Monthly Archives: May 2010

#10 è finito

I finally finished “Reading Time”.  It was challenging in many ways and I learned a great deal.  I estimate about 50 hours of time was spent on this painting.  That makes for a long week of work given I could do this full time; however, I paint around my day job and family so getting this done over a month is a bit longer than I wanted to take.

One thing I have noticed is that I am no longer intimidated by complex imagery or subjects, it’s only the mechanics of laying the paint down with absolute precision that continues to challenge me.  The unique artistry that often eludes me is still present and this I think will be the most difficult obstacle to clear.   Regardless I continue to press on with more work.

Reading Time” posed some difficulties that I want to illustrate.  First and foremost was the lettering.  There was a lot of it in this painting and I was very concerned about the bookbinding and the letters at the top of the book.  These required absolute control of the pigment throughout every layer.  I did not achieve this to the level I wanted, and the letters suffer in part because masking fluid is almost impossible to lay down straight.  Painting around the letters isn’t an option either because you lose uniformity of color with the rest of the book.  I worked to isolate the book from the rest of the painting by masking and taping everything off.  This allowed me to make sweeping wet in wet green washes, mixing massive amounts of greens and blues together.  What this does is provide a brush-less smooth color distribution and blending.  The caveat to this is the masking fluid itself.  Sometimes minute spots are missed and the sweeping washes leak into parts of the paper I never wanted it to go.  Masking created very hard edges that had to be softened and as I stated before it does not go on smoothly.  Imagine painting rubber cement with a detail brush, while it’s drying in mid stroke.  >:- [

On to the positives, which for me was the watch and its reflection.  I love the color, and the radiance it seems to command over rest of the image.  I find that it keeps the viewer looking deeper and deeper into the brass & gold.  The metal of the pocket watch was deeply influenced by the late evening sunset.  I setup this still life out back on our deck when the sun was burning like an orange flamed copper disk, about a ¼ up from the western horizon.  Too bad I had a cheap camera, my reference photo pixelated out above 800 x 600 pixels.  I need to get one of those lenses that allow you to take tight in shots that are super detailed.

I expect the next foray into metal reflections will only get better.  I’d like to explore how much I can get into a distorted reflection in future paintings.  Perhaps I can toy around with some surrealism using reflections.

Tonight I’m cleaning off the painting desks and re-organizing everything again for the next painting.  This one is larger and has more J.R.R. Tolkien’s books in it from my collection.  Perhaps it will garner some interest from the science fiction readers and Tolkien fan base out there.   This will be #11 and I have high expectations.  Painting #12 will be small, a change up from the size I’m used to working with.  This too will be pose more difficulty in getting the details of whatever I end up painting on a piece of paper so small.

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Five Questions

Another artist I have been following since finding her online is Crystal Cook.  She does a wonderful job blogging about her work and has some great talent in watercolors.  Her Five Questions seem fun, and after that long ‘Uncreative’ in the watercolor category,  I thought it would be good to answer these.  I’ve tagged her in this link at the bottom so that you read her answers as well as mine, and if you care, post up the same five questions on your blog and link my blog and Crystals, you can proliferate the fun. 🙂
Where were you five years ago?

I was busy working on projects inside our new home that we purchased.  We were several months settled in and had lots to do.  I wasn’t doing any artwork and had not even thought about going back to the university to take some art classes.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

I would like to see my son off to a good college , and my daughter and youngest son enjoying their high school years very much.  I’d hope to be established with my art to the point it can pay for itself.  It would be nice to have made signature status with the MoWs, TWSA and have a well rounded festival circuit to attend yearly.

What is/was on your to do list today?

Finish this painting, take some new photos of some still life ideas I have and get to work on the next painting after I go see Robin Hood with my boys.

What five snacks do you enjoy?

1. Kettle Krinkle cut sea salt & pepper chips

2. Mandarin Oranges & Pineapple over Cottage Cheese

3. Dark Chocolate

4. Oranges

5. A good apple with some peanut butter

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. I would quit my job tomorrow and paint full time.

