Friday, December 27, 2013

Teresa Kalnoskas, An Amazing Artist that Captures the Energy of Things

Patience oil, alkyd, wax on linen, 40" x 76"

I have always questioned the process of abstract art and having even attempted to paint in a somewhat abstract manor I realize there is more to abstraction than simply shapes and patterns. An artist either sees in that realm or not and to simply try to paint abstract does not bring about art that touches the viewer. There is decorative art, that is beautiful in its own right and than there is art that truelly touches the viewers soul and evokes, flavor, emotion and conjures up memory. I have been inspired by one such artist that creates abstractions but in such an organic and animate way that the word abstract seems too ambiguous to describe her artwork.

I wouldn’t even call her work abstract or even expressionist as it is so fluid and dynamic it embodies different aspects and various schools of art. Teresa Kalnoskas captures perfectly, images of everyday life, natural objects, mechanical objects and she strips away their exoskeleton leaving the pure energy of the object. The viewer doesn’t waste a moment of just seeing an object, instead they see that same object and all of its energy the artist captures. When I see her paintings of fruit-I can taste the sweetness of the fruit, I think of a stone counter where fruit is rich and appetizing, I picture a place and time-it takes me further than the actual image of fruit to the very aspect of what makes us crave the taste and the sweet juices of the fruit.

Her colors are not pretty for the sake of pretty, they are beautifully violent and richly soothing- they bleed across the canvas and capture a place.The deliberate hues don’t seem intent on being artsy or graphically pleasing no more than autumn leaves try to be pretty-they are organic and natural and that untouched, untainted feeling is what makes them so intense and beautiful-she gives colors flavors and shapes sound-they act as if they have always been there but we as viewers weren’t open or insightful enough to see them that way. 
Mojo oil, alkyd, wax on linen, 54" x 54"

I’m haunted by the paintings of her parents, they speak, they are not portraits but an intimate moment where you can the see their energy and every beautiful feature that she celebrates allows you to know the person that is beneath the paint. Her images of leaves remind me of that dark cloudy day where you walk in puddles in the street and you don’t see leaves, you feel the day and the atmosphere. She captures images of red tractors in a field and I can imagine that day, the harvested field, the smell of oil and gas-it makes an object an emotional experience and the viewer can bring experience to her paintings and that is a supernatural process that describes the true essence of what art truelly is.

Lucidity (triptych) oil, alkyd, wax on panel, 10" x 30"

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This is an oil on canvas from 2012. The late afternoon was cold and right after we saw this we walked the Golden Gate Bridge. I wanted to show the cold atmosphere, notice everyone is bundled up but at the same time the colors are very rich and warm. The people were not very social with each other but instead kept among themselves in small groups of families.

I really appreciated the activity, as in the suburbs it seems to be a bit of a ghost town, I love tourist areas because locals and tourists tend to be all around even if no one actually socializes amongst themselves, I still enjoy the energy and activities of community and family.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

First of the New Series

The new series is well on its way, with manic excitement in the in initial sketches, great under paintings that really gave me a great overall idea of what the series would say and than the long and labored creative block and suddenly I can see the ideas clearly again.

So here is the first of the series, it is an image of a shrike, also called the butcher bird because their habits with their prey, they tend to hang grasshoppers and mice on thorns and barbed wire. I had originally planned on adding the prey but felt it might detract. The concept here is the beauty and warmth of an open field at the height of summer sunflowers and hidden along the hedgerow the shrike surveys its territory.

This image is the first time I had ever used oil sticks, as I wanted a rich somewhat abstract feeling of the weeds and sunflowers, the background was left open and barren. I hope there is a bit of strength in the power of a predatory bird and a bit of sadness in the distance with the impending storm. This scene is something I see pretty much every day-the shrike came to me as a harbinger of something perhaps violent, I aimed for simplicity and left only the detail for the birds and bit of the sunflowers.

My colors have changed in recent, especially in
some of the water scenes, more greens in the emerald hue inspired by a visit to the Florida coast.  This painting of the shrike quickly clarified my direction with the contrast, limited color palette and the somber grey bird with a violent reputation as a small but effective predator. I am eager to paint more birds, wildlife and probably people, I want the landscape to stand on its own to create the atmosphere but the wildlife and the people will bring a voice or personality to the empty landscape.

My first love is nature, something that has been a major influence as long as I can remember. I love the hedgerow, I love the silence of being in the middle of a field during the most dramatic seasons of fall, winter and spring, a time that I seem to paint the most, maybe because its cooler than but more importantly the atmosphere of the landscape is more distinct and says more in its reference to death in autumn, the deep thought of loss and redemption of winter and the chance for the renewal in spring. I want my colors to be true and my shapes to almost allow an abstract feel mingled with realism.

My next paintings is of a cat at the window with the moon and trumpet flowers on the fence outside-I concentrated on the blues and oranges of the night garden contrasting with the shadows of the cat as it stares out of the dark corner of a window scene. I am very excited to see this series progress and am also happy to include more pastels which were a bit absent in the last series. I hope you will enjoy the series.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Problem with Filters, Why and Why Not?

