A Life in Paint
, In today's post, I figured I'd do another installment of my Art 101 series. When I'm done with you, you'll be standing in a gallery, champagne in hand, feeling perfectly at ease discussing art with the experts and those who profess to be. Given that it's a weekend, and a long one at that, at least in Canada, we'll keep things relatively simple and light and explore some common art terms you may hear bandied about. Let's jump in:
1. Medium: You'll often hear something like, "what medium does Artist X use?" Really that's just a fancy schmancy work for "what stuff does the artist use to paint and what does he/she paint on. Basically, what kind of paint or other materials are used to create the work in question. So, for me, my "medium" is generally, acrylic (the paint) on stretched canvas (the thing the paint goes on. Other artists may use other things, such as oil, water colour, mixed media (which is exactly what it sounds like, a combination of things), and may place those things on canvas, like I do, or board, Masonite, paper, wood, etc. That's all the artist's medium.
2. Palette: This one has a double meaning. First, palette can refer to the thing an artist uses to hold and mix paint. Of course, when you happen to find yourself standing around a gallery, dressed in your finest, sipping that champagne and nibbling hors d'ouevres, it's doubtful anyone will be discussing what type of object an artist used to mix and hold paint because no one cares. Heck, I've used old plates and pieces of cardboard to mix and hold paint. If I'm desperate, I'll even use my painting table itself. If there is a discussion about palette, it's likely going to be the second meaning, which is just the selection of colours an artist has chosen to use in a given work or group of works. For example, think Picasso's Blue Period, so called because the paintings he created during that period of time (1901-1904) consisted mainly of shades of blue or bluish green.
3. Movement: Another word with a double meaning. Yeah, art has a few of them. Well, I never said this would be easy. Wait.... I guess I did, okay then. First movement can mean the style of art that a group of artists follow or use during a given time period. For example, romanticism or expressionism. Or, movement can refer to what the artist has done to create the illusion of motion in a given piece, it's just the use of lines, positioning of objects within the painting, brush strokes, colour, etc. to draw the viewer's eye in a certain direction to give the feeling of actual movement although nothing is actually moving. Here are a couple of examples:
In this piece, Country Afternoon, I've intentionally played with the size and placement of the fence to give the viewer the impression that they're taking a leisurely walk along a winding fence. Your eye is drawn along the fence and back toward the horizon.
In this piece, Lonely Reach, I've used brush strokes, colour and shadows to create the illusion of the motion of the sea. I've done a similar thing with the sky to create moving clouds. (Bonus quiz, what palette would you say I used here? If you guessed blue, you get an A+! ).
4. Texture: And finally we have texture, which really is just how the piece actually feels to the touch or, if it's something you can't or shouldn't touch, how it looks like it would feel.
Well, I think that's enough for now. It's time for me to get some breakfast. A hungry artist is a cranky artist and no one wants that.