I keep trying

It's important to be able to recognize when I've done something good. Recognize it well enough to know the smart thing is to leave it alone rather than to continue with the "plan".

Response to a comment made a while ago critical of a beautiful painting

I said, “You don't go to someone's art looking for mistakes. You go to find what is good; what is enriching; what makes your life better for having seen it.
You know that expression, "It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools."? With art, we switch it around; It's a poor mind that sees only what's wrong and ignores the poetry of the visual statement.”

A landmark deep in the heart

Someone asked, “Does a well known landmark (Eiffel Tower - Golden Gate Bridge) diminish the artistic value of a painting?”

I replied: A good painting is a good painting. You see art through the lens of what life experience you brought with you. If your only experience is a cheap flirtation with the tourist industry, and you can't grow out of that . . . well . . . we just make paintings and like I said, a good painting is a good painting.

There are many kinds of landmarks and the most personal of them are never seen, but only experienced. These might be a recurring sensation of well being, or the physical experience of beauty, or the eye opening awareness that grows in the understanding of poetry in our lives.

“What makes that?” you ask, and I cannot tell you but I know it exists and feel it deep in my heart.

an artist who complains wealth dominates the community pushes and the arts out

I reply —When "extreme progressive artists, out-of-touch with our regional vibe," flourish along with extreme cost of rentals it's a sign these guys don't enjoy their place in life and feed the need to rise above by filling it with investment greed.

He says —doesn’t help the arts at all!

I reply —They don't look at it as something to be appreciated. It's an investment. They want their money to WORK for them. They want their money to appreciate.

He says —Yes, well, it’s very hard for the artists and general community to “enjoy” what they’re getting behind. I don’t think they even know that. You’re saying maybe they don’t even care?

I reply —I think they DO care. I bet if you go into the Walton's home, where they actually live, eat and sleep, you'll find paintings that are comforting to them. Paintings that DO celebrate your "regional vibe . . . tradition and natural beauty" Well, among the older generation at least. But when they have to find a place to park the big money, it's an investment. Where your paintings and mine might go from $1,000 to $5,000 in ten years, a Jasper Johns will go from $2.5 million to $30 million. In a sense, they are just being practical with their money. Once you lose sight of personal values and embrace marketplace economics on a global scale the little landscape in a nice frame on the wall in your bedroom won't give the boost you need to wake up in the morning. LOL . I feel sorry for them. I really do.

He says —makes sense, and I am privy to some knowledge that they appreciate landscapes and such. But still doesn’t explain why they only put educational foundation money behind progressive art, unless they are trying to grow their investment through endorsing their investment strategy. Money corrupts.

I reply —Teach them John. They won't know it until someone tells them. They won't know it until someone SHOWS them.

He says —hell ya!!

I reply —Just not with anger. You are a teacher here. This is your classroom. Be patient with your students. Be generous.

Why some and not others?

Georgia O’Keefe (?) said, “Collectors purchase art through their ears, not their eyes.”  In other words, they spend according to what they’ve been told, not what they can see with their own eyes.

One of my theories on "Why some and not others?" is this;  

Reputations are made during an artist's lifetime with sales and exhibitions generated by critical, editorial, and publicity writing.  

Reputations after death are supported by auctions, retrospectives, important collections, and perspective or generational writing on recent art history.  

The tendency to buoy up the value of inferior art continues as an attempt to protect the purchase price as an investment.  If you’ve paid half a million dollars for a painting you will continue to invest in anything that reinforces or augments that investment.

These chains of promotion are created not by the artist or the artwork alone but by support mechanisms inspired by prestige and/or profit.  They are strengthened by the enthusiasm with which they are pursued.   

In recent history, it could seem that almost everything is necessary in this equation except the artwork.  

To buck these trends requires a level of intelligence, perception, and confidence in personal choices that are beyond the reach of the popular crowd.

The truth is, not every painter, collector, or writer is such a storm chaser, nor wants to be.

A conversation with Sadie Jernigan Valerie

Sadie Jernigan Valeri. What if contemporary music were something only a small wealthy elite could afford to purchase? What if contemporary music was hard for middle-class, public-school educated people to understand or appreciate? What if contemporary music was only accessible by attending live concerts, where everyone dressed up and spoke in an elite code? What if recordings were an afterthought?

