The story of two wonderful paintings and their uncertain future.
“If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.” Paul Gauguin (from Sensational Color)
Phthalo Blue is anything but a soft, peaceful calming blue. Phthalo Blue will knock the socks off of any mix it comes in contact with. Phthalo Blue is not for the feeble hearted. Generally blues are thought to be the color of quietness for soothing the soul. Or blues can also refer to sadness or depression as in “a case of the blues.” Whoever coined that phrase clearly had never met the Phthalos. The Phthalos are anything but soothing or depressing.
Phthalo Blue comes either with red undertones for a bluer blue or green undertones for a strong green. Winsor Newton first introduced a Phthalo Blue in 1938 known as Winsor Blue to replace “the capricious less reliable Prussian Blue.” Winsor Newton says Winsor Blue has good tinting properties but cautions to take care when using. Winsor Blue and Phthalo Blue can quickly “overpower.” Artist David Rourke says the Phthalo’s are “beautiful, lightfast and high in chroma.” But he doesn’t use them because “they are too bloody strong.” Artist Stapleton Kearns finds Phthalo’s “strength a drawback,” but says it also can be used to make “great greens.”
Sensational Color says, “not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic—an engaging color that expresses exhilaration.” Phthalo Blue is the in -your -face blue. If you must make a statement but just can’t go red, Phthalo Blue can do the trick. Phthalo Blue will muscle its way in and take over, squeezing out all others. Most blues drift in wafting around in a whisper sliding carefully over the furniture. Phthalo Blue charges in knocking down everything in the path. Sometimes you just want to make a blow-out production that won’t be soon forgotten. That’s the time to call in the Phthalo Blue. But look out. He may take over.
“And suddenly you know. Its time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.” Meister Johann Eckhart (from The Painter’s Keys)
What is the magic of new beginnings? A paraphrasing of the dictionary definition of magic calls it a power that allows people to do impossible things. “Impossible things” is a wide-open description that could mean anything and everything. Many artists struggle to create a vision that lives inside. Freeing this vision feels impossible, insurmountable. Yet this vision, this inner voice is crying out. It wants to sing but how?
Sometimes it’s necessary to sweep out all the old visions, the old thought processes. That inner voice wants to sing but can’t. There’s too much Old Stuff hanging around blocking the view. The voice can’t see it’s way clear to freedom, to expression. It’s easier for an artist to quash the voice than to deal with the Old Stuff. That Old Stuff has been around a long time. It’s soft and worn and comfortable. Anything new would require the work of breaking in. Who wants to break in the new? The old is so comfortable. It’s too much trouble to change. Why bother?
That old stuff is tired, faded and dusty. Everything it creates will be tired, faded and dusty. Breaking in the new is a fresh adventure, a new beginning. Opening a path for the new voice to sing feels impossible but it’s really quite simple. All it needs is a little trust. Trust the magic of new beginnings. Once that voice is free to sing impossible things can happen. The impossible makes even the oldest rustiest tin can sing like the sweet sound of a meadowlark. Time to kick that rusty can down the road and let the magic of new beginnings sing. The impossible is happening. That old can is being replaced by the sweet sound of a new song. And that is magic.
“One of the virtues of the very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.” Sam Levenson (from The Painter’s Keys)
Is true imagination alive and well today? Imagination can appear to be an exercise in futility when art is created by rote. Over and over an artist strives to reproduce a preconceived idea yet it isn’t appearing on the paper or canvas. Something else entirely keeps happening so the artist scrapes it and tries again, over and over. It becomes a mechanical process until eventually the artist moves on to the next project. What would be the outcome if the artist, instead stopped trying and just let whatever is pushing to happen, happen?
“When you’re a kid, your imagination has no limits. You believe in magic powers and incredible characters that don’t exist in the adult world,” writes Landon Lee on his blog. As adults, the imagination has been beaten down and suffocated by the practicalities of life. Or it has been told to conform to the “real” world. For artists, it may mean stifling the imagination to go for the prevailing concept of what acceptable art may be. Stamping down the childish imagination to gain acceptance replaces the freedom to create what the imagination sees.
