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Hi Michael, it has been a long time since I have seen this piece you are working on. I must say it is becoming a masterpiece. I haven't been in this forum for many months. Nice to see you here. Gordon van Vliet

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vsigned.jpg

Venus, 2008, oil on linen, 48 x 48"

That is very nice.... VERY nice.

A most enjoyable work if I say so myself.

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This is very beautiful Michael, and if I could afford to buy it i would. I have a print of yours I bought about a year ago which has pride of place in my home. I have also used your work to inspire the 'at risk' youth I work with.

I just wonder what drew you to Objectivism. The movement in New Zealand at least, as personified by Perigo and Cresswell, is rife with racists and bigots. That is not "Sense of Life' to me.

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This is very beautiful Michael, and if I could afford to buy it i would. I have a print of yours I bought about a year ago which has pride of place in my home. I have also used your work to inspire the 'at risk' youth I work with.

I just wonder what drew you to Objectivism. The movement in New Zealand at least, as personified by Perigo and Cresswell, is rife with racists and bigots. That is not "Sense of Life' to me.

Hey Ruth,

Thanks so much for you comment and the little bit about my Giclee in your home! :)

Well, I don't consider myself an Objectivist--I guess because I think for myself, and I am an artist doing my own thing. I love Rand's art, like I love lots of other art: Michelangelo, Beethoven, Puccini, hahahaha, Aristophanes (my wicked alter ego!!!). I have met a few great friends through Objectivism, and I have a few great friends that are mystics, communists (Greek ones, during WWII, the Greek communists were the only group fighting for Greek independence, hell I would have joined them. (I lived in Greece for 9 years.)) Objectivist or not, I take one person at time, and I care for a lot more than just what they write online.

But to answer your question, when I was 20, I read Atlas Shrugged, and it spoke to my particular way of approaching life--it confirmed for me that going my own way was I wisest thing to do--and I have never regretted it since. As far as "Objectivists" goes, who knows? They just seem like people to me--some are great, nice, or assholes. I haven't been able to find the common thread of what groups all of them together.

Michael

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"Well, I don't consider myself an Objectivist--I guess because I think for myself, and I am an artist doing my own thing. I love Rand's art, like I love lots of other art: Michelangelo, Beethoven, Puccini, hahahaha, Aristophanes (my wicked alter ego!!!). I have met a few great friends through Objectivism, and I have a few great friends that are mystics, communists (Greek ones, during WWII, the Greek communists were the only group fighting for Greek independence, hell I would have joined them. (I lived in Greece for 9 years.)) Objectivist or not, I take one person at time, and I care for a lot more than just what they write online. "

Hi Michael, I didn't know this about you. It hits me pleasantly. I think the objectivist label is dangerous because it means different things to different people. Most of all using a label, encourages stereotyping, which is a lazy form of communication. When meeting a stranger and using a label, it ought to be clarified so proper expression of thought can be achieved. I know in my own experience of putting my art in the public eye I have only been rudely dealt with twice, by "objectivists". I assume they saw my work when they were having a bad day. Hell, I am never satisfied with my own artwork. We show it, because we want to share who we are in our own way. For me, I am sharing my struggle to become a proficient artist, day by day. One day when my skills are polished to a certain level, then I might be able to attempt some of the work I have in mind. Then I will begin to enjoy the fruit of my labor. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience.

Gordon.

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You found her arms.

Bravo.

So I am not the only one who wondered what Venus de Milo's arms would have looked like?!

But the truth is I didn't find her arms lying around the rubbish which fills the medieval walls of Rhodes, I started with a beautiful model with lovely arms.

Michael

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One day when my skills are polished to a certain level, then I might be able to attempt some of the work I have in mind. Then I will begin to enjoy the fruit of my labor.

Gordon.

Hi Gordon,

I am curious how are you going about that?

Classical realists work from inanimate matter for years before they get to living things. I would have gone crazy doing that, as I always want to express myself--my approach, for major works, has been to dream up my vision and then to suffer correcting mistakes and do whatever it takes to get it realized.

Good luck with your development.

Michael

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Hi Gordon,

I just wondered how you know what my wife looks like?

Wonderful work of art!

One of my favorite artists is Frazetta who mastered the art of painting armor worn by some of his characters.

