Month: March 2017

Diane Williams

We went to the Plymouth Congregational Church in South Minneapolis today to see a (superb) performance of The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan, put on by the Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company. Wandering the church in search of a water fountain during intermission I was struck by the art on the walls. It was good and there was a lot of it. Apparently, the church has a very strong commitment to the arts.

I saw a number of things that I liked – and then I saw these. I apologize for the poor quality, I only had my phone:


I can’t find anything about her online but damn, she could paint. I’m going to go back to the church and see what they can tell me.

March 2017 Updates


I’ve been pretty busy lately. I am doing the post production color work on a feature film, Seven Hill City, directed by Brandon Stroud, a film I also gaffed in May, 2016.  On a related note, I also taught a workshop at The Independent Film Project in St. Paul about color correction and grading using DaVinci Resolve. The workshop was at capacity and ran for 6 hours – we even skipped lunch. It covers basic color theory (particularly as it relates to film & video), the why’s and hows of imposing a limited palette and the particular tools available in the software. Lots of fun, great participants – I am looking forward to teaching it again, probably in the fall.

This is my second time teaching it at IFP. I’ve also run this workshop several times at Austin Movie Gear in Austin, TX and for the post production staff at Rooster Teeth. I have already started simmering a new workshop focused entirely on color: how to understand and work with values, hue, saturation, palettes and much more. I am hoping to roll out a full outline by early summer.

I will also be participating in an even call Art-A-Whirl, through the Northeast Minneapolis Art Association.  This year will be a little different than last year – the idea is that it will run over a full weekend and be based in a gallery space (instead of studio tours). Artists will work in 4 hour shifts actually making work in the gallery and discussing process, methods and whatever anyone wants to talk about. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

And on top of all of that I am working on new series of paintings on paper, involving a completely new process sequence (for me) that goes from acrylic underpainting through projected drawings to finishing in oils. It’s a complicated sequence, all considered, but in the end it makes it possible for me to work much faster and more spontaneously and still end up with work that has depth and complexity. Coming soon…

Il Guercino

His real name was Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (February 8, 1591 – December 22, 1666) but due to a childhood accident, he was known as ‘Il Guercino’ – ‘the squinter’ or ‘the cross-eyed’ depending on the translation. A very successful artist during his lifetime, most of his paintings are competent – some are quite good – but don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know who he is – hardly anyone does. He’s not in the art history books, you’re unlikely to encounter him in a museum and you didn’t hear about him in college classes.

Guercino’s paintings bring good prices and are solid investments  People spend a lot of money on them  – tens of millions – and they aren’t bad. It’s not Caravaggio and it would be hard to claim any real excitement about the paintings but still good, solid work.  Yes, this one below looks like a collage – the guy in the middle clearly doesn’t belong there but still – it’s good, journeyman work.

When you consider Guercino’s drawings, however, it’s a completely different story.  The drawings are fiercely fought over among collectors and sell for ten’s, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is a recognition among collectors that like many artists, Guercino was a better draftsman than a painter. His paintings are serviceable, but his drawings are superb.

Guercino’s drawings go places few other artists even approach. Far beyond a command of chiaroscuro, the freedom of his drawing is astonishing. His handling of dynamic range surpasses nearly any other Baroque artist, with the exception of Tiepelo – see below. And I would argue that Guercino’s freedom in drawing exceeds even Tiepelo’s.

Tiepelo, however, was able to carry the feel and accomplishments of his drawing into painting in a way that Guercino never could, and is, for that reason more valued. Guercino the draftsman is, in that light, the poor man’s Tiepelo, but that should not devalue his achievement and collector’s don’t.

Which brings me to my next, more important point. Instead of following art history through the eyes of academics and critics – follow collectors. Go to auctions, not just Sotheby’s and Christie’s but the many other auction houses around the country and the world. Watch Antiques Road Show –  look at the works that come up, look at the valuations and follow the sales. You’ll see things at pre-auction exhibitions that you’ve never seen before, by artists you’ve never heard of, that you’ll never see again. Auctions are like earthquakes that bring things to the surface that have been hidden in private collections for decades or centuries, about to disappear again forever. For many amazing things, auctions will be your only chance to ever see them.

And you’ll be amazed at the hot fury among collectors over pieces made by artists you know nothing about. If you’re an artist, watch those collectors and take heart – you don’t have to be famous to be valued. If your work is good, people will notice – and remember.