26 October, 2007

Virtual Event - Bump!

The need for a virtual hanging struck me. Enjoy. All works soft pastel, originals by Casey Klahn.

For those who have seen this post back in July, bear with me as I use this display again for reference.

25 October, 2007


Happy Artist's Day! Celebrate by making art, buying art, or even just re-hanging that art you already own and enjoying it. Go to a museum at lunch. Buy a new box of crayons for the kids. Woo-Hoo!

Click on the gif above to watch the fireworks burst.

23 October, 2007

New Book

My new drawing book purchase has made it's way (by pony express) all the way to Spokane. Now, it will ride with the passengers and mail bag on the stagecoach to my little stop in the country.

The book is:
Classical Drawing Atelier
A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice
Juliette Aristides

I will be able, I hope, to dive into the Atelier as part of my intentions to get back to realist figures. This will be my "hobby," since the strong art statement that my Colorist American Landscapes makes satisfies my fine art side, for now. Another hobby of mine is plein air work.

Don't forget to drop me an e-mail with your post address if you would like my new card, free. Of course, I don't share your address with anyone, and you will be on my humble mailing list. My e-mail is in the right marginal part of this blog page. Thanks!

And by the way, I will be reviewing the book for the drawing book review project coordinate with Making a Mark.

22 October, 2007

Book & Postcard

This year's copy of American Art Collector, the book, has arrived at my mail box. It is the third or fourth year in a row that I have been juried into this attractive book, although this year it is a national catchment, rather than regional. My prior entries are in the West Coast editions.

I appreciate the effort and high quality that goes into the Alcove Books publications, and it never ceases to amaze me the wonderful art and crafts that my peerage all around the US are creating. Fun this year to see the national examples.

The postcards that I receive with my book also look wonderful. This years' cards represent the first year that my submission was with a digital camera image. Even though the pink and magenta are very difficult to represent, the card seems to have come out to my liking. If any of you who read my blogs would like to be included on my mailing list (post - rather than e-mail), I will be happy to mail an enclosure to you with my new postcard and an assortment of my older cards (two or three total) as long as I have the old cards available. This would put you on my mailing list, which receives a mailing from me about twice a year, although I would like to increase that to 3 or 4 mailings a year. Write me an e-mail (see the right column of this blog) and include your snail mail address.


An interview with artist Sheila M. Evans at Pastel.
My book review of a Wolf Kahn exhibition catalog featuring large works in pastel.

20 October, 2007

If I Were Rothko

6.5" x 4"
Original Pastel
10 June 2007
Casey Klahn

The image above was part of my Rothko study earlier in the year.

This blog is getting hits at Google with this quote by me:
Does it serve the artist to know about color theory, or to hold an opinion about which theory he finds correct? I tend to think the answer is no. More on why I feel that way later.
Of course it serves to know color theory when mixing paint, or establishing a mood in an illustration or a narrative piece. Actually, the times when knowing the science of color serves the artist at his craft are numerous. But that's just it: craft. The mystical quality that floats the painting up into what we describe as fine art is where we part ways with the science of color.

How did the artist establish that setting or feeling in a particular work? Was it done with algorythms and juxtapositions? Did it emanate from his soul? For sure it had less to do with the science of color placement, and more to do with the heart.

That's my opinion on color theory.

19 October, 2007


Edgar Degas

Have a look at the following web site, artst.org, for great images by famous artists. Stunning quality.

Then, after you get an eye full of Degas' great art, see my post about the old boy's best work at my blog: Pastel.

17 October, 2007

Back "In Pocket"

Back from my mini vacation and ready to roll with more on the color wheel.

Here's some food for thought at our ever faithful Wikipedia: Color Theory.

Look again at the wheel on the left, above. Green for a primary, anyone?

12 October, 2007

Color Theory - Continued

Beware the dominance of computer medias' views of color, dear friends. Ink, mass media, and the light on your computer screen do not reflect the totality of knowledge about color. The "Old School" color understandings that artists have known for a few centuries are not the end-all, be-all of color, either. However, the artist's eye on the two dimensional surface, and his pigments applied there upon, are very different from the use of color in the mass and digital arenas. I'm only saying that the knowledge contained on the Internet regarding color seems to me to be biased towards the digital media.

Here is a great, yet simple interactive lesson on the color wheel. It comes from Iowa State University (I think). Good on them.

Here's one that painters will need to use with some consideration of it's computer bias. But, it could be a slick way to create a rough composition for one's "analogue" artwork. William Lehman has begun working with an e-tablet for drawing. I really like what he's doing and look forward to keeping tabs on his progress. I had a neighbor at an art fair who was doing digital realist art with a stylus directly on the computer screen, and I was most fascinated by it. If I were to go that direction, I can see the possibilities for commercial art. In fact, I can't conceive of not going that direction for commercial, or applied, art.

