Saturday, June 8, 2013
I prefer to write about the more positive things in an artist's life, but -- as you might expect -- there are aspects that pull artists down. I guess that's true of all things, isn't it?
One my Facebook Friends who is also an extremely capable artist posted his opinions about art competitions. I hope he won't mind if I feature it here:
"In art competitions, the only valid criteria for judging should be the quality of the artwork, viewed with total objectivity and assessed impartially, solely on the basis of artistic merit. The identity of the respective artists competing should not be a factor, nor should the number of friends any entrant might have or how much effort he or she might have put into lobbying for votes. If I'm going to vote at all, it will be for the artwork that I see as the most worthy, no matter whose it is. Nothing personal."
I understand exactly how he feels. I've felt the same way about certain art exhibits/sales and posted my own comment:
"IMO, western art shows must be the worst when it comes to judging criteria. They often include "masters" in the show titles, but in reality, when you submit entries, they want lists of all the shows you've been in, or a list of articles that have been written about you,or a list of awards you've won -- stuff like that. In other words, they want to know how likely you are to be well-known and, thus, a good seller. Quality has little to do with it. It's popularity/fame/history of sales that they're looking for. "
It's something we artists have to put up with -- "adapt or die," as least as far as making it in the art biz is concerned. It's quite unfair and shouldn't be this way. But it is.
I really haven't decided how I want to deal with it all. I don't know that I have enough years of life left to accumulate the "stuff" that the competition/show sponsors ask for. But I know it's a part -- just one part -- of the reason why I've slowed down considerably in art: not only in creating it, but in selling it. It's far from being a level playing field, and maybe I'm getting too old to play this sport in a meaningful way anymore. (This pathetic economy doesn't help, either).
OK -- that's enough venting for now. On to more positive stuff.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
How, you may be asking yourself, did Mark Junge get into painting desert scenes? I mean, he could have gone in almost any direction with his artwork. So what got him going in desert painting?
Funny you should ask. It really goes back to my pre-painting. My family and I were watching Walt Disney's weekly Sunday night program (Wonderful World of Disney?), and they broadcast a program called "How the West Was Lost" with the esteemed scientist, Ludwig von Drake hosting. In the program, von Drake pointed out how music had changed and that it used to be beautiful and calming.
Then the show featured an animated sequence accompanying Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers singing Blue Shadows on the Trail. The animation highlighted the desert changing from dusk to nightfall, with cactus in bloom, tumbling tumbleweeds, hopping bunnies and a family of quail scurrying around. (The feature appears on YouTube.com, although not with the best visual quality, here).
Everything about the tune and visuals got to me: the desert scenery, the critters, the song -- not the lyrics themselves, but the whistling and "whooping" that take place in the background, simulating animal sounds. The images stayed with me for years.
Then -- my brother told me the little cartoon was actually the intro for another Disney project: an animated feature film called Pecos Bill. I looked up and ordered the DVD that had Pecos Bill (and some other shorts). There it was! It's the only thing I've ever watched on the DVD. Then it occurred to me to see if it is on YouTube, and it is! So here I am, writing about it.
Disney has made other cartoons that feature desert scenery -- others where I actually like the artwork better (Pluto: The Legend of Coyote Rock and The Coyote's Lament, both also on YouTube). But Blue Shadows was the first inspirational piece that started me down that road, and the other animated pieces (and desert paintings I began to see) fueled the fire. Not to mention trips to what was then called Joshua Tree National Monument.
I feel like I owe the Disney folks something. I can't imagine the original animators had any idea how they were going to influence a young kid who would someday want to capture the immerse beauty of one part of God's world.
As you know, you can see my stuff on my website: http://www.SouthwestSpaces.com or http://www.MarkJunge.com.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
I sometimes mention Claude Lorrain as one of the artists who impacted my own painting in a big way. So who the heck IS this guy?
Claude was born Claude Gellée and was (in my opinion) a fantastic landscape painter from 17th century France. If you're interested in the details of his life, I'll let you read his bio which appears on the J. Paul Getty Museum's website rather than go into all that here. But I will tell you he made landscapes that seem to offer perfect harmony and composition -- places where people work and live in Arcadian beauty. Claude was known for his golden yellow or orange skies, making beautiful scenes even warmer and more inviting.
Sunset or Landscape with Argus Guarding Io
Pastoral Landscape (1638)
I'm somewhat limited in my ability to emulate what Claude did in his landscapes. Here in the desert, except for cottonwood trees, I don't have the advantage of being able to place nice, big, full, lush trees against the sky. What we have are short Joshua trees, saguaro cactus, palo verde and ironwood "trees" (the latter two are more like big shrubs than trees). And cottonwoods are found only where water is near or on the surface.
