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It seemed, according to the stat page, that the story time post was fairly popular, so I’ll put more of those up…. so many wonderful things have happened while I was out painting. I think they are interesting events but there’s a guy I know, he’s nice enough, a Civil War reenacter …. or is it reenactor… anyway, he thinks the CVW is most intensely fascinating. I, however, could care less. Yes, it was a profoundly important war which, for the most part, has ended but somehow no matter what we talk about he steers the conversation quickly to the Battle of Perspicacityville and within seconds my brain snaps shut. Shields up. Uh-oh, warp 5 tachyon boredom missiles, incoming, all power to forward shields. I may say something about tapioca and he deftly segues into the eating habits of the 7th battalion under Commander Cody, the point is, I’m wary about posting what happened in my day unless it is of some kind of relevant interest and that, of course, is subjective. But I’ll post more stuff like that… to me it’s more interesting than a painting, if it doesn’t interest, no harm done. I never really know where to put commas, and colons: they should have a colon checker function. Just sayin.

Anyhooo. This is a bit like a painting of another painting, but it’s a sculpture. It’s a piece called Man carving his own destiny by Albin Polasek. I guess there are no copyright violations here.  I should be pretty well versed in intellectual property infractions having been an illustrator but when we start crossing over from copying paintings and photos into a marble sculpture in a garden, it gets a tad hazy for me. I saw it as a chance to do some figurative work. I even used the sight-size method as best I understand it. I blocked in the drawing and stood back at a distance such that the painting and the sculpture were the exact same size and right next to one another according to my point of view. I took a brush, laid it horizontal and went from checkpoint to checkpoint, head, chest waist, etc. to make sure that I was seeing things correctly. I suppose I’m pointing this out because the guy had a formidable schlong and I don’t want to have that come back to me. I measured and double checked and it was, well, mule-like in dimension. I was going to fuzz out the area, a kind of creative manscape editing but I thought it was sort of funny, what with the mallet and all. So I left this blue man contemplating his good fortune and his destiny.

Oh and I did use a bit of an old illustration/painting trick here. Where the light bouncing off the statue meets the dark of the background, I used a warm transition color to give the feel of photons obscuring the dark background. Also rimmed the other light areas with streaks of red and orange…. gives it some glow. painter of lite.

Story time

Two posts in one day. I must be avoiding something. More often than not, the thing that is so great about painting is the stuff that happens around the painting; something cool in nature, like the time I came face to face with a herd of friendly elk, or the great people I have come to know, or just being outside and really getting to see and feel nature. But once in a while something happens that is just damn funny.

I had just wrapped up my third day of workshop teaching in Maryland and after a lovely dinner with some of my class, I dropped by the local watering hole to have a nightcap. There I ran in to two artists, one I knew and one I didn’t. Just a couple of guys painting and pallin’ around. Really funny guys too. The two Steves. So we line up at the bar and have a beverage or two and talk about….. wait for it…. art! Yes, that’s pretty much all we ever talk about, well, that and good stories. One of the Steves was dressed with a topcoat and a big scarf wrapped fashionable like around his neck, a beret and a stylin mustache that managed to get most of the beer before he got a chance to swallow it. Also at the bar were a couple of ladies celebrating something and one of them comes up to us and says, maybe because of the dapperness of Steve 2, “what do you guys do?”. Now normally, I’m only too happy to admit that I’m an artist but for some reason I decided to lie. She just had a certain drunk gullability to her that I couldn’t resist. I looked at her straight in the face and told her that we were part of a collective brain trust with several very successful inventions under our belt and that having made our millions we were now practicing a form of full contact ice fishing in the Himalayas and were vying for spots on the Winter Olympic team. A mountain range, by the way, that came to mind because as far as I know they don’t have a lot of lakes there. Much to my surprise, she bought it. And the two Steve’s started adding on more and more ridiculous details about our chalets and our decked out Sikorsky helicopters, which is how we get to the lakes in the Himalayas. One of the Steve’s was also the proud owner of a tall ship in Scotland. Ahhhh it’s good to be rich.

