June 22, 2015
Recently I read that your art should carry your signature….without you ever having to sign your name. (I’m not sure of the source, I think it might have been here .)
Friends have said to me that they can see when something has been done by me- whether graphic design, calligraphy, oil pastel or paintings. They recognise a personal mark and/or approach in the colours and visual vocabulary.
This is less easy for me to see, I’m up too close generally. But I was surprised yesterday when going through some old work and throwing pieces away (this has to happen periodically, worth another post), I discovered a watercolour (one of the ones I’m keeping) from 40 years ago (no, I’m wrong, it was 27 years ago) which reminded me of one of my recent bottle paintings.
I’ve cropped the painting and put them side by side.
The watercolour with diamonds is done at the time I was exploring the range of colours in value- contrasting crystalline transparent pastels with dense fiery reds, indigos and earth colours. And this was inspired by my mentor Abe Weiner’s work (type in Abe Weiner either in the Search box here or google to see his paintings).
I was quite amazed by the similarity in colour feel and handling of works separated by 27 years of time and development. Here are crops of both works, and underneath are the originals.
June 20, 2015
I’ve only recently begun to work simultaneously on two or three paintings.
And I’m discovering that there are numerous advantages for me in doing this.
First, I don’t obsess as much on one painting. Normally, I’ll spend a lot of time working into what I’ve set down initially to try to ‘get it right’. When, often what I had was already good and fresh, and I just should have left it alone! Having more paintings in the sidelines waiting for their turn, helps me detach (can you hear that sound of a suction cup letting go? Thwock)! and turn my beady eye on a new victim.
Secondly, each painting has its own character and demands a different approach in applying paint, colour, etc. (though I do try to work on paintings that have a similar palette). So it has happened that where I was getting too tight on one painting, and worked on one with a looser approach, getting back to the first one, I could let go a little easier. So far that has been the biggest advantage for me.
Third, trying to finish one painting in order to get to the next new one can put me in a frame of mind which isn’t optimal for taking the patient, caring steps needed to finish a work with honour. I am slightly bored with the end stages, I like the excitement of the first parts of the process best and have to discipline myself not to rush completion. So being able to work on several at the same time avoids the feeling of having to rush to get to the next one.
The one above is interesting, it is being worked on with others in the bottle series (see an earlier post):
Here was an earlier version of it:
I tried to keep those landscapey little blocks of green and pink in the background and background bottle, but just couldn’t pull it off. It was useful though, because those colours do shine through here and there in the present version (top of page) and liven it up.
I learned with this one that you can’t honour both intentions, realistic and abstract, at least I can’t – not yet. An artist friend, Eoin Mac Lochlainn, wrote in a recent conversation that it is tricky to straddle the line between realistic and abstract. He works in both sometimes and has shown them together. [Evidently I misunderstood a previous conversation Eoin and I were having, and he doesn’t consider the skies pure abstracts- see his comment below. Apologies, Eoin].Now that is tricky, but in this case I think he pulls it off. There is a clear intention there of showing the lovely empty skies with the abandoned fireplaces, and I feel they enrich one another.(Do look at the short video on his blog, and the music is wonderful).
June 12, 2015
I’m going to show some interim stages of paintings I’m working on. One reason is that I’m working on 5 at once and it is taking awhile to get to completion on any one piece. Also a factor is that there is lot of movement going on in the way I’m painting, and it is kind of exciting to share the process. Anyone who has been following my oil painting progress knows that from the beginning I’ve been working toward a looser approach- less drawing more painting.
Here is the piece that is sort of the bridge between the highly realistic work I’ve been doing and what I’m moving toward. It isn’t done yet, it’s missing some sparkly white highlights in the glass for one. But I did parts of it with a palette knife. I was going to do the whole thing with impasto, but I didn’t have enough control over the small areas and I was becoming unhappy with the assignment I’d given myself. So I went back to brush. Still, it has something fresh that I like, especially the blue bottle far right.
The next one below was one stage before where I am now. I’m including it because I love it. I just threw down the colours on there, and it has the freedom of some of the 37 minute work I did a few years ago. Even though there are some inaccuracies (shapes of the blue bottles, for ex.) I am sorry I didn’t just leave it as it was. I was especially sad to lose the wonderful rhythmic brush work on the clear bottle in the background.
Though I tried not to, I blended too much, with a result of a more polished, less raw feel.
The photo is also a bit too blue-green, the colours are truer in the one above.
I’ll also include Rende’s photo, and you can see that I’m starting to deviate from exact reproduction of the image. For example, the visual pun here, is that Rende has photographed the same bottles I used in the still life, in front of that still life. I’m not translating that literally because the fruit should be out of focus as part of the painting in the background. I like the painterly way I sketched it in there and am leaving it that way.
June 8, 2015
Some time ago I had some prints made of a few of my oil pastels. They’re mostly sold out, but I have 2 left I’d like to make available for purchase.
SOLD Tuscan landscape is 36 x 30 cm (14″x 12″) (image area not including wide border).
(later) I just ran across one more of this one.
SOLD OUT Living Tree is 26,5 x 30 cm(10,5″ x 12″) (image area, there is a very thin white border).
Both images are printed on beautiful quality heavy watercolor paper. Acid free.
They are 60 Euros ($67 each)
or 100 Euros for both ($112). Includes shipping anywhere. They will be packed in a cardboard tube.
Payment by Paypal or bank transfer. Contact me through the comments if you are interested.
June 2, 2015
I’m still working on my new series inspired by Rende’s photos of bottles placed in front of my still life paintings. I’ll skip the last two (nos. 3 & 4) for now because they are still in process and deserve a separate post.
The ones I’m working on now ( nos. 5 & 6) I’m excited about. They are closer to suggesting and further from explaining.
It feels to me like I’m in a process of ‘breaking my paintings open’, that seems the best way to explain it. Though photographic realism is a valid way to go for many artists, it isn’t my goal and limits me. I’m already a perfectionist and reproducing things exactly only encourages me to obsess even more!
Even in the last few bottle paintings, I’ve felt restrained by the subject matter. But my intuition tells me not to turn to more abstract/decorative work (like my oil pastels), but to find the freedom I want via realistic work. After all that is the work that speaks to me most by artists I admire, like Krabbé and Blackadder.
So breaking the painting open means that room is created for my own imagination. It means that colours and forms aren’t dictated by the objects in front of me but those objects become a departure point for my expression. It has taken me 5 years of steady work to get this far, (though I’ve been painting sporadically my whole life).
These two even started out differently- I had some ‘failed’ landscapes and abstract work lying around. So instead of gessoing them over, I sketched directly on them with charcoal, because they make colourful and unpredictable backgrounds. Also they encourage a looser approach to applying the paint. Here are the charcoal sketch and first blocking in for Bottles 6. And below that first stages of Bottles 5.