Thursday, May 16, 2013
One of the many interesting facets of painting commissioned portraits is the opportunity to illuminate a person's or pet's character, what matters most to one, one's most valued relationships. In the case of two recent portraits, I was given the chance to create pieces which featured much-beloved furry companions. In Joseph and Casey [above], Joseph Baxley hugs his little cat protectively (never have I seen such a bond between a man and a feline). Sassy [below] was painted for Jessica Garcia to commemorate the long life and personality of her dog; Sassy has always loved to stop and smell the flowers!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
If you find yourself in the Von Braun Center between now and July, be sure to have a look at the new selection of paintings on display at The Arts Council Gallery, including my own Art of Conversation [above] and First Cup [below]. Both pieces are currently available for purchase through the Huntsville Arts Council.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
My natural exuberance for color became a more intense subject of study many years ago when my Mom advised that I read books on color by German-born artist/educator Josef Albers and Swiss painter/theorist Johannes Itten. As I flipped through page after page of multi-hued squares and fascinating optical illusions, I was soon astounded to learn that the perception of any given color could completely change from one context to another, that there was more to color than merely finding aesthetically-pleasing combinations. It is no wonder that by the time I had begun to paint, I had grown enamoured with the abstract work of Wassily Kandinsky, and as part of a quest to develop my art, I had started to take in-depth notes on his writings and to find inspiration for color studies in his ideas about color. Since those early days in 2007, I have often set aside a week here or there to make new color studies to refresh my thoughts and my work. To some, abstract art may seem daunting, but I find that there is something liberating about the pursuit of pure color and form, expressions of pure ambiance and thought, that is as worthwhile as any other artistic approach. I began my first two spring color studies during the final week of March and had a series of four by the end of last week. Terra et Caelum [above, 18X24, $200] is the expression of the otherworldly colors of dusk, our poignant awareness of the universe as the sun sinks beneath the horizon. Greenway [below, 22X28, $300] is based on colors I observed by walking along my favorite creek recently, abstracted and reformed into a dreamscape of my imagining. . .
Friday, March 29, 2013
Spring Break offers me a week of neither teaching classes nor taking them, and therefore an excellent opportunity to prepare for events such as my May Art Sale and to reflect on projects, technique, history, directions, and color schemes. As I will soon begin a new portrait commission and today marks the 3-year anniversary of my blog, I decided to focus on color this week. After all, I embarked upon my artistic career with an intense love of color and motion-- so I often find that revisiting my earlier, more intuitive style of working, but forcing myself to seek out new color combinations or throw in a new element, gives me quite a bit of insight into my thought processes and goals. I also use color studies (see my Organic Compositions I-II, III-V, and VI-VII from 2011) to help keep my work fresh; after all, an artist can easily fall into certain patterns, choosing the same colors, the same ways of depicting things over time. While this may help forge a recognizable style, I believe that "having a style" does not have to mean producing work that is stale and repetitive. I planned four color studies for this week; two are complete, two are still in the works:
Color Study: "Technical" [above] was based on colors and forms that I saw while driving through town last week-- the metallic blue of a truck, the faded yellow of a utilities box, the red of bricks, and, because Huntsville, AL is so technology-oriented, thoughts of computers, aircraft, and spacecraft. I am very happy with the clean precision of it, the glowing yellows and subtle greens. It is a 16X20 water-based oil on Canvas.
Color Study: "Romantic Arabesques" [above] resembles my painting Spring in color, but is far more loose in style. I wanted it to evoke ruffles, roses, and all things feminine without resorting to being merely cute. I used my palette knife and glass bead gel medium to give texture and a free-spirited air to this 18X24 water-based oil on canvas.
With the final two pieces in the series [above], I would like to revisit the precision of the "Technical" study. . . I find that this precision is something I gravitate toward more and more in my work. Even so, my goal is that both pieces have a natural "outdoors" feel somehow. The painting on the left is to evoke the colors at dusk as viewed from my balcony, the painting on the right is to evoke the colors of an afternoon on the nearby Aldridge Creek Greenway with its blue rolling hills and myriad shades of green and violet in the spring. . .
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Being able to celebrate travel memories in a commission is not only an interesting challenge but a great pleasure, and my friend Liz Hisle of Lexington, KY recently gave me a perfect opportunity to do just that. While she was completing her college internship in Buenos Aires, she fell in love with the classic wooden cars of Linea A, the oldest line of the metro system. As I was reading about the history of the Buenos Aires Metro, I found that, sadly, the wooden cars were replaced earlier in 2013, making this painting a very nice commemoration indeed. I made sure to add a depiction of Liz herself, with her signature streak of pink/purple hair, sitting happily and contemplatively in the car.
