Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cartoons: The start of something new

I've always had ideas for satire that lends itself to cartoons but never really did many cartoons.
Just recently I have started diving into things that are not necessarily my forte and I believe the results have been not only fun but challenging.

All the sea creatures agreed to coexist....that is except the shrimp, for some reason he wasn't having it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Multiple Series Simultaneously

The Guardian

After the initial inspiration everything seemed to just go flat and I had nothing.Suddenly I have the resurgence of the ideas but this time I'm sure of what I need to do. I have been a whole lot more purposeful in my composition and more particular about shapes and details. I have a few animal portraits in the works and with the strengthening of my attention to details plan on trying several portraits of people as well. 

In the middle of the series, perspectives I have begun sketching in acrylic paint on paper. The first one was a horse, just a study that I did from a local horse stable. I won first place in 4x6 division of Paint Rowlett plain air competition 2015. I've started a lion portrait and have several more ideas on what portraits I want to try with acrylic.

I just took down the display from North Haven Gardens and hope to be showing again perhaps in 2016, I'll share details but the images will be quite different. I am also possibly going to be teaching classes on painting pottery there, no dates as of yet but making plans.

The window series is growing in scope and broadness of spectrum. This whole series has a mind of its own and I feel like I'm just hanging on for the ride.

Paddling Texoma
I have also gotten back to be more distinct with my water, back to the basics. I want the viewer to feel the wet, to be able to see the rocks on the bottom.

My pastels are getting a bit simpler and perhaps more atmospheric and yet I still have a need for strong perfection and clean definite lines, I want the architecture of the shapes to be true and bring the viewer into seeing reality with a twist, that atmosphere that attaches to a landscape that is a bit haunted. I hope you enjoy the series in the works, stay tuned for more.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Halloween Pastel

Halloween 2015

This was the pastel for Halloween 2015. I tried to keep it less detailed. I reminds me of when I was very  young creating paper cut out designs for Halloween.

It has always been one of my favorite holidays simply because of the atmosphere and if the day is especially gloomy or rainy that just added to the feeling.

This is actually from memory, a scene I saw that evening, I wasn't involved in the festivities but I got to watch the trick-or-treaters haunting the neighborhoods.

The orange is because of the way the sky looked that evening. One of those autumn evenings where the sky has that spooky orange glow and it reflects in the streets. I tried to keep it almost child-like.

Halloween 2008

Sunday, November 1, 2015

New Pastels

My pastels often form over time. I have been working on several that just never seemed to materialize until yesterday.

Sometimes I just stare at all the unfinished works and have a problem getting started. Having the time to create and a great inclination without any focus or direction is a very difficult situation for the creative to experience.

Yesterday I decided to play with some existing pastels, a term I have recently started using. There are two very different states in the creative process and I enjoy each for different reasons.

There is detail, trying to perfect what you see which is very disciplined but can get a bit overwhelming, I am working on a very detailed dog staring out a window, a large oil. The other state is play. The idea that you can just play with color, texture and shapes-there is something quite liberating about “play”.

Spending some time in Oakland California with many very talented artists has inspired me to be bold and more adventurous.  They live in an artist coop, they eat, breathe and live art.

One artist particular artist is Teresa Kalnoskas, her rich colors and bold expressive forms made me want to dive into painting and creating more aggressively. She hangs things in her studio that inspire her, has large and small canvases all about her neat and ordered studio and many of her techniques are brilliant.

With this renewed inspiration,I have added a new dimension to my pastels; acrylic paint and oil pastels. I get to dab bits of wet acrylic into pastel, I smear oil pastels, something I haven’t used in a while and quite miraculously I am free to explore more creatively.

I am excited about seeing new and bolder options as well as perfecting the quality of craftsmanship by doing portraits of animals and for the first time, people.

I am very excited about these new series that seem to be taking shape simultaneously. Stay tuned for more works.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Three Series Simultaneously

The Swells, Navarre Florida 2015- the swells were 4 and 5 foot tall and it felt a bit more like skiing than kayaking

This is a sneak peak at new paintings that are in the works. I am in the process of three simultaneous series and the ideas seem to be growing and expanding as quickly as I can write them down and sketch them out.

