chris ludke

Bio: I'm from Ephrata PA. I went to art school at York Academy of Art where I had classical training in the ways of the old masters. I live in Virginia Beach and I like to work in plein air. I find endless inspiration in nature. It's good for your health to draw and paint outside, and I think my skill is improving every year, because representing nature is always a challenge. I go to the same place at the same time of day and work on my painting for 2 or 3 hours. There's no need to rush to finish a painting. I finish them in weeks or months. I'm excited about what I'm working on. I don't use photos for reference. I draw freehand. Sometimes if the weather isn't good to paint outside, I work on figure drawing, collage, folk art or another genre of art. Here's a story from my youth about a teacher that greatly influenced me, but neither Fitzkee or I knew it at the time. The time I put a teacher to the test. Boy was he mad. I was raised to question authority. I'm a rebel against the establishment. I went to YAA mainly because they didn't require SAT scores, because I hated high school and never took the test. I was in the first class at YAA that could elect to major in fine arts. They also taught interior design, commercial art, illustration etc. Basically it was a trade school where you could earn an Associates degree. For every project we had a critique. Our teachers didn't care if they hurt a student's feelings. I was having so much fun at the time, no harsh critique made me upset. Around 1/3 of the students dropped out in the first year, though. Our teachers pushed us hard into drawing and painting in the ways of the old masters. The use of a photo for reference was strictly forbidden, since the old masters could draw without a photo. One project was to paint a still life. I didn't want to do it. I thought a still life would be boring. I was rebelling. I said, "I don't want to paint like an old master, I want to do sculpture." (when I think about those sculptures today, I can see how horrible they really were.) Fitzkee once again said no photos and I asked him why not. He said, "Because I'll know." which seemed like a lame reason to me, and I decided to find out if he would actually know. So I did my still life from a photo and he blasted my painting straight to hell in the critique. There was no point in lying about it, he really did know I cheated. This is some of the things he said. A camera is a tool for a photographer. For you it would be a crutch. A camera has 1 eye, you have 2 eyes. A camera distorts perspective and color. a photo is a little flat thing and if you work from a photo your paintings will come out flat. He said he didn't need a camera and neither do I. He went on and on, this is the basic part of it. He didn't have much hope for me ever being a very good artist. finally I said, "okokok, I won't do it no more!" One time our water color teacher, Faulkler, (not sure about the spelling) took us out to paint in plein air. I enjoyed it so much but didn't try again for another 25 years or so, since my time was tied up with the job, family, exercise etc. After the plein air class I thought I'd enjoy painting like an Impressionist. Who doesn't love the Impressionists? And I asked Fitzkee about painting wet in wet. That's what they called it back then. now it's alla prima (like something I had in an Italian restaurant.) So this is what Fitzkee said about painting wet in wet. We're teaching you how to paint like an old master, why do you want to paint like millions of artists? Fitzkee told me Monet had the same training I was getting. He told me artists like Monet, when they get commercially successful, they sell out the art world. When an artist paints the same thing hundreds of times they develop a formula. He said Monet did the art world a disservice by making it look fast and easy. He told me, "Don't even try." He said my colors would come out muddy. You can't paint detail into wet paint, so Impressionists can't paint detail. After my other experience questioning him, I said ok. I'll stick to painting like an old master. Little did I know that in the future I'd be EXCLUDED from the plein air group in Richmond because I'm not interested in painting like an Impressionist. (or maybe it's just because the group didn't like me personally, you never know in Richmond) Now I find that I like the slow pace of building up layers of glazes. Now when I see the impressionists rushing to finish a painting in one day, I think to myself that it looks like they're on an art treadmill. They worry too much about the changing light. I don't care about the changing light because I can go back tomorrow and for as many weeks or months as it takes me to finish a painting, and the light will be the same at the same time of day. Plein air doesn't mean you have to paint like an Impressionist. It doesn't mean you have to capture a moment. (remember the Kodak moment?) Plein air only means the artist is working outdoors in natural light. ok, I hope you enjoyed my story. Now you can see how I came by my attitude honestly.

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27 thoughts on “About”

  1. What a fantastic about page. I love this kind of writing! Honest, blunt and stream of thought, all talking about method and process but with your own opinions and personality mixed in. Great stuff! So where do you sell your art? Love the paintings and your explanation of process in today’s post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks about my posts! I haven’t had any luck with selling my art, but I tried for years in Richmond and eventually gave up because my stuff didn’t even get hung and the entry fees were a waste of money.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sorry for the late reply – I am just seeing this now! I love that magnolias painting, and came back here looking for a sales page with prices etc, but couldn’t find one. What about selling online? (I’m one to talk, lol ;)).

        Liked by 2 people

      2. No prob about a late reply. Thanks about the painting. I can’t do sales. Painting is fun. Marketing, not fun. I guess if anyone wants to buy a painting they’ll have to make an offer. I’ll give my email address if someone is really interested in buying.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I so understand that. I’m just the same with things at the moment. It’s a challenge to operate with both marketing brain and creation brain at the same time. Anyways I love your art and that you share your process.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I don’t have a marketing brain but my daughter does and she has a genius plan to sell my paintings when I’m dead and they’ll be worth a lot of money. Thanks about the art, again! You and I have a mutual love of each other’s art. You have a way of writing that’s gets right down to the essence.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for liking my blog post – this is the only time I’ve gotten one of those emails from WordPress that says “You should go see what they’re up to. Maybe you’ll like their blog as much as they liked yours!” and I actually do πŸ˜€ Looking forward to your future posts…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ OK, I thought it was impossible but you may have reduced my aversion to “still life.” I need all the practice I can get (trying to teach myself!!) and at least still life stuff sits – ummm – still. πŸ™ƒ Thank you for sharing this!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi, Chris. I’ve been reflecting on responses, both from other bloggers and mine to them. One posting of yours included a poem you had written. My reply was that it made a good first draft. Actually I should have said that– for myself, given those verses, it was a first draft. I’m sure that poetry that I’ve worked on for days and considered finished was considered an early draft by other poets. What you yourself write– no matter what the outside responses– those were your personal feelings, and should be accepted as such. So don’t let my replying error discourage you (which I hope it didn’t) from continuing to write poetry and sharing it with us. I apologize for erroneously wording my earlier response. Have a wonderful day, Chris. Always a pleasure to view your artworks in progress.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No problem, Art! I was only goofing around calling it a poem. I didn’t even try. I can’t remember it. Don’t worry. I know how it goes with comments. It’s not easy to hurt my feelings either. I’m not sensitive just trying to get people to talk. Thanks for caring!


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