LIVE Q&A with Corey D’Augustine (Feb 7) | IN THE STUDIO

Hi, everyone. I’m Corey D’Augustine. I want to welcome you to the third live Q&A
session. I’ll be here for the next 30 minutes, something
like that, taking questions about art history, about perhaps some of your works in the studio,
or whatever else is on your mind. We will be taking live questions but we’ve
also compiled a list of questions from previous episodes, so let’s dive right in. First question comes from alexmeinhof. Alex writes, “How do you respond to people
who say that abstract art requires no skill?” Okay, so this is kind of a classic question
for modernism, and especially for abstract painting, the Jackson Pollocks of the world. Actually, a quick story. I remember once when I was working the National
Gallery I was dusting frames early in the morning and a dad came in with his daughter
on his shoulders, and they’re looking at a Joan Michell painting. You could imagine what that might look like. And the daughter said, “Oh, Daddy it’s dirty. I want to clean it.” He was like, “Okay, well, dirty is one word
for it,” but language I think is key here. Pablo Picasso, who, by the way, never painted
an abstract painting himself, was asked about cubism and how he responded to the fact that
many people didn’t understand cubism, and kind of ridiculed it as crazy, avant-garde. And Picasso said, “Well, you know modern art
movements are very much like foreign languages. And if someone French came in the room right
now and started speaking French and you didn’t know the language you wouldn’t blink. You wouldn’t understand anything.” And for Picasso it was really the same thing,
so his opinion was that if someone had never spent time with cubism, never studied that
abstract language, semi-abstract language, that it would come as no surprise that they
didn’t really understand what it was about. Now could anyone paint a cubist painting? Could anyone paint an abstract painting? Well, in a way, of course. But if we can run with this analogy a little
bit longer, you know, if you start to study Chinese. Your first class in Chinese language class
you’re actually just making noises. You’re making not words but just sounds that
are vaguely Chinese. But they don’t mean anything, right? So you can imitate that, but if a Chinese
person walks in the room and starts to try to understand what you’re saying, of course
you’re not getting anywhere, right? So without a background in some of these movements
it’s really difficult to understand what the intentions are, what the painting is trying
to do or say, and this is potentially a problem. And, you know, for Alex and perhaps many viewers
out there, there is something difficult about a lot of modern art. Perhaps elitist, unfortunately, about some
modern art that if you come into it cold you’re having a difficult time to get a foothold
and really understand what the movement is about. Whereas, you know, old master paintings, like
it or not, if you go look at a Titian or a Vermeer, now you might like it. You might love it. You might not, but you understand what the
criteria is of a good painting. Is it realistic? Is it not? Whereas in modernism they threw that out the
window, as they did so many things. So this is a huge topic, and we could talk
about this for the next half an hour. But I hope anyway that’s an introduction to
this idea that, yeah, it’s fair to say that some of these movements are really difficult. They do require a little bit of homework. And if you don’t want to, no problem. In my opinion, if you do follow through with
some of that homework you’re opening some really interesting doors to an appreciation
of a lot of art that, by the way, try it yourself. You can’t do if you speak the language and
you’re sensitive to it. Or you can maybe after a lot of practice. All right, first live question here comes
from Rachel Birkner. “Corey, you have a remarkable ability to recreate
the style of the abstract expressionist. What drew you to these artists and this time
period specifically? And PS, does Drake mind that you stole his
DNA?” I didn’t do that, I promise. But the real question here, what drew me personally
to the New York school, living in New York is a big one. Being an American, by the way, since the so-called
Abstract Expressionists were probably, fair to say, the most critically important historical
avant-garde in this country now. And you could go back to Alfred Stieglitz
and there’s many other interesting modern artists before them, but that’s really the
one that got the ball rolling here in New York City. You know, I have a background studying jazz
and a lot of the same ideas meshed with improvisation with a lot of, you know, the bebop players
and the Jackson Pollocks of the world. So when I was in grad school that was really
where I focused. And, you know, in my own studio work certainly
wasn’t an abstract expressionist style painter but I spent a lot of time thinking about them. So yeah, thank you for the compliment and
keep going. Next question. This comes from the September live Q&A. That was our last one. “At the risk of sounding like a kiss-ass,
this is definitely one light bulb you’ve turned on in terms of learning to appreciate the
Abstract Expressionist movement, and I’ve been to art school. Having said that, what are some avenues one
could explore in furthering a beginner’s education the art form, books, films, podcast, etc?” Okay, great question. First of all, podcasts, I’m not aware of any
but there probably are some good ones out there, so please post down below and share
this with me and everyone else watching. Films, one really good one, a documentary
film made by Emile de Antonio. And maybe we’ll post this down in the comments
later, “Painters Painting” is the name of that documentary from 1971 or ’72, something
like that. De Antonio was a New York school artist himself
and he interviewed a whole lot of great artists, ranging from Barnett Newman, and Willem de
Kooning, to Andy Warhol. And if you want to hear it, you know, from
the source, an artist documenting the work of other artists in their studios, etc, in
my opinion that’s really as good as it gets. And books, wow, there’s about a million of
them out there. I think my favorite entry-level-ish book on
the New York School is written by Irving Sandler. Sandler was a really young aspiring art historian,
probably not even an art historian yet, at the
Artists Club. He knew de Kooning, and Pollock, and all those
guys and gals. And his memoirs, or actually one chapter of
his memoirs is called, “A Sweeper-Up After Artists.” Kind of a strange title, but those are his
personal recollections, and he’s kind of weaving great stories back and forth with the history
of the movement. It’s really entertaining. It’s also quite interesting and elucidating. Katharina Huemer, also from the September
