Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Amazing Painting by Belyukin.
From the Studios of Garin Baker
Carriage House Art Studios
July 27th 2011

I was recently hanging out with James Gurney who knows way to much for one individual but gratefully he turned me on to a wonderful blog site entitled "Inspirational Works of Art". (  
where I came across this amazing painting.

"White Russia in Exile", by Dmitri Belyukin, 1994

Now you might think this is a early 20th century political propagandist painting and although it has tons of references to a sympathetic view of exiled Russians who were deposed after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 but it was completed in 1994 by Deitri Belyukin
What I found so amazing beyond the powerful subject was the composition and handling of such a complex scene of figures in an atmospheric setting. The inventive way the artist has used, without discernible obvious perspective solutions, the layered aspects of building groupings of figures moving into the distance that allow you eye to travel through the image experiencing the poses and characters in his human narrative. Looking closer as the figures recede into the mist during their morning commute, I am amazed how he uses a harmony of color and handling to capture this complex configuration. Not an easy task and aware to my core and knowing how difficult it is to compose something this layered and interesting. This artist in my opinion demonstrates the highest of abilities and skills that many including myself admire about contemporary realism.  This work has captivated me and raised my excitement towards doing work that is as well realized.

This inspirational blog site is chock full of works of all kinds and times and I urge anyone who's on their own personal quest never to be satisfied to search out works that shake you off you comfortable creative perch nudging you to go beyond what's popular in all our attempts at being "successful" and paint what excites you finding your own personal and compelling voice. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Notes on Drawings #3
From the Studios of Garin Baker
Carriage House Art Studios
July 26th 2011
15 min pose "Sara" Vine charcoal on newsprint, Garin Baker, 2011

This technique is great fun and starts with applying vine charcoal over the entire surface of the newsprint paper. I like the rough marks the edges of the charcoal makes on the paper but some like to smooth it out with a gentile cloth rub.

3 min poses

Starting with the lighter lines beneath, when looking closely before the outside contour lines are drawn is the "gesture drawing" that I described in Notes on Drawings #2.  In addition the lighter area is pulled out using a clean kneaded eraser.  It's only then that the darker contour lines are discovered and applied when feeling the form and perceiving the edges, from the interior proportions outward using thick and thin variations reacting to the strength and turns of the form in the shadows side or against the light edges.

Repetition and an unsatisfied diligence is key towards developing over time and I recommend a figure drawing class or workshop at a minimum of 3 hrs a week as a priority.......... especially when our busy lives get in the way.

Underlying Gesture drawings. 1 min.

Again, a good gesture is key, that all else is built upon. If it's not right all the rendering in the world won't improve it.

2 mim poses

2 min

5 min   7 min

Standing pose, 20 min

This 20 min pose captures the gentile juxtaposition of the upper torso anchored with the weight on the leg in back with the front leg relaxed. This subtle pose capturing a real sense of volume and weight is worth pursuing in your studies. 

I hope that these "Notes on Drawings" have been helpful and although academic in nature and basic in delivery are some of the issues I've been offering in my drawing workshop over the past few weeks.
And over time I have seen real growth among several students willing to do the exercises and stumbling as we all do to find our own answers which inevitably present a list of new question.

No matter how frustrating and discouraging the task at hand.....  keep drawing from life.
The benchmark for which all else will improve!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Notes on Drawings #2
From the Studios of Garin Baker
Carriage House Art Studios
July 22nd 2011
"Temptress" B&W charcoal on Canson Paper, Garin Baker, 2008

The above 45 minute drawing in it's finished form shows none of the preliminary thought process and initial stages that are so important towards understanding proportions and getting the elements of the figure to fall into place and I thought I would in the following shorter pose image below highlight some of the unseen and preliminary thought processes from which all else is developed.

Drawing as a "Process of Subtraction":
I know this sounds reversed and for those of you who are seasoned draftspersons the clear perception of the whole as a conceptual beginning is key but lost among many students who focus on the resolved, finished or distorted qualities on the surface which are almost always built atop an unseen conceptual start.

