Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week End With the Masters Full Report and Then Some

All the stars were there, Schmid, Lipking, Gerhartz, Gusik, Burdick, Munday, Christensen, Pinkham, Weistling, Graves, Frantzen, Anderson and a bunch of others I can't recall.  It was spiritually, artistically, socially, and funkally wonderful.  I came away with one great impression that will satisfy me forever:  I AM REALLY GOOD!

I had no business being there.  I know all of that stuff already.  I attended a three day thing with Ray Roberts last week and came away with the same feeling.  It's just that I have been isolated for so long that I thought it was time to crawl out of my kennel and see what the other dogs are doing.  O yes, I did learn a few tid bits like: 1. Use mongoose brushes for my figure work. 2. Use big words like chroma and tertiary to sound smart. 3. Never attend art events staged at expensive resorts. 4. Painting from life is OK, but not necessary for the massively experienced.  One can paint with knowledge from past experience, but that knowledge may be enhansed through life studies--a little bit. 5. Great painters are not necessarily great teachers. 6. Most art students are 60 years of age and above. 7.  More women than men are painting. 8. Photoshop is God's gift to representational oil painters. 9. Everybody is a formula painter--some formulas are better than others, however--improve yours! 10. The representational painting world is tiny, ingrown, and linked to a dead past and will probably stay that way. 11. Publishers, agents, suppliers, and galleries now need artists more than artists need them--at least good artists. 12. My economic future is secure--I just learned that one!  O yes, one more thing.  CW Munday has not quit smoking cigars, but his wife does not know it!

I spent most of my time schmoozing  Jeremy Lipking, Carolyn Anderson, Tony Pro, Alexy Steele, Rose Frantzen and the portrait painter from Atlanta, Thomas Nash.  They are all angels--humble, focused on their work, ready to share, and they know their stuff pretty good.

The workshop was divided between two venues--Laguna Art Center and the Laguna Cliffs Resort in Dana Point.  The Art Center was a great venue--the Resort was crap.  Expensive resorts are no place to stage these things--parking was expensive, drinks were exorbitantly costly (sneak in your own bottle), the lights failed (Weistling finished a domo with a flashlight), a pool side lounge cost $50.00, the in-house music, while great, was too damn loud,  and other things I have blocked out in frustration.

These events are no place to chew tobacco.  I was poorly dressed and had to carry my own spitoon.  I refused to wear my name tag and some attendees thought I was a pan handler.  After a scuffel with a security guard,  I was arrested by local police, cuffed,  and stuffed into the back seat of a cop car and  booked at the police station until Richard Schmid paid my bail--I will always respect him for that.

I invented this last thing,  but I did get your attention.  Richard Schmid does not know me and could care less.  I did get to shake his hand when he came to pick up his beautiful daughter at the bar, but he was understandably preoccupied.

Anyway,  I drove back to Napa up Highway One through Big Sur (I'll never do that again) and chewed the fat on my cell with Dan McCaw who set me straight on a few things.  Namely that representational art is tied to the past and that one would do well to watch what the Abstract Movement is offering.  Wisdom indeed.  Let's all paint from a place that is uniquely our own, not Sargent's, Sorolla's, or Zorn's.  My problem is that in these times I have lost my interior mojo, and now that I don't need much money, I have to search for a new motive--do you follow me?  I am married and don't need pretty girls (I am getting fit because I am afraid to die),  I am completely unfit for any spiritual ministry,  I am aging fast, and I am addicted to nicotene, sugar, and golf--I am all f....ed up!  All that's left is to crawl away and die.

That's all for now--happy painting!

Yaaaw right!  The next person who says to me "happy painting" can go to you know where.  "Happy living" is a false exortation as well--so is "have a nice day"--I just heard that one from a forclosure officer.  He was just being "nice".