live Q&A. “Thanks so much. As we all know, practice is the key. Can you recommend something to practice on,
as buying canvas all the time is quite expensive? But the specific surface is still quite important,
at least to me. Again, thank you very much.” Thank you. Okay, so to practice on, first of all, paper
is really cheap, brown paper, etc. And certainly you can practice brushwork,
etc, but Katharina is right here, the texture is different, the
absorbance is different, etc. One thing you can do to make it act a little
bit more like canvas is to prime paper. That seals the paper and reduces its absorption,
so the paint starts to feel a little bit more like applying to canvas. Also you can do what Picasso did and many
other artists, paint on the back of a canvas. When you’re done with one, unstretch it, flip
it over, prime the other side, and paint it again. Or what Picasso also did it early on the Blue
Period when he wasn’t really selling works is to paint directly on top of another painting. Now for all of us Picasso lovers it’s kind
of a bummer that there are all of these so-called lost or hidden Picasso’s, which by the way,
conservators like myself are using imaging techniques of increased specificity to really
pick out some of those under paintings, if you will. So maybe if you make a masterpiece don’t paint
it out, please. But as you’re just growing as a painter, I
think it’s completely fine to realize that your painting is kind of exercise. They’re kind of platforms, or kind of steps
forward. And when you’ve finished one, by all means
take a picture of it, remember it. But if money’s tight I think it’s completely
fine to paint over that. And really, again, as I mentioned in the previous
one, I think one of the most important things for a young painter is not to fall in love
with anything you’ve done. Always risk what you’ve done to try to make
it better. Don’t rest on your laurels in other words. And I think making yourself paint over works
is a really, really good way to ensure that that’s the case. And by the way, it’s the cheap way, too. Emily Tarleton writes, “I feel like I learned
more in the first 10 minutes of this video than I did in 3 years’ worth of art classes
in high school.” Well, that’s kind of a good news, bad news
one. I’m glad to hear that, in a way. Not so glad to hear that about your high school
art class, but thanks for those kind words. Iveta Wiedermann writes, “Is it necessary
to be capable of realistic drawing or painting for abstract for an abstract painter? Were mentioned artists like Newman, de Kooning,
and others also great in realistic drawings and paintings?” Interesting. Is it necessary? This is a case-by-case situation. It really depends on what kind of abstract
painting you’re making. Willem de Kooning, as you probably know since
you’re here, really exerts a kind of battle between painting and drawing in his painted
canvases, drawing with a loaded brush, drawing back on top of a painting, painting back on
top of a drawing, etc. And by the way, de Kooning was one of the
greatest draftsman, in terms of drawing, of the 20th century. So if you’re going to draw like…sorry, if
you’re going to paint like de Kooning I think the answer this question is yes. You really gotta hone your draftsmanship skills. Newman is a great counter example, though. If you look at early representational work
by Newman. Ugh, good luck. He destroyed it all because he didn’t want
you to see it. Something tells me there was a reason for
that. Ego’s certainly a part of it, but in Newman’s
graphic work later on, his zips, his prints, etc, the artist hand, in terms of realistic
drawing, is completely irrelevant. And whereas some kind of Philistine argument
will say, “Well, you can’t be an abstract painter unless you pay your dues first,” I
really don’t think that’s the case. It really depends on what kind of an abstract
artist that you want to be. Same thing with jazz, by the way. Ornette Coleman, great avant-garde innovator
on the alto saxophone and other instruments, was not a great bebop player. But he just improvised a completely new relationship
to the music without paying his dues, and that was very difficult for many people. In fact, when he first came to New York City
in 1959 he was labeled anti-jazz. Well, now when you listen to Ornette you’re
going to be tapping your foot. I’m pretty sure you’re going to think it’s
jazz. So sometimes as movements make their way into
history we really start to understand that it’s more about the idea rather than the checklist
of things that gets you to that idea. Cecelia Beck asks, “How did de Kooning’s paintings
fare over time with the mixture?” Cecelia referring to some really interesting
materials that de Kooning added to his paint, including some non-drying oils, like safflower,
cooking oil, in other words. How did they fare? Kind of a mixed bag. I think it’s fair to say that de Kooning’s
paintings have a lot more cracks than certain other artists who are more academic or conventional
in their approach to the canvas. de Kooning knew how to paint according to
the academic standards for sure, but he just willingly deviated from those recipes in the
interest of creative ideas. In other words, fat over lean, that rule of
thumb of oil painting or really any kind of painting. How to make a painting that lasts. He didn’t do that. So in many cases actually we see drying cracks
in his painting. Now what a drying crack is is not a crack
that happened because, you know, someone crashed into it or kicked a soccer ball against it,
or that the temperature of the humidity varied wildly in your living room. Instead it’s those cracks forming as the paint
dries. So those cracks, they’re actually not a damage. It’s not a condition problem for the painting. It’s something that the material did naturally
as it dried in the studio. At the very least de Kooning accepted these
kind of drying cracks. And having looked at a lot de Kooning paintings,
I’m pretty confident that actually he invited these drying cracks at times. de Kooning getting really wrinkly textures
sometimes, adding way too much medium, and other times working super dry and underbound,
and having cracking, kind of dry paint surfaces. de Kooning really made paint do everything
that it possibly could do, including not dry, as we
talked about in a previous video, where some of his paintings still have drips that are
literally still wet today, 50 years down the road. And they’re probably not drying anytime soon. Pamela writes, “Question for you, Corey. When you painted during Parts I & II in de
Kooning style can you please talk about the fat over lean principle and whether de Kooning
adhered to this principle?” Actually we just kind of addressed this. The answer really here is rarely. In these kind of paintings when de Kooning