2 min/ left       10 seconds/ right

The 10 second drawing on the right is that start. Many call this the "envelope" of form. And is so important as a conceptual beginning towards understanding correct proportions and building the skills necessary towards developing solid figure drawings.  Many students skip past or struggle to see how important this stage is and usually start with the head and attempt to construct a figure by adding a neck, shoulder, arms, torso, hips, legs and so on.  This being called, "Drawing as a Process of Addition". 
The 2 min drawing on the left is what's built on top on the first 10 seconds. depending on how much time you have will determine the lightness or darkness applied to your conceptual beginning realizing that we're playing chess here not checkers and anticipating where the drawing is going and the level of completeness or finished quality desired based on time alloted.

Many students having seen the amazing figure drawings by Egon Schiele and his purposeful distortion adding a tormented emotional quality to the work, miss the fact that he spent years diligently working to understand the human figure and how to manipulate it for effect.

Egon Schiele, "Self portrait with arms twisting above head".

Books on Egon Schiele:
Drawings & Watercolors
Egon Schiele 1890-1918 (Paperback)
Egon Shiele (Paperback)

Good draftsmanship is not an accident formed by chance, it's accidents created through understanding, diligence and consistent practice.

Drawing and perceptions will continue, so check back for
"Notes on Drawing" #3.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Notes on Drawings #1
From the Studios of Garin Baker
Carriage House Art Studios
July 22nd 2011
"Ray" B&W Charcoal on Canson Paper, Garin Baker, 2011 
Over the last few weeks I've been doing a figure drawing class with a group of young art students.  Most quite talented and focused.  So I wanted to examine the basic underlying perceptions that many overlook when examining and appreciating the completed drawings of so many accomplished artist. 
Figure by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon. 
We all are amazed by drawings that capture a compelling quality and marvel at the finished look and resolved quality not appreciating the underlying nature a simple figure drawing was conceived with.

Correct Proportions, and how the importance of simple gesture notations and the underlying beginning stages are. 

Many accomplished artist who draw from life regularly are poor examples for students since their skills have been honed to a point where they can edit past many of these beginning stages. Students see their work and believe if they can begin rendering a portion of the figure it will come out looking like what they see and feel.
Please forgive my directness, but nothing can be further from the truth.  I have for many years witnessed thousands of these beautifully rendered shoulders and noses only to allow my eyes to travel across the rest of the drawing to see the most out of whack proportions and relationships of body parts.  Many of us don't spend the required and repetitious hours needed doing direct, simple gesture drawings.  Seeing the whole figure as one movement and the immediate perception of the full pose from head to toe, and all the extremities as one holistic shape. 
This is crucial and can not be stressed enough.  And until this perception becomes second nature to any young artists,  representational drawing will be seen as a process of addition rather than subtraction. 

My series on drawing and perceptions will continue, so check back for more examples and additional "Notes on Drawing" #2.

Suggested readings:

Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 45th Anniversary Edition

Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice 
Steven Assael: Selected Drawings
The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Head Study Workshops
By Garin Baker
Carriage House Art Studios
July 14th 2011
"Portrait of Amy" Oil on Linen, 12"x16", Garin Baker, 2011

I'm beginning a series of "Head Study Workshops" at two Arts and Educational Centers begining this month and on into the Fall in The lower Hudson Valley of NY State.
"Tony", Oil on Linen, 9"x12, Garin Baker, 2011

 The First is being offered by The Wallkill River School located in Montgomery, NY run by Shawn Dell Joyce and her amazing staff of dedicated arts and environmental advocates.  She has cleverly merged a local arts movement with the area's farming community.  Creating an artist illustrated cook book featuring local artists, chiefs, growers and local farm markets.  Annually organizes plein air paint out events on the area's diminishing farm lands.  And continually raising awareness, creating local jobs, spending locally, eating locally and as a long term goal, building stronger, self sustaining communities.  All in addition to the regular arts classes and cooperative gallery space she manages at her Wallkill River School. Wow! 
And to top it all off,  Shawn and her Wallkill River School have just recently received a grant from the NEA for her continued work on local tourism and economic development.  
To support this wonderful organization and register for my Head Study Workshop 
contact: The Walkill River School,  phone # (845)457-2787