More to follow on the subject of color theory.

11 October, 2007

Color Theory

There are about as many color theories as there are scholars with a dollar. Which one is the best? The one I was taught, of course.

A theory of color is an organized observation of the phenomenon of color. It serves the practical value of giving us guidance in "coloring" things, and in understanding aspects and purposes of color. Mixing paint. Illuminating computer images. Object recognition. Does it serve the artist to know about color theory, or to hold an opinion about which theory he finds correct? I tend to think the answer is no. More on why I feel that way later. For now, lets evaluate and critique what things are being said about color in the academic world.

The present day, which is very different from "my own day", is dominated by the computer. The Information Age, I have heard it called. I fear many young people are being brought up with the prejudices that the computer gives to the understanding of color. They are taught that the three primary colors are red, green and blue. If this is you, I challenge you to go get those three colors in jars of acrylic paint, and mix yellow for me.

If we dig deeper, we find out that these three colors (called RGB), when projected as light, produce a "white" light. Be still my beating heart. Now, to be fair, the digital media are the new and cutting edge direction of our civilization. Digital art will be, and maybe already is, a major contributor to the direction of contemporary art. At my gut level, true to the caveman that I am, I am made weak by the idea that projected light will be our new world of color. It is too limiting, in my opinion. Too flat, pardon the pun!

Proponents of the computer models of color argue that pigment mixing is imperfect to produce colors, and that the CRT screen is easier to use for them in achieving various colors, especially if they wish to create equal intensities or values of a given color. This is a straw man. Colors for the artist are pigment based, not mixed from three primaries alone. Yes, there is craft to achieving the range of colors. But, the science of making a full range of colors as say, tubes of paint, is not dependent upon mixing alone. It is tied to available pigments - environmentally driven, if you will.

Brown University has the following site which purports to represent the e-based and the pigment based theories of color. After the first page, you'll begin to see the bias preferring the RGB color model, though.

Conversely, here is a color theory site that digs into the shortfalls of e-based color production. Thanks, Don Jusko. See how he compares the RGB model for values of yellow, and the way an artist darkens the same yellow. He indicts the inability of the RGB scale to create Naples yellow, for instance.

I trust that if you have read this post closely, you will see that I am mainly giving you an introduction to the arguments that exist regarding current color theory. There are many more theories of color , and all a fascinating read. I hope to post and comment on them in the next few days. There will be some "out of pocket" time for me, as I will be hosting Deer Camp starting tonight.

We will be digging into the artist's theories of color, the value of these theories and relative merits of each. My opinion? Freely given, of course!

10 October, 2007


"Anybody who paints and sees a sky green and pastures blue ought to be sterilized."
Adolph Hitler

Thanks, ArtLex, for the quote to link.

Thanks, to my late father, his army unit and his generation, for putting a stop to the evil chancellor Hitler.

08 October, 2007

Post of Merit

You really have to see my post, today, over at Pastel. It's a multi-media corker, with a good deal of mystery and international flavor. The subject is the superlative Henri Roche Pastels, how to find them, and a video note from the maker.

Enthusiasm Linked

Terri West, the Epiphany Artist, has an inspiring post on enthusiasm (October 5th, 2007).

07 October, 2007

Art is Invisible - Weblog Awards Still Uncultured

Is art dead? Looks like it is in the minds of the Weblog Awards. Purposely not linked.

Here is what I wrote in the forum section at the Weblog Awards:

Congratulations on the Weblog awards for 2007. It is a shame that my blogs, and the blogs of countless others in my blog community, will not be eligible. Of course, we are talking about the art blogs.
No, not photo blogs! Please, for the love of all that is decent good in this world, we are trying to have a civilization here!
Notice that I stopped short of declaring the blog awards "uncultured"!
Never mind. I can see that art is, as the critics have claimed, dead.
Now that I have, hopefully, made you feel silly, let's get busy and include this category in your awards. By the way, I will inform you (and this is painfully necessary) that "art" is not photography, but does include fine art photography, and is separate from the category of "culture". However, it goes without citation, that culture's greatest asset has been art - at least for a couple of millenia.
Back to the art category: Wikipedia has correctly suggested art as having two broad categories: "Visual Art" and "Arts".
Thanks for your attention to this, Weblog Awards.
This cause is not about me or my friends getting another award. It goes to the perception of art in civilization. Many simply don't see it on their radar screen even in an abstract sense. I have come off snotty, probably, which isn't helping the cause of art in general. Maybe some of you gentle readers can add to my thread at the forum, or even better, add a few threads. Registration required, but painless. Act now, since the nominations have been opened.

