Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Exhibition at the Covey Center for the Arts

Everyone is invited to attend the opening reception Friday, November 6, 2009 from 6-9 p.m at the Covey Center for the Arts. This exhibition will run from November 6-30, 2009. My new large work "Kaaterskill Clove, New York" will be on display. This painting is 54 x 112 inches and was just on display as part of the 'Hudson River Revival' Exhibition at the Springville Museum of Art. I'd love to see everyone there!
Observations From Life
Work by Ryan S. Brown
November 6-30, 2009
Gallery hours: Monday - Friday
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Opening reception: Friday,
November 6, 6 - 9 p.m.
Covey Center for the Arts
425 West Center Street
Provo, Utah 84601

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Drawing

This is a portrait I'm working on. This is the transfer drawing for the final painting which will be 42x48 inches. This drawing is about 19x21 inches.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New books and a New Painting

After spending 6 months on a large painting, I just wanted to feel productive again. I did this little invented landscape in about an hour and it felt so good to do something quick and pretty. Simple, pretty, quick and fulfilling. Every once in a while it's fun to just make stuff up and see if I can make it work.

I just bought 6 of these books: "Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great" by Fredrick Ruckstull. It's awesome. They republished it in 2003, but the first edition copies are actually a lot cheaper. I bought six and didn't spend more than $6 on any one of them. The reprinted copies are like $20. Everyone should get this book. I also am loving the book "Pictorial Composition" by Henry Poore.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hudson River Revival Show at the Springville Museum

Here's a bunch of pictures of the Exhibition. I have more detailed photos I'll post soon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Catch Phrases Used as Excuses

For a while now I have been dealing with a lot of misconceptions and concerns coming from students, prospective students, teachers and professional artists about modern academic art education. Many of these people are very sincere in their search for correct principles in art and methods of teaching that will help them understand those principles. This post is to try, in a simple way, to answer some of these concerns. I'm sure that I won't fully address every angle of the concerns, but hopefully this will act as a springboard for some discussion that will allow me to provide answers more fully. First - There are many people out there who are getting caught up in the negativity of sight-size drawing. For the most part this negativity is coming from people who know very little or nothing about it, but are more than happy to pass on the negativity based on hearsay. It's more than ridiculous that so many young and otherwise sincere students are being swayed by this uneducated and biased jargon. So here is my answer. Most of you who are negative towards sight-size should really ask yourself why. Is it because you have heard bad things, read bad things, or assumed bad things about it? Or is it because you have tried it with proper teaching and didn't like it? It seems like the only way you could really make a conscious decision on whether you like it or not is if you had personal experience with it. Sight-size drawing has become a catch phrase for those who want to undermine Academic study. Sight-size does not in any way define Academic study. The majority of real academies out there do not use sight-size drawing, but they do teach the same drawing principles as those academies that do use sight-size. It's not about sight-size, it's about the knowledge you gain from teaching based on proper principles. Sight-size does not provide artists with all the answers. It is not a mechanical method of drawing. It still requires that the student uses his vision to judge the subject and compare it's parts to refine the whole. The results are obvious. Take a good student from the Florence Academy of Art and one from the Grand Central Academy. The one from the FAA is being taught drawing principles using sight-size, the student from the GCA is learning the same drawing principles without sight-size. Compare the results. They are both coming out with high levels of accuracy and great sensitivities for life. On the other hand, look at the results of those students who study drawing outside of the top academies. I'm hard pressed to find any school that has good student drawings. This is due to the lack of principles being taught. Sight-size is not the problem. The lack of principled teaching is. There is more to this discussion on sight-size. There is also more to the discussion beyond sight-size. I'll leave it just this for now, and address more later. Please let me know what you all think and maybe we can spark a discussion.
I grabbed some images of student work off the GCA and FAA websites. The top left image was done by Cornelia Hernes from the FAA, top right was done by Michael DeVore from the FAA, the one below those was done by Emilie Lee from the GCA and the last one was done by Angela Cunningham of the GCA.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Academic Study, Benefits and Misconceptions

