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  #481   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-23-2012, 06:06 PM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


Got your letter, Sonni, and lived every word of it.

You speak as an artist that I understand. Because I'm part of what you describe. In fact, I've not mentioned this before, but I have been on a sort of hiatus in my art. Taking a semi leave from my easel. Yes, I've been doing some works, but very few. Maybe getting in contact with "Harley." Trying to figure if he's worth knowing. I'll get back to you on that.

The "frustration" never ceases. I have many, many colleagues who say the same word. If we don't get frustrations once in a while, we're really not living; we'd be robots, not humans. For me, I've been digging into the complexities of life and discovering that I've not even touched the surface. But the joy is in the searching. And as I've said many times, for me there is no ultimate goal.

So, Sonni, you are doing better than you think from this observer's point of view. Carry on as the original person you are.

It seems we have other things in common. Like not quite understanding Rothko. Few do. And those who talk about him, each have their very own interpretations.......which is totally understandable. It couldn't be otherwise.

I have a certain affection for de Kooning's and Rauchenberg's works, as they carry me back to art college days when somehow I "got it." I did a portrait of de Kooning for my "Confessions" book as a kind of homage. Rauchenberg has a phenomenal sense of design that is his own. He could throw oddball things together and make them compelling to look at.

Mother Nature has it all over us. She can play with us with grand majesty or tickle our nerve ends just slightly. She makes the choices and we interpret what she might be up to.
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Old 04-24-2012, 12:10 PM
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Sonni Sonni is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....

Maybe, Harley, you are at one of those stages where you are reaching for "something more." I was going to say "branching out," but that seems superficial and doesn't really describe what I go through periodically or what I mean. It's a feeling that with a shift, it's possible to get beyond a barrier or a familiarity, or there's a crack where one can reassemble painting thoughts, and come up with something substantially different inside, like expression of a certain type of mood or space... For me it's like looking through a crack in a wall, with all this distracting "junk" flying about around me. But through that crack, I see something different, though I may not know what it is. The challenge is how to squeeze through the crack to get at it to find out without dragging the flotsam/jetsam with me. It's come to me that I need down periods (as in no activity) of reflection and solitude to figure out some of this stuff.

Who was it who said that what an artist needs is to be left mostly alone and thrown a hunk of meat once in awhile.

I know-- this sounds like art-babble speak....
--Hard critiques always welcome.
More stuff at http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
However you choose to paint, get it right in every necessary respect. That does not mean "tight" or detailed. [Richard Schmid]

Last edited by Sonni : 04-24-2012 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:30 AM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


I suppose I have an edginess in me that thrives on frustration. So I feed it.

Yes, solitude is blessed. But I think we often have to get our own meat.
Still, I'm visualizing your peering through that crack and the flotsam flying about. Something "Alice" might have observed.

I would give much to know just what Pollack and Rothko and de Kooning were thinking as they wandered about their studios. I mean what their thoughts really were and not what they wanted us to hear. Would there be a moment of that blank canvas "looking" at them and them looking back at it........thinking to themselves, "Will I be original?" "Am I being original or just copying myself again?" "Is this really me or is it what is expected of me?" "How can I erase from my mind that anyone will look at my work because the very thought of that steers my work in the wrong direction?"

Anyway, at this point in my life, I'm doing much introspection. Something I did plenty of way, way back in my youth. Good for me or bad, I might never know. Here's what happens: too much heavy thinking as opposed to letting thoughts freely flow in random order.

Just to simplify this up a bit, when I'm painting, my work progresses best when my thoughts are simple. Simple by looking at what I'm painting and letting my subconscious do the work. I cannot stress how pure those moments are. They are, in part, what I live for. A day of that and I can figuratively levitate.

What I've described is something I tried, and tried again to pass on to my students. But it doesn't come cheap. I needn't explain the "doesn't come cheap" part to those who've read my essays here.

Here's the irony: the difficult, "hard slogging," is the joyous part of art. It can be no other way.

So now, I might have resolved a few questions I've asked myself in the time I've written these words. And I thank you for listening in.

Last edited by makinart : 04-25-2012 at 03:34 AM.
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:35 AM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


We don't do art because we want to......

