Figure the Future
By Michael Newberry
Presented by The Atlas Society, 2008
Michael Newberry reflects on how the nude supports the best within us and shows that it has been present at the conception and implementation: of democracy; of systematic philosophy; and of art history.
0:17 Introduction by Robert Bidinotto
2:33 The Nude as the Personification of the Individual
The Status of Clothed Figures
Ramasus, Queen Elizabeth 1, Ingres, Millet, Whistler, Wyeth, Pearlstein, and Richter.
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Over three decades ago, in 1982, I booked a private telephone consultation with an Objectivist philosopher (associated now with the Ayn Rand Institute) on reading The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand’s classic non-fiction work on aesthetics.
At 24, I was both an artist and an Objectivist. A fine art major; I had taken several art history classes including contemporary art theory. At the time, I had just completed the painting Promethia, and even though it was a thematic work, I didn’t understand how one objectively identifies a theme of an artwork. With that in mind, I was excited to be mentored by an Objectivist philosopher.
In our consultation, he pointed to Willem Kalf’s still life painting in the classic art history book, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages.
“How do I discover the theme?” I asked, genuinely.
“The theme of this painting is malevolent because of the dark background!” was the swift and vociferous response.
This was “obvious” — i.e. self-evident — he said. No further reasoning or discussion was necessary.
I ended the session and never consulted him again.
Alas, I had yet to learn how themes work in painting. So I returned to what Ayn Rand herself had written.
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Rhythm a Beautiful Way to Organize Chaos by Michael Newberry
Joseph, acrylic, 16 x 12 inches.
This is a portrait of a friend, architect Joseph Castro, with dark brown leather as the backdrop.
Any complex subject is visually chaotic; with incongruent shapes and lots of details. When you look at something like a person’s face or a panoramic landscape there are a million things to look at – out of all that stuff which do you draw/paint? One of the fun and great challenges for an artist is to organize this chaos in a meaningful way through the use of visual rhythms.
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Advancements in Painting Light by Michael Newberry
Light delights us. In paintings is easy to see, but the development of it through history is anything but simple.It has been the focus of some of the world’s greatest artists. It is worthwhile to get a glimpse of some of the innovative artworks that advanced light in painting.
Deliverance of Saint Peter, Raphael, 1514
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Oil Paint Glazing by Michael Newberry
Glazing is one of the greatest tools in the artists’ repertory that no artist should be without. It is relatively easy to do, creates beautiful luminosity, and can free a painter’s inhibitions.
There are many variations on glazing, but I would like to show you the method I like best.
For this demo, I am only glazing, but glazing also works great in combination with other painting techniques, and for delicate finishing touches.
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Erotic Symbolism in Visual Art by Michael Newberry
O’Keeffe, 1923, Grey Line with Black, Blue, and Yellow
Representational painting, such as landscapes, people, and furniture, is normally viewed at face value. A flower is just a flower; a chair a chair. But the manner in which an artist uses shapes can convey more than the literal content of the painting.
Once you grasp how an artist plays with shapes to convey another layer of meaning it can open up a universe of deeper insight and, sometimes, powerfully erotic subtexts. You may never see art again in the same way.
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Creating Denouement by Michael Newberry
Denouement, 1987, oil on linen, 54×78 inches.
Why this painting?
Painting Denouement was a chance to live inside glowing, colorful light and to express through art what love feels like to me.
Puccini, Polyclitus, Aristophanes, Beethoven, and Michelangelo rock my world. In their time, they were innovators with a love of beauty, humanity, and passion. Their art was a constant source of inspiration.
There were visual influences for Denouement. But most of the epic works were from “brown” painters, classic technique with a limited pallet in which dark things are brown and black hues. The French Impressionists had a fantastic sense of color harmonies in light and shadow. What I had in mind was to take the best of both and integrate them.
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Composition in One Easy Lesson by Michael Newberry
Cezanne, Still-Life with Apples and Oranges, 1899
There are unlimited possibilities for what one can do with a composition; the combinations are countless. A composition is essentially the arrangement of objects/forms within the border of the canvas or paper. The aim of this tutorial is to illustrate that there is one essential ingredient to a superb composition.
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5-Minute Clean Up by Michael Newberry
If you are like most artists, you love to start with a clean oil painting palette. But like most of us, a day or a week of painting goes by and your palette becomes crusty with dried paint. Okay, some of you have decades old palettes that have morphed into abstract sculptures. Nothing can help with that, but for relatively recently dried paint, the following is an awesome way to quickly clean your wood palette.
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