ART EDUCATION: I?ve been creating art for as long as I can remember. I was encouraged by my mother to draw and often received art supplies for gifts from my father, who was an art teacher. My mother enrolled me in the specialties schools in Milwaukee. There I was surrounded by other serious and motivated art students and learned the fundamentals of art. At the high school level, there was a great deal of attention on drawing fundamentals, which I think is the foundation of all good art. After high school, I attended the University of Wisconsin, where I received my degree in Art Education.
MENTORS: John Pence is definitely one of them. He?s been an art dealer for more than 30 years and has a very well trained eye. He?s had a tremendous influence on my career and I feel fortunate to have him in my life. I also consider the artist Will Wilson to be a mentor of sorts. I consider him one of the best living artists, and whenever I reach an impasse in my work, I can go to him for technical advice. He?s also a lot of fun to bat ideas around because of his great sense of humor and active mind.
ARTISTS HE ADMIRES: I love the work of the Old Masters like Caravaggio, Vermeer and Rembrandt. I?ve also been greatly inspired by the work of William Harnett and John Peto along with living artists such as Claudio Bravo, Will Wilson, Odd Nerdrum (his earlier work), Scott Fraser and Daniel Sprick.
INSPIRATION FOR THIS PAINTING: I enjoy juxtaposing objects in nature with those that are man made. I?ve approached the subject of a light bulb and pear in earlier paintings and decided to explore the concept in a larger piece through Bulbous IV. I like to incorporate visual puns whenever possible and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to do so.
WORKING PROCESS: My painting process begins with a detailed drawing executed directly on the painting panel. This is where I can iron out drawing problems before getting started in oil. I draw from life and reference photos while working on a piece. After the drawing is completed, I do a wash of burnt umber over the entire surface. I then pull highlights out of the drawing with a rag and brushes.
After the painting dries for a few days, I begin the slow and careful process of building up numerous thin paint layers until I achieve the desired effects. I generally begin a piece using larger flats and filberts. As the piece nears completion, the brushes become smaller to achieve greater detail. My favorite detail brushes are Sceptre Gold 00 by Windsor & Newton.
CHALLENGES WITH THIS PAINTING: Capturing of the symmetry inherent in light bulbs proved to be very challenging yet satisfying at the same time. I also enjoy painting metallic surfaces that bend and warp their surroundings in their reflective surface.
Ala Bashir is a graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad. In 1988 he won First Prize in the Baghdad International Art Exhibition. Today he paints with Holbein acrylics and oils in London, New Haven, and Quatar.
Grace Kim received her bachelor of arts degree in architecture from Hongik University in Seoul, Korea and moved to the United States with her husband in 1970. She attended The Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia and the Shuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore where the director, Ann Shuler, became her mentor and inspiration. Kim has had several solo exhibitions and is an associate member of the International Guild of Realism, the Allied Artists of America, and the Oil Painters of America.
Harold Gregor is a distinguished professor emeritus of art at Illinois State University in Normal, where he taught painting, color theory and art history for 25 years. He?s the recipient of a 1993-94 National Endowment for the Arts grant, the 1993 Illinois Academy of Fine Arts Lifetime Achievement Award and, just recently, the winner of a Watercolor USA Honor Society?s Lifetime Achievement Award. Gregor, whose work is found in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe, is represented by the Richard Gray Gallery (Chicago, Illinois), Gerald Peters Gallery (Santa Fe, New Mexico; Dallas, Texas), Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery (New York City) and Tory Folliard Gallery (Milwaukee, Wisconsin).