Mâ€™s Notes 2nd Quarter 2012
My friend Jeff â€Ś Posted on April 14, 2012 by M Gallery of Fine Art SE
My friend Jeff Hargreaves and I have been hanging around each other on and off for over 30 years...which makes me feel incredibly lucky and incredibly OLD. We have shared businesses, watched our kids grow up, now share a love for paintings. Jeff and his dear wife Ruthie live in Appleton Wisconsin and their families farmed within 60 miles or so of where they now reside. When I first started in business I remember looking at Jeff's illustrations and aching with the sheer beauty of the way he handled lines, form and values. His drawing skills are superb. Now that he has four-plus decades of easel time under his belt, his sense of chroma, edges and just general paint handling have really come into their own and revealed Jeff's internal sense of solidarity and wonderment. I find great joy in his wry humor and profound respect all wrapped in one delightful human being. The paintings simply radiate his values and understanding. A simple bowl translates into comfort food; a lathe raises a barn, a glove not only protects a
hand, but allows firmness of grip and strength of heft. I love the accuracy through which he presents his objects as life lessons, as memories, as stories. I've shared a few of his paintings and corresponding stories below: there are more on our web site. If you can, come in the gallery and view them first hand. Although digital technology is a wonder it cannot capture the beauty found in the depths these paintings.
Artist's Statement: It’s about creating beauty! It’s about showcasing reality in a beautiful and eloquent way. It’s about paint, color, brushstrokes, economy, harmony, and atmosphere. It’s a lifelong pursuit. This collection of paintings ‘Workbenches’ is the result of an idea that I’ve been thinking about for several years. After my Dad past away, us boys split up his personal things. A lot of it was tools, all sorts of tools. Tools I remembering him using almost every weekend to keep the house running. Tools he would use to teach me things, to show me how to fix something. Why something would work and why it would not. Most of this stuff, these tools, he kept in the garage, that’s where he worked … that’s where his workbench was. The very first paintings were collections of my Dad’s tools. Tools I saw him use. But he had tools I never saw him use, not once, but there they were in his garage or stored away somewhere. Tools, that for my Dad, seemed to be out of place. Later, I found out they were from his Dad and his father-in-law. Things they had and used during their careers and that he had inherited. Figuring out why and how these things ended up where they did, taught me a little about all of them. Stuff I didn’t know but am glad for the connection. -Jeff Hargreaves
Handell’s Masterworks Posted on April 27, 2012 by M Gallery of Fine Art SE
Albert Handell, Within the Forest, Oil on Gesso Panel, 30"H x 24"W
“Wanted to share this exciting painting I recently completed of one of my favorite subjects…TREES!! Notice the beautiful variety of rich greens through-out the painting. I am delighted it has been slated to run for a forth-coming ad in FINE ART CONNOISSEUR publication by my Charleston gallery: THE M GALLERY OF FINE ART.” -Albert Handell
Albert Handell, Canyon, Pastel, 16"H x 20"W
My good friend Clayton Beck introduced me to Albert Handell, indicating he thought we would be a good fit for each other, and that we would enjoy each other immensely. Albert http://www.mgalleryoffineart.com/searchresults.php? artistId=12085 and his adorable love, Jeanine Christman http://www.jeaninechristman.com had stayed at our artist in residency facility at M Studio in Bird Key a little more than a year ago while Albert taught a workshop for some very lucky students.
Albert Handell, Over the Edge, Oil on Panel, 18"H x 24"W
He was kind enough to let us photograph + share the demonstration of this master work Canyon, shown in the slide show above. The entire week continued to be magic: Karen Cunningham capably orchestrated all things, facilitated the
comings + goings, food + beverage + reception of all involved. We found Albert + Jeanine some of our favorite guests ever and simply fell in love with Albert's work.
Albert Handell, In the Woods of South Carolina, Oil on Panel, 14"H x 22"W
We have six of his works hanging in the gallery on 11 Broad Street in Charleston right now, two pastels and four oils. Come see us at 11 Broad Street and take a look...Albert is promising us a November workshop and possible show in Charleston.
