Sunday, September 18, 2011

Victor Martinez - Peruvian Watercolor Artist

Victor Martinez
            What inspires an artist?  Why does he devote his work to a certain subject matter, depicted in a certain style?  Often these questions rise first and foremost to an art viewer’s mind.  For Peruvian watercolor artist Victor Martinez, his inspiration comes from the native Andean people of Peru, his home country.  He loves how they are still attached to nature and have resisted cultural influences.  As he says, they are “people who unintentionally resist being absorbed by the huge process of civilization and who fully exercise their humanity. That is what I try to convey in my work: their simplicity, their direct contact with nature, the peculiar clothes, attractive and full of color, of women whose faces still show candor and joy.”  He realistically and sensitively paints these Andean people and their landscapes and seascapes.
            Victor Martinez was born in 1932 and grew up in Arequipa, Peru and learned about art at a very young age from his artistic father, Victor Martínez Málaga, creator and founder of the Carlos Bacaflor School of Art of Arequipa, Peru.  His father was an oil painter and taught Victor in his realistic, traditional style, always teaching him what an artist’s work is.  He adopted his father’s dream of a loyal and academic road to truth and reality in art.
            Victor Martinez began his formal education at the Regional School of Fine Arts, and then moved to Lima, Peru, where he took advanced courses at the National School of Fine Arts.  Following his formal education however, he dedicated his time to graphic design and illustration until 1987, at the age of 55, when he returned to his first love, fine art.  Annual trips to California continued to advance his career.  He eventually permanently moved to the United States in 1998.  He currently lives and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, traveling each year to different parts of North and South America with his wife Gladys, who he’s been married to for thirty-seven years.
Victor Martinez is a self-taught watercolor artist.  He paints solely with Winsor and Newton watercolors, which he believes has a wider range of higher concentrated pigments, and he does not paint with white.  He paints on unstretched Arches Cold Press paper in at least 300 pound weight with Princeton and Richeson brand brushes.  He paints standing up, with his easel at a 90-degree angle, and tries to complete his paintings in one session.  He paints in a very systematic way, always working in the same pattern of first doing a detailed drawing, then doing the background, painting the face, the costume, and finishes with the hands and feet.  He uses photographic reference materials that he takes on his yearly trips to Peru to make his paintings.  He also employs the use of mirrors, to see his work inverted, and a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.
He paints in a realistic manner because that is what he was taught since he was young.  Even with the different trends of modern art movements, he never tried to vary the way he expressed himself.  He paints that which attracts him: images showing man deprived from superfluous appearances, man in his daily work, living his life as he must live it, exercising his reason to be alive.  He also paints the place in which that man lives.  He finds that there is still yet something that he has not yet painted.  He believes he is generating a body of work that for many reasons he had postponed, but feels great satisfaction to what he does, and that it constitutes his reason for living.
His high artistic quality, subject matter, and medium have made him internationally renowned.  His paintings have been shown in numerous museums and are part of private collections in North and South America, as well as Europe.  His watercolors have earned him professional national awards in the United States, including the “Best of Show” at the 20th anniversary international exhibition of the San Diego Watercolor Society in 2000, as well as the most prestigious award in his hometown, El Diploma de la Ciudad de Arequipa a la Labor Artística.  His works have also been featured in popular art magazines such as New Art International (Jan 1998), International Artist Magazine (June/July 1999), Watercolor Magazine (Fall 1999), Splash 6 (Jan 2000), Southwest Art Magazine (April 2000), Artist’s Magazine (December 2000, February 2006), American Artist Magazine (October 2004), and Watercolor Magic Magazine (June 2006).  He is also in major collections including the Banco del Sur in Peru, and is collected by several Mobil Oil executives and a United States ambassador to Peru.
As well as painting, he also teaches private watercolor lessons from his studio in Scottsdale, Arizona.  He has made some videos and often talks about and shares his watercolor techniques with others.  He feels a great satisfaction when others gain an appreciation for watercolors. 
While some artist’s inspiration and reasoning behind their works remain a mystery, Victor Martinez’s art is easy to see and appreciate.  He says that to him, “capturing people and their environment in watercolor paintings is an irresistible challenge. Each time I pick up the brush I'm faced with a new adventure, and that's what provides the satisfaction that inspires me to keep on painting.”  It is great that he keeps on painting these masterpieces for everyone to enjoy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mary Henderson - Mirror, Mirror: Contemporary Portraits and the Fugitive Self.

Note from the author: I wrote this in college for an advanced art history course.  I have cited my references and hope you will always do the same.  Copyright infringement is NOT good.  If you click on the images it will take you to the website I took them from.  Also, please do not use this as your own paper.  Cheating is NOT good. Thank you.