In the past visual art was as much a part of daily culture as music is today. Middle class people collected reproduction prints of paintings like they collect music recordings today. In the past all levels of society were able to enjoy art and discuss it, and most people could tell you their favorite artists and favorite artworks, and knew art history.

1.5 million people visited the Paris Salon exhibitions in the late 19th century. Today a blockbuster exhibition at the Met is lucky to get half that number... even though the population of New York is magnitudes higher than the population of Paris was in 1890.

Why did visual art not survive the 20th century the way music did?

John Deckert Compact digital cameras and smart phones, chrome and gadget laden Sport Utility Vehicles and large screen High Definition Televisions were the final nail in the coffin. Most people will have purchased half a dozen vehicles, a couple TVs and a couple smart phones before they're even aware that artists still paint on canvas.  But why do you say "visual art did not survive . . ." I see more now than I ever did. Of course, I'm looking for it, so . . .

John Deckert sorry, I edited my comment to ask why you think this. I don't agree. Surely the art has changed. My son for example, has posters from Miasake films in his apartment and on a recent tour of my studio he was caught between, "I don't want any of this stuff. What would I do with it?" and, "OMG, Dad. Don't throw anything away! This is your art!" and of course, at 71 years, I'm ready to die any old day now . . . LOL

John Deckert my house is stuffed with handmade paintings. And by the way, I combat the "squashed it" culture by being a little generous with my work. Of course, thanks to my dear wife, I am able to do this. However, artists of recent vintage have been clinging to precious canvases hoping to strike it rich. Or they've gone digital where they can give the image without losing any object. When I go into a restaurant, I take a quick snapshot of the server and either by the end of the meal or next I return to the restaurant I give them the drawing, inkwash, watercolor or whatever came from it. I consider myself an AMBASSADOR of the fine art of painting. I want people to have it and many who get this gift are astonished as if I'd given them a pot of gold.

John Deckert student choir from my college in Texas came to California on a fundraising tour. I ain't got no money, but I DO KNOW that they need art. So I took a few photos and gave them this.

John Deckert A friend got married. Then had a baby. I gave them a little painting along with my best and fondest wishes. That's what painters used to do, long ago, back in the 19th century when the work wasn't so desperately precious.

John Deckert back in the 70s in New York City an artist without a selling gallery was looked on as being some sort of a misfit. When I went to Paris for a year, people thought, "Oh, you're an artist. That's interesting." and I felt better for it. And the funny thing is that when I accidentally encountered an American friend from New York, I rushed over to say hello and ask how he was doing and he couldn't get away from me fast enough. So I think it may be a cultural thing. Possibly reaching all the way back to the Puritans.

Sadie Jernigan Valeri Very true. When I lived in Paris I was surprised by the approving looks I got from Parisians when I told them I was an art student, versus the reaction I got from adults in the US. In Paris they'd widen their eyes and smile with approval as if I'd said I was a student at Harvard. It was heartwarming to feel the support if the general population.

In France all school kids were taught to draw just like they were taught a musical instrument. They were taught about art history as part of their cultural heritage. At least in the 20th c, no idea about French education now. But considering how highly the french value their culture, I don't imagine it's changed a lot.

John Deckert Sadie -- you are an extraordinary artist with a unique vision. I can't imagine you ever giving up those skills and that vision. I regret that I was never able to visit your atelier or take one of the classes. But I am certain that I will see your work in the future. I hereby appoint you an OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR of the FINE ART of PAINTING. Spread good will as you can. Forget long term goals with your collectors, focus on the person sitting next to you. Put them in your sketchbook. Even that is considered a wonderful gift to people who may never have set foot in a gallery or museum. Be well. Flourish. Don't wait for people to realize they should buy something. Just do it anyway. Because you want to. Because you have to. Because you must.

To a painter; a talented and generous figure painter.

I'll guess you mean to vacation from Facebook. If so, many will miss this small shared view of your immense talent. I certainly have enjoyed the work you post and your generous spirit in sharing it. I can't afford a model to work from but I do love the form which has always been the great challenge for artists. You rose to it impressively. I can imagine your classes benefit even more from the display and knowledge. I'm not in New York but I'll continue to follow your work at http://www.jerrynweiss.com/ Bon voyage sir. You'll leave behind many admirers of your beautiful work.

the evidence before your eyes

Ha Ha! You call it "totally predictable responses" . I think it was meant to be predictable. It's like when you have a glass of wine. You're SUPPOSED to have a pleasant little buzz. You go into the forest; you're supposed to see a variety of greens and hear the wind shushing. You go to a yoga retreat; everyone is calm. You can see it and feel it. Our response to this painting of two pensive, thoughtful women is literally a result of the evidence before our eyes.

everybody wants to pat the dog on the head

Another artist recommends avoiding "good job?" when talking about artwork. “You have to think about it”, he says. “(don’t say) something you wouldn’t utter while patting a dog on the head.”

And I replied “Sometimes you want to just toss out a little encouragement and not spend a half hour trying to figure out a way to describe the effect of lattice of darks in a composition or heightened sensitivity to flowing line quality. You want to accomplish this without finally resorting to the easy astonishment; "Amazing!" 
Sometimes, they've presented a skilled, workmanlike solution on canvas and you just want them to know that they are not forgotten.”

its growth and its continued nourishment

A person online said,
“people in the Art trade historically haven’t been honest anywhere.”

And I replied,
”I'm sorry this has been your experience. I’ve had friends for many years in the "art world" who are scrupulously honest and many who are interesting and intelligent people that care deeply about the culture, its growth, and its continued nourishment.”

a small gesture

On November 14, 2005, Michael Fay photographed two young Marines 
standing guard in Iraq.  Two days later, one of those brave Marines, 
Lance Corporal Roger Deeds, was killed in action.  
With permission from Michael Fay and Charles Grow, I used that photograph 
as the basis for a painting for the National Museum of the Marine Corps.  
The painting is now in the permanent collection.  
Lance Corporal Deeds’ mother saw an image of my painting 
and contacted Michael Fay about how to get a copy.  
Michael sent her inquiry to me and I arranged to have a copy made 
for her by Rudinec and Associates Printers, the company that produces prints 
for the Museum.  
When I shared the story with them, 
they graciously offered to add a frame to the print.  
In this way, Michael Fay, Rudinec Printers, and I 
have all combined our expressions of gratitude 
to gift Mrs. Deeds with an image of her son 
and his service to our country.  
It is an admittedly small gesture, but it is deeply felt.

Semper Fidelis,

John D

You never know

I think you'll never know the depth of students you've reached. You have the art stars that are obvious, the ones who respond well to instruction. For others success may not be so apparent. Someone's got a mind so full of questions they don't know what to ask. Someone's inner anger draws them up short because they can't do the magic you can, "Just like that!" Someone who pretends it ain't important. And then when you and I are long gone an idea drifts along in the current of their thoughts and catches in an eddy, "I remember this guy, he was a teacher and he could draw ANYTHING." and they start playing around with new focus and renewed ambition. Teachers lead you to skills and grade your abilities but they do something more. Much more. They point to unexplored territories and give students the courage to step forward. This will kick in for some kids there in the class. For others it may take years but they'll remember your face and think, "Yeah, Mr. Poole, he showed me how and now I'm ready." 
I was a substitute teacher at a middle school and asked the kids to show me their work. I saw a lot of coloring between the lines and harmonious color work, and cars and planes and horses and then one kid acted like his art was never up on the board of display, had never been chosen best in class. He acted like it didn't matter anyway and said, "It's no good . . . but if you want it anyway, here." And he handed me a crumpled paper which had a torrent of scribbles and jammed marks on it. And the other kids chuckled, thinking, "Mr. Deckert's going to laugh." But I was amazed. It was the only thing in the class that made me think, "He's been told all along his art is no good but this paper and its scribbles are full of living energy -- too much to be contained by a pencil and paper in the hands of a boy who can barely sit still. This is the one kid who really feels it and this is an amazing and beautiful description of what he feels." And then the bell rang.

Marc -- you are exactly the kind of teacher the art world needs right now. Your love of the work and your knowledge and enthusiasm for sharing it is a wonderful melody in the noise of traffic and honking of horns that surround us.

