Roman Senator’s Wife

I am reading Roland Barthe’s Camera Lucida. Some of what he says of photography is equally true of current figurative painting.

Everyone has a phone which allows them to now capture the minutia of their daily lives. This has effected photography as even someone with no artistic inclinations can take a shot which is frame worthy given the right location. now we are witness to location porn or given the ease of snapping photos, luck of happening upon an interesting moment more than compelling individualized photographic voice. Digital photos have become akin to infinite monkey theorem albeit at an extremely accelerated rate.

With painting the negative impact is slightly different. Regardless of an artist’s style, people expect a type of hyper realism, being able to capture and document their lives with a pocket sized device instantly would make anything short of this, espcially when time consuming posing is involved, seem absurd or archaic at best.

To paraphrase Barthes on being the subject of a (portrait) photograph:

I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.

While hyper realism bores me, I do aim for each work to capture the subject’s likeness. Not a disconnect but an unexpected effect sometimes occurs. The subject of a portrait has a definite image of themselves. The artist may notice something physically or psychologically that they do not see in themselves (or like).  The effect similar  to when one hears a recording of their voice. Few think it accurate.

Part of what Barthes has in mind, perception of oneself versus the relationship between artist and subject. With portraits, I want accuracy of portrayal but it has always been that it is the artist describing the subject using their words. Words in this case being the artist’s style/voice. I talk about you but I choose my own words to do so.

This is a 9×12 piece on French cotton paper. The inherent properties of the paper is a softness and delicacy of line.

 

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Two

I have a definite methodology to how I work. But on the road there are variations. This is an aspect of how I feel a location should subtly add its flavor to work being done (there). In the states, I do my hour or two of woodshedding at night, the end of my day.

In Paris the lighting is better to do it in the morning with my coffee.

Even in my stateside studio, different times of year present better hours to paint by, as I use natural light to do so. It takes anywhere from three days to a week to really nail down what hours to pick up the brush. I am lucky though, that there are some aspects of a piece that I can do in less than ideal lighting.

I do not go to museums every time I am in France, as I know that I will always be back. Sometimes all I need is the poetry of the streets to inspire.

There is the constant though, of chatting with my peers.

While here, a huge sale by a post-pop artist got us all talking. The question of “Is it art?”

Eventually we all got bored with gnashing our teeth and started discussing nudity in art and the conected social mores in North America.

There is a cyclical debate of what seperates art from eroticism (“dirty” or “porn” labels)

Some say it is merely a matter of intent. This is too simplistic and facilitates filling the room with devil’s advocates and semantics.

Of course,  intent is always important as proven by Duchamp, but a more reliable yardstick which also keeps in mind a modicum of rationality are the components and concept of the work.

A work can seduce or excite but is it doing so because a main componant is titillation? The same question can be asked of shock value. If a work happens to induce heat, then regardless of why, it can’t be “dirty”. Someone setting out first and foremost to excite makes it so that a different label may be appropriate to apply.

Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde comes to mind. It is graphic to some but beautiful, there is no question that it is art.

The first question being asked should never be “Is there nudity?” nor even necessarily “is it art?” but rather, “is it good ?”

Having to ask if it is art is sort of like  guestioning yourself if there has been too many drinks to safely drive home, it becomes almost besides the point.

I used my canson watercolor paper 140 lb. A thing which appeals to me about it is that it’s not temperamental, being effected by wet weather as the French cotton ones that I used to solely use was.

For photos of my work I am just using my phone and as the paper has little tooth, the photos (I never work any digital magic on pics) gives accurate gist of a piece.

Song & Bellissima 5.5 x 8.5 watercolor and paper

 

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Anniversary

Sometimes with my paintings I will do a piece where the viewer is only seeing a part of the subject(s). Just a torso, an arm, a breast, freckled forehead or knee.

There is the interesting dichotomy of the viewer only getting part of a piece, a close up, of a larger scene. Yet these pieces of larger going ons are fully realized works unto themselves. There is no need to see what the hand attached to the arm is doing or where the head not visible is resting.

The point & challenge of this is to have the emotion(s) come through to the viewer, conveyed only by the part(s) seen. By emotions I do not necessarily mean the subject is upset so hence, an angry arm. Rather, by emotion, I mean the viewer feeling something despite not being clued in by the usual facial or body language clues. The fact that there is no obvious programmatic aspect  allows for each viewer to put their own emotional resonance into it.

This piece is 9×12 watercolor on multi media paper. The couple were celebrating their anniversary and birthdays (50’s) which fell around the same time. Initially, I had no idea what they were going to have me paint. In their pose is not an acceptance or giving in to age but rather an earned knowledge & strength. To hear them talk, as you get older, all the superficial illusions drop away, certain ego driven worries do not distract nor hold one back any longer from ambitions towards different enjoyments.

 

anniversary

Rache

“Serbia is the new Paris.”

“Every city wants to be, claims to be the new Paris.”

“It is very true of here.”

“Dance with me, it is one of things Serbian girls are best at.”

“Maybe we will have a drink later.”

The pen felt cool then hot as it rested in my breast pocket.

W.Wolfson’19

Rache 7×10 Watercolor & Cotton Paper

 

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Pocket Pads

I always have a pocket pad on me, more often than not it is my Midori w/ customized paper. I compulsively try different brands and set ups/ style.

I do in general prefer the refillable ones. There is something about having same pad accompany me all over the world and grow increasingly familiar in touch and sight for me.

There are some great non refillable pads out there too. Within my diverse collection of pocket pads they all fall within the 3×5 size range.

One thing I like about mixing thing up pad wise is that although they all are the same size each company’s paper has different properties. My voice remains present but each type of paper adding something of its own property’s to the mix.

It is akin to a musician using different instruments for different types of songs (think for example, Miles Davis or Jimmy Page)

Here are some quick sketches done on pocket pad of company I just discovered.

 

 

‘Nita

Emotion is a truth which is always beautiful.

Collecting art has become rarefied. Where as formerly passion and an eye (personal sense of aesthetics) were the main & most important prerequisites, they have been supplanted by space and money.

The size of my works is intentional. I have in mind new collectors for whom space is at a premium. Apartment dwellers should not feel it an impossibility to start a collection.
I also have in mind burgeoning collectors who are just starting to delve into the myriad genres of art out there. A large piece starts to dictate what directions a collection will go in for people living in normal sized spaces. Smaller works do not create a visual limitation.
I want the collector to live with my works and not (feel as if) under them which may occur in apartments.

Always is the striving for emotion to come across in my work(s) and this size bolsters it by almost creating a senses that one is witnessing a scene, the viewer as a voyeur.

” ‘Nita” 9×12 Watercolor & Cotton Paper (1st painting of ’19)

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Black & Orange Can

Lopsided grin not visible but the splashing of the water did not drown out the song that she sang to herself. The traffic, one driver in anger or celebration leans on his horn and through the closed door could almost be Fats Navarro taking a chorus. W.Wolfson

 

Last Painting of ’18 9×12 Watercolor & Multi Media Paper