I am working on a kayak water series, I have several sketches and roughs and it seems my memory is serving me very well along with pictures and images for details. I am in awe of the power and majesty of water and these paintings need to capture that feeling of being out on the waves and on the crystal clear waters of Texoma and Lake Murray in Oklahoma.

The next series is the window series. This series, started out, stalled and seems to gathering more steam as I gather images to go by. I want to show the two very dimensions and allow the viewer to put themselves in a scene with perspective.

I am getting more interested in the shapes and how they affect depth and the viewers eye. I don't want anything in the painting that doesn't have an integral purpose for the viewer. Each tool adds to perspective and depth and allows the viewer to have more connection with each work.

The next series and it seems the most difficult is the new perspectives. The perspectives are a bit less easily described and there are fewer visual cues to capture the effects I am seeking. These paintings are from years of notes and some even go back thirty years or more. I am excited about introducing the series but it seems it is  a very slow go at the moment. Please stay tuned, would love the input.

Texoma kayaking-on a clear day you can see for miles

Seeing the Image Beneath Paint

An old photograph of my son and his first fish.

The Beginning of a new painting series is often a bit daunting. I have a list of old painting ideas, some as old as twelve years-the reason they haven't become finished paintings is probably the idea was good but the actual image just never made it through with any clarity.

I have several failed paintings from recent series that I will reignite in this series. One of those paintings is a painting of my good friend's daughter. First off, I don't do portraits normally but there is something I have always theorized-if you paint with an eye for detail and accuracy you can paint anything.

A portrait artist knows portraits, therefore certain things that they can do to cut corners or certain angles they are used to capturing accurately-being familiar with your subject gives you a bit of shorthand but if an artist sees with the eye and paints without the conscious brain filling in and assuming, often inaccurately, the artist is free to paint what they see.

I would welcome any agreement or disagreement as this is just a theory. I have worked hard on the specific painting I mentioned, I would get a bit closer, drift off completely and get back to the basic shape and form. Today I actually watched as the image developed quite mysteriously beneath the layers of thin paint.

I've learned with the portrait, to move small amounts of paint around that pick up shadow and light. The shapes and the lines are very subtle and the colors are even more subtle. I watched as this particular portrait came to light. Now the colors are still a bit cooler which gives her a bit morbid appearance but once it dries I will give it another coat of a warmer flesh tone.

Meanwhile as her portrait becomes what will be a finished product, I am in the middle of four others. I would say I got back to her not so much for a perfect painting but more to pay attention to small details. It becomes an exercise and observing and capturing an image accurately.

I am excited about a blackbird painting in an urban backdrop, several kayak paintings, a night fountain at the harbor and other various ideas in different degrees of being finished.
Would love your feedback on a painter painting anything, if not why?


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Coming Full Circle: Back to basics 1: Details and perspective

2013 Paint Rowlett, Plein Air Art Competition

My idea with painting has always been to perfect realism before interjecting my form of the surreal.
Instead I feel like the older waterfalls approached realism only to depart quite suddenly to softer, edges, more vibrant colors and a bit more feeling of expression versus realism.

I have recently come back full circle to the basics of perspective to achieve depth and perfecting not only the structure of composition but the values to achieve value and interest. This redefined priority of skill in detail versus overall feeling of light and place has brought my paintings to a new level.

I have recently entered a contest, paint Rowlett, Plein Air Art Competition, it is the second time I entered the contest. Last time I painted a Koi pond on a private property, a local cemetery and Paddle Point on Lake Ray Hubbard. It was kind of a marathon and I couldn't inject as much detail in the paintings due to time restraints.

2013 Paint Rowlett Plein Air Contest

This year I was determined to do more with less. I painted the horse stables on Miller Road and Dexham in Rowlett. It was one of the most tactical and intentional paintings I have done, I started with a fence that set up the light play and lead the eye back into the composition. The next process was a barrel which added a different color of blue not present anywhere else in the painting, this object brought the viewers eyes back to the fence and allowed the eye to follow back into the main subject which were a group of horses standing under the trees. Use of triangular patterns, changes in value and softening of light allowed great depth to take the viewers eye into the painting.

I was meticulous about the detail of the fence for f the fence failed the whole composition would not have worked. I used a very natural color pallet, not over indulging in color or richness to not distract the eye. In the end the final process was creating differences in the sizes and values of the leaves that allowed for shade and allowed a strengthened view of the perspective that takes the viewer into a time and place of late afternoon at the stables.

