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Archive for April, 2010

This has been a crazy busy period in my life, which I’m thankful for, but if anyone ever says to me, “oh you, artists have the good life, you just paint stuff and do whatever, la lalalala” I will open up a big easypour can of WWF Smackdown on his head with a folding chair until the stars come out. I haven’t had a proper day off since the internet. And in the middle of this busy stuff is another paint out, the Winter Park Paint out centered at the Polasek Museum here in Florida. Unfortunately, I only was able to produce two paintings in between other gigs, but this one (above) was mildly interesting, at least in the way it developed. I started the sketch in after finishing up another 12×16 in the evening 2 days ago. It was an unremarkable composition, stiff, awkward spaces, the canvas was quartered off in thirds, if that’s possible, and it was boring. I went back yesterday to revisit and just said WTF what’s the worse thing that could happen here and proceeded to wipe out with turp and a rag and change structures, move lines, change weights and measures, etc. I didn’t take a pic of the block in because I had forgotten the camera. But take my word for it. It sucked.

One of the things about painting a sunset is that it doesn’t last long. A 12×16 takes me about 2 1/2 hours or so depending, but I had been there the two evenings prior and had pretty much the same cloudless evening all three days… I could sort of guess at what was coming. I think the thing that saved me was taking a moment and figuring out what I wanted to accomplish with this painting, what it was about. This was an exploration into division of space and backlit stuff and how pure light affects the things directly in front of it. I remembered that the last two evenings the reflected light on the water just blew out the darks in the trees and I wanted to see if I could get that same glow. The other event from prior days was the crew team from Rollins going back and forth. There’s always a coach telling them what to do and how to do it but really how many subtleties are there in rowing a boat? Anyway, they didn’t show last night so I had to put them in from memory, but I think they helped a good bit to break up the uprights and give the thing a story.

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doodoo to redo

A few posts back, you’ll see them if you scroll down about 2 feet, I put up the initial tonal sketch and an ill fated block in. It wasn’t really that terrible but the fact that I over gessoed the canvas and made it too slick messed with my head and just made painting a tough go. I left it for a couple of weeks and revisited it over the last couple of days. I wanted to put it in a show at the Rieser gallery in Carmel and had to get it there by this friday. I was hoping that the painted surface would have added some texture but it didn’t really. The redo was a complete makeover starting with a warming glaze to unify all the colors and give it a consistent warm glow overall. The glaze was a mixture of a traditional painting medium (one part stand oil, one part damar varnish and one part turp) with indian yellow, a warm translucent yellow. it’s yummy. I didn’t wait for it to dry but just started right in on the foreground. This took the better part of a day since I was still struggling with the smooth surface made even more slick with the glaze. By the next day the upper portion was dry so I used a semi opaque glaze of the mix, a little bit of white, a little bit of blue and a molecule of indian yellow to push the hills back. It dried almost right away because it’s now summer and it’s hot and dry at the studio. I put the two up together so you can go back and forth to see what I did. I gotta go paint stuff but I’ll post more on this later.

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a high key experiment

This was a bit of an experiment i did while in Callaway Gardens. I figured there would be a lot of paintings of azaleas there since that’s what the gardens are known for and when you are in the gardens you paint flowers. I decided to zag a little. Having gotten a slightly late start, which for me is still early, I drove around looking for something unusual. I passed this spot 3 times, went down various roads, stopped and looked here and there for the magic spot and pretty much wasted the prime time looking for something special. I knew I wanted to do a 12×24 and also knew that because the morning light was waning I would have to try something different with the color. The soft warm light was being replaced with a harder cooler cast. So I went for a high-key approach in order to control the outcome and keep it light.

How do you do that, you might ask? You start with your darkest dark in the painting (the tree trunks) mixed at a higher key (lighter) than it really is, then every color after that will have to be lighter in value. It was a fun experiment, though the color went a little primary/secondary and it stood out a tad from my other paintings because of it. Probably what I will do is give it a nice warming glaze to reduce the intensity of the cools and then rework it a little to bring it back to my usual. I have it in a gold frame but will probably put it in a black frame.. Light paintings look better in darker frames.

