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.