First, let me say that this post is a response to many unrelated but similar comments, criticisms and general attitudes that have come to me recently. I'm not going to take the time to address each of them individually, but I hope to address the general sentiment with just a few ideas.
Academic study has come under some attack as it has gained momentum in recent years. Where is the criticism coming from? From the outside, of course. As is the standard practice of today, those with the least amount of information are the quickest to criticize. We expect that anything that is gaining in popularity will find both its followers and its detractors. But the problem I see here is with all those who otherwise claim to be directly in line with the same beliefs and principles of realist painting that the Academies pursue, only to undermine these institutions that give art students their best chance at producing master works. Let me make it clear that these ideas here stated do not stem from an immature loyalty for any one school, or some brain-washed regurgitation of Academic rhetoric spoon-fed me during my time in the Academy. As much as possible I have tried to leave opinion out of this, leave aesthetics and personal taste to the side, and try, as clearly as I can to discuss the knowledge every artist must have, if he or she hopes to achieve certain things in their art.
I am aware that not every artist wants the same thing. It goes without saying, and thank God it is true. But we are approaching a moment where we might, we just might, have a chance to re-establish standards in art. With all the ridiculous meanderings we have been subject to in the last century, we are finally to that delicate stage where things could change for the better. But the good in art that is fighting and gaining ground against its modernist foes, is being attacked now from behind by a cloaked adversary. One who has claims of being allied to the good, and friendly to its cause, all the while carrying out its traitorous schemes for the sake of monetary gain. And the scary thing is that their nefarious schemes are working and adding strength to the opposition who loves nothing more than further excuse to disregard the good in art. The surest way to lose the fight in re-establishing standards in art is to victimize ourselves with the very weapons modernist have been using for years, those of misdirection and ignorant pontificating banter. The truth is a hard pill to swallow and an even harder thing to keep in sharp focus, especially today. Any and all attempts to stifle the truth will be made by those unwilling to face it. To be confronted by the truth would mean to most the nullification of all their life's work, however meager, and probably the loss of their vocation, and all the false praise, public recognition and financial prosperity that came with it. No wonder they will do anything to keep the truth hidden or at least unrecognizably distorted.
So how do we join the fight to bring the good back to art? Many would say we must let our good work speak for us. We can argue all day long, but in the end the work will either speak for or against us. I believe this is true to a point. But as part of the destruction modernism has had, it has left our contemporary world largely without any understanding or platform on which to stand when trying to judge that work and its merits. We then see artists like Jacob Collins, Graydon Parrish and Adrian Gottlieb being pooh-poohed while other contemporary realists, untrained and unrefined are exalted to skies. The fight for the good then requires that we not only strive to produce masterful work, but that we also fight to educate the public on what the difference is. It is a dangerous gamble we are forced to take, to turn our backs on the fight with modernism and focus our sights on the confrontation with the false ally of contemporary realism.
One thing we must understand is that in the 19th century, when art education was at its peak, knowledge of painting and sculpture had evolved through some of the greatest minds in history from the Greeks, through the Renaissance and on to the Naturalists of the 19th century. Why then is the term "self-taught" so captivating in today's art world? Do we really think that those who ignore the past and reinvent the wheel on their own are more genius than all those of the past combined? Or is it possible to see those "self-taught" artists as they are...children splashing in shallow pools of understanding that were once vast oceans of knowledge. The problems don't stop there. Perhaps the larger problem is not with the ignorance of this mass of painters, but with their arrogant beliefs that those puddles they are splashing in are, in fact, those same oceans the previous masters sailed and successfully navigated across. And I can't place all the blame on them. Truly they don't know any better. I blame them for their feeble and misguided attempts to correct their ignorance, but I don't blame them for thinking and feeling better about their art than they should. There are many outside sources, galleries, critics and museum director's who help create and perpetuate this false sentiment among these artists. Confidence is often gained with recognition and praise, even if that praise is undeserving.
How can we hope to overcome this ignorance then, and understand art enough to fulfill the measure of its creation? We must find a way to adopt ourselves into the conversation that was once so common and is now so rare. To understand something to these depths requires a foundation of knowledge that brings clarity and context to the discussion of art. This context allows for a clearer, more efficient path to that depth of knowledge. This knowledge was so present and pervasive in the 19th century that artists of the time almost inherited it. The wealth that was once vast has been squandered and turned into debt. It is our misfortune today that we inherit that debt and must claw our way out of it. The Academies of today, which directly or indirectly are tied to the methods, curriculum's and thought processes of the 19th century give us the best chance at recovering this knowledge and building this foundation early in our studies, early enough to leave us the necessary time to build a refined understanding on top of that sure foundation. Any other form of art study available to students today, such as Art Center, New York Academy, any University and most workshops lead us through a confused fog of broad and scattered information that forces students of those institutions to somehow try to organize and contextualize that information on their own. It's much like putting a puzzle together without knowing the final image the pieces are meant to create. It is possible to find a place for each piece, but it takes an excessive and unwarranted amount of time to do so. The Academies offer the clarity of the puzzle box cover. There is no special or secret information, just a clarity and depth of information that gives a clearer path to ones goals. No form of personal study will ever take the place of the wisdom imparted by those trained properly before us. Isn't this the very nature of education? Knowledge passed down from master to student that evolves and grows over time? But so many teachers today, most in fact, are poorly trained themselves. All any of them can hope to do is talk about the way they do things. Critiques of an art students work are more often than not "I like this, or I don't like that" with no rhyme or reason or justification behind it. Students even choose schools based on the style of the teachers and the hope that they can pick up to some extent that style or aesthetic. These decisions are made in part because most everyone wants to make art now, to sell art now, to create right now. Study, true study, gets in the way more often than not. We live in a product driven world and our art is no different. Our style-based systems of art education perpetuate this desire in students to produce before they are ready. Students should study. Artists should create. It is my belief that craft precedes artistry, knowledge precedes inspiration, observation precedes invention and a process-based art always yields a higher standard of work.
And as for the criticisms of the Academies and the work that comes from them, let us exercise a little more patience, and a little less deliberate disregard. We are after all, struggling to rediscover, re-connect and regain a knowledge that has been shit on and shunned for nearly a century. Miles Mathis in his essay about the 911 painting by Graydon Parrish writes: "Like the wolf, the commentators on the right have starved themselves into a corner. For them, Modernism is a dead-end, but, because they don’t want to be seen as completely “out of it,” they have accepted, consciously or unconsciously, important parts of the Modernist program. They don’t want to go forward with Modernism on its current track, but they don’t want to go back. They want skill but they also want astounding relevance at all times, by the modern definition. And they will dismiss any realism that does not immediately trump all previous realism (as Modernism claimed to immediately trump all previous art). Hence the absurd comparisons to Raphael. They expect craft and novelty simultaneously. Despite knowing full well that craft in art just underwent a century of obsolescence, they judge new realism by higher standards than old realism. A technical mistake in Rembrandt or Chardin or Goya is easily overlooked, for instance; a similar mistake by a new realist is cause for full dismissal. Many are so keen to prove their knowledge and taste that they can be pleased by nothing...By these standards, there is no future, no hope. The dead-end of the right is just as dead as the left, since although the right appears to have a program based on statable standards, as at The New Criterion, there is no hope of realizing it. Not because it is so high or puissant, but because it is contradictory and confused...He wants craft, but doesn’t want any derivation or historical reversion or political backsliding: he wants a new Leonardo to arrive, fully formed, and updated in all the right ways at once—and he wants this Leonardo to come to him and bow down and ask for anointment from him, the critic. Good luck, Sir."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Upcoming Workshop July 2009

