Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Write-Nice Compliment

Author Aidan himself
Grade-school grandson Aidan was asked to: “Describe a colorful member of your family or an older adult whom you know. Include details about appearance, activities, and attitudes that clearly show this person’s personality.”

My grandpa Larry is the most colorful person in my family.
    He’s really funny, but he tells really bad puns. My grandpa is an artist and a graphic designer. His pictures and paintings are supreme. My grandpa wears under overalls and long slacks with a touch of salt ’n’ pepper hair. My grandpa makes amazing birthdays for me. He, my grandpa, never ever ever gets mad. 
    I hope when I grow up I am just like my grandpa.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sometimes a photograph is best

Canon EOS 5D Mark II / 1/30 sec / f: 5.6 / 50 mm macro lens

A few years ago, forty-eight to be exact, I quit oil painting and took up photography. There was a long learning curve in those days before fully-automatic cameras and instant-gratification digital images that require no processing. Fortunately I had a few patient mentors who coached me through f-stops and ASA (now ISO), plus developing and printing quality photos.*

So when I returned to oil painting six years ago, I went through another learning curve ... one of transparent and opaque oil colors, fat-over-lean, mediums, quality canvas and then coating it all with varnish ... gloss or satin. Once again with patient mentors.

Not-so-long ago the oil painter snob in me declared that: “photography is for people who don’t / can’t paint.” It never seemed right that a photographer could capture in 1/30th-of-a-second what could take a realist painter days, weeks or months to delineate all the minute details.

I’ve stated before that I’m a realist painter and draw from photographs I’ve taken. When a March snow fell on our family’s favorite twisted Western White Oak tree I saw a photo-op for a reference image. The resulting digital file is actually a full-color photo of the white snow contrasting with the dark gray bark.

The best reason to paint from a photo (even Norman Rockwell did it!) is to make the resulting image better. I just couldn’t paint this grand old tree any better.

(*)  Read more about my day with Ansel Adams:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ansel Adams in the Zone

Ansel Adams in the Zone / 20 x 16 oil painting on canvas

I think Ansel Adams had a sense of humor. If not, why would he claim MAD was his favorite magazine?*

This oil painting of the master photographer is derived from a 1968 photographic head shot of Mister Adams I made in his home, imposed onto my posed body. His Hasselblad camera was drawn in since I no longer own one. “In the Zone” refers to his 10-step Zone System for evaluating, exposing and developing black-and-white film for optimum photographic prints. Zone V (five) is middle gray.

Black-and-white giclée prints of this painting can be ordered from Larry Kassell: kassell.concepts@gmail.com. A 14 h x 11 w image on a 20 x 16 inch background is $35.00 plus $6.00 postage (US currency). Or send your check to Larry Kassell / PO Box 859 / Silverton, OR 97381.

Thank you.

(*)  Read more about my day with Ansel Adams:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rusty Steelhead Attracted All Things Metal But Found This New in-Your-Face Magnetic Lure Unnerving

Rusty Steelhead / oil painting on canvas / 18 x36 inches

Rusty the Steelhead Trout attracted metal objects lying about the bottom of his stream and proudly wore the treasures for all to see. Then one day a clever fisherman devised a magnetic lure that would seek out steelhead. Rusty was taken aback that something so in-your-face threatening was on to him.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Other White House

The Other White House / oil on canvas / 24 h x 36 w

What is it about dilapidated barns and rusty trucks or tractors? You either love ’em or hate ’em. This iteration is a product of combining a photo of a neighbor’s abandoned homestead and a tractor photo taken miles away. I call it Value Added because you get two paintings in one.
    I think the attraction to derelict buildings and neglected vehicles is the memory of visiting grandparents’ farm and riding with grandfather on his tractor ... or the wish to have done so.
    This particular house was built before indoor plumbing, so a bathroom was added later on the back porch (center section) and then walled in. The chimney on the right was also added later.
    Why is it titled “The Other White House”? Some Very Important People lived here, too.
    Tell me your “grandmother’s home” story.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Angels among us

Well, for the most part they’re angels. When our small children and grandchildren give us more joy than grief we award them with wings and halos, even if imaginary.

Angel in Time-Out / 24 x 18 / oil on canvas

Angel in Black and White / 21 x 16 / oil on panel

Angel Trying On Make Up / 16 x 20 / oil on panel

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 http://larrykassell.com/about . 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