MODERN PIONEER OF TROMPE L’OEIL: GARY ERBE

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Virtuoso

By Gabriela Dellosso

“Fool the Eye” is how the genre of Trompe l’oeil is defined. A well known example being “Which is Which”(collection of the Brandywine River Museum of Art), by artist Jefferson David Chalfont (1856-1931) depicting a realistically painted postage stamp, placed right next to an actual postage stamp (in this particular work of art the viewer is asked to identify to the real stamp and which was painted). As Trompe l’oeil developed compositions emerged from artists like William Michael Harnett (1848-1892) and John F. Peto (1854-1907). They had great skill to accomplish successful Trompe l’oeil paintings and they painted unconventional subjects, that historical still life paintings never included. They painted everyday things, like paper currency, worn old books or a rusty old horseshoe that is nailed on a wall (like Harnett’s The Golden Horseshoe, 1886).

The Big Splash copy

When I first saw the paintings of Gary Erbe, I saw a tremendous amount of creativity and originality that distinguished his work from his predecessors. He combines ideas and themes and plays realism against modern, flat elements, resulting in unique visuals. His work bridges classic and modern principles seamlessly. Gary has had an incredibly long and successful career as a painter. His body of work spans five decades. The level of quality is incredibly consistent over a 50 year time period.

Mastery is something all artists dream of achieving. It requires the artist’s complete and focused dedication in creating the work. A master has a singular vision that is like a fingerprint, a unique identity that will separate him/her from the crowd. The body of work they leave behind is influential to future generations. It has been very inspiring for me, to observe all of the above, in Gary’s work. I consider him a great mentor and friend and an example of virtuosity. It is remarkable to note that he is self-taught. I first met Gary over 20 years ago, when he was President of Allied Artist of America . He was a very dedicated president for Allied ,resulting in his being awarded President Emeritus. What I learned from my friend and mentor through many conversations is staying true to yourself and your vision. Gary’s world revolves around his art. He has flawless work habits. He paints everyday, starting his work day at 6am and ending at 4pm. He has a wonderful partner in his wife Zeny. She is incredibly supportive and helps Gary with many tasks that would otherwise take up his valuable painting time. That 100% dedication to his craft , is what gives his work its depth, both in vision and technique. I am reminded of something I read once about another American Master, Norman Rockwell. Rockwell used to put a sign on his easel 100%–he gave no less and that is what I see in Gary and his work.

Jazz copy

A wonderful example and one of my favorite paintings of his is “Virtuoso”. The subject of the violin was a favorite of William Harnett and John Peto. Both Harnett and Peto’s paintings show a violin painted in a classical manner. Gary is inventive with his depiction of the violin and creates something very original.

Here we see a combination of imagination and skill. We are introduced to a violin in a completely new way. The violin is recognizable, but it is composed of a series of colors, shapes, combined with classically painted elements like the realistic bow. The color combinations invite the viewer to explore the shapes as they enhance the idea of the violin and the music it creates. The horizontal and vertical lines echo throughout the painting, but always lead back to the central element of the violin, like a melody, where there are repeated rhythms and harmonies to form a song.

Composition in Red White and Blue copyComposition in Red White and Blue, 1975, Oil on Canvas, 72 x112 in, Private Collection

“In Composition in Red White and Blue” you find your self immersed in the vertical and horizontal elements of the flags. The subtleties invite the viewer to examine the subject of this picture, the differences of the types of flags, the details of wrinkles in the fabric of the flags, the variety of the textures and transparencies in the flags add to the intrigue of the painting.

Here are more examples of Gary’s work:

Take Five copyTake Five, 1981-82, Oil on Canvas, 64×54 in Collection of Max N. Berry and Pamela Thomas

The Big Splash copyThe Big Splash, 2001, Oil on Canvas, 40×50 in, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Cusenza

The 50'sThe 50’s, 1991, Oil on Canvas, 64 x84 in, Collection of Ira Kent

Gary is currently embarking on a 50 year retrospective tour where you can see his work in person.