A brilliant figurative painter argues that his is the only true figurative art

And my response:
”You put the link to an article about Nazis packing Madison Square Garden between your two posts about the only true strain of figurative art being that which you profess and all other forms of figurative art having a bad aesthetic "smell". That's an unfortunate bracket for your argument and makes me wonder what you would do with the rest of us. Now I think you have done some fine figurative work but I want to remind you that the art world has seen many of these arguments come and go and it never fails to surprise me when I hear some version of

"Me and all my friends are SUPERIOR to you and all your friends!"

It could have been the Impressionists against the Academicians; the Cubist v. Impressionists; Expressionists v. Photo Realists; Conceptualist v. Minimalists; Naive v. Atelier Schooled.

Steve -- Will you proclaim the necessity of a WALL to be built around the museums and galleries to keep the stinking common artists out?

I don't think so . . . or I hope not. So relax. Enjoy the virtues of the beautiful work you do and the privilege you have of working from paid live models in a nice studio with paying students. Not everyone is so fortunate. “

Monet: the Late Years

at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco

Monet, the old man, mad about painting.

Monet, the old man, mad about painting.

What a ferocious appetite

What a ferocious appetite

the primal urge to mash color with a brush

the primal urge to mash color with a brush

He used very fine linen on large paintings

He used very fine linen on large paintings

time traveller at the end of 2

time traveller at the end of 2

I love to see how paintings will sometimes animate the audience. These shapes, these colors, this darkness and light; Your eyes open to them and in a brief moment they become living thoughts flitting about in your present and your memory.

I love to see how paintings will sometimes animate the audience. These shapes, these colors, this darkness and light; Your eyes open to them and in a brief moment they become living thoughts flitting about in your present and your memory.

Anne took this brilliant photograph

Anne took this brilliant photograph

California Art Club 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition

California Art Club to Present 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition at the Former Location of the Pasadena Museum of California Art

This Extensive Display of Representational Fine Art will be the Final Exhibition at the Venue Devoted to California Art and Design from 2002 to 2018

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Art Club (CAC) will present its 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition, one of the most anticipated displays of contemporary-traditional fine art, at the former location of the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) from March 3 to 29, 2019.

The event will spotlight nearly 300 works, ranging from pristine landscapes and seascapes to evocative figures and still life, which pay tribute to the California Impressionist movement that was inspired by the pioneering artists who founded the organization along the banks of the Arroyo Seco in 1909.

The 204 exhibiting artists include nationally renowned painters and sculptors, as well as up-and-coming artists, who employ time-honored techniques to create works that provide commentaries on issues facing society, including environmentalism and diversity. Among the participating artists are painters Peter Adams, Warren Chang, John Cosby, Eric Merrell, Michael Obermeyer, Scott W. Prior, Mian Situ, and William Stout, as well as sculptors Adam Matano and Christopher Slatoff.

"The California Art Club is thrilled to return to Pasadena, near our birthplace, to present the 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition," says CAC president Peter Adams. "It is an honor that our signature event will be the last exhibition at the venue that once housed the Pasadena Museum of California Art – our partner in presenting eight Gold Medal Exhibitions from 2003 to 2011," he adds.

Founded in 2002 to showcase art and design that originated in the Golden State, PMCA closed in October 2018.

Because the organization's mission includes fostering a greater understanding for traditional art, the Club will present a series of Gold Medal educational programs. These activities include the Opening Day Tour on March 3 with Jean Stern, the foremost authority on California Impressionism; the "Forgotten Masters" lecture on March 16 with Dr. Micah Christensen; and the "Meet the Artists" events, during which artists will share insights about the works on view. There is no charge for these programs and admission is free. The venue is located at 490 East Union Street in Pasadena.

The presenting sponsor of the exhibition is Majestic Realty Company. For more information, visit californiaartclub.org.

SOURCE California Art Club


To a painting by Titian someone left harsh criticism

If I am at the easel thinking on a painting of my own, I bring the force of criticism to bear on the work. When I leave my own studio I try to remember that there is nothing so complete and perfect as my dreams or imagination. When I go to a friend's studio I celebrate the wonders on display and forgive the stain on the carpet.

Six years of hard work has left them wondering

Was it worth it? Think back to when you were 24 years old or whenever it was you’d been studying and painting seriously. Doing the best you could. Looking back on that time from today . . . Would you say six years is a really long time to have kept at it?

You can consider yourself a stark raving, screaming success in the business of art if you can do no more than just keep painting.