November 19, 2009
Mary Henderson
by Katelyn Fagan
            Currently in Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art is the exhibit Mirror, Mirror: Contemporary Portraits and the Fugitive Self.  It deals with modern portraiture and self identity in the world today.  It features a broad range of mediums and artists, one of them being Mary Henderson.   Her works are small oil paintings of digital images she finds on photo sharing websites that she crops and edits.  She paints them in a manner of historical painting and portraiture, like those of Ingres and David, but the figures are more modest, casual, and contemporary.  They are ordinary people. 
            History is experienced today (in the digital age) through digital sources and images, increasingly blurring private and public experiences.  We see digital images on websites of foreign countries and their wars, while at the same time can find digital images and information from these same countries on public sharing websites, like blogs, Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, and Twitter, though from its ordinary citizens.  Mary Henderson became especially intrigued in this paradigm when her brother was serving as a Commander in the U.S. Navy in Iraq from February to August 2007.  She would search these public websites for pictures and news about her brother.  She really liked how ordinary people, like her brother, find themselves caught up in our current historical moment (the Iraq War).   She became fascinated with pictures depicting soldiers in uniform but not in combat settings.  She loved the different emotions and expressions you could see on their faces, from boredom to bravado and fear.  She likes to focus on the inward and profound experiences of individuals.

          Henderson’s work is photorealistic and her paintings are not very large.  She merges photographic qualities and historical painting qualities together to make a commentary on how we are experiencing history today.  She often depicts soldiers and military personnel, though not in combat settings.  Other works are often young adults at sporting events or people doing common everyday things.  The merging of styles draws you into her paintings; because you feel like you’ve seen these images before, multiple times, yet here they are in a gallery, hung up on the wall.  You can almost replace the faces of the people portrayed with people you know, or at least can image others in their place.  Often the people are smiling or showing a definite emotion on their face.  It humanizes them, makes them ordinary and common, like the viewer in the gallery.  By painting these images, she makes them more public, permanent, and aesthetically pertinent. 
            Henderson has created a unique new form of portraiture in the art world.  With her realism harking back decades, she adds an added dimension by capturing ordinary individuals, found in images off the Internet.  It adds historical value to simple things people are doing every day, living their lives, and how they are using media to share it with others.  With everything becoming more and more digital, it makes you wonder what physical evidence will be left behind for future generations of individuals, communities, and nations. What would happen if a person’s computer crashed, the Internet would stop working, or a website was deleted?  Would there be enough evidence left behind to prove a person lived, what they did, and what they looked like?  Also, it puts into question identity and privacy.  With images and information readily available on the internet on almost any individual, where is the sense of privacy?  Are a person and their experiences really unique?    Henderson has created a dialogue about these questions with her pieces and has done so in a very aesthetically pleasing and artistic way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Critical Analysis - Canadida Hofer's Scuola Grande Arciconfraternita di San Rocco Venezia