The retrospective exhibition opens at:

The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH http://butlerart.com/exhibitions-2/
Butler Museum Exhibition Dates: May 14 -August 6, 2017.Then it travels to the Brinton Museum, Big Horn, WY http://thebrintonmuseum.org/events/#exhibition
Brinton Museum Exhibition Dates: September 16 – November 30, 2017
Then it travels to the Reading Public Museum, Reading, PA http://www.readingpublicmuseum.org/plan-your-visit
Reading Museum Dates: June 5 – September 9, 2018
The next venue is the John F. Peto Studio Museum, Island Heights, NJ http://petomuseum.org

Subway SeriesSubway Series, 2008, Oil on Canvas, 55 x 45 in, The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY

Peto Museum Dates: September 22- December 16, 2018

The Butler Institute of American Art is also celebrating this landmark in his successful career as an artist by publishing a 300 page book . The large format scholarly written volume is hard cover with over 250 illustrations. This is the most comprehensive book written about Gary and his groundbreaking work. The 11 chapters are written by art historians and scholars, providing insight to the artist’s life and over 50 years of creating an impressive body of work. Here is an outline of the chapters. Contributing writers are Dr. Thomas Folk, Dr. Carol Lowrey, Dr. Christine I. Oaklander, Carter Ratcliff, Dr. Michael Schantz and Dr. Louis A. Zona.

It is a rare opportunity to gain an insight to Gary’s work.

Chapters include his 1. bio, 2. his early years, 3. The American Flag, 4. Modern Principles, 5. Pop Culture, 6. Sports, 7. Social Commentaries, 8. Sculpture, 9. Constructions, 10. Technical Aspects and 11. A detailed chronology.

Gary personally devotes one chapter, on the technical aspects associated with painting, including how to prepare canvas like the old masters, the special formula for the oil medium he uses, the proper varnish to use and the palette.

Chapter 9 discusses his constructions. Gary’s technical process involves fabricating a construction with various mediums. The purpose of the construction is to develop the idea, composition, color and subject matter. Then he actually paints from observation, from the original construction which serves as his model. Here is a picture of his latest construction for his painting “Jazz”.

Erbe book cover copyA signed copy of Gary Erbe’s collectable book” Footprints” is available on amazon.com.
Here is the link: http://a.co/e2bXBC6
Or you can call the artist directly for a signed copy at 973-562-0067 .

Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.  Her first one- woman exhibition took place in 2006 at the Butler Institute of American Art, followed by a solo at The Eleanor Ettinger Gallery in 2008. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Butler Institute of American Art, OH; The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY; and many other important museums in the country.

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Honest Strokes of John Lasater

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With plenty of self-awareness and introspection, plein-air painter John P. Lasater IV explores the many challenges of finding his own voice as an artist.

 

Signature_Iterview_nameJK: John, you’re known as a landscape painter who works outside on location, or “en plein air,” as they say. What attracts you to this method of landscape painting?

JL: Painting outside on location gives me something to study. Working from photographs just doesn’t give me enough information. For instance, I have a deep love for color. I love seeing the harmonies in color, and to see that, I have to go outside in nature. With photographs, I don’t have all of the options available to me. When I’m outside, I can turn to my right or my left and see motifs in the same light that I can work from. Plus, I just love being outdoors.

JK: Do you paint landscapes in the studio? And if you do, how is your studio work different from your plein-air work?

elkhorn-avenue-oil-on-linen-18-x-18-by-john-lasater

JL: I usually only do studio work for commissions, and in those cases I’ll work from my studies and my imagination. But I’m starting to do bigger work outside, like 24 x 30 inches. I’d rather do that. That’s what you’re going to see from me. I start lots of larger works on location and then later return to those same locations at the same time of day to finish them.

JK: You’re also known for painting night-time scenes. Tell me why.

