Archive for November, 2012

Artist of the moment….Jessica Rankin…..

In the gallery all pictures by Jessica Rankin except the first one which was painted by her father who is a successful abstract artist collected thru out the world named David Rankin.

Only one more artist to study that works with embroidery in the fine art realm.

Jessica Rankin was born in Sydney, Australia in the year 1971. The artist is reknown for her type of letterform art. She uses embroidery done on a very very thin sheet of fabric called organdy. It is known for its very sheer and traslucent qualities.

Art 21 is a great series done with the Public Broadcast System. I have rented many from my local library. This clip is from a segment done on Rankin on PBS. It is during her time in Germany with her parnter Julie Mehretu. At the end of the clip is a great scene showing both artists at work. In the clip Rankin talks about how she incorporate the use of language in her embroidery work.

Price range info: I was uanble to find pricing for her embroidery works, but watercolors and pencil drawings can be found for less than one thousand dollars.

Rankin lived overseas for one year and a half in Berlin, Germany.

Rankin reads a lot. Her mother died from breast cancer when the artist was only nine years old. Reading has been a way for the artist to relax for quite some time. Her father is a well known abstract artist known in Australia and New York named David Rankin. Below is an example of David Rankin’s abstract style.


Her partner is also an artist whom I wrote about within the past week, Julie Mehretu. The two share a studio and an apartment in New York, New York. The couple has a son named Cade. Mehretu is mainly an abstract artist but she sometimes uses large buildings in the beginning layers of her work giving it a more realistic finish.

For her collegiate art education Rankin attended Rutgers University.

Rankin also has an extensive knowledge of poetry which led her to use words as a means of expression in her artwork.

Jessica Rankin has been part of group shows in Australia, Europe, and the United States.

For her first show in London the artist showed a collection of 88 drawings and watercolors.

This artist considers her work to be a mental map of her thoughts at a given time. I found it similar to the Italian artist Boetti who on many occasions had maps embroidered by other artists that he would use in his artwork. Artists working with embroidery have all found ways to incorporate their daily lives and who they are as people into their work.  I hope with the increased use of machinery the art of quilt making and embroidery can still flourish. I have never been to show celebrating fiber artists or embroidery art and am looking forward to seeing some works in person.

Get out there and try some embroidery for your next art project!


Artist of the moment….Alighiero Boetti…

In the gallery all pictures by Alighiero Boetti except the last one, which was done by Mel Bochner.

Alighiero Boetti was born in Turin,  Italy in the year 1940.  His father was a lawyer and his mother a musician that played the violin at a professional level. Alighiero Boetti  was known as a great conceptual artist who used letterform as one of his means of expression. He also garnered critical acclaim for a series done with maps that he embroidered. He worked on the series for more than twenty years of his life.  Many maps are vast in size as you can see by the women walking in front of one in a gallery setting. He was a member of the Arte Povera, a radical art movement that questioned society like never before.

Below is a short clip showing the different genres the artist pursued.

A great clip showing an exhibition given at the Tate Museum of Modern Art in London, England. This clip is an interview with a curator and well worth your viewing time?

For his education Boetti was originally a business student at the University of  Turin. He gave up his studies to pursue a career in the arts. When he was twenty he moved to Paris and was to study the art of engraving. He met an art critic named Annemarie Sauzeau . The couple married and had two children.

Boetti enjoyed travelling abroad even making trips to Ethiopia and the Sudan. He also visited Afghanistan and Pakistan on several occassions.

Boetti died in 1994. He had a brain tumor and was only 54 years old. He was living in Rome at the time.

I enjoy this artist and he the way he expresses himself with words. If I were to compare to him to another artist working with letters it would be Mel Bochner.

Price range info:  This artist ,despite his premature death, was very prolific in his output. His embroidery works have broken the one million dollar mark selling as high as $1.44 million dollars. Works done in ink can be found from $60,000 to $100,000.  Works in oils start in the low six figures. Works done using a ball point pen go for $50,000 to $150,000. Works done using cardboard range from one hundred to a few hundred thousand dollars. Boetti made some collages which start around ten thousand dollars.

