Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Venetian Madonnas

Getting settled somewhat, with enough time to explore the little floating city.  Old and New.  That is what Venice is.  Pretty young teenagers in flocks.  Young adults with babies. Pretty rosy babies.  I miss my family and feel it mostly on Sundays seeing extended families grouped around Campo San Stefano on benches, kids racing around, dripping gelato, screaming, being showered with love.

Finally I visited  Gallerie Dell'Accademia.  It is a short little walk from the apartment.  Here are some of the best examples of Venetian paintings.  Tintoretto, Titian, and some gorgeous Bellini works.  the Madonna thrives here in all of her manifestations.  The young one, the grieving one, the unimaginably beautiful ones.  The color of Venetian painting is saturated, filled with light, often with gold and blue and stars, mists, rocks, and flesh.  I like Bellini (Giovanni) because he seems acquainted with the actual form of the infant human.  Some of these painters seem to have never seen one.  I don't buy the excuse that they were painting a sort of little odd grown-up to suggest the future life of Jesus.  No sir.  These men were familiar in some way with the pink and glowing flesh (but not too fleshy!) of their teen models (some things never change).  But babies, I think some of them had never held one, even though there must have been plenty of them around.

Bellini though, he must have known that warm silk baby velvet, the feathery fuzz-top hair, the squirming effort to escape mother's hold. You (I) can almost catch the baby perfume.  And only people who know it will even understand this.  

Carlo Saraceni is also familiar with the baby form.  In one heart rending painting, the chubby little Jesus has an arm extended unwillingly and some mean looking guy is squeezing it.  The ominous message is clear, and all too human and inevitable.  It made me cry in secret.  These days I don't try to see everything, only something.  But sometimes it is not so easy.

Walking out of there in a daze into the busy small streets of the Venetians, I pass outside the Billa grocery store, in an island of quiet in the bustle, two young women.  One with her tee shirt stretched tight over her neatly pregnant belly.  Both women with heads bowed, each with a graceful manicured hand on the belly, both bathed in light. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Walking to Work

At the Scuola di Grafica again.  Besides my own work, I will have a couple of workshops to teach.   Post Carnival and pre-Easter it is quiet, the town being inhabited by Venetians and covered with leftover confetti.  A sweet time of warm spring air and nighttime mists.  Venetians don't feel this warmth.  They are all bundled up to fend of the grippe and the plague, with very nice coats and neck scarves.  Yesterday however, even they dropped the wraps and basked on the fondamentas. faces fully toward the sun.  Fashion forward children, under the age of five, all have razor scooters.  They also now are matching their (round) glasses to the main color of the scooter.  Lime, chartreuse, and hot pink are favored. 

There are two walking speeds:  Very fast for going to work, looking important, and travelling to the food stalls or the grocery.  VERY slow for being old, alone or as a couple (couples are twice as slow), going to dinner or strolling arm in arm with your parents or friends, or for being a little bit arrogant and not wanting to move. The same old people can often also walk very fast, since they have a lot of practice and are actually very strong, but they do so only for fast activities. Tourists are not slow so much as stopped, clueless, and confused. I remember it well, with shame, and am still prone. I feel for them, but I am not talking to them in public. An Italian may be slow, but not a tourist.  

I walk fast since I am going to work, or to shop for food. This allows me to get a quick ride in the traghetto (stripped down old gondolas that go back and forth across the grand canal) for only seventy cents. I keep a shopping bag in my purse and get it out just to ride the traghetto.  I tell you, those boat pilot guys are not arguing with an old lady with a shopping bag.  Understand that one must be a resident or employed in order to get this discount, and the time savings of riding across the canal rather than walking the many steps it will take to find the correct bridge, is considerable.  And of course, crossing the canal, the most beautiful view of the palaces, the water, the people....

Rules for the walk:  No looking at maps, no picture taking, and no loud talking (any or all of these will cost you more, giving you away and causing you to pay the tourist tax.)  No backpack. It helps to wear coats and scarves and to look like you expect the plague any minute, even if the weather is turning steamy.  Talking wearily on a phone is fine, but only in Italian. If you cannot speak Italian, just say "pronto"  and "bene" a few times, then "ciao".  
Also recommended are big sunglasses, a wheeled shopping cart, and a particular expression my granddaughter would call "the stink eye".  

Next week I buy the pass for riding the public transport boats, the vaporreto.  I apply with all my papers at some official place where they stamp whole stacks of paper multiple times with grand authority and a great deal of flair.  The pass lasts for  five years.  I intend to get my money's worth.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Buying Art on Amazon?

"You can sit on the lid of progress, but if you do you will be blown to pieces."   Henry J. Kaiser

Big changes are taking place in the art world.  Traditional venues seem to be closing and new artist driven venues and events are popping up everywhere.  This could be good, or bad, but it is happening.  Good if, like 90 per cent of the population, galleries make you feel like an uneducated and unfashionable schlump. Having spent many nights standing around in galleries, I still say to myself: "Oh god, I speak only one and half languages, my clothes are not all black".  I am the artist, just think how the rest of the schlumps feel. 

People have been asking me if I am going to sell my work on Amazon's New Online Art Marketplace.   The range is from very inexpensive to blue chip.  

Another well known site, Etsy, is slightly more arts and crafts oriented.  There are some people who have done well there, but the sites do not serve fine art that well. 

Art is a relationship. I could never buy a work I haven't seen. When people want a print from me I want to know that they understand that I make original prints by hand, and do not run them off at Kinko's on a copier.