BTW, I "cap off" on photography because the category of photography is included, but art has no mention whatsoever that I could find.

05 October, 2007

Helen Frankenthaler

Photo: Lieberman, Alexander

Here is a link to a new exhibition of one of my Abstract Expressionists, Helen Frankenthaler. It's at the Ameringer-Yohe Gallery currently.

Her school of art was known by some as Post Painterly Abstraction. Whatever. She painted in New York, she knew Jackson Pollock, she studied with Hans Hofmann, end of story. I will still place her in Abstract Expressionism, at least until I write my doctoral thesis on schools of art.

The following wisdom from Frankenthaler should be burned in your heart if you want to be an artist who paints well and freely:

"A really good picture looks as if it's happened at once. It's an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it—well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that—there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. And I usually throw these out, though I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute." (In Barbara Rose, Frankenthaler (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1975, p. 85)

I will not post any paintings of hers, since she still holds rights to them. Here is some link love about the master:

CONNECTED BY JOY, 1967-70, via the Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle.
Wikipedia entry on HF.
Googleography (my own word for a list of books on Google).
What amounts to a resume on HF at World Wide Art Resources.
Bio from the NGA.

04 October, 2007

Intuitive Choice in Art

Abstract Reds Over Blues
20" x 12"
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn
Collection the Artist

Things are a little "static" around here, to use the web lingo. Let's revisit a popular post that should grease the skids of creativity;

Intuitive Choices

Under the tutelage of Diane Townsend I painted this abstract work. It has some elements of color field painting, like Mark Rothko, and extensive gestural elements. The gestural nature is in keeping with the drawing roots of the pastel medium. I like the way the paper's surface is evident, and yet the color blending, and heavily worked nature of the piece makes it work as a painting for me.

Let's talk a little bit about intuitive choices in fine art. The choices that a child makes are very intuitive, because their knowledge base is limited. The hands start moving, and the limitations are the length of their little arms, and the characteristics of the tools. They are mostly trying these tools out for the very first time.

A great deal is made of technique in art. The pastel medium is no exception. In fact, technical skill is probably too emphasized in this medium. It's supposed to be hard, you see. And, admittedly, there is much to know (much that I do not know!). Sometimes beginning steps are not rewarded very well by the outcomes.

"Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things."
Edgar Degas said in a quote posted at Expo Degas.

So, intuition! First sketches with bold gestural marks always work better for me than deliberate and measured work. The thing is to have years and years of drawing from memory in one's back pocket, and then the quick marks made on the paper will seem intentional. I don't subscribe to the subtle and tentative working that is often required of detailed realistic work.

The same goes for compositional choices. It is not easy to describe, but I think that studying good composition is necessary, and then ought to be put out of one's mind. If you can internalize compositional knowledge, it will come out naturally as you draw. The best thing I can say is: "try it".

The ability to critique one's own art becomes more important when you want to be an intuition-driven artist. Did this one really turn out to have the best composition? Color Choices? Does it have too much to say for one painting? Ask these questions of yourself.

Wolf Kahn has a chair that he sits in and ruminates over his finished art. Most artists do take some time and distance away from their works to try and get an objective perspective on their own creations. It's challenging.

The pastel medium is "made to order" for the artist who wants to favor intuitive creation. It is a direct, and rewarding tool. It's interesting to consider that in the book, Wolf Kahn's Pastels, the great colorist chose to make the text a collection of essays on artistic process. A natural fit, I think.
New Links for the quoted post:

Diane Townsend.

Schama's take on art is somewhere between pointless and powerless, in my opinion. However, I offer you his link on Mark Rothko, here.

01 October, 2007

Bibliophilia Alert

In this day and age, that title sounds bad. Maybe leading to images on milk cartons, and neighborhood watch meetings. Calm down, Nellie. It's actually a great and good thing, and an anchor to civilization. Of course, I won't give the definition here. Google it. Or better yet, go dust off that big dictionary on your bookshelf and look it up!

October is The Big Drawing Book Review, and is being moderated by Katherine Tyrrell. I have begun by starting a multi post review of Wolf Kahn Pastels and perhaps another of his pastel books. My study of this book will probably lead to a self-directed project in the near future. Stay tuned for that.

We just built a new bookshelf in our north room. That room was my studio for the past 3 or 4 years, and since I am in the process of re-building a large house trailer as my new studio, we are able to get the north room back to it's original plan: a library. For a house full of book-lovers, it is like a healthy dose of Prozac for our sanity.

Here's a list of rare drawing books for sale at various bookstores around the net, by the way:


Here is a part of Google that I don't think I ever heard of before:
( I know, I know -"duh!")

Google Book Search
Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism