Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas

This time of year is steeped in obligation, tradition and religion. It has also been commercialized and commoditized to extremes.
I hope everyone reading this is enjoying themselves for the holidays. We seem to forget to do that in the middle of buying presents, making ends meet and fulfilling whatever extra obligations we have taken on this time of year. Whether Christmas is a deeply religious time for you, a reason to reconnect with family or friends or just another excuse to party till the New Year… I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Robert Henri

Armand Cabrera

Robert Henri was born Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati Ohio in 1865. His father
was a real estate developer and gambler. His father shot and killed a man over a land dispute and the family, to avoid the controversy,moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey and changed their names. In 1886 Henri enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy studying under Thomas Hovenden and Thomas Anshutz. In 1888 he travelled to Europe to Study in Paris at the Academie Julian under Adolphe-William Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. He also painted outdoors in Concarneau during his summers and in 1891 enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for a year.

In 1892 Henri returned to the United States and continued his study at the Pennsylvania Academy under Robert Vonnoh. At the same time he began teaching at the School of Design for Women. He kept this position until 1985.

In 1900 Henri moved to New York City and was hired by William Merritt Chase to teach at the New York School of Art which had been founded by Chase. Within a year Chase and Henri were at odds about the curriculum, with Henri de-emphasizing the importance of draftsmanship and technique for a freer style. The disagreements escalated until Chase ended up leaving the school in 1907.
After being elected to the National Academy of Design in 1906, Henri became embittered with the refusal of one of his pieces for the 1907 show. In response he organized the first show of The Eight in February 1908. The Eight were Robert Henri, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, George Luks, John Sloan, Arthur Davies Maurice Prendergast and Ernest Lawson. Their work focused on urban settings and the seedier side of life in the city. The movement toward this gritty realism became known as the Ashcan school. Henri, helped organized many important shows and art societies during the beginning of the twentieth century mostly in response to what he felt was a confining and overly expensive jury system for the older more established art groups and shows.

In 1915 Henri began to teach at the Art Students League in New York and here he would influence many generations of painters with his passionate ideas about art. His teachings were collected by Margery Ryerson in book form and published as the Art Spirit in 1923. It has stayed in print since that time, extending Henri’s teaching to this day, as new generations read and pass on his ideals. Henri left the Art League in 1927 and died in 1929 at the age of 64.


Robert Henri His Life and Art
Bennard B. Perlman
Horizon Press 1884/ Dover Publications 1991

American Impressionism
William Gerdts
Abbeville Press 1984
The Art Spirit
Robet Henri
Icon Editions 1984
Brush strokes carry a message whether you will it or not. The stroke is just like the artist at the time he makes it. All the certainties, all the uncertainties, all the bigness of his spirit and all the littleness are in it. ----- Robert Henri

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Art Gallery Territories

Armand Cabrera

Before you agree to be represented by a fine art gallery, many things need to be discussed with the gallery. One very important matter is the “territory” the gallery will control. Many galleries ask for an area of fifty miles from the gallery. In some large metropolitan markets, like San Francisco or Boston, a gallery may ask for a 100 mile radius. This makes sense because of the geographic spread of a large city. When the gallery runs local advertising, the reach of that advertising is usually within the “territory”. In some rural markets, galleries only ask for a few miles for their coverage. Knowing and abiding by the boundaries and limitations of your gallery’s representation will go a long way in creating a mutually beneficial relationship with your gallery.

Giving the gallery the “territory” means the gallery receives a cut of your sales in that area. It also means you will refrain from having private shows in that area, unless you have the gallery’s permission to do so. This prevents artists from participating in plein air shows, craft fairs, art and wine festivals, Open Studios, etc. in the territory, thus diluting the galleries ability to make money. I usually ask for the right to participate in two shows a year within the territory, although I rarely use that privilege.

The newest twist in requiring a territory for a gallery is the internet. Even though the internet has been around for years since Al Gore invented it, e-commerce has only finally trickled down to small businesses (galleries) in the last five years or so. Before that, no one expected a small business to have or maintain a web presence. Now most businesses require a website in order to stay competitive. Most people search for galleries using their computer or PDA and expect to be able to see art at any time of the day or night, no matter what time zone they reside.

I have heard of galleries demanding that their artists have no websites. In addition, some of these galleries require that if their artists insist on having a website, the site can only display examples of their work and not any artist contact information. This is an unreasonable demand. To allow a gallery to control your internet presence is giving the gallery the territory of the entire world! Unless a gallery will guarantee enough sales to support you and your family, there is no reason to agree to such unfair terms.

Most galleries tend to be regionally focused, selling only local scenes. I paint a much broader range of subject matter than any one gallery is willing to sell, so it makes sense that I post all of my work on my website, link to the gallery that has the paintings, or refer the customer to myself, if I have the work in my possession.

Why do some galleries insist on controlling their artists’ websites?Primarily because some artists are dishonest with their galleries. The artists are contacted by the potential buyer about a particular painting that is located at a gallery. Often the customer has seen the painting on the gallery website. The customer contacts the artist, hoping for a substantial discount by purchasing the piece from the artist. The artist undercuts a gallery by pulling paintings to sell directly to a client. Most galleries will discontinue representation of the artist if they discover the artist is being dishonest. Pulling paintings from a gallery to sell to a customer is the equivalent of stealing from the gallery.

I control my website. My partner, Diane Burket, maintains the Armand Cabrera website and we split the site into different categories, including:Artwork For Sale By The ArtistArtwork For Sale By My GalleriesWorkshops & Classes
My Contact Information

The artwork for the galleries has a link to the gallery showing the paintings and also the gallery contact information. If a client contacts us directly and asks about a painting consigned at a gallery, we direct them to the gallery. This is the only way to share an internet presence of your work. Through my website, I extend the galleries reach to new, potential Armand Cabrera art customers. Because of my press, standing in the art community and hard work, my website gets more traffic than most of my galleries’ websites. It would be foolish for my galleries to demand I take my site down or eliminate my contact information. I am an ethical, honest person. Removing my contact info or taking down my site would only hurt my gallery’s business.

So, please be honest with your galleries---but stand your ground. A website is a very important tool for an artist and for your galleries. Support your galleries by linking to their websites and being an honest artist.

Joe Paquet Workshop on Catalina Island

Joe Paquet has a five day workshop coming up, Jan. 18th to 22nd 2010. There are still a few spots left. Don't miss this ooportunity to study with one of the best contemprary painters in the country. I will be taking the class and I am really looking forward to it. Joe is a great teacher and if you are serious about painting and taking your skills to the next level he is the guy to help you do just that.
Here is the website

Images copyright Joseph Paquet

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Your Social Security Number---Keep It To Yourself!

Payment for Consigned Merchandise Does Not Require a 1099-MISC

Diane Burket

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not require Consignees to give Consignors a 1099-MISC, so there’s no reason to give your art gallery, consignment shop, museum or retailer your Social Security number (SSN). Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Keep your SSN number confidential, except when authorized by law.

My partner, Armand Cabrera, and I are in the art business. Armand is a fine artist that consigns his paintings to galleries across the United States. When the paintings sell, the art gallery writes a check to Armand for his portion of the proceeds. Occasionally, a gallery erroneously requests Armand to provide his SSN on a W-9 Form. We do not send it to the gallery because the IRS does not require it.

Armand consigns merchandise (artwork) to the gallery and they pay him for merchandise they sell. He is not considered an Independent Contractor, nor is the gallery paying him money for “services”. The gallery is paying him for merchandise. Merchandise is considered an “Exception” to the IRS. The IRS does not require galleries or consignment shops to report payment for consigned merchandise to artists or other consignors---although the payment is taxable to the consignor.

Let’s look at it like this…You purchase merchandise from Nordstrom, Safeway, Petco and Home Depot. At the end of the year, you don’t ask for their SSN (or Federal ID #) and issue a 1099-MISC! You’ve purchased merchandise---you haven’t employed them or hired them to perform a service.

Don’t take my word for it. You can view this information on the website on this page:

You will see the merchandise reference on the left side under “Exceptions”, 2nd bullet. The Internet is riddled with misinformation about this subject. Please---get your facts from the IRS official website---not from accountants and bookkeepers who make their living by preparing your taxes.

