The Influences in Newberry's Artemis


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Michael

I am the happy owner of Artemis!

I met Michael Newberry couple of months ago.

I have to say that beside being a great Artist,

he is also a very very nice person.

Ciao

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Mini-Tutorial: The Influences in Newberry's Artemis

by Michael Newberry

Artemis1.jpg

I recently completed Artemis, Oct. 22, 2206. It was quite an involved process taking roughly more than 1900 hours. I discuss the influences and other creative problems in Artemis here: recent studio update.

I linked to the discussion instead of presenting it here because it covers many aspects of creating the work and because it's a much larger discussion than what I normally present as an online tutorial. Nonetheless, if you go and read the presentation I think you will enjoy seeing how influences play a role in Artemis.

(Note: This Studio Update discussion, dated October 2006, is given below.)

Did the woman portrayed here lose a contact lens? Did she stumble and fall? Why is she doing ass and elbows? What is the artist trying to say? Beats me.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Bob,

It's OK not to like the painting. Different strokes for different folks. I find it interesting that it spoke to you enough for you to want to speak out against it.

For my own reaction, even without the lens of the Artemis legend, I immediately caught the voluptuous erotic hunting emotion. This goes way beyond something like a photo in Hustler magazine, where eroticism is more light-hearted and automatic.

On contemplating this painting (still without the lens of the Artemis legend), I get the impression that this woman's complete soul and being are focused on one thing only: what she is looking at (probably a man). And what that is makes her poise for sexual contact as her sole volitional purpose of existing at that moment. She wants to be that alone and nothing else.

She reminds me of a cat ready to spring at a prey.

I feel this sometimes in my own sexuality. It is good to know that others have it and can make it so much more beautiful than I am (I am no Adonis).

With the Artemis legend, I see an enhancement on all this, providing a further depth to contemplate (and this gets into below-the-surface archetypes). The more I contemplate this painting, the more pleasure I derive from it.

If Ciro cooks like what he saw in this painting, I can't wait to visit his restaurant.

Michael

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Bob,

It's OK not to like the painting. Different strokes for different folks. I find it interesting that it spoke to you enough for you to want to speak out against it.

Did I say one word against it? Did I not ask some questions? Do you happen to know the answer to any of them? Is there a difference between a question and a declarative sentence?

Ba'al Chatzaf.

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Did I say one word against it? Did I not ask some questions? Do you happen to know the answer to any of them? Is there a difference between a question and a declarative sentence?

Bob,

I'm sorry. I thought your writing style was to make use of rhetorical questions. I had no idea they were serious questions. That's a lot of questions, too, but let's do it.

Did I say one word against it?

If your questions were rhetorical ones, they carry a sarcastic tone, so yes. If they were not, then no. At this moment, I am still in doubt as to whether they were rhetorical ones or not, or a bit of both.

Did I not ask some questions?

Yes you did.

Do you happen to know the answer to any of them?

Yes, I do.

Is there a difference between a question and a declarative sentence?

This kind of question is not accurate for the case at hand. But to answer, of course there is a difference between a question and a declarative sentence. We learned that in grade school and even earlier in learning how to speak. The way I learned it, a question is usually a request for information and a declarative sentence is usually to express a value judgment. But the real question is whether a question can be used as a declarative sentence. The answer is sure it can, especially if the question is rhetorical. Often the intent is to mock something and express a negative value judgment.

Now on to your other questions.

Did the woman portrayed here lose a contact lens?

This could be the case if there were no context at all, but seeing how this painting is intertwined with an ancient Greek myth and they did not have contact lenses back then (and Michael is a brilliant artist), I feel very secure in saying that she was not seeking a lost contact lens.

Did she stumble and fall?

With a little bit of introspection, you could have answered this one yourself. It is true that people spread their arms when they fall, but in a standard face-down fall the trunk would be flat on the ground. As it is twisted, the arms would be twisted too. That is, if the fall itself were depicted. If she has fallen and is getting up, she would be lifting her chest in addition to twisting her trunk to raise up on her knees.

The pose she is in is not impossible to one who has fallen, but it is remote enough to rule out a fall as the purpose of the painting. Also, there is the issue of what she is laying on. It looks like a bed covering, but if it were a rug, there are still garments strewn about, indicating that she has taken them off.

