Friday, December 17, 2010

39. Yellow Flowers on the Edge of Darkness, 18 x 12, digital photograph

Yellow Flowers on the Edge of Darkness by Bob Bickers, digital photograph
I read that the original Tron movie was excluded from consideration for an Academy Award for animation back in 1983 because any use of computers was considered by the Academy back then as "cheating", even though most of the movie itself was animated by hand.  Now we view computer-generated images (CGI) as an art form all it own, one that incorporates the skills and talents of hundreds of individuals during a major production.

Given that apparent shift in people's attitudes, I present you with the image at left.  Is it a painting?  Is it a photograph of a painting?  Is it "true" photography?

It is a computer-altered digital photograph made to resemble a painting.  Is it art?  It did take some effort to set up, photograph, and work out my vision on the computer.  It is not an accident or a random creation, like throwing paint at a canvas, but is the end result of an idea or image that first existed in my head and with some effort, was made into a form that could be seen and shared with everyone.  From that perspective, it clearly is art and I am the artist.   

Still, if I were take a brush and painted the exact image by hand instead of using a camera and computer, how would you feel about it?  It is obvious that while we may admire the technical and perhaps even the artistic skills of photographers, and to a lesser extent, computer geeks, we still have a prejudice for the painter who uses his own two hands to create a beautiful image. 

Perhaps it has something to do with the miracle of a person transforming blobs of mere pigment into something that can not only be recognizable, but even move the human heart.  In that sense, and as the late television artist Bill Alexander often said, being an artist is probably as close to being like God as mortals can ever come. Maybe.  And if that is true, then maybe all that comes with being an artist, the ability to acutely observe, see, appreciate and express all the beauty (and the ugliness) in the universe around us, maybe that is a unique and special quality in God that we all should seek in ourselves.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

38. Snow Trails, 12 x 18, digital photograph

Snow Trails by Bob Bickers, digital photograph, 2009
This was the inspiration for the painting of the same name posted below.  Images like this make me want to go outside and paint all winter, or at least take my photos and run back to the studio to paint in warmth and comfort.  Taken in Export, Pennsylvania last January.   Click on image to enlarge.

37. Fallow Field, 12 x 18, digital photograph

Fallow Field by Bob Bickers, digital Photograph, 2010
Like the photograph in the previous post, this too is a digital photograph altered to resemble an oil painting.  This was taken in a field in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  I was originally drawn to the tangle of limbs and roots in the tree in the foreground, but later discovered the fascinating tree that appears in the center background of this image.

This photograph is also currently on display at the East Suburban Artists League's annual exhibit at the gallery at Penn State New Kensington, Pennsylvania through the end of December, 2010.  Take a look at it and other fine artwork while you are there.  Here is the article that appeared in the Valley News Dispatch on this show. Click on the image to enlarge.

36. Gold Vision, 12 x 16, digital photograph

Gold Vision, by Bob Bickers, digital photograph, 2010
This is one of my photographs I have altered to resemble an oil painting.  Since many have created paintings to resemble photographs, I though turnabout was fair play.  I am not really sure how I feel about the idea of altering a photograph in this manner, but I figure that as long as I am not trying to deceive anyone, there should be no problem.  Is it art?  Well, it looks good to me, and it didn't exist before I went to the trouble of making it, so I say yes, it is art, and maybe a sub-category of art from altered photographs, something that has been with us since cameras were first invented. What do you think?

This photograph is currently on display at the East Suburban Artists League's annual exhibit at the gallery at Penn State New Kensington, Pennsylvania through the end of December, 2010.  Take a look at it and other fine artwork while you are there.  Here is the article on the art show that appeared in the Valley News Dispatch.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

35. Snow Trails, 16 x 20, oil on canvas, 2010

This painting is based on a photograph I took in January near Export, Pennsylvania, when I noticed trails left in the snow by cows wandering across the hillside.  The original is on display during the month of December, 2010 at The Gallery Space, located at the Monroeville, PA public library, and is available for sale.  It is part of an exhibition featuring the works of members of the East Suburban Artists LeagueClick on image to enlarge.