JL: Oh, no! If I’m becoming labeled as the nocturne painter, I would run from that. I’m just doing it because it’s new to me and fun to do. I don’t want to be known as the nocturne painter. I want to be a total artist.

JK: Okay, so why is it fun for you? How is painting on location at night different from painting in daylight?

JL: Working in daylight is a lot more difficult because of all the variations. Painting a nocturne is more like painting a still life—nothing moves and the colors don’t change. But then again, there are other challenges to painting at night. You have to be at home in the dark. At night, I get sort of quiet and meditative, and even a little sleepy, but that can translate into the painting in a beautiful way.

rainy-day-frederick-oil-on-linen-18-x-14-by-john-lasaterJK: You participate in a lot of plein-air painting competitions all over the country. What do you enjoy about them?

JL: Well, in addition to the great exposure and the ability to show and sell my work, I enjoy the camaraderie of other artists. Competitions also give me the chance to travel. I married young and started a family so we didn’t travel much back then, but now I have a great excuse to travel for business and occasionally take my family with me.

JK: Is it a challenge to adapt to each new location? I’ve heard artists talk about how the light is different in different places around the world.

JL: You know, I’ve been up north and down south and even out to Hawaii to paint, and I really think the light is basically the same everywhere. To be honest, I shy away from those kind of romantic notions about a place. I don’t want to make assumptions and look for the special “air” in Florida or assume the water is “more blue” in Hawaii. I just want to respond to each new subject exactly as I see it. I’m preparing to stay pure and be honest in every painting. I want to step into every situation with the eyes of a child and see the basic structure of what I’m looking at without any bias or prejudice.

JK: Tell me the story of how you came to be a full-time artist.

JL: Well, it all started with the crayon… no, I’m just kidding. I started out in advertising, and then went on to become an illustrator, art director, and designer for 10 years. I really enjoyed that job, but in the corporate world I sensed that I wasn’t using my full ability. Meanwhile, I was falling in love with fine art, with painting. So about five years ago, I felt a Spiritual release that I could leave my job. My wife and I agreed that I should quit and devote myself to painting full time, and just take a few freelance jobs from my former employer to help us get by at first. At the time, I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I was willing to take time to grow into my career, and I knew that working at it full time would help me get there faster.

long-shadows-on-the-pass-oil-on-linen-20-x-24-by-john-lasaterJK: Was your experience as an illustrator beneficial to you?

JL: Yes! The basics of drawing, design, and color appear in all art, so I’ve been able to apply a lot of what I learned as an illustrator to my fine art. Also, as an art director, you have to get good at generating a lot of ideas and knowing how to select the best of them. I have a lot of ideas for my fine art because of that training, and I’ve developed a voice in my head that asks, “Is this the best idea? Have I taken this idea to the highest level?” But you know, we’re afforded a lot of liberties in art thanks to the 20th century, so there’s a much larger world to be nurtured in. Illustration has lost its appeal to me because it’s about pleasing a consumer. I would much rather have a personal standard that is higher than anyone else’s.

ephraim-view-oil-on-linen-11-x-14-by-john-lasaterJK: Tell me more about that.

JL: There’s a fine line between pleasing collectors and pleasing artists. A few years ago, I recognized that a tighter style was generally more pleasing to collectors, and since a large part of my livelihood revolves around selling work at plein-air events, my work got tighter and tighter. But more recently I started to realize that I wanted to keep growing as an artist, for myself, but also in the eyes of other artists. I also recognized that if I focused on pleasing the collectors, my career would be less sustainable. Basically, you have to choose one way or the other. So, my work has changed a lot over the last several years, and I expect it to continue to change as I grow as an artist. I feel a greater satisfaction with my work now as I find my own voice and search for my own heroes and mentors. I also want to do my part in keeping painting alive as an art form. There are people who say that everything that can be done in art has been done, and in the middle of the 20th century artists pushed painting just about as far as they could go. But now it’s come back around full circle. I want to prop up painting as an art form and to encourage others to do that also. It’s such a good time to be an artist. I see so many great new artists coming up.