In conclusion:  All seems well,  and I am really motivated to paint lights out.  The first big change for me will be to paint all of those subjects that I have wanted to paint over the years but avoided because I was uncertain if they would sell.  But there is one abiding question that I must answer before I can move forward--a question that has haunted me like a demon since the Weekend With the Masters--the question?  Is the plural of mongoose--mongeese or mongooses?  I will be paralyzed until sombody give me the answer!

Who loves ya?  See ya down the road.  Always, Don

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I could not wait to tell you this!  I discovered that field studies, those little on sight paintings you do to gather color notes for a big studio painting--these are a hugh waste of time for an experienced painter.  So is painting from the live model.  Here is what I do.  I copy my digital photograph onto my canvas using grids--then I paint the thing using the info on my flat sceen.  If I need color info--I just go to a copy of a master work by Sargent, Zorn, Sorolla, Levitan or one of their buddies that I have archived over the years in posters, books, or photos I shot at museums.  I then study their color harmonies, and import them into my painting! This really works, and don't tell me that you can't get EVERYTHING you need this way.  One can develop tremendous color knowledge this way.  This boloney that you have to study nature for the truth is dead wrong.  The great masters knew this.  Let me explain.

Chase once said to a student who was complaining: "...if I could only see it (nature), then,  I could paint it..."  Chase wisely replied:  "No!  If you can see what you paint, then you will solve your problems..."  THE TRUTH IS IN THE PAINT--NOT IN OBSERVATION OF NATURE!

Embedded in Chases'  reply is my point.  We are not copying nature.  We are putting what we know about painting on the canvas.  In other words--we are letting nature trigger our painting smarts so that we may display them on canvas.  Do you see the difference?  Experienced painters always use their little tricks, formulas, recipies, methods, templates that they have gathered over the years to explain what they want the viewer to see.  Nature is a POINT OF DEPARTURE--not the "truth"!  The truth is what you know and can put down on your canvas.  Great artists NEVER paint nature.  They instead spill out their experience on canvas to convice us of THEIR reality, to show us their skill, to capture our imagination, to take us on a journey to their goal.

I have always suspected this, but now I am convinced of it.  The reason contemporary artists can't approach the works of 100 years ago is that they spend their careers reinventing the wheel--in looking for little nuances that they think are out there under the open sky or in the arm pit of their studio model.  Sargent did not learn a damn thing after he left Duran. In forty years of work he really never surpassed El Jaleo or his graduation portrait of Duran--he just went about painting this and that using the certainties that he acquuired.  He got everything in Paris by 20 years of age and just went on to become rich and famous by flattering the elite.  The knowledge he needed had been systematized, codified, organized and served to him and his contemporaries on a platter by Duran.  He distingushed himself by his design sense, his ability to edit the form, and by great ideas and selection.  He was just smarter and loved the process more than the rest. Today we are misled by so called master teachers whose can't paint worth a lick and who are not the smartest people on the block.  So--we go from workshop to workshop seeking help knowing all the time that something is missing.

Publishers, galleries, gurus, agents, and wealthy artists exist today for sure--not because they are any good--but because of the proliferation of wealth throughout the culture and the robust economy that feeds the suckers--you and me!  The phrase: "..more bucks that brains.." applies here.  You may want to read Robert Hughs' essay "Art and Money" in his book "Nothing if Not Critical".

O yes painting from life is fun.  It helps some to add new tid bits to their lexicon of color for future use.  But what usually happens is that every difficult problem on the canvas is solved by some formula acquired from the past that is half assed.  Therefore the body of work we produce looks the same--repititions of past "successes".

OK--so what, Hatfield?  What's your point?  The point is what you make it.  If your work sucks--and we all know that it does if we are honest--then shift your paradigm.  Feed on the great legacy of paintings that is available to you.  Relax, think, put two and two together--read Henri, Hawthorne, McCaw, Loomis, Nicholaides--but most of all stare at great work.  Don't give me the "devirative" crap!  Our whole existence is derivative--what do you have that was not given to you by God through all of the means of His grace?

