Sunday, June 24, 2018

Why Can't I Just Paint?

My studio is too hot,  I want to be outside where it's too hot, I have a dog, I have a son, I want to go somewhere; so many reasons why I don't paint. I realized today though something more difficult to get past.

I realize there is necessary discipline in painting, writing and any other creative endeavor but the question today is what if you're just not there yet? I cleaned the studio, and was able to see the previous paintings, there are so many things that have changed and continue to change in how I see and how I want to show what I've seen.

There is another stumbling block, the purpose in painting, I've always said I'd prefer not just paint a landscape with no feeling. There are so many intangible feelings that seem to haunt me and those are the core of what I want to show.

There a darkness, a loneliness, a separation that all seem to follow my work. It seems lately there is perhaps a bit more, too much time alone working as a traveling sales person I guess. Now I have the insight of being alone and feeling content in being alone but there is still that feeling of unease that I feel and want to show.

My painting has gone from very dark, more realistic and than bright, rich and fun, now I feel I've jumped back to dark but there is something else that I want to say and that seems very cryptic at the moment.

In this recent sitting, I realized I want to get back to painting night and water with the skill and clarity of older works and yet with some sort of intangible light I've only recently realized. This light I think is from being immersed with photography lately.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rediscovering Subject Matter with a Mature Eye

On the wall of my studio are two paintings of waterfalls from the Cascades in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It's a series of paintings from a very special time in my life, I had just gotten married and enjoyed an idyllic honeymoon in New England.

It's in the Cascades where I became obsessed with waterfalls. The sounds, the colors and the depth and clarity of water, they became a common theme in my paintings. When we are younger we see through eyes untainted by expectations or attempts to suit style or current trend.

Since the original series there have been several that I believe now became more expressionistic which is fine but I believe I left something crucial out of the mix.

It is always an artists job to decide what to leave in and what to leave out. What is too realistic or to abstract and what feeling is intended for the viewer: all go into the final product of creating something from nature.

Today I went to the Park Hill Prairie. I wanted to study the pristine water and get back to the basics of how water interacts with its surroundings, weather and its angle from the viewer.

I redefined what it is about water that I love and aim to share with the viewer is the intangible coldness one can imagine, the depths and mystery of its many layers and the simplicity of the mirror.

Just like creating a rose with droplets of dew-the final realistic image is much more simple than one would first think. It's the simplicity of the rendering that keeps the viewers eyes imagining the depth and the feeling of the surface.

I am excite about getting back to the canvas and reinvigorating my passion for nature and the intricacies of water. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Subject Matter: The Emotion beneath the Layers of Paint (part 2 of 4)

I am more focused on the atmosphere of my paintings rather than a specific place. Although many paintings are from real places, my intent is to convey how it feels to be there, the feeling of cold breeze or dark shadow.

I like the tension between figures and the tension between the painting and the viewer. Some of my paintings have been described as otherworldly, a feeling like something is just not quite right.

I am haunted by nature and the mystery that exists, the silence in the evening or the quiet before a storm. I believe if an artist can make a viewer feel an emotion when looking at a painting, it's the difference between creating an attractive painting or an emotional tool.

There is an intangible and often cryptic voice in every painting I create. It is how the act of painting can touch the viewer, make them feel something that is more than the surface of a canvas.

I want the viewer to come away from my painting with a feeling they're not quite sure of, or a memory they can connect with. I want the viewer to make their own experience of my work.

For more artwork see
Next Subject Matter: The Night Sky

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Why I Paint and What is My Intention in Painting?: The Simple yet Complex Act of Creativity

Why Paint? A Simple Question with so Many Answers: The simplest answer is the intense joy of creating something from nothing. Imagine a place that you see in a dream, it's beautiful, you don't want to leave but you wake up and it's gone; painting allows the artist to capture that place and when it becomes real there is nothing like the feeling.

Another feeling is when there is no specific, concrete image but instead a feeling or an idea that you have that becomes a form, something you can choose to explain or leave as its own voice. There is an absence of any stresses and distractions and the mind and body find a sync that I've never found doing anything else.

What would you like the viewer to see or experience?: The Many Goals of Creating: The pure enjoyment of being creative is tempered with the discipline of getting it right. The ability to see and capture reality too perfectly or to say something without over explaining it.

Artists are navigators, we bring our viewers in and show them what we see or feel. We allow them a glimpse of our expression and than we relinquish all control as the viewer makes the image or the journey their own.

For me, that is the highest complement, when someone gets your cue within an image and brings their own feelings and memories to make the painting their own. The artist has created a living image that evokes emotion or feelings and it is no longer a two dimensional image, it is a tool that evokes emotion, brings thought, soothes or frightens.

Frightens is an odd verb to attribute to painting but some of my paintings come from a place of depression or discomfort, I would rather a person feel frightened or uncomfortable rather than feel nothing. 

