Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From 37 Years Ago



My son emailed a note to me, sent to him from Richmond Indiana. I used to live there.
The writer had purchased one of my painting at auction. She wanted to know more about the artist. My son and I have the same name and he is an artist also...and has a much better internet presence than I do, so she found him first.
The painting has been sitting in my (ex) father-in-laws house, in the basement, all this time, till his death at 96.
I returned the response email. I was happy that even an old painting would be out and hung and enjoyed again. I think paintings and drawings go to sleep in portfolios, or damp basements!
I chose not to ask what she paid for the painting. I can imagine it was dragged out onto the lawn with old tools and dishes, etc.
I was interested in seeing it again. I can see the roots of my current work.
Heighten color, unique angle, and a touch of drama always interested me.
It was a student painting. I am glad it was not destroyed and glad I am still painting

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Scale



I made several large canvases to the dimensions of 92" X 58". This is the closest size I could purchase stretcher bars that would make a Golden Rectangle. I missed it slightly. I wanted to enjoy the benefit of some portions that have stood the test of time. I also needed to be practical and not exceed 96" or I would not be able to move them in and out of elevators. Here is a photo of the installation of one of them to show the scale. What seems to be a large painting in the studio becomes a modest size work in this office environment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Paintings


These two new paintings (92" X 58") are the literal expressions of "Everything is Looking Up".
I enjoy the blog title for the metaphoric context also, but sometimes it is just about the view.
Last week, both paintings were half finished, sitting in the studio.
I can leave a painting in this state for months.
I was approached about some interest in these large works based on the last smaller Tree Tops paintings that were just completed. Actually I was strongly (butt kick) convinced to completely them!
So I went to the studio, and no! I did just start painting. I cleaned the studio, I washed brushes and generally orbited and circled (like Sammy the Golden Retriever, that occasionally visits my studio) till the pressure to complete the paintings overrode the fear to begin.
The first brush stroke hit the canvas at 7:00 AM and I did not stop till the following morning at 7:00 AM. They were loaded on the truck at 8 and they drove away.
Let me say that there were hours of contemplation and planning that had already been done. I had walked the fields till I found the right trees, came back on the right day, in front of the right clouds. I had the sketches. I had done the preliminary work.

I am pleased that I have the energy to get this out of myself in this way, but I do strive for a more routine work style. I am also athletic and do understand the benefit of the regular scheduled workout.
The paintings were well received and have been purchased.
Right now I miss them, like meeting someone new, at the end of a party and only having the pleasant memory the next day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Crows

I have often had dreams that include crows, flying crows.
I like the hole that is torn into a scene when the blackness of a crow enters. I do not mean this, exclusively on the painted picture plane, but also on a branch, in my backyard. The blackness acts as a "negative space" element. I feel as though I should be able to see something in that blackness.
In the natural world animals choose color and shade with intention.
I do wonder why the blackness works so well for the crow. Since they did not migrate and live in winter climates, maybe this negative effect that I see, is what aids them. To be the space and not the object.
The dreams are something else. Maybe burned into my consciousness by Alfred Hitchcock or something more.

I have always lived in areas with crows, not that difficult since they are everywhere, but there has always been a crow, in a tree, to wake me, like it or not.
This painting is a usual scene behind my house.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Treescapes



Summer is moving at light speed, so I thought I would work on that, as a theme.

These two paintings, 24" X 48", are of the same tree, only just a few hours apart and a slightly different angle. I think I could spend the rest of the summer doing this painting over again several times. So many elements change in extremely short times.

I painted both of them, all in one night, about thirteen hours straight, wasn't even tired...till the following mid-day.
It was really good to get it out of my head. The vision from studying the scene during the day, stayed with me all evening.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sycamore View


Add Image
So finally I get to write something about this!
In southern Dutchess County grows a very impressive Sycamore tree. It is probably 200 years old and 100 feet tall. The trunk is as big as a king size bed. It stands in the middle of a field, alone. I am struck by how well it has been maintained over all these years and surely several owners. They have cleaned around it and cut out the broken stuff. It has a couple of rope swings and even a knotted rope for climbing up into it.
It is also the view of my friend Dini. Her house was for sale and that I was able to include in the lower horizon. The painting now lives in the house with the new owners.
I had to produce this painting very fast as the property was changing hands. I did it in three days. It was total potential energy turned into kinetic expression.
When Picasso was asked how long it took to paint one of his works, he answered, "Twenty years and twenty minutes". It was very enjoyable to use all those years at my easel to produce what I saw, fast!
The scale was the big challenge. Without any objects to use as a point of reference, the tree looked big, but not "really big"! If you moved back too far, then the tree looked like a stalk of broccoli. I chose a canvas size 36" X 28". This gave me a square to fill with the tree and some extra to still have a "look up" view into the sky.

