17 simple steps to build your own boxes for shipping stretched canvas
2+ USPS priority mail tube boxes (#O-1098M), FREE from the USPS website
USPS priority mail tape, FREE from the USPS website
scissors for cutting/scoring cardboard
scissors for cutting extra sticky priority mailing tape
1. Open the 2 priority tube boxes and lay flat with brown side.
2. Pull the box bottoms away from the inside of both boxes.
3. Remove the glue cover strip from box 2.
4. Line up the boxes evenly, then carefully set the right edge of box 1 over the exposed glue of box 2. Press firmly to seal.
5. Now you’re ready to determine the thickness of your box. After preparing your painting for shipment (shown here sandwiched between 2 flattened boxes for protection), lay your art on top of the (now joined) box 1 and 2.
6. Place your painting beside the pre-existing fold crease of box 1. Fold up so the side of the box is next to your painting, and choosing how much extra width you prefer the painting to have inside the box and poke a small cut to use as a starting point for scoring a 2nd parallel folding crease (I prefer my box to be no more than 1/4 inch wider than my painting).
7. Using just one point of your scissors, gently run them from that starting point down to the opposite end of the box (from bottom to top). **Be sure you are not cutting clear through, as you only want to score a crease for folding.** Repeat this on both sides of your painting.
8. Now Returning to the bottom of box #1, cut the first flap completely off. Then finish the cut as shown…This piece will be the bottom of your side panel and will fold inside the bottom of your box. (Gray lines represent your scored and pre-creased folds)
9. Moving to the bottom of box #2, cut your bottom side panel by snipping in the same area as on box #1, and then cut along your scored area up to the bottom crease. (Again, gray lines in the diagram represent your scored and pre-creased folds) Now finish that cut along the crease to the outer edge of box #2 , completely removing the larger portion with the pre-cut circle in it. Now, you’ll notice there is a gap in the center between the bottoms of box #1 and #2… Use the piece that you just cut away to fill the gap, and secure with tape.
10. Use the point of your scissors again to score a fold on the bottom piece of box #1, that will will fold up into your box bottom. (See diagram)
11. Now ready to start folding the bottom of your box:
Begin with the bottom of box #1…
Lift A1 upward off the floor so that the side of your box is touching the side of your painting.
Now fold A2 over so it is against the bottom of your painting, and hold it there (this will also keep A1 upright)
Lift A3 up and fold over at the score – this will put A2 inside the box between the bottom and your painting. A3 should be folded over the front of your painting.
Repeat the same process to form a bottom on box #2… and secure with tape.
12. Both A1 pieces can now be folded over the top of your painting and taped to the newly built bottom.
If your find that you have a gap down the center front of your box, you can easily fix this by taping an extra piece of cardboard from a 3rd priority tube box on the inside. You can expose and use the glue strip from A1 of box #1 to help hold it in place while you begin taping.
13. Now you’re ready to stand your box up and create the top flaps.
To begin, cut the original flaps off completely.
14. Cut each of the four corners down to about 1.5 to 2 inches above your painting, and fold the side panels down so they’re covering the top of your
15. Open your scissors to measure the width of the box from front to back. Now simply rotate the scissors so they are upright along the piece you need to cut – they will already be spread to the height you’ll need your front/back pieces to be.
16. Now simply cut away the excess height, fold closed…
17. And begin taping. I use a LOT of tape – taping over the one remaining pre-cut circular hole in the bottom, any tiny opening, once or twice around the entire package (both vertically and horizontally), and at all the corners.
This method works great with canvases up to around 36″.
You could build bigger boxes with this method, just keep in mind the size limits for USPS.
“The guy who takes a chance, who walks the fine line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.”
– Gordon Parks
‘Do you know who Gordon Parks is?’ If you answered ‘No’ I was with you 5-6 years ago. While researching something online one night, I came across an area college photography contest. It mentioned the man the contest was named after, Gordon Parks. I sought to learn more the artist worthy of a college art competition.
If you answered ‘Yes’ you may relate to me now six years later. Here I am with a shelf full of books on and by him, a signed photo of him for inspiration on my office wall, and he is discussed so often in my college courses on photography, that my students often affectionately refer to him as “Gordon baby”.