On the left is the original from a point and shoot camera, the middle is just filtering and adding a bit of saturation to colors and shadows and the final is just playing with colors and saturation.
I remember just starting to use Photoshop, every week I  would discover a new filter to use. One specific filter I remember and definitely have witnessed its overuse is the lens flare tool. So why not use the tools you have? Why not go crazy with colors and effects, throw in some multiple fonts and maybe some shapes and you have a work of art right? Here is my problem with filters, they can often make the simple pure act of capturing an inspiration contrived or overdone.

lens flare versus same filters with more subtle effects.
I have spoken recently about an image having just enough, nothing more or less, a complete and final inspiration stands on its own and the viewer enjoys the piece as a whole. A poorly or overused filter can cause more of a distraction than an improvement on a work. I am impressed when the viewer who knows how to use filters and is aware of their effects can not pinpoint what filter was used but the image is cohesive There is a beauty to purity and capturing something the way you actually envision it and even more amazing is subtlety especially when creativity tends to strive for all the bells and whistles.

A well used filter will allow just the right amount of highlight or low light to a scene or work and allow the over processing or under processing of an original, it gives the creative professional an opportunity to push an effect or allow more options to the original image. Of course this is all subjective and my idea of overuse or contrived is anothers' masterpiece so allow for opinion and personal style to dictate what is too much. I happen to love subtlety and I believe there is not much that we can improve on  images of nature which are to me, pretty amazing and perfect in their own way. For the abstracts and non-representational creatives, of course you decide what is perfect and what is too much but we have all seen the overuse and cheesy effects it is up to creatives and their own vision to decide what is over the top and where cheese becomes genius.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

True Inspiration: The photography of Christine Lebrasseur

This is my first review, it is of a photographer that really inspires me, she is what I would consider true inspiration. I would call her a portrait photographer but I have seen many different aspects of her work and would hesitate limiting her to that title. The photographer I am describing is Christine Lebrasseur, a very talented photographer who lives in France.

Christines'  photography is beautiful and skillfully executed. Her work allows light to truly be the medium, much like a painter would use a paintbrush. She welcomes the viewer in for a moment with her subject and allows her subjects a voice, they truly speak. You don't admire her subjects for their polished or beautiful appearances, in fact there is often a textured, high contrasting grit to her images that is a welcome break from the airbrushed subjects of todays' culture. She shows you who the people are, bumps and blemishes seem more beautiful than ugly because they are real.

One of the best descriptions I would give them is that they are intimate studies of real people that compel the viewer to know more. Her isolated aspects of her subjects give you hints to just what you need to know, nothing more or less and that's what allows your need for further study. The eyes of her subjects stare into you and don't let you turn away, they shout to be noticed and you are compelled to notice them. There is nothing contrived about the lighting or the composition, there is no second guessing from the viewer, each piece is a complete vignette that includes everything the viewer desires to see. She doesn't allow you that comfortable feeling of being a spectator instead you are involved in the image and both viewer and subject seem to invade each others' comfort zone.

Drama is created by contrast and juxtaposition and the tools she uses support the integrity of the characters she captures. The viewer is motivated to ask questions and the intimacy between her subjects and the viewer is complex like a good wine, something that keeps giving instead of just blurting out the prize, her images grow and change as the viewer rediscovers them with every viewing. Her work sheds the skin of the perfection we tend to deem beautiful and shows you that the dimples and imperfections are what builds character in the face of people. We are compelled to see people deeper than just the surface and that's a wonderful humanistic skill we can take away from her work.

Besides her black and white portraits and her studies of people, there are also colored images and abstract images and the amazing thing about them, they don't leave the viewer questioning why she captured them but instead compels the viewer to look at everyday things with more interest and discovery. Her work inspired my previous post and have actually reignited my passion and drive to capture what we see everyday as true inspiration and that's a gift to any artist or creative.

Being Artsy vs True Inspiration

I have had the chance to see much photography and art over the recent years and have come to the point where I don't necessarily see what I inspires me to create, instead I realize what I don't want to create. I have tried in the past, especially with black and white, to capture the artsy shapes and patterns that seem interesting to me but not necessarily to others and I would think on most times I have failed to capture the inspiration that begged to be photographed. I have just recently admitted to myself that the inspiration might never have been there and logically I was thinking that the shape or pattern would be seen as that iconic image-enter the realm of artsy.

Inspiration is very intangible, you don't create because you think it will be seen as deep or interesting, you create because the image practically jumps in your lap. The painting or photograph that is truly inspired becomes the image in its time, it naturally appears from out of chaos and is obvious to the artist eye, it does not attempt to be interesting or dramatic, it just is.

The creative process has stops and starts, the flow is not controlled by the artist although it can be easier digested if the creative has time and silence to be open and aware. Inspiration comes suddenly and dramatically but it is also somewhat like a puzzle that gives up its secrets with subtle cues. Being creative is a rapidly changing point of view that speaks of pictures in words and words in pictures. I believe the most amazing creative endeavors are those that speak from some supernatural place where the viewer or reader takes something from the piece that is not clearly written or executed. The feeling of sadness from a pastoral scene that invokes a feeling of ones' childhood, the realization of ones' own qualities or weakness only unlocked from a piece that speaks nothing specific or tangible; these are those supernatural moments where art speaks beyond its medium.

In the realm of photography I seek images that haunt me, if it is a portrait, I want the person to be saying something to me without a sound. I want to feel haunted by the subject and feel as if I have just interrupted an important moment in someones' life. I would rather the viewer hate my painting or photograph than leave it empty, it is all about feeling something, anything really.

Another difference between the artsy and the true inspiration is that the feeling of artsy fades very quickly, inspiration is not hampered by time or style and fashion of the day. You see that which is inspired and it grows and changes every time you see it or remember it. Inspiration has depth much like a complex wine that gives up its qualities and flavors only over time and nothing is constant, everything changes, grows and lasts the test of time. You remember and go back to an inspired piece and the artist or writer doesn't have to explain what they were thinking or feeling.