I don’t know why galleries and other consignees ask for this unnecessary information.Perhaps their CPA’s insist on it so they can make more money from their clients by creating needless paperwork. Maybe they’re just clueless. In any event, hang on to your SSN and only provide it when required by the IRS!

About the Author:

Diane Burket is an award-winning Voice Over Professional. She has been voicing scripts for over 20 years. She can be heard on National Commercials, Corporate Films, Training Videos, Telephone Prompts, Internet Sites and Multimedia recordings. In addition to her Voice Over, Diane also is the Agent for Armand Cabrera, a nationally-known oil painter represented by fine art galleries across the United States.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Technology and the Arts

Armand Cabrera

"Now the man that invented the steam drill
He thought he was mighty fine
But John Henry drove fifteen feet
The steam drill only made nine"

The above lyrics are from the old American folk tale and song about ability against technology. Many people have recorded the song, but my favorite version is from Harry Belafonte, recorded in 1954. You can hear it here

I am no Luddite when it comes to technology; I have been working with computers since the mid seventies and began using Photoshop during its first version. Tech has always been a part of my life and I am always looking to use it to free myself from the drudgery of menial tasks. There is a difference though, between using tech as a tool and using it in place of thinking or ability. This is the problem with all tech; people come to rely on it to give them an advantage that they don’t have the skills for otherwise, nowhere is this more apparent than the field of visual art.

Tech affects the business side of art as well as with people who couldn’t get into a gallery, now selling their work on eBay or over the net for next to nothing. In the old days these people were confined by their lack of ability to the areas they lived in. Now, with tech, they can have a website and advertise for free to people around the world. What this does is it creates pressure to commoditize art; to make it a widget and mass produce it like any other thing being made in the same way... as much as possible and as cheap as possible. Tech allows you to have no committment to a craft. You can dabble and still teach high school or work at an office. Ebay is up 24 hours selling for you.

You see this with the daily painters and plein air painting. Because these paintings are made alla prima in a few hours, people sell them for next to nothing carrying on that factory worker mentality, working for an hourly wage. What people like the daily painters and most plein air painter groups don’t realize is any good artist paints every day and most good artists paint from life. The idea that somehow practicing these things is special or noteworthy, just shows you how low the bar is set these days. The daily painters are particularly laughable in boasting about creating paintings smaller than 6x8 every day. The focus is not on the paintings quality but its price.

Plein air painting is not far behind, with most painters lacking the skill to paint anything except the simplest of motifs. Plein air painting has now become what western art was in the seventies or wildlife art was in the eighties; a place where the least amount of ability allows you to participate and still call yourself an artist. People whose abilities are masked by the fact they paint outdoors and pass off their limitations as a style and a genre of painting, which it isn’t.

Social networking, another tech invention, has convinced people that what you are doing every minute of the day is important. This electronic voyeurism has artists racing to post their images on ning or facebook and then tell everyone on twitter. The side effect of these social media is that the painting itself becomes a byproduct of its promotion, it convinces people with mediocre skills that ability is unimportant; it is networking and marketing that creates your success. Fame is now more important than talent, and what tech does more than anything is it allows people to become noticed without having to earn that notoriety with ability and hard work.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tom Roberts

Armand Cabrera

Thomas William Roberts was born in Dorchester, England March 9, 1856. When his father died his mother moved the family to Melbourne Australia. Tom, as he was known attended the East Collingwood School of Design. In 1874 at the age of 18 Roberts enrolled in the Gallery School of Design. In 1881 he raised enough money to travel to England and study at the Royal Academy Antique School. From England he traveled to Spain, Italy and France. In France, he briefly studied with Jean Leon Gerome at the Academie Julian in 1884 in Paris. Roberts returned to Melbourne in 1885.

He began spending his summers in the bush, in 186-87 it was at a camp at Mentone with Frederick McCubbin. In 1888 Roberts camped with Arthur Streeton and Charles Condor at Eaglemont. These artists became known as the Heidelberg School named after an area outside of Melbourne.
He organized the five by nine exhibition with Streeton and others showing their plein air Studies on five by nine cigar box lids. Roberts was the gathering force of the group. These younger artists took Barbizon and Impressionist ideas and went directly to nature for their inspiration breaking with an older generation of painters that worked in the studio mimicking European motifs in Australian scenes. Roberts and Streeton travelled together and painted and camped near Sydney. In 1895 he became the founding member and the first president of the Society of Artists. Roberts and Streeton taught together and held exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne.

