Sunday, December 19, 2010

Larry’s YouTube videos disclaimer

After you watch my YouTube videos “Right Where Grandpa Parked It” and “Farm Kids” posted a couple of entries below this blog, YouTube will offer you a few suggestions of other videos you may want to watch.
    When the “Grandpa” video was finished, one viewer clicked on a suggested video immediately below, then complimented me on that one, too. I explained that it was not my production.
    I can’t take credit for the videos YouTube recommends, no matter how well done or informative. 
    Most of the recommendations to date have dealt with art, painting or something close. A few other offerings were not-so-genre-related. Hopefully none offend visitors to my blogspot.
    So, when you’ve finished watching “Right Where Grandpa Parked It” or “Farm Kids” and are invited to REPLAY — or to view another, you can always click replay.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Self portraits — ego or what?

Looking through our family photo album recently, I found very few pictures of myself because I was the one with the camera. Did Rembrandt van Rijn, Angelica Kauffmann, William Bouguereau and other notable artists maybe think: “Wait a doggone minute here, I’ve been painting everybody else ...” ? Did they practice new brush strokes on themselves, or, like a pencil mark on a doorframe, measure their growth every-so-often? Maybe a long lull between commissions? Was Rembrandt showing off his elaborate chapeau collection?
Larry at work
    Anyway, we’re glad they did take time to paint their likenesses. On the sensible side, with the absence of drug-store photo booths in way olden times, it seems the most practical way to record and display oneself for all eternity.
    On the ego side, when a painter commissions himself to paint his own likeness, he can pump up the asking price to bolster his sometimes sagging esteem.
    Or maybe it’s something as simple as when a painter makes his self-portrait he can pretend to have any watch he wants and he can choose his own shirt without helpful advice. He can pose himself at the wheel of the Titanic if that suits him. So maybe what you’re seeing is the real thing — the artist as he prefers to be seen.
    Do you have insight into self-portraits? Please let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Painting 'Right Where Grandpa Parked It'

'Right Where Grandpa Parked It' is a 'value added visual art' landscape painting with certain liberties taken. The canvas size is 24 x 48 inches. Most of the painting was derived from one of my 'en plein air' photos at Brothers, Ore., with the vintage truck relocated from its Idaho resting place. The bullet hole in the windshield was from yet another derelict hauler. Highway 20 was intentionally left out from in front of the white building, and a decrepit water tank was added atop the wooden struts.
    This one was really fun to paint. Join in the excitement by clicking on the YouTube video below. Hang on!

Painting 'Farm Kids'

'Farm Kids' is entered in the 2010 Gamblin Colors 'Torrit Grey' competition: . Torrit grey oil paint is described thusly: 
"Every spring, Gamblin Artists Colors collects a wealth of pigments from our Torit® Air Filtration system. We filter the air around the areas where we handle dry pigments so that our workers are not exposed to pigment dust. Rather than sending any of our high quality, expensive pigments into the landfill, Gamblin paint makers recycle them into 'Gamblin Torrit Grey'". 
    Farm Kids was underpainted with Gamblin's semi-transparent Zinc White, Torrit Grey and medium on 36 x 20 x 1/8 inch hardboard panel. The final painting was done with opaque Mars Black, Titanium White and Torrit Grey. 
    I'll be pleased if you watch this short video of how this greyscale painting was made!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What is it about galleries?

If I’d remained painting for the last forty-five years I might have earned a recognizable name in the art business by now. Three years ago in November I picked up painting after a forty-plus year hiatus. Still, I’m the new kid on the block despite my advanced age.
     Now that I feel I’m ready for gallery representation, no gallery reps have time to see my work. “I’m too busy to look right now.” I wonder if they realize how much really good stuff they miss because they’re too harried to stop and smell the varnish. So, my paintings remain in my car’s trunk like hostages in a really bad movie. “Try us next spring when we jury in new artists.” Do they realize they could be missing important sales between now and then?
     Then I’ll hear: “We can’t hang a new painter until we dismiss one. Maybe you should make greeting cards.”
     Over breakfast one Saturday, friend J. Steven Hunt, fellow painter and master clock artist (see  Steve / Right Brain Reader under Followers) encouraged me to start a blog. “It’s free,” he said. He had my attention. Now I can introduce my paintings through the convenience of your home computer.
     So, if you have questions, comments, or the uncontrollable desire to purchase the real thing for your home or office, please eMail me at: 
     What is it about galleries?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So, when is a painting finished?