A large portion of images at Amazon are not verifiable as prints, but are clearly reproductions.  Anything called a "Giclee" or described as an ink jet print, however nice the image, is made in the same way any flyer or magazine page is made, and the material worth of that object is close to zero.  So if a person is interested, truly interested in art, they ought to become educated in the process, particularly around objects called prints. Certainly art is being made digitally, as a piece using that technology, but the problem comes when the digital techniques are used to scan and print out previously made complete works.

On the other hand, if you like an image of a Picasso print, you can get one quick and cheap at Amazon, or even better, at your local frame shop. Nothing wrong with that.  But beware buying something sold under false or foggy pretenses.  There have always been dealers who are essentially crooks.  But the artists need to be clear too.  I know fantastic painters who are turning to "prints" for added income at a lower price point, and have a slightly confused relationship with the difference between an original print and a reproduction. They are not printmakers.  The difference is that printmakers are making (usually) small editions by hand on beautiful hand made papers.  The object itself, with the ink pressed into and part of the paper, the colors mixed and proofed by the artist, is an alchemical art form unique and not related images produced on a high-run printing press or a digital printer.  Those techniques could be used, and the works can and are sold.  No problem if the buyer is informed and the seller is honest.  But the difference is important for anyone wanting to buy prints.  Etchings, Serigraphs, Lithography, Woodcut, Wood engraving, will be labeled online as such.  But buyer beware, as even these can be knocked off with digital means. In this case I see prices for these reproductions as high or higher than what one would expect to pay to buy the work directly from the artist. Better to find the artist on his or her website, or other social media site.  Maybe visit them, get a taste of where it all begins.  This how a real collection begins.  With relationship. 

A positive on the side of online marketing is that many people who would never step into a gallery to buy art will feel comfortable buying from home.  They are still vulnerable to the rip offs that have always been a big part of the often unethical business of art. And now there is a whole new class of victim.

So will I sell my work online?  In my case almost everything I sell is to people who know what they are looking at and want to see it and touch it before taking it home to live with.  Those are the clients and collectors I like to build a relationship with. But I also want to let people know what they are buying, and they usually have a great curiosity.  If I can sell online in an ethical way, it helps me. And the times, they continue to be a-changing.

Regarding the blue chip end of art spectrum, a link to Forbes article. It is interesting, but even there, some confusing words about prints.


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Arrival by Water

Arrival by /drypoint etching, with chine colle. September, 2013.

I swore not to make any gondola pictures!  This summer and fall I proofed a new print almost every day, made two of them into editions, did some teaching, and had a gallery style exhibit in my own space. 

The work time is a deep and peaceful adventure.  I ceased fighting with failure since each failure is just more information, and another thing to leave behind in going forward.  

And I used to find teaching difficult.  Now it is a joy.  What changed?  Not sure.  The demographic has changed with diversity in age and life path.  People are hungry to make things, and dive in with a lot of energy! 

Posted the work from this recent period.  www.ebrinton.com 
Now back at it. It might be time to revisit the silk screen work.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Catch and Release

Lagoon, 13 x 6, Etching and chine colle, with hand colored papers, and silver leaf.

Summer closing with a monsoon today.

This has been a most productive month.  Plans, and negotiations complete and in place for a bit of teaching next year, some of it in Italy, and more here, and work going well. Working towards some time every year, or two, in Italy.

Tally: made about 15 prints (proofed, not editioned), and will finish the month with about 20.  It is wonderful to work this way. Each piece, each mark suggests the next move.

I can't wait to present them, to let go of them, even as I hesitate at the moment, needing to absorb them for a couple of beats before I release them.

Tango still compels.  I love it.  I am losing the edge by being less involved.  What a lovely world we have when we can go anywhere and find our music, our way, through tango.   Art is different these days, this century.  We have to make our way alone.  But in tango, someone's heart is always pressed against ours.  

Friday, June 07, 2013

Hooray Hooray for the Chine-Colle

Venice Sketch, drypoint and chine-colle.
(a technique for printing on delicate papers. These are hand colored Japanese rice papers.  They are mounted and printed at the same pass of the press, creating a melding of color backgrounds, and the drypoint print.)  Chine colle, from the French, chine for silk and colle for collage. Colle should have the mark over the e, but it won't work on this blogger thing.

Just enjoying the short summer of the Pacific Northwest by working my tail off.  Studio days start earlier, go later, and energy goes up.
For awhile, after returning from Italy, I worked on.....Italy.  The sketches are, like an old friend tells me, "money in the bank."  Meaning a lot of things, but mostly, that those notations come back often at right moment.  Even the bad ones have something to offer at another time.

I am working on:  Drawings, large and often in paynes grey on canvas covered in gesso.  Drawings direct from the plants currently growing in the garden.  Etchings/drypoints of those, and forays into aquatint, (hard) and chine colle, (thrilling).  I am coloring my own Japanese papers for the chine colle.  Now, the next thing, drypoints of the botanical stuff with chine colle.   The subject is all so immediate because of the moment in the garden.  Venice sketches still getting treatments, currently re the chine colle.  So there you have it and it makes no sense I'm sure, but really it does.  I need to make some video but I only have two hands. 

(Foxgove, drypoint and chine colle with hand colored papers.)
The capturing of the feeling of the thing is a goal above all others. A mere dash of this green or that magenta is enough, without requirement of overdoing and filling in.  

Tango:  Thought a lot about it while still dancing but getting a bit back from it as far as personal identification.  I love love love to dance tango. Here too, it's the feeling. The jamboree/festival/marathon has been sorted from the trance. We dance together and with others who are friends.  The friends part is important and in my opinion is as traditional as it gets. The getting together is the whole point. We are ensconced here in work and life, and when we have time, we tango.  How we love summer, how short it is!