Archive for August, 2009

finished panera

Maybe some of you know that I was an illustrator, still am actually. I don’t see a lot of work coming through the doors like the good old days but when something of interest comes through I jump at it. Illustration is fun for me, I love problem solving and using the creative methods I talked about in my last post to come up with ideas.  And since I finally got smart and merged my illustration style and painting style, it’s just another big painting commission. You can see samples of my illustration work on my illustration site, just use the link to the right. I used a lot of gouache, still do, because of the wonderful flexiblilty of the medium. Anyway, this is a job for a major restaurant chain focusing on the idea of bread connecting people, it’s a triptych of 3 46″x40″ paintings. Pretty big for me and they took a while. The will reproduce them larger still so the looseness will only get looser. I should credit the client with this idea, I did a series of 6 pretty involved sketches and then he came up with this much simpler concept. Did a rough sketch and once approved, did no more sketches just blew up rough drawing and worked the rest out on canvas.


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Creative thinking in art

I’m giving a presentation next week during our annual Plein Air Painters of the Southeast paint out and workshop (you can get info on it at http://www.pap-se.com) and the topic is creative thinking in art. I made a cool powerpoint slide show and have a few examples of creativity in art and if you happen to be near black mountain NC next friday or saturday, come on by…. but chances are you won’t be so here’s an overview. I taught creative thinking for a couple of years at a local community college, a great class, fun and about as non-class like  as i could make it. The point of the class was to get everyone, artists and non-artists alike, to see the world a little differently, to come at a problem not from the straight on direction but around the side, through the kids playground and in the back way and perhaps even challenge their own preconceptions.

The thing is that once you start thinking  differently, challenging the old ways of seeing and doing things, it’s hard to stop. Ideas flow like tap water, you can’t turn it off… I wouldn’t want to. I now think metaphorically about everything, I allow my inner artist to play with whatever I see, making new connections from existing information. The stuff below is partially from a great book by Roger Van Oech called A whack on the side of the head (a great read), partially from other text and a lot from experience: There are three stages in the creative thinking process. The explorer, the artist, and the judge.

The explorer collects information, data, reference, goes off the beaten path to look for inspiration (rather than looking in a book about painting try going to an antique store or a fabric store or maybe a biker bar)

The artist is the child, allowed to take all the stuff and mix and match and flip and distort and smudge and erase and think metaphorically and free associate and color and express without judging it as good or bad.

That’s the job of the judge. The judge is the one who comes in and objectively reviews the work to date. Stands back and looks for cracks and problems. One of the tricks is to keep the judge at bay till the artist is done playing, granted when we are painting we use a form of the judge throughout the process but it’s helps to be able to allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes because they may lead you to a place you might never have gotten.

Fear is the great killer of creativity, fear of being judged by others. Though I can’t imagine anyone being as harsh as we are to ourselves. Try creating something as if no one would ever see it. If no one is there to judge it, would it still be considered “wrong”.If you have created somthing that doesn’t look like everyone elses something, is that bad? It’s just different. At the time Monet created a huge stir with his impressionism, he was scorned and chastized and ridiculed (the guy whose work now hangs in a lot of bathrooms and hotel halls) for being different and now he is considered one of the fathers of modernism.

Think without fear, create without limitations… it’ll free you up.

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the art of haiku of art

Alfred Joyce Kilmer once wrote “I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.” Personally I don’t get poetry anyway. It doesn’t always rhyme, it’s not to the point, sometimes it’s way too long. But then there’s Haiku, Haiku is poetry for the short attention spanners. Here’s a self explaining haiku from Lynn Whipple (bear in mind that wordpress can’t quite deal with this format of writing):

five syllables here                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          seven syllables right here                                                                                                                                                                                                                                five again right here

Simple, to the point, 5, 7 and 5 syllables in three lines, how hard is that? Here’s the worlds shortest from John Whipple;

unexplainable                                                                                                                                                                                                                               meteorological                                                                                                                                                                                                                              manifestations

So in that spirit I thought I’d present a few about the making of art. One for the studio:

Fighting the tiredness                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           painting  through the hot morning                                                                                                                                                                                                           brush in my coffee

and one for the outdoors event

bugs biting at dusk                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 arms flailing wildly then bump                                                                                                                                                                                                                          paint lands butterside down

and one for the road…..

florida roads suck

morons drive way too slowly

and assholes too fast.

i’ll keep adding as i think of them

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What keeps a painting timeless, keeps it from looking, in 20 years, like it was done 20 years ago? I think we can all look to the 70’s for great examples of now bad art, but at the time, very popular art. How is it that a work can be so hot one year and so last year the next? I look for anybody jumping on anyone elses train, following some trend or style rather than developing their own. It’s the pioneers that will be remembered not the followers. I did my time in the 70’s with the airbrush, so I know what I’m talking about. I’m just waiting for chrome to come back…

I’m trying not to do anything that looks cool in someone elses work. In fact I’ve stopped looking at anyone except the masters.