As far as style is concerned, I wanted to express the warm, deep tone of the wooden interior, but also give Liz a color scheme that would be appropriate for her new apartment. Moreover, from what I have heard about Buenos Aires, anything short of brilliant colors would not be proper! Impressionism, with its multi-colored dabs and stripes of paint, seemed the best path to take. The result is a recognizable but vibrantly blue-and-violet piece that will hopefully bring Liz and add a joyful touch to Liz and her husband's home. It is a smaller piece, a 16X20 water-based oil on canvas, and once it is dry it will be ready for a trip of its own, to Kentucky!
Monday, March 18, 2013
Jerry Gilley and Jenn Nye are a fun-loving pair, and when Jerry requested a second commission for his home and gave me carte blanche to decide the subject matter, the vision for this piece came to mind immediately. It would continue the travel theme and rich colors of Roma, but this time it would include scenes of Venice and a portrait of Jenn dressed for a masquerade. From a personal standpoint, it would combine the type of abstract work with which I began my artistic career with my new forays into portraiture. I wanted to give Jerry and Jenn a piece filled with their interests, strong artistic symbolism to contemplate, and the allure and exuberance of a young beauty on her way to a party. It is, as always, an honor to be able to create a new addition to their home and art collection that they can enjoy for years to come.
Venetian Masquerade [above] is a 30X30 water-based oil on a thick gallery wrap canvas with the edges painted matte gold. From first sketch to finished painting, this piece took about six weeks to complete. Given the interest in Classical Studies that Jenn, Jerry, and I share, the piece has been signed "C. Wegman/SVV VIAPERSONA".
Monday, March 4, 2013
It is a most certain fact and I am not going to sugarcoat it. Many people I meet who want to buy original art for their homes or commission a portrait will inevitably back down because they are hesitant about the price tag. With many American families fearing the consequences of sequestration these days, this uncertainty has only heightened. Artwork may seem like a luxury, something only the very wealthy can ever hope to own. However, as a working artist, I have a few thoughts I would like to share on the matter.
1) Art is good for morale. Perhaps life is feeling a bit drab and dull. You need that extra spark of inspiration to brighten your day or remind you of your beliefs, interests, or at the very least how beautiful the world can be. To commemorate a special event, perhaps, or to bring good cheer to a special person. Art has always had the power to uplift and enlighten, and that is not a mere luxury. It is something worth spending money for.
2) Buying original art helps your local economy. Many artists are independent small business owners (for instance, Christina Wegman Fine Art is a sole proprietorship). Buying directly from them puts money back into your community to keep it booming.
3) This is a purchase that will give you joy for a lifetime. An original work of art, and perhaps especially a commission, is something very personal, a family treasure. Much like your professional wedding photos, a prized memento, or that cherry dresser that you inherited from your grandparents, it will stay with you and brighten your home for years to come.
4) Art makes an excellent gift. A painting can be quite a touching surprise, an incredibly meaningful expression of love and appreciation. Just take a look at the story behind my portrait of Eugene and Georgia Baxley, and you will see what I mean!
5) A commission may not be ready for months, or even a year, giving you plenty of time to finance the project wisely. It takes me about a week to a month to complete a painting; my 30X40 Von Braun portrait took three months. I have known artists who only do one piece per year, and others who complete a painting a day. Regardless, if you commission a piece, it may not be ready for a month or more, so there is typically no obligation to pay right now, this instant.
6) Many artists are willing to take payment in instalments. Those that are not used to taking instalments may even make an exception for you if it is really necessary. Some artists want half down at the start of a commission, but not always. Never feel hesitant to discuss your options with the artist.
7) Many artists actually price their work quite reasonably. I like to make it possible for people to buy my work. I am most certainly not the only artist who feels that way. While I must price my art so that I can make a living, and while those prices may rise occasionally, they still remain as accessible as a new suit or overcoat, with a 16X20 starting at $175.
8) You are investing in the beauty of your home or office. Just as you might buy vitamins, a certain brand of make-up or a flattering outfit to invest in yourself and look and feel your best, a work of original art is an investment in your home or office. A declaration that you not only want the best, but that you want the real thing. In a business setting, this can wind up being the difference between whether clients come back or not. Nobody enjoys walking into a cold office with bare walls or mass-produced prints. You will have a happier work space, and so will your colleagues and clients.
