To celebrate a wonderful and enriching month in my art life (fabulous exhibit experience at The Burkholder Project, fabulous workshop experience at Lux Center for the Arts) I purchased a new art book for myself.
That's a big deal because 1) I'm pretty cheap and don't spend money on myself easily, and 2) I find reading about art fairly tiring. It's difficult to write about concepts and ideas, and art books tend either to get bogged down in gobbledygook or over-simple how-to's.
To blow a couple of hours I spent some time at a local bookstore browsing the art section. Not known for their extensive collection of great art books, I was surprised and delighted to see a title leap out of the stacks at me, "Alla Prima, A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Direct Painting" by Al Gury. Alla prima is a method of painting taught to me by Dustin VanWechel at Graham Gallery a few years ago, and it suits me to a T.
Warming Glen @2010 P Scarborough 11 x 14 pastel
To the uninitiated, alla prima is a method of painting in which little or no pre-planning is done, and it is not unusual to complete the painting in one sitting. "Instinct and training are more important than exactitude and predetermined execution. Suggestion, rather than detail, is used as a part of the expressive effect." says Gury in this beautifully written book. I'm not much of a planner, in part because I get frustrated when my plans get waylaid. I'm a go-with-the-flow kinda gal. I'm exactly the kind of person who revels in inexactness.
From Shadows @2010 P Scarborough
Gury starts with a clearly explained history of alla prima painting, which is refreshing in its simplicity. He continues with concise descriptions of materials and a few demonstrations, all gorgeously illustrated with images of his work, as well as the artwork of those he admires. I was introduced to a few artists I was not very familiar with, whose paintings are now firmly imprinted on my brain. In addition to Gury's gorgeous landscapes, Cecilia Beaux, Carolyn Pyfrom and Jon Redmond are now added to my faves list.
Consider this my recommendation - if you need one - as a gift to self. It's beautiful to leaf through, and enlightening to read.
How do you reward yourself?