Boetti had his first solo show was in 1967 in Turin at a gallery named Christian Stein. In the same year he had his first show with the Arte Poverte movement.

On many occasions Boetti was the originator of an idea, but gave up control of color to other artists. In his map series he worked with his wife as well as other artists. The map series is said to have used more than 500 artists!

I have so much respect for this artist’s abitlity to use others’ work in collaboration with his own. What a creative mind!  This artist was a master of embroidery.


Artist of the moment…..Chris Bracey….

In the picture gallery the first work was done by Jack Pierson. The last picture is by calligraphy master Denis Brown.  The rest of the art was made by Chris Bracey. The artist sometimes refers to his art as night sculptures.

Chris Bracey hails from the United Kingdom. He is known for his unique style of art. He uses letterform and neon in his works. His works are very modern and contemporary giving the viewer modern takes on old ideas such as the seven deadly sins.

Chris Bracey was born in 1954 in London, England . His work has even appeared in movies that you have surely seen. His art has appeared behind Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut, Jack Nicholson in Batman, and even Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

He got his start with art and neon from his father. His father created neon signs for circuses, various business signs, and arcade centers. So from a young age the Bracey associated smiling faces and his fathers use of neon signage.

If I was  to compare his art to another artist it would be Jack Pierson. Jack Pierson is known for making collage works from cut letters.  By the end of the week I will do an entry on Jack Pierson as he is a great artist to learn from when it comes to letters and art. He is a master collage artist, photographer, and sculptor? Whatever kind of word describes an artist who works with neon lettering!

Below is a signature work done by Jack Pierson.  He also has done many works celebrating the sins of man. Pierson works with neon, wood, and metals.

Below is a clip featuring a show given by the artist on the seven deadly sins.  Bracey surely reminds us of the bright flashing neon lit Las Vegas.

In this clip Bracey gives us a short biography of his start in making neon signs with his father. He gives us a brief summary on the history of  neon sign making. Neon signs are handcrafted and not machine made. Very interesting! Bracey uses five different kinds of gasses in making neon signs.

A link to a website and landbased store selling works by the artist:

Bracey began selling his neon art in the 1970s. He created signs for popular sexclubs in Britain such as the Pink Pussycat Club. This was in the Soho district of London. Soon the artist had his neon art lighting up the space like never before. A European style Las Vegas!

price range info: Most works go from $10,000 up to $40,000.

If you find letterform art  as exciting as I do be sure and check out artists Ed Ruscha, Mel Bochner, Robert Cottingham, Robert Indiana and Denis Brown. Of these artist’s Denis Brown is closest to Chris Bracey for his three dimensional use of the letterform. Many times he works in glass but also is a master at using ink calligraphy . Below is a signature example of his sytle of letterform art. Brown has a DVD out teaching us how to perform excellent calligraphic strokes. I found it very helpful for drawing line and slender lines and shapes that you might see in folds of clothing. It also helped to improve my signature as it appears on a painting.

Try making some art of letters today!


Artist of the moment…..Ken Auster….


In the gallery all painting by Ken Auster save the last one painted by Francis Livingston.


Ken Auster is known for his wonderful plein air works.

A link to the artist’s own website:

Here the artist talks about a book and paintings he made of San Francisco over fifteen years.

If you love this artist’s work please check out the cityscape paintings of Francis Livingston. Livingston has a similar palette of soft and bright colors with complimentary colors used in the shadows. Below is an example of a Francis Livingston painting of a city. Lately Livingston has switched from painting the city to painting western scenes, but I still prefer his urban and cityscapes to his new genre of works.

Ken Auster was born and raised in California. He grew up enjoying the surfing paradise of his locale. Auster formed his own t shirt company whilst in college and his silkscreened t shirts were among the hottest items in the beach culture. He was the “Rembrandt” of the beach scene. Realize in this time before the internet and large retailing shops that many shirts were made by hand using silkscreened or airbrushed method. Auster was able to make tremendous profits in this fun cottage industry at the time.

In the 1990s Ken Auster began to paint in oils and refine his skills to become a fine artist. He broke away from his pattern of developing a great design that would look great on t shirts and easily reproduced with the silkscreen method, to painting scenes in oils and working entirely from life in the process. He began painting urban scenes that before didn’t tempt him at all to paint. He developed his color palette to reflect what he felt in the city.

