Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Lure of Instructional DVDs

Autumn Bouquet II
26 x 30
I was browsing the trailers on the APV Films site the other day and ooh-ing and ahh-ing like a kid at a fireworks display. APV distributes art instruction DVDs and has some very good, international artists.

I love watching even the short promo trailers because they show the working methods of the painters. David Curtis paints as if he's assembling a jigsaw puzzle: he knows where each piece goes and places it unerringly in the correct value, shape and colour. Herman Pekel paints with abandon and glee, using credit cards for tools, sloshy, drippy paint, and layers that you can't believe he's able to apply given the amount of wet, mushy paint on the canvas. Maxwell Wilks starts his paintings in a random, sketchy, and muddy fashion and then pulls a light, pleasing, and harmonious work out at the end. And there are others: all unique.

The thing that stays with me, after watching all of these different approaches, is that it's their confidence that makes these painters and their work so inspiring. They work in a playful, but not sloppy method, using their old tricks, but also giving the impression that they are trying new ones out for size too. Pekel said it best when he advised:"at least once a week, discover something that no-one's told you. That means it's really, truly part of you." I think it's the constant search for something new and exciting about painting that keeps these artists fresh, and watchable.

I'm not sure if I'll order a disc; I think the most important teaching that I can get from these DVDs is to paint boldly and have a great time doing it.  All the rest is just detail.


Bob Young said...

I *did* buy the APV video featuring Maxwell Wilks, "Colour & Light in Oil." One fascinating thing about Wilks is that he smudges the brush-applied paint with his fingers. It helps him soften edges and get variation in value and transparency within a single mass. He finger-smudges a lot; it's integral to his technique. But it makes me wonder: Isn't that dangerous to his health? What about the cadmium pigments; can't they be absorbed through the skin? What do you think?

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks for the insight into Wilks' technique. That explains a lot.

I agree with you about the health risk of this practice. Doesn't he also hold brush handles in his mouth while working?

I've recently forced myself to wear gloves (nitrile fingers and palms, but fabric on the back of the hands; cheap at Lee Valley or Mark's Work Wearhouse), and have been surprised by how quickly I've become used to them. Wish I'd been smart enough to do this years ago.