Channelling Gerome + Ingres Posted on May 8, 2012 by M Gallery of Fine Art SE
Picnic, Oil on Belgian Linen, 52"H x 26"W
Anthony Ackrill descends from a long lineage of painters trained at the Florence Academy. (M Gallery is fortunate enough to have a number of our painters who
have trained and taught there including: Ryan S Brown, Magda Almy, + Matthew Almy). Florence Academy painters can trace their direct heritage back via Daniel Graves, Richard Lack, Ives Gammel, William Paxton, Jean Leon Gerome, Paul DelaRoche, Antoine-Jean, Baron Gros, Jacques Louis David, Francois Boucher, Francois Lemoyne, Louis Galloche, to Louis De Buollogne (born in 1654 and to become the first painter to the king ofFrance)
Tree Lover, Oil on Belgian Linen, 44"H x 44"W
Ingres, David, Gros, and DelaRoche. This golden mean has traversed centuries: Sometimes barely hanging on by a thread, sometimes providing great structural help for its painters, sometimes stifling rigidity which spawned other movements such as Carolus-Duran's atelier (which trained John Singer Sargent). The Florence Academy and its descendants have shaped much of what is regarded as competence in the art world today. Anthony Ackrill reflects the training and inspiration to be found in that Academic Structure and builds upon it with great mastery.
I was with Anthony recently visiting his studio and picking up works for M gallery. Ackrill’s Studio residence is in Gainesville in a delightful old Florida neighborhood, replete with moss clad giant live oaks, bushes laden with Gardenias, laundry drying on the neighbor’s clothes line across the back fence. Kids bikes meandered down the street, a pick up truck rattled by, a metal swing creaked with a gentle rocking. I was charmed. His studio contains an expanse of north light which illuminated his gentle curlencircled face creating an aura of beatification. I fully expected wings to emerge from his shoulders as he rummaged around his quiet wooden labyrinth of storage, easels, stretchers, paints, books, studies, model stands, and frames. The works he extracted from the depths of the studio storage channeled Gerome + Ingres. Not as if they were historical reproductions, but rather remarkable advancements of the masters’ knowledge, catapulted into the here and now. The three works I selected: Picnic, The Tree Lover and Idyll are classic Ackrill; luminous, wise, whimsical, and sensual. They all depict life, death, sex, humor. Complete Zen Moments encased in canvas, pigment, and frame, these historically significant paintings are timeless, yet very contemporary. Come and see them. They are so very remarkable, so very contemporary, and so very ancient. More fun than one should be allowed to have in a lifetime.
Idyl, Oil on Belgian Linen, 21"H x 47"W
Painting DNA Posted on May 24, 2012
"A perfect technique in anything means that there has been no break in continuity between the conception and the act of performance,” Cecilia Beaux stated in an interview. Our newest painter, Lynn Sanguedolce reminded me of the aforementioned Beaux quote as I leafed through the files of sketches and studies that served as preparation for her award winning master work “Tom Poyner in the Studio” now on display at the Portrait Society Annual Conference in Philadelphia and headed to M Gallery after the conference ends.
Tom Poynor Study
Man with the Cat by Cecilia Beaux
Beaux’s painting “Man with the Cat” of Henry Sturgis Drinker painted in 1898 is an interesting precursor to the work by Sanguedolce. Beaux’s painting lineage is direct from Eakins to Gerome, where as Sanguedolce’s path (because she was born in 1959 not 1855) traverses from John Frederick Murray who studied under Riley who worked under George Bridgeman who studied with Gerome. Like the obviousness of red hair or a distinct dimple, the DNA strands of the Master Gerome rings loud and clear in Sanguedolce painting.