I want my feeling and intent in creating to become something that the viewer feels and understands in their own terms. To paint and evoke an emotion is like speaking in a different language than anyone else and having a stranger understand your language. That is the magic of creating art.

My next Installment will be on subject matter: Why do I paint the two special aspects of nature and how it became my style and intent.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Creativity: A Vision of a Growing Inspiration

Every thing we do as creative people adds to the tools we use. If we observe nature, do yoga, get in touch with our inner selves or just take the time to learn, we are always growing as artists.

I have recently been unable to paint, I stare at paintings I've already started and nothing happens. It's amazing and dramatic the feeling of sitting in front of what is a foreign entity.

Months or even years ago, I did an underpainting, nothing has happened since. I was inspired once but now it seems I push paint around and have no idea of what direction to take.

Recently, I have photographed much more than painted. I have used discipline to keep shooting even when the inspiration was missing. Suddenly the most mundane image becomes something special, I believe, like a muscle, it is the creative mind practicing and expanding.

Here are a few recent images that have inspired me. I am planning on creating an E-book with all of the images of the 365 day photo challenge and making it available free to subscribers.

I will be adding poetry to the images that will explain the creative process and why I took the photograph in the first place. I will be adding the images and the words as it progresses, would love to have opinions and what would interest my readers in not only reading but what photographs they like.

As I said, there was a purpose for all these lessons and suddenly without any warning, I am painting again with a new passion and excitement. The amazing thing is the change and how seeing the image becomes markedly different.

Suddenly the image that seemed like someone elses' painting for months now has all the directions written out. My brush knows where to go, what colors go where and very suddenly I know exactly what needs to be done. After getting away from the painting you start to see some hidden strokes and techniques that I would never consciously think of and yet in the frenzy of painting everything makes perfect sense.

I can't even explain how exciting a feeling it is and how quickly the work becomes when suddenly you have a new view of the whole process. Very soon, I will be sharing the latest and they will be available on the website as well. Stay tuned and I would love any feedback. Thanks

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Isolating Light: Fire Captured in a Crystal

It started out as an idea, a still life subject I was experimenting with but it turned into something more interesting. I found light in a quartz crystal and it started a series of experimentations that was as fun as it was enlightening.

I've always had an interest in geology and have been a rock hound for as long as I can remember. In the trips my son and I would plan we would include a mineral adventure; we've panned for topaz in the hill country and dug for diamonds in Arkansas. I'm still planning a trip to Georgia for amethyst.

There is something about a crystal; the way the light touches the facets or the smooth texture of each face. I was interested in capturing the essence of the color and light of each rock. 

I bought these amethyst years ago because I thought they were interesting. I planned on putting them in a tank or doing something interesting with them for a long time.

The first time I shot them I tried to capture the colors and richness of the deep purples. It was when I introduced the quartz crystal that I noticed the exquisite light that was glowing inside it with the setting of the sun.

Much like a sunset changes in color and intensity so does a still life that is lit by the outside light. As the last bit of sun grew more intense the light radiated from the crystals and the light made the colors even richer.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

An Artist in Chaos: Growth of a Discipline

When we are young, we develop habits, some good, some not so good. I have every excuse to be disorganized as I'm creative and it's a creative trademark but I have seen what happens without organization and a game plan. You push paint around....I"m gonna trademark that one of these days-maybe a book, Yes, a book.

Pushing Paint Around: I've always talked about times of fermentation and I still believe in it although I believe discipline and organization can help in two ways.
 • When the inspiration strikes you are ready and available to work instead of fighting with obstacles and disorder. Disorder is something that is very agitating in a moment of inspiration. I have experienced the feeling of being ready to shoot an amazing photograph but your equipment was either not taken care of or something you needed wasn't available in the chaos.

• I think the disorganization keeps the holding pattern longer and prolongs the feeling of fermentation. I realize that as an artist, things inspire me regularly, my life and surroundings should be uncluttered and available to realize the inspiration of light, of objects, of nature.

• Disorder can depress and confuse the already cluttered mind. So many thoughts stream through becoming dried dead leaves on the bottom of a great flood instead of the light and the colors that dance on the surface of the water. How many thoughts and ideas have been lost due to clutter and chaos?

Stop Playing: Start Doing, No Excuses: I pride myself on the ability to be honest with myself about my shortcomings. There is no way to change or improve if certain parts of your personality are set in stone. I quit smoking many years back and one thing I never did is say, I'm a smoker and that's the end, I was always open to quitting and eventually I did.

I have a lot of disorder in my life, I don't take care of my things the way I need to. I could use the excuse of being an artist and having a chaotic mind but I"m continually insisting I can improve.

Discipline: is the ingredient in a cake that makes all the ingredients rise and be a cake, it is the binding that keeps the creative endeavor on track. I plan on one day having an agent but until than I need to discipline myself to be the best I can. Discipline and organization are two qualities I will use to take a life time of pushing paint into a career that I can be proud of.