Oh, well. I'll make the best of it. Claude's spirit compels me to do so.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I returned from the art show safe and sound, and I think all I've done since then is sleep! I guess I really should be moving along.
No sales...apparently, the economic recession/depression hasn't recovered that much after all. A few artists sold a few items, but overall, most of us sold some inexpensive prints or nothing at all.
As you might expect, it's a bit discouraging to put in the time and money (about $500 total) to do a show and leave with nothing but a goose egg (i.e., -0-), but at least it isn't as though everyone sold but me -- that would have been REALLY discouraging!
Still, I felt comfortable among those folks, and I already expressed an interest to the show's organizer that I'd like to do it again next year -- provided I have the $$$ to invest in it.
green-deprived! This view is a little north of Buellton, CA along US Hwy 101. Besides the oaks and green grass, this spot had LOTS of blue-flowering lupine (which, I believe, are what the Texans call bluebonnets).
I can see some paintings coming out of the photos I took, most likely with some creative rearranging of elements while keeping the overall flavor of the area. I think that in the end, the trip will end up being worthwhile, if only because of the new paintings I'll be making.
God-willing, see you in Paso Robles next year -- with desert paintings AND central coast paintings!
Sunday, March 31, 2013
In the Colorado Wilds is the title of my newest painting -- 18" x 24" acrylic on panel.
This is looking toward the Needle Mountains south of Silverton, with some liberties taken on the Animas River (as far as I know, there are no waterfalls on this river). Pigeon Peak is to the distant right, just 28 feet short of being a fourteener (and therefore isn't climbed as much as 14ers are). I was going to put a deer on the outcropping on the lower left, but The Wiffee talked me out of it!
This is one of the few non-desert paintings that I'll be taking with me to the Cattlemen's Western Art Show in Paso Robles, CA next weekend. Even though I still feel my desert art is my strongest, I also know some people -- for some strange reason -- are not into Southwestern desert scenes. Hard to believe, but it seems to be true!
It's obviously autumn in the Colorado mountains, although the yellows never look as bright as they should in my digital images of paintings -- I need to find out how to fix that without altering the overall color of the image to yellow. For now, trust me: the aspens are golden-yellow!
And, of course, don't forget to visit my Website once in a while: http://www.SouthwestSpaces.com or http://www.MarkJunge.com.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Two weeks from today, I'll be showing and (hopefully!) selling paintings at the Cattleman's Western Art Show and Sale in Paso Robles, CA, north of San Luis Obispo. Most of the works I'll make available will be of the desert. One piece will feature the San Juan mountains of Colorado (I'll post a photo next time), and another will show the sycamore trees of southern California. For directions to, and information about, the Show, please click here.
Meanwhile, the Joshua trees around here have been in bloom. I hope I can find time soon to get out into Joshua Tree National Park and see more of these natural wonders before the blooms fade into seed pods, since we don't get Joshua tree flowers every year.
This JT is on our property here in the hi desert. The flowers were still forming when I took the first picture. The second picture shows the flowers after they opened up. The flowers never really look like they're open, but trust me: they ARE!
So -- maybe I'll meet you in the Park soon, and I'll meet you in Paso Robles in two weeks!
Sunday, March 3, 2013
This Matter of Balance is my latest painting. It features Balanced Rock which is in Arches National Park (one of my favorite places, BTW!), Utah.
The scene is pretty much the way it actually looks except for Turret Arch over on the far right. It's visible from this spot, but it's much much more distant than I've shown it here. But bringing Turret Arch forward makes the landscape that much more mystical, and it helps to form a triangular composition with the peak of the Rock being the apex of the triangle. (If you look carefully, you may be able to see the bunny under the shadow of the piñon pine on the left).
This artwork is, to me, an allegory of the balance we need in all things of our lives. Nowadays it's so easy to get caught up in one extreme view or another. I think I once achieved balance, but it hasn't been that way in a long time.
Even at Balanced Rock, balances have changed. Once, a smaller balanced rock, "Chip Off the Old Block," stood to the right of Balanced Rock, but it came tumbling down during the winter of 1975-1976, its pedestal a victim of erosion. In time, Balanced Rock will collapse, too.
I learned much about balance during the '70s , with karate, dance, meditation and the study of Chinese philosophy. In my opinion, the Bible itself, while not using the word "balance," conveys a sense of balance when considered in its entirety.
Today, between struggling to survive during this economy, age that continues to creep upward and so many of life's issues that are beyond my control, balance has been harder to find lately. But I know it's out there, and I have to find it. Somehow. Hopefully soon.