Lynn Sanguedolce, Tom Poynor in the Studio, Oil on Belgian Linen, 68"H x 50"W
The light, the sensitivity of rendering, the anatomy, the skin sheathing bone ever so gently rings so true to the origins of skill and competence. It is a delight and technically quite adroit. I find the continued advance in understanding materials, values, anatomy, and composition all present in this painting. Like the majority of our painters in the gallery the accumulation of knowledge from each master as he or she trains the next apprentice, who in turn becomes a master is revealed in the works. When you walk in the gallery you see works that in times past would only be viewed in major salon shows or museums. The contemporary proliferation and accumulation of knowledge allows us to access these living masters with ease. How thrilling that the thread was not lost in the dark days of mid last century and now flowers with such vigor. Lynnâ€™s painting lineage shown below illustrates the astounding qualities of this phenomenon. And if we understand the history pre Gerome it takes us as far back as Louis Buollogne the first painter to the King of France in the 1600s. Come to Charleston and visit M Gallery, see this wonderful painting for yourself. And of course, all the other great works we carry.
Southern Dreams Posted on May 31, 2012 by M Gallery of Fine Art SE
New Green, Pastel, H 19in x W 19in
by M. Stephen Doherty Denise LaRue Mahlke believes that being an artist is a calling that involves preserving, celebrating, and sharing in God’s creation. That’s one of the reasons she challenges herself to strive for excellence as a pastel painter and a teacher. I sincerely believe that being an artist is my God-given job and that I need to honor and glorify God in every painting I create and every class I teach,” says Texasartist Denise LaRue Mahlke. It’s clear from talking to the artist and viewing her paintings that her mission to serve God is a source of motivation and direction, and that the spiritual message implied in her paintings is subtle but clear. Titles such as Morning Promise and Morning Peace suggest a state of mind rather than a scriptural reference; and the absence of asphalt roads, buildings, automobiles, or people allows Mahlke to focus completely on the wonder of nature.
Summer Reverie, Pastel, H 24in x W 30in
Mahlke’s sense of having a calling challenges her to sharpen her skills, understanding, and dedication. “I have a responsibility to put forth my best efforts, and I remind myself there is always more to learn,” she says. “I’ve been blessed to study with some outstanding artists and to have the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with others.” Mahlke showed a very early interest in drawing, which her parents supported. By the age of 10, she was attending painting classes at a local community center. In high school, she gravitated back to drawing and largely monochromatic images. Mahlke’s ultimate move to pastel makes sense—it mixed her love of color with her familiarity with drawing. “I was more comfortable with a pencil in hand than a brush, so when I discovered pastels, it felt very natural to me, like an extension of what I already loved to do,” she says. “Looking back, I think the years of working in black and white helped me when I finally did return to color. But even after I felt secure enough to introduce color, I was more comfortable working in my home with pastels rather
than oils. It was later that I began working outdoors with both pastels and oil paints.”
Like many people whose time is limited because of family and professional obligations, Mahlke relied on the occasional three- or five-day workshop to expand the knowledge she gained from reading books and magazines. “I was fortunate that the Fredericksburg Artists’ School was within a reasonable driving distance from my home in Georgetown, Texas,” she explains. “I was able to study with some outstanding nationally known artists, such as Bob Rohm, Lorenzo Chavez, and Matt Smith. Later I won a scholarship to study at the Scottsdale Artists’ School, where I participated in workshops with Ned Mueller and T. Allen Lawson.” Mahlke made a decision about 10 years ago to focus on landscape painting, especially in the region near her home and in the Hill Country west o of Austin. “I love painting the landscape in a lot of different parts of the country— Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Utah—but my favorite place to paint is the area of Texas where I live,” she explains. “I am drawn to the quiet side of the landscape and gravitate to more tonal or intimate scenes in all location, but I love the subtle, grayed tones found in the Texas landscape.” Mahlke keeps two boxes of pastels, small sheets of sanded paper taped to Gator board, and her French easel ready so she can paint outside whenever possible. The smaller box is filled with hard pastels she uses for the initial block-in of shapes; and the larger box is packed with softer pastels manufactured by Unison, Winsor & Newton, Terry Ludwig, Schmincke, and Rembrandt. “I usually do several quick compositional sketches in graphite or charcoal to figure out what I want to include in the scene, where to place the horizon line, and how I will arrange the values; and then I select the sketch