Do you have any interest in that kind of art? Also impressed by those who can realistically portray various kinds of materials like tapestries or lace or silk.

Wish you the best in your ventures.

Wm

Edited by galtgulch
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  • 1 month later...

Michael,

Venus is being discussed elsewhere on OL and I was going to make the following comment over there, but I think I want it here. I have wanted to mention this for some time.

One of the things about Venus that stands out to me is the 3-dimensional effect made with color and not perspective. I remember as a kid looking at 3-D viewers of mini-slides, usually on a disk, that would cause the same effect. It was not so much full 3-D as a flattened 3-D, where some flat images seemed closer than other more distant flat images.

I think Venus does this, except it limits the flatness. You obviously have developed the perspective and your images are not flat, so that is almost an unfair comparison. But please bear with me. I am not trying to pontificate. Instead I am groping for verbal expression of something I consider important that I responded to in your work.

The practical result of the lighting aspect I mentioned (which I only arrived at through introspecting about my reaction) is that, even after seeing it briefly, I have an image in my mind that I don't forget. It etches a form in my memory right from the get-go. I just looked to make sure and sure enough, what I see corresponds well with what I remember. Obviously some details are different, but the overall image is as I remembered.

This is very similar to the way I think of Objectivist concepts, at least on the entity level. A concept represents an entity against a background and the entity is "colored" (in a manner of speaking) in a way that is very personal to the thinker. He may miss some of the details in the abstraction and the background might be a bit fuzzy or obscure, but the entity that is represented is very clear and emphasized. If he sees such an entity in reality, his abstraction is what will pop up in his mind in addition to new on-the-spot observations (which then attach to the abstraction). Carrying this analogy further, your coloring of Venus (which could only come from proximity to fire or special movie lighting—but I prefer to think of it as fire) could be a form of representing normative input on a cognitive abstraction.

I may be forcing the issue somewhat with this alignment of painting technique with Objectivist epistemology, but I think it is kinda cool the way it works out.

Another point. I have a really weird visceral reaction to this work that has haunted me. I see the background clearly as a painting, but Venus herself strikes me more as a sculpture. I don't mean a painting of a sculpture. I mean a hybrid work where the background was painted and the subject was sculpted. I know your work is not that, but it hits me that way.

Michael

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I've picked up the whole text of Jim Shay's remarks about "Venus" on another thread, "One Example of Innovation" (see). My comment replies only to a particular paragraph of his post.

[i've added spaces between the paragraphs.]

Michael,

My understanding is that postmodernism in painting, sculpture and architecture arose in the 70's, after their philosophic underpinnings were constructed in the 60's. You've written about pomo on your website, and here you say that the shift toward it was "overwhelming" in the period of the illustrations put up by Jonathan, which is apparently the 50's. So, you must know something I don't. Are you talking about early undercurrents? If so, what were they?

The illustrations make apparent a problem I have with your Venus. To me, she looks too much like a modern and transient vision of female beauty located very much within the last 2 decades or so, in the same way that the illustrations you remarked on look like the 50's. Venus' body is similar in shape, proportion, and muscle tone to those portrayed in contemporary fitness and skin magazines. This may not bother many others, who may not see her the same way I do, or may not care whether or not she's so apparently from a specific time, but it does me. When the great sculptor Frederick Hart's frieze in the National Cathedral was unveiled, as magnificent as it is, it was criticized for the over-perfection of the human figures, which are based in contemporary notions of beauty. They seem to be out of modern, fashionable magazines. I feel the same way about Venus. Unfortunately, Hart's wonderful art wasn't weird, angsty, or tortured enough for the blinkered art critics of the time to think of as extraordinary fine art, regardless of the figures.

Venus is a mixed bag to me. She's a fine achievement in figure painting, but I don't share the same strong admiration expressed by others on OL.

I think the power of putting her chest in the compositional center of the work, and the right breast and nipple almost dead center, detracts from the rest of her, because it is so unsubtle. There's more to eroticism than breasts. Although they aren't Playboy magazine-size, they seem too important here. She's a bit too "pin-up" for me. Perhaps that's why the comment about the illustrator Frank Frazetta, who paints "Shena of the Jungle" women with very obvious, pneumatic breasts, was made. You're a much finer artist than him.