After a while I had to take my leave and felt bad about the lying and fessed up, she was a school teacher and it just didn’t seem right. I had heard the next day that her friends abandoned her and the dapper Steve 2 got to drive a very inebriated lady home to her husband. I think he just sorta dropped her off and squealed outta there. I sort of wished I hadn’t fessed up though, it was a good story.

I guess I should just go ahead and post a little each day about the most recent paint out. It was a good week of work, I did probably 7 paintings. 2 fairly large ones at 20×20 (like the painting above) and the rest were 12×16 ‘s and 9×12’s. There was a really good turn out at the event Saturday night, in fact it was sold out, maybe 300 people were there.  It seems as if this event has really turned into a thing. The food was great and the wine was free and the weather was about as perfect as you could ask for. The remaining works are still up at the Polasek Museum in Winter Park for the next two weeks, in case anyone is in the area. It’s worth a look. This painting was done in the Antiques on the Avenue shop on Park Ave, it’s a crazy place. The owner is sort of like a hoarder with really good taste, there is literally no place to stand in this store, just narrow goat paths through top notch you-name-it antiques, you  have to keep your arms down at your side as you walk through and if you are wearing a big coat, forget it, you will break something. I have a thing for making busy work and this little shop of hoarders is the place to do it. The owner is super nice and is always happy to have me paint there.

As I said, I have a thing for making chaos make sense, taking mounds of stuff and getting a kind of flow through all the various nicknacks. I didn’t think this one would sell at the event and it didn’t but these do eventually sell and they are a challenge. I’m always at my best when I’m challenged, whether it’s standing in 40 mile an hour winds or freezing rain or tackling the entire contents of a store, it focuses my energy more. Don Sondag and I talked about making it more like a sport (which reminds me of a story I gotta tell you) where you have to run for 10 miles, or in my case, 10 blocks, and do a quick painting and then run for another 10 blocks or whatever and so on.  I’ll put up more as the week goes by but next up is story time.

Don’t want to overwhelm with new posts, but I have some catching up to do. I’ll save the rest for later in the week. But I wanted to bring up this thing about broken color. It’s not new, at all, it started with the impressionist movement (think Seurat, s’il vous plait), at least really got some legs and has been going strong as a way of getting color to work ever since. It’s a relatively simple notion, a colors power depends on the color it’s next to.  It’s a way to get color to vibrate, to come to life. Lots of reproduction methods use this principle, off-set printing, your TV set, stone lithography, ummm the rhythm method. I did this little sunset 9×12 this week at the Winter Park paint out. Probably could have sold it more than once or twice. And that might be because it is a simple painting with color doing all the work. The trick is to juxtapose compliments, split-compliments and even analogous colors (sorry for the color theory speak, but, hey, it’s color theory) to create an overall color field. The notes have to be near each other in value and saturation in order to get the subtle shimmering of light particles.

This image is a little larger than I usually put up, so when you click on it you can see what I mean. It helped to paint this on a broad weave linen so that the color underneath can still show through and the chunks of paint come off the brush better. I like me some broad weave linen or is that linen weaving broads… they are fun to paint.

Not sure where to start, I’ve been painting a lot. Trying to get a bunch of new work to one of my galleries. They always want new work, even if they haven’t sold the old work. Oh well, we do what we can. I’ve also just completed a week long paint-out here in Winter Park Fl and am gearing up for the Carmel Art Fest in a week. One of my galleries is reformatting and has returned a bunch of work, so now I can’t move in my space. I’m overstocked. I’ll get to the Winter Park paint-out in a post or two. Here’s a painting I finished a while back, it’s a 30×30, I posted a pic of the sketch in in my little dissertation about drawing and perspective a few posts back. I’m experimenting more with tone, color and surface in this series of boat paintings for my gallery in Vero. She’s had pretty good luck with these and I like doing them so what the hell. For some reason, every time I start a new series of paintings I have to do something new. I guess I just want to keep learning and trying new things. My work shifts in little ways here and there but, I think still has a nice consistency about it. At least I hope so. An inconsistent body of work leads to confusion from the point of view of the buyer.