The youngest of fifteen children, Parks was born in 1912 and raised in Fort Scott, Kansas. Fort Scott is approximately 50 miles from where I sit typing this article. Our great state is known for many historical events, including Brown vs. the Board of Education, a court decision that theoretically ended segregation in schools, the famed Buffalo soldiers black Calvary, abolitionist John Brown, and Nicodemus, the only continuously surviving all-black community west of the Mississippi. Yet it took me until the age of thirty-five to learn about this man, and what I learned impressed me beyond the words I can put together.
From meager beginnings great things came to be. Parks repeatedly credits his parents as being his heroes, for the “Compassion and generosity”, as they managed to raise such a large family in a small two-bedroom house. They helped to prepare him for a rough road that life had dealt him. Racism was a normal part of life in Kansas during his childhood, and he commented he considered himself “lucky to be alive especially when I remember that four of my close friends died of senseless brutality before they were twenty-one.”
At the age of fifteen, his mother, a lifelong influence on him, passed away. As the youngest, his older siblings had long moved on and started their own lives. The young man went to live with an older sister in Minnesota, once there he and his brother-in-law had a disagreement. Gordon was forced out of the home and onto the thirty below zero streets. He managed to survive by working menial jobs, including a piano player in a brothel.
Eventually he fell in love and married. But he knew he would never be able to support himself and his growing family on his low wages. Searching for another way to make a living that would allow him to express himself, he knew he wanted more from life. He had witnessed others around him choose a life of violence and inevitably saw them fall victim of the life they chosen.
While working as a waiter on a train, he frequently found himself in Chicago, on layovers. On one such stop he viewed pictures of the bombing of the ‘Panay’, a U.S. Navy gunboat. Eventually he also saw images created by the Farm Security Administration photographers, such as Dorthea Lange, Roy Stryker, Walker Evans and others. They all showed him that he could express himself and still show what was happening around him. So at the age of twenty five he was inspired to buy a used camera for $7.50, and he to seriously pursue photography.
Ultimately he landed a job at Life magazine as a photographer and reporter from 1948-1968. But this was only a small portion of what this man has achieved. Below is a summery of a few of the things he has done over the course of the last ninety-one years.
The next day he shot a roll of film on the camera and sent the photos off to be processed. The people of Eastman Kodak saw his images and h=gave him encouraging words that lead to them giving him a small show in a storefront window in Minneapolis.
In time his photography won him a fellowship from Julius Rosenwald Foundation. This enabled him to begin working closely with the Farm Services Administration (FSA) and the noted photographer Roy Stryker.
In 1942 Parks moves his family to Washington D.C. in order to work for the FSA. On his first day in Washington, Stryker told him to get a meal, see a movie and to buy a new suit. But when Parks tried to do as he was told, he was shown the back door, refused service, and the stores mysteriously did not have his size, no matter what size he asked for. When Stryker asked how things went Parks commented that, “Mississippi couldn’t have been worse.” Stryker explained to him that his job was now to show through his photographs the way the country really was. It was not enough for him to simply take a photograph and label it “bigot”. He would have to do more to truly show what was happening.
It did not take Parks long to begin a journey of a lifetime. His first professional photo was “American Gothic”. A charwoman happened to be mopping the floor of the FSA building when everyone else had left for the day, and Parks asked her to pose for his camera. Two days later he showed the piece to Stryker. He simply shook his head as he viewed the image. “Well your catching on, but that picture could get us all fired.”
Growing up in Kansas, when he did, he was not encouraged to go to college. Nevertheless he has gone on to be awarded over fifty honorary doctorate degrees from various universities. And despite the racism that was present in the industry, he was hired as a fashion photographer for Vogue Magazine, and became cofounder of Essence magazine. At the age of thirty-five he published his first book, “Flash Photography”, the start of numerous others, including ‘The Learning Tree’ in 1963. It is required reading for many school districts across the nation, and often included among the ‘most frequently challenged books list’. The latter he made into a feature film, as the first African American film director for a major studio (Warner Brothers). The filming required Parks to return back to Fort Scott Kansas to complete the project.
But the creation that most people recognize with his name is the movie “Shaft” in 1971. Making him what many consider as one of the contributions to the blaxploitation genre. Donald Faulkner, director of the Writers Institute once commented, “Gordon Parks was like the Jackie Robinson of film. His history as a filmmaker is part of American history. He broke ground for a lot of people, Spike Lee, John Singleton, who are working successfully now.”