Is the painting finished when the artist’s satisfied? Some fussy-types are never happy and just keep adding stuff ad infinitum. Illustrators may tell you it’s minutes before (or after) the deadline. Painters with the luxury of time will let the art set for a week or more, then decide. Others, when the patron says: “It’s perfect!”
     I’m not always sure, so I overcoat my oil paintings with a mixture of half Gamblin’s Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits and 50 percent Winsor & Newton Liquin Original medium. This produces a consistent sheen that remains paintable, just in case I want to change a little something later. When the final touches are completely dry, I’ll varnish the piece ... or not ... making sure to note whichever final coating on a stretcher bar or the backside of the panel.
     So, did I answer the question, when is a painting finished? Not to my satisfaction. Maybe you can help me out here. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The third reason I quit golf

The first two reasons I gave up golf are pretty much interchangeable: (1.) the guilt of frittering away more than half-a-day instead of doing something productive; then (2.) the money wasted on greens fees, the latest equipment, replacement golf balls and those logo shirts that are good for only a couple washings. 
     The third, and I suppose the real reason I quit clubbing the earth, was the realization that I’d never be good at golf. After lessons from a clubhouse pro, coaching by well-meaning friends along the course, and thumping hundreds of errant balls toward the practice range, I never broke a hundred. That’s not much of a legacy to leave my grandkids.
     I’d rather be a reasonably accomplished painter than a divot digger. For a lot less money than a good set of golfing tools, I bought an easel, canvases and oil paints. Now when I practice I can see and compare the improvement, and when done with a canvas, I’ve produced something to hang on a wall. Or give away. Or sell. Now there’s an idea! Make some money back.
     I’ll admit golf was better exercise than aerobic tube squeezing or high-impact brush pushing, and fresh air is better than mineral spirit fumes. But I still practice plein air (outdoor) photography as a source for my scenic paintings. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

God is in the details

I’m sure someone said: “God is in the details,” before you saw it here.
     That’s particularly true in landscape and people painting. All those branches on a tree. All those lines in the bark. All the crevices in a cliff. The character lines in a mature face. Hair. Leaves. Clouds. God does them all well.
     Since He made ’em, shouldn’t we then ask for help in painting them?
     “God, you do clouds better than me. Will you help me out here?” A simple summons, but I find it helpful. I take another, closer, look at clouds, then try to coax my brush into doing what I see. So if I have God’s help painting, why does that cloud (tree, face, monolith or whatever) not look as good as the ones He makes? Well, I’ll do the best I can this time, then better next time. God’s not finished with me yet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On teaching creativity

I hear over and over about teaching creativity to children. Can creativity be taught? I ask because it seems to have never been a problem for me. Just ask any of my grade school teachers.
     When you put a child into a room alone with a crayon, you’ll soon find out what creativity looks like. It’s most likely an abstraction — an outward expression of  what’s deep within that child (isn’t that how abstractionists describe it?).
     But it won’t be the Mona Lisa because that child has not yet learned what Leonardo had to learn getting to that point in his career.
     Wouldn’t we be better off teaching the basics of drawing, painting, clay mooshing, et al, and coach creativity as it develops naturally?

Welcome to my glob, Volume 1, Number 1. There could be erors.

I was told to write from what I know, and I know something about art, but certainly not everything I should about the subject. And that’s why I’m counting on feedback from friendly friends and (constructively) critical critics.