The artist has been in many fine art publications including the cover issue of Plein Air magazine in . Auster has also appeared in Soutwest Art and Art and Antiques.

price range info: Most works are plein air works and can be found from $500 to $2000.

I enjoy this artist for his ability to come from painting t shirts, to become a fine artist. It reminded me Andy Warhol. A great artist to begin with. Follow this with his dedication to building a successfor commercial art enterprise. Warhol was known for his wonderful advertising and design skill, Ken Auster was designing wearable art for his surfing fans. Warhol became the highest sought after contemporary fine artist. Auster has already won many awards for his plein air work and with his dedication to self improvement the best is yet to come!

Try a cityscape painting today!




Artist of the moment….Fantastic painter of the sea Montague Dawson….

In the gallery the first painting is by Henry Dawson, the artist’s grandfather. The second painting is by Charles Napier Hemy. The third painting from top is by John Stobart. The rest of the paintings are by Montague Dawson.


Montague Dawson was born in Chiswick, London in 1895 . He is my favorite British painter of marine works from the United Kingdom. J.M.W. Turner is also a great painter marine paintings, but his are slightly more impressionistic. Both do a great job of capturing the atmosphere and the many greys of the English skies. Dawson was born into a family of painters of marine works much like the Gruppe family in the United States. Both had multiple generations of professional painters.

Below is a work by Henry Dawson, Montague Dawson’s grandfather, who was highly collected in England  and lived from 1811 to 1878. This spectacular seascape brings us to Venice and was painted in the last year of his life.

In this clip a representative from an auction house talks about a painting done by Montague dealing the America’s Cup race titled “The Sporting Contest.”

Dawson grew up studying the local areas of Southampton, learning to paint seascapes. Whilst he was fifteen he was employed by a commercial art studio in London. Then came the first world war and Dawson entered the Royal Navy. In the Navy he befriended another well known British marine painter named Charles Hemy. Below is a work by Charles Napier Hemy. Hemy has two works included in the Tate Museum of Art in London.

In 1924 he was employed as the official artist of an Expedition to the South Seas. He also illustrated for Graphic magazine. During the second world war he found work as a war artist.

Eventually Montague Dawson was considered the best painter of marine works in England and he had well known patrons such as the British Royal family and American Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The artist passed away in 1973.

Price range info: Montague Dawson worked in watercolors which range from $5,000 to  $25,000. Lithographs start at a few hundred dollars. Oils can range from $5,000 to $420,000.

In this clip view a montage of the artist’s wonder marine paintings.

What modern painter does the artist remind me of? No question John Stobart. Stobart is the most sought after living marine artist having works easily reach six figures. He works both in plein air and also makes longer studies. You may have seen a series of his on PBS where he painted with other artists such as Charles Movalli, Michael Karas, and Erik Jacobsen. Very inspirational and loaded with tips for painting out of doors. Below is a great example of a John Stobart marine painting.

Montague Dawson is without a doubt my favorite deceased painter of marine works from England. You can tell this was an artist who was in love with the sea and coast. What a pedigree for a marine artist. Grandfather a well known painter, his father a yachtsman, he studied under Charles Hemy, and served in the Royal Navy. Montague Dawson can surely provide some inspiration when you are working on your next marine painting! What a painter of reflected light on water!



Artist of the moment….California Impressionist William Franklin Jackson….


In the gallery all pictures are by William Franklin Jackson save the last two. Second from bottom was painted by his first well known mentor, Virgil Williams. The last one is painted by modern day colorist Camille Przewodek.



As I mentioned in my last post about Clarence Hinkle, William F. Jackson was his first gallery level instructor. William Franklin Jackson was best known for his interpretations of the vast California skyline and mountains. He enjoyed painting small rolling hills laden with poppy fields. William Franklin Jackson was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa  in the year 1850.

His family relocated to California when he was thirteen years old.

For college Jackson attended the School of Design in San Francisco where he was mentored by Virgil Williams. Williams was a painter of landscapes and below is an example of his artwork.