that seems to offer the best plan,” Malhke says. “Along with these small thumbnail sketches, I include my thoughts on the scene—what the weather is like, how I’m feeling at the time, the overall effect of the light. These written notes help clarify my vision for the painting and play an important role later in the studio. Then I try to capture my first impression of the location—the center of interest and overall composition that best captures my feeling about being at a particular location—in a quick reference study on small surfaces ranging from 6" x 8" to 9" x 12". As I begin blocking in the major shapes with hard pastel, I try to maintain a sense of immediacy and freshness. I limit myself to no more than an hour and a half onsite, and I strive for correct values and pleasantly arranged shapes of color.” Back in her studio, Mahlke sets up her easel so she can easily see her thumbnail sketches, the color study, her handwritten notes, and digital reference photos displayed on her computer monitor. She takes some time to evaluate these resources and consider how she might change or rearrange elements in her studio painting. With more time to develop the images in this controlled environment, the artist can start with an underpainting by dissolving the first layers of pastel
with mineral spirits, or by applying watercolor washes in complementary colors. When this underpainting is dry, Mahlke tackles the darks with hard pastel sticks, working her way toward medium values and finally lights in softer pastels. “I don’t necessarily work from hard pastels to soft on every painting I do,” she comments. “Sometimes, if the value and color is right but the stick happens to be a very soft pastel, I will apply it early on in a work, but I will use a very light touch so as not to fill the tooth of the paper too quickly.” Mahlke says if the underpainting is done well, sometimes all she needs to do is develop the focal point or center of interest, with the underpainting showing through in the rest of the piece. Other paintings may get 10 to 12 layers of pastel. “I like to drag a bristle brush through areas of my work to indicate more texture, or use the side of my little finger to soften an edge or blend a portion of the sky,” she adds.
Autumn Cypress, Pastel, H 12in x W 16in
The artist continues to develop an understanding of her color sense by studying art books and attending workshops. “I took a workshop with John Pototschnik in 2007, and he really helped me with selecting and mixing colors,” Mahlke says. “He worked with several different palettes of colors and always achieved the kind of clarity and clean color I wanted in my own work. He encouraged students to make color charts and practice using a number of different color combinations to achieve specific visual effects. All of that was very helpful to me. “I also took a 10day workshop in Maine with T. Allen Lawson, and he helped me understand the usefulness of working in different value ranges—high key, low contrast, and the like,” the artist continues. “Tim is so articulate, and he challenges students to consider new approaches to content, design, and color. I’ve remained in touch with him, and he is very generous in looking at my new paintings and offering suggestions.” The advice Mahlke received about compositional schemes persuaded her to consider different formats for her paintings other than the standard 9" x 12", 11" x 14", and 18" x 24". For example, her painting Moonrise uses a square format, and Summer Storm is one of several the artist painted in which the width is twice the height. “There’s nothing wrong with working on standard-size pieces of paper or
canvases, but sometimes it’s worth considering whether a landscape might be more interesting as a vertical rather than a horizontal, or if it were painted within a square or an elongated format,” the artist says. Mahlke tries to spend as much time as possible painting directly from nature and believes this is where we learn to see the value, color, and subtle nuances of nature that are not always expressed in photos. “You can then apply what you’ve discovered by observing nature, and use the photos as more of a jumping off point in creating a work and not slavishly copy them,” she says. “I really enjoy painting outdoors in the company of other artists, and I’ve joined a couple of plein air-painting groups and hooked up with friends who share my enthusiasm for outdoor painting,” she explains. “I don’t mind working by myself, but I like sharing the experience with other artists and getting their comments about my work. That’s why I joined a group that meets once a month for fellowship, an exchange of information and ideas, and critiques of one another’s latest work.” Although Mahlke has focused primarily on pastels, she has been studying oil painting and hopes to become equally skilled in handling that medium. “I’m attracted to the physical appearance of bold strokes of juicy oil color,” she says, “and as my skills and confidence level increase, I will exhibit more of them.” Her goal is to include a number of oil paintings along with her pastels in her upcoming two-person show at Whistle Pik Galleries, in Fredericksburg, Texas, this fall. M. Stephen Doherty is the editor-in-chief and publisher of American Artist.
