Reading Art Books

As part of my quest to find the best way to express myself visually, I have been reading some of the art books that I have accumulated over the years. I must admit that, for the most part I have only looked at the pictures. Of course, the best way to see paintings and other works of art is to visit a museum where they are on display.


I don’t mean this in the 1970s sense:  serious, i.e., “Hey man, sorry to hear about your dad, that is heavy.” What I mean is, some of those art books weigh a ton! If I were reading one in bed and fell asleep, dropping it on my head could do some serious damage – and I’m talking about the paperback edition.

I have found that the best way to read this kind of book (usually a catalog of an exhibition) is to find a sturdy table with lots of room, and lots of bits of paper for book marks. I like those sticky-notes, so they won’t fall out if I am just browsing through the book. It is difficult indeed to continually flip back and forth from the essay, or essays at the beginning of the catalog, to the work of art in question, which is usually in the section labeled ‘Plates’.


How many of you have had the experience of reading a book about art, complete with illustrations, printed in black and white? I’m not naming any names, but the book I am trying to slog though is about Cubism. It is virtually unintelligible, even flipping back and forth to the painting under discussion. Can you imagine appreciating a black and white reproduction of a Redon painting?

I just started a project to find the color images on the internet and make an album of all the figures in this black and white book. Perhaps I’ll make a PowerPoint presentation, combining the text with the downloaded images. I will repeat them every time they are mentioned to eliminate the need for flipping.

Work in progress progress

I did some more work on one of my paintings. I’m not sure if it is finished, but here is an update.

Abstract watercolor using latex rubber masking fluid

Updated ‘Last Rubber Image’ 9″x12″ Cold Pressed 140# Watercolor Paper

Today’s experiment

Art books provide background, and I get good ideas to try out. I got the idea for grid lines from my book about Joan Miró.

I had so much fun with lines yesterday, that I decided to add a lot more in today’s experiment. Initially I thought I would play with colors, perhaps order them as the spectrum is ordered, juxtaposing with their complementary colors.

For some reason, I was drawn to the idea of making my grid into a portrait of my older brother, Michael.  Mike is profoundly retarded, autistic and nonverbal. I have been trying to get beyond blogging about him, but I suppose I saw him in the fractured surface of the paper. The first shapes I painted were the blue triangles. They reminded me of Mike’s eyes – even though his are brown.

12-23-13 Watercolor portrait experiment with lines

Portrait of Mike (unfinished) 5″x7″ Hot Pressed 140# Watercolor Paper

Below is a portrait of Mike and me.

Portrait of Michael and me

I don’t really know where to go from here with my watercolor. Maybe I should let it sit while I try to find a book.


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