"Male Head Study", Oil on Linen, 14"x18", Garin Baker, 2004
The Second of my continuing Head Study Workshop is being offered this Fall by Mill Street Loft of Poughkeepsie, NY.  The have recently partnered with Scenic Hudson renovating an amazing Old Red Barn space in Beacon, NY.  Scenic Hudson does amazing work, purchasing old vacant industrial lands along the banks of the Hudson River, restoring and preserving the beautiful vistas and offering it to the public for recreational use.  Great news for us Hudson River Plein Air Painters!  They have also created a new Arts and Educational space in an Old Red Barn that Mill Street loft now uses to create an array of new arts, cultural, gallery and educational opportunities.  Located directly across from the Metro North, Beacon Train Station and steps from Dia Beacon, this brand new cultural venue is now a shinning light for the Arts in The Lower Hudson Valley.
To support this wonderful organization and register for my Head Study Workshop 
contact: Mill Street Loft, Laurie Clark, Special Projects, (845)471-7477 ext 18 ,

More Head Study examples by Garin Baker. 
"Portrait of Bryan" Oil on Linen, 18"x 30", Garin Baker, 2011
"Sara" Study, Oil on Linen, 14"x 18", Garin Baker, 2011
"Shaheem" Oil on Linen, 14"x 18", Garin Baker, 2011
Detail, "Portrait of Larry", Oil on Linen, 12"x 16", Garin Baker, 2011
"Portrait of Michael" Oil on Linen, 12"x 16", Garin Baker, 2003


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Artist In His Studio"
By John Singer Sargent, 1903
Oil on canvas 28.5 x 28.25
From the Studios of Garin Baker
Carriage House Art Studios
July 12th 2011

Detail, "Artist in his Studio",  John Singer Sargent, 1903
This little gem is by one of our all time favorites, We all know the name, I'm sure! What has always inspired me about this painting is its pure simplicity. At last night open studio workshop where we have weekly models posing at Carriage House Art studios,  I try and set up a simple pose for 3 hrs with one direct light source attempting, as an exercise to capture in light, form and color a brief figure study and moment. What amazes me sometimes is the complexity we all try to add while the distractions and multiple confusions work their way into our paintings.  If we were to only see the simple masses of dark and light as well as the clear delineation of a cool or warm light vs and cool or warm shadow we would be able to follow through on immediate clear perceptions made in the first few seconds when the model assumes the pose.

When looking at the entire painting by Sargent we can see this very clearly.
One clear light source coming from an open unseen window to the left blankets the middle plain of the painting. Cool in cast with variations of warm shadows. Ok, lets not get confused. When Squinting our eyes (a great and wonderful tool which helps us to see the masses of darks vs lights) the shadows come together as large shapes as opposed to the light masses and shapes in the middle plain. What we all loose sight of in our own works is the "confusion of the grays" or middle tones and how they distract us from the overall impact and graphic nature of a fine work of art that can be read from across the room.  All those middle tones and colors bouncing around taking our attention and leading us astray. 
This painting by Sargent is for me a great lesson about what makes a great  work of art. 
With every stroke of paint, (not one waisted) he pulls together a compelling composition bringing us into the simple room and studio of an old seasoned artist, void of any accoutrements, powerful and purposeful with depth of meaning and form. This work has also inspired me to see my life with all it's complexities and problems as truly something simple to aspire to. "The work" of it all, and the passion to create in the studio, shedding all of life's "issues", for the moment........ 