True inspiration becomes less of the artists' and more of the viewers', the creative gives up ownership of the piece as the viewer creates their own idea or feeling, an inspired work can be explained and dissected by many and the artist never has to say a word because there are no right or wrong answers. The viewer is left to discover the piece and it changes and grows depending on the viewers' point of view.

This is so subjective and would love to have others opinions, this is my opinion, how I see art and the creative process but just as I mentioned-it is the viewer who describes it for themselves and this writing only attempts to lead the reader to make their own decision on what is artsy and what is true inspiration.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The New Series: Nothing is Simple

Upcoming painting of Turner Falls Oklahoma

I have usually worked on paintings that have been on a list of paintings to do for often years before they actually see paint. I always think of this as the fermentation of an idea or inspiration, probably the reason why the edges are often soft and the thought is open for the viewers' interpretation instead of the realistic, straight forward landscape. Recently, I was able to finish many of the paintings that had been on the list for a long time and now the work that is being created are fresh and most of the inspiration is very recent and still very clear in memory.

So you would think this recent series would be so quick and easy but that is just not the case with creativity. One canvas that you see on Tuesday is often completely a different canvas when you look at it on the following Tuesday or even the next day for that matter. No, there is no magical change of the actual form and no, there is no magical metamorphosis of the image over time but the eye of the artist is always changing and can often be extremely critical. When you start a painting often the excitement of the direction you are going become almost intoxicating and after the initial rush you are left to a painting that it seems like some one else started and you like it enough not to want to damage the essence that make it attractive to you and yet as the artist, I feel incapable of moving forward.

View of the autumn foliage from Tucker Tower
This series started quickly and with great enthusiasm and yet it stopped just as suddenly. I have several large and small paintings in different stages of completion but they are all suddenly like a train wreck that I can't seem to find the path through the execution. Even the feeling of the entire piece is barely discernible and yet it started out so clearly. I believe you take the image out of memory when you start the work and than there is the insecurity and doubt that follow and often haunt the artist through the creative process.

My theory on this whole process is don't ever get attached to any single painting and realize that you can recreate the same painting over and over again and each time you will see it differently. Be bold with color and welcome failure, every process of painting is a learning process and only after getting past the original fear and insecurity does the true beauty of the piece become true to itself. The next two days I have off and plan on working somewhat furiously on the paintings and while I am in the process of painting the landscapes that are in process, another group of paintings have appeared on the list. One painting is of the waterfalls at Turner Falls and another looking down from the tower at Tucker Tower on Lake Murray, with this season comes the cold atmospheric breeze and the perfect atmosphere for the kind of landscapes that seem to haunt my imagination.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What's in an underpainting?

Under painting+ of A restaurant balcony- a work in progress-

It has, in the past, been difficult starting painting when your first process is just under painting. Especially when there is a strong urge to create, the underlying image had always seemed like a slow walk when the creativity was desperate to run. I often want the immediacy of a product that looks more like a ghost of a finished product rather than the scribbles of a mad abstract artist. In recent times the under painting has actually become the backbone of the finished product, it is the stage hand that sets the atmosphere for the play, it is the building block to colors that form only in combination with the colors that show through from beneath.

If I am left cold on the initial image, chances are the finished product will not have the atmosphere or depth that I need it to have. I don't paint pretty landscapes, not that there is anything wrong with that, I strive to paint moments in a place that happens to be a landscape. I hope that there are psychological undertones which I believe begin with the rough under layers. All objects, light and shadows form from the spine that is the under painting. All subtleties are created by how well the underlying scene appears and how the creative vision bends and twists the original rough image of that reality.

I almost think the psychology of the under painting is the sadness, the euphoria or the basic feeling of darkness and separation, these elements that perfect themselves in the original sketch and under painting. No one would have a clue of the finished product from the original sketch on canvas but the initial color and layout should explain, not necessarily in form but by atmosphere the painting and its undertones that will come together if everything works as it is supposed to. Another aspect that is often in the background is the music I am listening to which is directly related to my psychological state at the time. Much like my writing, there is usually a basic story that is happening and can be taken as lightly as a waterfall on a spring day but the feeling behind it is always there and that is the task I aim for the viewer, to feel something they may not know or recognize on first view.

If the under painting is the backbone, the details are the guts and the spirit is the feeling, the music that is captured without clarity. I hope to possibly haunt the viewer with whatever underlying feeling I have at the time the under painting is created. For other creatives, what does the under painting mean to you? Do you start with an under painting or go on directly to the finished work?

Beginning of the Terns-Florida coasal morning

Autumn brings the inspiration

Autumn begins, I mean really begins, in Texas of all  places. This weekend we had a cold front come in and suddenly I am in the creative mode somehow. In the far past, like twenty years ago, I used to write all year, photograph half the year and paint the rest of it, not specifically with intent, it just happened that way. I have not gotten back to photography in a while as my eye has somehow lost its purpose but I think it's coming back slowly although it has taken years to get back.