As an interesting aside, notice how the garments/bed covering echo her body, each foot is echoed to the left as is her rump, her head is echoed to the right, and her right elbow is echoed in such a manner that it even makes a larger form with her knee and leg.

Why is she doing ass and elbows?

Another easy question. On a very superficial level, the ass is for eroticism and the elbows are for solid support for her to look. If you want to go deeper, since the idea is to pounce, they configure a sort of crossbow shape loaded and ready to fire. But I don't want to do your thinking for you. I am sure you have the intelligence to see other connections.

What is the artist trying to say?

Oh, come on. At least read the artist's text before asking something like that. You might ask what he meant or say you disagree with him, but he gave several descriptions of what he meant. By asking, all you do is show you did not read it. I also provided some of the meaning (in my view) in my previous post, so if you are really interested, you might look there too.

(I normally don't do this Q&A thing, which I call candystriping, but I felt like wasting some time today.)

Michael

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What is the artist trying to say?

Oh, come on. At least read the artist's text before asking something like that. You might ask what he meant or say you disagree with him, but he gave several descriptions of what he meant. By asking, all you do is show you did not read it. I also provided some of the meaning (in my view) in my previous post, so if you are really interested, you might look there too.

I deliberately do not read what an artist tries to tell me in writing about a painting he's made, I want to look at it as unbiased as possible; for me the work itself should tell its message, if it needs a manual I'm not interested. If possible I even try to avoid the title of a work when I see it for the first time, to see what it conveys without any external hint. Here that is of course not possible, I understand it is a painting of Artemis. Now I have immediately a problem, as it doesn't at all look like how I'd imagine Artemis. Artemis was certainly not an easy lady, she was a virgin, immune to love, the goddess of chastity among other things, and she could kill and destroy without a blink of an eye, not only animals, but also people when she felt she'd be wronged by them, often for rather trivial reasons. Well, that's not the person I see here, who looks more like a little coquette. Now there is nothing wrong with paintings of little coquettes, but the contrast with the title is jarring. I really burst into laughter when I read Bob's question if she'd lost a contact lens, because that is a much better description of what I see than a stern, unapproachable and vengeful Greek goddess. I almost can hear her saying: did you find my lens? The comical effect was the result of the contrast between what you expect from the title and the triviality of the rather apt description, which of course wouldn't fit the notion of a Greek goddess at all.

She reminds me of a cat ready to spring at a prey.

I don't get that impression at all. You might do a little experiment: try to assume that pose yourself (you may keep your clothes on), and tell me if you really feel like a cat ready to spring at a prey.

As an interesting aside, notice how the garments/bed covering echo her body, each foot is echoed to the left as is her rump, her head is echoed to the right, and her right elbow is echoed in such a manner that it even makes a larger form with her knee and leg.

The interesting thing is that it's not clear to me what she's lying on. On the one hand it looks indeed like a bed covering or something like that, but the blue background in the top of the painting strongly suggests to me a night sky, with the dark shadows as rocks and hills. In that case the perspective would be strange, so I suppose a landscape at night is not the intention, but it's impossible for me to dispel that illusion, so that I even tend to see the foreground as a rocky soil. The fact that I expect Artemis rather in a night landscape than on a large bed doesn't help either.

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I'm not a fan of this painting, but I did enjoy seeing Newberry's process and the changes that the image went through. I think the face ended up significantly better. Here's a side-by-side for easier comparison:

288050852_ff9e6fb755_o.jpg

Have you noticed that Newberry appears to be really pushing his "transparency" bit? It looks as though the figure's hair is actually somewhat transparent -- literally transparent, not "atmospheric depth transparent" as Newberry has used the term in the past -- you can see the line of the shape behind her head through her head. Has he become confused by his own quirky terminology, or does he just like the effect of making non-transparent things transparent?

Btw, I never would have suspected that Newberry was the April Fools Day prankster type:

http://www.michaelnewberry.com/studioupdate/2007-04/

J

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I think the face ended up significantly better.

I don't. It ended up more fully colored, as did the whole painting. But I think the original model's face (he said he had to change models before completing the work) looks more Greek and looks predatory, whereas the revised face does seem to me coquettish, as Dragonfly described it (thus jarring with the "Artemis" title). I also get an impression of a landscape at night with rocky soil as the foreground -- an impression which seems to me appropriate to the title.