His achievements are even more remarkable, when you consider that a man who never graduated High School achieved these things. To help rectify the situation, last July a delegation from his hometown, including a former mayor, came to New York and presented him with a high school diploma from the Fort Scott high school. Seventy-seven years after a teacher named Miss McClintock, told Parks and other black students within the school, “Don’t waste your parents’ money on college. You’ll wind up as porters and maids.” Parks is said to credit her with “…pushing me to find her wrong”.
This past February 2003, Parks publisher released the book, “The Sun Stalker,” a novel based on the life of J.W. Turner. It was his eighteenth book, including three full-length memoirs. Life magazine still calls upon him to write essays from time to time. Today at the age of ninety-one, when his health permits, Gordon Parks continues to do speaking engagements, and to personally accept awards.
If you wish to see his work in person, you can currently view a portion until February 29th, 2004 where a portion of his work is included in the International Center of Photography’s, NY, NY exhibition “Only Skin Deep; Changing Visions of the American Self”.
As an instructor, I encourage my students to seek out a mentor. It is expected that looking to others will find them guidance, ideas and hopefully prevent them from having to ‘reinvent the wheel’. It is also hoped that they will choose someone that will show them anything is possible. For me, one such person has been Gordon Parks. Although he began life as a poverty stricken youth on the Kansas Prairie, he seems to finally be gaining the recognition he has long deserved, as both a creative genius and an inspiration for many generations to come.
“To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.” – Thirteenth Century Zen Master Dogen in a passage from his Genjo-koan
Nathan Oliveira, Standing Man with Hands in Belt, 1960 Oil on canvas, 82 x 62 in Collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Nathan Oliveira, Spring Nude, 1962 Oil on canvas, 96 x 76 in Collection of the Oakland Museum
The cover of the exhibition catalog Nathan Oliveira by Peter Selz displays what California art lovers would recognize instantly as a “classic” Oliveira canvas, Standing Man With Hands in Belt (1960). Like so many of the large oils that first brought Oliveira’s work recognition it contains a single figure set in and against a field of painterly gestures, fields, drizzles and drips. Inside the catalog, a full page is reserved for the dusky Spring Nude (1962) in which a seemingly weightless female evanescence from a salmon pink ocean of glowing, calligraphic brushwork.
Paintings like these, which Oliveira executed between 1957 and 1962, when he was in his late twenties and early thirties, brought him early recognition, but also created the public perception that Oliveira was only a “figurative” artist. He was seen as a late-joiner to the Bay Area Figurative School and it is true that he attended drawing sessions with its members including David Park, Elmer Bischoff and Richard Diebenkorn, who became a lifelong friend. The problem with this association, and with the early fame achieved by the artist as a young man, is that his approach to the figure was fundamentally different from that of the other San Francisco Bay Area artists.
As a traveling retrospective showcasing over fifty years of his efforts — at the Orange County Museum of Art from April 5th through June of 2003 — will show, Oliveira has used the figure as the starting point for his artistic process, but not as its true subject. Something similar could be said of his animal images, his sites and fetishes of the late seventies, and of the Windhover series of recent years: they hover in they appeal to the imagination but resist easy classification.
The constant feature of Oliveira’s creativity is that he has been trying to forget his subjects, not to paint them. It turns out that an artist famous for his figurative work has been working towards abstraction all his life. His work portrays the struggle of the artist’s self and its consciousness to move towards a connection with the universal and the eternal. It is a struggle that begins with the perception of self and others, and which ultimately moves towards abstraction and destruction of those perceptions.
Oliveira’s real subjects are human presence — and absence.
– I always have wanted to be an abstract artist, but it had to be about something very particular. – Nathan Oliveira
When Oliveira’s work gained national attention in the 1959 New Images of Man exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the world was still absorbing the horrors visited on the human body by the Holocaust in Europe and the use of nuclear weapons in Japan. In this exhibition, Oliveira’s paintings were shown alongside those of leading Europeans including Alberto Giacometti and Jean Dubuffet who were creating images of the human figure that attempted to suggest the perilous condition of human beings in what seemed a bleak and Godless future.
As Peter Selz writes in the Oliveira catalog about Dubuffet’s treatment of the female body in his paintings of the early 1950’s:
His treatment violates all sacred and dearly held concepts of mother, wife, lover, daughter and sister, as well as the principles of beauty derived from cultural signals of the erotic.
The European philosophy of Existentialism had given its permission to artists who treated the body in such as radical way, since, in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre:
Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to.
