March 5, 2014
Posted by Mark Adams at 9:48 PM
February 11, 2014
This is not going to be a hands-on lesson in proper framing technique. The framing of artwork is a highly personal thing. Some artists like minimal containment and some take a more over-the-top approach. I fall into the later group. I am what you might call a frame fetishist.
I have lived in the Baltimore metro area most of my life and I have walked the hollowed halls of the Baltimore Museum of Art often and often. The Cone collection is a particular favorite of mine. It is renowned for its early 20th century works by Picasso, Braque, Matisse and their followers. When then BMA Director Arnold Lehman and Deputy Director Brenda Richardson, who supervised the 1986 renovation of the museum's Cone Wing, decided to jettison the ornately carved gilt frames put on by Gertrude Stein and the Cone sisters in favor of modern strip frames, thinking that "of course the artists surely meant for them to be presented in a more modern simple frame." The hue and cry was deafening. I was leading the cheer when in 1999 new director Doreen Bolger returned the paintings to their original frames which had mercifully been preserved for such an occasion. I Don't think every work of art should be framed to the extreme. Indeed much of my early work is stripped with lattice or simple aluminum but sometimes an overblown big honking frame is called for.
Here is an example of my penchant for the extreme. We bought this diminutive watercolor by reclusive Smith Island artist Reuben Becker years ago. The charming little painting is just 4" x 4".
Too much, you say? Maybe, but that's the way, uh huh, uh, huh,
I like it.
Posted by Mark Adams at 10:50 PM
February 7, 2014
Posted by Mark Adams at 6:43 PM
January 21, 2014
One of my new year's resolutions is to be better about keeping up with my blog(s). I'm just getting around to this but better late than never. (I'm also trying to lose weight and exercise and you know how that goes.) Today's tip is about surrounding yourself with beautiful things and overcoming the fear of putting holes in your wall. Maybe you don't have that fear at all. My dad instilled it in me when, as a young budding artist, I wanted to tack drawings up in my room. "NO, NO, NO!" he shouted. He said I could use tape but what good is that for paintings? His solution was to hang a 4' x 8' sheet of Upson board on the wall with molly bolts! (So much for not putting holes in his precious wall.) Now I was free to tack up drawings, paintings, invitations and miscellaneous inspirational detritus to my heart's content and I did. As a grown man I have learned that there is nothing you can do to a wall that can't be undone with Spackle or plaster. My house is a testament to that. The Victorians would have been impressed with the sheer volume of art hanging in my house - both mine and others.
Still, we all have something too precious to mar. For me it was my mahogany bar. I have had an antique brass lion plaque stored away for years. It is gorgeous, weighs 25 lbs and is perfect for the end of my bar in the studio. You heard that right - I have a bar in my studio. One that would be the envy of many an Irish Pub, though alas, no Guinness on tap. The end panel of the bar was beautiful in its simplicity yet was crying out for the lion. That meant drilling holes in it to support the weight of the plaque. Spackle might fix plaster but glossy wood is another story. I finally screwed myself up (no pun intended) to do it and I am glad I did.
Moral of the story - Just do it! Hang that art that has been leaning up against the wall, thrown on a shelf or stuck in the basement. Surround yourself with beautiful things. You will feel better for it. The gallery that I worked for years ago had a saying - "One can live as long without art as with it, but not so well." Words to live by.
Posted by Mark Adams at 4:16 PM
January 17, 2014
Posted by Mark Adams at 10:27 AM
November 1, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 5:38 PM
October 31, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 10:38 PM
October 17, 2013
The other was Picasso's painting of his lover, Françoise Gilot portrayed as a flower in La Femme-Fleur.
Posted by Mark Adams at 3:08 PM
October 11, 2013
Today's flashback is an early painting from my late eighties "Confetti" series. I was fascinated by fashion in my formative years and had aspirations of becoming a fashion illustrator. This collection of collage-like images, all 40" x 60", flirted with neo-pop and appropriationism. I learned a lot about the portrayal of luscious fabrics, exotic animal skins, rhinestones and beautiful women from this experience. I also learned that I hate lettering! If there is a hell, I'm sure it has a spot in its calligraphy department waiting for me.