I am still working on my series of "Winter" paintings, admittedly it is hard when the daffodils have started to bloom and spring has begun.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dear Robert Genn

I have decided to write to you here on my blog and I may or may not send it to you.
I have enjoyed your twice weekly letter to me (and many others).
Last week you presented a "just started" painting to your audience, for comment. A courageous thing to do.
I did not comment, but I did think about it for the rest of the week. 3000 people did comment.
The internal dialog that it started was about "composition". It seemed that by presenting a painting that had only just begun, the only thing that was available for comment was the composition. The thought that started to form for me, was "composition, so what!"
Last week, I saw a comedy special that interviewed Steve Martin. He was discussing the change in humor that did not wait for the punchline and was funny on the way. Humor that may never arrived at the punchline (Andy Kaufman). I have read books with no plot (Eat,Pray Love). I listen to music with no melody (Steve Reich).
What about paintings with no composition? Humor still has to be funny, Books still have to be interesting.
Good composition may aid in completing a piece of art, but it may also act as an abrupt ending to a thought.
Eric Fischl's compositions have an awkwardness that always leave the story ongoing.
I see that my current landscape project has continued to distances me from compositional issues and as I write this I see that I am, and have always been more interested in something that includes pattern and decoration (a word that needs more definition). I have often placed the point of view "off the canvas" and given the viewer the peripheral view. On two occasions I found my painting adorning personal Buddhist altars. I was very pleased by this.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dangerous Landscape

Last week I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I seem to have been very lucky.
I had no bulls eye mark to tell me that I was bitten and I have not been sick. I went in for a physical and in a discussion with my Doctor I mentioned the Dutchess County property, so we added Lyme disease to the blood test list
I am not one to complain about aches and pains, so the slight malaise that I felt was pushed aside. There are two possibilities for not getting very sick, that I contracted a lesser strain or that I have a strong immune system.
Our landscape here is a second growth mixed forest, Maples, Cherrys, Ash, and Locust in my area, with Birch and Oaks entering down the road. All crowded with saplings and perfect for Deer to hide, feed and be a resource for ticks.

#5 is a painting that interested me for being the "Wall O Trees". A dense pattern of limited color that reminded me of early Jackson Pollack paintings.
The abstract expressionists were busy breaking down the landscape to find the basic forms and here I am, coming out the other side, carrying their vision back to the landscape.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Camera

I love my digital camera. I think that it is a great tool. The first one I had was a 2 megapixel Sony.
I am not a photographer. I have felt "obligated" to have a camera for all the usual reasons like taking slides and pictures of your kids. I just did not get into to it and the camera was big and I did not like carrying it. When I would take it out I was always aware of the cost of film and development and the shoe boxes full of duds.
So with a big chip in the digital and my Mac, the entire experience changed!
This is really what I want to talk about. I now go out with an 8 megapixel Canon and just shot and shot. Often I have had to remind myself to just keep clicking. I can do with the camera, what I do with the sketchbook. The first twenty minutes I find that I am framing, and using those years of looking at art. Using the classic compositions, then I get bored!
I actually wait for this. I wander aimlessly and even think about going home, but I do not.
I trust that by staying out there something new will happen.
A little kid stuck in a car seat will make anything into a toy and I am using the boredom to find something new in my mind, as well as in the scene.
A guitarist friend of mine once had a private lesson with the rocker Robert Fripp. He ask Fripp what he should do when he just did not feel like playing guitar? Fripp's response was, "That's OK to not feel like playing, but do not stop playing"!

I do not like the reduction that is inherent in the one eyed camera. I prefer to translate the image into paint, because I am a painter. I do like using the camera as a thinking tool.

#4

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

#2

Still in Winter

This is the beginning of 13 paintings 19"X 6.5" of what I have recorded from this winter in this country house. Some are photo reference combined with my memory and standing outside, painting and seeing. I am always surprised that I do not get cold when I am in this act of seeing.
I will post them as soon as I complete them. I have chosen the number 13, a baker dozen. I will sell 12, but I will kept my favorite.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Morning


I spotted this of the web. Nice image right after Valentines day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Selling your best stuff!



