The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 7, 2012

Artist’s work based on photos


“Some people wonder whether what I do is inspired by a computer and whether or not that kind of imaging is a part of what makes the work contemporary. I absolutely hate technology, and I never use any labor-saving devices, although I’m not convinced that a computer is a labor-saving device.”

The remarks you just read were spoken by well-known artist Chuck Close, born in 1940. He is associated with the style of painting called Photorealism, and has been a well-known figure in the world of contemporary art since the 1970s.

Photorealism is based on using cameras and photographs to gather visual information and then to create a painting that actually appears to be a photograph. This style began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A model for one of Close’s works was Roy Lichtenstein, another important artist. Lichtenstein’s work was that of an illustrator and a painter. It was also very certainly influenced by advertising at the time and the comic book motif.

Because Close was a photorealist, he frequently used a grid technique to enlarge a photograph and reduce each square to formal elements of design. With this process each grid became a little work of art.

As I sit here drinking my green and wild blueberry tea (believe me it is great!), I must remember you dear people who read this column and remind you to brew some tea for yourself. The background noise here is “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. It only seems fair. My daughter, Peyton, listens to my music and I listen to hers. Sometimes it’s inevitable that one of us can’t listen to another second of the other’s music, but we try to be open-minded.

Close did a mural-sized artwork painted from photographs. It took four months to finish. Close even took many photos of himself in which his head and neck filled the frame. From those, he selected one of the images and made two enlargements, both 11-by-14 inches. Chose would draw a grid on one of the photographs, lettering and numbering each square. Close would transfer the photographic image square-by-square onto a 107½-by-83½ inch canvas. Acrylic paint and an airbrush were both used to catch all the details,

In 1988, Close was left a quadriplegic as the result of a blood clot in his spine and had to work with a paint brush between his teeth. Close managed to be successful at this, as well, although it certainly had to be frustrating. He used the technique called pointillism, which uses dots that blend together. Close had a deeply rooted need to create, which was proven after his medical problems.

I have to admit that I haven’t seen my friend Kem Wiggins much lately as I went back to work after the summer. She is back to teaching classes at the Art League and recently did a mural at the Salvation Army. You’d think with us being “twins” we’d see each other more? She is a silly. I love sillies. Let’s have another drink of tea.

Art classes

Let’s see what the Danville Art League is up to. Pre-registration is required for all classes.

— Our fall children’s classes have started. I have a couple of spaces left in my after-school classes. Monday night is for the 5-8-year-old children, and Wednesday is for the 9 and up age group. Please call the Danville Art League at 442-9264 if you have a child who would be interested.

— There will be something completely novel on Oct. 13 and 26 called “Creating Ceramic Finger Labyrinths.” Students will learn about the history of labyrinths in history and design their own finger labyrinths using a pattern and clay. A second class is scheduled for students to return and glaze their personal finger labyrinths.

Here is an explanation for anyone not knowing what a labyrinth is: “A labyrinth is the spirit of the most generative form of subtle energy. When its coil is unwound, the stored energy is released. They have been long associated with ancient pilgrimage routes and rituals of self-discovery.”

This will be held from 9-11 a.m. in the Art League basement. The fee is $35 and includes pattern, clay, instruction, tools, glaze and two firings.

— Join us in crafting “Fun Face Mugs” while learning how to work with clay. Mugs will be pre-made by potter Robi Rew. You may create eyes, noses, eyebrows, lips, cheeks, teeth, tongue, and many other features to make your mug unique. The date for this will be Oct. 15 from 9-11 a.m. The return date for glazing will be Oct. 29.

— Another new thing at the Danville Art League is “Decorating your own Bistro Mugs.” The mugs are pre-made and glaze ready. You may decorate them in your style. They may be a gift, match your own dishware or express yourself. The class will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 10. You will apply glazes to pre-fired bisque ware; coat with clear glaze and pick up when fired. Mugs must be ordered by Oct. 15 and will be prepaid orders only. Cost is $6.50 a set.

— Painting class — 1-3:30 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 13 to Nov. 3; $50 members/$55 non-members. No experience needed, supplies will be provided.

Beginning watercolors — Instructor, Roberta Williams

Beginning oil and acrylics — Instructor, Marsha Russell

Advanced oil and acrylics techniques — Instructor, Natalie Rottet

We at the Danville Art League need everyone to pre-register for all classes, It simply helps us to keep track of everything, and I bet you all know how that can be.

Gallery shows

There will be many gallery shows for 2012-13:

October through December — “Past, Present, Future” with Natalie Rottet and Jerry Slowic

January and February — “Brilliant Flowers” by Eleanor Wesch

March — Town and Country Show

April — VA exhibit

May and June — “It’s All in the Family” (honoring 70 years of Arts in the Park)

July and August — Intarsia,” Inlaid Wood, Debbie Anderson

September and October — “Watercolor Visions,” Cynthia Kukla

November and December — “Digital Images,” Andrew Dudich

May 2014 — “I Sing the Body Electric.”

Eileen Dunavan is a member of the Danville Art League. Her column appears once a month.