In this clip watch an auction of a great example of the artists work with the California landscape with poppies. Its a great contrast to see an emphasis on the colors of outdoors of California. The painters of the Hudson River school painted wonderful landscapes but the landscape is mainly greens, ochres, and browns because you are dealing with somewhat flatter horizons and heavily wooded areas.


With the wonderful California landscape you have spectacular mauves and purples from plants like lupine or lavender alongside the bright colors of wildflowers and poppies. In addition to the flowers you have wonderful mountains that easily dwarf anything painting by the Hudson River artists.  All of these elements made for wonderful paintings from the California Impressionsists like Jackson, John Gamble, or Granville Redmond.



Price range info:  William F. Jackson worked mainly in oils. Many are smaller works from life. The artist worked mainly from life and works can be found between $2,000 and $45,000.


In Sacramento a banking family that was the Kennedy’s of their day, the William Crocker family who ran many banks, left their art collection to the city of Sacramento. Jackson was the head curator and director for an art school associated with the museum. Jackson worked for the museum for many decades until his death in 1936.


Jackson helped to inspire many artists to paint the wonderful color found in the California landscape. My favorite modern day painter of the color of California is Camille Przewodek. She is a colorist and my favorite works of hers include fields of lavender set alongside the rolling hills of California. Here is an example of Camille Przewodek’s vision of California.


Jackson did nearly everything in the art world from painting, to teaching, and even running a museum and art school. I hope that in the next decades the artist is brought to more collectors of California landscape paintings. Its amazing to see the price difference between this artist, Clarence Hinkle, and Granville Redmond.


Create a landscape with poppies today. The brightness of the flowers will do a lot to contrast the greens and browns found in the basic colors of the landscape!


Artist of the moment…….California Impressionist Clarence Hinkle….

In the gallery the first painting is by Hinkle’s first teacher, WF Jackson. The second if by Karl Dempwolf. The rest are by Clarence Hinkle.

Clarence Hinkle was a spectacular painter of the outdoors and a leader of artists that painted directly from life in California.  Hinkle was born in 1880 in the city of Auburn, California. His father was the owner of a business that painted carriages.

As a young man Hinkle was able to mentor under artist William Franklin Jackson. Jackson was the most sought after painter in Sacramento, California at his death and taught many students that went on to become well known in the California Impressionist scene.

Below is a signature work of Jackson’s and see the influence he had on Hinkle. Hinkle is also compared to Granville Redmond. Redmond was deaf since an early age as a result of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, was an awesome plein aire painter, and even appeared in movies with Charlie Chaplin.

Below is a clip from a show given in 2012 at the Laguna Beach Art Museum. After wasting our time with pictures of palm trees and the outside of the musuem the paintings start one minute into the video. The artist loved to paint with the palette knife and you can also see his wonderful use of Joaquin Sorolla like brushwork. Thick and juicy paint.

For his artistic education Hinkle attended the California School of Design in San Francisco. He also briefly attended other art schools back east and traveled in Europe. In 1917 he moved back to Los Angeles and became part of the faculty at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and Chouinard School of Art.

In 1922 he moved to Laguna Beach, California.

He painted mainly impressionistic works but also experimented with abstraction and modernist painting. One interesting fact about his method was that he applied black paint right alongside the colors he used. Hinkle mainly painted landscapes, but also produced wonderful still life paintings and some great portraits of women.

Hinkle was part of the Group of Eight in California. This group of painters first exhibited in Los Angeles in 1927 at the Museum of History, Science, and Art.

Clarence Hinkle passed away in 1960.

Price range info: The artist was disciplined  in many mediums such as ink, watercolor, gouache, and oils. Watercolors range from $500 to $8000. Oil paintings can be found from $2,250 to $65,000. Gouache works can be found from $2,000 to $1,600.

Despite having a long and successful career Hinkle’s work is not nearly as high priced as his contemporaries such as Redmond. I can definitely see William F. Jackson’s influence on the artist in his paintings of lush landscapes with flowers. Hinkle is not well known at all it seems, no wikipedia page exists for the artist!

If I were to compare his works to a living artist it would be Karl Dempwolf. Dempwolf is my favorite painter of the cyprus tree and paints with wonderful emotion in his landscapes. Below is a singature Karl Dempwolf work.