During the same decade when Europeans painted the body to suggest the despair of this condition, the American phenomenon Jackson Pollock one-upped the Europeans by eliminating the body from his art altogether and using dripped skeins of paint to project anxieties that were deeply personal and abstract. Just as America emerged from World War Two as the world’s leading power, New York surpassed Paris as the center of modernism and abstraction won the war of modernist styles.
To understand how Oliveira became an artist — and to appreciate how quickly his ideas developed — it is necessary to consider the influences which shaped Oliveira as he grew up 3000 miles from New York, and even further from Europe.
As a high school student first studying painting he had been thunderstruck by a Rembrandt portrait, Jooris de Caulcerii (1632) in a San Francisco museum. Although Oliveira had grown up in a Portuguese Catholic household, Rembrandt was one of the first of a long line of Northern European, Protestant artists who would speak to him through their artwork.
Rembrandt was the first major European artist to plumb the self as artistic subject matter, and the artist’s anxiety and self-doubt were his gateway to profound realizations about personality and spiritual doubt. Rembrandt, with his Protestant anxiety, offered a way of coping, through art, with a modern world that had just begun its slow divorce from the rituals and rites of Catholicism, still tinged with helpful Pagan magic and the promise that an appeased God could protect those who renounce sin.
Oliveira must have recognized a particular aliveness in the Rembrandt portrait, the aliveness of an individual man living with the anxiety and promise of a world where Calvinist thought suggested that the face of God could be glimpsed through contemplation. Rembrandt, Oliveira realized, was a kind of master magician who could conjure up this aliveness of the self through the inherently abstract medium of paint strokes on canvas. It was as if an artist who had been dead for over 300 years had reached out through the canvas and handed Nathan the brush, saying “Why don’t you see what you can do with this?”
Although it was the representational art of Rembrandt which woke Oliveira up to the possibilities of painting, abstract art was a powerful force in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Oliveira enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts in 1947 Clyfford Still had been on the faculty for a year, and Mark Rothko was a summer instructor. The influence of abstraction was so powerful that by 1949 the San Francisco Annual was made up almost entirely of abstract art.
At this same time, a powerful counter-current of Northern European art came to Bay Area in the form of exhibitions at the de Young Museum of Max Beckmann (1949), Oskar Kokoschka (1950), and Edvard Munch (1951). All three of these artists were Expressionists who relied on the story-telling possibilities of figurative art, and one of them, Max Beckmann, came to San Francisco in 1950 to teach a summer painting class which Oliveira enrolled in.
To study with Beckmann who disliked abstraction and called it “nail polish” was a challenging, stimulating experience for Oliveira. Some art historians have argued that the vogue of Postwar American abstraction was a kind of avoidance of historical content, and since the horrors of the holocaust and Hiroshima were honestly portrayed by photojournalism, Expressionist art seemed to have been outstripped.
Beckmann, who spoke little English, was nonetheless a compelling teacher whose very presence was a reminder of the vitality of European painting traditions. He was a fully committed artist who had endured the humiliation of Hitler’s “Degenerate Art” exhibition, and a poignant exile from the vanished world of German Modernism.
As Oliveira later recounted:
“He seemed like a very fundamental man, whose only interest was in painting — that’s all he wanted to do. Still, I think from our encounters he communicated, indirectly, what artistic values were about.”
By the time Oliveira graduated from art school in 1951 he had already been confronted by the powerful artistic traditions that he has spent his career integrating and resolving: figuration and abstraction. His exposure to the work of Beckmann had convinced him that painting needed to tell a story, but the pull of abstraction would take his narratives into new, difficult artistic territory.
American Abstract Expressionism, or “Action Painting” as critic Harold Rosenberg called it, was a style of painting which demanded that artists improvise as they worked. It was this style of painting which had taken New York by storm in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and it was the style that any “advanced” artist on either coast had to adopt or risk being called academic.
One master of this Abstract Expressionism, Willem de Kooning, who Oliviera met and befriended in 1959, liked to call himself a “slipping glimpser”. Originally trained as an academic artist in Rotterdam, de Kooning became famous for his series of “Women” which were everything but academic in their painterly execution. De Kooning’s figures seems to melt into a casserole of drips, ribbon-like paint strokes, and ragged impasto. This violent use of paint impressed Oliveira, but he also understood some of the deep human and perceptual suggestions imbedded in de Kooning’s vision.