Honesty: is what allows you to perfect what ever you are doing. The initial ego and excitement of creation can overshadow your subject. I have painted many portraits and animal images that at the time I was quite proud of but later saw them closer to reality.

Honesty and humility is the only way I know to get to the next level of this craft. I don't think an artist ever arrives at a place where they are an artist and that's that. It is a continual growing process and the image you are supposed to create is very illusive and changes with age. I have just recently started to see glimpses of the image I have sought for so many years.

Self-Reflection: This can really include all of the above but there can be no growth and success without self reflection and there can be little self reflection without quiet. A place, a time to be present to truly take stock in the work you've done and the work you will do, this is how an artist breaks forward and become what they are intended to be.

Teaching Painting and the Gallery Critique: I don't think art has ever been meant to be an isolated craft, I'm not saying creation is not an isolated and personal act but I do feel it needs to not be in a bubble. For me, art is something that needs to be interactive, the viewer must react or it is a beautiful tree hidden in a forest. It is still as beautiful and every bit important but it doesn't speak to anyone.

I want my viewers to react, to feel something and that charge of chemistry between the viewer and a piece of art creates a relationship that begs to be available and shared. I want what ever I create to be taken as a personal memory, a cherished thought or idea that connects deeper than the surface. The viewer nor the artist really needs to know the reality, it is that intangible and mysterious interaction that makes great art.

I have gained more from teaching art and receiving critiques from galleries than I have ever received from simple words of encouragement. You burst the bubble, you get out of what is comfortable and understood and you explore not only your own reasons for creating but how they are taken by the novice and the expert, it is a wonderful disruption of what you see is common or ritual.

I went into my studio this morning and started organizing. I felt like I was digging through some one's attic and finding perhaps a past life that has been waiting to be discovered. Suddenly the ideas became more clear, the abstract made more sense and the true need for discipline jumped out as if I was saving an artist from their own chaos. Stay tuned for a lot of work.....

Check back with for new artwork, writing and photography.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Fruits of Labor: Often an Inspiration Takes Time to Appear

Sometimes it just happens, I've set up this still life for the last week or so and nothing has jumped out. Often, much like a painting that sits on the easel with nothing to add, an image needs to become what it needs to. Sometime it's the simplest bit of light that paints an object that turns the mundane into something special.

I have stood in front of sunsets that seemed for all purpose amazing and yet the eye seems not to notice the intricacies. It is the most subtle light and the illusive hue that makes a simple subject more profound. These images capture a feeling of an afternoon, the sun descending somewhere outside and a memory of a rainy afternoon or an early spring day.

What struck me most about these still life objects is the background, a subtle orange or yellow hue that makes the whole atmosphere seem anything but ordinary. I want the viewer to taste the sweetness of the blood orange or the bitter yellow in the lemon. These colors paint the scene in an intangible presence and I believe that is when the mundane and simple becomes extraordinary. This is my quest as an artist to find the intricacies in light and a moment of the ordinary and make it say something to the viewer.

I would appreciate any opinion on these images as they are adding to the prints being sold on Fineartamerica and I want to know what would constitute art for my viewer. Take  a moment to share your opinion, thanks as always for your time and interest.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dallas Zoo: Wildlife Portraits

I went to the Dallas zoo with the idea of getting close-up animal portraits. I spent 30 minutes watching the gorillas and talking to the zoo keeper. Each gorilla has their own personality and I enjoyed learning about the individuals.

When  you bring a child to the zoo you tend to be chasing them and trying to keep up. When you go with a specific intent, you can concentrate on the specific species you intend to photograph and are more able to just relax and enjoy them.

I watched a group of chimps in a very tender moment. It's amazing how much more you see when you stop and enjoy them instead of running to the next exhibit. The two chimps sat and groomed each other while a young baby hid behind the bushes and played, doing somersaults and enjoying the sunshine.

Next I was lucky to have a cheetah sitting right by the window of the enclosure. The pair of cheetahs were quite active as well and stepped into the light. I got to see more of their personalities than usual, the last time I remember seeing them resting in pasture too far for my telephoto to capture anything but a group of spots.

The giraffes were fun because they come up to get feed, you can pay to get some leaves to feed them. I was impressed by the textures in the face and the eyes and the intricacies of the spots.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Discipline is often the muse that makes us find our creativity

I am working hard to continue to find objects that can be used in abstract images for wall decor. Tonight I found the silhouettes of summers' garden made dramatic imagery.
To create when nothing inspires is where discipline comes in. You are forced to see beyond a gray winter day and seek light when there is none available and I believe that is the fuel that feeds creativity when the muse doesn't show.

I have also been in a situation where the scenery was so breathtaking you couldn't do it justice even if you tried. I was in Glacier National Park and between altitude sickness and a feeling of being overwhelmed, it was hard to shoot something that was truly remarkable.

There is a great space where you need to work a bit harder to see beyond what is obvious and yet the light is perfect, this is the sweet spot and what follows is a landscape where the creative thrives.