Christine Lebrasseur photography
Christine Lebrasseur photography

I love the immediacy of the art form, yes I said it as I've seen much debate lately on what is art and what's not. Recently, I have found a specific photographer that really embodies what I consider the art form  at its best-Christine Lebrasseur . I have often tried at points to capture something deep or interesting and often if the inspiration and eye is not on, you end up with something that is just cold but interesting but Christine captures portraits with that compelling and very interesting aspect of the face without trying to be deep or manufacture interest. I am actually planning on a separate review specific to her work so stay tuned. She captures a moment with her subject, an intimacy where the viewer is almost pulled out of their comfort zone. We can't look away and yet we feel we've interrupted their space and can only be enthralled for a moment by what we learn from them. She celebrates the beauty, the ugliness, the light and dark of her subjects and they stand out from so many other photographs. The quality of the process, the position and honesty of her subjects and the personal journey into them which the viewer just can't resist, that's my take on her work and she has inspired me to not only pick up my camera but to see things from a different perspective without trying to see things from  a different perspective. I hope you all will check her work out and let me know what you think.

I am in the process of getting back into the creative mode and recently have begun starting my next series of paintings, they are all large and seem to have a tighter feeling of space and light perfecting the end of the previous series. Maybe it is the feeling of Autumn coming, the change in temperature the closeness and availability of nature where previously in the Texas summer heat seemed distant and unapproachable. As only a fellow creative can appreciate, we go from dark to light, to feeling nothing to feeling everything and than there are those in between moments where the idea of creating something new becomes almost euphoric. I am excited about this series and the chance for seeing things differently both artistically and photographically.

For all other creatives-how do you describe that feeling of getting inspired to work. What season brings on the feeling and what is the process of turning it into finished work.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Plein Air Day 2

It's been a very busy week. Three paintings in four days, I did choose smaller sizes to make it a bit easier to manage. Again, all I can say is the spontaneity and immediacy of the images were amazing. I enjoyed the fact that the image was so close to the actual inspiration. This first image is of the Big A cemetery in Rowlett-it's behind a Target and all I can say is that the peaceful presence takes you out of the busy roads of Rowlett.

I wanted to capture two things, first of all, the age-I went back where the oldest stones were. I wanted the viewer to be able to see into the distance freely and yet still not be able to focus on any one place-the perspective is across the right side and again behind the initial stones, I want the viewer to stop for a moment and feel a bit of that chill of an unseen presence and yet also realize a divine light that glistens among the old stones.

The next sketch was of a Koi Pond in a nearby residence, we had permission to paint it but I must admit I still felt like I was trespassing. I actually plan on enlarging this image as the initial image was focusing on the bird of paradise plants in the foreground but concentrating on dragonflies that buzzed around the pool and landed on the plants in the foreground, the size of this painting is quite small and although intimate the dragonflies would have been distracting to the overall effect. I do plan on expanding on this image though and will post the image as I finish.

The final painting was of a landscape I am quite familiar with, Lake Ray Hubbard and more specifically Paddle Point-this is another painting that changed from its initial direction. Originally I wanted to focus on the ducks and egrets in the foreground. I created this image with lots of darks in the foreground and the sky and felt although it made the like shine it didn't accurately capture the feeling of water and the look of the sky. I overlayed lighter blues over the darks and made the water look more like water, in the end the ducks seemed to be more of a distraction. It's funny how you lose your point of interest sometimes, something is working and you just go with it, it is not until you fully study it again before you realize it was all wrong. I am now continually questioning my initial thought on a particular piece and reassessing during the process instead of afterward.

The show will be at the Rowlett Library on Main Street in Rowlett, Texas-an awards ceremony will be held on Thursday September 5th and the pieces will stay on display for a week I believe. I am excited about working more plein air in the near future and already planning my next images. I didn't realize these images were so close to my home.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plein Air Day One

I joined an art contest with the Artist Round of Rowlett-paint Rowlett. The contest has an element of painting on the scene and I don't think I have ever enjoyed the experience as much. I have made sketches, painted basic shapes and colors and with photography I will continue in the studio perfecting the images. The exciting thing about the process is how fast and immediate the image and expression is.

Continuing on the recent change in the way I work compositions- I have never been more clear and focused on the finished product. I have started three paintings and they are all so on the spot that I feel I have captured the initial feeling that attracted me to the scene. I also figured out very quickly what in each scene I was going to focus on in capturing or saying something specific in each scene.

The first image is of a cemetery, it's the first time I actually painted a cemetery which is odd because the peaceful and yet surreal feeling of being alone in a cemetery would lend itself to some of the images I paint. In this scene I concentrated on a shaft of light that back lit the stones and lit up the trees around the cemetery. I want the viewer to be able to look into infinity beyond the stones, almost a statement of the feeling of eternity. I want the viewer to get lost in the light and shadows of the trees allowing them to concentrate on the elements that surround the stones and perhaps get that peaceful yet haunted feeling I get when walking in a cemetery.

The next image I was very excited about because it is a Koi pond and I was hoping to capture the feeling of the cold depths of the pond but instead a certain bird of paradise plant and a gathering of dragonflies created the scene. The scene will actually be a portrait of the plant with the light and shadows of the Koi pond in the background-a bridge brings you into the distance but the image is becoming more intimate. I want the viewer to feel as if they are sitting by a pond in the late afternoon without the mosquitoes and high humidity.

The final image is more in line with my normal images with a twist. I captured an image of Paddle Point on Miller Road-Again my first instinct was just the water but after seeing how the light created the scene, i decided the water would be more of a backdrop to the intense light that was dancing on the water and made the surface look like diamonds. I intend on adding ducks and some egrets as they were all around but they will add to the feeling of depth and give the lake a bit of space and time.