Roberts was commissioned to paint the opening of Australia’s First Federal Parliament in 1901 taking two years to complete the project. The painting is 304.5cm x 509.2 cm (10 x 16 feet). On completion of the painting Roberts entered what he called his black period having trouble with his eyesight and difficulty finding inspiration to paint. He travelled back to Europe visiting Holland, Italy and England. During the First World War he worked as an orderly in a London Hospital.
In 1919 Roberts returned to Melbourne and made painting trips to Sydney, Tasmania and New Zealand. Tom Roberts died September 14th 1931. His art would influence generations of Australian painters. Roberts’s high key impressionist paintings along with the other Heidelberg painters have defined landscape painting in Australia for over 100 years.


Tom Roberts
Ron Radford
South Australia State Government Publications

Golden Summers Heidelberg and Beyond
Jane Clark and Bridget Whitelaw
The international Cultural Corporation of Australia

It seems to me that one of the best ideas spoken to an artist is, ‘paint what you love and love what you paint’ and on that I have worked; on so it came that being in the bush and feeling the delight and fascination of the great pastoral life and work, I have tried to express it.~ Tom Roberts

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reflected Light

Armand Cabrera

Reflected light is an important part of realistic painting. This is especially true when painting outdoors where direct light from the sun is so powerful. Bad landscape paintings have no reflected light or ridiculously exaggerated reflected light. No reflected light is a product of too much reliance on photographic reference material. The camera is lousy at capturing reflected light outdoors under most conditions. This is why photographs have overly black shadows. The range of light and shadow in most outdoor scenes is beyond the capabilities of most cameras. When painting from life it is important to be aware of the properties of reflected light and how they affect the scene you are looking at.

Anything that has direct light falling on it in a scene becomes a source of light itself.

You can prove this to yourself by going outside on a sunny day with a colorful object and placing it close to the shadow side of any other object, while the colorful object is still in sunlight. It will drastically alter the color of the shadow. If the object being lit is light enough and reflective enough it can even affect other objects in the sunlight.

Reflected light is never as strong as its source light
This is a problem for most beginners who tend to focus on color and are oblivious to value shifts. In most situations, reflected light belongs to the shadow and as such it must support, not compete with the lighted areas of your painting. While it can be effective to exaggerate the chroma of reflected light, raising its value too much will ruin the effect completely.

Reflected light is a combination of the local color of the object sending the light, the object receiving the light and the quality and color of the source light and ambient light in the scene.

As you can see once you have multiple sources of light like the sky and other objects, reflected light becomes a very unique phenomena dependant on all the other aspects of the scene. You can imagine that the combinations of colors these reflections will produce are not predictable. This is why direct observation and field studies are so important and can never be replaced by photographic reference alone.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Richmond Workshop Demo

by Armand Cabrera

I’m down with the flu, so this week’s post is a demo from my Richmond Workshop. I want to thank Cathy Ellis for taking and sending me these photos for use in the blog.

On the last day of the workshop we painted in Hollywood Cemetery which is located on a hilltop overlooking the James River in Richmond. It was a beautiful day with the leaves just starting to turn on some of the trees.

Because I was painting complex architecture and I would only have an hour for the demo, I did a small 10x8 canvas. I started with my drawing and realized I had gotten my proportions wrong so I had to wipe it off and start again even though I had 12 students watching me. I wanted to make sure they see the process and how important it is to get things right from the start.
The second take got me to be more careful and I got through the careful placement of my elements.

I was painting Major Lewis Ginter‘s mausoleum, a prominent historical figure of Richmond; I wanted the composition centered giving it a formal reverent feel.

Because the trees off to the left were beginning to cast shadows into the scene I painted the foliage and background first getting the big masses of color and shadows down and locked in.

When those elements were done I began painting the mausoleum itself. I focused on the shifts in color and value and ignored details.