Oliveira remembers de Kooning telling him how he had once glimpsed an attractive woman at a party. Moments later, de Kooning recounted, he looked back and found her gone. This, he told Oliveira, was something he kept in mind when painting — the visual memory of presence and absence. Oliveira’s “Sitting Man with Dog” of 1957 has a strong kinship with de Kooning. The vivid black and grey swaths of paint which crisscross this enigmatic figure seem to both give the figure its mass and simultaneously to obscure it. The image has a haunting figural presence, but the artist’s process suggest that this presence is tenuous: perhaps it is just the shadow of a man who has vanished.
Nathan Oliveira Seated Man with Dog, 1957 oil on canvas 58 3/8 x 49 1/2 inches The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Just ten years later, Oliveira would again deal with the theme of disappearance, and the clear style of his “Stage Paintings” showed the artist gravitating back towards a world that a viewer’s eyes could recognize, albeit an empty one.
In “Stage #2 with Bed” the themes of presence and absence are suggested by an open door and an empty bed. With the earnest intent of showing us that his evanescent world could be briefly focused, Oliveira manages to give us narration, but with only a few recognizable forms. Clearly, what has happened or will happen in this world is a human drama, but the painting demands imagination from the viewer and implies that the artist and his subject have “exited”, thwarting easy interpretations.
Nathan Oliveira Stage #2 with Bed, 1967 oil on canvas 66 x 67 inches The Anderson Collection
To put it another way: Oliveira’s audience is part of the meditation of presence and absence. As “Stage 2 with Bed” suggests, Oliveira is aware of the audience for his art, but asks them to exit the stage door and go beyond the constraints of what they can recognize.
Oliveira’s friend Richard Diebenkorn was also eliminating figures around this same time, starting work on the “Ocean Park” series of abstractions which Oliveira would admire and borrow from. Diebenkorn had grown tired of the way that critics and viewers found Freudian and sexual connotations for the figures in his work, an annoyance that Oliveira shared. It seemed that putting a nude into any painting would be perceived as somehow erotic, and this was another connotation that Oliveira felt distracted from the deeper resonance he wished to insinuate.
The “sites” created by the artist during the 1970’s and 80’s continued to draw viewers into uncertain realms. While many of these images suggest a kind of archaeology, they appear to be made by living cultures whose inhabitants appear in separate paintings. The sites are redolent with hints of rite and ritual, and also with the suggestion of societies who built and created while remaining in concert with nature. The images thrive on suggestions of human presence, while refusing to admit details of time or place. The sites are another example of Oliveira’s tendency to avoid specificity, and let the human, the abstract, and the irrational flood into perceptual empty spaces.
Nathan Oliveira “Western Site XI,” 1978 monotype, 26″ x 22″ Collection Saint Louis Art Museum
Often, the absences in Oliveira’s art provide enthralling moments. In his mid-career works, he willed the figure to disappear, and found himself — and his viewers — entering into spiritual territory.
By our use of them to keep ourselves alive, other persons begin to assume the place of fetishes and totems, becoming keepers of our lives. Through this worship of the personal, personal relationships have become the place where the divine is to be found, so the new theology asserts… Human persons are the contemporary shrines and statues where personifying is lodged. – James Hillman
Oliveira’s approach to the human figure, from the beginning of his career onwards, has been one of personification. His imaginative approach has constantly suggested that art needs to take the figure out of the mundane context of the present into the world of the eternal — the spirit world. Whether his figures are faceless and featureless, as in “Red Couple” or loaded with anthropological suggestion, as in “Shaman 5” they connect us to a world vibrant with human magic.
Always a sensual artist, Oliveira’s world demolishes literal boundaries and categories, and suggests that sensation transcends meaning. His images begin with sensual perceptions which he has taken into the eternal by demolishing their literal meanings. It is a world of immortals, always present and available to anyone with imagination.
According the Joseph Campbell, the difference between a Shaman and a Priest is that a Shaman is not connected to institutionalized religion. Oliveira, a non-practicing Catholic, uses images like “Shaman 5” to reclaim faith — and magic — from religion and restore it to individuals as a form of visionary consciousness.
The artist’s recent “Red Couple” suggests co-existence in world where figures are indeed personified as shrines or objects. It is as if the erasure of their human particulars is accomplished with a painterly process parallels a stripping away of differences: culture, gender and other categories are released and a new kind of relationship can be contemplated.
