Student Testimonials

Chan Luu, Orb, oil on panel, 12x16"

I studied with Michael Newberry for a year, and twenty five years later still use at least one thing which he taught me—about color theory, massing of shadow, the ranking of lights and darks, and sketching the figure, finding the lyrical line—every single day in my studio. He is a skilled communicator, a passionate artist and instructor, and my year studying with him was one of the best investments of my career. I would recommend Michael’s instruction one hundred percent.

Melissa Hefferlin

Michael will help you evolve no matter where the level of your skill might be. He will guide you and help you with good techniques but at the same time, he respects the integrity of your personal artistic skill by allowing you the freedom to be yourself within your own art. I enjoy his mentorship. Within 6 months under his guidance and personal attention to my artistic needs, I am painting like there is no tomorrow, after each session, I could see how much I’ve learned and continue to evolve, it’s a life changing experience for me!!!

Chan Luu

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Icarus: How Visual Artists Such as Myself and Bryan Larsen Steal, Borrow, and Originate

Larsen, Triumph of Icarus Study, 2008

Myths, legends, and stories infiltrate our collective and individual consciousness, and the same holds true for the visual arts. The myth of Icarus, who flew too high then crashed and burned, was mentioned by Apollodorus around 150 BC and has since shown up countless times in visual art.

Icarus Landing, Phaethon, and Ayn Rand

An interesting twist in the legend comes with my 2000 version. The concept was inspired by Ayn Rand, who rewrote the myth of Phaethon in Atlas Shrugged. In the ancient myth, Apollo gives the reins of the sun chariot to his son Phaethon, who is unable to control the flying horses or escape his destiny. Phaethon and the chariot threaten to crash and annihilate Earth. Zeus, watching, kills Phaethon with a bolt of lightning, forcing Apollo to retake the reins and right the sun chariot’s course.

In Rand’s version, her character, Richard Halley, composes an opera in which Phaethon brilliantly succeeds to steer the sun chariot to a glorious course. I loved the concept of taking a tragic myth and changing the outcome to reflect my absolute inner belief that magnificent experiences are the stuff of living. The chariot thing was too archaic for my modern sensibility, but with some thought I landed on the concept of Icarus. After flying wildly high, I thought, Icarus would return to Earth with gentle gratitude, lit by the orange glow of the day’s setting sun. I opted for no wings, just the outstretched arms. Appropriately I painted this while I lived in Greece, and I won’t lie, I loved scaling the rock cliffs in the buff, jumping from rock to rock, as my friend philosopher David Kelley can attest to.

Newberry, Icarus Landing, 2000, acrylic on linen, 55x36"
Newberry, Icarus Landing, 2000, acrylic on linen, 55×36″
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Review of Slipper by Peter Cresswell

Newberry, The Slipper, oil on linen, 46x46"
Newberry, The Slipper, oil on linen, 46x46"
Newberry, The Slipper, oil on linen, 46×46″

Slipper is one of my favourites by artist Michael Newberry, who like all great literary and visual artists has the ability to conceive and create scenes of total originality that – just like the great myths and legends that had the dramatic power to last thousands of years in the retelling —  once seen (or read) the world is inconceivable  without them.  In the simplest terms, such artists (and such myths) portray great and original scenes that so perfectly animate their theme the world was almost waiting for the artist to create them.

“Newberry does this with his Icarus Landing – the figure that conquers the fall of both Christ and Icarus, and puts man back in charge over his universe.  He does it again with Artemis.  And he does it too with Slipper, whose exuberance bursts out like a bullet in flight heading straight for the furthest horizon.

“Why have I chosen it for my first artistic post of the year?  Because it encapsulates the sense of life I like to express in my architecture.  The exuberance.  The light.  The feeling of release.  The movement.  The exaltation.  It’s not an expression of repose I aim for in my work (which is what all the textbooks tell us we should aim for in our architecture – creating a sense of repose and then letting our buildings sink down into a sea of subdued magnolias, or pongas), it’s the controlled explosion of joy Newberry captures so perfectly here, and that’s so desperately hard to do well.

“It’s not so easy, but it’s the most fun when you can pull it off.”

