I have been taking some short trips which was impetus behind doing a smaller painting. Even with it being small, bad weather made me have to put it aside after only being quarter of the way done as I hit the road.
This smaller size had long been my preferred size until I found myself switching to 11×14. Trips longer than three day and I will paint. So, it is good to once again get back into smaller pieces as that is what I will do on the road.
Often I use myself as the subject of my work. If not my face, then my hands or some other bodily part. This is for convenience’s sake. It is nice to start a work when I want to or to stop as i mull a line over. Throwing someone else into the mix, this is not always as easy. There is a pleasure in that it also puts me in the grand tradition of painters showing themselves in their work.
I am not ashamed to portray myself as I am. There is no idealization. It’s almost a form of visual raw reportage. I take the same approach when conjuring up someone else. In one of the later Truffaut films from his The Adventures of Antoine Doinel cycle, one of the characters mentions in passing how an artist should never use their craft to settle scores. This has always been my outlook. Regardless of how a subject looks in comparison to the notion of desirability, for me, truth is always beauty.
This piece is 5×7. I am pleased with how the sort of goonyness of flesh comes across.
Compulsively, I read biographies on painters/artists and movements. I never restrict myself in regards to medium nor era. I notice that starting at about the time right before the impressionists, there was a common occurrence. A lot of artists had the same life trajectory with variations according to their personal temperaments and artistic voices.
There would be the years of learning followed by chrysalises period from which they would emerge with the base of what would become their distinct individual voice. Often, this would be followed by years of trudging forward while suffering through various slings and arrows of critics and the general public.
If lucky to still be alive, then once through this phase is the first blush of fame. Often times the fame would grow but it becomes sort of a trap. An artist starts to second guess themselves trying to hold onto all their hard fought for gains. This includes the temptation and pressure to merely repeat what had brought them their initial laurels.
From an artists point of view it becomes pandering where one pantomimes the familiar as to hear applause. Galleries don’t want to risk sales by the artist striking off in new direction. There is the danger that critics won’t understand or appreciate any deviation from what they like about an artist.
Even artists who mange to navigate all of this, when you read their biographies or “the letters of” type books they all comment on the same sweet spot of their careers.
It is when enough “fame” has finally happened so that they have met all of life’s basic needs (food, clothes, shelter et al) and can buy art supplies without having to think about the impact of any purchases on the rest of their lifestyle. The long gestated voice is recognized and appreciated but not to the degree that there can be no further evolution to it.
With no distractions from practical considerations towards daily living nor external pressures of audience, gallery or critics the artist is free to explore and follow their own North star.
This golden time is too often recognized only after it has passed.
In an attempt to buck the trend I try to take advantage of it as often as possible. Aside from a way of showing appreciation for my situation, it also fosters evolution.
Rarely do I do studies before doing a painting. This time I decided to, as to play around a little with compositional balance. Also, I decided to greatly increase the size of my work from the usual 11×14 inches to 25×30. when I paint it is usually flat upon my table. Because of the size, this time it was on an easel.
I have a great, heavy wood and brass easel which could be used for massive sized pieces. As I worked on lower sections of this piece, I sat on a stool with my feet on the bottom cross bar of the easel so that it looked like I was a windsurfer.
With my paints I always use half pan sets. I had been given a few tubes as a gift and decided to use those too. they required very much a different touch.
overall, I was very pleased with the results of this piece.
(small) Murmured Songs
Tom Verlaine just recently died. His career had the dichotomy of he & his band Television even now constantly being cited as an influence. Yet he never broke big in the way that some of his direct CBGB’s peers like Blondie and the Talking Heads did. This isn’t a bad thing, as it allowed him to always do as he pleased with zero consideration for hits or video’s which would prove popular and remain in rotation.
One of the better remembrances I read was not by an artistic peer or current star who had been inspired by his work. It was an account given by a book seller that resonated with me and seemed one of the most appropriate send offs.
Strand’s Book Store in New York is, at least in America, one of the last of it’s kind. It is an institution. Tom haunted it’s aisles and the bargain carts out front year after year. People might have occasionally nudged one another with their elbows while nodding with their chin as he passed by but other than that he was treated as just another bibliophile on the hunt.
