Art Insider – Social Distanced Edition

artistic insider prescott art storeDeemed essential by the state at this time, the Art Store is open for your art therapy, construction and “residential artist” needs.

Our vendor has also come back as to allow replenishment and special orders but will not be shipping until the 17th of April. Thank you for reaching out to make the orders we have received. As well as being understanding of the situation of what a pandemic can do to a supply chain.

If you need to practice your social distancing by only ordering over the phone and need your materials shipped, delivered and/or curbside pickup, please call us at this time to check inventory of our over 8000 sales floor items and possible 100k+ items our vendors offer. We will accommodate as much as possible.

As to not place any of our customers and employees in harm’s way, I have decided to encourage the curbside pickups, no signing of the credit card slips required as these will be noted as “covid 19” on each signature slip and do not be surprised by our creative, colorful masks. As the owner and longtime community member, all CDC guidelines are being followed as most of our customers are in a higher risk bracket. The still open sales floor is also being limited to a small amount of people at a time.

As I do not wish harm to others, I may be the only one on staff for the month of April. I will be stretching canvas (our 50% off sale still is in affect) for our local artists needs, starting a sculpture based on love, compassion and forgiveness as to inspire others. As well as start the deep cleaning the store has needed for quite some time.

May you keep safe in these times and that you find yourself in this personal reflection the peace all of us desire. As I am no longer immune suppressed myself caused by my previous stresses, please feel free to wear your mask or not by your discretion. This is everybody’s time to remember to support our local economy in these trying times, including your local art supply store. May your higher power be who you turn to and try your best to feed your inner creative self as well.

That anxiety you are feeling, don’t forget to exercise every day………bring your sketchbook and slow down this world. – Keith Kendall, Owner, The Art Store, LLC


 Plein Air In Place & Urban Sketching From Home

This month is a celebration of your home studios and getting outside in our beautiful parks. Its Plein Air Month. Spring is a great time to capture the world around us. Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to the plein air easels of today—allowed artists the freedom to paint “en plein air,” which is the French expression for “in the open air.”

Stretched canvas is for the now. The main reason why it was made was for this process. A light substrate to work with to carry to your chosen painting areas.

You have the time and the beautiful weather………what are you waiting for?  Need a push? Some direction?

Learn to paint at a social distance

On the 28th, 29th & 30th of April, The Art Store is hosting a limited seating (8 only) workshop as to encourage social distancing and good mental and physical health. Local artist Patrick Harper will be instructing an intermediate workshop originating out of the studio setting. The first meeting on the morning of the 28th is in our sanitized and exhausted studio, he will be reviewing the history and goals of Plein Air painting. Your good planning for the elements and some experienced hints for a successful experience with plein air painting will also be discussed. The details of this workshop are described on the event scheduler for the store’s classes, workshops and demos. Scheduler can be found here.

You can also reserve your attendance to this workshop by purchasing this workshop here.


The required supply list can be found here. All materials are extra and each attendee will need to have their own transportation to the agreed to sites.


Cow Pasture in oils by Patrick Harper

Phippen Hill in oils by Patrick Harper









Painting Nocturnes: Is Plein Air in Moonlight Possible?
Painting Nocturnes > While moonlight has been depicted by many painters, it was often done from memory — out of necessity.

Moonlight has fascinated artists for centuries. Writers have composed about its romance, artists have painted its mystery, musicians and composers have been moved to produce beautiful passages that evoke those ideas. But while moonlight has been depicted by many painters, it was often done from memory — out of necessity, because it’s hard to see and paint in the dark.

Despite the difficulties involved, artists who choose to paint by moonlight are in good company. Van Gogh, Caspar David Friedrich, Frank Tenney Johnson, Elihu Vedder, Frederic Remington, and Lockwood de Forest are just a few who painted nocturnes. Some painted by candlelight, some tried working in near darkness after memorizing the colors on their palettes, some painted from memory or imagination, while other artists painted an imagined nocturne on location — in the middle of the day.

I’m fascinated by all of these depictions, but the thing that always felt a little off for me was that many of these moonlit scenes seem too “crisp,” too similar to daylight — they didn’t feel like moonlight. When I’m standing in moonlight, especially with no ambient light, it’s very easy to navigate and walk around — individual trees and plants are distinguishable. But details, sharp edges, and the full spectrum of daylight color all disappear. We’re left with softness, unidentifiable forms blurring into other forms, edges that get lost and blur, and a very reduced (though not achromatic) color range.

