Monday, May 18, 2015

Hans Heysen

Armand Cabrera

Hans Heysen was born in Hamburg Germany in 1877 his family moved to South Australia in 1884 when Hans was 7. In 1899 he was sent to Europe by four local patrons in exchange for the work he would produce there. Heysen studied at the Academie Julian under Benjamin Constant and Jean Paul Laurens and the Academie des Beaux Arts.

Heysen returned to South Australia in 1903 and He started a studio in Adelaide where he taught art classes and displayed his paintings. . In 1904 he was married to Selma Bartels. After a few successful exhibitions Heysen was able to purchase a home near Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills which he called the Cedars. The couple raised their eight children there. He built his studio on the property with limestone from the local quarry. 

He made many trips into the countryside to paint and draw the landscape. Heysen worked in watercolor and oils. His watercolor paintings of Eucalyptus were highly sought after. His paintings won him many awards during his lifetime including nine times for the coveted Wynn prize for best Australian Landscape.

The 148 acres Cedars property is a museum today and contains hundreds of works of art by Heysen and his daughter Nora, who was also an artist. The house and studios of both artists are preserved along with the gardens and can be visited by the public.

Heysen was made an officer of the British Empire in 1945 and he was knighted in 1959. Hans Heysen died in 1968 at the age of 90.

Here is a link to The Cedars Museum for people interested in finding out more about this artist and his work.


Hans Heysen
Andrew MacKenzie

Oz Publishing 1988

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Practical Solutions for Painting Anything

Armand Cabrera

I have another painting workshop planned in Highlands, NC; June 15 to 18 at the Bascom.  The course is designed to improve each student’s individual style. I work very hard in my workshops to avoid the one size fits all approach to teaching.

I am using my years as a production artist in the Entertainment Industry and my 20 years painting from life outdoors to helps students fill out gaps in their knowledge base to get them to the next level of their painting journey. How to improve all aspects of their work: drawing, color choices, paint application, composition and drama. I will conduct a small painting demonstration every day. Each student will receive personalized instruction tailored to his or her specific needs and level of ability. Students will work in the studio from sketches and photos and in the field.

Highlands has a sophisticated downtown with lots of great restaurants and high end shopping the whole town is very walkable and the mountain location keeps the temperatures pleasant.  The Bascom has access for the painting classes to some beautiful properties with great vistas as well as park like settings.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Painting in Crowded Public Areas

Armand Cabrera

Painting in crowded public areas can be challenging, these public spaces are a little different than just painting outdoors in places where you have little contact with other people. 

I’m lucky that when I started painting outdoors many years ago. I was living in Napa California and so got used to being surrounded by crowds of people as I worked. There were no places you could go in the Napa Valley without attracting onlookers.  I quickly developed the ability to paint and talk to people and now I enjoy meeting people while I paint.  I can generally stay pleasant while working as long as people are not overly rude or clueless about respecting my personal space.

I have never understood any artist who gets upset with bystanders interested in their art, especially when that painter is so visible and chooses such a public location in the first place. I've even witnessed bad behavior at Plein Air events by artists who obviously didn't belong there snapping at quiet onlookers. My rule of thumb is to keep your bad attitude at home. If you don’t like or can’t handle communication while you paint then go paint in a more remote location where you can expect very little interaction while you work.

Part of the key to being in very public areas is keeping a small footprint. When a place is overly populated its best to not have too much gear where distracted people might not notice it and end up tripping over it or stepping on it.

In areas that get a lot of traffic I use a smaller setup, this way I can carry all of my gear in a small backpack. This includes my palette/ pochade box, all my paints and brushes, paint scraper , utility tool, mineral spirits and brush washer, a tripod, a small stool (if I choose to sit) paper towels, garbage bags, food and water, sketchbook, business cards and fliers, sunscreen, bug spray, rain poncho,  nightlight and up to 6 to 10 panels depending on the size. That number of panels is more than enough for a day of outdoor painting. Anything that can be ruined by getting wet goes into a ziploc plastic bag. 