I worked up some sketches for the Mckenna Place on Main Street in Rowlett. I was so impressed, it's a magical place you might not even know exists, but I ran out of time, it is a very detailed image and  I felt I could not give it the time and attention it deserved, I will still paint the image, it just didn't make the contest deadline. The owners were very friendly and gave me a bit of the history of the place, I even got to meet Wizard Wayne, someone who has many different talents and an inspiring set of skills-check out his website magicfunhouseproductions.

So for this next series, I am working on allowing the viewer to see different perspectives but at the same time I want details to be able to drive the quality of the composition. I want everything I include to have a purpose and an intentional accuracy that will bring my paintings to the next level. I hope there is a noticeable change in the upcoming series.

Sketch of horse for this years Paint Rowlett Plein Air contest.

Paint Rowlett Plein Air contest 
Check out the reception and awards 
November, 7 at 2:00pm
Rowlett Annex Bldg, 3900 Main, Rowlett

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Window Series: Revisited

So why suddenly paint windows? It’s really not that much of a departure from my water and night images, it is seeing two places simultaneously although neither give up all their mystery. The viewer is forced to explore their own memories of different places without all the secrets being laid out by the artist. There is something that haunted me about the image I paint or soothed me and I leave it to the viewer to derive their own feeling from that space.

Viewing through windows is a separation of light and shadow. There are two, very different images that mesh, but never completely unite. I equate it with my water scenes, I want you to be on the surface but realize there is a whole other separate world that you can see but barely decipher. This is what haunts me perhaps that secondary intangible place just outside our reach.

I don’t want to get too philosophical but here it goes, it is my attempt to touch that peripheral feeling that haunts me. The feeling in a dark room where you can’t feel or decipher what is making you uncomfortable but its there. I believe that is what the dark depths of the water, the distance and silence of space, that absence outside the window.

I want to explain the absence and separation of the self, even when surrounded by nature and beauty, there is a lack of tangible feeling of being. It’s a frightening feeling of the self, drifting off into some weightless vague space that you can’t really touch anything or feel solid ground.

This is why I feel like windows seem to be the perfect next step in the explanation of that feeling of separateness and absence. The artist is often the viewer, who often exiles themselves from truly being any part of the scene. While being part of it is not necessary for the artist, there is loneliness and feeling of separation that can get unnerving at times. I paint both of these sides of the window, each derived from a feeling of a need for being one with nature.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Getting back to pastels

Water Lillies-work in progress,  pastel on paper

As you know this series has had strange twist and turns to it. I can paint for a moment, I can't paint for a week and than suddenly I started painting again last night. It's very interesting where this series is headed.

The problem I think with the initial feeling of success when a series starts is that you don't want to ruin what you started. Last night I broke through the fear that comes with this step in the process.

The first painting is a piece called child of ten-I mentioned it in a previous post. It is very biographical and I guess a bit of a self portrait. My dad dying when I was ten definitely has effected my painting and writing and this painting is a walk through the years of creating.

It is a child sitting by a willow tree-a tree that we had in our backyard in New Jersey. The roots travel deep into the ground where another landscape of sorts becomes underground, all of my fears and thoughts about life, death and loss mingle within the roots of this tree and in the oblong box that lies beneath is a symbol of the past. On the surface of the ground you follow the landscape back into the distance where blackbirds fly across the sky. blackbirds are a reoccurring theme in many of my poems and writing. Across the yard is a clothesline with towels blowing in the breeze a fond child hood memory of when things seemed so much simpler.

The next is an oil of Calvary complete with symbols of many of the images of the event. As I get overwhelmed with ideas I turn to another and last night it was a brand new pastel. It was an image of water lilies which I saw at the North Haven Gallery-the colors struck me so the pastel began.

The next pastel I picked up was a sunflower pastel that seemed to go nowhere. The exciting thing about this is I was able to just have fun. I worked less on perfecting the flowers and more on the feeling and atmosphere of chaos. When you look at a field of sunflowers back lit by the rising sun you don't usually focus on just one, it's more of a chaos of light and color and that is what this mixed media pastel turned into.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the images and look forward to sharing more as the series progresses.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Block, inspiration, passion and how they all collide

It has been a strange start of the new series. One day of amazing clarity and feverish painting, underpainting, touching up old paintings and sketching out new ideas. That feeling lasted for a day.