Ellen

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Have you noticed that Newberry appears to be really pushing his "transparency" bit? It looks as though the figure's hair is actually somewhat transparent -- literally transparent, not "atmospheric depth transparent" as Newberry has used the term in the past

I think he's confusing low contrast with transparency.

-- you can see the line of the shape behind her head through her head. Has he become confused by his own quirky terminology, or does he just like the effect of making non-transparent things transparent?

That struck me too. It may also have been unintentional. It has happened to me too that an underlying painting came to haunt me later, even while I knew the risk.

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I'm not a fan of this painting, but I did enjoy seeing Newberry's process and the changes that the image went through. I think the face ended up significantly better.

. . .

Have you noticed that Newberry appears to be really pushing his "transparency" bit? It looks as though the figure's hair is actually somewhat transparent -- literally transparent, not "atmospheric depth transparent" as Newberry has used the term in the past -- you can see the line of the shape behind her head through her head.

Jonathan,

I think the face is better also and I did enjoy the trip through the creative process. The face certainly is more feminine. On the transparency thing, I did not realize this was part of the painting. I thought it was a glitch in the scan. If it was done on purpose, I don't care for the effect of seeing the line through her head.

But I think the original model's face (he said he had to change models before completing the work) looks more Greek and looks predatory, whereas the revised face does seem to me coquettish, as Dragonfly described it (thus jarring with the "Artemis" title).

Ellen,

As the purpose was to add eroticism to the mix, I like the changes. I don't find the first face erotic at all, but I do the second. Also, as I mentioned, there is the element of femininity. All enticing feminine poses could be called coquettish if a superficial flirt is what the viewer wants to see. I personally don't see flirting in the expression of the new face, but I do see intense focus and femininity.

She looks like a coiled snake about to attack. To which I can only say: right here, babe! Do your worst. :D

Kyrel,

LOL... Leave it to you to hit the nail on the head. I said a cat about to pounce. Dragonfly correctly observed that this is not a pose of a cat. The coiled snake about to pounce is a better image. However, the "about to pounce" part is unmistakable.

Michael

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I think the face ended up significantly better.

I don't. It ended up more fully colored, as did the whole painting. But I think the original model's face (he said he had to change models before completing the work) looks more Greek and looks predatory, whereas the revised face does seem to me coquettish, as Dragonfly described it (thus jarring with the "Artemis" title). I also get an impression of a landscape at night with rocky soil as the foreground -- an impression which seems to me appropriate to the title.

Ellen

___

I'd prefer a Greek and predatory look as well, I just thought it was very distorted as Newberry had rendered it -- sort of a twisted k. d. lang mixed with a little elderly Kim Hunter (but to be fair to Newberry, he probably would have dealt with the structural problems when detailing the face).

J

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Have you noticed that Newberry appears to be really pushing his "transparency" bit? It looks as though the figure's hair is actually somewhat transparent -- literally transparent, not "atmospheric depth transparent" as Newberry has used the term in the past

I think he's confusing low contrast with transparency.

-- you can see the line of the shape behind her head through her head. Has he become confused by his own quirky terminology, or does he just like the effect of making non-transparent things transparent?

That struck me too. It may also have been unintentional. It has happened to me too that an underlying painting came to haunt me later, even while I knew the risk.

Actually, I'm not really sure now what Newberry's concept of "transparency" means to him. When he first wrote his essay on the subject years ago, I pointed out to him that "transparency" was a confusing term, since what he was describing was actually the effect of increased opacity of the atmosphere (a distant object does not become transparent; the atmosphere between the viewer and the object becomes more dense, which reduces the contrast between object and background).

Newberry responded by giving me an example of a distant boat on water, saying that any part of the boat that is below the horizon will be darker than the parts above it, that it will be divided by the line where the water meets the sky. In other words, the boat will actually become more transparent the farther it is from the viewer.

I challenged this and provided examples with my argument, and Michael replied that he then understood my distinction between atmospheric depth and transparency, but that he liked thinking "transparency" when painting because it gave him a feeling of freshness and airiness. I thought it was sort of a mindset or "zone" that he like to get himself into, which he could not acheive by thinking "more distance equals more atmopheric particles between object and viewer."

The problem is, with his boat example, I think he actually believed that objects become literally more transparent at greater distances. So I'm not sure if he just likes the visual effect of transparency within his art work or if he's still clinging to the belief that objects actually become more transparent in reality.

J

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