No trendy graphic shapes or period colors. orange and avocado…. hello.

Shying away from trendy subject matter: this has already been the decade of the caucasian woman in the white dress, cafe’s and languid neked women just hanging about. Large horse paintings… seen it. Giant robots attacking the city… done to death. Gonna paint cowboys and indians? You better be a cowboy or an indian. Dappled cottages with smoldering fires.. mother of pearl, let it go. Hyper colored european street scenes. oy.

I know i’m not carving out new territory but I’m not walking down someone elses well worn path either.

You know a good timeless painting when you see it. It transcends its era, goes beyond whatever else had been done that year or decade and becomes good on its own merit. Uses the fundamentals of great art value, shape, color, line, rhythm, composition and edge. Paint your time without getting mired in it.

Figure it out. Do it until it becomes yours. Better to be a first rate you than a second rate somebody else.

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stephen griffin

stephen griffin

This one was painted by a local artist during the Easton event, Stephen Griffin. It’s sizable, 35×40 to 40×50 ish. It got overlooked for an award but to my mind was one of the best paintings in the show. Beautiful tonal quality, great paint handling, unusual and compelling composition and fantastic negative space. I used to take issue with paintings that have the sails up on a moored boat…. they just don’t do that, it’s like leaving your car in drive with the motor running as you go in for your groceries. But I’ve come to see that it’s just another step in the artists interpretation the thing, whatever it takes to make a good painting. I’m gonna guess that there weren’t two boats there either, for sure the sails weren’t up and perhaps the colors weren’t quite that way and… who cares? What matters is making a good painting even better. I looked for a website for this guy so i could email and get his permission to post it but since I’m singing his praises, I don’t think he’d mind. I would buy this painting if I had a tad extra flow and just may if it hasn’t sold in a while..

oh and by the way, my website has finally been updated with the new stuff.    http://www.larrymoorestudios.com

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I love photoshop. It’s so easy to work with and there are so many things you can do with it that it becomes a handy “sketching” tool. A way to work out visual problems in the virtual world of 1’s and zero’s without having to commit to a full on painting. I’m told I may have a problem with commitment. This painting, a few years old, but a decent enough painting, for some reason has caught a few peoples eye over the years. Recently a gallery of mine inquired that this painting had potential but could it be done vertically. Really the thing to do is to go back to the spot and just do a new study painting with the canvas turned 90 degrees.. but for the sake of excercise I opened up the painting on the left and started to cut and move and clone and add sky and viola, all without bugs or sweat. I now have a study with which to work from. I’ll still go back and maybe even take this idea, predraw it out on to a large 30×40 canvas and take my new gloucester easel, just as soon as it comes in, and paint the new version on site. i also need to figure out a new large palette system to go with my new easel that is apparently on a slow boat from china, I’m working on it… big canvases need big paint.

favorite tools in photoshop:

Levels (very important for when your pics are flat)

Saturate/unsaturate   (boost color or remove almost all color)

dodge and burn tool (to darken or open up specific areas)

clone tool (it’s magic.. i use it to extend areas like edges and nudge things over)

lasso tool (cut any shape out, and move it to a new place or image)

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there's no place like home

there's no place like home

One week after I painted this ramshackle old house it was torn down. Several local people who saw the painting said,  “I never thought about that old house that way. I meant to get a picture but never did”.  Plein air painters tend to find these kinds of places, perhaps responding to the textures and sagging lines rather than the historical context. Easton Plein Air really grasps this concept and encourages artist to find the old, the decayed and the soon to be torn down so that these places will be captured in paint for all time. It’s smart and it adds an inherent value to the painting. If you think about paintings from each period in history, it seems that the ones that have value are the ones that tell us something about that time.

And in other news. My good friend and brilliant painter Don Sondag just got the new Sorolla book and holy crap is it depressing. More than any book I’ve seen. There are pull outs of his provinces paintings and pics of him painting HUGE outside and all I can do is wonder how the hell he did that. Drawing and painting figures that are life size and larger on site? Makes my little 12×16’s seem…. little. Can’t wait for my gloucester easel and my cahones to come in.

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