I finish up by adjusting edges and completing the background elements.

Here is the finished painting. Although there were sweeping views overlooking the city of Richmond, I was drawn to this intimate scene of a part of life often ignored in paintings. I think it is important to always paint what moves you not necessarily a postcard scene of a place. The painting was purchased by one of my students who is with the Historical Society of Richmond on its completion.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Paintings of the Piedmont

In two weeks, on November 7, 2009, my One Man Exhibition opens at the Berkley Gallery in Warrenton, Virginia. I will feature 40 paintings of the Piedmont Region of Northern Virginia. The paintings comprise a significant portion of my productivity for the last year. It is the largest One Man Show I’ve given in my fine art career and I’m quite excited about it. I’ve been honored with great press in the Washington DC area and also nationally, in the November issue of American Art Collector. I’ve decided to preview some of my show pieces on my website and this blog.

The Virginia Piedmont has a rich history with architects of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, James Madison and John Marshall all lived in Virginia. Major battles of the Civil War were fought throughout the State. Virginia was one of the first wine growing regions in the country. Speaking as an artist, it is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. For the majority of the time, Virginia has a very pleasant climate.

The idea for my “Paintings of the Piedmont” Exhibition had been kicking around in my head since I moved to the area from California in 2007. Berkley Gallery’s owner, Tom Sentz, liked my Virginia Piedmont idea and my desire to donate to a preservation or land conservation society. Tom suggested partnering with the “Piedmont Environmental Council” and giving a portion of all proceeds to the organization. PEC safeguards the landscapes, communities and heritage of the Piedmont by involving citizens in related public policy and land conservation.
Meeting with Doug Larson of the PEC was amazing. He got behind the show idea immediately, suggesting locations and providing access to beautiful private estates and farms. I couldn’t have pulled off this show without his help.

Many of the show paintings were the end result of multiple trips to a location to find the right light or time of year. In some instances, like the case of my bluebell painting, I made fifteen trips to the location in three weeks ---trying to capture the perfect time of day---the perfect time of the year---just when the flowers were blooming at their peak.
In the studio, I often determined an outdoor sketch wasn’t the right format. I either returned to the field, or if that wasn’t possible because of weather or seasonal changes, I created a studio version from the field study in the format I felt worked better.
I had a lot of fun on this journey, saw some incredible sights and have grown to love Virginia, her seasons, great architecture and landscapes even more.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Charles Warren Eaton

Armand Cabrera

Charles Warren Eaton was born in 1857 in Albany, New York.
He was raised by his father and older sister after his mother died when he was a child. At the age of 22 Eaton moved to New York City. In New York Eaton worked as a dry goods clerk to support himself and attended the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design on nights and weekends. In 1882 Eaton began to exhibit at the National Academy of design. His work reflected an interest in French Barbizon painting which was popular with collectors at the time.

In 1886 Eaton travelled to Europe visiting France, Belgium, Holland and England.
On his return to America Eaton moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey. It is here the artist fully embraced the tonalist style for his work, eschewing an impressionist sense of color and key for the majority of his career.

Between 1880 and 1910 the American tonalist movement was a departure from the Hudson River School and its highly rendered scenes of grandeur. Tonalism was more concerned with quieter places, where the atmosphere was the dominant factor. Artists sought to capture more subtle, muted effects of color while maintaining a dynamic range of value between light and shadow. Tonalism simplified forms and focused on atmospheric effects such as twilight, mist and moonlight to create a less representational and more poetic depiction of the landscape.

After 1910 Eaton used pine trees extensively as a motif in his paintings. These pictures secured the artists career. His paintings were awarded many medals including a gold medal at the Paris Salon de Artistes in 1906 for Gathering Mists. Eaton also garnered awards in America from the Salmagundi Club, The Philadelphia Art Club and the National Academy of Design. After 1910 Eaton abandoned Tonalism for a more impressionist style with a brighter palette. He continued to travel and paint making yearly trips to Italy.
Charles Warren Eaton died at the age of 80 in 1937.

BibliographyCharles Warren Eaton an American Tonalist Rediscovered
Charles Teaze Clark
Spanierman Gallery, LLC