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With the advent of the “Painter of light” came the realization that marketing and art CAN work together to create a happier and wealthier existence for the aggrandizing artist. I hadn’t thought that much about it of late but today while flipping through the current issue of American Art Collector I stumbled across this little gem of a tag line, “The latest cubist master”. What the hell does that mean? How does the artist know that he is the most very recent cubist master incarnation? Surely a newer one has cropped up in the amount of time it took to put that issue to bed… and who bestowed the title of master on him anyway? The Royal Academy perhaps? Doubtful. So this got my little wandering brain to thinking about some alternative tag lines that are maybe a little more honest than some of the ones I’ve been seeing. Feel free to add to the list. You have to sort of envision these after an artists name in an ad for the full effect. Maybe in a nice italic script font.

The painter of lite

Contemporary cafe painter

An American Smarmist

The greatest neo-fauvist surrealist in my zip code.

Copying someone else since 1994

Best Western Artist

Because art should never be scary.

The Faux Nostalgist

Unjustifiably expensive.

Because a real job is out of the question

Trained in the east to paint the west.

My spouse has a trust fund.

Who doesn’t like a naked woman?

Trompe L’Acquereur

Mysteriously able to afford full page ads.

Another contemporary mannerist

I’m in this magazine so I must be good.

Bringing new life to old ideas.

So incredible you must look away.

Abstract means never having to say you’re sorry.

I know everyone else has painted this but it’s my turn now.

I paint nudes because I can.

Just when you think you can’t look at another landscape….

God’s visual ambassador.

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x factors

Many times when someone buys a painting, particularly a landscape, it’s because they somehow relate to the location or they collect the genre or they just like a good painting. Usually it’s the former. People respond to a place because it reminds them of their backyard, maybe it’s where they grew up or someplace once visited and now ingrained in their list-of-favs psyche. Once in a while, though, a painting just gets to a lot of people for reasons unknown. I’m not a still life guy… never do them, I’ve probably done 5 in my life as finished paintings. But while painting in the Callaway event we were invited to various homes to focus mostly on our hosts gardens. As I toured the house, there was a pile of the blue vases on a mantle, in a style that I was later told is known as blue willow. When I say a pile I mean a big bunch of large vases, all cobalt and white and fairly ornate, this painting includes about a third of the lot. The owner of the home graciously chose to buy this painting in advance of the show but the powers that be wanted to put it up anyway and even though there was a sold dot on the card, I could have resold this painting about 6 times. Why? I don’t really know. It’s the x factor. Maybe I should paint more still lifes. Know anyone with blue willow vases? Of course I left there without taking one picture of the place….. note to self. D’OH!

This is a 16×20 and I started it late in the day, mostly waiting for the sun to clock over the house so this little scene would get more daylight. I spent about 3 hours on it and then two days later, when it was fairly dry, I glazed down a lot of it to make it darker in the background and in the shadows.

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here’s a better shot, i’ve had a few requests for it so…. more to come.

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What would JSS do?

It’s the day after the show up here in callaway gardens. It was a first time event and they pulled out all the stops for the artists. They put us up in their cottages, wined and dined us, they just loaded us up with southern hospitality. I wanted to post more earlier but frankly I didn’t have the time. At the end of each day I’d crawl into bed pick up my iPhone to some bidness and promptly pass out.
When I come to a new area to produce on demand I always bring a back up plan in the form of a softcover book on John singer Sargent. I flip through it not so much for ideas but to remind me what’s possible when you have no fear and also super human painting skills. One of the many things Sargent excelled at was putting the center of interest in an odd place and balancing it with a lot of pattern. I marvel at his ability to take something mundane and turn it into gold through the alchemy of paint. I think his work influenced this painting of flowers, lillies I guess they are. I don’t ever paint them but when you’re in the garden…. I saw a grouping and a line in the flowers that z’d it’s way back. And using a Sargent trick I pushed the background back to really play up the center of interest.

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