Contemporary nocturnes often have too broad a value range to truly feel like moonlight — the lightest lights often look like spotlights, not soft moonlight. (Here I’m not addressing nocturnes with multiple light sources, like urban settings, just pure moonlight.) Interestingly, nocturnes are not necessarily super-dark situations either — even a quarter moon has light enough to see some things. A backlit tree at sunset/dusk could easily have a darker value than a purely moonlit situation because the amount of light reaching our eyes from the sky is greater at dusk than after dark. The general value range of a nocturne might be in the range of 80 percent for the darks and the lighter values only slightly lighter.

Technology has helped advance nocturne painting. While artists working in previous centuries were extremely limited in how they could approach painting at night, today we have many different portable lighting options that make it possible to stand outdoors in moonlight and paint what we see. Despite this, painting moonlight on location is still considered something of an impossibility.

Of course, painting at night isn’t easy, but neither is painting during the day. How many tries did it take to come up with something you thought was successful when you started painting? It takes time and preparation to learn the approach. The challenge of painting nocturnes is the same as painting during the day: to paint what you see, not what you think you see. However, what we see at night is much different than what we see during the day, but since humans are diurnal (for the most part), we tend to think of things in terms of daylight. Moonlight can often border on abstraction, but that’s the appeal for me. Everything can’t be explained. Don’t worry about the science behind it. A nocturne shouldn’t be painted in the same way as something painted during the day.

With landscape, it’s fairly easy to allow ourselves to abstract. My self-imposed challenge with these two portraits, painted on location in the moonlight, was two-fold: looking at how the color differed between the two paintings (the first was painted a few days before the full moon in July, the second a month later in August), as well as painting what I could truly see — allowing myself to lose recognizable features or elements of likeness if I couldn’t actually see them. In the self-portrait, the eyes and eye sockets lost most of their detail, so I just tried to paint them as they appeared. In the other one, I could make out cool bluish glints of moonlight reflecting in her eyes, but the shadow on her neck nearly got lost in her hair.

Stand in the dark awhile, let your eyes adjust. You’ll be amazed at what you can see and paint. Outdoor Painter


When did just looking at art lose its appeal?
Sleep in Hopper’s motel room or dive into Monet’s pond—museums are increasingly going beyond traditional exhibition formats to attract visitors

These days, it seems a blockbuster painting exhibition is incomplete without something extra to liven things up. In recent years, marketing spiels have urged visitors to meet Van Gogh, to dive into Monet’s pond, or sleep in an Edward Hopper. In 2017 London’s Tate Modern offered to transport visitors to the heart of early 20th-century Paris and traipse through Modigliani’s paint and cigarette ash–encrusted studio. The Louvre, meanwhile, augmented its recent Leonardo da Vinci juggernaut with a virtual reality (VR) experience billed, in French, as a tête-à-tête with the Mona Lisa.

The immersive installation—digital, performative or experiential—is of course nothing new. For decades, contemporary artists have harnessed acting methods, construction techniques and new technologies to create spaces in which the viewer becomes a live component. And museums have organised sleepovers for years too—from the routine, no-frills offerings for kids armed with sleeping bags, to Airbnb’s recent luxe competition for an overnight stay under I.M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid. But having major historical exhibitions offer experiences alongside masterpieces is something else entirely. This begs the question: when did just looking at a famous painting lose its vim? More pressingly, why? And -crucially, is it worth it?

The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) sparked the trend for a sleepover in an actual painting when it staged its Van Gogh’s Bedrooms exhibition in 2016. To mark the first time the three versions of the artist’s Arlesian room were shown side by side, the institution teamed up with Airbnb to recreate it in a nearby rental. For $10, visitors could spend the night in as faithful a 3D rendition of the rickety yellow bed with red covers in a room with blue walls as a team of fabricators could muster. Katie Rahn, the associate vice president for marketing and communications at AIC, cannot remember the other ideas their ad agency came up with. Everyone loved this one, she says. It presented a creative solution that involved doing a lot on a limited budget—something with which other institutional marketers will be only too familiar.

