Gillian Pederson-Krag's self published book is a reflection on many aspects of the painter's experience in the art world and in the studio. It includes 144 color reproductions of her work and the work of other artists which illustrate the ideas contained in five short essays.
Below see excerpts from each of the essays.
Paintings and Etchings 1970-2011
"A luminous volume of paintings and etchings accompanied by an equally captivating text; defining art at a time when so much of it is inaccessible or incomprehensible." - Victoria Romanoff, artist
"This extensive artist monograph documents more than thirty years of Gillian Pederson-Krag's paintings and etchings revealing an extraordinary accomplishment and uncomromising pursuit of artistic ideals. Her subtle and radiant work combines refined color, palpable surfaces, and startling imagery, filling each work with the mystery of truth."
- Colleen Randall, Chairman Art Department, Darthmouth College
"This book is terrific. Sincere without trying to be. No nonsense."
-Robert Cronin, artist
Arthur Rackham is an illustrator, not a painter but he is a great artist and I was so interested to come upon a little drawing he did when he was 7 years old. A drawing of an animal and a title, that is, an illustration. He trained as an accountant because he was a practical person and in the evenings took some night classes in oil painting and watercolor. His efforts are good solid work but to they lack invention and enthusiasm. This self - portrait at 24 years old, shows that he was more than capable of the kind of portraiture that was the convention of the time. And I am certain that the question of whether he should be a portrait painter crossed his mind. He took classes in observation watercolor painting and continued to do watercolor landscapes and figure painting throughout his life and I am sure that at the beginning he wondered from time to time if he would be a “serious artist” (fine art) and if not, what?
I actually don’t think Rackham wandered in the dark for many years, he always kept some attachment to illustration even while he was experimenting with other media. But something shifted when he began getting commercial illustration jobs from magazines. As restrictive as these little commissions are, they have a kind of aliveness that doesn't exist in his early efforts at fine art. His first really big success, the drawings for Alice In Wonderland, is a brilliant body of work. This is Rackham finding his way back to himself, the self that always was, that was there as a child and that finally surfaced.
Expressive or interpretive drawing encompasses a lot of considerations. It involves dealing with content, and discovering what you want to say. This is more than simply identifying an object -still life, the model etc. It also means reflecting on what kind of reality you want to give expression to. This is a big undertaking and it seems clear that expressive drawing is best done in a person’s own environment, surrounded by familiar objects and memories. Working on your own in a familiar atmosphere, it is more likely that your own point of view about things can emerge. This kind of drawing also means discovering a way of using the material, finding a mark that suits the particular expression intended. With expressive drawing, any material is a possibility and every conceivable kind of mark is available. But what all interpretive drawing shares is the expression of a personal point of view.
When I was trying to teach color to people at Cornell, I had many classes of students from other disciplines taking art classes for fun - with little or no commitment. I used to set up very simple little still lives and encourage them to paint very fast and once in a while someone would shift from drawing their way into the painting to using color. Either the whole canvas had a feeling of real color or sometimes just a part of it. Watching this happen in the classroom I came to see that one way to approach color was to out run the thinking mind which is always judging and asking “am I good enough? is this ok? how can I get control ofthis situation? etc.” Because the function of feeling is not only faster than thinking, it seems to be more direct and profound, and in my experience, is more likely to invite intuition. What was fascinating to me was a phenomenon that happened in the classroom on a regular basis. If someone in the group had managed to come up with this experience of color. almost 100% of the time, I could count on the fact that in the days that followed, there would be a knock at my door and there they would be, interested in having a conversation. The conversationwas always the same. Did I think they could be an artist? Now, what had happened? It always seemed that in the process of getting into color and working with their feelings, they had touched something real in themselves, so that afterwards, other things, once somewhat meaningful in their lives, now seemed sort of flat and two dimensional.
For me, composition refers to the process of arranging the content of all the artist wishes to include. The notion of design means all that and more, it means acknowledging the life of the picture plane as well, and in doing so, unifying the canvas.
When this understanding of unifying the canvas became clear to me, I started looking for it in everyone’s work and I could see how individual the ways of approaching it are. Most people seem to use the vehicle of design to express the sense of unity behind the display of the separated objects in the painting but others have found very inventive ways to do the same thing. The most exotic example is Walter Murch, a meticulous observer and a great still life painter who worked in Boston much of his life. He was something of a chain smoker and he used to start his still lives and get them to a certain point of resolution. He would then take them off the stretchers, lay them on the floor, and proceed to drop ashes and walk on them, sometimes for months, until they were overlayed with a veil of grit and ash. When he re-stretched them, he was then working with a coating of marks and grit that created a surface like a film, and only then, when the picture plane had some kind of identity, did he set about finishing the work.
The Purpose of Art:
Art makes life bearable. It isn't a luxury. Like our capacity for understanding and our experience of love, it is a vitally important part of life. If you look closely, even people who are balanced and "normal" are not without the need of healing. It is true that some of our actions and thoughts are based on enthusiasm and love and a vigorous curiosity about life; if that were our whole motivation, there would be no occasion to look further. But some of what motivates us, whether we are aware of it or not, is based on fear that has its roots in the early childhood realization that we are seperate, vulnerable beings, and that we and the people who support us will not last forever. No one knows what death is. All we really know is that it is inevitable and that it means seperation. No matter how healthy and well adjusted we may be, there a part of us that is aware of our vulnerable nature and therefore, fearful. Insofar as we struggle with feelings of the fear of loss, to that extent do we need something to dramatize to us, over and over, that there exists in us something that is boundary-less, impersonal and invincible. And essentially, this is what we touch in the experience of being moved.
Details: 165 pages, 144 color reproductions, introduction by Tom Maderos. 9" by 10.5" for availability and price, e mail