Note from the author: I wrote this in college for an art criticism class.  I have cited my references and hope you will always do that same.  Copyright infringement is NO good.  If you click on the images it will take you to the website I took them from.  Also, please do not use this as your own paper.  Cheating is NO good.
Scuola Grande Arciconfraternita di San Rocco Venezia
            Candida Höfer’s five by seven foot photograph Scuola Grande Arciconfraternita di San Rocco Venezia captures much more than a spectacular shot of an ornate guild hall.  As part of her exhibit Architecture of Absense, this present day museum is empty, allowing the viewer to take in the design and sculpture of the surrounding walls as well as the emptiness of the space.  With grand, rich details this hall makes a statement about the classics.  Jacopo Tintoretto, Vecellio Tiziano, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, famous Venetian painters, created the magnificent frescoes that cover the walls.  The marble colonnades and architectural detail date back to early Greek influences.  Through the art’s religious, historical, and artistic qualities, Höfer’s photograph compels the viewer into action.
            Tintoretto, the main artist, completed more than fifty religious frescoes in the hall, hoping to create a spiritual and beautiful touch to the Scuola Grande Arciconfraternita di San Rocco Venezia, or Confraternity of St. Roch.  The confraternity was a lay brotherhood of worship and charity.  Tintoretto, having worked on the frescoes for more than twenty years, provided the confraternity with publicity.  Soon, the confraternity became a shrine to the artist and continues to be unto this day.  Tourists travel to this place to admire Tintoretto’s work and remember the brotherhood who once served in the confraternity.  Value is laid on history and setting of the artwork.  But, perhaps of more importance, is the message trying to be displayed.
When Tintoretto created his frescoes, they were religious in nature.  For centuries frescoes, mosaics, and stain glass were created to inform the average person of religious matter because most could not read or did not possess their own bible.  Portrayed subjects would include the creation of Adam and Eve, biblical stories, the Madonna (or Mary, the mother of Jesus), Jesus’ life and ministry, and also saints of the church.  The artwork’s intent was to educate and create a spiritual connection to the viewer.
            Captured in Höfer’s photograph is the message of worship.  The artwork is religious and leaves a religious, spiritual feeling.  But the grandeur of the artwork receives more focus than the other religious aspects.  The lines of the photographs—created by the walls, ceiling, and floor—point to the central statue of Christ on the cross.  But, unlike the illiterate public of the past, modern people know about Christ and other religious stories.  The artwork does not inform in today’s world; it simply relates the viewer to the time of the artists and their skill. The rich details, humanistic portrayals, and Roman and Greek influences emphasize beauty and idealism.
            Greek influence is definitely prevalent in the Parthenon architectural columns on the back wall.  They also serve as frames for other works of art but they are art themselves.  The tall columns emphasize the power and dominance of Greek culture.  It is Greek culture that all of Western civilization is based.  Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Medieval, and Baroque periods all learned from Greek philosophy, literature, and art.  Ancient Greece formed the foundation for which all of the following civilizations were built upon.  The three separate columns could represent the trinity of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost.  The sculpture in the center of columns also appears to emerging from within the columns in agreement with emerging from Greece. 
            The modern items in the room like the lights and chairs do not distract from the richness of the room but add to its message.  There are two different lighting fixtures in the room.  One set of fixtures are in the Gothic tradition.  They are caged luminescence shapes.  They look like lanterns and aid the viewer’s eye to the room’s details.  They seem to blend into the background and become part of the architecture.  However, the other set of light fixtures are more modern.  They are bowls of up-cast light that can be viewed as the dishes that once contained the Olympic fire, an event dating back to Ancient Greece.  These lights also aid the eye upward towards the detailed and ornate ceiling design.  The light on the back wall plays a huge role in highlighting the dramatic artwork behind it, giving it more motion and interest.  The viewer can’t help but be drawn to it.  The person depicted on the wall is reaching for the heavens.  It evokes a strong religious feeling.  The lights help reunite different times of Western history—Greek and Gothic—yet they work together to create a lighting aesthetic that draws one’s eyes upward to the art and heaven, emphasizing the artist’s intent.
            The chairs stand out the most in this historical room.  Though the red of the chairs echoes the red paint on the walls, the style of the chairs is what makes them distracting.  The chairs are simple movie director chairs.  They lack decoration and do not have a connection to the past.  So what do these chairs say about the room or the people who visit it?  Why place chairs there at all?  The museum did not place plushy, comfortable, period-aged chairs in this room for a reason.  The art is meant to be looked at closely and appreciatively.  One is not able to look at all the works around them correctly from sitting in a chair.  Different lighting and angles make a difference on how one perceives a piece of art.  Often it is necessary to take in the larger picture. 
Upon closer inspection of the chairs, you will find a backpack and even shadowed figures with crossed legs and books upon their knees.  These ghost-like people are sitting in this room full of wondrous artwork, design, and architecture.  They sit down to ponder the majesty of it all.  But, director’s chairs are not the most comfortable furniture to sit on for extended periods of time. The director’s chairs push the visitors into motion by their lack of comfort. These chairs are often used by movie directors, who make decisions based on their “vision” for the movie they are creating.  Like these directors, the viewers of the hall, who sit in these chairs, form their own decisions and opinions of the artwork based on their personal tastes.  The chairs, the one element that has least to do with the historical context of the room, are the one item that is pushing the viewer into the room, into the past.  This room is not a place to come, relax, and read a good book.  This is a museum, a monument to an incredible past, a past that has shaped our present civilization.  Should not the visitor come to the museum to connect with the past and to gain something from the experience?
            A little off to the left of the center of the photograph there is this ghost-like entity, perhaps representing a group of people who were once in that area looking at the wall but that have moved on.  But, maybe the entity represents the spirits of all who have worked so hard to create art, sculpture, architecture, and a civil society.  The effects they had are still living on and touching the lives of modern day people.  It could be related to the spirit of Elijah.  It turns the hearts of the people to their forefathers, the founders of Western Civilization. 
            Scuola Grande Arciconfraternita di San Rocco Venezia by Candida Höfer is an excellent portrayal of the grand past.  Though her use of lines and light she creates a vibrant feel to the room.  Aspects within it—modern lights and chairs—add to the movement.  The uncomfortable chairs make the visitors rise to their feet and look around and the light makes the eye travel heavenward.  The people, who are vaguely viewed in the photo, are misty and ghost-like.  The room, though old and historic, lives and breathes never leaving a person the same.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Penrod Arts Fair 2011 - Indianapolis

Yesterday I had the great fortune of attending the Penrod Arts Fair at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA).  It was my first time at both an Arts Fair and the IMA.  I went with my mother-in-law, her friend, and her friend's daughter who I met for the first time, though I felt I already knew her because I had stared at her face for hours drawing her picture.

