Archive for March, 2010

artist of the day … Mel Bochner…

another typography artist is Mel Bochner.

Mel Bochner is known for using typography in his work, but also mixing mediums I haven’t seen anywhere else. I especially like his oil on velvet paintings. Never seen a painting done on velvet before.  He is known as a post modernist that liked to visualize the abtract concept of movement.  Mr. Bochner was born in Pittsburgh in 1940 but moved to New York and drew inspiration from artist like Sol Lewitt and Eva Hesse.

I came across this artist by studying the artist Mickalane Thomas, he was one of her biggest influences while she studied at Yale.

Mr. Bochner also is known for doing large installations including numbers and letters.

He is represented by Peter Freeman Inc. and has work in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

How about letting loose and trying a new exercise. Take your emotional state right now. Describe it in a few words and right them down. If you feel unsure about designing the lettering as you would like use a stencil to help in the drawing of the letters. Pick one color and maybe its compliment and paint in the letters. If you are angry and upset, how about using red and black and maybe even throwing the paint at the canvas a la Jackson Pollack.

This artist is great for anyone trying something new. If you check  out this artists’ work on you will be impressed with the many different paintings he has made using words or the same words. He really challenged what I thought a viewer might see in an art gallery and that is why I love this artist!

happy painting and keep those brushes and pencils moving!



African Americans in Art…. Kehinde Wiley….

this will be the last post on African American painters and go back to mixed media artists for a few posts.

Kehinde Wiley is one of the best up and comers of the art world. He has been on art magazine covers and featured in magazines like American Artist. He was born in 1977. He chooses his subjects in Harlem and then paints the modern looking person in a very old fashioned painting. A mix of modern with traditional aspects. Really modern in clothing and bling jewelry. He attended college at Yale and finished his studies there in 2001. He also has some books featuring his work out as well.

I have the most respect for him of any artist under 40 because he is so diverse in the mediums he can use. Please take note of his sculpture.

African Americans in Art…… Palmer Cole Hayden..

Mr. Palmer Cole Hayden was known as a Harlem Renaissance artist and was born in 1890.  He gained publicity in 1926 for a painting titled the Schooners which won him the prize given by William Harmon. After selling this painting he took the procedes and went to Paris to further immerse himself in art. He won the same award again for a still life painting years later. Mr. Hayden died in 1973.

Mr. Palmer Cole Hayden worked in both oils and watercolors.

thanks for reading!



African Americans in Art…. Grafton Tyler Brown…

Grafton Tyler Brown was the first African American painter to be known for lithography and landscapes that were honest depictions rather than romantically exaggerated as those of Albert Bierstadt or Thomas Moran. Brown was born in Pennsylvania in 1841. In the 1860s he moved to San Francisco and started to study the art of lithography. The name of the firm he worked at was CC Kuchel, he took over the firm after the partners death. When this happened he was only 26 years old.

He printed stock certificates and the certificate shown above includes his companies logo. He also worked for the Army Engineers and made charts and maps. He was known for his paintings of cities seen from a bird’s eye view. His most famous lithographic production was the The Illustrated History of San Mateo County. In it were 72 views of the communities and ranches. Mr. Brown died in 1918.

African Americans in Art… Robert Scott Duncanson

Mr. Robert Scott Duncanson was a great painter, known for creating great floral pieces and then later landscapes in his style of the Hudson River school of painting. He did many studies on his own looking at the master paintings of the Hudson River School. Born to a father from Canada and a mother from the states his father wanted him to be educated in a tolerant society so the family went to Canada.

The family then moved to Ohio and Mr. Duncanson found a great supporter and backer in Nicholas Longworth. Mr. Longworth commissioned him for paint murals in his residence. Duncanson travelled to europe for sketching trips several times. Just as his career was really blossoming Mr. Duncanson had a mental breakdown and died in a mental hospital in 1872. Some theories claim he suffered from lead poisining it was never proven.

African Americans in Art… Henry Ossawa Tanner


Born in 1859, he was the first African American painter to achieve nationwide recognition within the art world. He was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in a highly religious family. His father a preacher moved the family to Philadelphia and there Tanner studied with the great painter Thomas Eakins.

After working as an illustrator for a few years he went to France. He saw the advancement of careers happen with the blessings of one painting. The painting that did this for him was the Banjo Lesson made in 1894. He specialized for some time in animal portraits, then landscapes, and finally religious scenes.

In 1899 he married a white woman from the California. Deciding that his marriage wouldn’t be accepted by the culture in the United States the couple made Paris their home. He lived until 1937. He thought of Paris as his natural home simply for the way the arts and creativity where encouraged regardless of race or creed.