On another note, I am completing my association with Michaels as a Grumbacher Certified Art Instructor at the end of 2010.  My last classes will be at the Monroeville and Greensburg stores on Saturday, December 18th.  It has been a pleasure being able to teach art classes once again and I look forward to doing something similar at some point in the future. The acrylic fine art program will go on and Grumbacher is presently looking for my replacement at these Michaels stores, so be sure to check with them to see if Acrylic Fine Art Classes are being offered at these locations after the first of the year.  Be sure to keep your brush wet and your mind open!

Friday, October 15, 2010

34. Anybody Can Be An Artist - Acrylic Art Painting Classes at Michaels 10/16/2010 thru 12/18/2010


Anybody can learn to be an artist! You can create a beautiful acrylic work of art in just two hours, suitable to frame and put on your wall.  Choose between making a landscape, floral, still life or seascape painting.  You’ll be surprised how fun and easy it can be.

For the low price of $27, Michaels is offering acrylic fine art classes hosted by Grumbacher, a leading brand of American manufactured paints.  A qualified instructor  (that's me) will lead you through the basics of starting and completing a painting.   Believe me, you will thoroughly enjoy the experience and will want to come back  to learn more.  Sign up for classes at the Michaels cashier and ask for the class supplies list.

Beginning in November, I will be teaching roughly every other week at the Michaels in Monroeville, Pennsylvania (3759 William Penn Hwy 412-856-6040) on Saturday mornings at at the Michaels in Greensburg, Pennsylvania (behind the Westmoreland Mall 724-837-4540) on Saturday afternoons.

Here is the current schedule of classes (NOTE the FREE DEMONSTRATIONS at both locations on Saturday, November 13, 2010):

MICHAELS in MONROEVILLE, PA 3759 William Penn Hwy (412-856-6040):
Saturday    10/16/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Landscape
Saturday    10/23/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Floral
Saturday    10/30/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Still Life
Saturday    11/06/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Seascape
Saturday    11/13/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    FREE DEMONSTRATION
Saturday    11/20/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Floral
Saturday    12/04/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Still Life
Saturday    12/18/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Landscape

MICHAELS in GREENSBURG, PA
(behind the Westmoreland Mall)724-837-4540:
Sunday      10/17/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       Landscape
Sunday      10/24/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       Floral
Sunday      10/31/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       Still Life
Saturday   11/06/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       Seascape
Saturday   11/13/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       FREE DEMONSTRATION
Saturday   11/20/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       Floral
Saturday   12/04/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       Still Life
Saturday   12/18/2010      2:00pm - 4:00pm       Landscape

Schedules for these classes and at other Michaels stores can also be found at:
http://www.grumbacherart.com/michaels.

If you take one of my classes, please be sure to fill out the survey form given on the handout you received in class.  Please check back if you are interested in taking additional classes.  I try to vary the lessons to ensure that nobody is forced to paint the same picture twice.  The whole experience has been a pleasure to me and I hope to see you in one of my classes soon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

33. Acrylic Art Classes at Michaels - Schedule 9/11/2010 thru 10/31/2010


Anybody can be an artist! Learn how to create a beautiful acrylic work of art in just two hours.  Choose between making a floral, landscape, still life or seascape painting.  You’ll be surprised how fun and easy it can be.

For the low price of $27, Michaels is offering acrylic fine art classes hosted by Grumbacher, a leading brand of American manufactured paints.  A qualified instructor  (yours truly) will lead you through the basics of starting and completing a painting you can take home and hang on the wall. Sign up for classes at the Michaels cashier and ask for the class supplies list.     

MICHAELS in MONROEVILLE
3759 William Penn Hwy (412-856-6040):
Saturday    09/11/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Landscape
Saturday    09/18/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Floral
Saturday    09/25/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Landscape
Saturday    10/02/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Still Life
Saturday    10/09/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Seascape
Saturday    10/16/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Landscape
Saturday    10/23/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Floral
Saturday    10/30/2010    10:00am - 12:00pm    Still Life

MICHAELS in TARENTUM 
(The Village at Pittsburgh Mills)724-274-3708:
Saturday    09/11/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Landscape
Saturday    09/18/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Floral
Saturday    09/25/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Landscape
Saturday    10/02/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Still Life
Saturday    10/09/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Seascape