Attending an art fair was a great experience for me, despite my frugality, absence of personal style, and general dislike of "arts & crafts" type objects.

There were people of all ages from newborn to aged great-grandmother in attendance.  It was a very fun atmosphere.  No one was in a rush, people were polite to one another, courteous, and friendly.  It had a very nice community feel.

The park/grounds that the festivals are held at are beautiful!  There are so many trees, walking paths, and flowers/gardens.  It turned into a gorgeous day despite the rain and cooler temperatures of the previous week.  The sun peeped out from the clouds for a little bit and warmed it up just enough. 
As we strolled through the different "colored" sections, ate yummy food, listened to a family barbershop, saw dance routines, heard rock bands, and received flyers and freebies, we saw many things I had never seen before.  I was impressed with the skills and talents of these artists and artisans.  I am personally drawn to glass objects, shiny things, fine woodwork, modern stainless steel decor, and anything of high quality.  While most things did not interest me since I don't wear much jewelry, I don't garden, and I don't have a budget for home accessories/decor, I nevertheless gave a good look at most of the items on display, mostly due to the company I was with:  they do wear jewelry, shawls, garden, and have a budget for home accessories/decor.  Some booths and objects were very similar to each other. I felt like the jewelry on display in one booth resembled the previous booth's jewelry to some degree.  But, some had one-of-a-kind booths and items, like the booth with Nightmare Before Christmas-like dolls for sale, and the one with hand-made rugs.

One of my very favorite artists I saw was Michael Weber, a watercolor artist.  I think he has immaculate skill at watercolor!  I wanted a painting!  He made prints out of several of his images at a much more affordable price, but for some reason I still didn't pick one up, but I kept checking out his booth.  I am not much of a watercolor artist, but love finding works of art that are of a high quality and his fit that bill.

The art fair reminded me a lot of a site I have a shop on, and a site I haven't fully explored yet, but get several emails from them which are chocked full of hand-made jewelry, clothing, accessories, decor, and more.  I liked the art fair.  It made my creative juices flow and helped me understand a little more of the business side of selling art, though I do feel like much of my art doesn't quite fit in at this type of event.  My art is more "fine art."

What art fairs have you attended?  Do you like these types of events?  Do you like arts and crafts?  Do you like etsy?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Is Photography Manipulation Ethical?

Note from the author: I wrote this in college for an advanced art history course.  I have cited my references and hope you will always do the same.  Copyright infringement is NOT good.  If you click on the images it will take you to the website I took them from.  Also, please do not use this as your own paper.  Cheating is NOT good. Thank you.