Artist of the moment….Wassily Kandinsky….

Wassily Kandinsky was one of the most celebrated artists to come from Russia during the early 1900s. Kandinsky was born in Moscow, Russia in the year 1866. He is the first artist given credit for creating works that were entirely abstract. Kandinsky did a fair amount of landscapes as well, but is considered by many art historians to be the first creator of abstractions.

Price range info: Kandinsky worked in many mediums. The cheapest works are lithographs and woodcuts which start at a couple of hundred dollars all the way up to $25,000. Oil painting record is $ 8.93  million. Most watercolors are going for  few hundred thousand dollars to $1.89 million.

A great clip here! Watch Kandinsky work on a drawing.

In this montage see some excellent Kandinsky landscapes as well as his standard abstract expression paintings.

For his art education he attended the University of Moscow where he studied law and economics. He didn’t really start to work on painting and drawing until the age of thirty. In 1896 Kandinsky moved to Munich, Germany.  Kandinsky studied under Anton  Azbe. Azbe went on to teach many Russian Impressionist artists.

Kandinsky started out painting landscapes packed with emotion. He wasn’t accepted to art school right away and before going to study, Kandinsky saw an exhibition by Claude Monet. Kandinsky was taken with Monet’s painting of haystacks. He loved the way the artist painted the haystack without being stuck to the idea of painting an object. The haystacks were reduced to simple fields of color.

The most significant artwork produced by Kandinsky during this time probably was the Blue Rider made in 1903. A  horse rider that is blue, casts a blue shadow. Its a nod to the viewer of the path the artist is taking. A landscape was compared to music by Kandinsky. His works during this expressionistic stae were sometimes quite large. He travelled through much of Europe during this stage. A painting showing much more abstraction from this era is called Blue Mountain. There isn’t a dominant color. The artist isn’t trying to create depth on the picture plane, he relied on flat surfaces and painted each color without regard to what was next to it.

Moved back to Russia after beginning of the first world war. Kandinsky didn’t like the theories of art given by his government so in 1921 he moved to Germany. He was a professor at an art school that was eventually closed by the Nazis in 1933. The Bauhaus School was where the artist was able to teach his theories and develop his idea of abtract art that was frowned upon in his native Russia.

Kandinsky then relocated to France becoming a French citizen in 1939. He combined all of his knowledge and made some wonderful paintings with fun geometric and organic shapes set against a black background.

Wassily Kandinsky died in 1944 at the age of 77.
Kandinsky is thought to be the founder of abstraction. I would compare most of his works to the abstract works of the watercolorist John Salminem.  Salminem is known for his paintings of urban street scenes, but also has a wonderful DVD out on painting organized abstract art. You have abstract art like Jackson Pollack, that is very loose and free flowing. Then you have abstract art like Kandinsky, abstract but organized. Kandinsky’s work also reminds me of Rex Ray’s works.

Create an abstract work today!


Artist of the moment……..Sculptor Auguste Rodin….

Auguste Rodin was born today in Paris, France on November 12th in the year 1840. He is best known for his sculpture works, the most famous being the “Thinker.” This was a piece of art quite familiar to me as I grew up watching Dobie Gillis who always went to contemplate life whilst posing close to the statue.  Here you can see what I am talking about, even watching just the first minute of the clip! Rodin is considered by many art historians to be the father of modern sculpture.

Born to middle class parents. Father worked for the police department. Rodin tried on multiple occasions to be accepted into the Grand Ecole, a wonderful school of fine arts in France. He was rejected for his clay sculptures, they were too modern looking. After this setback Rodin took to designing ornaments and working in the commercial art field.

The artist wasn’t able to fully realize making money from his art until he was in his thirties. Rodin earned an alright living working in the commerical decoration business, but it was later in life when he would become super successful as both an artist and as a businessman.  He met his partner Rose, in 1864 and the couple would have one son.
He went on to take sculpting lessons with Antoine-Louis Barye, a great sculptor of animals. This taught the artist how to capture motion in clay.

He was gradually able to save up enough money to travel in Europe and when he saw Michelangelo it changed his life! He found more belief in his way of seeing the world and thanked Michelangelo for breaking him free of the shackles of the Neo Classical style Rodin hated.

