Monday, December 6, 2010


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa. We will discuss The Look today. I'm sorry, but you know it had to happen. And it's not really my fault. We are blaming it on ArtCalendarMagazine, even though those people put out a wonderful publication, which no artist should be without.

I finally got started reading my online copy of ArtCalendarMagazine this morning. Next up was the article about a figurative painter from LosAngeles, Kent Williams. The heading described Mr. Williams as a consummate draftsman and rigorous observer. Rigorous observer. Aaargh. The Look.

Rigorous observer. So easily written. Deceptively easily written. Take a moment and peer into the meaning of those two words, bearing in mind that Mr. Williams is known as a figurative painter.

You don't get it? You must be focusing on landscapes or still lifes.

At a recent event, I was across the room from a friend who was in the motion of painting a bunch of flowers. She was doing "the squint", you know, blurring out the unimportant, concentrating on finding what matters for the painting. Of course, she deserved a bit of teasing, due to the interesting countenance it gave her. But what's a painter to do? We have to squint.

However, you need to be aware, "the squint" is only part of The Look. Back up to paragraph #2 where we unleashed the phrase "rigorous observer". Followed closely by figurative painter. Granted, if that figure you are painting is a model in your studio, they possibly understand the squint. The Look. But some of us are trapped in the intrigue of painting the folks out on the sidewalks of our lives. Those poor folks don't know we are just being rigorous observers. They see someone do "the squint" in their direction, and they begin to worry. A complete stranger, doing "the squint", and following up with a camera--whoa--we have to wonder if sirens and arrest are imminent.

Yes. You are correct. I do exaggerate. But it's a constant battle of artist-desire to capture everyday people doing their everyday thing on canvas, versus artist trying not to annoy those everyday people doing their everyday thing.

So, I hereby promise to try and not be too rude with my rigorous observing. And if you aren't an artist, at least now you know the reason behind "the squint" --- The Look, and you don't have to go running for cover. And if it happens to you, questions or a quick peek at the sketch book are all cool, be my guest.

Thanks for stopping by!

Later, Cooper

Okay, one more little bit. I have to show you this painting again. I saw these kids at ArnoldsPark, in the town by the same name, next door to Okoboji, Iowa. Surely you understand the need to paint them? When photos are involved, more than one is always better. So my camera and I stood fence-side by the "Scrambler", and every time their little car came around, I clicked. By photo #6, the boy in the middle was beginning to show signs of "who are you, and why are you taking our picture?" By photo #7 he was beginning to express his strong desire to have his daddy come talk to me. At that point I decided to let them finish their ride unencumbered by artistic intervention. But it was worth it, right? :)

Slide On Over, acrylic painting on canvas, measuring 30 x 30 inches, and yes, in my portfolio
(click on the red text) as well.