Tony Renner
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If an artist/art student, my primary medium or mixed media is:
Painting, Photography, Performance Art
About Me:
I must confess that I wasn't especially looking forward to this past Friday night's class at the St. Louis Art Museum because we were going to be doing collages. I find the collages in "the Immediate Touch" exhibit to be not particularly interesting, and I've done work in very similar style in the past. One of the things that I find fascinating about the class are the number of students who will ignore the artwork in the exhibit and merely produce work in a style with which they are already familiar. The point, it seems to me, of each week's particular exercise is to challenge each student to take a step beyond what they are already comfortable with doing. I went into the class dead-set on doing something I'd never done before.

For my first collage, I decided to do a very minimalist collage with only a few elements and very few marks. My first piece was done in like five minutes so I kept poking at it and adding marks. Fortuitously, I spilled my container of India ink on my work surface and, while cleaning in up, decided to use an ink-soaked paper towel to make marks on a blank piece of paper for the basis of another collage. I also soaked the edge of my first collage in the spilled ink.

T. Renner, "Long Nine GL," collage, ink on paper, 9.5" x 13", 2008.

I admit that I spent an inordinate amount of time working on the background for the next collage, adding marks with red watercolor. I just wasn't feeling anything until I went upstairs and looked at the collages in "the Immediate Touch" exhibition. Something then clicked and I rushed back to my collage-in-progress.

I had hoped to find a news-magazine to get some photos from but all that was at hand was a Sotheby's catalog of African folk art. It was cool but I couldn't see how I could use it until I came across the portrait of the guy who had collected it. I feel bad that I was more interested in doing the work than taking notes so I didn't make a note of the collector's name. In an instant, I decided to put a weapon in his hand and to cover the collectors face except for his eyes with a ritual mask. I found a nice object that I could tear up and use to cover the text that appeared on at the bottom of the collector's portrait. Finally, I found the "mug shots" of the Sotheby's staff. It felt wrong to have their names appear so I crossed them out with India ink and then decided to further their anonymity by blacking out their eyes.

T. Renner, "Red Sotheby's Faction," collage, ink, and watercolor on paper, 15.25" x 11", 2008.

All of the elements -- the blood red splotches, the weapon, the defaced mug shots, the mask over the collector's face -- add up to one disturbing and threatening piece.

As I was finishing the piece, I realized that it could be read as a statement about the appropriation of African folk art by the western art establishment. The mug shots reminded me of the Baader-Meinhof group of the 1970's, who carried out a series of kidnappings and killings in Germany. As I told the instructor, if I were the members of the Sotheby's staff in my collage I would be very frightened.

Self-grade: A.

Second class in the "Immediate Touch" was "Superimposed images, chance, and gesture:" Choose an object from the museum collection. Make a drawing from life by measuring the object to establish proportional relationships. Establish tonal range and lost and found edges. Create a second drawing of the same object on tracing paper, this time employing blind contour technique. Attach transparent image over perceptual drawing."

T. Renner, "Bird Figure," detail, charcoal pencil on paper, 2008.

O.K., it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools but I couldn't get either my black china marker nor my white conte pencil to sharpen. (Note to self: bring pocket-knife to class next time.) I reached a point where I was tired of fighting with my tools and just declared the base drawing done, even though I could have worked on it longer.

Instead of doing one drawing on transparent paper I did two. The paper we were given for the project was actually more translucent than transparent so I what I've done is to scan the contour drawings and to make them transparent in Photoshop. Smudges remained opaque.

Overall, I'd give myself an "A" on this one. I think you could slip it into the "Immediate Touch" exhibit and nobody would bat an eye.

The image above is a detail from the finished piece because of the limited size of my scanner.

I just finished my first studio class, in a series of 5 called ""Drawing: The Immediate Touch," at the St. Louis Art Museum, and it was excellent.

It's cool to take a class that not only introduces you to work you haven't seen before but also forces you to paint in styles and with techniques with which you're unfamiliar.

According to the SLAM web site, the class "will challenge your notion of drawing. Its inspiration comes from the Art Museum's featured exhibition The Immediate Touch: German Austrian, and Swiss Drawings from St. Louis Collections, 1946 - 2007. Participants will view and discuss the drawings of such notable artists as Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, and Gerhard Richter and then work on individual assignments using the materials, techniques, and ideas of these influential artists."

Tonight's assignment was to "choose object in museum collection. Make drawing using simplified planar forms. Return to class and create a watercolor based on the drawing. Use complementary colors to create full range of chromatic intensity and introduce color harmonies by mixing chromatic grays."

So far so good, I think... I'd give myself a "B" on this exercise because I didn't really fully tackle to color assignment.

-- Tony

T. Renner, "After George Caleb Bingham, Self Portrait, in the Style of A.R. Penck," pencil and watercolor on paper, 10.25" x 14", 2008.

George Caleb Bingham, "Self Portrait," oil on canvas, detail, 1834-1835.