Human figures are not the only ones loaded with personifying magic in Oliveira’s art. Animals forms co-exist in the same equilibrium, and many of them — baboons and hawks among others — seem to be incarnations of animal deities found in earlier societies. His figures and animals all belong to a Pre-Columbian world of coexistence. It is a kind of Mayan or Egyptian world where the biblical idea of Eden and its opposites has not been introduced.
Nathan Oliveira Acoma Hawk III, 1975 Two color lithograph
The artist’s engagement with the eternal has led him into conversations with many artists, writers and works of art. He has created series that came from artistic dialogues with Goya and Rembrandt, and has built themes on poems by Poe and Hopkins. In each of these cases he has treated works by past artists as living documents, seeing art history not as a series of periods and styles, but as a continuous dialogue. In that sense, it may be misleading to call Oliveira a Modernist, as he envisions himself as an artist in the same way that the carver of an Egyptian statue of the Pharaoh 4,000 years ago was an artist.
I simply want to be a part of a continuous resonance. – Nathan Oliveira
“I had to go through a period of transition, from wings to abstract images that conveyed the idea of wings without getting all trapped up in feathers. It’s really about the imagination and the inner spirit of flight.”
– Nathan Oliveira
Nathan Oliveira The Windhover IV 1991-94 oil on canvas 90 1/2 x 212 1/2 inches
In his more recent works, Oliveira has continued to create figurative works — often the figures are animals — while also creating a cycle of large scale works which are meant to be installed as a cycle. The “Windhovers”, inspired by a Gerard Manley Hopkins Poem, are abstracted from images of wings, rainbows and skies. Compared to most Post-Modern painting, which often has a rigorous theoretical basis, the Windhovers favor the experience of the senses over the power of the intellect. In a surprising way, an artist who began his career as a Modernist has reached backwards in feeling: the Windhovers have more in common with Catholic Baroque art than they do with Picasso.
The windhovers do what Baroque art did: the use the sky as a metaphor and inspire sensation, awe and faith, qualities that Oliveira’s peers in the “New Images of Man” exhibition had abandoned.
Oliveira hopes that funds can be found to place the Windhover cycle on the Stanford University campus, where he taught for over 30 years. His idea is to create a space for contemplation, along the lines of the Rothko Chapel in Houston.
After 55 years of leaving behind the “real” world and creating a new, better one in his paintings, Oliveira has found that forgetting details can be liberating. Dismissive of art world fashions, and of intellectual currents, he has had the luxury of losing himself in his work, and forgetting the problems of the world. The figures in his art have been simply a starting place for the artist’s lifelong process of moving towards abstraction, in ideas and images.
In the process, he has found himself.
“I’m not chasing the art world and what it’s supposed to be, I’m trying to find what I’m supposed to be… That’s what I’ve been doing for 50 years.” – Nathan Oliveira
In the world of Art History, the name ‘Thomas Hart Benton’ is synonymous with Regionalist art. But those same roots that are bound to images of the Regionalists are intertwined to Synchromism, are often overlooked. When one examines the work closely the clues are found within Benton’s choice of color, composition and form.
Synchromism was founded by Stanton MacDonald Wright (Fig. 1) and Morgan Russell, while they were in Paris during 1912. Together they created the first official works, produced anywhere, which were considered ‘nonrepresentational’. Simply put, Synchromism was a method of painting that set itself apart by using fractured forms and rich colors ; based on using the color theories of Tudor Hart along with the sculptural qualities of Michelangelo.
Benton initially met Wright in the winter of 1909, and immersed himself in the Synchromistic methods. Unfortunately, the only way we can now examine the influence of this time period had on his work is by drawing conclusions from his later work, as much of the work created from 1914-1917 was destroyed in a fire at his home in Neosho Missouri in 1917. (Fig. 2, 3)
Eventually Benton’s work with the Synchromists was shown in the highly selective New York, ‘Forum Exhibit’ of 1916. His works, in his own words were…’created using the Tudor Hart’s color system’ Following the Synchromist practice at the time. I based the composition of these pictures on Michelangelo sculpture. However, as the multiple-figure composition was again occupying my thoughts. I selected Michelangelo’s early relief the ‘Battle of the Centaurs,’ rather than a single figure to serve as a model for my creations.’ (Fig 4)
Throughout Benton’s career Michelangelo’s work continued to be a major influence. Intrigued with the three dimensional form, Benton began creating sculptures and began to make dioramas (or miniature scene) of intended two dimensional works. He would begin by forming clay models, which were somewhat like a relief sculpture (projecting slightly from the surface). He would then create numerous drawings from the models, if the idea presented did not translate well to two dimensions, he would rework it until it did.