I am excited about the under paintings and will show the finals as they get more progressed.
Have you ever painted outdoors and how did it change the way you painted? Were you overwhelmed by the details or inspired by the spontaneity?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Final pieces of the most recent series-Perspectives-an Intro:

This is the final of the previous series. These are the last odds and ends, from sketches to basic ideas. If I were to sum up the previous series I would probably say the water and night idea on steroids-I believe I have been developing a style or place that tends to be the landscape with a particular study of how darkness and light interplay on the landscape. I have gathered the last few images together to close the series once and for all, basically because the new series is creating itself quickly in my mind. I am in the process of buying large canvases as the most recent series is creating itself in large images instead of the smaller as previous-I am actually getting back to a way of painting from many years earlier when I tended to always envision paintings larger rather than small.

I don't think I have ever thought or planned more clearer since this series. I think it is probably after clearing older thoughts and paintings that had been on the to-do list for many years. Now it seems to be a great rush to accomplish the image almost as quickly as I see it, the great thing about this is it seems there is more clarity and the painting pretty much creates itself. I have gotten the act of painting down to where a painting can take as little as a week to complete instead of sitting on the canvas for months waiting for that final cue to finish. Although I have become a bit less critical of every painting, I have also become much more open and clear on what the final vision needs to be. I believe its a more rewarding experience when the piece becomes quickly before my eyes almost as if it were painted from life.

The first painting is from a trip to Rockport-it is one of the final remnants of the cleanup series as resurrecting old paintings that were started or attleast designed years previous. The second painting is called the bus stop-this image was centered around the tree which made itself clear and stayed untouched for several months before the final image solidified. I wanted the image to be more of a image of the moon and a tree in the light-the people are the secondary thought but they tell a story of strangers forced together out in the middle of nowhere-the city where they are all headed is hinted in the distance-you can decide who is going where and what each do-kind of a people watching piece.

Another aspect of my paintings is snapshots of places I've seen that are not necessarily important or even significant but they caught my attention for some reason, that is the image of a church in Rockwall-again the image created a story of who is in the city or who is walking the streets looking out across the water-I consider this more like a sketch than a finished piece.

These last few paintings tend to be a bit darker than previous which is why they are more like loose ends of the series-sometimes you have to exaggerate to completely iron out the style and image going forward. Included in this collection are images of my son fishing at the local park, again which became more like sketches than final pieces but hint to the images that are coming shortly. The image of the park with the water in reflection is a hint of the departure from realism and an attempt at a more expressive direction. The fishermen is almost an afterthought and the viewer is forced to see the reflections in the water in a way they might not have appeared previously.

The image of tenkiller in Oklahoma was a very quick sketch after coming home from my recent trip-it was quick and immediate and even still did not capture the clarity of the water that I was attempting. I continue to perfect the clarity and depth of water and in the next series there will be lots of images of the ocean from the most recent trip to Cape San Blas Florida.

The last few in this series are of a field after rain, an image I have studied for many years, again it is another way of looking at and capturing the feeling of the reflection of water. I am working between the three planes of water, the depth of water and the objects beneath water, the reflections of what is around water and finally the color and texture of the water itself which is often overlooked because it tends to be clear, usually there is a twinge of color of the water itself which I want to show.

The final of the series is a willow tree in a nearby park that was captured when my son was fishing, I would sit and sketch and that's the image that created itself. I am excited about the new series and unfortunately for my attention span there are so many images I'm not sure which to approach first but the images and overall effects are very strong and it will just be a matter of sitting in front of a canvas for a bit and the work will create itself. Thanks for looking at my series of paintings, any input would be greatly appreciated. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Upcoming Series of Paintings

I feel like I have had a block both with writing and painting the last few months, maybe I shouldn't complain because previously I had an amazing run of both paintings and writing so a block should probably have had been expected. Well a vacation can bring about the creative impetus an artist needs to rekindle that creative spark.

I will be painting a series of twelve paintings of the intercoastal sunsets and storms. I am excited because the images are all larger and a bit dramatic. I am experiencing a clarity and focus because the images that I am envisioning are very moody and include large skies and lots of light and shadow that have so recently been observed. I will be buying large canvases for the process and the images are so fresh in my mind, I don't believe I will have any problem just showing up and letting God have the brush.

I will want the viewer to have that moment of hushed silence, the feeling of watching terns hover in the sky and the silence of the wind blowing across crystal clear swells. Again the idea isn't to capture happy moments, but not sad or somber moments either-just the intensity and drama that brings beauty to darkness, mystery to the whisper of wind across the horizon and that haunted moment when we realize there is something larger than us moving the waves and controlling the magic behind a sun descending in a late afternoon sky.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Approaching Surreal

The Terns

In the most recent series, the paintings have varied from realism/impressionism to the edge of surrealism. Maybe not surreal in the traditional sense but maybe a precursor to images to come where realism takes less importance than the atmosphere or the texture. I have started images dealing with perspectives-the viewer is forced to see a moon scene looking up a tree instead of a realistic night sky. I want the viewer to feel a bit on the edge of reality and the thought of place and circumstance. 

In the terns, I wanted the viewer to get the idea of place by the terns and see the ocean breakers in a different way. Another image that is included in this grouping is a pastel which I haven't recently included in the recent series-an evening in a park with the hyper lighting of lamp posts. Again the idea is more the feeling and texture of the scene, I want the viewer to find themselves in a place they have seen before but to see it in a different way.
Back to the idea of surreal, I have always wanted to paint what was somewhat haunted, a pastoral scene that didn't seem all that comfortable but the viewer has a problem putting their finger on why.
I see figures in the future images that might not have their place or perhaps give the viewer pause to explain why the figure exists in the scene whether it be a ghost or just an image that doesn't fit in the scene. 
The Lamp Posts
I am excited about new paintings because I have never felt so clear on the final mechanics than I have in recent paintings. The painting called Moon flower shows the moon from the bottom of a tree looking up-the detail in the flowers were very clear, what was left with less detail made itself clear immediately. Another good aspect of the final product being so clear is the fact that the recent paintings have taken a month as opposed to years as previously.
My question to artists, photographers and just creatives in general-when did you finally feel like you had discovered your style, where mechanics of your images become clear and concise?