Thunder Moon, Pastel, H 19in x W 19in
About the Artist Denise LaRue Mahlke There is a quiet thoughtfulness and passionate purpose to the work of artist D. LaRue Mahlke. Her paintings convey a sense of restfulness and peace that reflects the spiritual connection she feels for the landscape she loves. Denise believes that being an artist is a calling that involves preserving, celebrating, and sharing in Godâ€™s creation. This sense of having a God-given purpose, motivates her to paint from the heart and challenges her to continue to sharpen her skills, understanding, and dedication. Born in 1957, Mahlke is a native of Texas, currently living in Georgetown with her husband, Ray. She is a Signature member of the Pastel Society of America, and is also a member of Plein Air Austin and Central Texas Pastel Society. She is an invited artist to the prestigious Maynard Dixon Country show, which supports the Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts, and Artistic Horizons which benefits Arts Without Boundaries. Exhibits include: Artistic Horizons, PSA 'Pastels Only' show, National Arts Club; Maynard Dixon Country Invitational; The Russell and Master's in Miniature, C.M. Russell Museum; American Art in Miniature, Gilcrease Museum; Cowgirl Up! Desert Caballeros Western Museum; Phippen Museum 34th Annual Western Art Show. Recent honors and awards include First Place in Landscape in the Art Renewal Centerâ€™s International 2009/2010 ARC Salon, First in Pastels in the 34 Annual Phippen Museum Western Art Show, Best Small Pastel Award and the Milford Zornes Best Work on Paper Award at Maynard Dixon Country in 2003 and 2004. th
Her work has been featured in American Artist, American Art Collector, Pastel Journal, Plein Air Magazine, Southwest Art, and Western Art Collector.
Painting in the Hallowed Halls Posted on June 7, 2012
Karen Cunningham, M Gallery CFO recently attended M Gallery Artist Michelle Dunawayâ€™s workshop in Putney Vermont. What follows are her reflections and revelations from this fantastic experience.
So. Three days with Michelle Dunaway in Putney, Vt. Mecca for realistic painters, representational artists, and all those whose breath catches at the sight of their work. It's a wonderful workshop, portrait and figurative, with Michelle for 15 artists in a studio/barn in Putney, Vt. In reality, these are the hallowed halls where Richard Schmid paints, Nancy Guzik, Sherry McGraw, all their friends. For us they are icons, heroes. Entering this "barn" has the same effect on me as
entering a church, a little spiritual, a little historical, a great deal of awe. Michelle's wonderful and excited. In fact, she's not only an inspired painter with so many moving paintings, she's a gifted teacher. Our first day was filed with information and her first demonstration. She created a back nude working from our model, and as she explained flow, she looked for rhythms in the pose. In fact she told us that if the model's pose was not dynamic, to look for rhythms in the light or the connection between eyebrows and eyes or other structures. She of course immediately found rhythm in the pose, and created a beautiful piece. Our afternoon was spent on another back study of the same model in another pose, and it was impressive how much of her instruction we could incorporate.
Even in writing my notes about her instructions and thoughts, I find myself blending the experience of this beautiful location, rural Vermont, the local Putney Painters we are meeting, all of this, with art, the artist, our education. With each break, we wander around the studio, looking at the works on the walls, at the views from the back door, at the works in progress. There's so much to take in. Our fifteen students/painters have a great deal of experience and ideas and come from as far and wide as Alaska and Brazil. There's so much to share, from paintings, to the local fare in Putney and Brattleboro. Our first nightâ€™s supper was a little Irish pub with live Irish music. Our second night we dined in an eclectic pizza restaurant in Downtown Brattleboro.
Michelle with second model
Our second day of classes began with a portrait Michelle created of a beautiful young woman, beginning with her eyes. â€œSet an intention, for the day, for the paintingâ€? suggests Michelle. Dunaway always reminding us to look for the rhythmical quality, and some of us already seeing the change in our drawings, the emotion coming through. Michelle quoted Henri, saying the most important technique is the enthusiasm of the artist. That we had. Full of insight, Michelle talked about the hierarchy of elements, shadows, variation and dominance. She talked about her own process: collecting piles of photos and clipping out pieces of "stuff." She said she did this accumulating a tremendous mass of material, in order to look at it all together and determine what she was drawn to in things, pictures and works. She then revisited the idea of a flow, a rhythm and color notes.