did follow fat over lean, I think it was almost just by chance. It’s really not something that he was worried
about, and it is why some of these really interesting paint textures happened on his
paintings. And, you know, let’s be frank. Some of his paintings do have condition problems. Some of them do have flaking paint when the
paint is cracking, and lifting off the surface, and falling on the floor, etc. And painters of this generation, Franz Kline
also, you know, there’s a certain risk, a certain cost littered to the condition, the
aging properties of your painting when you do deviate from those academic techniques. But I don’t think de Kooning is really an
extreme example of that. We can find other painters who were making
much more unorthodox and much more fragile paint films, like Yves Klein from France,
or Ad Reinhardt here from New York City. ArnoM73 writes, “A big thanks from Germany
for everything. Big fan of your videos. Which binder is best to use with acrylics
to get more fluidity? Any thoughts about mixing oils and acrylics? I would love to hear more about Pierre Soulages.” Actually I just finished working on a Pierre
Soulages painting, a great abstract painter who’s still kicking, by the way, still working
in Paris. Okay, so the question here about getting more
fluidity with acrylics. Okay, one way to do that is to add solvent,
which in this case is water, which cuts the fluidity of your paint. But if you’re trying to increase also the
translucence of your paint there’s a really wide range of additives for acrylics. Now the truth here is that, you know, within
all of these different lines, and I’m talking about commercial brands of acrylic paints,
a lot of these additives, they’re really, really similar to each other. They have the same binder or really closely
related binders. They might have rheological modifiers. That sounds complicated, but just something
to change the flow ability, the brush ability of your paint. And each one of these companies has their
own names and their own brands of different approaches to cutting the viscosity of your
paint. Another way to do it is actually just to add
a surfactant, like a little bit of alcohol, ethanol, which you can buy at the drug store. Just a little bit is going to cut the surface
tension of your paint, and really that’s a whole lot of what I think this question is
about. So sorry there’s not a super specific answer,
but, you know, if you’re working with Golden paints, or Liquitex, or what have you, explore
some of these different additives. And I really encourage you to, you know, get
a piece of masonite or a canvas and do some paint outs, do some tests. So take a little bit of cadmium red and add
equal part of one additive, and then do the same thing in another one, and another one,
another one, and then make the same brush stroke down and start to get a feel for, ah,
the fluidity is much higher in this one but is much more translucent. Or this one is more opaque. Or this one has a body to it, is more kind
of a waxy kind of thickness to it. These days it’s a nice time to be a painter
in the acrylic realm since there is a really wide range of materials available to us. Live question from Cheryl Herndon here on
YouTube. “Can you get similar effects of matte and
glossy surfaces with H2 oils?” Okay, yeah. So H2 oils, this is just a brand name, but
these are the so-called water soluble, or water miscible oil paints. First thing, it’s a bit of a misnomer. Oils are not soluble in water. They’re not really miscible either. These are emulsion paints, and before you
start getting freaked out, don’t worry. Most acrylic paints are also emulsion paints. The so called water-soluble oils, it’s just
a different binder in there. For me they still really feel plasticky. They are plastics, by the way. They have plastic components in them. So yeah, they look more like oil than acrylic,
emulsion paints do. But for me, the handling properties, I’m not
really convinced. Moreover they’re relatively young. Someone can tell me exactly how long they’ve
been around but I want to guess, I don’t know, 15 years, something like that. And conservators studied these a bit, but
really the best way to understand the material and its aging process is to, well, stick around
for 100 years. By the way, a lot of the early acrylic paintings
from the 60s, conservators like myself are encountering some very strange problems that
some of them are having over time that we’re just learning about these days because they’re
a ticking clock in a way. And certain things happen at certain times,
and we’re learning that on-the-fly. So matte and glossy surfaces with water-soluble
oils. The medium there is quite glossy, so if you
want to reduce the gloss you want to reduce the binder content, or increase the pigment-to-binder
ratio. One way to do that is that you can do what
the Impressionists did and squeeze out your oil paint on to newspaper or onto cardboard. It’ll soak up some of the medium, and what
you’re left with is a thicker, drier paint, which will also dry with a much more matte
appearance. Also if you add more water to it you will
increase the viscosity, and as your paint is applied to an absorbent support like canvas,
more of that medium is going to follow the water and get soaked into your priming, or
your canvas, or what have you. And again, the same kind of thing, pigment-to-binder
ratio goes up and you have a more matte appearance. Anamaria Arango writes, “Thank you. Love your videos. I’m teaching visual art in a bilingual school
in Colombia, South America and we watch many of your videos. Keep it up.” Super cool. I just love the idea that this is a kind of
language tool, as well as a cultural tool, as well as an artistic teaching device in
Colombia. Sign me up. I’m ready to go to Colombia. What next? Justin Worrell writes, “Have conservators
studied or reached any conclusions regarding the integrity of water-soluble oil paints?” I’m going to pass on this one since actually
we just took a live question about this. “Assuming I follow all the traditional rules,
fat over lean, proper ground, how many generations of my family will get to enjoy my awesomely
mediocre paintings?” We don’t know is really the answer to that
one. If you’re really concerned about the longevity
of your works, your awesomely mediocre paintings, stick with oils, or stick with egg, or stick
with distemper. Stick with something that’s been around for
hundreds of years, and we know the answer to these questions. Acrylics might be fine. Water miscible oils might be fine, but I wouldn’t
bet the farm on it. More likely when paintings of historic, and
frankly monetary value, get made in these new media, conservators will get good and
the market will drive this pressure and make sure that we keep them around in a way. But specifically what are the problems and
how bad are they going to be? I think we’re going to have to wait around