Whether I stand or sit when I set up, I place everything between me or directly under my easel so that no one can step on it or trip over it. If I’m not using something it stays in the pack not spread out all over the ground around me. When I take something out I put it back in the same spot so I know where to find it. By staying organized I get to spend my time painting not rummaging for something in my pack. By keeping things in their place until I need them it also allows me to pack up and break down very quickly.

Here is what it looks like all spread out on the floor. Total weight for this is only 20 lbs. including the pack. It is light enough that I can go on an extended hike and have everything I need for a days’ worth of painting. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: The Dead Rider Crown of Souls written and illustrated by Kev Ferrara

By Armand Cabrera

As an artist, I’m interested in process, for me it is where the art is in any creative endeavor. In my experience great artists fall in love with the process of creation and do all of the hard work it takes to make something worthwhile.

My interests in art are not just in traditional painting, I love the various forms of expression people use to tell stories including comics.

Kev Ferrara has created a 112 page graphic novel called The Dead Rider Crown of Souls.   At first glance the story will remind you of the old EC Comics or the Warren Publications of Eerie and Creepy. It is well written and beautifully illustrated by Kev.  It’s obvious from a look at his work Kev cares about process and he has put his heart and soul into this project and for that reason it is one of the most satisfying graphic novels I've read in a long time. 

The design and execution of the book is of the highest quality. Everything is thought out and made to enhance the storytelling to keep the reader immersed in the tale.  Like I've said it shares a lot in common with early comic greats like Al Williamson, Bernie Wrightson, Angelo Torres, Wally Wood but also their influences from Pyle and Brandywine traditions to Edwin Austin Abbey and Joseph Clement Coll. Kev is not copying those artists though, he is matching the quality of their creations with his own artistic style.

I wrote to Kev and asked if he could send images of some of his process so I could share it here and he was gracious enough to provide an example that show his approach and explain what he does to complete a page.

He says he likes to start with a sketch usually in ballpoint pen or a tech pen but sometimes in pencil. The point of these small sketches is to capture the action/feeling/emotion and get near the drawing stage. 

These sketches are almost always smaller than they will be in the finished drawing. When he is satisfied with this he blows them up in the computer creates an arrangement of the sketches so they read well and explain the action of the scene. 

Then he prints the full page of sketches at a really high contrast and traces it off onto illustration paper at 10 x 15, sketching the basics in pencil then really refines the drawing and then inks it.

 Once these stages are finished he scans the pages back into the computer colors them in Photoshop and letters them in Adobe Illustrator. 

The Dead Rider is in stores now or it can be ordered online, 112 pages filled with beautiful art and an interesting story and well worth the price.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Process and an Individual Style

Armand Cabrera

I was having an interesting conversation with an art group about process. How you make a piece of art, the actual process you go through, goes a long way in determining the individuality of the image and the style of the artist.  I was surprised at how many artists felt that they could freely use anyone’s work as the basis for their own work without compensation or approval from the original creator.

Alfred Guilou

 I've always argued for creating an image devoid of outside influences. The reason is simple, it gives the image and all of its elements a cohesive intent and unique viewpoint that is missing when people cobble together and copy other peoples work and try to repurpose it as their own.

Arthur Wardle

Artists lose their chance at an individual style and a unique point of view all because they undercut the process of actual creation. By not doing the work to develop a scene on their own, they don’t do any ideation or very little of it. They try and repurpose other work by outside sources. They go looking at how other people have handled the same subject. They give up on creating for copying someone else’s designs or compositions. They piece together disparate information, lighting and intent trying to skip the most interesting part of making an image, the design. 

Pietro Fragiacomo

This ends up with the image failing to have any cohesive idea or looking like another artists work, or even worse, actual plagiarism. From the very start they have abrogated the creativity to someone else. All of the creative decisions and even the reference for those choices are someone else’s work. The only thing they leave themselves is the mere rendering, the least creative part of the process.  

Ivan Fedorovitch Choultse

To build a body of successful personal work a sincere artist must fall in love with all parts of the artistic process of picture making. Forget about superficially copying the work of artists you admire, Become their equals by emulating their quality and working habits and then express your art with your own style.

Francisco Pradilla Ortiz