"Want" is a relatively meek word whe it comes to art. We do it because we Need to. When I was a kid I "wanted" to go to the movies; play hockey; a dish of ice cream. But art? Well the truth is I'd never have been able to go from day to day unless I could draw each day...... I mentally "needed" it. A lot of it.

Luckily the teachers caught on to my idiosyncrasies and gave me all the room I could handle. Yes, there were teachers in the 1950s that understood more of the human spirit than the usual academics. Many, many of them.

That powerful need can actually be acquired. And as I said in my previous essay, it doesn't come cheap. Best part is, it can start in a matter of a day!

There is so much more to us humans than we can even begin to comprehend. These are not fancy pep rally words. What I've witnessed in my lifetime is Epic. Or to put it another way, literally unbelievable.....like a fantasies. Oh, yet they do happen.

Last edited by makinart : 04-26-2012 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:09 AM
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Colorfur Critters Colorfur Critters is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....

I so understand doing art not as a want but a need. I create art because it is a part of me. I can't stop doing it, and I've always been that way.

It gives me a good feeling to know that others can acquire this need.

Thanks for posting Harley, please keep writing to us all.
- Lola (Leah)
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:03 PM
fritzie fritzie is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....

That powerful need can actually be acquired. And as I said in my previous essay, it doesn't come cheap. Best part is, it can start in a matter of a day!

Please do elaborate on it's starting in a day!
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:07 PM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


In truth, most things start on a fateful day.

But I shan't play with words and get right to it.

The only person with whom I have deep personal knowledge is myself. So if I repeat what many already know, please bear with me. I have insight and a history of what can happen in a day.

First, I quit drinking and smoking, and even cursing in one day. Possible?!
Not only possible but not as tough as one might think.........and for one reason and one reason only. I finally decided I was worth it. This "worth it" branched out to people around me. I was, (and am) worth it to them.

An ego trip? Not hardly. An individual has to realize she/he is more than a bundle of bones wrapped up in skin, filling space for a few decades. Each of us is here for a reason; something we may never FULLY realize.........but finding it, even in part should be our personal mission.

Back to me. Like most, I was happy just getting around, having variable days and happy not to make a mess of things. One day led to the next; one year went on to the next. My art was good enough to make a living. Let's remember, I never got a "job" other than doing art after art school.

With all the good times and family and friends and travel, crazy jubilation included, I still knew I was meant for more. Cleaning up was a major step; it
was the prelude to........(this is important).......what MIGHT happen down the road. Whatever it was going to be, I was ready to GRAB. GRAB BIG!

I was geared and ready and prepared for that "road." Where would it lead?

My art was developing; it was being shown. As time ensued, it was being exhibited in better venues. And then, through fortuitous circumstances, an individual saw one of my works at an accidental location.

This individual became a mentor. My first "lesson" happened one very specific day. He gave my art, (at my request,) a monumental, blockbuster critique that shattered me to the marrow. An electric shock treatment. And after I recouped, (It was staggering,) I came back for more of his 24 carat thoughts.

This one day made a difference in me regarding my art and my attitude. Let me put it this way, within the 24 hour period, I was a different and much better person and artist. The details, as you can imagine, are complex....but we're talking here about how a day will make a difference. There were more such days to come but it all started that one specific moment.

There are other days as meaningful. Not just because of luck.....right place at
right time. Things happen to all of us but we are the ones who make the difference. We set ourselves up; we continually "get ready, prepared."

It's like Clint Eastwood said about his career: "I was always working and prepared for the next big break."

My friend Howard Terpning just happened to be in the right studio at the right time one day when the big Hollywood agency wanted a poster for the film, THE GUNS OF NAVARONNE. It was a wild success and started his career as a prominent film poster artist: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, SOUND OF MUSIC, GONE WITH THE WIND, etc.

Our lives can turn for the better in One Day. I know many artists and am familiar with their "fateful days." Never on the cheap.....these days are earned but they'll be there waiting. Had I not had that encounter with my mentor/critic, something else would have come down the road.

Yes, I've bypassed some good opportunities. Some I regret, some my gut said NO! It is important to note that I never got special intros in the beginning. My history bears it out; I'm an average artist that pushed the talents I was given. A plus was my early naivety, not knowing when to quit, not listening to others
when they'd give me the razz.