a little bit to really be sure. From the September live Q&A, Lynda Lehmann
writes, “Long question here. For months and months I’ve been bemoaning
the loss of my independent study painting group and life changes propelled me to move
across the country. Listening to you speak with so much knowledge
and authority about painting grounds and anchors me to the dimension of creativity that I was
once able to express in my tiny art community. Already inspired learning things I’ve missed. Looking forward to plunge into the grand universe
of inner space impacting pigments.” Hey, you guys know how to write. I love this stuff. “Thanks MoMA and thanks me.” You’re very welcome. Really nothing makes me happier in this series
than I get comments like this that people are either beginning to explore painting for
the first time or kind of reinvigorating their painting process. Actually I got a note recently, a kind of
thank you note that someone said I was like gasoline on a smoldering fire. I think that was meant as a compliment but
it took me a little while to figure it out. Jack Ready writes in the live Q&A trailer
for this session, “Hi, Corey. Many of the artists I’ve been interested in
recently, including Basquiat and de Kooning, seem to take direct inspiration from their
peers and predecessors’ work and make it their own. Is there a fine line between imitation and
originality?” Wow, a lot of artists have been pondering
these same ideas, perhaps none more so than Marcel Duchamp, who basically made an entire
career out of this idea of questioning authenticity, originality concepts therein. But back to painting, yeah, many artists paint
their way through the master to the extent available options to them. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s a really productive
way to work. As an artist if you’re trying you know to
do something historically important to be a serious artist, etc, if you’re copying you
better understand the ramifications of that. The so-called Pictures Generation, largely
focus here in New York City in the 1980s and ’90s, Louise Lawler, Richard Prince, Jeff
Koons, and other artists really went back to Duchamp and started thinking about, well,
what happens when you take a photograph of a photograph? Or if you make a painting that looks just
like another painting, except this one’s done by a woman and it’s done in the 1990s. What’s the meaning of this contextual shift
here? And the answer is actually there’s a lot of
interesting things that happen here, you know? The old fable about, you know, someone who
likes Don Quixote so much that they wrote it themselves to experience what Cervantes
would have experienced in writing the original Quixote, Pedro Menard. But, you know, these kind of ideas have been
around for quite some time now in the 20th century now into the 21st. So all I’m recommending here is that if, you
know, you’re painting through other artists’ work as a way to find your own voice, excellent,
a really productive way to do that. If you’re copying other artists’ work as your
own art, hit the books and understand some of the rationale of other artists who have
done this kind of a thing, and figure out where your ideas lie in there. And by the way, I’m sure this is not the the
last that we’ve heard of these kind of approaches. SpecialDoc: TryYourMedincine writes, “Why
not paint like yourself?” Okay, related question here. There’s no reason not to paint like yourself. In fact, even if you do try to rewrite Don
Quixote yourself you’re not going to do it. It’s going to be your own in certain ways. The experience of it will be quite subjective
and quite personal. I think that the flip side to this question
is, “Why paint like other artists?” And we’ve touched on this as a way to understand
really the experience of a work, to understand the process, to understand why things look
the way they do in, say, a Picasso painting. I hope some of you have tried your hand at
working in a Cubist style, and suddenly you’ll realize really, really quickly how cubism
progressed very methodically and very rationally from one step to another. Because it’s all about how the image relates
between what you’re looking at in still life and on a canvas, or then perhaps you skip
the still life altogether and further flattened the pictorial space of that painting. One answer here is to learn art history, to
learn the history of painting by using your hands and really sharpening the relationships
between what your eye tells you where you’re comfortable perhaps looking at paintings and
thinking about paintings with what your hand tells you, which maybe you haven’t done so
much of. And suddenly you’ll have an understanding
why certain de Kooning’s brush strokes look the way they do, or start the way they do,
or stop with a crackle in the way they do. Because the quality of paint, because of the
kind of physical gesture that was responsible for getting that paint there. So, you know, multiple answers here. One is to learn art history, two, to learn
how to paint, and I think many of us here in this series of In the Studio works, I hope
you’re doing both of those hand-in-hand. At least that’s certainly my intentions. Alberto Arredondo on Twitter writes, “I’m
working in tempera grassa. First of all, tempera grassa is egg plus oil. This was a technique invented really in Italy
where there’s a history of egg tempera painting. And then as oil painting moved in from the
north in the hands of Albrecht Durer and other artists like that, artists like Raphael started
to mix the two as a kind of crutch to get them towards true oil painting technique. So Alberto is working this technique on canvas
primed with gesso, lean to fat, reducing the amount of water and increasing the oil each
layer until I have half oil, two volumes water. Thoughts on stability?” Okay, so first thought on stability. Seems like an okay approach. I worry a little bit working with this medium,
tempera grassa, on a flexible support like canvas. Oil is quite flexible, although it does get
more brittle with age. Acrylics are quite flexible and they also
get brittle with age. Egg tempera is quite brittle from the get-go,
and this is why when you go the Uffizi and the great museums of the Italian old masters
you see them working on wood principally as they’re painting in egg, because that medium
is brittle. And on a flexible support like canvas, which
waves around as you’re carrying it across the room, or shrinking and expanding with
variations in relative humidity, etc, you’re going to run into some cracks and some flaking. Now tempera grassa, because there’s some oil
mixed into the egg it does make it stronger. It does make it more flexible. If you’re really concerned about the longevity
of these paints, I might consider working on wood on panel rather than on canvas. That being said, I think your approach here,