Moon flower

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Art of the Night Sky

The art of the night sky

For years I’ve been painting subject matter that inspire me, most often glorifying the natural world. In the last four or five years I have come to specialize in two particular subject matters, water as a regular staple-its’ clarity and reflective quality and more recently the silence and mystery of the night sky.

I think both venues are mysterious in their own way and I think that is the aspect of nature that inspires me. I aim to capture the quiet, peaceful moments that are haunted by some intangible presence, those less than comfortable shadows where we are intrigued as much as we are unnerved. I aim at capturing the silence that speaks louder than words and the awe of a sunset where we watch in a silent pause.

The night sky is both complex as it is deep and mysterious. There is a temptation to go too dark or too bright-I have strayed between the two junctions in painting this subject matter. The night sky has just as much, if not more than the landscape in daylight. I started with exaggerating the light and darkness and have recently found my happy medium.

I’ve noticed from a recent camping trip that the depth of the sky is  composed of barely discernable blue stars, a mid range of mildly bright stars and then the foreground stars that set off the entire sky with light. I have noticed how the eye moves through the scene and the stars twinkle as stars become visible and other stars fade into the darkness. The next step is how the light reflects on the landscape and the water. I want the viewer to watch the sky and get lost in the silence of stars-the title of my latest painting.

I intend of mixing the two venues in the near future by adding water to the darkness-some new paintings on the sketch pad is the ocean peir at night, the ocean surf at night and a fountain that is lit up by the light of natural and manmade processes. I will continue to bend the movement of water and the light and dark, creating a statement about nature, it's mystery and the secrets of the evening sky.

To artists and collectors-how have you found your subject matter and how did it develop over the years? For the collector-what paintings or pictures capture your interest and why do you think it captures you interest?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Art by Gordon: This is one of those images that got lost for a ...

Art by Gordon:

This is one of those images that got lost for a ...
: This is one of those images that got lost for a long time, kind of faded and darkened and than was given new life. I realize now what mo...

This is one of those images that got lost for a long time, kind of faded and darkened and than was given new life. I realize now what most effects me about the night sky, it is the silence of stars, the indifference of the universe to our tiny insignificant figures. On a camping trip with my son I recently captured the night sky just before we turned into to our tents and the silence and the majesty of light in the pitch blackness capture both of our attention. We both ended up laying down in a river bed and watching the stars, I think I will never look at the stars the same again.

After that experience of listening to the intense silence of the sky and the realization of both our place in the universe and the fact that the sky at night is a multi-dimensional landscape I have not only wanted to learn more about the stars, I've also improved the insight I have on painting them. I start with the background the stars, the stars you barely see and move from those to the more obvious stars in the foreground-this gives the sky a depth just like a landscape. I intend on getting the stars to twinkle off of themselves-as the eyes goes through the image, stars appear and others disappear as the eye focuses on the dimensions of the stars.

The second image is a study of the lights on the water-it is more of the reflections rather than the stars. I got this idea years ago and it has only now come to completion. The inspiration usually takes longer than the actual painting it seems.

I intend on doing a very large scene of the night sky-one that maybe covers a wall-nothing like painting on a great wall-it's very empowering and not at all intimidating-okay depends on my mood in any given day.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I have sketched this image out so many times and have added and subtracted from the original idea. My main focus for this image is the depth, the road takes you back into the sunrise. Its a scene I see all the time as I drive around the country in north Texas.

It was a hard transition from New Jersey to Texas, the landscape is totally different, I have had to find beauty in things that are different from where I grew up. As you can see no water and no night sky which have both become my specialties over the years. I wanted to concentrate on the details in the foreground and let the viewer be able to get lost in the sky and the field in the background.

Even the colors are a bit of a departure from my standard work, this series is kind of a jumping off point as I am trying to enlarge the scope of what I paint and not be bogged down by not being as familiar with the image or techniques but the payoff has been a fresh spontaneous approach to my painting, the closest I have ever painted to en plein air. I have really enjoyed this new series and feel like it is a stepping stone to what I am really interested in painting and perfecting. Stay tuned, many new and different images are already finished and about to be revealed. Thanks for reading.

Detail of Sunflowers

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Turner Falls, Oklahoma,

This is the beginning of the new series, it was started immediately after the first waterfall from the previous series, or really at the same time. It has taken several changes of form, I really wanted it to be more clear water but it turned more into reflections and darker areas of water. I tried to allow the viewer the feeling of the different colors and textures of the water finally ending in the waterfall in the distance.

I think this was a bit more impressionistic than some of the previous waterfalls and unfortunately the image and viewing of the original was a bit more distant than the previous moon scene which was painted immediately after seeing the scene. This is the second in the new series of paintings-there are actually about twenty new images on their way to being published. 

This scene was envisioned while fishing for trout with my son at Turner Falls Oklahoma, it was originally sketched and sat in the studio unfinished for quite a while. It was finished at the same time or a little after the image of Petit Jean in Arkansas.

