Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall color continues

by
Armand Cabrera

Once I caught up on laundry and correspondence after my Colorado trip I headed up to Skyline Drive to paint fall color in Virginia. The weather was a little dreary at first but the last few days have been spectacular and it looks like it will be a good year for autumn colors in the Piedmont over the next couple of weeks. I'll post more of my outdoor paintings and some process shots over the next few posts.




Monday, October 13, 2014

Painting trip to Ouray Colorado


By
Armand Cabrera




 Just a week after Illuxcon I was off to Colorado to paint fall color for five days with my friend Arthur. The weather was perfect most of the time although we did have one snow day which gave the peaks a nice dusting.








We timed it just right with most of the spots being at peak or a little before peak when we arrived. I finished eight paintings total and got plenty of reference for future studio pieces.

We had rooms at a bed and breakfast in Ouray and we made day trips to a predetermined place, splitting our time between the Cimarron Range and the Sneffels Range to get a morning and evening painting. At night we returned to town for a meal at one of the local food establishments .


The area boasts 10 peaks above 13,500 feet with 6 peaks above 14,000 feet. Unlike the Eastern Sierras which also has quite a few 14ers but prohibits vehicles in the back country, most of the close views of these peaks are accessible by forest roads and four wheel drive vehicles.









Saturday, September 27, 2014

Illuxcon 2014 and Beyond


by Armand Cabrera

It has been a couple of weeks since I've posted anything here. My apologies, my schedule has interfered with my normal writing schedule. Last week I was in Allentown PA for the Imaginative show Illuxcon at the Allentown Museum. Before that I was getting everything ready for the show.

The show was very successful for me and I sold five paintings and a number of prints. I was also commissioned to do a large painting (3 x 5 feet) by the Illuxcon committee which was shown for the first time at the show. I had lots of positive feedback on my imaginative work and my idea to mix imaginative work with my plein air paintings appears to be paying off. People seemed to really like the way the work looked. I also received some magazine and book offers that may turn into some interesting work down the line.


This next week I will be in southern Colorado plein air painting with a friend so no substantial posts for another week. I should be back to normal and posting again by the 12th of Oct. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Behind the Scenes


By
Armand Cabrera



Most of the work for an art show goes on behind the scenes. I usually do two or three shows a year. That’s on average 20 to twenty five paintings for each show and this is on top of my normal production schedule that I maintain with my galleries and other clients in entertainment.

Shows take a lot of effort to plan and produce. There are editorial copy and ads and invitations to write and disseminate for all of the various outlets that we target for a specific show. The theme of the show must be decided upon well in advance. Travel arrangements made and trip logistics planned.  All of this needs to happen before or in tandem with the paintings being completed on time. 

I am lucky in that both Diane and I are technical enough to handle all of the promotion and prep from our side. The gallery or venue is also busy with preparations and plans and everything has to be timed just right for a successful show.

Of course new commissions will crop up and new opportunities will come along while we make our plans and must be fitted into a reasonable schedule to keep everyone happy.


The paintings have to be framed and shipped and the space hung. I like to have paintings finished a month or more before a show and ship everything at least two weeks before the opening.  This doesn't mean I don’t swap things out at the last minute or change my mind about what to include in a show but I make sure I have the body of work finished before I do that.  I like to offer a range of sizes and subjects for my shows and to demonstrate the range of my interests at that particular time in my career.  I think all of this helps educate my clients about my work.

My normal practice is to over produce so I can pick what I consider the best pieces for a venue. So if I decide on 20 paintings for a show most likely I will paint 40. This gives me a little wiggle room for subsequent shows and gallery requests later in the year. It also allows the gallery to veto a piece or two if they feel they wouldn't be a good fit for their clientele.  I prefer this to having anyone else participate in my paintings choices beforehand. Those decisions are all mine and they are what keeps me painting and growing as an artist.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Art and Labor


By
Armand Cabrera




"I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study
mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and
philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture,
navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children
a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary,
tapestry and porcelain." ~ John Adams


We just finished celebrating labor day here in the USA.

 Labor groups have been much maligned the last few decades. Some of the criticism is just but a lot of it is not. With labor groups weakening we are seeing a return to pre-1920 work ideas. Almost gone are the 8 hour work day and 40 hour work week. Gone is the idea you get paid an hourly wage in some industries like entertainment and gaming.

What has this got to do with art you might ask? Well everything. Labor movements of the last few centuries took their cues from the artisan guilds that started during medieval times and led to the renaissance for arts and European society. It wasn't quick, or without suffering but artists were there at the beginning.

Before the guilds you had very few classes of people in Europe. You had the ruling class, the clergy, the military class and serfs or slaves. Serfs were beholden to their masters and their masters could do what they wanted with them. They were expected to do everything to provide their masters with leisure time. It became obvious though that some serfs were better at building things than others, some were better at painting or pot making than others. Some had greater skill at metallurgy or woodcraft. The division of labor started to fall along lines of skill but these people were still slaves and when the ruler needed something they stepped to it skilled or not.

Guilds helped to change that. Guilds shifted the power back to the artisans who had unique knowledge that gave them skill with certain disciplines. Groups of people formed guilds around  disciplines to control the quality and the knowledge of a particular craft. The ruling class now hired and paid craft people to produce objects for them. Artisans became a class of people. It elevated them slightly from serfdom and peasantry. Their worth and status was not based on their bloodlines. Though the artists themselves were not revered individually their guild could be and that meant a better life for them and their family.


You worked as an apprentice in a guild under a master to learn to reproduce the master’s work exactly, learning over years to create a “master piece” something indistinguishable from the masters own work in the eyes of the patrons. Once this was accomplished an artisan could with his masters blessing then start another guild and continue the legacy of quality and style.

Guilds continued to elevate classes of people as society moved from small fiefdoms of slaves to freemen that were allowed to own property and control their own destinies. Again art and artisans led the way for this. As artists sought more control and expression over what they made the ideas of guilds loosened. Artists had more freedom for innovation and experimentation and this flowering of shared knowledge helped support the renaissance.  Artists were elevated to some of the highest levels of society as court artists, portrait painters, musicians, architects and muralists.

Every century brought greater freedom and a better standard of living for more people. Whenever things reversed and society faltered, groups of people would band together for their common interests and demand fair treatment.  The more skilled they were the more leverage they had over their place in society since their abilities could not easily be replaced.

Art and skill will always drive innovation and social change, as artists let’s make it for the betterment of all in society.