The book seller recounted the diversity of what he bought and cumulatively, the number of books he must now be in possession of.
I saw aspect of myself in all of this. When there is nothing that I need at an art supply store, if I happen to be passing one I will go in and wander around. This always leads to me buying a few pocket pads. I have one whole drawer in one of my tabourets that is full of small, odd sized pocket pads.
I always leave my preferred methodology to shake things up and foster evolution. Different exercises/series done besides my regular work as to learn more.
In my coat pocket or book bag there is always a pocket pad but I tend to use the same brand/size. There is no reason to be saving all the other pads and I am starting to run out of room. So I decided to just start randomly grabbing one and using it.
For my first series I added the challenge of not doing any shading and only using one specific pencil. These drawings are all intentionally executed quickly, often plein air.
Selfie Yellow Driving Gloves
I had gotten this great pair of gloves right before the pandemic which sat in their cool little case for so long that I had forgotten about them. Going through my clothes, I came across them, still patiently waiting to be worn out.
This is a selfie on tan paper. New gloves & coat.
11×14 inches watercolor & tan paper
Rarely do I promote my for sale things be it my books or visual works. I want an audience and not customers. Personally, I also find it a turn off to want to see what an artist you are interested in is up to and every post ends w/a sales pitch. However, we are in the gift giving season. I have some art for sale. Have a peek. (these are truly limited, not merely sales pressure verbiage)
I currently have a few projects going, including a unique sized CINEFIELD® from paper I cut down myself. It’s taking slightly longer than expected as I am trying several new things. Even with all going on, I still draw & woodshed every night.
Lyra graphite sticks have become a favorite medium. It allows for painterly effects and a touch not dissimilar to that of watercolor. I am into all the mediums which I use, but my favorite two are drawing and painting. The Lyra pieces combine aspects of both of these mediums.
This was a small piece of multi medium paper. It’s close up of Jimi Hendrix. I enjoyed doing an unorthodox compositional balance in 3×5 inches
I have been unexpectedly tied up with various things. Even with a full tilt boogie schedule, I draw or woodshed every day. All the various mediums which have become synonymous with me I fell into by complete happenstance while exploring. Each of these things, no longer new to me, I miss if I got too long without doing (or should I say crave?). My next big project is a large painting. While I can’t start it yet, I get the same pay off emotionally/intellectually/spiritually doing Lyra pieces. Although monochrome, they have a painterly feel to them and the touch required in making them is similar. An additional plus is, if I can achieve the desired feel utilizing only one color, then when using my paints proper, it feels easier.
All pieces are 5×7 inches.
I do not often paint large pieces. There’s a completely different physicality involved. The way I have always worked, when I see a piece in my head before starting out, included in this vision/conception is its size. If I envision it small, it’s not merely a matter of using larger paper to make it big. I can only make a thing as I saw it in my head.
With Victory I saw it big.
I enjoy the challenge of leaving my comfort zone. Most of my paintings are 11×17, this one would be 20×30. I have a large wooden easel. It has heavy brass machinery. I pull on a loop below the ledge upon which the canvas sits to raise or lower it on the wooden axis. There is a wooden crossbar on the bottom which connects the two front legs of the large tripod.
While painting the lower section of the piece, I sit on a stool leaning forward. My feet rest on the crossbar. It feels as if I am on a ship, brush in hand. Seas calm, seas stormy, call me Ishmael.
Victory 20×30 inches watercolor & Paper
The Other Side # 4
This is part of an ongoing series which also includes some graphite pieces.
As is the case with all my works regardless of medium, I want the viewer to feel something. What, is entirely up to them.
Watercolor & paper 5×8
I had been in the middle of a full sized Cinefield® when my computer of six years gave up the ghost. This rendered my needed printer into an expensive paper weight. I switched to doing a painting. This is 11×14 watercolor & tan paper.
errata thought on the elderly: In media & especially television, a shorthand for “old people” they often will reference big band music (usually Duke Ellington or Benny Goodman). A few Rolling Stones albums just hit their 50th anniversary mark. If you do the math, an “old” person was not swinging their gal arround on the dancefloor to “Take the A Train” but rather Hendrix’s electro lament for a decades turmoil & new found freedoms.