JK: So you mentioned heroes and mentors. Who are some, and why are they important to you?

JL: You know, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the work of other living artists, but now I’m really ready to go back and create a personal lexicon of deceased artists in order to refine my own style. I want to start copying paintings and learning from them. Rather than painting as an act of homage to living artists, I want to treat it as an act of homage to those who have gone before.

JK: So who are you talking about specifically?

JL: Right now I’m looking at Degas. I’m really interested in the way he thought about perspective and form. I’m also studying Corot, particularly his outdoor paintings from Italy. The first ones I saw I didn’t like, but now that I’ve been to Italy and seen the places he painted, it’s clear he was way ahead of his time. I have looked past so many styles of art but now I want to go back and learn all I can. A great example is Italian Renaissance artists like Piero della Francesca and others who were incredible designers. It’s surprising to me, now, how many artists in Western art history harkened to Renaissance influence.

evening-marina-oil-on-linen-16-x-20-by-john-lasaterJK: You’ve just named quite a few important formal qualities of art. What, in your opinion, is the most important formal quality in your work?

JL: The very first thing for me is design—the placement of the shapes and the creation of interesting shape-patterns. For me, that trumps atmosphere and color. Design has more to do with shadow and light, and I love strong structures.

Something else that I’ve been thinking about lately is this notion of “finish.” There is no finish in nature or in life, so we should drop this idea in art. Life is all about beginnings. But there is such a thing as completeness. I want to start out every painting with a complete idea or at least the potential of one. I sometimes like to challenge myself by resolving the design as I paint. And I’m always looking for new design structures because I don’t want to rely on a set of existing design structures. Either way, I want each painting to have a complete idea, and to be resolved in a way that pleases me, not just what I know collectors will like.

radiant-light-oil-on-linen-12-x-12-by-john-lasaterJK: John, I know you also teach workshops. What’s the most important thing you try to communicate to your students?

JL: I want them to be willing students, to use a workshop as a learning experience. I want them to just try what I’m saying and demonstrating, and maybe they’ll have added some new things to their toolbox by the time we’re done. We discuss things like design, color hierarchy, value hierarchy, movement, line, and the “flow” of painting, and there is usually lots of critique time so they come away with plenty to chew on. The feedback has been great—­humbling really. All upcoming workshops can be viewed on my website at http://www.lasaterart.com/workshops.

lahaina-glow-oil-on-linen-12-x-20-by-john-lasaterJK: Is there any message or emotion you hope people take away from viewing your work?

JL: Hmmm, I know that whatever you fix your mind and heart on, it comes through in your art. I hope the condition of my soul comes through, and that they can relate emotionally with it.

This is actually something else I’m wrestling with a little bit. On this quest to become a better artist, I don’t want to become so heady that I lose people. I want to bring people along with me. I want to raise the level of sophistication of the collector.

JK: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you and your work?

My work is going to keep changing, and I’m having a lot of fun. I believe that every person has art in their spirit, which is why artists need to be the most welcoming of all circles. To keep painting alive, we have to educate, and we have to welcome people in. I believe the plein-air movement does that, so I’m never going to be caught trying to tear down this wonderful explosion of interest in art.

John P. Lasater IV will be participating in two plein-air painting competitions this month—one in Laguna Beach, California, and the other in San Angelo, Texas—and is already scheduled to appear at several other competitions in 2017. To see more of John’s award-winning art, or to learn about his workshops and DVDs, please visit his website at www.lasaterart.com

[From top: Paintings by John Lasater ]

Elkhorn Avenue, oil on linen, 18 x 18
Rainy Day, Frederick, oil on linen, 18 x 14
Long Shadows on the Pass, oil on linen, 20 x 24
Ephraim View, oil on linen, 11 x 14
Evening Marina, oil on linen, 16 x 20
Radiant Light, oil on linen, 12 x 12
Lahaina Glow, oil on linen, 12 x 20

 

Jennifer King is a marketer, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. A long time student of art marketing and the fine art industry, she currently provides art marketing services and coaching to visual artists through her company, Connect Artist Marketing. Learn more at www.connectartistmarketing.com.