Remember I said I was worth it! That's the corner stone. You are worth it; that must be deeply believed. And the Fateful Day(s) will come.

Last edited by makinart : 04-27-2012 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:34 AM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


To add to my previous thoughts: what's possible to learn in a day, under the right circumstances, can be quite amazing.

I've taught individuals to draw in one day. As some of you reading my essays know: light and shade with shapes. I'd make sure they'd never drawn before and have them sit down with pencil and paper. Then I'd hand them an atlas of the world and point to an island with an interesting shape. I'd tell them I want to see if they would do an exact copy of the island......with all the little peculiarities. Just like a history or geography class.

They'd do it; erasers allowed and a nice soft pencil.

I then went over the drawings of islands checking every mistake....no room for
errors; I want exact, not "artistic interpretation." I'm pushing their powers of observation to the limit. The Limit.

Next step was to find a high contrast photo, say of a human head. Look at those shapes made by shadows. Lay them down just like the islands....and put them in the right place. Don't look at the nose as a "nose" but draw the shadow shapes around it. And so on throughout the face.

I described it quickly here but you get the general idea. This would go on for
hours and under my watchful eyes. The results were not only phenomenal but even stunned the new "artists." They got a basic lesson to remember.

And a DAY to remember.

Last edited by makinart : 04-28-2012 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:07 PM
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....

I came here today harley just for your words. I am struggling--my finances are not good. there is a job ad in the paper, but I REALLY do not want to do this job. a gallery i'm in has suggested highly that I do several large pieces, as he does lots of business with corporate clients. in taking the 'normal, safe' job, I will not have time to do these large pieces, which aren't commissioned, only suggested.

my hubsand is crabby from this money problem we find ourselves in. the job would fix some of this. but I would be miserable. I have a seasonal job in the early winter, and even that makes my skin crawl. my art comes to a halt when that job is in full swing. but this job would also mean benefits, which is where our money troubles are stemming from.

I am just struggling with all of this. I think I may try to stick it out a bit longer, do those large pieces and see what happens.

A rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.
--- "Interview with God" (author unknown)

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Old 04-28-2012, 01:42 PM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....

THE DAY..... 3

I received a no holds bar lesson on the MUNSELL COLOR THEORY one day. It was brought to my attention many years ago by a wonderful person, Hal Reed.

In one FULL day I went over it and over it, trying some abstract sketches using its basics. At the end of the day........I got it! Meaning I understood it's roots and meaning and effect. Utilizing it in art works is something else and takes conscious effort. But it was and is crystal clear in principle.

Everyome reading these words can get the same results. But of course, as usual, I'm not insisting anyone do anything just because I think it is worthwhile. We all decide our personal journeys.

The Munsell is based on how colors are broken up from light: take the rainbow. The "compliment color" to a particular color is that color on the opposite side of the color wheel. In the Munsell wheel, there are five colors: red, yellow, green, blue, purple. (yes, I understand there is orange. It exists and is used but understanding this theory will straighten that out.)

The usual color wheel has three colors; we know them: red, yellow, blue.
The compliment color to red on that wheel is green, (actually a secondary color mixing blue and yellow.)

Well, on the Munsell Color Chart, the compliment to red is blue-green.......a
slightly cooler hue than green. Visually, that combination alone is what grabbed me from the start. Yes, blue-green complimenting red. I used it and it worked for me far better than the green. I know I'm simplifying this, but I want to relay to you a basic color combo that caught my attention.

From this I understood I was on the right track with other colors both strong and subtle.

The Munsell also talks about grays and "discords." There is an actual moveable cardboard Munsell color wheel which can be purchased. Google it.

It was a revelation to me. And like learning a language, in time you get comfortable with it and make it your own. You then take from it what you want.

Colorists are not those who lay wild and emotional colors onto a canvas or paper. That would include children who mostly grab and use colors randomly. Sure, they'll pop in a blue sky, maybe red; some of it might work but it's not a good approach to follow.

I've quoted him many times about color......Whistler said color is learned. Then when you understand it's dynamics, you gradually throw yourself into this poignant mix.