9) This technically makes you a job creator. And if an artist is able to continue and grow in his/her path, that painting you bought might wind up quite valuable! Art is not my hobby. I enjoy it thoroughly, but my vocation is my business, not my leisure activity, and should you contact me, I will act in a friendly, professional manner. By purchasing my work, you are helping me to continue it. You are saying that "artist" is a necessary and rightful career in society. You are investing in me and saying that my work is useful now and could appreciate in value later.
10) Fear should not hold you back from something you love. I believe that if we spend the next few years trembling in fear about the economy, many opportunities to create beauty and success will be avoided. Art can bring hope in a recession, can teach America a lot about respect, thrift, and creativity. That can create new jobs for everyone, and more important, that mythic "quality of life" that Americans supposedly care so much about. Why be so afraid? Yes, live within your means; no, do not feel forced to take my advice on the matter, but one way or another, if you want something, you can find a way to have it. If what you happen to want is art, you need not think that it is inaccessible. Enjoy this life and carpe diem!
Friday, February 8, 2013
When it comes to matters of style, it almost goes without saying that there are as many ways of working and ideas about style as there are artists. Some may seek a tried-and-true style to polish over the course of decades, others prefer constant experimentation, others still might try to cultivate an intuitive approach, and so on. I personally seek both a sense of continuity and steady growth, a balance between the two, so my goal is usually to try something new in each piece without sacrificing elements of older pieces that I found appealing. I like to think that a quick look through the archives of this blog shows pieces that are each different, yet fairly recognizable as my own.
Even so, upon completing Jupiter [above], a piece whose theme was decided through a poll on my Facebook page, I realized that my current stylistic directions had changed even more than I had thought. I was deliberately trying to recreate the feel of, say, my self-portrait from 2007, but I kept rebelling against myself. As Kandinsky once said, trying to resurrect a style that one has moved beyond is mere aping. . . so Jupiter took new turns with an unusual colour scheme, experiments with metallic paint and glass bead gel medium, and the end result is the piece above. Since I have become increasingly interested in painting imaginative portraits, the way I handle paint is evolving; strong, abstract geometry is still present, but it seems to be getting more precise, with smoothly blended values, and I seem to be more conscious of how clearly I am telling a story and setting a mood with every aspect of the composition. Attempting to revisit an older style with Jupiter has made it all the more clear to me that I have turned onto a new road in my art and that there are going to be many good surprises along the way. . .
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
From top to bottom, here are the three main stages in the development of a recent portrait. This piece was commissioned by my parents, and my mother (an artist herself) expressly stated that she wanted a painting of her eyes (which always have such a lovely, dreamy look in them). There is quite a difference between the second and third pictures; this is simply because in step two I found that I had focused too much on the mood of the eyes and not enough on the resemblance itself. . . with a little careful reworking, however, these eyes are quite unmistakably Mom's!
Friday, January 18, 2013
It is always a pleasure to do a painting for Jamie and Andy Hoffman, and given the three prior pieces they have commissioned from me (View from a Garching Window, Maple Ripples, and The Happy Turtle), I wanted their newest commission to look backward and forward simultaneously; in some ways it is thematically related to the other three pieces, with a nod to their love of nature, color preferences, and my history as an artist, but with a conscious sense of stylistic evolution too. That having been said, Winter Village, below, is inspired by a photo that I took in Athens, AL [above] when I was still in high school. I loved old towns and the fantastically gnarled trees of the American South as much then as I do now, though at the time my favored medium was photography, and I was often spending winter, summer, and spring, wandering around sleepy towns, tangled woods, stony creeks, and junk yards with a 35mm camera, fleeing the suburbs to experience the sense of "authenticity" and "romance" I found in the countryside. Many of the towns I visited were very quiet, sometimes even a bit lonely, but most were cosy places, and all seemed rich with shapes, textures, stories, and a interesting mix of overgrown nature, stately (even when small) older homes, and barns and storefronts and sheds in varying states of repair.
Recently, when driving back from a trip to Lexington, KY through Ardmore, TN with a friend who grew up there, we found ourselves discussing the charm of some of these places, and agreeing that a certain amount of weathering is an important part of it. (We were soon avidly discussing the way the Italians actually prefer to leave historical buildings and ruins in a state of disrepair for effect, of course. . .) I wanted the painting to blend man-made structures into nature in the way that some of my older pieces, such as Emerging Red or 417 Greenacres Drive, do, but with some of the softer brushwork of the much more recent Roma. Most importantly, I hope that the result will be a cheerful addition to Jamie and Andy's home and am honored to be able to add another piece to their collection!