I am in the process of creating an interactive gallery-I will send out invitations to followers and friends with images of the paintings  and  an invitation to check out the gallery. The gallery will start out with previous paintings that will be available on the website-you will walk along a gallery of paintings and be able to move along the gallery and if you want to see more detail of any of the paintings you will be able to click on the image to get to a closer view. This gallery will eventually turn into a gallery where I can get photographs of sculptures from other artists and paintings from other artists and the gallery will have all kinds of techniques and information on the artist and the work-the only thing that will be missing is having a person coming by and telling you not to touch the paintings. It's a multi-purpose idea-other artists can gather to check out each others framed paintings, there will be input available for change of scenery or style of gallery-just a fun interactive artist project-we'll see how many people will get involved.
Previous Painting of Petit Jean artbygordon,com 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This is from my recent trip to Lake Murray Oklahoma. Late in the evening my son and I watched the stars looking for shooting stars. What amazed me the most is the silence that was so distinct that evening as if the earth had taken a deep breath. You have not other option but to be amazed at how small and insignificant you really are in the universe. The experience made me want to learn about all the stars so just as I did with botany I could not only see stars but really observe them because with knowledge forms interest and with even a limited interest of a subject we look deeper and notice more than the casual observer.

The main idea of this painting for me was to keep it quite simple. If you look at the stars there are several different layers of stars from the tiniest hints of blue and greenish stars to the larger stars that blink in and out of the image. I slowly worked up the glow of each set of stars, some I would blend back into the sky and others I would define-the final result was the fact that the stars twinkle in the viewers eye as some stars appear and the focus goes to other stars, I think it is the first time I intentionally did each star and attempted to create depth in the blackness-the thing about the scene that struck me was the immenseness of space and how the stars had so much space around so I started with them as a focus for the image. The water was left simple although there is more detail than can show on the image I included, I'm still working on perfecting shooting such a dark image.

I want the viewer to feel the silence I felt and the mysterious quiet that was overwhelming to me that evening. I hope this might inspire others to learn about the stars, go camping with your kids or simply look up at the sky at night for just a moment and be still.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Draw what you see, not what you think you see

I was talking to another artist today and we talked about illustration and drawing. We talked about how to draw or illustrate well and I tried to put the process to the simplest form. I remember when I was in drawing class they would have us either draw blind contours or draw the image upside down to fool the brain into drawing what it sees and not try conscious or subconscious to fill in the gaps with logic.

The conscious deciphers the images it sees. It will fill in much of the blanks and make assumptions of temperature, texture and distance, a conscious image of what it sees with cues of what it remembers. The problem with drawing an image is that most of the time the conscious naturally takes over the process and draws what it thinks or assumes it sees and not what it actually there. Some aspects of depth and texture might need to be exaggerated by the artist to convey the distance or texture since we transfer a three dimensional image that is real to a flat image that is obvious to the brain that it has no depth and no actual temperature. These visual cues are how the artist or the photographer captures the illusion of the image and explain to the viewer what they should expect of the image, these cues will hopefully be subtle but that is up to the artists style and intention.

An aspect of photography is directly related to this process of explaining to the viewer what they should feel or see when they see a flat image. On one of our trips I explained to my son that the reason his photograph seems flat and bland compared to what he saw is the fact that he left out the visual cue that would explain what he saw. The camera automatically is trying to create an even grey value of the image, mix this with the fact that there are no cues to explain distance and most point and shoot cameras shoot with a wide vantage point-the image is destined to be flat and bland unless the photographer adjusts and creates the cues needed to convey the space-the palette of the artist is not much different than the artists'; proportion, value and change in texture all explain to the viewer what they are seeing ad how it should be interpreted by the eye and the brain-the illusion of a sweeping canyon or the endless ocean scenery, even though the image is a flat, non-dimensional image. Once he used images for proportion and adjusted how the camera saw the value of gray-suddenly he had a photograph he was proud of.

Beside the basic loss  of depth and dimension the artist has to work with, the fact that the conscious is trying to fill in what it thinks it sees which means the actual image is not capture correctly but is almost like the very abridged version of  a novel where all the main ideas are left out. My best example of this is the rendering of droplets of water-on first notice you would over complicate the process and yet the image is very simple- a block of dark color that the droplet is on and a transparent area that is lighter than the object, add a highlight of light and the droplet is complete. As artists we must capture what we actually see instead of allowing our brains to ignore the actual the eye sees and fill in the blanks with a conscious attempt at seeing.

A challenge- go and look at a field that is on a hill and try to explain why the hill looks like it descends-how would you capture the image and explain that the field dips down when all you have is a square flat image to work with. Another great example would be to look at a road and capture it in a view finder-realize that  miles are capture within a square that is very small-what makes the road appear to be long and expanse when it fits within a small area when view through a viewfinder. Looking at a landscape this way will help in drawing and photography. I hope this was helpful.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Prophetic Dream

The last post about dreams really resonated with people and this is in response to one of the comments I received. The idea of dreams being prophetic is something we can all debate. The feeling after the dream and the feeling you have when the dream memory is processed is what I focus on. If you describe the feeling of a ghostly presence anyone can explain the coincidence about the feeling but it's the feeling we get in our gut, the chill you get is what separates just coincidence from feeling. It is hard to explain to someone unless they experienced it.

I had a dream that was very dramatic at the time but didn't effect me with a strong feeling until years afterwards. I had a dream I was in a hotel with my spouse, the rooms were all white and the hallways were long and polished. I went outside by myself for an unknown reason but when I walked outside a great wave came and consumed me, I woke as the water dragged me out of the entrance of the hotel.