Last edited by makinart : 04-28-2012 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:14 PM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


There's not a person here who can't feel your total frustration, Chewie. Many of us have lived it.; we reach over to you with understanding.

(There's a reason that many parents get anxious when their kids decide they're going into the arts. Let's face it, 100% of doctors and lawyers are working.)

My good fortune in throwing myself into the art world, (right after college,) was that I was relatively simple minded and didn't really "get life"

Here's what I did to survive:

I was determined not to get a job. I had soon gotten married and asked my
wife not to work......I needed the pure challenge of getting money through my art with no help......period.

I started with jobs drawing and painting anything and everything for any price. And the prices were low. Remember, artists can eventually raise their prices but it is bad, bad, bad to lower them. Quite simply, there was no depth I wouldn't go to sell my art: Bathroom murals, portraits in restaurants, abstracts for furniture stores, (where the store owner would phone and dictate the colors for specific furniture sets.)

I totally ignored my colleagues and art community who condemned me for "selling my soul" to the "commercial world." Many of my fellow students got jobs rather than "prostitute" their art. (it didn't help most of them as the years went on.)

Although I didn't have a regular "job," I worked day and night. I was young and didn't need much sleep. Oh, yes, there were wild parties included.

I continually asked dealers what could I do; I needed money. Would they take large paintings? Small? What subjects? One of my first dealers was a frame

I wrote to art dealers all over Canada and U.S. with photos of my works. Got some response; some legitimate. I would once in a while sell outright, which was often 50% of retail value. But even then, I'd take whatever I could get.

That picture framer wrote me a check for $1000. In return I painted him 100 pastels. That was a fortune and I was thrilled. Think of it........I got $10 a pastel. Glad to do it.

And oh, (many of you know this,) I played jazz piano in a House of Ill Repute; 10PM 'till 3AM every night.

All this time, (I've only scratched the surface,) my eyes were open like saucers for breaks and opportunities. Those breaks and opportunities DO happen.

Chewie, here's to you and your good husband. I know how you feel and I trust your talent and determination. It will happen for you because you are fully aware of yourself and what you want in this world. Bravo!

Last edited by makinart : 04-28-2012 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:41 PM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


I suggest you all go over to PALETTE TALK and check out the area where it mentions my filming of Tom Hill doing a watercolor live. It's on DVD and can be bought at the Booth Museum in Cartersville. There aren't many left. It is absolutely worth the purchase. I just bought 4 more. Great memories from 30 years ago! Everyone will learn from it. Rare item.
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Old 04-30-2012, 01:37 PM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....

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Old 04-30-2012, 03:03 PM
LGHumphrey LGHumphrey is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....

We're going to miss you--hope to see you soon.
Lawrence Humphrey
Torrelles, Spain
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:17 PM
makinart makinart is offline
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Re: Harley Brown's eternal truths....


I've slowed down in the last few months just to collect my thoughts. Let the mind wander......watch the clouds drift by. Artists observe; artists ponder; artists paint. Artists ARE DIFFERENT.

We know the saying, "does a falling tree make a sound in a forest when no one is around to hear." The answer is no.

Here's another question, (and let's not get into Cubism where the artist sees objects and subjects from different perspectives.) The question is: What does the Statue of Liberty look like when no one is observing her. The answer is
that none can answer that question. Like trying to imagine in your mind what
a favorite room or isolated cabin in the woods looks like with no one there? Yes, we can "see" it from remembered angles, but without us being there how does it appear. That desk is still in the room, but what does it look like? how
about the chair in the corner.

Sound like a loony question? Not in my world where loony questions are welcomed. Hence the pondering. Our very senses that are connected to our "well travelled" minds are what make this world exist.....at least to each of us.

Is that cool stream of water coming down the side of Mount Shasta something of beauty, when no one is there to see it?

How about a disc playing Beethoven's 9th Symphony when there's not a
human around to hear it?

Most important by far is that each of us is different.......and when I say different, I mean monumentally. So the actual existence of OUR OWN world is totally unique to every ONE of us, through our VERY personal senses.

That makes you and me utterly special; very much one of a kind.

And to express what every ONE of us sees and hears and feels is a noble purpose.

Last edited by makinart : 05-24-2012 at 02:57 PM.
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