“Brilliant!” (IVAN: Weeks 1-2)

Annotated collection of student works from the Faigin Atelier, 2020-2021

Artwork and commentary by Ivan Schneider

Week 1

BLAT & FT. Marker and crayon on 18″x24″ sketch paper.

My travel kit has a seven PITT artist pens, primary and secondary colors plus black. I used those plus some kind of crayon at the top showing the worn-out carpet. It’s a top-down view of my lunch and newspaper atop a glass table.

GF: “This would be almost impossible to paint. To make it legible as a painting would be a nightmare. It’s also not a particularly strong composition. If you have too many random shapes, you can’t have a strong composition.”

I don’t know, I like impossible. The shape has kind of a doorway feel, like the entrance to a cathedral. And I’m a fan of the rabbit-duck illusion (see below), the single image that switches between alternate interpretations as you look at it.

I also had the idea to keep everything loose except for the image in the newspaper, which would be super-tight and realistic. What’s not clear in the image that it’s a photo of refugees living in makeshift tents. And in a fit of pique, I destroyed the original drawing.

File:Kaninchen und Ente.png
Source: Wikipedia

Week 2

Week 2, response to Word of the Week “VOID”


A statement on the futility of voting in a system rife with election tampering, voter registration purges, post office interference, “hanging chad” ballots, and opaque electronic voting systems with demonstrated vulnerabilities to hacking and fraud.

The button shows the shredding of the social fabric that results when voters have their ballots voided through no fault of their own.

Alternate idea considered with the same title: Depiction of someone voiding the bowels in the voting booth.

GF: “It’s a little too prosaic. Too dependent on language. The idea is to be poetic and visually striking and original. It looks too much like thousands of buttons we’ve seen. We’re oversaturated with the image, and unless it’s a brilliantly different take, it’s the same old thing.” “The idea is to be poetic and visually striking and original.” See Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer.

If the election had come down to voided ballots, this would have been prescient [in late September 2020]. I’m glad it wasn’t.

The Picnic (2020). Oil on canvas, 18″x24″

The Picnic

Assignment: “The first still life project that everyone does is the Picnic.  The composition can be anything you like, but it needs to include a loaf of bread, and piece of cheese, a knife, a wine bottle and glass, and a piece of fabric.”

This was the first painting that I did in the garage, a crowded storage area in which I carved out a studio using a ping-pong table and some cardboard boxes to reduce the external light.

It’s a homage to the fraternity party, the remains of an afternoon that nobody was in any hurry to clean. Raw umber background for the cardboard, study in red with Solo cups, ketchup bottle, red knife. Ping-pong table green. Cheese board with hamburger bun. Wine bottle, vodka bottle, bong.

My approach was to mix on the brush, to try to pick up a clump of paint with minimal contamination of the paint blob on the palette, and then work toward the desired shade on the canvas. It’s a fast and loose approach but it worked.

GF: (Initial discussion about Soutine: “chromatic, thick paint, energy in putting paint down…topsy-turvy and turbulent.”) “You’re brilliant. I’m in awe of your talent and originality. Nobody has ever responded to the picnic still-life like this. I’m super impressed. You’ve got so much knowledge and guts and imagination and originality.” “It’s an awfully good painting. Cool composition, fun to look at, the colors are neat.” “The composition is what carries the piece.” “It’s better to have a good painting where you can’t read the narrative than a good narrative when the painting’s no good.”

This was my best work, and best critique, of the entire year.


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