Black Shirt

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.

Black Shirt Watercolor & Paper 9×12

Blue Nails

Traditional ideas of beauty bore me. They blur together into a generic oh-la-la which is not remembered five minutes after it is no longer present. For me, the true, the real, will always be beautiful.

The real serves to facilitate emotion which will not appear prop-like nor freeze dried. When i first started delving into the world of social media I was at great pains to explain that with my pieces which showed real bodies as we all have or encounter, I was not mocking nor satirizing. I do not feel this need any longer and I suspect that what each viewers reaction to these bodies is, says something about them.

Times are still tough for us all. Art & culture serve to offer a way of reminding us of what we all have in common. It also is a place mark for what waits once we do not need to devote the lion’s share of our time to the bad. I do not look forward to returning to “normal” or “how it was” as those times were not great for everyone. I look forward to the time when we can give attention towards helping each other be the best versions of ourselves. In the meantime, I offer up my beauty for all.

Blue Nails 9×12 Watercolor & Paper

Speechless

I decided to work in a slightly different way with this painting. Most likely to the viewer it will just look like another of my paintings with no radical visual departure.I noticed a difference and will switch back forth between the two methods. Varied approaches are another thing which will allow me to keep things fresh. I want to create and not produce paintings.

Speechless 9×12

In the Eights

I do not view one of my mediums as of greater importance than any other. Regardless of what I have done during the day, painting, collage et al at night I sketch. In rough estimation, I probably carry out my night time sketching 360 days a year with arriving in and returning from Europe being the only established days I don’t.

This nighttime sketching is in the parlance of musicians, termed “wood shedding”. It is the equivalent of when a musician practices scales. I am always surprised to hear some of my peers do not do this as even Coltrane continued to constantly practice.

With every collage I do, I learn something new and refine my process. Often I find that when I discover an easier way to do something, there is the feeling that it was so obvious, how had I not thought of it before?

A few nights ago the idea hit me, to wood shed with my collage too. I mulled over initial “rules” knowing that they would most likely be expanded upon as I go.

It’s very important to me that I use my own images from photos which I personally took in my collages. There is always a component of jazz like improvisation in my collages and I worried that using them to wood shed would take away some of that spontaneity and power.

As I had no intentions of showing the results of wood sheds to anyone, i would not be concerned with using images I did not photograph. The other factor of this is that with all the images I use, I do not want to have them appearing over and over again in my work (at least not without a long break in-between). Using other images will keep mine fresh for me. The other rule which immediately came to me is that they should all be small. Usually my collages are time consuming and it would not make sense to have practice work take days on end. Also working small was nice challenge. I do not have uniform size but none of these go much bigger than 3×5.

The few people who I showed these to were very enthusiastic. I must admit that I liked them too. After the first two I established an aesthetic which is beautiful but also slightly off putting. Despite the pleasure i get from even just practicing, I do not see myself putting these up to view too often, so enjoy the initial foray into establishing a new arrow in my quiver.

Orange Cardi

The sky has finally stopped looking like a martian dawn. I was able to finish the painting which had been on hold for what felt like forever. It was an odd sensation having a painting quarter of the way worked on and having put it aside due to circumstances beyond my control.

I feel fortunate that I had other mediums I could do while I waited (collage & my daily drawing). Finally was able to suss out how to use my new slr camera. I think the photos really show you depth and detail better than i had previously capture with my phone.

“Orange Cardi” 9×12 Watercolor & Multi Media Paper

Rochelle

A painting of a woman (or anything) is not a woman but rather a thing unto itself, offering up an emotional pay off not limited to the specific real life moment of the subject. The subject is merely the starting point. Art allows for a great myriad of feelings to come forth, more  than a photo. Onion like in layers, of emotional cadence, there  is also the injection of the artist’s voice to the subject. This allows a viewer to return to a piece multiple times, finding new things and creating a different narratives in their head.

Emotion should not strive to encompasses any type of perfection, the same with beauty. I always aim for a truth in my work, honesty inherently being beautiful. Emotion, even the seemingly “negative” ones appeal to me to portray for this same reason.

This is my third tan paper piece. I was very pleased with it. It is my voice, the same effect as a musician switching instruments to play a different type of song.

