Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Painting a commission and finishing a painting blind....a break was all I needed

I've been working on this painting for several months now, after I saw it in a vague image at church. The idea has grown but all the pieces never seemed to gel.

This is one of those paintings that took all the patience I had to continue. It's probably the most abstract I've ever attempted but the abstract parts do have a reason.

The background flecks of color are a stained glass window. What was difficult was trying to convey a glow of light. The bright light came as a final note and it seemed to go so quickly. It's amazing how you suddenly understand the purpose of a painting and it finishes itself.

I also attacked a very large commission today. It's a large ocean and it was a liberating feeling to be able to move paint across the canvas with a clear idea of where I was going.

Painting from a photograph sometimes has its benefit. It's an enjoyable feeling to just paint without that much fear or question of the final image. I have a great idea of how it is progressing and how I need to approach it. So far I am slowly overlaying colors to make the colors from the underpainting vibrate.

I think getting a week break has refreshed me and filled me with inspiration. I plan on finishing many of these paintings that have been hanging on for too long.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Photography: Coming Full-Circle

I have been photographing for many years. From the first 110 camera I got as a Christmas present to the medium format camera I shot in-house portraits for a local business after college. Photography has always been a quick vehicle for capturing what inspires me.

The first 35mm SLR I worked with was a Pentax K1000, completely manual, I even had two bodies to facilitate multiple lenses. I would disappear for hours in the country to capture anything from snakes, nature scenes to sunsets.

I learned on Kodachrome 64 and 25 speed film. There was not a lot of room for error with slide film so I learned quickly how to expose sunsets to use the full saturation of the red leaning Kodachrome before it was replaced by C6, a more blue balanced film.

Nature is usually the subject but I'm completely open and recently that scope has grown. My first big project was a set of sunrises for an Electronics company. I had found success. Unfortunately I also lost my eye and for the next few years I thought of how to sell the photo instead of shooting instinctively.

I learned how you can overwhelm yourself in a place like Glacier National park, how altitude sickness can be dangerous to your equipment and how trying to mix a photo trip with a family trip can often end with negative results.

In recent years I have found the ease and immediate rewards of going digital. Suddenly instead of selling photography, I started using photos as a way to tell stories. To describe things in nature, still life and people that can be expanded upon in my writing. I found my niche.

The only problem with working with automatic cameras is too often you start relying on the camera. I feel I've become more interested in composition and color, losing some of the photographic principles that turn a snapshot into a work of art.

I have a photographer friend who has made me start questioning f-stop, shutter speed and ISO-it's like coming full circle, truly taking back control of the camera. Using all pieces of the camera and exploring techniques I hadn't previously thought of.

Another aspect of my recent photography is night scenes which I have always painted but now with my new found inspiration and direction, I am enjoying long exposure night scenes and the use of layering. I am excited to see where this new inspiration will take me and excited to see the new work
that is on the horizon.

Monday, September 5, 2016

What's so great about classic films?

I watched a movie on TMC Saturday night, the name of the movie is the Gypsy Moths. It’s a story about a group of barnstorming skydivers that visit a small Mid-western town to hold a show.

It features Burt Lancaster and Gene Hackman along with a star studded cast of actors before they were famous.

What really impressed me was how silence is used almost like a color in the directors palette. You listen to the sound of the air as they fall from the sky, there is silence between characters.

Another tool the director uses flawlessly is human interaction. Not with words or long oratory, instead the silence, the look at each other. The director shows you the characters by what they do, not by what they say.

Another wonderful aspect is the camera angles, the tension between characters, the amazing use of light that creates a landscape where the viewer is able to pick up all the emotions without knowing everything.

There are layers that slowly unravel for the viewer to explore. There are textures that aren’t immediately evident. You have to watch, it keeps your attention because you don’t want to miss the interaction.

These days, everything needs to be spelled out to the viewer, explained, spoken and you are lead through the plot with twists that jar you instead of actually knowing the characters.

The old movies insist that you invest in the characters, you get to know where they are, how they react and what they don’t say is more important than the obvious dialog.

My favorite directors, the Coen brothers, bring back that same use of silence, the investment in the characters and the fact that often you learn more from what isn’t said.

I would suggest we go back to the old days, when the director had less effects to work with and used every tool they had with the drama and skill of an artist.

The Director explains to us a story, even takes us to a place to meet specific characters, they then allow the viewer to fill in the blanks with their own experience and imagination. What happens is you are engaged, you’re not just a spectator, you are involved in the scene.