As a painter I favor realism with maybe a touch of humor — from others as well as myself. I believe we should paint to the best of our ability each time, and then build on that to become better — eventually achieving artist stature. Is randomly smearing paint on a canvas declaring: “It came from in here” (pointing to the heart area) the best use of God-given talent and resources?

I was not blessed into a wealthy family, nor folks that encouraged my art, nor did I have the talent to earn an art scholarship. What I learned was gleaned from art history books and studying the techniques of the Old Masters.

When I graduated from North Salem (Ore.) High School, I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was sent to electronics school where my classmates were already ham radio operators and already knew the color codes on resistors. That I knew the primary and secondary color wheel was of no consequence. In the little time off I had, I’d paint oil portraits of classmates’ girlfriends from a tiny photograph . I learned the tough lesson that if it did not look like their love interest, or better, I didn’t get paid. In the mix of subjects I painted portraits of a captain and a major. The Air Force then decided I’d make a better Illustrator than Missile Maintenance Technician, so I painted fighter jets in acrylics and prepared informational slide shows for the remainder of my commitment which concluded in South Korea. At the Base Exchange at Osan, Korea, cameras were duty-free and I had access to a darkroom, so I retired my paintbrushes for a time and pursued my new found interest in photography. I admired the crisp landscape work of Ansel Adams, struck up a postal correspondence with him, and in 1966 purchased one of his noted photos — Aspens, New Mexico.

After four years of military service, I worked for the State of Oregon Education Division as a Graphic Artist, the (Salem) Statesman-Journal newspaper advertising department as an ad designer, the Silverton Appeal-Tribune newspaper as Advertising Manager, State of Oregon Employment, again as a Graphic Designer, and a now defunct graphics firm in Salem before launching my own design, commercial photography, publication design, and humorous illustration studio in 1976. We pretty much have to do-it-all to stay in business in a town the size of Silverton, Oregon. April 2011 marks my 35th year as Kassell Concepts. I photograph, write, then design ads, brochures and booklets.

I enjoy humorous illustration (cartooning), because humor and caricatures often best drive home a point. Photography is especially rewarding because a photographer has to actually be present at the event to capture a photo, and sometimes that requires extensive travel. In forty-plus years of photography I’ve met so many interesting people and witnessed so many gorgeous sunsets that I can’t keep it inside. A photo in an album, attic, or still in a camera or computer is like the tree that falls in the forest and nobody hears. So, I choose to share my illustrations and photos — but like home movies, they’d better be interesting. I published two photo books of my hometown, Silverton Sampler (1972) and Silverton Sampler II (2003).

As much as I love photography, film and darkrooms have gone the way of tail fins on cars (remember 1957?), and digital photography and its editing programs have made practically everyone a photographer. In December, 2007 I bought some canvases, an easel, a few brushes and a selection of Gamblin oils and launched my third or fourth career. Now with our six kids out of the nest, and with my wife Julia’s blessing, I paint, paint, paint — whenever I find time — like when I was in the service more than forty years ago.

Favorite artists

Seriously. The best artist in history was Norman Rockwell. The best impressionist was Bernie Fuchs. My favorite living artist: James C. Christensen. Others, living and not-so-much, are Adolphe William Bougerau, Nelson Shanks, Jacob Collins ... all traditionalists.

The best artist in Silverton, Ore. is probably the lady who decorates cakes at Roth’s Fresh Markets.

What I’ve been up to

This painting is from a photograph taken many years ago of a friend posing with my wife Julia’s VW Beetle, Susie. “The Controlled Beetle Hunt of 1968” takes a humorous poke at Oregon’s SUV and pickup owners who see little foreign nuisances on the road as fair game. A brush-and-ink rendering of this painting will be featured in an upcoming book I’m working on. I’ll keep you updated.

The Controlled Beetle Hunt of 1968

The Controlled Beetle Hunt of 1968
Oil on canvas, 24 h x 24 w