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.
For artists in any medium an online presence is now necessary regardless of how one’s methodology used to be. Connected to this online life for amateurs (even if they are not aware of being so) is the myth of the numbers game with its implied short cut to money and visibility/site numbers.
The basic premise, which has a myriad of variations depending upon who is explaining it, can be parred down to a basic concept of the greater amount of times one puts out there a work they have for sale or perhaps an appearance/show, then the better chance there is of achieving satisfying sales/head count. The true believers explain it thus:
“If you have one hundred thousand views of your post and only five percent of people buy your thing, well that still works out to be…”
Aside from the fact I think machine gun firing (this is making constant mention everywhere) what one has to offer out onto the net is uncouth, it also is naively optimistic. It’s one thing to look at a posting, it’s another to purchase something. Regardless of how inexpensive it is, most people follow at least a few hundred people and it can easily add up fast.
All that aside, I personally want an audience, not customers and this is the great disconnect often now occurring between artist and public. I dont want to hustle for sales etc. If I were going to do that, then I would just have a straight job where sales would equate to large commissions and expense lunches.
It’s all right to mention something available to the public when pertinent. As an artist you hope your work gets seen. Anyone who reads my blogs knows that I rarely make mention of for sale things except for when they are brand new.
I am proud to say that my latest collection has just came out. It’s available now for kindle & Paperback on amazon.
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.
Selfie @ Airport
In-between bouts of atmospheric river storms I was able to hit the road. Although not with the same ferocity as at home, the rain followed me. This was OK as it was a short trip and I had already envisioned only having time to do my nightly woodshedding sketches and maybe a lyra piece or two.
I was to be flying home into yet another storm! My flight was delayed most of the afternoon. I sat at the terminal becoming newly crowned crossword king.
While sending out texts to everyone to let them know that I was delayed but all right, I snapped a quick selfie.
Lately a lot of my painting have been on tan paper and 11×17. This piece is white Canson paper 5×7
Hello all. This is my first painting of ’23. It took me longer to do than usual on account of the weather. I finished it with only a day and half to spare before hitting the road.
watercolor & 11×14 inch tan paper
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