Sunday, May 15, 2016

Martin Rico y Ortega

Armand Cabrera

Martin Rico y Ortega was born in El Escorial, Madrid Spain in 1833. His early education was in Madrid at the Escuella de Bellas Artes des San Fernando. It was here he was influenced by his teacher Jenaro Perez Villaamil to work from life. He won a government scholarship to study in Paris France in 1860. In France he became friends with the Barbizon painter Charles Daubigny. In 1866 He won a silver medal at the Paris Salon. Ortega briefly returned to Spain during the outbreak of the Franco –Prussian War from 1870 to 1871.

By 1878 he had returned to Paris and that same year he was awarded a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle and was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. By 1879 he was living permanently in Paris and spending his summers in Venice. His Venice work was painted outdoors often in gondolas or along the canals. In 1889 he was again awarded at the Exposition Universelle this time a silver medal.

Though he painted and travelled throughout Europe, Ortega is most remembered for his beautiful light filled scenes of Venice. His works are a tour de force of precise landscape painting. Martin Rico Ortega died in Venice in 1908.

Impressions of Europe: Nineteenth Century Vistas by Martin Rico
Javier Baron

Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University (2013)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ravencon 2016

Armand Cabrera

I attended the Ravencon Science Fiction Convention this last weekend as a guest artist. The convention was a great place for people who enjoy the genre. Artist guest of honor was Vincent DiFate who is a force of nature in the art world, and I was glad to get a few minutes and sit a talk with him and hear some stories from his 50 plus year career as an artist.
Calling a Maker study 8 x 10 oil
The art show was well organized and there was some great stuff in the show. Most of what images were prints and I was one of the few people with originals. I showed a number of small studies that were the basis for larger paintings.
Ice Station study 9 x 12 oil

This process is a learning curve for me as I work on building new outlets for my imaginative work and so far the response has been positive. I do think going forward I will focus on larger venues and markets where there is a greater potential for sales of original paintings.
The Argonath study 9 x 12 oil

Saturday evening I did a 3 hour painting demo from a photo of a smaller study. This is the finished painting ‘Return to Dragon Hall’ 20 x 24 oil on canvas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Upcoming shows

Armand Cabrera

I will have 14 small imaginative painting on display this weekend at Ravencon in Williamsburg VA. I'll post more pictures next weekend.

I will also be participating in a plein air invitational at the New York Botanical Gardens on June 19. There are 15 artists who have been invited to paint on the grounds and there is a show of Impressionist paintings by artists like John Singer Sargent and Childe Hassam.

There is also an Imaginative realism show in Denver Colorado being planned for October that I will participate in. More on that when things are finalised in the next few months

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Constructive Criticism

Armand Cabrera

 I was involved in a discussion about constructive criticism online. The original post made the point that unless you can accomplish the thing you are criticizing it’s not constructive criticism and is basically a useless form of sharing an uninformed opinion.

I actually agree with this idea and I have long been a proponent of artists working problems out on their own first. When that fails, I recommend finding a professional with greater skill to give you constructive advice on how to improve.

I know in today’s world this attitude may seem elitist but it actually is the fastest path to success. Some people are better at things than other people. If you can’t do the math, you can’t constructively critique Einstein’s theory of relativity. Too often people decide their uninformed opinions are valid and helpful, when they’re not. Those people in your profession that share similar traits with your own work and creative vision are the ones you want to talk to when you get stuck. Group critiques like group hugs are pretty useless. Other than making everyone feel important, they offer little help towards improving your work.

Asking for advice should always be thoughtful and targeted. Isolate problems first before asking for help. If the advice strays make sure to ask how it ties into your request. It’s very easy to get sidetracked even when someone knows what they are talking about and get too much feedback to effectively digest.

Art should be individual. Too many opinions and ideas from disparate sources will not improve most people’s abilities; just weaken them as their work becomes a hodgepodge of conflicting opinions. In my opinion diligence and hard work, combined with personal interpretations of information and discoveries have better outcomes for creativity in the long run. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Battlefield Bluebells Demo

Armand Cabrera

Every Spring I make a point of painting the bluebells when they come out and bloom. They never last more than a few days once they peak and so depending on the weather you can miss them completely if you don’t check on them. I know every April I need to make a trip to my bluebell spots and see what kind of a year it will be.

This year they weren’t as thick as in years past but they were still good enough to paint. I set up at my favorite spot at the Manassas Battlefield, the path along the stone Bridge at Bull Run.

The afternoon light is my favorite for this spot because I’m looking into the sun and everything is backlit on a sunny day. I found a place not too far off the trail and got to work.

The first thing I did was to establish the tree line.

 Next I blocked in a medium tone for the bare trees in the distance.

Then I blocked in the ground plain keying it to my tree color.

Now using the scene I design the trunks of the trees in my middle and foreground. I want to vary their placement angle and individual widths so they aren’t too static.

I move to the background again and start designing my sky holes in the background tree color already on the board. Once I have that in I carefully move forward in the picture plane marking key elements like the color of the bushes in the understory and the trail through the flowers.

With my big shapes locked in I start modelling the areas building a sense of light and form to the individual elements without obliterating my groundwork for the structure of the painting.
I spend the last 45 minutes unifying the whole picture adding details where it enhances the mood simplifying areas that distract from the feel.

The finished painting, ‘Battlefield Bluebells,’ 12 x 16, oil on board. The total working time was 2 hours from start to finish.