Friday, September 21, 2018

Find the green cube!

Color iq test: Find the green block and win the money!
Seriously, with some understanding of color and logic thinking you will find the vivid green block in this painting. A color iq test...difficulty level about 7 of 10.... give it a try and don‘t read on!
Fix your eyes at the upper corner of the red block for 30s. When looking at a color for a while we exhaust the color cones in our eyes and our color vision system „fires“ the complimentary color (see my color wheel post from the other day). Complimentary to red is cyan. Looking at the yellow block now will make it appear vivid green, an additive color mix of yellow and cyan.
That is a pretty important fact one needs to bear in mind at painting. Don‘t look at any color for too long, in particular not at vivids.
Oh, your‘re here just for the money??? 😳😡

Take it and get out of here! 😄😄

Colorwheel explained

Look at the small black spot in the yellow disc for 30 sec. Try not moving your eyes from that spot. Then look into the white field nearby. The color you see is the compliment color of same hue as the color on the opposite side of the wheel. Same with the other colors, which pretty much explains the color wheel.

We have 3 different cones in our eyes color sensitive for red, green and blue. Our sensation of color is calculated by the brain from the ratio of theses three signals. „White“ is induced when the three cell types fire their signals at equal intensity. All three cones exhaust (and recover) when exposed to light. For example, exposure to red light exhausts the red cones more than the other two. Looking at white in this exhaust condition causes a reduced ratio of red signaling. From the relatively larger signals of the green and blue receptors the brain calculates a cyanish color, the compliment of red.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Weekly Wednesday Auction 2

18 cm x 18 cm, oil on mdf (1cm)
Thomas, isn‘t it Tuesday today? Right, the title refers to the end of the auction next Wednesday, September 26. 1$ start price, as always.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Lesson blue

24 cm x 30 cm, Oil

Monday, September 10, 2018

Weekly Wednesday 1

20 cm x 20 cm, oil on panel

A small promotion series...

Auction will end Wednesday Sep19, Start:1$

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Halfway there

70 cm x 70 cm, Oil

Friday, September 7, 2018

My journey into painting - Part 6

My journey into painting - Part 6

Teaching? As soon as I could paint just a little bit people asked whether I teach. There are two big mistake beginners can make. Number one is learning wrong things from people who don’t know it better. Number two is choosing the wrong medium. In particular water color. First thing you must be able to do is match a color from your paints. That is much easier with oils and all the steps that will follow too. From all the aspects and skills about painting there is one that touches me most: good color...  Possibly because It is so rarely seen. None of the other skills take quite as long to improve to a high level. When I see a good color painting it always blows my mind, whatever subject it is. It’s so damn precious. Good color does not just mean the precise mixing of paints on the palette. The mere copying of a photograph can be learned fairly quickly, at least with the oils. It is much more about the skill to see colors. When I first read about this I didn‘t know what to do with that. Hey teacher, i can‘t paint yet alright but I do see pretty well! I didn‘t have an idea how much painting colors from direct vision alters color vision over time. Regular study on location improves the eye like nothing else. The found color combinations get more fitting, harmonic and more beautiful. Even with oils, the most forgiving medium, this learning process takes many years and thousands of hours painting from vision. I am still far away from good color but find it fullfilling to work constantly on that particular skill.
Good color is difficult and no special supertalent ever started out with it. The more I am surprised how smart approaches to learn color are usually ignored. The blockstudy! Nothing compares to it when it comes to improvement per invested study time. 
In recent years I have been asked increasingly often whether I teach or can help with advice. I have tried it mildly, carefully, politely.... tried to explain in all detail why studying colored blocks is so rewarding, insightful, economical and fun. I did not manage to bring a single person study the blocks seriously.

Therfore I changed my approach to tough: A ballerina streches, a singer does voice exercises, a painting student studies the blocks. All others I don‘t take serious. That works well, at least for me as I am no longer wasting time. Teaching? No!

My journey into painting - Part 5

My journey into painting - Part 5

It took quite a while until I started to feel convenient at painting severals hours each day. At the very beginning I could paint 2 to 3 hours max. The limit was not my enthusiasm but simply my muscles. It showed that going to the gym lifting heavy dumbells is not the same as holding a brush for a couple of hours. My overall fitness was rather good. In early 2012 I finished my first halfmarathon in 1:50:53h and I had additionally been to the gym twice a week to work on by upper body. During my life crisis I did sports like a mad man. It was like preparing for a war. I was afraid, not knowing what will come. Instead of opening myself up, facing the problem and looking for help, I tried to become a warrior. A good example for the state of my psyche is my first half marathon attempt in 2011. I set the goal to finish within 2 hours. At kilometer 17 I figured that i would not make it below 2 hours but probably around 2:02h. In my deep self-disappointment I dropped out of the race immediately. And that of course made me feel even more like a failure. But instead of learning how to treat myself more wisely my goal for my 2012 half marathon was: „below 1:50h“. So guess how I felt after my first finish in 2012? You got it! 😄

Something must have changed within me. Otherwise I would have hardly finished more than a hand full of paintings since then. Possibly it‘s got to do with the magic of being creative in some way. Maybe being outside the hamster wheel of being employed or maybe I needed that look into profound abyss. It must be a combination of things that brought me to the attitude of accepting that today I will probably fail again but looking forward to it. Just for the curiousity of how exactly?! Not sure how this attitude suits other professions - certainly not for pilots - for painting though it works quite well. It took a month or two until my slow-switching type 1 muscle fibers were fit enough to paint 4 hours each day... a reasonable dose of daily study that can be kept over longer periods.