The next day is running around in circles wanting to paint but having not a clue of how to go about it. Not only is the painting blocked, the writing and photography-everything in suspended animation.

I know the process, I should be quite comfortable with it by now but sometimes I think I need to have that feeling and the lack of it is really uncomfortable. It's almost like being addicted to that rapturous moment of creativity and what makes it even more aggravating is the subtle glimpses that you might actually get back to being creative but your just not quite there.

My first thought was a bunch of small pastels to get me back on track but still nothing-what to do when there is no picture to go from-it's an intangible picture in the mind but still it's something.

I have had the idea to paint patterns in nature on gourds for many years but have never taken it seriously enough and suddenly my out. I started painting pots to go with paintings I have hanging at North Haven Gardens Gallery and I finally knew what to do.

The great thing about this is its technical-you are copying real patterns from nature-so far butterflies and fish. I don't have the problem  composition or depth-it's kind of like production. It's fast and furious and I can see the patterns that I have always seen almost like seeing them for the first time again.

Details and colors that I had never realized come out clear from the blue trim of a tiger swallowtails patterned wings to the delicate white and yellow dots on the monarchs body. Not only is it enjoyable as a diversion, it's quick satisfaction and a bit like exercise getting ready to paint again.

I was at the gallery last night and suddenly the ideas started getting clear again. I added two more painting ideas to my growing list. This should be a great series, it's just getting started-Strange Perspectives series 2015. Stay tuned and let me know if you have ever had this kind of block and how you got through it.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A thirty year old image finds a canvas.

Before I moved to Texas I used to scuba dive at Shark River Inlet in Belmar New Jersey. We would dive for lobster with the Incoming tides which would often be late at night.

One evening there was a particularly intense moon shining through the surface of the water. I looked up from thirty feet down and saw the most amazing ultramarine blue I have ever seen. There were fish silhouetted against the moonlight.

I never forgot the image but never tried to paint it either. I just had it sketched and tucked away, which is what happens to many of the images that have been sketched and seem to linger for years.

In this series the clarity of the image finally made itself known. I am using all of the things I have recently taught to a student about depth and visual cues to not only allow the viewer to look deep into the distance but also up and out of the water.

It is like a dual perspective only instead of lines and vanishing points you have color values, contrasts of light and dark and the changing sizes of images to create the view that you are on the bottom of the ocean.

This particular painting is not even close to being finished but I believe it’s on the right track. I am most unclear with how to capture the fish silhouettes. I will add bubbles rising to the surface with careful attention to allow the viewers eye to follow into two distinct distances.

Hopefully when I am finished the viewer will not only feel the silence and wonder of being deep beneath the ocean but also the feeling of being contained by nature. Hold your breath we’re going to the bottom of the sea.

Metamorphosis of a new series

I have experienced the most growth in the last few years, painting more, exploring more and just finally realizing where my interests lie. I have been painting for many years now and it’s amazing that I am only just beginning to clearly see the image that I have been perfecting for so many years.

My main focus is water and the night sky and the landscape has always been a filler mixed with wildlife or people at times depending on my skill level or attention span at the time. I remember I used to paint a landscape that was intended to have a person in it and in the end there was a good chance the person would be lost. Now I tend to forge forward and am less afraid of ruining what I think is a good painting at the time.

It is a liberating feeling to be unafraid of failure. It makes the artist push farther, move forward. I equate it with learning to drive a stick shift on a one ton truck, if you are timid about shifting it’s going to be a loud jerky experience.

So this is what I’ve been doing in the last few months; pushing stubbornly forward. The last series ended rather abruptly-all that excitement and ideas and than nothing. Paintings tend to sit there almost finished but just not quite.

One painting that was from the previous series is Moonflower. It was supposed to have detail and distance into the tree. I want the viewer to look up to the moon. The light and shadows just never seemed to gel. Suddenly I pick the painting up and I believe it has what it was previously missing.

Putting the finishing touches on paintings and getting to that sweet spot is a lot like photography-many times you see an image that looks acceptable but when the light is perfect an ordinary photograph becomes an extraordinary  photo.