Don't stop painting from life, don't stop going to descent workshops.  But go about it critically.  Don't worship any of the cotemporary masters so-called--just understand that you are watching their tricks and formulas.  Develop your own sense of things based on your own great taste.  If you have no taste then join the club.  But what's to stop you and I from trusting our instincts and using our brains.  The same brains that have made us successful in other life endeavors--parenting, working, sports,  existing, loving in realms other than painting.  Don't go blank when it comes to oil painting--know that all of the answers are out there, or in here--knowledge has never been so available--so go get some.

How do ya like me now?  Who loves ya--Don

Hatfied on Recon

Last week it was three days with Ray Roberts.  This week end I am in Jeremy Lipking's one day workshop and will attend evening demos by Dan Gerharts and Lipking.  I am attending these events to rob their collector base, steal their ideas, knock off their successes, copy their technique, and to be a general pain in the ass--should be fun!

I will attempt to divert their attention from their work with dirty jokes, stupid questions, weird noises and by just being myself.  I was always a bad boy in my school days, and things haven't changed much in six decades. 

Questions I will be asking:  1.  How much has your net worth decreased in the last 18 months?
                                             2.  Are you looking around for other work?
                                             3.  Do you think I can make it as an artist?

I will report the answers to these and other questions.

I would give anything to be on this celebrity list, but I am thrilled to just breath the same air as these greats.  I plan to suck up to the vendors for free art supplies--I often steal paint, brushes, and all of the samples I can stuff in that bag they supply you.  Tom Lynch once got a Rolex from Raphael Art as a gift for endorsing their products.  Maybe I can get on a "free" list.  Its just that nobody remembers me.  O well.  Its kinda fun to creep around un-noticed.  I wear my dark glasses so that the security folks can't see what I am really staring at.

Who loves ya?  Don

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yo Wud Up? Back At It, But Can't Cut It!

This long overdue portrait was delivered this week.   I am finally caught up.  I am attending a Ray Roberts workshop this week in Bodega Bay.  I am looking to expand my plein air knowledge, and Ray is  experienced in plein air.  I have bad mouthed plein air painting in the past, but that is because I am full of crap--so there!  Next weekend I am attending the American Artist painting with the masters thing in Dana Point, Ca.  I want to see if Lipking, Gerhartz, Weistling et. al. know something that I don't already know--I will let you know what I found out that they knew before I knew that they did now.

I am going through a massive financial re-organization designed to free me from the mountain of debt that I have serviced for 20 years.  How I acheived this position is none of your damn business--unless you really want to know--but you must ask nicely--as Nicholson said to Cruz in a "Few Good Men".  In short--I got there the same way you did!  If you are not there yet--then you will be there soon. This is another way of saying that bankruptacy and forclosure are my bed fellows.  Yes I am a failure, I could not cut it, I am now stigmatized, a looser, can't even spell, I suck, I am cast out, thrown in the pile where all things end.  God--it feels soooo good!  Only in America!  Chapter 7 and forclosure are so sweet.  You should try them.  You will feel better--I promise.

It helps to be 64, on Social Security,  close to Medicare, and not giver a damn about your f....ing credit score.  After a year or so of study about the banking system in America, about credit card ethics, about government bailouts, about my out of control spending and self-indulgence--I decided it was time to act so........

I can make six figures at will so money is not the problem.  The problem is how I will handle all of this new found freedom from debt--this deliverance from the norms, morees, and aceptances that drive the American Dream.  Should I just play golf, watch TV and die?  I have always wanted to live on the streets--so this may be my chance.  Maybe I should pass out bibles in Iran--that's it!

OK, OK--I am OK!--OK?

What I do know is that many of you are in the same crapper.  So follow your leader as he goes green, goes local, goes organic, goes slim--as he paints masterpieces and gives them away--as he moons the system and tumbles into the sunset never to be seen or heard or thought of again by the collective.  Come on!  Who loves ya?  I'm back?  Ya missed me didn't ya?  Always, Don