African Americans in Art… Ron Hicks…

Ron Hicks fell in love with art at an early age, working on books his mother got for herself to become an artist. He attended Art school in Ohio and also studied here in Denver. His main break came after a few good local shows that got his work out there. Ron paints mainly the figure and loves to paint with very little color, concentrating more on feeling and mood and atmosphere.

One artist whose name I forgot had a great saying, color is individual but mood is universal. Take the color out, but if the picture was  just black and white would it make a statement, that is what can be said about Ron Hicks’. Having studied at the Denver Art Students League I learned a great deal from Ron, the 2 most important are to control color by using neutral greys, and always use soft edges. Although I like to throw in a few here and there to make it more interesting.

Ron gives many demonstration paintings and classes and as a teacher he is just great! For someone wanting to learn an impressionistic way of painting you can’t do better than Ron Hicks! His works have been featured in American Art Collector magazine as well as American Artist Workshops for Oil and Acrylic Painters. Mr. Hicks also teaches at the Denver Art Students League.

Keep painting drawing and learning!  Its not about the end point its about the Jourey to try and get there!



African Americans in Art… Charles Porter

Charles Ethan Porter was a great painter of still lifes of fruit and some floral scenes.  The prime of his career was spent fighting racism and the modern movement, but his floral scenes have wide appeal by collectors.  He was born in 1850 some reports list 1847. He attended college at the National Academy of Design and then went to live in Paris and study for 6 years. Upon returning in 1885 he opened his own studio.

For sometime he shared a studio with Gustave Hoffman. Hoffman would sell Porter’s paintings door to door as people wouldn’t buy art from a black artist. Relatively little is known about this great artist in the latter stages of his life.

He died in the early 1920s and his work is being heralded more and more by modern day collectors than he could have ever dreamed possible during his life.

Hope this garnered you some inspiration!

Happy Painting!



African Americans in Art….. Kara Walker

Kara Walker is perhaps the most famous African American modern contemporary artist out there. Her work doesn’t involve color but relies on the silhouette to show feeling and emotion to the viewer.  Some of her images are quite graphic and show the struggles of a young negress as she calls them. Many of her works seem to revolve around racism and attitudes toward black women.

Born in 1969 to a very creative family, she wanted to be an artist like dad when she was 2 or 3. Mrs. Walker was only 28 when she received the MacArthur Fellowship also called the genius grant. I will write about this years recepients soon as I am huge fan of Rackstraw Downes, one of the winners this past year. Her work mainly depicts life in the south and how blacks were treated.

In one of the first paintings to bring her national attention “The Battle of Atlanta “a white soldier rapes a black woman while her brother watches in horror.A black man sheds tears on a young white adolescent. Very provacative, but her mainly white audience can’t get enough. She studied art in college the Rhode Island School of Design and also at Atlanta College of Art. Most of her works are in fact prints or very huge pieces meant to be seen on a while. She is a master of the cut canvas or paper collage attached to a wall for viewing.

In the past she also has made small illustrated books as well as the glass etchings I included in the beginning photos of this article. On Ebay every now and then an original painting will be available but they usually start at around 50,000 dollars. The genius grant is monumental accomplishment for an artist, along with the 500,000 cash you receive much notoriety from museum cureators and also top galleries and print makers.

Kara Walker is an OUTSTANDING artist to learn from. Try and put some emotional feeling and content into your pieces. Try starting out with a silhouette first and working backwards. Also take note at the exaggerations used to draw people without rendering the body. The nappy hair, the big lips, the thick full boned females. Without any color you know the race of the character and what emotion they are feeling.

Hope you do some more research on this fine artist, I will do a section on other papercut artists like Nikki McClure because paper cutting can be  a valuable tool on learning to include what is important in a picture to get your point across and what is not.

Keep learning, researching, and growing! Spring is the time for growth!



African Americans in Art… Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden was born in 1911 and was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance.  He attended Lincoln U. , Boston U. and finally got a degree in education from NYU in New York. Mr. Bearden worked for 3 main magazines doing editorial cartoons commentating on artistic and social issues.

In 1940 the artist had his first solo showing in Harlem and in 1944 his first solo show in Washington D.C. He married a woman from St. Martin in the Caribbean and in 1970 they took a second residence on the islands. A true artists’ artist that loved to create, he designed sets and costumes for Alvin Ailey’s Dance company as well as other dance groups. Mr Bearden also created and illustrated several books.

In 1987 Romare Bearden received the National Medal for the Arts from Ronald Reagan.

This artist has a very bold and direct use of color. While the drawings are far from technically correct, they are very emotional.  For an artist looking to try the collage technique, I highly recommend studying some works of the great artistic talents of Romare Bearden!

Get out some paper and get that pencil moving!



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