Make more of them!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Max Ginsburgh Retrospective
Realism with an uncompromising voice.
News release from the Studios of Garin Baker.
Carriage House Art Studios
July 8th 2011
Foreclosure     oil     40" x 65"

I first met Max Ginsburgh as a high school student at the High School of Art & Design in NYC back in the mid 1970's.  He and Irwin Greenberg were traditional realist painters that found themselves teaching a bunch of raggedy haired kids from across the five boroughs of New york City.  Maybe the art world and galleries, at the time had little use for these brilliantly talented individuals but we as young artists couldn't get enough of their uncompromising skills, humorous stories subtilely teaching life's great lessons and amazingly generous warm sensibilities.  No exaggeration intended, but in my opinion, along with others like Dinnerstein, Silverman, Shanks, Schmid, spawned much of the strength of the young contemporary representational movement we are experiencing today.

Crossroads     26" x 40"     oil     2008

As Peter Trippi writes in the July/August article in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine,
"Its always a pleasure to celebrate an artist's achievements while he or she still moves among us, and this is especially true for those realist who spend much of the 20th century ignored or decided because they opted not to ride the modernist wave.  Such celebrations grow in impact when they take the form of a museum retrospective which is exactly what's on deck for this year for the painter Max Ginsburgh (b. 1931).  Stretching in date to 1956, more than 50 of Ginsburgh's works will be on view at New York City's Salmagundi Club (July 18th- August 5th) and more than 80 at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio (Sept, 15th-November 11th).  Fortunately those unable to experience this rare display can enjoy the accompanying 192 page book, which illustrates 150 Ginsburgh works in total."

Peace March oil 48 x 70

I am thrilled to be helping Max, Richard Weinstein, (his long time studio class monitor) and the staff at the Salmagundi Club, installing his show in NYC in July.

Additionally thrilled to be collaborating with Max Ginsburg in offering a 3-5 day Workshop here at Carriage House Art Studios Atelier this coming October, (dates and pricing to be announced).
For further information and to receive an early registration commitment contact Carriage House Art Studios/ Garin Baker/ 845-562-7802 or reach me by e-mail at:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mural Renderings
From the Studios of Garin Baker.
Carriage House Art Studios
New Windsor, NY . 
July, 2011
ARTBA Rendering #1 40" x 54", Charcoal on Canson Paper, Garin Baker 2006

The following rendering measuring 40" x 54" was done for the American Road & Transportation Association's corporate lobby Mural project. I was giving the opportunity to see first hand the building of the Wilson Bridge in Washington, DC.  Truly a Modern Marvel of modern engineering and construction.
"Artba" is a huge lobbying organization representing the road and bridge building construction industry. They are responsible for he largest Federal and State transportation construction projects bringing together huge engineering, heavy machinery and tradesmen corporations form across the country.  After being guided by supervisors very concerned with my safety, I spent a few days climbing and traversing this huge construction site, taking photographs and doing quick compositional sketches.  I returned to my New Windsor, NY studio to create this large presentation rendering. This drawing was my first attempt at what I thought would be an amazing heroic mural for their new lobby located in Washington, DC. But it was not to be. The CEO explained to me quite diplomatically, although he thought the drawing was amazing and so thrilled I was selected to create their new mural, the Board of Directors wanted to feature road builders and thought featuring bridge builders would send the wrong message to their vast client base.
So it was back to the Drawing board. Although they paid to have it printed 9 ft. across for an interior space in their new headquarters, softening the blow.

2nd Approved rendering! 
RTBA Rendering #2 40" x 54", Charcoal on Canson Paper, Garin Baker 2006
What struck me when they took me to the second location was the morning sun blasting it's way onto the road construction project called the "mixing bowl" about 5-10 miles outside DC. All the Workers busy starting their day being given directions and tasks to be completed by their supervisors. Usually we all make the typical commentary of one guy working and a group standing around as we drive by wondering what's causing all the traffic impeding our lives but in one shape or form the roads get built and our modern transportation system exists. Maybe a strong case at the moment for upgrading and improving, non the less.

