Sunday, December 16, 2012

Do not ask, I do not know

I have not titled this piece yet, but am considering "All my Relations."  I host a painting group in my studio on Saturdays and some of the artists were working on older pieces they had never finished.  I pulled this piece, an 18 x 24 gallery wrapped canvas that I had painted a few years ago for a show of "in the moment" pieces by several artists. 

It was originally a blueish celestial type of image.  There was a smear of white, and other colors forming images to my eye.  I decided to rework the entire canvas.  I considered the original to be quite dull.  Interesting image, but dull color. 

I started to develope largest face I saw, had it half done when another artist visited to see what I was doing.  Something in the image made her cry.  I did not have an idea where this piece would go, where it would bring me.  I was interested in using gold and blue to create the facial image.  As I continued with the piece, the other faces emerged from the paint of the original piece.  They bear no resemblance to anyone I know.  The woman on the bottom right began as a male with a long white beard.  The woman at top right center, originally looked male.  I just kept going applying paint at whim.  As a particpant in several visual conversations, a process that began because my artist's statement contains the phrase ... My goal is achieved when friends and strangers engage in a visual conversation with my work.  I think a piece is successful when it catches the attention of another human being, and elicits a reaction.  The type of reaction doesn't matter.  It's the communication from artist to viewer that is important.

The bird in flight was in the original piece.  That is the only part of that image to remain.  I wanted to balance the stark black of the bird and put in a dark shoulder.  There were several changes, overpainting, details added and subtracted.  I fussed and enjoyed it all.  The process was very similar to developing a Touch Drawing.  (See a long ago post)

Working over a previously done painting can be fun.  You don't know what will happen.  I wasn't thinking ahead, and wish I had taken a picture of the original.  I have another I have begun to paint over, and did take a digital of that one.  Not before I started, but I will have some record of the progression to the final product. 

I haven't posted here since April.  That appears to coincide with the start of my current employment for a steady paycheck.  I've had time to paint and did participate in some sunshine art fairs. 

At present, I'm not at all interested in marketing my work.  My artistic journey is changing direction.  Process brings me pleasure.  I'm always surprised at the results the journey produces.  I am enjoying the journey.  I'm always learning something new, and it comes easily, whatever "it" is.  I feel the flow, sometimes raging and othertimes quiet and gentle. 

I've made friends with the digital camera in my smart phone, so perhaps I will be more interested in sharing my latest images.  The one in this post is unusual for me.  As I wrote earlier, my journey has taken me to some different techniques.  Exploring them has been rewarding. 

As the holidays quickly approach, my best wishes to all for love and peace in their lives. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Using References or Not?

I wanted another sunflower painting, so I created one.  I was actually more interested in the pot or vase.  I had no reference.  I'm not in the habit of using any references for my paintings, but can imagine how much easier it would be if I had one.  I've watched other artists use their gallery of photographs, and manage to create an image that speaks more than the photograph.  I've also seen artists paint a photograph so exact, it might as well be an enlarged photo.  There is always something else to discover in the world of painting, no matter what the source of inspiration.  

I admire photographers, they have a much more difficult job to find, notice, and then photograph a pleasing image.  Then there are some that work magic with Photoshop.  It's all I can do to take the digital photos of my artwork, not get too much glare, hold the camera steady, and then transfer it to my computer.  Then, I also have to find it in the maze of files.  I do need to arrange the files better .... someday.  

The above oil is 18 x 18.  Working within a square has definitely been a challenge.  I thought this piece was done ... but after viewing the photo, I can see all the small things I can improve ... yet then ... I like my work to look like a painting, not a photograph.  It's just a personal preference  I've studied sunflowers.  The ones in the painting are not the "seed eating" variety.  We grew acres of those at times on our farm for cattle feed, and to brighten up the neighborhood.  One field was along the road, and there were always photographers present with tripods, people stopping just to look, and we knew it was special when wedding parties came to take pictures.  The flowers were all taller than 7' at a minimum, it was amazing to walk along the edge of a field and look up at the huge faces looking down once they were ripe.  Before ripening, they would turn with the movement of the sun.  Hang them upside down once they're cut, and the birds have a feast.  We found they weren't the best ingredient for cattle feed, but that's where the majority of them went, right into the bunker silo.  I have a wall hanging in my home of those, something I painted on fabric and sewed into a cloth frame.  

 This was inspired by an early  morning walk, the moon had not set yet.  I'm reminded of the scent of the flowers, the colors, and coolness of the air, clear skies and the waters of the river gently lapping on the bank.  The path was between the river and the edge of the field.  

This has hung in my house for several years now.  I was looking at it as a was writing, and having my camera handy and charged up, I took a quick photo and have included it here.  The size is approximately 24 x 40.  It is not as bright as one painted on canvas.  The oil paint seeps into the fabric, runs, and pretty much acts like watercolor.  The final product is quite soft.  The photo is a bit light, but then I'm not a professional with a camera.  

The flowers were well above my head, and having the moon visible was quite a treat.  

Back to the studio, there's a canvas waiting. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Clearing Clutter

I've missed the entire first quarter on 2012 writing here.  Now that I've completed some tedious tasks, it is my intention to share some of my creative discoveries.  "Raven III" 18 x 18 Oil Painting on Gallery Wrapped Canvas is at left.  This piece makes Raven number 3, I believe I have enough now.  Raven I is currently sitting on my mantle and it draws people into the room.  I recently had new flooring installed on the main floor of my home, and the place was a wreck.  Everything had to be moved out of each room, and a lot of sorting got done.  I found art supplies I'd forgotten I had.  I cleaned out a desk that had over 20 years of "stuff" stuffed in the drawers.  It was a good exercise, and I parted with things I hadn't used or needed.  Now ... if only I could do the same in my studio.  All the "stuff" that doesn't have a home somewhere else in the house, ends up there.  A couch, futon, bed, and all the dead computers.  "Someday" I need to fire up some of the old computers after I get them fixed, only to get digital copies of the paintings I no longer have.  

Would that be worth it?  I painted them, and sold or gave them away.  I'm wondering if I need the images.  I'm only going to continue to create more.  The Ravens were a labor to paint.  I spent a week on "artist's retreat" in February.  I'm just finishing up three of the paintings I started there.  It didn't take much to bring them to completion.  Once I had a good coat of color covering the canvas, it was relaxing.  I've learned how to "go back into" pieces that aren't finished.  Now with that success behind me, maybe I'll be able to finish up all those canvases I got frustrated with and gave up on.  Every piece can be finished.  Easier said than done. 

Next post will be of a vase of sunflowers, then a tree.  I don't know what planet the tree is on, but I like it.  Stay tuned!  I have made friends with my new digital camera.  That was a major accomplishment for me.  Now if the computer will behave!