Is Photographic Manipulation Ethical?
By Katelyn Fagan
            Much controversy has risen in the last several decades about the issue of photographic manipulation.  Though photo manipulation has been around for over a century, in the recent decades advances in science, technology, and digital imaging have made photographic manipulation much quicker, easier, and more common.  But the question that now arises is if photographic manipulation is ethical or not.  Is it right to change a photograph?  But what are ethics?  Jaksa and Priteward defined ethics as “how we live our lives; what is right and wrong, fair or unfair, caring or uncaring, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible, and the like” (Wakefield).  So is taking a picture or multiple pictures and adding, detracting, enhancing, or minimizing something ethical?  As we explore both sides of this debate, we will see that there are strong arguments to both sides, but I believe that changing a photograph is ethical.
            Since photography came into being, people have begun to experiment with this new medium.  Cropping and placing images together, brightening, darkening, and changing colors have always been part of the experimenting.  The new technology of today diminishes time and costs, all the while multiplying the visual strategies available to artists, photographers, and designers. So what is the big deal about manipulating photos?  Manipulating photographs was and continues to be ethical. 
            Most Americans have a camera in their homes as well as a basic editing program on their computer.  At home one can remove red eyes, crop, brighten, darken, and do fun artistic effect to a photo.  A skilled editor can even use Photoshop to place people in exotic backgrounds, edit out acne and other blemishes, and place things where they do not belong in order to be funny.  But why should changing a picture be unethical just because it does not capture reality?  Artists and painters throughout the centuries have practiced this same technique.  A painter selects what vantage point to take and what items to include.
            Digitally editing photos has also helped with illustrators, film editors, and advertisers.  Photo manipulation during film production can save time and money.  Film crews can film a night scene during the day.  They can add in drops of rain and lightning bolts instead of waiting for the perfect storm.  Photo editing allows movies to have special effects.  Without photo manipulation, Frodo Baggins and the rest of the hobbits on the movie The Lord of the Rings would not have appeared short.
            Advertising can also be greatly enhanced with photo manipulation.  Products can be added to photos, as well as backgrounds, and all sorts of visual imagery can combine to create the appealing ads we see today.  Using photo editing processes, advertisers can have clear, artistic images that help to emphasize the product being sold.  Selling a product and advertising are both very ethical practices.
            Even though there are many benefits of photo editing, there is much alarm and concern to be understood about it as well.  Photo manipulation gives way to unethical practices.  It has the possibility of corruption, misleading information, lies, deception, fraud, and plagiarism.  Any unwanted information in a photo can be erased or modified, and wanted information can be added in.  This can lead to faulty evidence in court cases.  This can also lead to false news photos and stories.  An example of this comes from the recent movie Spider-man 3.  A photographer faked a photo of Spider-man robbing a bank in order to get a staff job.  American citizens do not like to be lied to, especially when it comes to their news.  False news photos are unethical.  False photos on the cover of newspapers and magazines can cause much controversy from the lies it portrays. 
Artistically, photo manipulation can be unethical.  The straightforwardness of photography is lost.  What is real anymore?  One used to be able to take a snapshot, a Polaroid, and let the picture speak for itself, imperfections and all.  It was up to the photographer to edit and frame and try to figure out what he wanted to capture at the time the photograph was taken.  Anytime a photographer is behind the lens, he’s choosing where he’s standing, what vantage point he’s taking, how he’s cropping what he sees even as he sees it (Abrams).  Now with manipulated photos possible with every single photo, it can be hard to distinguish between the original, unhampered photos and the edited, manipulated photos.
 It has become very popular, especially in women’s magazines, to perfect or correct physical flaws.  The bodies of Hollywood stars and supermodels now become sculptured, curvier, leaner, and blemish and cellulose free, creating the “ideal” image of a human body. It is this kind of photo manipulation that is very harmful to society.  It is unethical to have these fake female role models for young girls to emulate.  It has also lead to false assumptions of what a woman should be.  Exposure to pictures of thin-ideal female members of the media has been shown to reduce body satisfaction in women, which in turn has led to various eating disorders (Lin and Kulik, 117).  In fact findings indicate that after being exposed to exceptionally attractive female images, males report less satisfaction for a current relationship, rate average-looking females as less attractive, and express less affection for their significant other (Yuko).
            Though there are some strong arguments pointing to photo manipulation as unethical, I believe that overall photography manipulation is just fine.  Manipulating an image only becomes unethical when it affects a group of people.  For example, false news releases would be unethical, an edited model is unethical, and false and misleading photos are unethical, unless specifically designated that it has been tampered with.  When done in the wrong context, photo editing is wrong.  But, I am an artist and a photographer.  Digital manipulation is commonplace for me, just as it is for millions of others.  There is nothing wrong with removing red eyes, lightening up a dark picture, or cropping it down.  In general it can be said “it is all right to adjust the brightness or color balance of the whole photo, but not to obscure, move or introduce an element in order to present false information, remove information, etc.” (Wade).
Abrams, Janet. "Little Photoshop of Horrors: the Ethics of Manipulating." Print Nov.-
Dec. 1995. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Brigham Young University. 9 Apr. 2008 <Https://Www.Lib.Byu.Edu/Cgi-Bin/Remoteauth.Pl?Url=Http://Search.Ebscohost.Com/Login.Aspx?Direct=True&Db=Aph&AN=9609205279&Site=Ehost-Live&Scope=Site>.
Lin, L F., and J A. Kulik. "Social Comparison and Women's Body Satisfaction." BASIC
AND APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY 24 (2002): 115-123. 10 Apr. 2008 <>.
Wade, Nicholas. "It May Look Authentic; Here's How to Tell It Isn't." The New York
Times (Jan 24, 2006): F1(L). Academic OneFile. Gale. Brigham Young University - Utah. 9 Apr. 2008  <>.
Wakefield, Robert. "Focus on Ethics." Brigham Young University. Communications
            Lecture. Joseph Fielding Smith Building, Utah. 8 Apr. 2008.
Yuko. Media Exposure and Males' Evaluation of the Appearance of Females. Diss. Univ.
of South Florida, 2007. 10 Apr. 2008 <>.

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