A.R. Penck, "Untitled (Self Portrait)," watercolor on paper, "15.125 x 11.5", 1981.

* * *

Hey, I have a show up at Meshuggah Cafe, 6269 Delmar, in the Loop. It's my one year retrospective!

The show will be hanging through August 18.

I started painting in June 2007, after earning a Master's degree in American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

I've taken photographs off and on for years but with the purchase of a digital camera a few years ago I've become much more serious about photography.

I also play guitar in an improvisational trio called learn, artist! with Robin Allen, guitar, and Gena Brady-Allen, bass.


"The Ragtime Blues #1," 2008, acrylic on paper, 7" x 5".

"The Ragtime Blues #2," 2008, acrylic on paper, 7" x 5".

"The Ragtime Blues #3," 2008, acrylic on paper, 7" x 5".

"The Ragtime Blues #4," 2008, acrylic on paper, 7" x 5".

Tony Renner's Blog

Poetry Scores Art Invitational

T. Renner, "Study for 'Nailed Seraphim: Mortice caught on fire,'" 2008, gouache on paper, 4" x 6".

The invitation:

The poem "Nailed Seraphim" by K. Curtis Lyle is the subject of the 2008 Poetry Scores Art Invitational, to be held Friday, November 21 at Hoffman LaChance Contemporary, 3100 Sutton Blvd. in Maplewood, Mo. We would like to invite you to participate in the show. A copy of "Nailed Seraphim" is available on the poet’s blog by clicking…

Posted on November 12, 2008 at 10:24am

"Immediate Touch" drawing class at SLAM

I just finished my first studio class, in a series of 5 called ""Drawing: The Immediate Touch," at the St. Louis Art Museum, and it was excellent.

It's cool to take a class that not only introduces you to work you haven't seen before but also forces you to paint in styles and with techniques with which you're unfamiliar.

According to the SLAM web site, the class "will challenge your notion of drawing. Its inspiration comes from the Art Museum's featured exhibition The… Continue

Posted on July 19, 2008 at 12:26am

Comment Wall (14 comments)

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At 4:28pm on February 8, 2010, America SCORES St. Louis said…

My name is Nora Doyle, the Physical Education Coordinator at America SCORES St. Louis.

We’re hosting an art show and fundraiser on March 20, 2010, and would like for you to submit one or more pieces to our event. I’ve included some information below. Please contact me if you have any questions about the project. Thanks in advance!


The Inspired Art Project enlists local artists to create and submit original works, inspired by original poetry written by students participating in America SCORES St. Louis. Started by another SCORES affiliate in the Bay Area, the Inspired Art Project is an exciting national model for community collaboration.

On, March 20, 2010, the selected artwork will be collected and displayed at our annual Inspired Art Show. Proceeds from the event will support America SCORES St. Louis, a unique, comprehensive, youth development program which uses the tools of poetry, soccer, creative expression and service-learning to equip and inspire urban youth to lead healthy lifestyles, become engaged students, and grow into leaders for their schools and communities.

Interested artists need to register ASAP in order to submit their work to the event. Artists may choose to collect 25% of the final auction price for their work, or can donate all or a portion of the commission back to America SCORES St. Louis. Other artist benefits include:

• Free admission to the event (includes two complimentary drinks)
• Free guest tickets (up to 3) to the event
• Listing on our event website,
• Listing in our event program

For more information, please visit or call Matt at 314-533-0302.
At 3:35am on December 6, 2008, Sam Davis said…
Yeah it was veryy nice meeting you. Thanks for veiwing the pics
At 8:14pm on October 23, 2008, Colin M. Shaw said…
you have a furry beard...
At 10:02pm on July 30, 2008, Mark Polege said…
Good luck in the painting class. I'm a little jealous. I used to paint years ago & someday will get back into it. However, photography has me by the eyeballs these days. Nice to meet you & thanks for the Add...
At 6:00pm on July 29, 2008, Brett Marren said…
thanks for being my friend, I guess...I don't know you.
At 4:52pm on July 15, 2008, Monica Williams said…
Hi Tony...Nice work!!!When is your show?
At 9:28am on July 15, 2008, Jacque Davis said…
Hi Tony!

Thanks for the invite. I hope I accepted ... I think I did.
The spider web is wonderful. Have you been hanging out on my porch without me knowing it?

At 9:15am on July 15, 2008, Gary said…
Hi Tony, Thanks for the contact. I like your work. I am very new to this website and looking forward to meeting new people and just enjoying all of the Artist great talents. I am pretty much only involved in Digital Photography. Enjoy your day.

At 9:27pm on July 7, 2008, Rob said…
Hi Tony, I like your work. I have always been interested in photography, I just never took the time to try to make anything of it. I'm looking forward to mingling with this group and see what comes of it. Rob
At 1:42pm on June 30, 2008, Ani said…
Thanks for the request!

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