Stuckismwales states, “Concetual art is shackled to the earth and can’t ‘fly’ because it has no ‘wings’ of imagination.” To fly is the greatest adventure. Unshackling the imagination leads to flying. Who doesn’t want to fly? Okay, so some may fear flying. How about releasing the sails to fly across the water? Or slide down mountains? Or dance on a sandy beach in the moonlight? Giving the imagination the freedom to do whatever it wants is the beginning of magic. Magic makes the impossible happen, the un-thought-of appear.
Art that knows no bounds, recognizes no confines is free to fly, or dance, or sail. Art with the “wings” of imagination can go anywhere, be anything. To get there, the mechanical must be scraped, the control relinquished. Forget the preconceived notions. Let the child out to play. Start dancing. Unfurl the sails. Reach for the sky. Bring on the magic!
Several articles have appeared recently in the Washington Post about the impending doom of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art. The most recent article this week by Phillip Kennicott describes the final deal reached between the Corcoran, the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. From the story, it appears that the Corcoran will cease to exist. GW will assume control of the school and the National Gallery will take over the art collection and the historic building. A sad, sad state of affairs but one a student saw coming over a decade ago.
This particular student was returning to school after a career with an international company followed by small business ownership. Though this student was older than the average college student, there were more in the same age group with similar backgrounds. Within the first week of school, the student recognized that some things were not quite right from a business perspective but assumed the constant influx of donor money must cover for the lack of good business practice. The Post article described the management of the Corcoran as having “incompetent leadership,” and “often obscenely inept leadership.” This student is in complete agreement.
Though the working- artist teachers in the community education classes were excellent, some of the teachers in the full time student program fell into that description of “obscenely inept.” One particular “inept” action of some teachers of the full time program was to encourage self-expression to the point of anti-social behavior. The teachers called this “artistic expression” and frequently graded work on that basis. This student’s favorite example of how “artistic expression” and anti-social behavior go hand in hand was in the Senior Show. Graduating students were given the opportunity to exhibit work in the museum open to the public of Washington, D.C. It was a great honor. Celebrities and other dignitaries regularly dropped in for the Senior Shows.
A group of male students who had been greatly praised for exhibitions of anti-social behavior were given permission to collaborate on their final project. The result was a platform about a foot high and around 10 to 15 feet long built from plywood and covered with green astro-turf. At one end was a large pile of paper airplanes of the kind children make in school out of single sheets of paper. At the other end of the platform was a treasure chest made from cardboard and filled with green pieces of paper decorated with dollar signs. That was the extent of the piece. These students were exhibiting what they had learned after spending four years and sixty-thousand or more dollars on their art education at this supposedly wonderful museum school situated in an historic building in the heart of Washington, D.C., barely a stone’s throw from the White House.
Decades of encouraging the building of paper airplanes over skills to help artists make it in the world is part of what led to the fall of the Corcoran, in this student’s opinion. Watching the end of the Corcoran brings great sadness but no surprise. The Corcoran-RIP. The headstone should read: “brought down by paper airplanes and other such nonsense.”
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of daily life.” Pablo Picasso
Picasso’s statement above pops up frequently. It is a much-quoted line with a depth of wisdom that touches on many areas. As related to the Arts in Healthcare, the line can literally mean the difference between sickness and health. No. I am not saying the arts can replace medicine but they can come in and wash off the dust leaving the pathway clear for healing. Stress complicates the healing process. It is a well- documented fact. Art can relieve stress. As the arts continue to grow in healthcare where can a person go for more information. Aside from the big organizations, there are several blogs dishing out the skivvy.