Peter Cresswell, 2009 Copyright PC.BlogSpot.Com 

A Victim’s Vindication: Pierre Huyghe at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens 12 February — 8 April 2001

Pierre Huyghe's The Third Memory

(Authors note: This is one in a series of reviews of what is going on in contemporary museums of art. Like many of you I go to a contemporary art museum with an excited expectation that I am going to see today’s best living artists. Please keep that in mind after your read these reviews as it might seem that I purposefully sought out isolated freak shows–nope, just visiting the most respected museums of contemporary art and reporting what I see.)

The recently-established National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens gives us a look inside media manipulation with Pierre Huyghe’s The Third Memory. It is a documentary-like presentation about a notorious 1972 bank robbery in Brooklyn. The audio-visual installation, on loan from the collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

Pierre Huyghe's The Third Memory

The Third Memory contains side by side two synchronized video projections that last about ten minutes, and reference materials and clips. The video projections juxtapose Huyghe’s reenactment/documentary-like reconstruction of a bank robbery that took place in Brooklyn, New York in 1972, and footage from Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975), a movie about that robbery. In Huyghe’s work the actual robber, John Wojtowicz, many years older and out of prison, retells, acts out, and analyzes the robbery on the sets used in Lumet’s movie. About The Third Memory Huyghe says it is “…the story of a man who was robbed, who was dispossessed, of his own image … the “author of an action” is given the opportunity to “speak up…in order to regain his place at the centre of the plot…”

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Schipperheyn’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Shipperheyn-Zarathustra

The nude in art is one of the greatest means of expressing individuality. It bypasses the status of clothes and symbols and drives the focus towards character through body and facial expression. The nude asks the viewer to share their deeper, more personal thoughts about how they feel about who they are, their dreams, and their deepest beliefs.

Looking at Peter Schipperheyn’s Zarathustra we see a larger-than-life-sized man, arching back, and his head thrown back at an intense angle – the chin raised above the forehead. The body’s tone is taut, yet there is relaxed fluidity from limb to limb. He has the body of a world-class athlete, such as the current tennis great, Roger Federer. The most prominent gesture is the back of the closed fist meeting the open, extended hand.

Schipperhyne-face

An abstract aspect of this sculpture is the arc of the entire body – from the heel to the tip of the head. It conjures up the form of a bow, or of a tree limb a limb pulled back. This, combined with the smack of the hand, creates the sense of a springing force. The raised heel is understated, yet very challenging for the artist – it would be much easier to sculpt the feet flat-footed. The raised heel shifts the lower body forward, balancing the backwards arc, and enhancing the athletic litheness. This curve gently pushes the crotch forward, giving the sense of unselfconscious ease.

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The Art of Illusion by Brett Holverstott

Newberry, Denouement, 1987, oil on linen, 54x78"

How Michael Newberry rediscovered the role of color in creating the illusion of depth and space.

Newberry, Denouement, 1987, oil on linen, 54x78"
Newberry, Denouement, 1987, oil on linen, 54×78″

The Grizzly Professor

Edgar Ewing came through the door. The students beheld a tweed suit topped with a grizzly gray mustache and sparkling blue eyes. He moved with the melody of confidence and the whimsy of delight. He set down his case on the table, spread his arms, and smiled at the the classroom of freshman students. “Making art,” he announced “is like making love.”

The students looked at one another with sidelong smiles, most of them inexperienced with one or the other part of the metaphor, and certainly not fathoming the connection between the two. It was the first day of a fundamentals of oil painting class at USC. The year was 1974. To read more and see large images at Medium

Ep. 8 Tanya Ragir’s Hard Wisdom Newberry Aesthetic Evolution 11/18/2019

Ep. 8 Tanya Ragir Hard Wisdom Review Newberry Aesthetic Evolution

There is a magnificent show in the heart of Los Angeles on La Cienega through December 26th that will be one of the most humanist, empathetic, and beautiful exhibitions you will have experienced within the last decade. Tanya Ragir fearlessly dives into our hopes and dreams, regrets, loss, love, and even chaos. Her pieces are the answers to questions about how to handle pain, how to cope, and how to find meaning. My written review of the show here.