Completed Mural, painted in studio and installed on site 2006.
Measuring, 18 ft at it's highest point by 35 ft. long. 
Detail # 1.
Detail # 2.
All in all a great project to be fortunate enough to work on and complete. An amazing example of putting an artist in a world that is not their own and letting him loose on a subject matter. My favorite thing!
All work was done through Artist Circle Fine Arts, a Washington, DC based Art Consultant company run by Jack Devine who commissioned the work and was marvelous to work with.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Murals At Rockefeller Center

Like the surrounding complex, the art at 30 Rockefeller Plaza has a rich history. A committee set up by John D. Rockefeller and his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., decided that the artworks there should have a unifying theme, New Frontiers, encompassing aspects of a modern society: science, labor, education, travel, communication, humanitarianism, finance and spirituality. Because 30 Rockefeller Plaza, near the Channel Gardens, where the Christmas tree stands every year, was considered the center’s flagship, it was to be the most elaborately decorated.
By 1933 the committee was making lists of the most talented names to consider. Initially artists like Picasso and Matisse were candidates. But they were unavailable and would have been too expensive. Sert was on the list too, along with the British painter Frank Brangwyn, who ended up creating murals for the lobby’s south corridor.
Diego Rivera was also brought on board, but his work was removed and destroyed when he refused to alter a panel glorifying Lenin. In its place, Sert created “American Progress,” one of several murals he contributed.
More than 16 feet high and 41 feet long, “American Progress” was installed in 1937 behind the information desk. An allegory for the building of contemporary America, the scene includes statues of the muses of poetry, music and dance, their arms reaching toward the men of action with laborers in the center and Abraham Lincoln, wearing a top hat, resting his hand on the shoulder of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
NY Times
Published: July 26, 2009

Additional ceiling and wall Murals adorn the entire lobby space. 
In order to really feel the presence and and power of these works by Sert, a visit to Rockefeller Center in NYC would be the highlight of your day, I'm sure.

Every time I see these works the question sticks in my head as I'm leaving. 
Why don't we seem to create works of this power and prominence today?
Don't we have a story to tell about the times in which we live, compelling and amazing as what was created years ago?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Final Day Three
The "Painting in Colored Light" Workshop
with James Gurney.
Carriage House Art Studios
New Windsor, NY. July 2011

The day started off with an amazing morning pose. Rich in color and light.
Our beautiful model Sarah was draped and all participants began a full day of painting from life.   
Although The weather had taking a turn towards rain everyone's spirits could not be dampened.
Lincoln always looking for a friend who couldn't resist providing a treat from their plate.
James and Jeanette Gurney, so wonderful and amazing.
After diner everyone began to pack their gear but without hesitation and in need of more....
A brief trip just a few minutes from the Studio and down the hill to the Hudson River for some last minute Plein Air painting.
Clara and I would like to thank each and everyone of the participants, James and Jeanette Gurney and all who came by to visit, adding to our amazing 3 day Painting in Colored Light Workshop event.
We are so glad to have met all of you and wish you safe travels home and look forward to the next one which we are planning for very soon. So please stay in touch!
From all of us here at Carriage House art Studios, our warmest wishes to all of you! 

P.S. Thank you Michael, and hope you don't mind if I take a quote from you wonderful e-mail,
"Let me start by saying that I had an amazing time at the workshop, and enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing so much creative energy. I also wanted to thank Garin and James again for hosting. It was one of the best artistic experiences I have ever had."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day Two.
The "Painting in Colored Light" Workshop
with James Gurney.
Carriage House Art Studios
New Windsor, NY. July 2011

Quite a busy day began at 9 AM with participants jockeying for position. The morning was spent drawing and painting Ray our male model.
Images provided by our dear friend and colleague Susan Voss.
After lunch we had the wonderful Lee who was posing for the first time and did an amazing job!, costumed by Jeanette, James's wife. The dramatic and interesting effects of colored Light are clearly a challenge, stretching everyones abilities offering a real chance for growth and focus.
In the afternoon Francesco Mastalia, renowned international Photographer took these amazing images capturing the afternoon session.  After a barbeque feast, relaxations on the lawn with great discussion, sketch booking, laughs, coffee and deserts. 

The evening ended in the Carriage House looking at art books and James signing posters. prints and books of his amazing works for all who asked. His generosity offering so much of himself personally into the late evening hours was amazing, Thank you so much to everyone for a Great Day!  
And still more to come!!