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

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.

Someone mentioned James Turrell

Well, we both have full grey beards. And "It cost me two marriages and a relationship." So there's that. 
and I like the part he told about his grandmother. " 'Just wait. We’re going inside to greet the light.' And I liked that." he said. "This idea, to go inside to find that light within, literally as well as figuratively." 
He sounds part William Blake, part Buddha, part Stonehenge builder, part Egyptian pharoah, part Robert Smithson.
Where he looks up to the sky and wants to fly with his eyes and his feet planted firmly in the ground, I grapple with that rectangle of canvas before me. He puts in mind the universes peeled from the heavens on Monet's vast waterlily paintings. But there I am more comfortable with the work as a work of art on canvas. A painting instead of a thought or a physical experience. The image cast from the painter's eye to a rectangle hanging on a wall. 
Artists of the late 1960's and 70s wanted desperately to get out from beneath the yoke of art dealer and museum. Works of art and the theories behind them had chased in concept from Expressionism to Abstract to bold stroke to coagulated surface to simple geometries to flattened shapes to photographic reproduction, paint absorbed into the very fabric of the canvas surface. Thinking the way forward was a path of ever evolving innovation and coming up short for how to do that, painters began to explore shapes beyond the rectangle and places outside the studio, outside the gallery, and outside the museum. Landscape art was thought to be flim-flam unless the painter mechanized the process into a recording of emotion and personal involvement was moved to an outer ring in the experience while we gaped in astonishment at the mind numbing effort. And then these guys started digging in the dirt. With machinery. HEAVY earth-moving machinery. Modern day Druids. They wanted to go BIG. They wanted to remove their efforts from the world of sales. These were works backed by foundations and the audience restricted by accessibility. "Put it way out in the desert. Make them come to the mountain." So now, the mountain is not brought on canvas to the gallery and museum audience . . . No, now the audience must go to the mountain to experience the work.
With my painting, I create images simply. I bring it to you, put it in a gallery or museum which is a central gathering place for the audience. Out of respect for the innocent civilians in this culture war I show them life as it is lived. I try to bring it to them. Here shards of color coalesce into the witness of my eyes. A simple thing, like the written word on a page. It is the vocabulary of my light and my life that I invite you to come inside to greet.

At this moment

Let your mind follow your heart and let your heart follow your eye and let your brush record it all tenderly.

If ever I go to a figure drawing session and find myself thinking, "Oh man! This model doesn't know how to pose!" or, "Not a good look. We need better looking models." That's when I know that I'm not paying attention. When I start like that it will ALWAYS be a bad drawing day. So I make a point now of thinking always, "I'm gonna do the best I can with what I've got." I draw better that way and often find myself surprised by the result.

An Adult Test

These guys condemn those guys and those guys condemn these guys right back. Did I understand that right? So a lot of condemnation floating around these days, heh? I think acknowledging the wrong doing is completely appropriate. But a little (maybe a lot) of examining motives, values and sharing of personal experiences of all the people involved is more powerful than some abstract distant "condemnation".
I think those kids are going to feel the heat with all this publicity and I think that kid right in his face has got to be impressed by the patience, tenacity and personal pride of the older man. I certainly was. In fact, this confrontation put the strength of that old man's faith on display for all to witness. Courage and decency right there in front of those kids. They may never have witnessed an adult tested so. May never have experienced such rooted hope for the future. Possibly they found it frightening or maybe even that modern standby, "amazing!"

The desire to have everything correct

I understand the desire to have everything correct but I am reminded of a quote from Picasso. He was once confronted by a spectator who complained that the proportions were off on a female figure in his composition. 

She said, “Mr. Picasso, that woman’s arm is too long.” 
He replied, “That is not a woman madam; It is a painting.”


Response to comments on a Norman Rockwell painting where one is that a guys arm is too long and another said one figure has a cell phone in his pocket.
Oh lordy ! 
Item #1.)
From his dress, anyone back in the day would have recognized the guy on the left as a delivery man of some sort. Back in the day they would have kept track of their business in a pocket notebook like that. No one walked around with their wallet hanging out. 
Item #2.)
I'm checking profiles of those who respond to see who is likely to have some idea of what is what in a painting and I'm coming up short here. Block me. Delete me. Report me. I'm just tired of trying to have serious conversations that get clouded by "everybody's knowledge is equal to everyone else's knowledge." I know, I know. You've all got your own opinion. But you don't walk into a friends house and start complaining about the furniture. You either enjoy yourself or stay away. 
Item #3.) 
We should all learn to come to a work of art with an open mind. Try to find what IS there instead of what you don't like. It's good practice for being around other people too.

I know this will be drowned out by all the people running around in a form of hysteria but:
These "multiple friend requests" everyone gets are all fake. Just ignore them. I believe them to be an effort to destroy the credibility of the social network by seeding it with fake everything. Just stick with your friends and choose them wisely. Stop listening to the bots that try to get into every open seam of your life or soon you won't even trust your own mother.