My journey into painting - Part 4

My journey into painting - Part 4

Painting is not an exact science but I was glad to find that there are quite some parallels. I liked the fact that there are good methods to evaluate the quality of paintings in a comprehensible way. If it was just about taste or only about the pleasure to create, our desire to improve skills would not make much sense to me. Just like other fields of human activity, painting can be sectioned into subareas: visual concept, composition, color theory, drawing, brushwork, materials and so forth. On all of these, lots of smart people have spent a lot of time and effort to improve and made their findings available to all. Many people, scientists and artist in particular, have a natural desire to reinvent the wheel and we need to be careful not to waste this precious emotion. Learning from others that have solved similar problems before is usually the best way to proceed. Sounds too obvious to mention but looking at my own path, excatly there often lies the biggest problem. We often desire so much to be on a path „our own“ that we keep it even knowing it‘s not right. Desire can make sense and should!
My desire is to learn alla prima oil painting, a direct way of working with wet paint, allowing to finish a piece in one go and sometimes even several on one spot. The most significant difference compared to working slow and from photos, is freshness and mood. What’s left on a photograph can hardly be compared with the light seen from direct vision. To learn efficiently I simply stick to common reasonable advice: paint from direct vision less from photos, paint many small studies instead of large pieces, work outside regularly, paint and draw daily.
Alla prima does not mean, that the piece MUST be finished in one session. It‘s more a general approach of painting loosely and without the need of drying steps. It can, given we can, well be applied for large studio paintings.

My journey into painting - Part 3

My journey into painting - Part 3

My decision to start painting full time came much to a surprise for my family and friends. Here and there, shock is the better word. I think my psychologist was rather surprised too. But who knows? His talent to disguise what he thinks probably gave him the job. His credo: „Ruckstuhl, something is moving there, great! You know it but let me tell you anyway... for most people who change a lot, a lot will change. Things like friends disappearing or families breaking up.“ I think it was the only time I really objected him. I did not believe this could happen to me. I couldn‘t even imagine. We agreed on a „let‘s just see“
In June 2012 I bought my first set of oil paints and signed into the Virtual Art Academy (VAA), a four year online program by Barry John Raybould. Due to prior work experience I was well aware of the importance of good learning material and the VAA is outstanding. However, I did not go the conventional path by jumping into the workshops. Instead, I bought all the complete VAA package (500$ back in 2012) and read it all. This took me about a month. Within the following months I read everything again, marked important  sections and read those several times. Of course I was not able to understand all and memorize much of what I read. But by just reading about a new field in all aspects, even some more advanced, the brain in a miraculous fashion gets a rough idea where all the following work will be heading. I wish I had known at the age of 20 that overview must be king and makes all the hard work that needs to follow so much more effective and fun.

I always love to do some advertising just like any student who is thankful for the education received. Although i have never been at any art school build from concrete, I do not consider myself an autodidact. I am a VAA student.

My journey into painting - Part 2

My journey into painting - Part 2

I suffered from insomnia for years, not permanently but in persistent recurring phases. Somehow I never had the feeling to be on the right way, although I was considered a successful scientist, well functioning. I thought that‘s how life is and cannot be changed. Nobody is happy all of the time and of course life also does mean fighting. Keep going! Be grateful for whatever path you are on, give your all and simply make the best out of it! In spring 2012 I was out of the battle with burnout eventually and in ambulatory treatment at a psychologist. Within a few weeks I had told him my life story and he asked me what I actually expect from our sessions. I answered, that I hoped for a little help to be fully functioning again and get back to work soon. He (in my own words): „No. You are here to rediscover that your life is an incredible pool of possibilities in the first place. It‘s a beautiful variety of options and you will learn the great pleasure of the power to choose.“ I began to think about his words. It was more a playful thinking about my dreams and possibilities, not a specific search of a completely new direction for my whole life. But then I came across paintings while surfing the internet. Paintings just as I had seen them in San Francisco. All of the sudden this wasn’t game anymore and I started searching frantically. I have never consciously thought about becoming a professional painter, never weighted the pros and cons as it is usually done before an important decision. I was simply decided - ad hoc - from one day to the next. I found answers to my all my questions within one night. Can I learn painting from scratch to a professional level at the age of 42? Are there role models for that? Online courses? Yes to all. And do I dare? I did not sleep that night, but with a unique excitement, better than making love. Okay I‘m bad at that 😄

My journey into painting - Part 1

I wrote an article for a local art journal about my journey into art. I am translating it and will post it in several parts. Today‘s painting: Photonics West, 60 cm x 60 cm, oil.

My journey into painting - Part 1
My journey into art is rather unusual and has started pretty late. In January 2010 I was in San Francisco participating the Photonics West, one of the largest scientific conferences in the area of optics. Back then I was a physicist, employed as  senior researcher at the University of Zurich, working on optical methods for the life sciences. It was already late in the evening and strolled alone through downtown streets. My eyes and mind weren‘t really open, because I mentally reviewed my conference presentation for the next day. Not far away from my hotel, I passed the windows of a small art gallery. I stopped spellbound. For about 2 hours I stared at those paintings. Pictures of the Californian coast, citiscapes of SF, small still lifes, one better than the other. I had never seen anything like it before, not nearly as beautiful. How wonderful must life be, being able to create something like that? Those paintings were done in oil with the alla prima technique, but that night I didn‘t know anything about all that. I had no idea that my life was going to take a huge turn.  Eventually it became too cold and i returned into my hotel, my world as scientist and gave my talk the next morning.