The tones, shadows and torque of the upper half of Venus are masterful, but not the bottom half of her figure below the ribs. Her upper body seems to have skin made of flesh and blood, while the lower part seems covered in a body stocking. The gorgeous tones on her chest and arms are much better than the awkward looking abdominal shadowing. Her hands, arms and chest are spectacular.

If she's meant to convey ecstatic surrender or something else in the same vein she doesn't quite hit it for me. Her head and body seem to be focused too strongly in opposing directions. She looks overposed, and thus unalluring. But, clearly from others' responses, it's a personal thing. In your article on michaelnewberry.com, Pandora's Box #3, you illustrate a figure composed around an "S" curve. That seems what you're doing here, but it's too overdone. Venus' wide-eyed look to the side doesn't heighten her eroticism. An erotic Venus needs erotic eyes. I don't think they need to be looking at the viewer - they can closed, or downcast - but they don't work for me here. As the cliche goes, they really are the most erotic parts of our body.

Back to postmodernism. At least as far as standard art history goes, isn't the 50's the decade of pop art and the shift away from abstract expressionism? I remember an interview with Robert Rauschenberg in which he said that the pop artists were, in part, poking fun at the serious pretentions of the abstract expressionists. Wit and irony are componants of postmodernism, so perhaps the 50's artists such as Rauschenberg and Johns, by your definition were postmodernists? I don't see it.

Jim Shay

Picking out the part I wanted to respond to:

If she's meant to convey ecstatic surrender or something else in the same vein she doesn't quite hit it for me. Her head and body seem to be focused too strongly in opposing directions. She looks overposed, and thus unalluring. But, clearly from others' responses, it's a personal thing. In your article on michaelnewberry.com, Pandora's Box #3, you illustrate a figure composed around an "S" curve. That seems what you're doing here, but it's too overdone. Venus' wide-eyed look to the side doesn't heighten her eroticism. An erotic Venus needs erotic eyes. I don't think they need to be looking at the viewer - they can closed, or downcast - but they don't work for me here. As the cliche goes, they really are the most erotic parts of our body.

That's not the way I see her expression relative to her pose. Instead, the expression (in the setting of the total work) is what keeps bringing me back to look at the painting and what would be the deciding factor in my wanting to buy the painting if I had the funds for doing so:

To me, she seems to be offering herself -- as "Venus" is legended to have done -- a figure of desirability (I agree, in modern style rather than ancient). But her expression and the sideways turn of the head convey that she is not merely her "role," her part in sexual myth, but a person with an inward life of her own, an inward life which is not on offer. It's exactly the appearance of conscious "reserve" which culminates the painting, in my reaction.

Ellen

___

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Ellen and Michael,

Thanks so much for the time you put into looking at the painting and insights you make. Even some difficult observations of Jim's have been really interesting for me.

For weeks I have been working on a presentation of Venus, and you won't be surprised that many of your observations, named several aspects that went into painting her.

Ellen, I was so happy with your recognition of the mood of Venus' expression...I hope you enjoyed my answer off line.

And Michael, I thought your observations interesting and insightful. Sculpture did play a big part in my concept. And if you have seen the time-lapse video, I kept, not exactly simplifying, but trying to essentialize the whole image...one is having her have an internal glow.

Cheers,

Michael

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  • 3 months later...
Some of you may be interested in my online presentation of the creative process that when into making Venus. Here is the link.

Cheers,

Michael

May I ask about the light-source? It seems to be a round spot, but that would be odd in nature. A fire was suggested, but that wouldn't produce the round highlights. I find myself distracted by wondering about the source of light. Thanks

--Mindy

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May I ask about the light-source? It seems to be a round spot, but that would be odd in nature. A fire was suggested, but that wouldn't produce the round highlights. I find myself distracted by wondering about the source of light. Thanks

--Mindy

Hello Mindy.

Michael

Edit: I haven't quite followed your thoughts. Perhaps you could introduce yourself and indicate a bit of your art experiences.

Edited by Newberry
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  • 7 years later...

Not to me. One's mileage varies, as in most things. I think your Jerry was a much better artist for the human form and composition with a nice touch of natural suffusing softness.

I do consider Newberry a master at portraiture. He does better with the overall form when it's more than one person. When he depicts two people tangled up with each other he can't do the silly posing or what I see as grotesque twisting of the body over-emphasizing the wrong part(s) from a needless perspective.

--Brant

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