Category Archives: Art News

Mary LaGarde Chosen as Finalist in Art Renewal Center’s 13th Annual ARC International Salon Competition

Mary LaGarde was chosen as a Finalist by jurors in the 13th Annual ARC International Salon.  Mary was honored for her painting of a massive Aspen tree.  The oil-on-canvas painting is five feet tall and was painted using the Venetian method of painting.  Mary’s painting, entitled Zeus, is eligible for the People’s Choice Award.  If you would like to support Mary and vote for her painting, simply go to the Art Renewal Center’s People’s Choice Award page, register to vote (it’s free), select the page for the 13th Annual Salon, enter “Mary LaGarde” in the Search Form and hit “Vote” under her painting.

Saved a Life Lately?

Have you saved a life lately?  It’s easier than you think.  When I heard  today that MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston was short of blood donations over the holiday season, I went to the donation center and gave a pint.

MD Anderson needs 300 units of blood a day to keep its cancer patients alive.  However, donations drop off dramatically during the holiday season.  The reasons are numerous:  shopping, family in town, holiday sales, etc….

One in three women and one in two men will get cancer in their lifetimes.  You may someday desperately need a transfusion to stay alive.  I’ve spent the better part of the past two years at MD Anderson supporting my husband who successfully won his battle with  AML Leukemia and is now fighting an autoimmune response to his stem cell transplant.  You can read about his fight for survival at

If you are in the Houston area and think that saving a life would be a good thing to do, there are several MD Anderson donation centers.  My favorite is the one near the South Loop at 2555 Holly Hall Street.  The parking is free, the staff is really friendly, and there is usually no wait.

If you’re not in Houston, I’m sure the local hospital or cancer center is just as much in need this time of the year.  Do yourself a favor.  Start the new year out right by saving a life.

Did Leonardo DaVinci create a copy of “The Last Supper”?

The Daily Beast reports that two researchers have linked a painting of “The Last Supper” in Belgium to Leonardo’s workshop and believe that Jesus and one of the other figures were actually painted by DaVinci.  I would love to see it in person.  Are any of you planning to go to Belgium in the near future?  This might make for a nice detour on your trip.  The article can be read >here<.

Mary Ellis LaGarde’s “Ricardo’s Mundi” Breaks Auction Records

“Ricardo’s Mundi” by Mary Ellis LaGarde

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.”

FACE 2017 Day 4

Day 4 of FACE began with a painting demonstration by Daniel Gerhartz entitled Training Your Eyes to See.  

Demo by Daniel Gerhartz

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. 

Dr. Michael Pearce

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. 

Mary Ellis LaGarde with “Living Master” Virgil Elliott

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.

Next I attended a presentation by Daniel Graves.  Graves is the founder of the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. 

Daniel Graves

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.

Next, I attended a presentation by Max Ginsburg

Max Ginsburg

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. 

FACE 2017, Day 3

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 Coleman

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. 

Dragonfly by John Coleman

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.

Drawing by Steven Assael

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.”  

Stephen Hicks

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.

Juliette Aristides

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.

FACE 2017 Day 2

Sherrie McGraw

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. 

Demonstration Painting by Sherrie McGraw

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. 

David Leffel

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.” 

Mary Ellis LaGarde and Virgil Elliott

FACE 2017 Day 1

Mary Ellis LaGarde at FACE 2017

I am attending the Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE) at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami-Coral Gables.

Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida

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.

Dr. Donald Kuspit

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.

Max Ginsburg