You ask me why I paint?

Around 1980 my journal entry reads, 
“You ask me why I paint? 
Because that white canvas 
is the only void in my life 
I can fill.” 
It holds true today just as then.

When you stumble upon great poetry

A recent conversation about the work of a third person, another painter.

Am I so mistaken?

"The Other Guy" - Having now seen several such works by this artist all I see is incredible craftsmanship but absolutely no empathy. This painting lacks joy, celebration, or love. I am saddened that this is what the best and brightest have to offer back to the world for all that has been given to them. I must ask, who would buy this and hang in their living room?

Me - Ok, I'm growing weary of this kind of talk. I've seen it growing everywhere and it is mistaken. An artist has NO obligation to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. It is not his job to make you happy.

"The Other Guy" - Mistaken? From your point of view perhaps. Perhaps it is intolerance for opposing views that is mistaken. Would you rather that everyone just shut up when they don't agree with you?

Me - It is YOU sir who has a view opposing all that the arts puts before you. And I am not trying to shut ANYONE up. I am trying to teach you not to insist on pretty where there is none. Not to demand easy entertainment when you stumble upon great poetry.

To assume art is only pretty is foolish. Some art is ugly. Art should make us feel something, even if that something is lack. I would put forth that a great artist could create a piece that could create a emotional void in its viewer.
— Josh Duckett
The diplomacy of artist to artist is an important topic. Millard Sheets taught me how to deal with other artists graciously. I always praise my fellow artists no matter what my private opinion (only my wife knows!). Many have ego issues and insecurities. Some try to advance themselves by putting down on others. Those i try to avoid and take great care with if I can’t. The opinion of what the purpose of the artist is I think is important but there are as many answers as there are artists. to be arrogant in saying anyones view is the only correct one is not valid.
— John Hewitt

Castles in the Sand

Someone asked about the value of comments on the visual arts from people who have no or little training. Here is my reply:
"From the very beginning untrained peoples have had their say and their experience of the visual arts. By a small flame they looked upon images on the walls of a cave and if they did not speak, at least they thought about what they saw and imagined from it. Today is no different and we are the same as those ancients. We look at a work of visual art and imagine ourselves the hero of the hunt or cringe at memory of the last failed hunt. In other words, we place ourselves in the context of what we see and experience it as if the running waters of our own life. Untrained people will always have their say and their thoughts. Most do not have the specialized vocabulary to bear witness to what they feel and are left with, "Awesome" or, "Amazing". But I am convinced that their experience is genuine and true according to their lives. The arguments, discussions and stories follow about what happened in the hunt or in the studio or over the sofa and they continue what should or could have happened. These are nevertheless our audience. Some of our works will elevate this audience to a higher pitch or leave them grumbling disappointed --but works of visual art -like the tides -will always touch the shores and leave more, or take sand away."

a great and growing year

It has been my pleasure to contribute to the Invitational Marinscapes Landscape Exhibition for the second year in a row in this spring.

I’ve also been honored this fall to participate in the Baywood Artists, ONETAM landscape exhibition this fall.

I considered it a great honor to receive the commission to paint the posthumous portrait of my good friend Curt Hanson and wonderful landscape painter out of Connecticut and a long time friend of mine.

In January I spent time at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton sketching and taking photographs of United States Marines in training on amphibious assault vehicles.

I attended the Combat Art Symposium at the National Museum of the Marine Corps to give a presentation of my paintings in their permanent collection.

I am about to set off for a grand adventure of three weeks painting in the desert of Southern California for another enlarged project. More about that later.

And there’s talk of an exhibition coming up in January or February but no details yet, I don’t want to disturb the negotiations.

I’ve had sales, commission, exhibitions and just a grand old time working in my studio. Life is good.

Who am I to judge?

Charles — Still focus in the figures. 
Energy in the brushwork.
A rushing background
- history on the fly!

If I was going to be nit-picky, I'd say the composition is a little boxy. But what do we have but a rectangle to work with? Beyond that, the slant of mark making in the background pushing forward on the figures braced against it and shielded by that wall with the heart on it . . . that says it all, doesn't it?

I've never thought "This is right and this is wrong" is a good approach -- although probably I have crossed this line many times in my life. Instead, I describe what I see and try to find what that makes me think or feel. It's to the painter himself to decide, "Is it enough?" When they hear what I have described, they know the message has gotten through, or not. Who am I to judge?

Just the decision to do the work requires courage enough. We work in a language with paint that even we don't always understand.

Somehow you feel the necessity of it. The need to take this up and to put this down. To stop here and to carry it on there. How can this rage be expressed? This fear? This courage to stand against the current? How to express the inexpressible? Why to we feel it elegantly or crudely represented in our raw mark making?

Why is there always the hope that this watermelon seed spit from our lives will grow a thousand fold to reach a future and an audience we can neither see nor touch?

OK, I've got to stop, now I've got myself walking into a fog of silly stuff.