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Colin Keane thoughts on Reclining Nude (Thin Adeline)

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Reclining Nude (Thin Adeline),
by Walter Richard Sickert.

By Colin Keane

Pure nonchalance.  As an onlooker, I’m standing in a forbidden room, invisible.  Four color schemes converge from every corner of the painting; at its center, a woman is imbued with gravitational force.  If I could meet the artist, I would ask him, “Is she based on someone real or imaginary?”

There’s an antithesis to the gravity.  The white bedspread stands out in a room flooded with color and exposes the figure of the woman, giving her an ethereal quality—her energy is careless and light; she might be draped upon a cloud.

I would call this painting, “Busy Afternoon”.  As a writer, I look at this painting and immediately begin to imagine the woman’s story.  Narratives form.  Who is this woman?  What time of day is it?  I get lost in thinking about the world implied by the painting rather than the colors on the canvas.

A nude For instance, what if the woman is in a locked room within a house bustling with activity, a party, or afternoon tea?  I’ve imagined that she is indeed, and that everyone in the house is wondering where she could possibly be!  The woman’s solitude is slightly nuanced: multitudes of people are nearby, making her nonchalance all the more dramatic.

For me, great art inspires and unleashes the imagination.  As I wonder what led to this woman’s afternoon, I admire her casual defiance, but also Sickert’s ability to capture it.  Ironically, the world beyond the woman’s room—and thus the woman’s world beyond Sickert’s frame—is what I’m imagining, and it’s also the last thing on the woman’s mind.

Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) lived and worked primarily in London, with recurring stints in France and Italy.  Born in Munich, Sickert moved with his family to England in 1868 and obtained British nationality.  After working briefly as an actor, he enrolled in London’s Slade School of Fine Art in 1881 but abandoned The Slade within a year to study under American artist James Abbot McNeill Whistler.  Whistler, along with Edgar Degas, became Sickert’s greatest influences.

Stay tuned for Colin Keane’s upcoming piece for TSR, “Brahmin Rock Star: Kurt Cobain, monk in disguise”

 

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Peter Tosh: A Musician or a Prophet?

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Peter Tosh1

My Dear Friends,
Let’s Introduce You to the Mystic Man

By Nicholas Ellis

In a modern world lacking a credible moral compass, I advise an education of reggae’s, Jamaica’s, mine and Rastafarian hero, Peter Tosh. Tosh walked a path only he could define;  paved through his beliefs, which were never compromised throughout his life.

”I know who I came to be,

I have to be me,

I don’t care what people want to say,

Because peoples will always say”

He was a revolutionary of Justice notably on the song, ‘equal rights’  featuring the words ‘Everyone is crying out for peace, yes, No one is crying out for justice’. Unfortunately this was  in a decade where peace preceded his vision. It is now that we see the visionary seeds he planted through his life and classic albums, such ‘No Nuclear War, ‘Legalize it’, and ‘Bush Doctor’. As discomforting as fate will have it, history teaches in retrospect.

Tosh was born into humble beginnings on the 19 October 1944 in a tin room shanty in the impoverished yet serine seaside town of Westmoreland, Jamaica the nation’s westernmost parish. His family made their living through the local farms and would fish in the nearby sea like most families in Westmoreland.

Peter was always unique, he displayed talent as a musical prodigy from a young age beginning with the guitar at five years old then evolving onto piano music at thirteen. He would proclaim, ‘I would play the songs of the angels.’

The locals of Westmoreland would pay Peter to play them songs having a great fondness and admiration for Peter’s unique voice. In the years that passed, his fan base would move onwards from Westmoreland to Kingston and around the globe.