2. Pay off all my/wifes debts: student loans, house, college funds, retirements etc..

3. Travel the world for a year with my family.

4. Find a nice home in some scenic mountainside away from the grind of city life

5. I would give money to select friends, family, in particular my sister her children and my parents.  In that I would build a 50M Aquatic center for swimming, a new Gymnasium for St. Mary’s school, and setup some scholarships for Fine Arts and studio programs to help younger artists realize their dreams.

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Being Uncreative

I believe many things in our existence happen in cycles.  We see it every day: when the sun rises, the seasons, time measured in increments of minutes hours and days, and yes the near daily trip down to my studio.  It is supposed to be a haven; my artistic fortress of solitude where I can turn the art muse on like a light switch and produce what it is I am striving for… art.

Some days I feel my uncreative mind manifests itself like a ball of lead chained to me.  Often I drag it, willingly, trying to parse the hundreds of mundane thoughts about art that run across my mind on any given day and channel them into productive action.  Sometimes I feel neither desire nor energy to cope with it, I find myself looking down trying to muster the strength to even drag the lead ball again.  There are more times than I’d like to admit that the old ball and chain wins, and I give up.  It is in those windows of time at the studio that I produce nothing, think of nothing good to paint, fail to draw, or plan anything that would benefit my rocketing art career.  Every so often I will look down with a bit of resentfulness, as the ball laughs at me in victory.   I often see its weight stifling my creativity, but also choking my pocketbook.

“Yes John, that is a great idea for a painting, but you know you’re going to have to frame it and get some prints, and that means you’re going to be broke until payday again if you do that.”

This mindset easily transforms from a short cloudburst into a hurricane of negativity, and I honestly don’t know why.  It becomes too easy for my mind to wander from art to expense, and the lists of things I need to do.  There seems to be an unlimited amount of expenses I need to pay for and deadlines I need to meet.  Often they rise up from the depths like air bubbles from the ocean floor.  Things like my tent, jury fees, booth fees, framing materials, matt boards, a camera lens, studio rent and so on.  I often ask whether all of this self-imposed struggle will be worth it?  All the resources going to a hobby that has yet to be even close to self-sustaining.  Before it was art, it was a hobby shop that sucked nine years of my life away, and gave me nothing of value in return but headache worry and financial stress.  I’ve replaced that with a burden as an ‘artist’.  Perhaps I don’t learn lessons very well.

I’m not blind to the facts however.  Being an artist means you need to arm yourself with knowledge, and most of all the willingness to drive forward alone, regardless of the obstacles.  I feel I’ve learned a great deal about the craft, both its technical aspects as a painter, and the business aspects that must go along with the brushes and pigments sitting up in my studio.  As far as the business of art goes I understand or think I do, the way to make money, how to market myself better and move forward as an artist in a economy that frankly has little room for art.  For most of us success doesn’t come overnight, which itself can be very precarious, even to artists who are financially making it.

I’m sure the few subscribers I have to this brain dump I call my blog don’t really care to read about anything other than progress updates to what I’m painting now.  Yet I feel that only showing such things is putting up a façade of smoke and mirrors to what is going on behind every painting I’ve done.  There is a silver lining to all this, in that I’ve painted some decent watercolor paintings since the fall of 2006 when I decided not to waste the one good talent I’ve been honored to have in life.  I believe I have improved with each piece, and know that when I look back ten years from now on the painting I’m just about ready to finish, that I will see it as a stepping stone of progress and recognize its place amongst the other works I hope to do in the future.

So the cycles continue, the uncreative side is winning, but I have taken some time to find inspiration.  Often I look to other artists’ work.  I rather enjoy browsing through online galleries of artist I don’t know.  It feeds my creativeness, but often makes me feel very unoriginal at the same time.  It begs the question: “Why couldn’t I come up with that by myself?” I don’t have the answer, and ultimately will it matter?  Do others find inspiration in my work? I’ll never know but I’d like to think there are others like me that have taken something of value from my work and in some fashion, melded it into an idea of there own and created something with it.

I’ll be posting the last image of “Reading Time” shortly and then I will move on to two new paintings, both are book themed still lifes.  I must give credit to an art book I was paging through at Borders the other day, Exactitude: Hyperrealist Art Today.

The first of these paintings will be large 20” x 30” piece will be titled “The Collector”, and the second I have yet to figure out, but it will be a smaller piece ~12” x 12”.  Hopefully I can get both done before the cycle of May is over.

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