My eyes opened wide as my mentor Jack took my hand and moved the brush in a new way. He could have shown me, but when he took his hand to move mine, I got it instantly. When I asked how he learned this amazing little painting trick, he told me that his mentor in Florence had done exactly the same with him, 40 years earlier. Clearly, this move had been passed from mentor to student for generations.
We're living in an amazing era for realism. When I started publishing my first art magazine, less than 10 years ago, I lamented the important traditions that were barely being preserved and were taught in so very few places. Much has changed, and graduates of the ateliers teaching the 600-year-old methods of past greats are springing up across America, resulting in a movement unlike any seen since the Renaissance. Mark my words: The next 50 years will be a new renaissance for realism in a form relevant to our world today.
A Meeting By Chance
When Peter Trippi and I first met at dinner and he asked me the goals of my magazine Fine Art Connoisseur, I think he expected to hear of my profit motive. Instead, I told him of my passion for exposing people to the art of generations past and my passion for seeing a new generation of painters carry on the tradition so that it continues for generations to come.
We were in sync, and the rest is history: That meeting resulted in Peter's joining as our editor, which in turn has led to the magazine's being embraced by the leading art experts who pen our articles, and, of course, by our growing readership.
The Endless Debate About Technology In Art
At a recent gathering of artists, a discussion arose about whether technology should be used in art, just because of its availability. That sparked a debate over the use of photographs in the creation of artworks.
Some referred to great artists of the past who utilized then-new photographic technology as a tool, while others stated that life is the only medium that should be copied. That will probably be an endless debate, but the discussion led to other technology, which raised the question: Is it harmful for students to study from videos created by master artists?
One artist stated that his success began with his having viewed a DVD by one master artist, because his location and budget didn't allow him to study with such masters. That DVD was, the artist said, his road to becoming a better painter until he could afford access to in-person mentors.
One wonders what might have changed if video had been rolling as the greats from our past placed paint on canvas, or if we could have preserved their discussions and motivations related to their art.
Seeing Bouguereau With New Eyes
Though nothing can replace the personal touch of a master-mentor relationship, many of the great volumes on painting were crafted from student notes. Imagine how those of us who paint could have improved by watching, through the lens of a camera, over the shoulder of Gerome, David, or Bouguereau. Imagine how many tens of thousands of lives they could have touched among those not fortunate enough to be able to study with them, or to live during their time. Imagine the impact future generations of painters will feel when they are able to capture moments with today's masters. These will be invaluable experiences.
Empathy Of The Brush
The best art critics, the best experts, are those who can empathize with the brush. It's been said that to truly understand painting as a collector or a viewer, one must learn to paint. Though I loved art, I could not properly see it until I studied painting with my first mentor, Jack Acetus Jackson, who studied in the lineage of many great Florentine and Venetian masters, with Madame Simi and with Frank Reilly and Ives Gammel.
After a year of study, I wept when I saw a Bouguereau at the San Francisco Legion of Honor through newly opened eyes. I could not grasp how he could accomplish such mastery, with such transparent skin tones. It was that moment that I knew my new purpose, which is helping others' eyes open to such beauty and assuring a future so these methods don't die.
Carrying The Flag
Many individuals are carrying the flag for realism, with the unified purpose of seeing it discovered by the art world. They are fighting against great odds in a world where realism has been pooh-poohed as nothing more than "pretty pictures." Yet this new, energy-filled movement is not about repeating the past but about creating a new future, rooted in deep traditions. It is being embraced by youth, who find it new and refreshing, and who are teaching others, opening ateliers, and breathing new life.
Determined To Carry Traditions Forward
Word travels fast when your mission is clear. Michael Klein, a magnificent young painter who studied under Jacob Collins, recently caught my eye because he shared this same mission of carrying painting technique and philosophy to future generations. Not only was he teaching, he determined that he could leverage technology to touch more lives, and invested time and effort to create a simple video format to document some of the world's most important artists. It was a labor of love, and American Painting Video Magazine was born.
When I learned what Michael was doing, I suggested that we make APVM available to the Fine Art Connoisseur audience. Michael is passionate about conducting interviews, philosophical discussions, and even showing some of the great painters at work, which I believe will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand realism at a deeper level. The new result is APVM Fine Art Connoisseur, which I am announcing today.
No Hollywood Hype
APVM Fine Art Connoisseur is producing two hours of content every quarter and is offering it at only $10, which is a good value; we often see DVDs of artists selling at much higher prices. This is content you can also view online and download to your computer to keep forever. And I believe you'll appreciate the quiet pace. APVM Fine Art Connoisseur is not filled with annoying fast-paced edits, but feels more like a documentary on public television. Our goal was to keep this very real, almost spiritual, so you can get a feel for the pace and thought process of each video. It's not Hollywood, it's authentic.
New Doors Opening
Each two-hour video features multiple artist visits, discussions, and unique content. For instance, when we were in Russia, Peter Trippi interviewed Semyon Mikhailovsky, the Rector of the St. Petersburg Academy of the Arts, a 300-year-old institution founded by Catherine the Great and one of the most important schools in the world. That interview is just one of several segments in the current issue of APVM Fine Art Connoisseur. In the next issue, APVM Fine Art Connoisseur visits Antonio Lopez Garcia in Spain, one of the best living realists of our time.
I'd like to invite you to explore American Painting Video Magazine. If you're a collector, an art professional, an artist, or just someone with a passion for art, I believe you'll find this video magazine very insightful. It's a communication tool about techniques and philosophies that have passed through generations, and I'm proud to be involved in the archiving of such important information in video and making it available worldwide.
PS: I'm especially proud of this project and our association with producer Michael Klein, not only because he is an accomplished painter with a passion for the generational techniques he has spent years learning, but because of his eye and experience. Michael is extremely discerning about the people featured, which gives me great confidence in the project. I hope you'll consider viewing American Painting Video Magazine and help others capture the passion by sharing what you've learned.