working fat over lean, layer by layer by layer, is a very thoughtful and very strong way to
encourage the stability of those works. From Instagram, fabulouschels writes, “Hi. I truly enjoyed the Coursera course and look
forward to more in-studio videos. Question is this, I’ve seen videos of a few
young professional artists mixing a large amount of water with their acrylic paints. They pour water onto a stretched canvas laying
on the floor and mix a small amount of acrylic paint into it, making a wash or watercolor-like
effect. Would a product like Golden’s Absorbent Ground
prevent under binding when using this technique? Or are their paintings doomed to flake off
in the future?” So another question here about unorthodox
painting techniques and the physical ramifications of them. Okay, so what happens here is that when you’re
working in a stain with a lot of solvent, and this is true of oil paints, Magna paints,
the first acrylics, or Liquitex acrylic emulsion type paints. When you’re working in a stain you have that
fixed pigment-to-binder ratio. Comes out of the tube, what have you. But when you work with a lot of extra solvent
you’re encouraging some of that medium to migrate out of your paint as it dries and
into the ground, and or into the support. So the more absorbent the material that you’re
painting on, the more of that binder is actually going to make its way out of your paint. Now what this is going to do is it’s going
to make a very matte surface. It’s going to increase the opacity of your
paint. Maybe these are good things for you. Helen Frankenthaler, by the way, really explored
these ideas. I think we might do that in a future video. That being said, if too much of that happens
you may have drying cracks, the kind of thing that we were talking about a little bit ago
in some of the works of Willem de Kooning and many other artists. So if that is the case then yes, I’m afraid
if you’re working with a truly under bound paint surface it’s going to be really fragile. It may flake off, etc. Working with a ground or a size adhesive to
seal that canvas is going to prevent a lot of that soaking, or that seeping into the
canvas the same kind of way when you knock over a glass of wine on a tablecloth. If you have kind of a plasticy tablecloth,
it’s a shiny one that has adhesive into it, you know that wine is just going to kind of
bubble up and sit there until you clean it up. If you have an old cotton tablecloth, or something
like silk, something like that wicking in, right? Same kind of idea is true of canvas. So again, the rule of thumb here, or really
your focus in answering these kind of questions is the pigment-to-binder ratio. If it’s really high, if it’s excessive, your
paint is going to be quite weak, especially if you’re not locking it in with a fatter
layer on top, fat over lean approach to an academic painting. Igor Sado, cool name, writes from the September
live Q&A. “Currently following your course on Coursera.” Excellent. “That’s how I found out about you and your
videos. I love them so much. I love Abstract Expressionism and I love MoMA,
which we currently have here in Paris near my house. I’m not a painter per se. I’m a fashion designer and illustrator and
yet I find your tips very useful to my work.” Super glad to hear it, and I really like this
idea that some of the ideas that we explore together in the Coursera course and some of
the In the Studio videos go in other directions, they inspire. One of my students mentioned that he’s a composer
and some of the electronic music that he’s making really came out of a thing about Barnett
Newman and others, which I really loved. I just went to an event the other day and
a chef stopped me and said, “Oh, I know you.” And, you know, “Some of these these ideas,
I wonder if some of the painterly effects could be explored in food, etc.” Sign me up. From today’s live chat, Golnaz Farazi, another
cool name, writes, “Thanks for the awesome online classes. Any suggestion on how to find a qualified
person to critique my artworks?” Interesting. I don’t know where you live, Golnaz, but artists
are everywhere. And doing studio visits, excuse me, studio
visits with other artists is a really good way to get a critique of your own work, and
also for you to present your own work. It’s one thing to make a painting and to look
at it. It’s another thing to make a painting and
present it to your girlfriend, or wife, or husband, or what have you. It’s another thing to introduce it to another
artist, or to a stranger, or to an art critic, or something like that. And suddenly you’re making a sales pitch. And if this sounds kind of slimy, well, potentially
it is. But really the good side of this is that you’re
focusing on your work. You’re thinking about explaining what you’re
trying to do, how to talk about it, how to frame your work for someone who’s coming in
cold so that they can really understand what you’re doing. How to find these people? Well, probably I think the Coursera course
is a great way to start. We have students from all over the world so
I’d encourage you to post there about where you live and see if there’s someone else in
the course who is local or semi-local. And certainly in the Coursera course there
is a lot of kind of inter-student critique going on. Of course, this is dealing with JPEGs and
TIFFs, which as we found out in the course are quite useful but not as good as the real
thing, paint in the flesh. But I think it’s a really good way to get
started in this kind of process. Wish you all the best. Starsandink on Instagram writes, “Will oil,
protein, and water-based paints,” protein-based paint we’re talking about egg, by the way,
egg tempera. “Will oil, protein, and water-based paints
apply to an acrylic-based ground, stand up to time, or will they eventually delaminate? Is it true that early oil painters used calcium
carbonate in their paints to make them more paste-like?” Okay, two kind of unrelated questions here. First one, can you work on an acrylic-based
ground for all these different kind of paints? And thankfully, for us sometimes it’s easy. The answer is yes. You can paint acrylic over an acrylic ground. You can paint oil over an acrylic ground. You can paint egg over an acrylic ground. They’re all going to work. In fact, these days I really strongly recommend
working with an acrylic ground, regardless of what kind of paint you’re going to work
with over it. Because not only does it provide a nice seal
to the canvas, it also provides a flexible kind of ground so that, again, if that canvas
waves around over time it’s not prone to cracking like a glue ground would be that’s a hide
glue, an animal glue ground. Or an oil-based ground also could be over
time. So all of these things work but I think the