MICHAELS in GREENSBURG 
(behind the Westmoreland Mall)724-837-4540:
Sunday    09/12/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Landscape
Sunday    09/19/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Floral
Sunday    09/26/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Landscape
Sunday    10/03/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Still Life
Sunday    10/10/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Seascape
Sunday    10/17/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Landscape
Sunday    10/24/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Floral
Sunday    10/31/2010    2:00pm - 4:00pm     Still Life
-

Sunday, July 25, 2010

32. Acrylic Painting Classes at Michael's -- Anyone Can Be An Artist!


Michaels Arts and Crafts Stores are offering fine art classes hosted by Graumbacher, a leading brand in American manufactured paints, and they have asked me to to be their instructor to lead you through the basics of starting and completing a painting you can hang on your wall.  Join us for 2 hours of fun-filled creativity. Choose between a lovely landscape painting or a fine floral painting.  Just $27 per class + supplies. Register at one of the stores below and receive your supply list!

The landscape (above, left) and the floral painting (below, left) are 9x12's and are examples of the paintings we'll be creating. Click on images to enlarge. 

Classes and demonstrations by Bob Bickers will be at the following Michael’s stores (click on them for maps and directions):

3759 William Penn Highway              
Monroeville, PA  15146                              
412-856-6040

1030 Village Center Drive
Tarentum, PA  15084
724-274-3708

Michael’s  (behind the Westmoreland Mall)
5280 Route 30, Suite 6
Greensburg, PA  15601
724-837-4540

•► FREE DEMO AUGUST 14-15! Come and meet the instructor! Watch, ask questions and see if this is the right class for you.

    Painting Demonstration:
Saturday 8/14/2010  10:00am-12:00pm : Michaels in Monroeville
Saturday 8/14/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels at Pittsburgh Mills
Sunday   8/15/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels in Greensburg
    Landscape Painting:
Saturday 8/21/2010  10:00am-12:00pm : Michaels in Monroeville
Saturday 8/21/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels at Pittsburgh Mills
Sunday   8/22/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels in Greensburg
    Floral Painting:
Saturday 8/28/2010  10:00am-12:00pm : Michaels in Monroeville
Saturday 8/28/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels at Pittsburgh Mills
Sunday   8/29/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels in Greensburg
    Landscape Painting:
Saturday 9/11/2010  10:00am-12:00pm : Michaels in Monroeville
Saturday 9/11/2010   2:00-4:00pm : Michaels at Pittsburgh Mills
Sunday   9/12/2010   2:00-4:00pm : Michaels in Greensburg 
    Floral Painting:
Saturday 9/18/2010  10:00am-12:00pm : Michaels in Monroeville
Saturday 9/18/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels at Pittsburgh Mills
Sunday   9/19/2010  2:00-4:00pm : Michaels in Greensburg

I look forward to seeing you there. You will be surprised to find that painting with acrylics is easier than you think, that you are more creative than you may think and that you could have so much fun!  


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

31. Acrylic Painting Classes at Michael's


I have been asked by Chartpak, Inc. to be their Grumbacher representative and teach beginning acrylic painting classes beginning in August, 2010 at Michael's in Greensburg, PA, Monroeville PA, and in Tarentum, PA at The Village at Pittsburgh MillsGrumbacher is the maker of fine artist products including Academy line of acrylic paints.  Unlike oil paints, which use turpentine or mineral spirits as a solvent, acrylics are mixed with water and are much less messy.  I am looking forward to this opportunity to teach art again (I used to teach an Bill Alexander oil painting class for JoAnn's a few years ago).  We will begin with a class on painting a simple landscape and a second class painting flowers.  Check back here for dates, times and more information in the coming weeks!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

30. Bear Hollow Park, Murrysville, PA

Bear Hollow Park Wetlands, by Bob Bickers, photograph, 2010
Bear Hollow Reflections, by Bob Bickers, photograph, 2010
The East Suburban Artists League has been sponsoring an informal event at various local parks the last two months in which members are encouraged to photograph or paint plein-aire paintings, which will be exhibited later this year.  So far, I have been unable to participate in this event due other obligations, but I have been able to sneak over to Bear Hollow Park to take a series of photographs.  My hope is to create some art from these images, but some of them I think I will let stand on their own.  These two photos are examples of photography that  would be hard to improve. The top one is Bear Hollow Park Wetlands and the bottom one I call Bear Hollow Reflections. I will keep trying  to get to the park with my paintbrush in hand and eventually, I will have some paintings to include in this series. Click on images to enlarge.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

