Instagram has made it so that the visual must pop, every canvas, drawing or photo the equivalent of today’s big budget movies. Eliciting ohs and also while being viewed, but ultimately forgettable. (“Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”)
Many of the greatest paintings of the 19th century were just sort melange of raw reportage/visual diary of what they painters saw on a daily basis.
Now these works are immortal. At the time, the impressionists abandoning the heroic, allegorical or mythological to portray a friend reading the newspaper, a worker having a quick eye opener before starting the day or a wife’s hat left on a chair was scandalous.
We marvel at these works not merely for the technique but also the emotions which they continue to exude. A sense of organics is a large part of how they are able to do this, still.
This has been my guide post for painting. Poetry from the seemingly mundane, A personal lexicon of what I see on a daily basis, the real.
This watercolor painting is 4×4 inches on custom cut paper for my disc system pocket pad.
There was a slight gap of time between my Cinefields® . As much as I enjoy them, they are very time consuming and when in the process of creating them, they dominate my studio space.
For what would be the last one before returning to Europe, I wanted to stretch myself. I only used two photos which I knew would limit the color palette.
Not necessarily apparent, this is my most rhythmically complex piece. I wanted to present flowers of light. Vast unfurling urban fields for people to look at and do their own journeys.
As is always the case, I only used photos which I personally took. There is no digital magic, I used the traditional method of scissors and adhesive applied with a brush.
Blinky 11×14 (The photos do not give the sense of it, but each piece is tiny!)
Errata: There has been much talk of artificially created art. This, along with fact generation Instagram does not feel taking work they find online for their own content/page a crime, makes copywriting one’s work more important than ever. However, most gallerists, agents and collectors I talk to all feel to emblazon a work w/ copyright notice is mark of amateur. It also ruins the work. If someone wants to “borrow” your work, they are just going to crop the notice off or sometimes not even that. Then why copyright? Because it gives you quick recourse for when you do find someone using your work. I am not blasé about my work being taken, of course it’s upsetting but that notice is no deterrent. It will make whomever react quicker when you come across your work out there somewhere. It’s worth paying the fee, filling out the forms.
Long have I been a fan of Mondrian. My library is full of many books on his work. He would arrange the orientation of some of his canvas in a diamond shape. The work was done with this in mind and it was more than merely going for an unorthodox positioning, the shape was part of the tension and release for the pieces.
I decided to challenge myself, doing my version of this. I cut down a piece of heavy tan multi-media paper to a different shape for me. It was not mere arbitrary move though, I had in mind before starting the rhythm of the piece. To facilitate further evolution, I had in mind to make this cityscape a day time scene since most of my others pulse with a nighttime luminescence.
For a longtime I have been a fan of Ron Carter. There is a new documentary Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes . It is well worth seeing. It shows a man whose lifetime devotion and joy is in serving the process. At a time that I was being pulled in all different directions, it served as the perfect reminder of what’s important.
As is always the case, all the photos used for this were taken by myself. There is no digital magic, I used traditional method of scissors and adhesive applied with a brush.
About to head back to Europe shortly. I had previously written about being able to utilize a pocket printer as to be able to do Cinefield® pieces in my Paris studio. As I live right around many great art supply stores i am sure that I will be able to find adhesive. However, I have never been one to leave things to chance. So i have been experimenting with glues which i can bring with me and are not as outright industrial as my adhesive.
The nature of my pocket printer pieces is that they are small, index card sized at most, 4×5. The first one I did, I tried a liquid glue stick of Elmer’s glue. This wasn’t ideal as when it got on the front side of image it caused discoloration. Also it was so liquid-y that there was no way to really control it despite the fact it was in a pen like delivery system.
In an absolute pinch I could have made due. My final attempt was with the glue sticks with which school children work. This took a bit of learning curve as pieces and sometimes entire sections after the fact would pop off making a brief snow flurry of cut pieces upon my table.
I got a handle on how to best utilize the glue stick, although it made everything more labor intensive. The good thing about it is that I can easily pack a glue stick in luggage w/no hassle from TSA.
There is very little chance though, because of the nature of the glue, that pieces I do would last. The photo I take of the finished piece will be the work/the art. I can’t fully explain why, but there is a freedom in this.
Of course it may be non issue as I find my preferred adhesive once moved back in.
Like all my Cinefield® work, every image is from photos which I personally took. One can see more edge/line of each piece, that is the nature of using pocket printer. The printed material is akin to business card sized photos, there is the impossibility of seamless edge blending as i often achieve w/my regular paper pieces. this piece is roughly 4×4.