idea of working with an acrylic ground is a really good one. Again, it’s nice to be a painter these days. “Is it true that early oil painters used calcium
carbonate in their paints,” a kind of chalk, “To make them more paste-like?” Indeed, sometimes. Indeed, that’s a white pigment. So some white oil paints principally use that
paint, and it also does make it more pastose, or thick, more toothpaste-like. And certainly some artists deliberately did
that. By the way, you can do the same thing with
lead white, as Rembrandt and others did. So it’s not that that’s the only white pigment
out there that could do it, but it’s a cheap one, and another. There’s really no reason not to. “No rubber gloves.” Frowning face. Okay, so let’s talk about safety here. Oh, by the way, this comes from the video
on turpentine burns that Mark Rothko and others did, taking a rag wet with solvent and scrubbing
back into the canvas. And this webberon, Ron maybe, is suggesting
between the lines here that you should wear rubber gloves. Now if you’re doing this every day I strongly
agree with you. If you’re working with turpentine, turpentine
is a relatively strong solvent and it will really, you know, dry out your hands, and
you’ll crack your hands. And if you’re working with toxic pigments,
not a great idea anyway, you run the risk of quite serious things. First of all, I was working with just mineral
spirit, super low toxicity. And I don’t do that every day. So is it a good idea to wear rubber gloves? Yes, certainly. For many of you out there I think you’ll find
though that working with rubber gloves feels a little weird and uncreative, etc. I’ve gotten used to it as a conservator. We wear gloves all the time. But the first time you have a small brush
in your hand with a rubber glove it’s going to feel a little bizarre. So safety is really important, of course. Wearing rubber gloves if you’re painting every
day. If you’re smearing paint all over your hands
every day, definitely a really good idea. If you’re working with just a little mineral
spirits on a rag, you know, every once in a while, I think I’m doing okay. But to each his own. Always safety is a good idea. PedestrianRage, whoa. It sounds like someone who doesn’t like bikers
here in New York City. Writes, “Absolutely love this new series. It has turned me into a fan of abstract art. I used to lambaste it. Can you explore watercolor as a medium in
modern abstract art?” Yeah, that is a good idea. There’s a lot of really interesting modern
watercolor artists. Cezanne made some wonderful watercolors. Marin here in New York City made some great
ones in the beginning of the 20th century. My own background, I work with watercolors
a lot as a conservator for in-painting techniques. It’s very reversible on a lot of kind of paintings. In my own work I haven’t really worked with
watercolor that much but I’d be happy to explore it and demonstrate a couple of the key ideas. Maybe we can find someone better than I am
in watercolor to do that kind of thing. I think it’s a good idea. From the YouTube video on how to paint like
Picasso and Georges Braque, that’s the cubist video, Pam writes, “This is such an interesting
video. Would the style work with watercolor?” A similar kind of question. Absolutely. Picasso and Braque, to my understanding anyway,
they did work in in water-based paints but more in studies, more in sketches, more in
preparatory kind of works. By the way, for 1907’s Demoiselles d’Avignon,
the great early cubist Picasso masterwork which is in the collection here at the Modern,
there are some really interesting preparatory sketches, Google them, you’ll find them, for
that great painting. And we can see how Picasso was thinking about
that composition and how he changed it quite radically, in fact, as he approached that
really watershed moment in the early 20th century. Absolutely. There’s no reason why you couldn’t paint a
Cubist work in watercolor. The big difference here is that your paints
are going to be quite translucent. And as I hope I convinced you in the video,
a whole lot of cubism is about compressing pictorial space, or flattening that illusionistic
volume of old master painting. And a lot of that is done in very opaque paints. In fact, almost all the paints I applied to
that that Picasso type painting were quite opaque. So if you work in watercolor everything is
going to be translucent. It’s going to be more challenging for you
to really get the same kind of density and opacity in your composition, but maybe you’ll
find some really interesting avenues forward. Personally I wonder if that’s one of the reasons
that Picasso and Braque didn’t work so much in watercolor for finished works, but I’m
just speculating here. Also from the Picasso video, “Cool, though
the blue dots seem a bit sloppy.” You know, it’s funny. This is modestroker1, nice name. Personally I live with this painting now,
it’s on the wall in my house. And I go back and forth on this. Sometimes I really like that and other times
I kind of agree with the writer here that they do seem a little sloppy. Sometimes the sloppiness of a cubist painting
is really interesting, though. In tension with all those lines and all the
grammar of geometry, etc, to have the kind of manual imprecision in there is quite nice. I think, you know, this is something that
Picasso would agree with. If you look at Picasso’s neoclassical works
or his Blue Period works, or his academic works early on in this life, man, that guy
could paint. But then you look at some of his paintings
in the teens and the 20s and they’re aggressively clumsy, and aggressively ugly. And even some of the really gorgeous, to my
eye, Cubist paintings, he’s working with this really lumpy, stiff, staccato kind of brushstroke,
which is a little bit, you know, lumpy, and bumpy, and gross looking. It’s deliberate, in other words, and it’s
further announcing the kind of lumpiness, the flatness, the two dimensionality of the
painting. Okay, it’s three-dimensional, they’re lumps. But really reducing that illusionism behind
the picture plane. Long way to say it’s crossed my mind to clean
them up a couple times but I’m not quite sure. Again, oil painting is quite forgiving, so
if I did decide sometime that I agree with the writer here, simply working with a small
brush, a little bit of, I believe, white background there, an opaque white, like a titanium-white,
or something like that, can just kind of clean up the edges of them to refine them into more
clean polka dots, that’s certainly something that could be done anytime. Question from Madeline today here on the live
chat. “Do you have any information on the preservation
and maintenance of wax and caustic paintings? Are encaustic paintings able to be preserved
for many years, or will they crack and melt over time?” Okay, so encaustic. I don’t think we talked about this much in
the course. The most famous 20th century artist who is