“Rochelle” 9×12 Watercolor & Tan Paper

Rochelle

 

Ils s’appellent zabbahdoo 2

I greatly admire the work of Jenny Saville. I was given one of those huge, beautiful coffee table books on her work. She works in a very different manner than I (this book was not of her recent work, so I am only speaking of this moment of time, no idea if she has changed). For some of her portraits, she would take photos from medical books of grimacing mouths and use those for subject’s mouth as opposed to just painting the subject’s mouth as it was. A lot of portraits in the book were pieces where the subject looked as they are in real life but a lot of the attributes were Frankensteined on from other source material.

I have no desire to work in this manner, i do not know that I even could. But, it did inspire me to do another of my close up portraits. One of the genre of portraits I do is a compositionally tight shot so that it is not necessarily immediately apparent what the viewer is looking at. One of my great joys is in portraying flesh in my works. With these type of portraits, it forces one to really nail the effect as the viewer does not have the usual visual clues which serve as a short hand in revealing what they are looking at (i.e an identifiable limb such as a hand or foot et al).

My original conception for this piece was to had a bit of canvas on either side of the body which would have been a different color and served as a clue. I decided to tighten the shot into more of a zoom.

I am very pleased with results. Long story short, this photo was not taken w/my new camera but rather my phone. You very much get a sense of the flesh and the blood below the surface, in person there is even more going on.

“Ils s’appellent Zabbahdoo 2” 9×12 Watercolor & paper

 

Ils'appellentzabbahdoo2

Time of Legend

I have a pretty good rhythm going in what medium I use. Painting, collage..And regardless of what I am working or just finishing, drawing every night. Within each medium I mix things up to keep it fresh. Different types & sizes of paper.

More often than not I prefer not to give concrete explanations of my work. I would rather each viewer forms their own opinions as to what it’s about/means.

“Time of Legend” is not meant to be mocking nor satire. Originally I had imagined the skin to show more signs of sunburn but thought the splotches of angry red would serve as visual prompts for a program which I did not intend.

“Time of Legend” is about someone completely comfortable in their skin. I am sure that there are moments when the model has dark nights of the soul. Unhappy with his lot in life, angry and sad that he will never get the (beautiful) girl or some other type angst. But for this moment, he was satisfied and living the life.

I imagine at the end of the day, he goes home sleepy from the sun, his phone rings. One of his friends desiring the Joie de vivre which he brings with him to gatherings:

“Hey, what’s going on?”

“I just got back from the park, I had the best sausage sandwich, got some sun.”

“You’re a legend man..”

 

“Time of Legend” 9×12 watercolor & paper

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We All Need Beauty (Now)

The news stateside continues to be bleak. Now more than ever we need beauty. Brief glimpses from afar to remind ourselves that the best versions of each of us are waiting to be birthed, that there is something more important beyond the “I” .  Beauty need not be a rarefied thing either, it can be an abandoned spiderweb in the corner of a window or even something more mundane or not traditionally considered so. Beauty can touch us all in collective way, resonating differently for each individual.

To continue evolving as an artist during this I continuously challenge myself. I ordered all kinds of paper which I had never worked with before for both drawing & painting. I have never painted on colored paper. First new thing was to try a 6×8 tan paper which is on a block.

It handled very differently, I had to let it really dry between layers which was all right. The blending was also very different from my other paper. The end result I was very happy with. The volume & mass of skin looks a little more expressionistic than how I portray it with other paper, this is not better nor worse, just different. I will definitely continue  with this paper. I have tan, grey and brown papers in all different sizes to further explore with too.

“Write This Down” 6×8 watercolor & paper

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Face Dances: Assorted Tangos

I work within several mediums now. All are taken seriously, with none being considered second class citizens within my oeuvre. My favorite thing is to conjure up flesh in paint. Next on the list would be drawing faces. I never caricature the subject, doing a sort of raw reportage. This means I put in all the little imperfections of which I posses my share.  I do prefer portraying an extreme emotion. Unlike a potentially phony smile or the staid visage which a lot of us offer up to the world when aware of being watched, it is real. The real for me will always be beautiful. Regardless of what else I have done during the day every single night I draw too. One benefit of all the time I put into the pencil is that I have become fairly quick in executing portraits. This is a sample of evenings over past week or so.

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