how he begins by painting a simple expression of what he sees rather than getting bogged down in the details. He uses a sparse palette of colors to produce the basic form. I am looking forward to learning from these world-class artists over the next two days.
I completed the grisaille (pronounced ɡriˈzī) today. A grisaille is a monocrhome oil painting in shades of gray that helps to add depth to a painting. Next I will paint from darks to lights. Afterwards, I’ll add chroma or color.
I sprayed a matte retouching fixative on my charcoal drawing yesterday to hold the charcoal on the canvas. Then I painted over it a touch of a light transparent wash mixed with Van Dyke Brown oil paint diluted with Gamsol. The idea is to create a tea stain over the sprayed charcoal to hold my drawing in place. Otherwise, the charcoal will easily smear and create a muddy mess.
Today I added a layer of blue oils mixed with a hint of cobalt violet to the canvas. The object is to begin a background for the sky on the underpainting. If this dries well tomorrow, my next step will be to begin adding the grisaille.
I’m always a bit afraid to start the grisaille on my paintings because I feel very strongly that I must be totally committed to the underdrawing before I move forward. I believe that the design and drawing stages are easily the most important steps in any oil painting. The drawing acts as a scaffold-like structure. With a good drawing in place, the artist can be free to express light, shadow, character and mood. A drawing can therefore make or break your painting.
Here’s what’s sitting on my easel today. This ” Native Princess” is a charcoal sketch on stretched canvas. The subject is a young native American woman Richard and I saw at a Pow Wow in Houston. Now that I completed the under sketch, I will work on the grisaille (a grey scale underpainting). The good news is that we had minimal damage from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey so Richard was able to focus on fixing my Sorg easel that was broken in our move from Colorado to Naples, Florida. It feels good to be back at the easel. I can’t wait to begin painting this young lady.
Chemist Mas Subramanian and his team of assistants at Oregon State University stumbled upon a new vivid share of blue pigment that is resistant to fading. The pigment is being marketed to artists by Shepherd Color Company.
The pigment is composed primarily of Yttrium, Indium and Manganese, hence the name “YlnMn Blue”. For a picture of the new pigment, click >>here<<.
It’s similar but a little more vibrant than the formula I put together to capture the winter sky in Colorado in some of my recent paintings including this one:
Thomas Hoving, former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote a book titled False Impressions: The Hunt for Big Time Art Fakes (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996). In the very first chapter Hoving states that during his decade and a half at the museum, he would conservatively estimate that 40% of the 50,000 works or so that he examined could be characterized as “phonies” or forgeries.
In a more recent article, Tom Sykes cites a Swiss art-research lab which claims that more than 70 percent of the works it examines turn out to be either fakes, forgeries, or misattributions.
How can you tell if an Andy Warhol silkscreen is the real thing or a fake? Even the Pop master’s own art foundation has given up trying to tell the difference.
If you are buying an expensive piece of art supposedly created by a well-known or popular artist, Thomas Hoving proposed a checklist that you should follow to assure yourself that your purchase is an original:
Note and write down your initial impressions of the object/artwork (Hoving attests to the idea that first impressions are almost always spot-on, especially when something just doesn’t appear “right.”)
Make a meticulously detailed description of what you see (a step that underscores the importance of examining every inch of the object).
Describe its condition.
Ask yourself what the object was used for (most artworks were, until recently, utilitarian).
Note whether condition is consistent with intended use.
Describe its style.
Note whether style is consistent with supposed date.
Assemble documentary information (realizing that this paperwork can also be faked).
Assemble published references, exhibition history, provenance, etc.; is the provenance complete and can it be supported?
Have a complete scientific examination done of object/artwork (including as wide a range of methods as possible, such as carbon 14, thermoluminescence, ultraviolet, x-ray, etc.) and then “discount everything you find.”
Consider any rumors in the marketplace about the object’s authenticity/true identity.
Mary spent much of the past four months sitting in a hospital room with her husband, Richard LaGarde, who was being treated for acute myeloid leukemia. While waiting for Richard to recover, she sketched him in charcoal and pencil using hot pressed watercolor paper.
Mary’s husband, Richard, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in February of 2016. Mary has been with him through three hospitalizations, three rounds of chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant. Mary used her time in the hospital to sketch Richard’s leukemia doctor, Dr. Hagop Kantarjian. He is the chair of the leukemia department at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Mary was greatly impressed by Dr. Kantarjian because he is one of those rare individuals who is as comfortable using the left side of his brain as his right. In fact, when he is not researching a cure for leukemia or treating patients, Dr. Kantarjian is painting large paintings in the Fauvist style. His brightly colored paintings line the hall of the faculty offices at MD Anderson. Mary says she wanted to capture the compassion in he eyes as he is one of those doctors who deeply cares for his patients and goes to battle for them on a daily basis.
Mary LaGarde finished her latest painting. The painting, Aspens Spring I, is oil on canvas and is 36″ X 60″. Mary is a portrait painter by background. She decided recently to use the Venetian method of portrait painting to create portraits of aspen trees. She believes that the subjects of her paintings have almost human characteristics which she attempts to capture in her paintings. Mary has the amazing ability to paint with both her right and left hands and it is not unusual to see her painting with the canvas upside down.
Mary painted her granddaughter Genevieve on the beach at Clam Pass in Naples, Florida. The painting is oil on canvas and is 18″ x 24″. The painting is a hybrid between the 19th Century impressionist method and the traditional classical approach.