sometimes said to work in encaustic is Jasper Johns, working here in New York City. Johns actually did not work in encaustic. He mixed oil into wax, which is really not
encaustic, excuse me, painting. Encaustic is just pigment in wax. The Egyptians painted in encaustic an incredibly
long time ago. Encaustic is a stable medium if handled correctly. It does require a non-flexible support, like
a wall, or a piece of wood, a panel, something like that. And in that kind of situation they shouldn’t
crack overtime. However, will they melt over time? You better believe it. If it gets really warm they certainly will
liquify a little bit on the surface and get shiny. Or if it got really hot it could be dripping
down as well. It is wax. There are different kinds of wax, beeswax
microcrystalline wax, which tends to be a little softer, lower melting point, and more
prone to melting. But yes, certainly if you’re working on a
Jasper Johns, or if you have a Jasper Johns, or a Brice Marden with wax in your apartment,
first of all, lucky you. But yeah, be careful about the temperature
in the summer time, please. Robert Baker, III writes, “Why do artists
stretch their own canvas? Is there something less valuable about a painting
on a factory-stretched canvas? When purchasing a pre-stretched canvas, what
should you look for? Sorry about the three-part question.” Not at all. Why do artists stretch their own canvas? A few different reasons. One possible reason, my own reason is that
I don’t like to buy something ready-made at the store and then put something on it. It feels rather decorative and feels rather
impersonal to me. Totally subjective personal answer here. I like building something myself and starting
to get a relationship with that object from the get-go. Now you can say, “Oh, but, you know, if you
really feel that way you should cut the tree down and saw the stretcher bars, etc.” By the way, some artists do that. I don’t go that far. So that’s one possible reason. Another one is that, for me personally, I
want to know what is on there. I want to trust those materials. And whereas you might think, “Well, what’s
the big deal?” Sometimes it is a big deal. I’m not going to mention specific names, but
there’s a certain line of canvases, which were used by some important artists by the
way, that paint just didn’t stick to after 10 years. And the reason why is that this commercial
canvas maker applied some kind of a sealant on top of the primer so it looks shiny, and
glossy, and clean, and made you want to buy it off the shelf, except paint started to
delaminate on it over time. You can imagine if you’re an artist who made
a entire body of work on that canvas that you bought from the store you’re pretty upset
about that, and certainly there are artists out there who are. If you do work on a commercially-primed canvas,
my own suggestion here, just to make sure that is not going to happen to you, take some
sandpaper and sand through whatever the surface coating that may be on there and make sure
that it’s really truly absorbent and your paint is going to get some tooth into the
ground there. “When purchasing a pre-stretched canvas, what
should you look for?” Now it’s really up to you. If it’s a reputable vendor, and certainly
there are plenty out there, you want to think about the thread count of the canvas. Should it be rough? Should it be smooth? Single prime, double prime, triple primed. How thick? And, you know, if you’re sanding a triple-primed
canvas you can make it super smooth, whereas a single prime canvas you’re going to be still
picking up some of the warps and the wefts, the textile surface of the threads there. So this is really now about the appearance
of your work over time. Happy painting, Robert. Argendiego writes, “Hi, Corey. I stretched my canvas and primed it. The tension was excellent, but after painting
on it with oils and using a spatula, or pallette knife, the canvas lost its tension. The surface moves like jelly, yikes. Could you give me some tips? Thanks.” Okay, so this often happens if you’re putting
a lot of pressure on the canvas during your painting process. Pallet knives will often do this, or if you’re
really violent with your work and, you know, hacking and slashing de Kooning style perhaps
you might do this as well. A couple answers here. If you’ve already done that, hopefully you’re
working on a stretcher and not a strainer. Watch the videos in the Coursera course for
the difference there. But a stretcher you can key out the corners,
and the cross bar, etc, to supply an increased tension in certain regions
of the canvas where you might have a little beer belly, or what Argendiego writes as a
jelly kind of loss of tautness, or loss of tension in the canvas. So that’s the entire idea behind those keyable,
expandable stretchers is that you can get some of that tension back if that happens. Or, by the way, if you have a fireplace, and
you’re in a cold day like today, New York. You burned a couple logs. The humidity went way down, and then your
canvas had a little bit of a lack of tension again. So that’s one idea. Another idea if you’re going to be working
with pallet knives, etc, is that maybe you don’t want to stretch it first. Maybe, in fact, you want to take that canvas
and staple it directly onto a wall that you’re going to paint on. And this way, here’s the wall, when you’re
scraping on it you’re not actually flexing the canvas because there’s a wall behind it,
and you’re getting a nice firm resistance. When the painting is done and when it’s dry
then you can stretch that canvas over stretcher bars. In the late
work by Philip Guston, he worked that way. By the way, de Kooning worked that way a lot
of times, too. And that approach has another potential benefit
that you can kind of decide the dimensions of the canvas after you paint it. You can crop out an area. Gustin, if you look at his work from the ’70s,
often had a pencil line of a big rectangle where he thought the canvas would be, but
then sometimes actually it grew as he worked with a composition. Or sometimes it actually shrunk and he, you
know, ended up folding over part of the canvas, the pencil line is actually on the back of
the painting now. At any rate, a lot of really good artists
have used that approach. You might give it a shot. Nina Shukaylo writes, “I really love fantastic
International Klein Blue, IKB.” This is kind of blue paint that the French
painter Yves Klein developed and actually patented in France. “Do you know if it’s possible to purchase
the pigment or how to substitute it if not?” Actually you’re asking the right person because
when I used to work here in the conservation department at MoMA I did a lot of research
on Yves Klein and a really important painting of his and the collection here. The pigment that he worked with is synthetic,