Michelle's first study
She told us, "Don't do to details at the expense of the structure. You have to have the structure first. For Richard Schmid, every thing enhances the structure. Brushwork enhances the structure. " On Friday we were graced with a beautiful red haired, Irish portrait model who Michelle knew well. Her family has owned a local apple orchard just a few minutes away. We have Michelle’s portrait of her in the Gallery: Lara’s Legacy. My notes reflect the treasure trove of insightful ideas Michelle shared:
Rhythms, temperatures, mood, area of interest, not thinking details, but rhythm.
Wherever you can join shapes, wherever you can simply, anything you can simplify becomes more dynamic.
You may be painting what reminds you of a moment in your life, and a collector might buy it because it reminds them of something completely different. When you’re attentive to those things they will resonate with someone else.
Knowledge is important. Not just painting what you're seeing, but knowing what you're seeing.
90% of the expression is going to be found in the eyebrows. The corners of the mouth are the other 10%. And that makes people say: "Look at the eyes!" Paintings that are dynamic have a full range of light to dark.
How do you get over the fear of painting too darkly? You just have to feel the fear and do it anyway.
“Seek passion and patience in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will tear it down.” Maya Angelou
When you feel the fear, stop, that is the ego stepping in. Switch the fear to excitement.
When frustration sets in, learning stops. “Pay attention to what works and do those things again. Pay attention what doesn't work and don't do that again.” - Richard Schmid
"Talent is cheap; dedication is costly." - Michelangelo.
Good drawing is good painting.
-Karen Cunningham, M Gallery of Fine Art
“Life” Posted on June 14, 2012 by M Gallery of Fine Art SE
Christensen’s work was selected in June 2008 to be part of the prestigious permanent art collection for Grand Teton National Park at the Craig Thomas Visitors’ Center. Christensen’s work has been exhibited in many prestigious museums and shows throughout the country, such as National Academy of Western Art, Prix de West Invitational at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK, National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, WY, Denver Art Museum, Kimbal Museum, Salmagundi Club in New York, Autry Museum, Salon d’ Arts at the Colorado History Museum. Scott Christensen has been a recipient of many honors throughout his art career including Arts for the Parks competition in 1991; Northwest Rendezvous Juror’s Award of Merit in 1993 & 1994; Most Distinguished Alumni of Chadron State College 1997 and the Prix de West Award for his painting “Wind River Ice” in 2000. This painting as well as 61 others is reproduced in Christensen’s 140 page book published in 2000 titled The Art of Scott L. Christensen. He has taught workshops at Disney Animation Studios, Scottsdale Artists School, Fredericksburg Art School and the Fechin Institute and is published in Southwest Art, Art of the West, Wildlife Art, Images West, Persimmon Hill and American Artist.
Creating â€œSpilling Citrusâ€? Posted on June 22, 2012
I started my painting "Spilling Citrus" as I start most of my paintings. I setup the lemons, limes and bags so the light makes a nice pattern as it flows across their forms. (See photo below)
When I was happy with the setup, I started by drawing the outline of the composition on the same size paper as the linen I will be painting on. After working out the compositional drawing, I transfer it to my linen and started to paint over the linen with a simple palette of earth colors and blue. (See photo below)
For the second coat I go over the whole painting bringing the color closer to what I'm seeing. I deliberately do not try to finish or model anything in the second coat. I find if I do finish things too much in the second coat it makes it harder to want to come back and paint a third coat. I like the look of at least three coats of paint. So the second coat is just to bring the color closer to the real thing I'm painting and build the paint up. (See photo below)
After the second coat of paint, I go back and work on different parts of the painting one at a time bringing them to a high finish. I may end up doing two or three more coats after the second coat depending on the look I'm after. My goal is to have a highly finished beautiful painting while retaining a quality of some
brush work and painterly effects in some places. (See finished painting photos below) By Noah Layne
Spilling Citrus, Oil on Belgian Linen, 14"H x 30"W
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