From a young age Peter would visit the local Baptist church with family yet it was here that Peter began to have doubts upon not only religion beliefs, but society, history, and the bias politics Jamaica had all but seen since the colonial era within the world around him.

Upon arriving in Kingston, Jamaica after his father died, Peter lived in trench town. Trench town was a slum, known as the Calcutta of the western hemisphere where you lived in fear of attack, robbery and disease. Death seemed like the only possibility of escape. Many in trench town were black and witnessing such slums forced him to act and question how he could make a difference? ‘Cold ground was my bed at night and rock was my pillow too, ‘ it was not simply poetic license.

As fate would have it another Jamaican prodigy, Bob Marley resided in the infamous Trench town and alongside Tosh, and Bunny Wailer formed The Wailers. The name was birthed out of there being plenty of wailing to do in the circumstances surrounding Trench town.

Inspiration often hijacks us in the most unlikely locations and in Trench town I would argue both Bob and Peter found many aspects in their lives here to draw upon, which would become part of the DNA of the Wailers work. The acclaimed album, ‘Catch a Fire’ deals with social injustice towards black people, and ‘the current state of urban poverty’.

At 22, Peter after denouncing his families Christian beliefs, ‘If he was created in the image of God then why isn’t God Black?’ defied the establishment and became a Rastafarian which he felt empowered him.

Peter Identified with the teachings of the Rasta that God or Jah is black; Africans are the ‘true’ chosen people and that the Ethiopian Haille Selassie was the holy messiah prophesised by the Holy Bible in Issiah about a black king being crowned in Africa. ‘It is a fact and can be proven historically, biblically Haille Selassie is the returned messiah.’

Tosh’s epic first album was titled, ‘Legalize It’, with the lead single about legalizing Marijuanna, which he saw as a fundamental statement, in part by his own Rasta beliefs, ‘This was created by the creator, it is spiritual, Jah created it for the motivation of the mind of man.’

The striking cover art for Legalize it, featured Peter smoking his chalice pipe in a marijuana plantation in the Jamaican countryside. The song and cover seemingly representing Peter Tosh the artist and the man. The great Jamaican music producer Bunny Lee who knew Tosh well during his career states, ‘Young people should think of Peter Tosh as a great revolutionary in music- and as a person.

bob-marley_mick-jaggar_peter-tosh

Bob Marley_Mick Jaggar and Peter Tosh

The talent displayed in the album, ‘Legalize It’ is astonishing with music encompassing a vast array of genres including, rock, soul, and reggae teamed with a distinct voice, combined with an ethos of political songs virtuous of Tosh yet there are exquisite outpourings within ballads of a philosophical nature. Such ballads are never simple, or filled with generic phrases, such as ‘I will love you, forever’ it is more an education of emotions.

Occasionally I fail to acknowledge Peter Tosh the human, as he seems so gigantic and mythical to a simple mortal as I. Yet on the track ‘Why must I cry’ his ever endearing honesty sums up the harsh realization of love at times,

‘I will never fall in love again,

Cause only my heart feels the pain, Feels the pain’

You can hear almost imagine with suprise how lonely Peter must have been whilst you sing along to the repeated phrase, ‘Why must I trod this lonely, lonely, road, Why must I carry this heavy, heavy, load?’

Equal Rights brought together Peter Tosh s dedications to the revolutionary movements growing in Africa, and the mysticism and wonders of his personal growth as a prophet, poet, preacher and world-class musical trailblazer. The album included a number of songs that became human rights anthems over the next two decades: Get Up, Stand Up, Downpressor Man, African, Apartheid, and the title tune. There were also intensely personal songs of his revelations as a Rasta: I Am That I Am and Jah Guide ; and the ultimate rude boy, proto-punk declaration of Stepping Razor

Peter Tosh (maxresdefault)Tosh’s enigmatic Talent attracted The Rolling Stones . The band made him the only signing to their record label and hoped to gain credibility from association with an uncompromising iconoclast. They released the album Wanted Dread & Alive. They took him on their stadium tour, introducing him to new audiences. Mick Jagger sung with him on a duet and gave him a hit (“Don’t Look Back. This wasn’t enough for Tosh. He accuses them of not promoting him properly.