Here’s a companion piece to it, the notion for a set of paintings came from my gallery, apparently buyers sometimes like to buy things in sets… who knew. About the closest I ever got to that was a couple who secretly bought paintings from me to give to the other for their anniversary. This painting was an exercise in value, color and brushwork. I wanted to keep it really tight in value, no darks. let the subtlety of the color do the work. Also there’s some work with split compliments, where you put a color notes split compliment either under the color or next to it, if they are same or similar values, it makes for color vibration. And that my friends is what it’s all about. good vibrations.

Next up is this painting, a 30×40 companion to one she already has. I was also thinking that sometimes I work too hard on these and the bigger and broader these big ones are the better. So, this was an exercise in editing. Big strokes of color. You know what they say, a little exercise never hurt anyone.

The Don

If anyone reads my blog, this is the one post I hope they read, well, that and the snappy comeback reference planner and maybe the spin cycle one.  I share a studio with 20 artists and all are inspiring in different ways, but this guy, Don Sondag, is a lesson for all painters in diligence and practice. He’s just a damn good painter. His work is fresh, honest and dead on in drawing & color and un-mannered , as in he doesn’t use any fancy brush tricks or glazes or whatever to make a painting, it is without influence. He spent a few years of learnin at the student artists league in New York with Jacob Collins and Sam Adoquie, I think he knew Raymond Kinstler at some point but most all that he has achieved for himself has been through sheer effort.

I’m going to post a lot of images of his space and his work, most are pics from my iphone and are a tad fuzzy, but you will get the idea. Unless you live in the Orlando area, you will probably never hear of this guy. He doesn’t have a website, doesn’t really advertise his work, maybe is in one or two local galleries but has a good name in the area as a landscape painter and a portraitist. I’ve bugged him for years about getting a website but that’s not his thing. And in a way, I get it. He doesn’t waste a moment of time with emails and website updates and how to work photoshop or blogging, he just paints. And he’s a much better painter for it. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000 hours it takes to master a thing in the Outliers. Don has at least double or triple that…. and it shows in the work.  His compositions are seemingly effortless and his broad brush approach is without a lot of cumbersome detail, his paintings are a lesson in what to leave out and how to paint in big shapes of value and color. Whatever the subject matter, the paintings become about shape and value and color. He’s got paintings of small planes on a tarmac that make me envious.

The simple lesson here is, if you want to be good or a master at something, get some training,  learn to draw and put in your 10 or 20 thousand hours and don’t copy someone else. The great Donnini is an inspiration to all of us here at McRae Art Studios.

All of these are painted from life by the way, including the 30×40 on the easel. I have no idea how to format these images into any kind of layout so bear with me. And share this with your friends. Don should be known.

Just finished a 4 day workshop in Easton, Maryland and while I await my ride to the airport, I thought I’d say a few things about it. It was a good workshop, great people, beautiful locations and a few familiar faces roaming around. Whenever I go in to teach I never know what levels of ability I will encounter but one thing I can count on is that most students have one stumbling block in common. Drawing. People want to learn how to paint before they have learned the fundamentals of drawing, which I am only to happy to teach but if you really want to learn better painting skills or loosen up with the brush, spend some time with mr pencil or ms charcoal. It will get you where you want to go much more quickly. Spend a half hour a day for a month or two sketching, fill up a couple of sketchbooks before getting on the canvas. If you are hankering to paint, spend time mixing colors matching paint chips from your local paint store. You will take in the lessons in a worksop much more readily.
My demo from yesterday.