Marti Hand of Creativity in Healthcare is both a nurse and an artist. On her blog she states, “This blog serves as a platform for my passionate interest in integrating creativity and the creative process (the arts) into healthcare, particularly in the care of patients/clients.” Hand talks about how the “science and art” of medicine has left off the art part. Her goal is to bridge that gap by bringing art more into the healthcare setting. Creativity in Healthcare features articles and important links for those interested in what is happening with creativity in healthcare.
Much has been said about the benefits of the arts with the aging yet few projects are focusing in geriatrics. Dancing Hands is one blog that directly seeks to bring the arts to seniors. According to the blog, Laurie Lunsford is an “Interactive Arts Specialist who promotes well-being and community through creative interaction in nursing care facilities.” She particularly works with Alzheimer’s care. Lunsford uses sensory stimulation through the arts by spontaneity and self expression and she is passionate about her work. Read more at the Dancing Hands blog for up to date information on the growing area of Artists in Healthcare for the aging.
Createquity is a “virtual think tank” and gathering of individuals covering all the basics of Arts in Healthcare. The stated vision from the blog says Createquity “is a hub for next-generation ideas on the role of the arts in a creative society.” While they cover more than just the arts in healthcare, quite a bit of the blog is devoted to bringing more arts and creativity into today’s healthcare. Check them out for a wealth of resources.
The arts are growing in healthcare. As usual, bloggers are helping to map the way. These are just a small sample of the bloggers writing on this ever-increasing arts endeavor. Follow the maps of these bloggers and check out what’s happening as the Arts in Healthcare gradually become an accepted and important part of “washing the dust off our souls” in the healthcare setting. The field is in the budding phase and is about to bloom wide open. The bloggers are on top of it.
As the winter moves on it is a wonder to see the bare branches reflecting in the water. Spring will soon be here and these leafless winter trees will be forgotten as fresh new green takes over. But for now they peacefully hang over the water calmly reflecting in the surface and on the ice.
“You cannot open a book without learning something.” Confuscius
If you are sitting at your art table, easel, or whatever and can’t come up with any inspiration, try reading a book. The blog, Flavorwire.com has come up with “50 books to inspire artists of all kinds.” Check it out and wait out the next wave of the Polar Vortex with a good book or two on art. I’m searching Amazon as soon as I get finished here. Happy reading!
Stolen art alert!! Someone is stealing artist’s work on WordPress.
“I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love.” Conor Oberst (from Brainyquote)
For generations the cadmiums had a stranglehold on the yellows in paintings. Brighter and cleaner than Indian Yellow and without the green undertones of Gamboge and Aureolin, the cadmiums ruled the world of sunny yellows. As costs of the cadmiums increased and word began to leak out of its carcinogenic properties, artists and paint makers frantically searched for an alternative. Thus Hansa Yellow was born in a chemistry lab of relatively nontoxic chemical compounds. Developed in Germany, Hansa Yellow became available as an artist’s pigment in 1915.
Hansa Yellow is sometimes known as Arylamide Yellow or Monoazo Yellow. Redbubble.com lists Hansa Yellow as the primary yellow for the basic three colors of the primary triad of the color wheel. Gamblin says the Hansa family of yellows, “retain their intensity in tints and make beautiful glazes.” The American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) adds Hansa Yellow to the list of recommended paints for botanical artists for its wonderful transparency in watercolor. The Museum of Fine Arts describes the Hansa Yellows as having, “good lightfastness and weather resistance but are susceptible to bleeding in some media and discoloration when heated.”
Hansa Yellow is so loved by painters that one artist was moved to write a love letter to this sunny yellow. “Without you, my palette feels naked, empty and completely lost,” writes the author of Artfulblue.com. All artists may not be driven to writing love letters but many find the bright cheerful sunny Hansa Yellows irreplaceable as a palette staple. The Hansa Yellows easily replace the evil cadmiums in the hearts of artists as long as they don’t cook them or leave them out in the rain too long. And Hansas won’t expose anyone to carcinogenics. So keep your Hansa saturated paintings out of heat and weather and they will keep the sun shining in your art.
The painting above was made with Dr. Ph Martin’s Hansa Yellow.