He was so principled and their hedonistic rock’n’roll lifestyle didn’t interest him – he was genuinely revolutionary in his thoughts and ambitions for his music and he really did want to change the world with his songs even if it alienated him. As Tosh sang: “I’m like a steppin’ razor, don’t you watch my size, I’m dangerous!

Tosh’s third album, ‘Bush Doctor’ was a leap forward, in both production terms and showmanship as Tosh attempts to break through into the international market upon release on Rolling Stones record. Stand out tracks include, ‘Pick myself up’, ‘Soon come’ and ‘Stand firm’, as well as the mighty title track. It also featured Tosh’s duet with Mick Jagger, ‘Don’t look back’ and the biblical epic, ‘Creation’. Never on ‘Bush Doctor’ do you feel you are being ‘ranted at’ or emotions of complaint, such was the man’s talent but Tosh pulls no punches either

In 1987, months before his murder, Tosh created the album, ‘No Nuclear War. Posthumously, it won him a Grammy. The sounds were fresh and the lyrics as potent and poetic, as ever even after months in seclusion living the quiet life in rural Jamaica. ‘No Nuclear War is perhaps my favourite album from Tosh, as with retrospect, represents poetic irony in the never say die attitude, I am what I am attitude of the songs, and after all these years Peter continues combining his principles within his art.

The one love, One peace concert went down in history because Bob Marley called Manley and Seaga on stage and made them shake hands, in front of the television cameras. Tosh’s earlier, braver action was not televised because he ordered the ‘lickle pirates from America… wid dem camera and dem TV business’ to stop filming.

Today, Tosh’s legacy is gaining justice and its own equal rights around the world, amongst rock and rolls hall of fame and that of his former band mate, Bob Marley. Notably, Jamaica after long time distancing itself from Tosh seems cosy to the idea of laying claim to one of its most disobedient sons, as with a biography, a film, an annual symposium, and a birthday concert, the man born Winston, Hubert Mcintosh is finally receiving recognition. Last year, the governing People’s National Party, which Tosh supported awarded him Jamaica’s great honour, the Order of Merit, which was bestowed on Marley in the weeks before Bob’s death from cancer in 1981.

With the world still threatened by the outpourings of violent rhetoric, regarding Nuclear War and with equal rights being intensely questioned around the globe, most notably in Europe with the recent influx of immigrants from the middle east (amongst continents and countries), I feel that with what Peter Tosh championed through his Art and actions all them years ago we could create evermore harmony for everyone, standing by his pure and simple messages of justice, and equal rights.

 

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Storytelling is Crucial

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Making Pictures for A Living

Guenevere Schwien vividly remembers the exact moment she decided to become an artist. “I was in second grade, and a watercolor artist came to our classroom to give a demo,” she recalls. “After he showed us a few techniques, I thought, This is what you do as a grown-up? You make pictures for a living? I was like, yeah! Sign me up!” That was it. Her passion for painting has never waned.

Spontaneous Light pastel Guenevere Schwien

Spontaneous Light pastel Guenevere Schwien

The artist considers herself fortunate to have had parents and teachers who supported her dreams all along the way. Growing up, she attended a number of different schools where art education was important, and she was encouraged to explore painting, ceramics, and other media as well. “I really loved sculpture, but I always had this romantic notion of becoming a painter,” she admits, so when it came time to go to college, she decided to study painting at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

 

Tangent (distance) - website

Tangent (distance)

Guenevere was attracted to the school because the faculty were required to be practicing artists with work in galleries. She says she was heavily influenced by her instructors, one in particular. “One of my first mentors was Carolyn Meyer. She’s a landscape painter who inspired me so much that I wanted to emulate her.” For a time, Guenevere thought she was destined to be a landscape painter working in the alla prima method, which is the cornerstone of the school’s art education. “I was really into painting these rainy street scenes,” she says, starting to laugh. “I went through so many tubes of Ultramarine Blue. Tubes and tubes of it! My mother still calls it my blue period.” But in her last semester of the program, she met another artist who changed the course of her career.