29. Brad Bickers the Graduate

Allow me a little expression of a father's pride when I extend a hearty congratulations to my son, Jonathan Bradley Bickers, who was graduated from Bartlett High School in Bartlett, Tennessee this past weekend.  Brad, always a hard worker, has been mentioned in this blog before (once for becoming an Eagle Scout and the other in regards to his growing yard greeting business, Flamingo Brad & Friends) and he is working this summer expanding his landscaping and lawn care business before starting college this fall.  Don't get a heat stroke, Brad.  It's already over 90 degrees in Memphis!   In this picture is Brad, his truck he uses in his business, and Ajax his dog, all photographed at Shelby Forest State Park north of Memphis.  Click on the image to enlarge.
 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

28. Valley of Fire State Park (photographs)

Thanks to the recession, a couple of months ago I was able to spend a few days in Las Vegas, Nevada for a price that made it impossible to turn down.  My wife and I aren't big gamblers, so we spent most of our days visiting the local state parks including Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire State Park.  It was a fascinating experience as I had usually gone through the major deserts of the west in the summer, enduring blistering heat.  Here, it was a pleasant 60 degrees at day and nearly freezing at night.  Everything poisonous was hibernating, the parks were nearly empty, and the weather was great (we had arrived just after weeks of storms had rolled over the Las Vegas valley).  I took about 6,000 pictures over four days.  Here's a couple of them from Valley of Fire State Park, about 20 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Many more will soon follow.  Click on the images to enlarge.

Monday, February 15, 2010

27. Snow Vanes I and II (photographs)

It has been snowing here in western Pennsylvania. It's been snowing a lot. Step into my front yard and the snow will come up past your knee and half way up your thigh. I drive out of my garage along the bottom of an ice canyon until I burst upon the street, hoping that a person or an animal isn't lurking behind these white wall corners. Actually, I would find getting about quite an exciting adventure but for the other drivers out on the road who tend to tailgate and have no appreciation how slick snow can really be, as evidenced by the great pile-ups we keep seeing over and over again.


This time of year is also one of great beauty and I am loading up on plenty of digital images of the sights of the season. The sun has an especially appealing way of interacting with snow and ice to create unexpected wonders. After our epic snowfall, I noticed thin vanes  of snow clung to the branches for days --something that I rarely see. I'll be posting more photos and snow-inspired paintings in the days and weeks to come. Click on the images to enlarge.



Thursday, January 21, 2010

26. Flamingo Brad and Friends

For those of you who live in the Memphis, Tennessee area and Northeastern Shelby County, I'd like to announce the beginning of my son's new enterprise, Flamingo Brad and Friends, a lawn greeting business. Brad started a landscaping and lawn care business last summer, and he plans to continue that business this year as well. But in addition, Flamingo Brad and Friends provides people a delightful way to surprise and entertain someone with a special greeting a bold visual statement. Flamingo Brad's logo and website were created by yours truly. Click the logo and check out Brad's website for more information.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

25. A Cold Wind - (photograph)

A Cold Wind, by Bob Bickers, digital photograph
This image is another example of using various devices to achieve a desired effect. In other words, "whatever works." I took this picture (one of my favorite barns in Murrysville, PA) with a Polaroid camera one cold winter day. A combination of short exposure and slow development in low temperatures created a very coarse image with a bluish overcast, perfectly capturing the bitter cold I was after (and was experiencing!). Click on the image to enlarge. If you have seen my main website (at www.bobbickers.net) you might have noticed a new design change. I am trying to modernize my websites to make them more readable and easier to navigate. Expect additional changes in the weeks to come.

Friday, January 1, 2010

24. Winter's Breath - (photograph)


I decided to start off the new year with Winter's Breath, one of my favorite images. It was taken a few years ago with a Polaroid camera on a sunny but cold and brisk day. I hoped that the cool colors of the cloud and sky would convey the cold wind I felt on my face. Sometimes, my best images aren't necessarily created with my best equipment. Anyone with a good eye for composition and color can capture an image in such a way to transform a snapshot into fine art. Click on the image to enlarge.