Gradually the artist was able to gain public commissions and he also assisted other more popular artsits in their work. One commission that garnered him much recognition was a work titled the Burghers of Calais. The piece was commissioned by Calais. A small city that during the days of princes and knights was told everyone in the city would be killed in mass bloodshed unless six well known citizens came to the new powers to be and gave themselves up ready to die. Rodin made this work into a bronze weighing nearly two tons.

A great selection of many sculptures made by the Auguste Rodin.

A musuem in his name has more than 6,000 sculptures and more than 7,000 drawings. It is located in Paris, France.

Price range info: The french government ended up passing a law to deal with the possibility of fakes. It also was to cement the idea that only twelve copies of an artist’s casts can be made for it to be considered by the artist. If a work has a certified history, or provenance, it can be worth millions. In 2008 a work sold at the auction house Christies for 18.9 million dollars.  Smaller works done in bronze can be found for less than one thousand dollars. Lithographs can be found from a few hundred to five thousand dollars.


In this footage see some very old film of Rodin walking around a statue. What a beard the man had! Santa Clause would be jealous!

Let us compare the works of another master sculptor, who is famous like Vincent Van Gogh even among those who don’t love art, Michelangelo.  Michelangleo depicted gods and goddesses and of course his masterpiece David. He exaggerated body parts and limbs to make humans appear more divine. The approach of Rodin was the opposite. He was out to capture a person without idealizing or making them more beautiful than they appeared. Many critics when seeing his work for the first time didn’t like this new approach. Rodin stuck to his method and eventually the entire art world changed their minds! Rodin was considered a master of a new type of modern sculpture.

Some major works that you may heard of by the artist besides the thinker are The Kiss, The Walking Man, and The Age of Bronze.

At the turn of the century he was the sculptor held in highest regard and was known world wide.

He had a steady lover and companion named Rose, but they didn’t get married until the last year of both of their lifes. The couple were married in January. Rose died just two weeks later in February. August Rodin passed away in November of the same year  (1917) at the age of seventy seven.






Artist of the moment…..Mark Grotjahn….

Mark Grotjahn was born in 1968 in Pasadena, California. He is best known in the art world for his abstract style. He sometimes paints in a manner in which shapes radiate from the center. The shapes are usually long triangles and the paintings are either done in black and white (this is the case for the butterfly series) or using bold and explosive color. In the latter stages of his career he has moved onto installations and sculpture works.

Price range info:  Grotjahn has worked in graphite and colored pencil works that can range from $20,000 to $1.37 million for a work from his butterfly series. Paintings in oils can be found from $1.43 million for a work from the butterfly series, down to $20,000. Grotjahn has occasionally worked in acrylics and gouache but not enough works have been made to get a consistent price list in these mediums.

In this clip we go along with our great art lover friend James Kalm to view a show by Grotjahn.

In this clip you can view a show given by the artist at Gagosian Gallery in New York. The theme of the show was masks, the artist created a variety of masks using found and recycled materials.

Below is a clip from another Gagosian Gallery show with theme being black butterflies. The show was given in 2008.

In this clip visit the artist in his own studio as he works on some “mask” style art.

Grotjahn now lives and works out of Los Angeles, California.

For his artistic education Grotjahn attended the University of Boulder in Colorado earning a bachelor’s degree. He went on to the University of California at Berkeley earning a MFA. After this he became artist in residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Art in Maine.  Grotjahn moved from Maine to Los Angeles and opened up a gallery with a partner. The gallery showed his own works as well as other artist’s.

The artist got into graphic design by making art out of the signs he saw in storefront windows. He then would exchange his artwork with the owners of the store for the original signage.

In his current method the artist doesn’t map all the colors out at first. He does make a drawing in black pencil. Grotjahn then lays the colored pencils out on floor and he starts working on filling the paper with colors.

When I think of Grotjahn I think of a spiral or radial form. A spirograph base, but a more modern and contemporary finish.

In this last clip let us smile and relax and sit back as we see the artist dance in front of one of his own paintings.

For your art homework today how about cutting a rug, (dancing), in front of your favorite painting.


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