Posted by Mark Adams at 6:10 PM
October 7, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 5:57 PM
October 1, 2013
Have you noticed how cheaply things are made these days? We had an impromptu cherry pie party last week and I bought some red glass Christmas ornaments to fill pie plates as part of the centerpieces. At least that is what I thought I bought. When I spilled them into the plates, they made an odd sound. They just felt wrong. On closer inspection I first noticed the seam, then the paint on some of them was sort of wrinkled. Gasp, they were made of plastic!! Has it come to this?! Of course they were made in China, as so much is these days, but I paid as much as I used to pay for the hand blown ones from Germany. Are our children and grandchildren never going to know the joy of quality craftsmanship? Alas, I fear it may be so. Not too long ago, I ordered a gross of faceted purple, green and gold Mardi Gras beads from a company I have dealt with for years; the Mardi Gras Annex. The difference in what was delivered this time and the beads I had ordered just 10 years ago was startling. The paint was thin and poorly applied and the beads were badly formed. It is this way with everything! I challenge you to find a new quality potato peeler, can opener or spatula. It is impossible.
September 30, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 6:43 PM
September 11, 2013
Jonathan Swift said: “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” True enough, and I thank him and his bravery, for he paved the way for a life time of enjoyment and fascination with these delicious creatures. Actually, it was my father who introduced me to oysters. Dad worked for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and was a Legionnaire as well. It seemed to me growing up that, between September and April, he was always going to some sort of Bull and Oyster Roast. I remember vividly the day he handed me a rough shell with this slimy grey glob and bade me try it. At 10 years of age, I was up to the challenge, but with little guidance I just let it slip down without chewing and the whole culinary experience was lost on me. "Like having a bad cold" was probably my response. At 60, I have bushels under my belt. (Sadly, this is a literal statement.)
Posted by Mark Adams at 4:06 PM
September 10, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 10:38 PM
August 27, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 2:26 PM
August 26, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 5:50 PM
August 23, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 10:28 AM
August 20, 2013
The device at present around my head is known as an "OptiVISOR." It has interchangeable lenses available in focal lengths from 4" to 20" and costs about $50 depending on the lens. I use a #5 lens which has an 8" focal length good for 2.5 times magnification. This piece of equipment is invaluable in the studio, especially if you work on small tight paintings as I do. It is also good for removing splinters, fixing broken jewelry, reading the fine print or whatever. I often have a brush stuck behind each ear through the loop which gives me the odd appearance of one of Picasso's fauns.
Posted by Mark Adams at 4:52 PM
August 16, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 1:09 PM
August 9, 2013
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part."
Posted by Mark Adams at 12:45 PM
August 7, 2013
August 6, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 7:16 PM
August 2, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 11:49 PM
July 31, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 12:39 PM
July 30, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 5:59 PM
July 26, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 4:14 PM
July 25, 2013
July 23, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 9:23 PM
July 20, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 10:21 AM
July 11, 2013
Posted by Mark Adams at 5:41 PM
July 10, 2013
July 9, 2013
I have to admit that I sometimes feel like I've landed the lead in an off, off, off Broadway production of Starlight Express.
Posted by Mark Adams at 1:05 PM
July 6, 2013
Actually not so amusing to we who have reached a certain age. I won't be painting this weekend as we are hosting a celebration of no less than three birthdays here at the studio. Two of the birthdays are milestones. My brother-in-law, Jim, is turning 50 and my niece 13. Her father is also celebrating a birthday and I think next year he bests Jim by a decade. Having reached that pinnacle myself last year, I think we may forgo the black balloons and gag gifts like Geritol and Depends as tasteless and too near the knuckle. I have for years shared breakfast every Wednesday with a group of six or seven retired art professors who range in age from 75 to 84. At 60, I am the baby of the group. The "breakfast club" is a lively bunch of merry men who rotate around town to five or six favorite haunts. We arrive after the breakfast rush, around 9:30 and linger over coffee, telling oft repeated jokes and stories of past triumphs and defeats. I say "oft repeated" but I was informed of a standing rule when I was brought into the fold - you were only allowed to tell the same story three times (you got a warning on two.) I remember the first time, after regaling the others with one of my more amusing anecdotes, Bob smiled seraphically and gently raised two fingers. So much for being the baby of the group. We tip extremely well and the waitresses are glad to see us and keep the java flowing. My wife asked me once what we talked about for all these years. That is a good question. What we don't talk about is our health, recent operations or the inevitability of the next phase of the journey, if you catch my drift. After this year I could almost keep up with them, what with my faux heart attack, cystoscopy and the hernia operation to name a few, but no, we keep it light. We are a think tank of creative intellectuals and, like Picasso's group at the Quatre Gats, discuss our latest work, what's happening at the museums or galleries around town and what is wrong in the world. It may move on to who won last night's Orioles game and the lousy bull pen. I have to say that I have learned a great deal from these men and look forward to each Wednesday. What I have really gleaned from them is a revelation that age truly is just a number.
Posted by Mark Adams at 9:29 AM