In our selfie-fuelled times, it makes perfect sense that museum marketing departments should be thinking in this way. Business analysts, after all, have waxed lyrical about “the experience economy” since the late 1990s. In 2017, CityLab might have singled out the Indianapolis Museum of Art, newly rebranded as Newfields, as “the greatest travesty in the art world” for embracing the experiential and the Instagrammable, but the museum’s director Charles Venable was unfazed. “I think much of the industry is still hoping the old model of doing traditional art exhibitions will somehow attract more people than it ever really has, unless you’re in a top tourist city like New York City, or maybe San Francisco. And most of us are not,” he says. Instead, he was branching out into the kind of entertainment that market research had shown his local audience wanted more of.

Interestingly, though, marketing has not been the primary driver for most of the experiences mentioned here. The curator Leo Mazow had dreamed of a show on the hotel motif that runs through Edward Hopper’s oeuvre well before joining the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And from the outset, he knew he wanted visitors to be able to stay the night. “I wanted to stop them in their tracks,” he says. The impetus was conceptual. For the recent Edward Hopper and the American Hotel exhibition, the museum recreated Hopper’s Western Motel as a room in the actual gallery space that visitors could compare with the original painting on the wall by day, and book to stay in for the night. Recreating it chimed not only with the theme of the show, but Hopper’s Modernism. The experience was a curatorial tool: a way to give visitors resonant clues to an artist’s world.

Tate’s digital director Hilary Knight concurs. The Ochre Studio VR experience she worked on for the 2017 Modigliani exhibition, seen by nearly 340,000 people, was an opportunity to see what new technology could do that existing tools (audio, film, wall text) could not. Her goal is always to provide visitors with an “emotional connection” to the art in question. And her approach echoes that of the teams in both Chicago and Richmond, Virginia in terms of curatorial rigour and forensic levels of detail. Mostly, the experience, whatever it is, had to make sense. Modigliani’s Paris studio is still intact but inaccessible to the public. Virtual reality enabled the Tate to let people in.

The numbers suggest these endeavours have been on the money. While feedback for the Hopper Hotel experience was not all positive (no toilet, no light switch and an armed guard posted outside the door had one Hyperallergic writer liken the experience to a horror movie—he woke up screaming), the tickets, which ranged from $150 to $500, nonetheless sold out within two hours. And with more than 88,000 visitors, attendance for the exhibition exceeded expectations by 10%. The bedroom experience in Chicago, meanwhile, achieved similarly buoyant results. It was covered in 100 countries, with $8m in earned media value—an amount normal ad budgets cannot buy. “We’re not often on [the television show] Good Morning America,” says Rahn. With 433,623 visitors (4,984 daily), it was the institute’s most-attended exhibition in 15 years.

When the Parisian agency Lucid Realities proposed a Monet VR experience to the Musée de l’Orangerie, one of their selling points was that it would make mobile works that could never travel. It could not replace the Water Lilies, but it could open up new audiences in far-flung places. What no one anticipated was how unique the experience would be. When installed during the smallish collection-based Monet, Clémenceau show in 2018, it changed the visitor flow. Staff observed people going back and forth between the paintings on the ground floor and the VR experience on the floor below. Months of observation onsite had shown the creator Nicholas Thépot that people wanted to dive into the paintings. His seven minutes of taut storytelling allowed viewers to do exactly that and, crucially, to be alone in the process. VR creates intimacy.

One only has to look at the visitor figures for new venues to see that museums are not overstating their case when they talk of reaching out to younger audiences this way. There are the new state-of-the-art digital venues—from the Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless in Tokyo, a showcase for a single art collective, teamLab (in 2019 it welcomed more than 2.3 million people), to Artechouse, which commissions work and has seen nearly one million visitors across its three venues in Washington DC, New York and Miami since 2017. And then there is the Atelier des Lumières phenomenon in France, where projection-based monographic edutainment shows pull in millions (1.2 million people came to see Gustav Klimt last year), and the similar travelling Meet Vincent experience, produced by the Van Gogh Museum as a way to draw people to Amsterdam. There are also the immersive, set-based spaces such as the Museum of Ice Cream, which, between 2016 and August 2019, sold more than 1.5 million tickets at $38 a pop.

Detractors such as CityLab’s Kriston Capps might cling to the idea that “museums are meant to be the house of the few, not the house of the many”, but this is something museums cannot afford. Nor do they want to. As Mazow puts it, “There is nothing less profound, less heady, than a museum being fun.” And in a world where you can tweet from your refrigerator and ask life questions of a speaker, that means being interactive. “For huge portions of our audience,” Knight says, “this is just part of the fabric of the universe.” The Art Newspaper

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