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 Painters, realistic artists, museum workers?

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Tungsten Monk

Join date : 2009-06-11
Age : 30
Location : Cedar Rapids, IA

PostSubject: Painters, realistic artists, museum workers?   Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:01 pm

Hi, all! I've noticed that there are a lot of artistically inclined people here, so I was wondering if any of you guys could possibly give me some insight for a story I'm writing.

The main character is an artist employed by a natural history museum. She and her small group help design the new murals for each exhibition (the museum itself is an expy of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, which always has interesting murals in its temporary exhibits) and work closely with the model builders, sculptors, etcetera to create the look of each area. Obviously this is all background for the main plot, which involves (to use the Christopher Moore phrase) heinous fuckery most foul and a great deal of supernatural stuff, but the "artist" portion of this character's skill set is giving me some trouble.

Logically, she would be educated in realism, and as an accomplished painter she would know the tricks of the art: stretching and priming your own canvas, mixing colors, etcetera. She thinks very visually and notices colors and shapes first--in fact, one of the things she notices first about a character is the odd, slightly unnatural tinge in his skin, which sets up a plot point and makes way for some of the aforementioned heinous fuckery. The difficulty is that while I like to draw, I'm nowhere near the level of expertise that this character would have, and I've never been to art school. I've been looking at painting guides, researching color mixing, and so forth, but I can't seem to get a handle on it, and I want this to be accurate and believable.

Can any of you give me any advice about where to begin--good guides, practical stories, etcetera? If you also have any yarns about learning experience, or cautionary tales or anything like that, I'd really love hearing it too. My goal is to make this as accurate as possible.

Also, if anyone has any experience doing behind-the-scenes work at a museum, any information or anecdotes would be very much appreciated as well. I've talked to museum workers and gone behind the scenes at the Field to get a look at the place, but more is better. Smile

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Join date : 2010-07-04
Age : 32
Location : Jyväskylä, Finland

PostSubject: Re: Painters, realistic artists, museum workers?   Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:55 pm

I'm not sure how similar natural history museums are to art museums, but as far as I know both tend to have exhibits on varying topics all the time. And having worked a bit on those behind-the-scenes I know it's quite a hassle to take down an old exhibit and put up the new, send invitations to the opening, advertise the occasion. So what it means to the story, there are probably a lot of busy museums workers scurrying around, trying to keep an eye on several things at one, doing tedious legwork etc. Also, depending on the exhibit, there might be outside experts visiting - to give interviews, to make sure their borrowed materials aren't being mistreated*, so on.

*The art museum I worked at briefly did have a massive collection, but nevertheless if we were having, for instance, an exhibit on historical artist X, a lot of their works were scattered around private art owners. So they were borrowed for the exhibit.

Last edited by Sunatic on Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:13 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : to fix a typo.)
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Join date : 2010-04-23

PostSubject: Re: Painters, realistic artists, museum workers?   Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:32 am

Fake artists only ever draw from their heads, is thing #1 that I see differentiating amateurs from pros and Really Talented Folk. Emphasize real world reference like the dickens, and I imagine that it would be doubly important for someone doing work that requires a degree of scientific accuracy.

The mixing of colors isn't quite as important as color theory itself, which would apply to everything that this artist of yours would be doing, on and off a canvas. Really color theory is something that you can spend your entire career studying, so I'm going to try and wrangle up some blurbs that might be useful, especially when it comes to the terminology:

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And some other random links:
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Might be helpful to glance at online biographies of some real muralists, depending on how much info you actually need.

I don't have a lot of painting-specific expertise, but I consider myself to be a pretty hardcore art nerd and neck-deep in general art and image-making theory, so hit me up if you're looking for anything specific.
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