Benton’s work expresses the influence of the Synchromists in his choice of color palette and composition, particularly in his early work titled ‘Bubbles’. (Fig. 5) ‘Bubbles’ was created by Benton during 1916, during his direct involvement with the Synchromists, and is visually similar to the work of Stanton MacDonald Wright (fig. 6) This similarly can be seen by the use of the composition , and the circular shapes used to contrast the angular ones, along with the hues used throughout. The similarities can be seen in the upper and lower left corner, where the space is broken up in a similar fashion with curvilinear lines created with circular shapes that help to draw your eye throughout the composition. In many of Benton’s work there is a triad color scheme, again the physical rhythm of the human form that ties his work to Michelangelo, and the familiar color theme of red, yellow, blue. (figs. 7, 8, 9)
Finally lets reexamine a few of his abstract work to help us see the correlation between then and his later work. In ‘Constructionist Still Life’, created in 1917-1918 (fig 10) there again is a triad color scheme, geometric shapes which later would be replaced by the human form. For instance in his work ‘Rita and T.P.’ (fig 11), although the colors differ, due to the central vortex, each composition is very similar and are easily interchangeable.
Later, Benton was to claim he dropped the Synchromistic palette and focused his work on single figures and groups. Eventually the abstracted qualities become secondary and Benton would try and eliminate many of the abstract devices. In ‘Self portrait with Rita’ created in 1922, (fig 12) one can once again see the use of a triadic color scheme based on red, yellow, blue.
If one compares the work to ‘Bubbles’ created in 1916 the eye is following the same path throughout the image (fig 13), with the eye again following the curve of the letter ‘J’ up through the upper right of the image.
In 1948 two of the works created by Benton continued to carry on these same two characteristics previously shown in his work. In both ‘The Apple of Discord’ (Fig. 14) and ‘Poker Night’ (Fig. 15) the female is presented in a traditional Renaissance Michelangelo style. Once again the viewer is observing a red, yellow, blue color theme, as seen in his work while with the Sychromist. (Fig. 16 and 17)
the following is a Guest Post by EBSQ Artist (and iPad fanatic) Robin Cruz McGee
I read once that mining diamonds becomes profitable when the yield reaches one or two carats a ton. Imagine yourself as a diamond prospector breaking rocks by hand to find those two carats of precious gems among all that ore. Can’t? Neither can I. April of 2010 Apple unleashed a revolution when it introduced the iPad. It also unleashed a monumental problem. The iPhone had already established the paradigm different from the desktop computer of managing tasks by having them handled by small, narrowly focused applications, suited to the small footprint of the iPhone screen. Apple carried over the idea to the iPad, having proved the viability of the approach.
The weak link is the app store.
As an early adopter of the iPad, I spent hours looking through the apps to find ones that would make my time more productive. I found a few gems and many that were useless, much like mining diamonds by hand. I have seen the style of the app store change a few times since then as Apple tries to manage the flood, over 65,000 at last count. Featured, staff picks, genius, all good attempts and probably the best ways they have as far as a store goes but sorting through 65,000 apps? As good as those recommendations are, it still boils down to a lot of trial and error and many hours sifting through all the raw material to get to the good stuff. Not that it wasn’t fun but many of us have better things to do. Customer reviews don’t always tell the whole story and genius matches are often inscrutable. How do you get Pandora from Mathboard? Fortunately, “Best IPad Apps” by Peter Meyers and published by O’Reilly Media, comes to the rescue. 225 pages of sparkly beauty divided into easily understood and succinct categories laid out in a deliciously polished fashion, this guide is the true killer app of apps. Please give me back all the hours I spent tracking down half of these! Starting with an index of 2 1/2 pages (talk about distilled!) the guide follows up with color coded chapters making it easy to beeline for for the category you need. Each best app has a quick review, maybe some handy tips and a screen or two to give you a taste of the wonder you will find. there are even honorable mentions with possible contenders for the title. Need an app for outlining? Got you covered, Outliner. General image editing? Photogene the one. One man band? Music Studio sounds about right. Best game for killing pigs with birds? Ok, that one doesn’t need a guide but you get the picture. The only thing I can think to say is OMG!Actually, there is something else to say. If your getting an iPad or already have one, if your going to have anything to do with an iPad, you need this guide. Your time is valuable. Someone did the work for you. Take advantage of it.