Figure Painting in the Studio

This figure painting workshop, presented in collaboration with the Center for Academic Study & Naturalist Painting, is an open enrollment course. Work side by side with professional artists and receive professional instruction.

Course dates: July 13 –18, 2009
July 20 – 25, 2009
July 27 – August 1, 2009
August 3 – 8, 2009

The course will run every Monday through Saturday, excluding Tuesday’s.

Prospective students are welcome to join us for one or all of the sessions. We will be using the same model and the same pose for each session, allowing for a 4 week extended study for anyone interested in a more deep exploration of the figure. The model will be clothed as well, with a staged backdrop, which will also allow for the study of drapery and composition.

The instructor is Ryan S. Brown

Fees for the workshop are: $150 to attend one week, $275 to attend two weeks, $400 to attend 3 weeks and $475 to attend all 4 weeks. Tuition includes models fees and daily instruction. Participants must provide their own materials. For questions contact:
Ryan S. Brown at ryan@ryansbrownart.com or 801-822-8802.

The Importance of Art Education

I have thought about this a lot. It is my opinion that art education reached its pinnacle in the schools of the 19th century, namely those of Paris, Spain, Munich and Russia. The results speak for themselves, don't they? Art is such a stupidly difficult thing to talk about generally because it has been overrun by opinion. I like this, you like that and that is all that matters. But is it all that matters? I don't think so. Certainly it is important to allow people to enjoy whatever they find interesting, but is that the final say on art? How did the standards in art become so lost? And I'm not talking about the fight between post-modernism or any other abstract nonsense and realism. I'm talking about the state of realism vs. realism today. To my surprise, most 'artists' and especially art students are oblivious to what the standards in art once were. I hear the comment over and over "That's just not how we paint anymore". Really? Really?? Could it be that we don't paint like that anymore because we can't, and not because we 'choose' not to. Doesn't choosing require that you have options to choose between? Let's be honest. Most artists paint how and what they paint because they are incapable of doing anything else. And the reason for that is the fundamentally flawed systems of art education that exist today. If we hope to achieve anything brilliant that rivals the masterworks in history, doesn't it stand to reason that we would have to understand how those paintings were made and what the artists went through to make them, including their training? And isn't it disturbingly obvious that the work of today can't hold a candle to the work of the 19th century? And doesn't that mean that maybe something is wrong with our system today? Or do we think that the human race has just run out of genius? Where are the Michelangelo's, Sargent's, Waterhouse's and Gerome's? The Beethovens, Shakespeare's and Chopin's? That's all for now.

Finished New Works

Here is the finished painting "The Loneliness of Waiting"
It is 40 x 70 inches
Right now it is being shown at Astoria Fine Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here is another little painting I finished recently. It is 8 x 16 inches.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Further Development

Here are some images of the painting as it looked last week. All criticisms are welcome.

Here I am correcting the perspective I screwed up on the first pass.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Images of the Painting I've been working on

Here's a few different stages of the painting I am working on. It is 40x70 and it was started at Casa di Dante in Florence.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Grand Opening of the CAS

These are photos taken during the Open House of my studio and the Grand Opening of the Center for Academic Study and Naturalist Painting (CAS).

Click to play CAS Grand Opening
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Great Scam of the modern University Education

Here is a great video clip on 20/20 that aired the other night. Follow the link http://abcnews.go.com/2020 and go to the January 16th clip called "College: Worth the Price of Admission?" Any of us who have been to college, only to find out how little they had to offer us, can relate to this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My First Post

I have decided that I need a way to keep in better touch with all those artists out there who I respect. I have a million thoughts about painting, processes, methods, materials and so on, but not many people in my immediate surroundings to share them with. So I'm hoping to share them here and have this become a vehicle for the expansion of those thoughts.
So, to ease into it without getting too heavy right away, I just have to say that Cheezits are the best snack food for painting. I'm trying to cut down on soda, but Pespi sure does go well with the Cheezits.
Okay, now that I have broken the ice, maybe it will be easier to get in the habit of posting things on here (things of more significance I hope). Here's a photo to make this more interesting.

Plein Air in Venice