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.