After finishing my last Cinefield® I started a painting. Weather conspired against me with heavy fog & rain. As they do not require same light situations, I switched to doing another Cinefield®. I wanted to make this one look painterly, a further evolution of chops & (artistic) mission.
It proved to be a labor intensive piece. At 11×14 it took me longer to do than some of my far larger pieces. As is always the case, I only used images from photos which I personally took, utilizing my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with a brush. There is no digital magic done after the fact. This is a personal favorite of mine, not just within my Cinefield® work but for my entire oeuvre.
For me, truth will always be equated to beauty. It is the imperfections of someone you find yourself caring for (or desiring) that your mind calls forth when thinking of them. That crooked smile, a small scar on the chin from scratching too much during bout of childhood chickenpox. Traditional beauty, the yardstick many use in their aesthetic aspirations becomes generic and boring very quickly.
When the more casual art fan is given a bit of art history, almost always a shorthand is used. The impressionists are reduced down to a bunch of guys with beards who used seductive colors in a lush, hazy sort of way. This was one aspect of it. They were the first (building off of their immediate predecessors Courbet 1819-77, Millet 1814-75) to be showing people as they were. There was no idealization of the denizens of the boulevards and theaters. The paintings are stunning but one encounters broken capillary noses, clothes that need laundering, eyes with lids heavy from lack of sleep. It was the real, every day life as they encountered it, caught on canvas.
Since then, every single painter did not stick to this direction. The impressionists freed up art and from aspects of what they did has sprung a multitude of genres, sub genres. But, there will always be a section of painters out there capturing real life with their brushes and pencils. A favorite painter of mine, Wayne Thiebaud is often lumped in as a “Pop Artist-Painter” because of his subject matter, cakes & candies (his portraits are among some of modern paintings best and he should be better known for these). What makes pop art is not what is portrayed but rather an ironic coolness. Thiebaud is not aiming for this but in the tradition of the impressionist portraying his life and what is in front of him.
One of my first times going to the Musée d’Orsay, a painting which held me before it, showed a man in red pajamas not looking very well as he lay covers pulled up almost to his chest. His skin was very pale but with waxy yellow undertones and little suggestions of green. You know things most likely are not going to end well for him and the painting itself is unpleasant to look at but also beautiful in its execution.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is portraying flesh in my painting. I never want to lapse into mannerisms though and so constantly challenge myself. I portray flesh in all its varieties, hot from a blush, pale from sickness, bruised from some mishap. One of the best self portraits I have done and which is frequently used as my author’s photos shows me with a black eye I got. There is no program or symbolism in any of this for me. For this piece, although one could look at it as encompassing all of 2020, it was just meant as a challenge to myself to show one person’s very bad day, the truth being beautiful in its honesty and execution. Terrible beauty.
A contemporary thinker & social theorist has said that a big problem with society (North American) is that most people’s idea of happiness has strictly become when things go their way. This seems to reduce down joy to a sort of effortless achievement whose main prize is not being bothered/challenged nor reprimanded. This mindset also eliminates the possibility of simple, spontaneous pleasures, such as a good conversation, cup of coffee or unexpectedly discovering some previously unknown work of art which resonates.
Another contemporary thinker said that we all must allow ourselves to be bored. He himself had come up with some of his best ideas waiting for a train or doing some of life’s other mundane but necessary tasks. In being bored one’s mind is not taken up with the immediate things to be done or superficial distractions and can wander. Without being preoccupied by the “must(s)” there is also more of a receptive aspect to contemplation.
Two ideas which call for the cessation of immediate, effortless reward.
As easy & beneficial as letting oneself be bored is, more & more society is regressing back to childhood en-masse. Most can not stand in line for the two minutes in at Starbucks to get their coffee without massaging the screen of a device with fingertip.
I like traveling but not the logistics of it, all the time tables not of my own making which must be rigidly adhered to. The seemingly endless waits when en-route. I will admit though, when forced to wait as is required when on the road, i have eschewed digital distractions and come up with many ideas for later use in my works.
There are trips with destinations that I do not like but must go to. This is almost like a concentrated form of allowing oneself to be bored (or miserable). As even in this , there is often fuel for my work.
I just returned from one such trip. While on the road I did work with which I am pleased. Once home, ideas I had while away inspired some further works. When going through a bad time on the road, while it is happening it is unpleasant but once out of the experience it can prove to be a currency of sorts. Even if you are not an artist, give yourself the occasional gift of being bored.