Gilding Demonstration and Workshop

Saturday, February 6, 2016 from 10 am to 4 pm at the Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Alabama.

Alan Shuptrine of Shuptrine’s gallery and gilding studio in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will provide a hands-on demonstration on the centuries old method of water gilding.  He will discuss the details of Old World gilding methods, and how these methods are applied in the restoration and conservation of historical items.  A PowerPoint presentation will be shown, followed by a demonstration of actual water gilding, sgraffito designs, agate burnishing, and patination of the finish. He will also provide examples of different gilded and restored finishes on corner samples, frames, and other gilded objects. Participants will be able to experiment with the techniques and create their own small gilded objects to take home with them. Class size is limited and advanced registration is required. Please contact the museum for reservations and additional information: http://hsvmuseum.org/classes/2016-master-artist-workshop-alan-shuptrine/

An Excerpt From Rilke’s “Rodin”

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As an artist who is passionate about nature and the human form, I put a lot of effort into capturing realism with drama, capturing light and shadow, and really thinking about the composition and how to keep the viewer engaged within the painting. It is frustrating to watch an artist rise to fame for works created by mere chance, like a can of red paint that accidentally falls from a ladder onto a white canvas dropcloth below, without any plan, preconceived notion, or craftsmanship. And then this blob of paint is reviewed in magazines as “we haven’t seen such genius as this since the works of Rothko”. Please don’t get me wrong, I love all types of art; but, there is nothing genius about a blob of paint that is spilled onto a canvas. Jackson Pollock’s dribblings of paint actually had purpose, and were executed with thought and balance, so I have a tremendous respect for his work.

One of my favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke (author of “Letters To A Young Poet”) once wrote a piece called “Auguste Rodin” (after his very good friend and scupltor) where he explains how the success as an artist is not necessarily based on his/her merit and craftsmanship. This excerpt actually explains to me how an artist can splash a can of red paint across a large white canvas in a random design controlled by mere chance and have their works sell for millions. Surely they must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Rilke writes:

‘ The condition of the arts at the present day is such that an artist’s success, or notoriety, is achieved not necessarily by the outstanding quality of his rendering of an e’tat d’ame common to all men, and expressed within a scale of values generally accepted, but rather by the size and influence of the group he can, by his manner, gather about him and, above all, behind him. It is this group, all conscious to a positive reaction to his work which, if large and powerful enough, secures him fame. By being thus atomized and disunited in respect of prevailing values, our society inevitably leads to the formation of coteries and cliques, who come together adventitiously, merely as a result of being “tuned-in”, as it were, to the same “wave-length”. Nothing more authoritative or regular governs their convergence, merely the chance similarity of subjective judgements in the presence of the same object. 

Inevitably this state of affairs affects the artist. For artists must live. And if to live means gathering as many of one’s fellows as possible behind one, all of whom will bleat one’s name in unison, it follows that the first prerequisite of fame is at least to make a noise, to attract by conspicuousness. This is the best way, and the artist who most effectively forces the note of his personality so as to exaggerate his individual manner and thereby to command and arrest attention, is he who is most likely to reach the top rung of the ladder.

Hence the constant temptation, in the art-world of the West, for the artist to be outré , if not outrageous. By this means he gathers at his heels a vociferous group with rapidity and, above all, with certainty. I believe it was Kipling who said that in any large country at least 5000 people will always be found who will believe in anything. What is true of belief is probably also true of specific aesthetic reactions. But nowadays 5000 people all bleating one’s name is a good start towards the goal. For snobbery alone soon doubles, trebles, and quadruples the number.

The danger is — and here we approach the drawback of modern atomisation —  that in these circumstances great fame is not necessarily associated with supremely artistic gifts.’                    –Rainer Maria Rilke, 1902

Funny how history repeats itself.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog, where I will express not only topics about my art and my journey as an artist, but also topics like: what inspires me to paint, how I interpret the world around me, the business of art, the beauty of art, the importance of art in our lives, and just art in general, especially the art of watercolor–my favorite medium. My father, the late Hubert Shuptrine (1936-2006) used to say ,“To become a successful artist, you need two components: One, you need a good drawing hand. And two, you need a little luck.” What he meant by “luck” is that you need that one break in your career that allows you to be discovered. I suppose the term “successful” is relative to the desires and needs of the artist. I, for one, would be very happy with achieving a level of success where I could paint full-time, support my family, and be able to live out the rest of my days traveling to interesting places around the world (taking my portable watercolor kit with me, of course), playing a little golf, fishing, etc.. In addition, I want to share my paintings with the world and have them displayed in museums. These are high goals I have set, but what artist is not a dreamer as well?