Again- nothing dramatic although it did have a feeling as that we feel when you fall in a dream. Many years later, my son was in the hospital and my spouse and I were in the white room and the long polished hallway was outside-the memory of the dream did not clarify itself until I walked outside, beneath a drainage area there was a torrent of water- a rushing sound of water and a flood plain that had been inundated with the recent rain. This is when the memory was accessed and the insignificant dream made itself known-the hospital was the hotel with the white rooms and the polished hallways. The rushing water was the waves that took me and the being lost and consumed by the wave was the feeling of having a son in the hospital very sick.

So here is todays' challenge- Have you ever experienced a prophetic dream? Did the dream come true and how was the feeling of the prophecy? We should all have fun with this one. Thanks again for reading. Again feel free to follow the blog and post pix and words on my facebook page-

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Next Best Thing to En Plein Air

En plein air (French pronunciation: ​[ɑ̃ plɛn‿ɛʁ]) is a French expression which means "in the open air," and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called peinture sur le motif("painting on the ground") in French.

I have recently started painting soon after initial inspirations, the spontaneousness of my work is actually almost like painting from life. Today I saw a tree in a field that was surrounded by puddles reflecting the rain, I started a painting this evening and the movement of the paint and the clear intention was as if I was painting from a photograph or on site.

I realize that I have gotten into a habit of sketching out an image and than putting it aside for what turns into years. The images from the previous series have a soft edge to them and a lack of details where the series I am working on now is more detailed and the idea is more on point. In this particular process I have been able to start a painting and finish it within a short matter of weeks instead of years as the ideas are so close to me that the painting pretty much paints itself.

I have felt a great immediacy of the image, it literally barely waits for the underpainting- and I am less likely to stall lost in details. I am more in control of the places I need detail and more methodical in the place that need less detail-creating work so quickly after the inspiration is something that is leaning me toward actually trying En Plein Air-something I have only done a few times-one time on the Appalachian trail, I painted the view of the Delaware River, I definitely intend on doing more on site painting but for now-the immediacy of painting from recent memory is the next best thing to En Plein Air.

More info on En Plein Air painting.

Artist Known for their Plein Air painting:

John Constable,
Gustave Courbet,
Edouard Manet,
Claude Monet,
Edouard Degas,
Auguste Renoir, 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

This is probably the strangest painting I have done, let's call it a momentary departure. This is the first of a series of dreams, I had this dream when I was like seven or eight and the willow tree that was in the back yard in my childhood house in New Jersey was struck by lightning in a storm. I ran to the tree to see that my Grandfather was freed as the tree shattered, i remember the powder of the pulp streaming all around and my grandfathers' face was unmoved. It is amazing the dreams we remember so vividly.

This is my first attempt to actually capture the image after so many years in my subconscious, I'm not sure what the dream meant but the tree did get struck by lightning in the years to come and this tree was struck and my grandfather-no that's just the beginning of a great tale, but the tree did really get struck by lightning.

The blackbirds were kind of an afterthought but they are symbolic of the not so comfortable aspects or atmosphere of some of my paintings. I write about them as well and they represent the impending doom or feeling comfortable with the presence of darker scarier things. I hope this painting brings about images or ideas from the viewer, maybe the viewer could create a story in their mind or perhaps inspire the idea of writing or paintings. So my challenge would be to write a short poem, essay, what ever you would enjoy adding to the picture and included it in the blog or on words and pix. What I would love to see from this post are others with dreams, their oldest or most vivid dream, include a picture on words and pix or writing or even Google plus or even simply comment-what is your most vivid dream you can remember and how long back did it occur?
Thanks for taking the time to read.

Friday, March 29, 2013

This post will end with a challenge, a challenge to capture something you see merit in and share it as one artist to another. Here is the idea-finding interest in the normal everyday things we see. Another aspect of this post is opinion-some of you may see nothing in this image, others will see the idea of something either haunting or of whatever interest or memory it sparks. The reason I photographed and retouched a bit-I will admit as not to mislead, I liked the texture and I liked the fact that you were looking outside into the country, it is an inspiration for a new series that is on my list-beautiful windows, this series will include a self portrait, an image of views through windows into ourselves, our families and life in general, not to be too artsy but the idea is a continuation of another new series I am finishing which is new perspectives capturing different vantage points in nature for the viewer to explore. For the first time in the last forty six years I am certain of what I need to paint and the information I need to decipher and share with the viewer. 

This image was a revolt against logic, I saw it in a hotel room on a recent trip and usually I would just look at it and think it was interesting but not take the time to photograph or sketch it. I have explained that in the past I photographed things for the sake of interest and the minute I started thinking about why I photograph or paint or how would it sell or be received, my vision and uniqueness of seeing dissolved. This is a point and shoot photograph but I loved the texture of the sheets, it reminds me of the late evening on waves at the ocean. The curtains seemed haunting and the view outside was rough and rugged-I found interest in the light and texture and instead of letting it pass I captured it for the viewer to maybe stop and see something they see everyday and perhaps see something different.

At the end I have included images that were unretouched just to show the basic inspiration.
So here is the challenge-share your images on this blog or at
it is a facebook fan page-introduce yourself and show a picture or painting or really anything creative and explain why you captured it-the idea of this is the celebration or beauty of the mundane. I would love to see what others can find from the most simple everyday objects or places-so there's your challenge, lets the words and pix begin.