Andy Warhol mentored many artists. I remember reading some advice that he gave to Keith Haring.
Keith had become a very financially successful artist and Warhol told him to buy real estate and that was sound advice and probably still is. He also made another suggestion, that he NOT sell his best! H-mmm! Interesting!
So many times you work really hard and strive to do your best and then when you have an exhibition opportunity you want to show your best. Even choose that particular piece for the announcement card or have it chosen by someone that also thinks it's the best. It has been my experience and I have observed this many times, that that piece sells. Sometimes before the show opens. We smile, and for some this is a successful marketing strategy.
So what is Warhol suggesting?
I am going to segway for a moment to a comment by Robert Genn and the frequency of sales. He mentions a wildlife artist that died with a half completed painting on the easel and no stock. He had sold everything he ever did. Bravo!
Genn admitted that that was not his own experience and that he had to produce 10 paintings to sell 4, then some time later he would sell a few more, and the rest would pile up in the shed.
I completely relate to this model. My equation is to paint 6 and sell 2 and 2 more maybe later. The end result is that I have sheds full of stuff, of questionable quality.
If you are successful enough to have significant price increases during your life time you are not the one that directly benefits from those after market sales.
This maybe what Warhol was getting at.

Of the two paintings I have posted today, They are my favorites of the six that were produced. I managed to keep "Goose Chase", but "Brick House" got away.

In addition to the investment potential, it is also a joy to keep your best effort!
These were my first attempts to go out with the idea of looking up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sumac


This is my newest painting. It is 42"x 34" acrylic on raw canvas.
It is nearly the view outside of my studio, but with the Sumac added over the top. There is a beautiful stand of them at the edge of this field by the side of the road. Sumac are at their best in the winter. The red pods dance together. I think that many people see them, but do not see them, thinking that they are just roadside shrub. This group is on a curve that I pass as I leave my studio so they are up close and you can see right through them to the field beyond.
My purpose for this blog is to explain and become more articulate about my paintings, but some quote about "Writing about Art is like Dancing about Architecture" comes to mind. Still, I will go into it!

I like the depth that is created by a landscape. The curve that is created by the ground moving toward you at the bottom. The sky moving toward you at the top.
Now put an object right across the front! Press the eye into following the pattern, but tease with the desire to look through it!
I have often wondered why I use the colors and values that I do. When I have studied landscape painting I can see that neutrals are the way to go to achieve levels of naturalism. I guess naturalism is not what I am shooting for.
I am looking for something much more contemporary and trying to get it out through what I see around me.
As I post my work to this blog, I know that I will appear to be jumping around, a landscape, a portrait, a still life and more.
A consistent thread will emerge.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter Light


Today is cold , but sunny in the upstate NY house. Already the light is fading. I like the winter landscapes better than autumn. Winter trees show their gesture enhanced by long shadows.
The deer have decimated my shrubs. There was an ice storm over a week ago and then more snow and it is impossible for the deer to break through the ice to get anything to eat so they are desperate. I should have been more vigilant about netting and fencing
Still, I love the activity, the layers of tracks.
The turkeys were at the feeders again today. Usually a Tom and three hens, but today there were 8 and sometimes as many as 40. I spent some time watching the feeders today hoping to see the Cooper's hawk come in to take a song bird. I have seen that once. It comes in fast and is gone in less then 20 seconds.
I will include these thoughts and observations as a way of explaining how I think and what excites me.
Painting can be several things. It can be an illustration. It can be an illustration of your life. mixing the actual with the imagined.
A painting can also be it's own entity. An act of creation that draws from an experience, but exists independently, even from the artist that created it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fire

Sometime ago I started looking at fire as a subject. I notice that everyone looks at fire. It is fascinating. I am contemplating why?
What is it about fire that is worth looking at, sometimes for hours! Ok! So the obvious is that it moves and if you are close enough there is heat. It is brightly colored and that always can attract us, but fire is interesting even on TV, in B&W! I can remember Christmas in the 60's and watching it. Now you can get a HD video of it. I watched it at the Doctors office!
What I see about fire today is that it moves in an organic way with no hard angles.
(Is it organic? Scientifically, it is a process of oxidation).
Fire is also it's own light source. Most everything we see is the subject of light cast upon it.
The painting I have included is an attempt to look at the movement. I have excluded the source, no burning log, of burning house.
George La Tour painted his figures illuminated by a flame to show fire as the light source. I have tried to see if I could paint it as self-illuminating.

Quote Credit

"Condensing Fact from the Vapor of Nuance" is a quote from Neal Stephenson's Sci Fi novel "Snow Crash"
It is a quote that struck me because so many things in life do not reveal themselves 100%.
If you are a scientist you strive for the highest percentage, but artists often must do with far less. Sometimes it is with only a vapor, or a shape in your peripheral, or a two note squeak from the brakes of a bus that herald a larger story.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Beginning...again

Welcome! Only a very small group of people know that I am writing this right now and this is the first post. I hope to quickly develop a nice look for the page, but today I am starting this the way it is.
I am going to write all about my painting and my thoughts and feeling about painting, art and life, though I will try to talk about life, as it pertains to my work.

The title of the blog is as much about my views on life, as a specific view I am taking in my paintings. I expect it will evolve.