As many of you know I am a long time representational painter who loves to paint traditional watercolors. I use both my abstract and representational paintings to improve my vision and artistic language. I make long excursions into abstract painting with the intention of returning to representational with an improved sensitivity and creative interpretation. I have learned strong color, and better design possibilities through my abstract travels and when I return to the more traditional paintings I feel more alive and inspired. Never be afraid to experiment with new ideas for fear that your preferred style will suffer it won't happen.
When a painting doesn't work even if you kind of like it then it is important that you keep on working with it even if it means a totally new direction for the piece. I am going to show you the before and now version of the piece. I have always maintained that a less than successful painting is not going to improve with age, it is not a good vintage wine that just needs time. So I like the idea of the original because it was my entry into the Africa series but it was too derivative of a whole line of painters and not a very good derivation. So over the next few days I plan to really get into this one and I hope it will work out.
I spent some time looking at some Franz kline pieces and found his use of overlays of color on top of the ground to be very powerful when played against the starkness of black symbols. For this piece I use a blue ground and came back over it with a very pail white wash that was reinforced with strong passages of white appied with a pallette knife. It definitely is something that makes me wonder if there is more here for me to work on. This is a really small study 16 x 16 and I am planning on giving it some air in a more grand scale.
In order to move into some new areas of work I have been studying the color theories of Josep Alpers and am trying some out in a very small format of 12 x 12 and 16 s 16. I am pretty excited about these. It is my goal to keep growing and pushing my limits and it should be every painters' goal. I have certain skills and they are pretty good but I always am looking for the defining personal statement and that is what I work everyday for find.
Searching for the moment when your skills are in total synch with you inner vision is the great goal of an artist. For me it drives me to paint more and more trying for new ways to say the things I want to put down on canvas or paper. I do think that there are ways for the artist to be unique even if some will say it has all been done before. But remember even if it has been done before it has not been done by you so keep pushing and painting.
Some days you just show up and do your job. I worked for the same reason today that most painters do it is what I do. I wanted to call in sick but I think my boss, since I a work for myself would have told me to get to work or I was fired. I read in the Rotko biography by Breslin that he painted all the time not because he had to but because he just new that something miraculous might happen anytime so he painted waiting for the miracle.
I am beginning to understand why Motherwell always stated that a painter enjoys his work like he enjoys the body of a woman. Either you are totally involved or you are not a painter. The subject you choose to work with determines itself as you begin to paint almost ast if the medium has a mind of its own. I try hard to work out a painting with much frustration and then without a moments notice the subject is there before me on the canvas. Sometimes I say that is too easy or been done before but I must say it hasn't been done by me. I have several struggles in the process of painting and today I feel okay because the demons are quiet and I have a purpose in my work. My point here is that I like the absolute beautity and simplicity of statement of black and white but I am afraid to follow my instincts and leave the painting be when it is just a black line on a piece of canvas . I fear rejection or ridicule that it not enough and any fool can do it but it has taken a few years to get to that wonderful mark. I am making the the mark.
today I worked some more on the acrylic paintings I put up the other night as you will see they begin to change considerably as I work on them I am pretty happy with both although I know I will continue to work on them.
Well I had a show opening this weekend two nights and lots of people. It was great fun and not as cold as trying to sell painting in the rain and cold at Bethesda several weeks back. Much easier to get comfortable with the client when it is warm. I only sold 2 paintings at the reception but that is probably a really good record with people holding on to their money these days. One of the things I am shooting for is to begin to sell paintings to persons who are not in my social circle buyers from outside who love the work and find what I am doing to be exciting and creative. I feel like this show is introducing me to a bigger less familiar audience. By the way although I am not driven to accolades it does help the ego when people who I don't know walk accross a crowded room to tell me my work is spectacular and unbelievably good. Enough patting myself on the back because the next time they might be saying it is drivel so I have to keep painting what I believe in.
I am working on a couple of new works and I am posting the one painting in progress to show it to you as I get it moving towards resolution. I really have no actual compostion plan I am just working on it trying to make it happen as I go. It a little similar to the action painters of the 50's and 60's the painting subject was the painting not some subject that you brought to the work. I am also posting 2 small black and whites which will be the studies for a new series of big black and white pieces.
I keep getting reminded how hard it is to continue to try new things even when the results are not there. I tell my students that it is not about the painting but rather the process of evolving in all aspects of your artistic life. One needs to continue honing ones skills with color, design, and application of paint so that when the magic moment happens and you find the subject you feel deep down inside you need to paint you have the necessary skills to paint it.
I have this idea about getting better as a painter and it is to really understand the pieces that you are trying to paint. One way to do that is to work in various formats small medium big and huge until you really get the feeling for the subject. Sometimes it is also helpful to change the shape of the work from vertical to horizontal, rectagular to horizontal or to change the emphasis of the piece like one version is color and line, then value and line, than color and texture or warm and cool colors reverse and the possibilities are endless. Think about it.
I am mounting a show today at the Studio Gallery in DC it will have the core paintings from my "Creation Series" but due to the limited space at the gallery I had to choose 12 paintings out of 44 framed pieces to reflect the essense of the body of work. Then for reasons that made no sense to me at all I had to change the title to something that didn't mention creation it was too biblical. As if I really cared but I folded anyway. It is not "Abstractions of Earths Forces" not a bad title bu a little wordy.