or French ultramarine. That’s widely available all over the world. And, in fact, for a long time it was thought
that there was just one blue and only one store in Montparnasse in Paris that sold just
the right pigment. But actually I found out that the pigment
that is sold there today isn’t exactly the same one as what he was working with anyway. So it’s less about the pigments than it is
about the paint. IKB, International Klein Blue, is a combination
of a polyvinyl acetate. That’s a kind of synthetic resin, a little
bit like acrylic. And the solvents are really important, working
with ethanol, that’s alcohol, and ethyl acetate, some acetone. And depending on the formulation of the paint,
something that’s either brushable, or rollerable, rollable or sprayable, etc. By the way Klein died in his 30s and he wasn’t
particularly worried about some of the health risks of these materials. I hope you are, please. At any rate, the short answer here is IKB,
it’s less about the pigment, get some synthetic ultramarine and you’ll be happy, than it is
about the paint itself. And maybe we can tackle this in an In the
Studio sometime. Get some Europeans in the mix. That could be quite interesting. Miss Telly today on YouTube writes, “Please
be this generation’s Bob Ross.” I’d be happy to. I think a lot of you know Bob Ross and his
happy little clouds. You can find them on YouTube also. Bob Ross is just a hero of mine, and many,
many painters out there. His paintings, maybe they’re not the most
sophisticated and beautiful works, but, man, it’s just nice to listen to that guy talk. So if you have the same relationship to some
of my videos, I’m flattered. Believe it or not, years ago, 20 years ago
for Halloween I went to a party as Bob Ross once, so maybe it’s fate. From the Agnes Martin video, Bruno Galvan
writes, “You’re the cool sequel of Bob Ross.” Hey, Bob Ross was pretty cool, so I take offense. Soul Izanami writes, “Dude looks like Drake’s
uncle.” Dude, I’m not old enough to be his uncle. Please. C.S. Imming – “Hey, Corey. Still use your info from the abstract expressionism
class. Think of you often tell others about the classes. Still have my painting of you when I gave
you de Kooning teeth.” I remember that one, too. “Watching the videos again and hope you do
more.” I’m not going to post that. I can only imagine what kind of comment it
would get. Jen Egelnick writes, “I have the nerdiest
fangirl crush on this guy.” Jen, first drink’s on me. Okay, and let’s move onto some requests. A lot of requests for artists to cover in
the course. Sorry, not the course but in the In the Studio
series on which we’re continuing this spring, most likely with two episodes. Do stay tuned for those. Jay Colvin a couple weeks ago writes, “How
to paint like Basquiat?” In fact, if you spend a little bit of time
in the comments sections of many of these videos I think Basquiat is winning this competition
for most requested. I would love to. I think Basquiat is a really interesting artist,
has a really interesting set of materials that he kinda went back to, although he was
quite diverse. My opinion is not the only one. It’s quite complicated to make these videos,
and there’s more than a couple other voices that need to weigh in here. But trust me, Basquiat remains on the table
and I hope we can do that sometime. Helen Frankenthaler, another one I think we
might tackle. Frankenthaler, a New York School painter inspired
by Jackson Pollock, and so many of those artists were, who stained the canvas on the floor
rather than dripping on it. We might check out some of her work soon. Mary Thompson writes, “I’d love to see episodes
on Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe.” Yeah, Impressionism, post-Impressionism we
could definitely do a video on. Frida Kahlo, interesting. Frida was very interested in and influenced
by le tableau painting. That’s indigenous Mexican kind of folk painting
techniques, often in, but not exclusively, in the Catholic tradition in recent centuries. But Kahlo really used that vernacular in a
modern sensibility, and I think that could be quite interesting. Georgia O’Keeffe had a really delicate hand. She was a really subtle and really beautiful
painter. She didn’t use materials or techniques that
were all that idiosyncratic but she just refined them to an extreme degree. Would be definitely worth our time. “You should do a video exploring Gerhard Richter’s
abstract painting style.” I’d be happy to. By the way, there’s a great documentary recently
on Gerhard Richter where you can watch Richter doing Richter paintings, which obviously would
be much better than mine. But he doesn’t really talk you through them
as I might, so another good idea. Philip Guston, Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Mitchell,
Italian Futurism, a whole lot of great ideas here. We definitely do pay attention to these, so
please keep them coming. In a way we’re, you know, keeping score a
little bit about interests. But it’s also great to say, “Oh yeah, Italian
Futurism video. That could be really interesting building
on the cubism video.” So some some great ideas here. Thanks for those. A couple more live requests, Jasper Johns,
van Gogh, Richter, Richard Pousette-Dart who was a French painter living here in New York
City in the 1950s. These are all good ideas from the today’s
live stream. And by the way, super cool, among other places,
people in the audience today from here in New York City, but from Germany, Algeria,
India, Bahrain, Columbia, Bulgaria, Brazil. I think that’s pretty cool. I don’t think you need me to tell you that. At any rate I want to thank everyone for great
questions and comments today. Do want to let you know that we’ll have a
couple of these episodes coming up, another Q&A probably coming up this spring or early
summer. Also for those of you who are New York-based,
or Jersey-based, or what have you, I want to let you know that I’m teaching a painting
studio class here at the Museum, which starts in just a few weeks. There are a couple slots open for that. We’re going to be tackling pop art, Andy Warhol,
Lichtenstein, artists like that. The class is pretty cool, you know? We spend a lot of time up in the galleries
here at MoMA when the museum is closed, so I hope you learn a lot from me but you’ll
definitely get your money’s worth just seeing paintings in the flesh with me without any
other distractions around you, etc. So you can find out more about that on Please check it out. If we didn’t get your questions in the video
today we’ll try to answer them in text in the comments section afterwards, and of course
in our next Q&A. Stay tuned for that. So yeah, keep sending questions, subscribe
down below so you don’t miss our next release. And thanks again for watching In the Studio. Look forward to seeing you next time.

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