During those last few months of school, Guenevere discovered motorcycle riding, a hobby she still enjoys to this day. “I got really into motorcycles, and I couldn’t stop obsessing about them,” she admits. “I was taking a class with Kevin Moore, and finally one day he said, ‘You talk about motorcycles all the time. When are you going to start painting them?’ It completely opened my eyes to something new. It was as if he had given me permission to think about painting something other than landscapes, something I was truly passionate about. And that’s when I became Motopainter.”

Modern Beauty 24x36 for WEbsite - Oil

Modern Beauty

For several years, Guenevere focused primarily on motorcycle art, creating paintings under the name Motopainter. She has explored other subjects as well, but recently she’s begun a new series involving lights, which she believes will be her signature subject matter offering a lifetime of possibilities. A spirit of fun, a love of color, and a dedication to showing movement are the threads that tie all of this work together. “I really dislike the term ‘still life,’” she states emphatically. “My paintings do not fit that description. Are we stuck with that term for life? If we are, I’m going to rebel against that as much as I can.”

Not only has Guenevere’s subject matter changed over time, her approach to painting has as well. And it all started with an exhibit at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. “I worked there during college,” Guenevere explains, “and I had the privilege of seeing a lot of great exhibitions. One of them was a Chuck Close retrospective, and I can still remember the first time I saw his huge black-and-white self-portrait. I was truly amazed—that was the sensation I felt, pure amazement. Since then, I have been striving to create paintings that have that kind of impact.” Guenevere says that’s when she fell in love with photorealism and started training herself to precisely render the illusion of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface.

9Ft Ducati with Artist

9Ft Ducati with Artist

While technical mastery is certainly an important component of her work, narrative and meaning are equally essential in creating the kind of impact she’s after. Oddly enough, her ability in this area has been enhanced by her practice of capturing her art-making process on video. Guenevere started shooting videos of her work in progress several years ago when she was commissioned to paint a six- by nine-foot painting for a motorcycle collector. “I knew this would be a rare opportunity,” she notes, “so I hired a videographer to document the occasion.” She enjoyed going back and reviewing the creation of that painting so much that she taught herself how to record her own videos of herself at work, which she now posts to her YouTube channel as often as she can. But only recently has she begun to appreciate the ways her video documentation has influenced her art. “Storytelling is crucial to making a good video, and I started to realize that you can do that in art,” she goes on to explain. “Even in painting, you can pare down the feelings and distill the story into a single image. So, in a way, shooting videos has shown me how to communicate an idea in one image.”

Guenevere Painting Lights Web

Guenevere Painting Lights

Perhaps this explains why Guenevere is so content working on the new series about lights. They are the perfect vehicle for both technique and expression, allowing her to make emotional statements through visual communication, which is the very thing she says she’s been striving for all these years. “These paintings represent a message I want to share with the world,” she notes. “To find the beauty in the tangled mess, to constantly look for that gold in the garbage, the light in the dark—that’s a huge life lesson that I’m still making a daily reality. So, my message is triumph over struggle, and I hope people find that kind of mystery and magic and joy in my work.”

Bringing hope and positivity to the world through art is no small thing. Turns out, there’s purpose, challenge, and a wealth of self-fulfillment in making pictures for a living.

Recently named the Grand Prize winner of the American Women Artists 2017 Spring Juried Exhibition, Guenevere Schwien is a member of the International Guild of Realism and is currently represented by the Carmel Art Association. To see more of the artist’s work, visit her website at www.gueneveres.com

 

Jennifer King

is a marketer, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. She currently provides art marketing services and coaching to visual artists through her company, Connect Artist Marketing. Learn more at www.connectartistmarketing.com.

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