Simanaitis Says

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MY DRAWINGS OF PEOPLE lean toward stick figures; my attempts at perspective tend to be purely orthogonal. However, I have profited from lessons, formal and otherwise, in art appreciation. Here are tidbits on the topic. 

Mixing Colors. Wife Dottie, who was rather more artistic, acquired several of Walter Foster’s how-to books, specifically, How to Mix Colors and Materials to Use: For the Amateur. Student, Artist, Decorator, and Housepainter

How to Mix Colors and materials to Use, by Walter Foster, Forster Art Service, 1958.

Walter Foster’s series of art education books (this one is listed as # 56 of 63) date from the Fifties. Hence, kewl new gizmos like iPads and techniques like David Hockney’s iPainting are not addressed. However, the basics of color mixing in oils has a timeless aspect, as shown by the following excerpts from Foster’s book.

Above, the basic colors. Below, descriptions of each square. These and the following images from How to Mix Colors.

On Painting Knives, Not Brushes. Foster notes that he bought the painting below in France, done by a famous French artist who specializes in boats. The work is done not by brush, but with painting knives applying “the paint thick and with great understanding”.

The original is 10 x 14 in. 

Foster’s Color Chart. With the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue, Foster discusses the various harmonious color balances.

R&T’s Art Retreat. Back in the days of Hachette ownership (1988–2011), the magazine staff was encouraged to have occasional retreats, each a five-day session away from the office and dedicated to conceptual aspects of magazines. Topics included the logic of information transfer, management of manuscript to print, and the art of magazine layout. Rules of the week were straightforward: Keep focused on topic, not just that month’s issue. 

The 1987 retreat discussed, among other lofty topics, the differential functions of cerebral hemispheres. We all knew a little of right- and left-brain activities. But this was a deep dive on left-mode and right-mode thinking. 

Our discussion leader discussed basic perceptual skills of “edges, spaces, shapes, angles, proportions, light and shadows, and Gestalt” and methods of teaching that included “pure contour, sighting, and negative space.” 

Offered as inspiration was this portrait of composer Igor Stravinsky by Pablo Picasso, 1920. 

At the time, this sounded all artsy-craftsy to (left-brained) me. But below is proof of the retreat’s efficacy.

Portrait of the Artist’s Hand, 1987. (That is, mine!)

The 1987 retreat was most edifying. And we still got out that month’s issue, even with a week’s less time. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 

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