Friday, October 28, 2011

Something Different

I'm working on a bit of a different kind of painting subject matter wise.  Of course birds are definitely part of the urban environment. I just haven't focused on them. The piece is called Minority. It's not political, but there is a bit of a sociological aspect to the work. The title came to me last night when I was working on it.  I noticed how the people in the scene were completely out numbered by the birds, but towered over them all the same. I feel that human beings have a tendency to think that they are the only life on the planet that matters. This is the result of our might thanks to our intellect.

The idea for the painting was really another - wake up at 2AM in the morning and find a sketchbook to sketch and write it out. I proceeded to spend two hours running around the park taking photographs of birds and the figures within the painting latter that morning. It was odd how you'd find a bunch of pigeons with one or two grackles or a bunch of grackles with only a few pigeons. The grackle in the foreground was the bravest bird when I was dolling out a quarter of my bagel to the lot. Need to pay your models.  He would come up close and give me this quizzical look as if to ask "what are you up too?". Oddly enough the composition took on a life of it's own and departed greatly from the original sketch.  Not that I can say I mind, because it's better for it. It proved to be one of the more challenging compositions that I've created of late.  The physical difference between birds and humans along with the point of the view proved to be a real challenge.

I'm relieved that this work is going well.  I've had two weeks of paintings just not going right. I guess I've been "painting myself into a corner" as Bob Cocke one of my old painting professors used to call it. Although, it's incredibly important for an artist to create problems on the canvas to work through in order to grow: I would rather just paint happily and save the growth spurt for a  latter day. Too bad it doesn't always work out that way. I like to think I'm in control of the work and maybe I am on a subconscious level, but not on a conscious level. It gives the illusion that the paintings are calling the shots. I think it's like playing a chess game against yourself where you are really playing to win and only make one move a day, so that you can truly play the opponent's role in earnest. It's easy to get stalemated and that's what happens with some canvases. It just takes a while to realize the gig is up.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hammering Through

Hammering through another week's worth of paintings.  Above (working titles only) Gino Carlo and Grocery Mart. Both works have extreme perspectives. I'm a touch concerned about how fish-eyed Grocery Mart is perspective wise, but at the same time I like it.  It's one of those places where just, because it's a bit different there isn't really any call to stop and do something else. Besides doing art isn't about being comfortable. It's a perspective used in comic books from time to time and by photographers using a fisheye lens. It also captures one of those awkward life moments where the figure is rummaging through her purse from something, but can't seem to find it. It's  a question if she's waiting for someone or looking for her wallet before she goes in.

Gino Carlo on the other hand is just an extreme point of view without the fisheye effect. It has it's own set of challenges. The victorian features of the building at this extreme perspective are very challenging to capture. I would have liked to been able to collage my photos of the building together in photoshop prior to starting this piece, but the perspectives of the photos varied greatly.  I picked the photo with my favorite angle and I've just gone for it referencing all five to seven shots.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Finally completed Chill.  It has been one of those works where every time I would look at it I would see yet one more little thing that needed to be resolved. I'm sure I've been a bit of a perfectionist here and there regarding this painting, but some works require a great deal of polishing.

Below is a pastel life drawing.  I took advantage of a local art school's open studio session on Friday.  I plan to go at least twice a month.  It was so nice to work from a live model and brush up on basic drawing skills.  Even though I paint pretty much every day I'm guilty of not taking time to sketch from life enough. I guess it's like practicing scales if your a guitarist. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Week

Working hard to finish this painting up for a delivery to the gallery tomorrow.  It's probably going to be a late night, but heck that's when I like to paint the best.  There has always been something about painting late at night for me. I feel more focused and I'm able to comfortably work on the intricate and taxing portions of the canvases better.  It's the same with the early morning hours.

I really like the muted color scheme of this piece.  It's almost as if a photo filter has been applied. I've recently watched a couple Japanese Horror films Goth and Premonition.  Goth has really nice lighting effects. The actors were occasionally shot against hyper bright backgrounds that obscured their features.  You could see their face clearly, but their arm would almost abstractly fade and distort into the background. I'm planning to employ this effect in some future works.  The recent painting Remote was influenced by watching this film now that I think about it. I have to say I really enjoy Japanese Horror films.  They are not gory or special effect intensive, but rather focus on artfully composed scenes and suspense like Alfred Hitchcock films. I've also noticed that the subject matter is a bit different as well.

I think that's the trick for any artist or at least for me. I find it's really important to seek out the art of others for inspiration. I prefer to find inspiration in music, books and film rather than within the work of other painters. I think it's just a case where I like to get lost within the atmospheres of the stories within those art  forms.  If I read or watch a film right before bed it is more likely that I will not only dream, but remember those dreams upon waking.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Catching Up

I've been a bit neglectful of the blog for the last few days, but here's a quick update on the paintings I'm working on.  I'll post details later on today.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Finished Remote up tonight.  Definitely a work that I want to see bigger.  Much bigger.  I think that I might be painting a few more rooftop works as well. I named the work Remote, because that's the sense I get when I look across those rooftops to the downtown shrouded by mist. It's like looking out upon a world at large, but still figuring out how it all works. I've noticed that this year's works are showing a shift in my color schemes.  It seems that I'm still mostly monochromatic, but slowly moving away from just black and white into the earth tones.  This is a case where I feel I just need to go with the flow.

I have five other works in progress right now. I'm starting to develop a really good flow in the studio.  As much as I tried to plan things I've noticed that studios really come together organically over the course of time.  I'm still working primarily on the northern wall using the western wall as a staging area more than a work area.  Hopefully, I'll learn to work on all three easels.  If I'd only known when I built the studio I might have placed the doors differently.  That way I could have set up multiple easels on the North wall.  Oh well, as they say hindsight is always 20/20.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Push and Pull

Still working on a title for this piece. This painting seems to be about light. It's been a bit of a challenge to capture the smattering of the sunlight  and shadows on all the various roof top structures and keep the misty feeling of the sun shinning through the moist air. It's an effect that I really respond to, so I'm going to work on employing it into other works in the future.

I'm also carefully bringing collage elements into play in background elements of the work.  There's been a lot of push and pull and sometimes painting things back out and using only the their textures.

It's 12x24 inches, which feels a bit small for this particular composition. I think I should do another rendition of this piece maybe 36 x 60 down the road. It's just a small work that is so much bigger than it's substrate.

I'm planning to start the studio practice of working on large works and small works simultaneously. I've always have had the tendency to do one or the other, which causes me to go through transition of getting used to working either big or small.