Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas is all about the Presence

This original oil painting is in the traditional-realist style of Norman Rockwell who rendered many Christmas-themed covers for Saturday Evening Post magazine, calendars and advertisements.
    The charming subject in the center of it all is Granddaughter Brittany from a photo I took about twenty years ago.

Christmas Presence / oil on canvas / 28 h x 22 w
    With the faded glitter of a trimmed tree behind her, she realizes that the lasting joy is in the Presence of our Lord and Saviour whom Christmas Day is, after all, named for.
    Merry Christmas 2014.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Vicky's Mud Pie

I can’t recall how many years we’ve been lunching at Wildflower Grill along Highway 101 in Lincoln City, Ore. Our meals have always been excellent and Vicky, the owner, has always made time to visit with wife Julia, even at their busiest hours. 
    Vicky displays art on her restaurant walls, and a few years ago she began hanging some of my efforts. The themes were not always topical to the Oregon Coast, and people don’t usually go to restaurants to buy art, but we actually sold one of my comical seagulls to one of her patrons.
    Vicky makes what is probably the best mud pie ever ... just the right amount of mocha ice cream, Oreo crust and chocolate topped with whipped cream. I’d share mud pie at Wildflower Grill with Julia’s mom until she passed on. Now Julia and I share this treat whenever we can. It was only natural, then, that I paint my favorite dessert to display on the wall of her restaurant. After a year-and-a-half of hanging around Wildflower’s walls, the original Mud Pie is back in my studio ... a visual reminder great desserts past plus wonderful times of sharing.
Mud Pie / oil on canvas / 30 h x 20 w

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Art gallery receptions as inexpensive entertainment

Inacchronisms™ show at Psalm Visual Arts Gallery, Corban University

You get the invitations in the mail or e-mail and notices in the local newspaper: an individual or group of artists having a reception for their new showing. Usually there are refreshments and musical entertainment hosted by the gallery and/or artists. On a really good evening there will be several gallery receptions along an art walk. What a grand opportunity for a cheap date!
    Unlike a movie theater or play, patrons and browsers can shmooze with the “stars,” visit with friends, express thoughts on the art and enjoy the sights and sounds while sipping and noshing on-the-house.
    I encourage fine art critics, connoisseurs and (especially) consumers to patronize (that means buy something) artists and galleries. That’s what keeps this great opportunity doable!

Revisit Inacchronisms™:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hangin’ with Frank Lloyd Wright

Name dropping is helpful in self-promotion. 
    I will have several oil paintings hanging the entire month of August at the Gordon House, Oregon’s only Frank Lloyd Wright designed building in the Northwest open to the public. And it’s right here here in Silverton. 
    It’s a privilege to be hangin’ with Frank.
    Details are included on the poster below – along with my caricature of Frank Lloyd Wright standing in front of this unique Unisonian home.
    With the theme: ‘Wright Angles ... home is where the art is,’ paintings will include rural homesteads and barns as well as some cartoons and caricatures for the fun of it.
    Jazz entertainment will be provided by son Micah Kassell and his trio.
    I’d be pleased if you’ll attend the reception on August 9, or, watch this blog for a recap of the event.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Free rangers

Ah, the life of a free-range chicken. Freedom to walk about unfettered and able eat whatever and whenever at their barnyard buffet. When grazing for grain and grubs is iffy, supplemental feed is provided at regular intervals. And if rain threatens, they have access to a barn or other shelter. But freedom isn’t free. Their provider expects them to produce an egg-a-day – or they’re off the to chicken tender vendor.

Five Free Rangers / oil on canvas / 24 high x 48 inches wide
    This painting is the first in a series of free-range chicken pix. Why chickens? I just like to paint feathers, and chickens are a departure from the many seagulls I’ve rendered, plus they’re good neighbors who will wait patiently for my car to pass before they cross the road (unlike opossums).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Artists and their hats

My guess is that Rembrandt van Rijn wore a hat to keep his head warm during those cold 1600s days in The Netherlands – before “global warming” made us all comfortable. And it could be Mr. van Rijn chose floppy lids because baseball caps that proclaimed his favorite team were not yet in vogue. 
    West Bank painters in Paris chose berets to cover their heads. Imagine painters who struggled to paint differently yet elected to dress alike. Even today when the word artist is mentioned, most folks conjure an image of a person with a palette and a beret . I’m guessing that the wearers pulled the beret’s poofy part to one side so rain would drip in the direction of their choosing.
    Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh and Norman Rockwell portrayed themselves wearing hats and Angelica Kauffman often wore head coverings in her numerous self-portraits. Sofonisba Anguissola portraited herself sans head covering in her studio but wearing a flowered straw hat in a sunny outdoor setting. 
    These days painters can choose most any type of cap they wish and often select a distinctive, repeatable style to represent their public persona and then it becomes their trademark. I find far more men that women wear hats while painting indoors. Whether they’re to keep the cold out, paint off of, or good ideas in, hats and painters seem to have an affinity that is timeless.
    If you have a good artist and hat story, I’d love to see your comments here.

Self-portrait in Rembrandt garb. Oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches.

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