Raspberry tart

Where a painter who eventually becomes famous worked/lived does not necessarily reflect their posthumous reputation.  This is because more often than not the factors in no particular order are location, price and availability.

Not apparent from the work with which he became known, Paris was very important at the start of painter Ellsworth Kelly’s career. Several years ago, address in hand, I hoofed it over to this first studio (which remains just an apartment, having probably passed through dozens of hands since he lived there).

It looked just like all the other apartments arround it, neither more spacious nor with better light.

This year having read Jed perl’s excellent book on Alexander Calder, I decided to take a look at where on of his studios was. Once again, it was the same thing with the added touch which I think he would have appreciated, of a Chinese restaurant below his place.

Most people, when they think of an artist’s studio are imagining a large space, perhaps with a skylight or two. Or at the very least something which will look suitably dramatic and cinemesque upon seeing it after the fact.

For every Cezanne studio museum, there is Kelly’s or calder’s.  This is because no artist is thinking in terms how it will look once they are famous and gone. Calder liked most of his Paris studios because they were an easy walk to the cafes he frequented and his friends, yet slightly set back as to avoid the noise keeping him up.

Kelly’s motivation  had been the even more pragmatic financial one.

Another aspect of the painter life which many give no conscious thought to is the personal visual lexicon. This ever growing vocabulary is made up of the intentional such as portraits but also the instinctual. This is the every day as encountered by the painter, not made dramatic but rather it’s beauty drawn out. Cezzanne’s apples, soutine’s elevator operator et al.

The painter is not bragging of the incredible life lived a la some instagrammer’s vacation or food photo. They are recording the every day encounter(s) whether it’s the view from a studio window or some utilized necessity such as hat or groceries waiting to be put away.

I had no ambitions towards this as I had been unaware of the phenomenon until I started practicing it. The concept of “draw/paint from the guts” doesn’t mean to viscerally go at it until some sort catharsis is achieved. This misconstrued point is more about conveying the true, the reality without over thinking it nor worrying about drama.

Now one of my greatest pleasure in life is capturing on paper some little thing as it is from my daily existence. As ever, serving the process has become the pay off to me.

This is my second Paris painting this year. A dessert I had meant to try for a while, which was delicious.

I used 5.5x 8.5 spiral bound canson watercolor  paper 140 lb. When i first started painting i used exspensive blocks of french cotton paper. This was initially my practice paper. Although the paper’s “voice” is inherently different, I have now long used it for fully realized pieces, espcially when traveling.

Raspberry tart

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Paris Painter

I have said time and again, for me truth is beauty. I am interested in the real, real bodies real emotions. Even and espcially those which seem counter to traditional ideas and portrayal of beauty.

This honesty has  always been the facilitators of the emotional resonance that is my raison d’etre for all my work.

By no means am I doing something new. From Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville back to Tintoretto and courbet, honest portrayal of people has been utilized to create a powerful, real beauty made even more so because of the seeming imperfections.  Proudly, I am merely adding my voice to the chorus.

Traditional beauty bores me except in the smallest doses. It’s akin to the frosting flower off of a cake. I’m not adverse to now and then taking a bite, but it’s sweetness has no true flavor.

The thought of using my work merely to shock or insult is anathema to me. I work too hard on my chops and conveying my philosophy for such things.

This is my first painting back in my Paris studio. Unintentionally approp as today is mothers day in North America.

It has been overcast. The sun would come out, then retreat like a shy friend, then blaze too bright to see the paper properly.

I had to go slow,  it ate into my record buying time, but I am pleased to the extreme with the results.

5.5x 8.5 watercolor and paper

Michelle

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Sina Queryas

I wanted to capture mood  through subtly of true emotion, not what is exaggerated as to clearly broadcast for easy understanding.

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.

I am starting with a handicap in that works which seem to garner the most attention are those which have components of novelty & gimmick or that look reminiscent of established (“famous”) artist’s work. I follow my own North star even when it is a more solitary journey, hoping to pick up a few others along my way.

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.

 

watercolor & Paper 5.5×8.5 (Last American Painting for now)

 

Sina Queyras

Impulse Pad

Although a few, including my favorite have closed, around where I live in Paris are some great art supply stores.  I am fortunate in all of them being a five to ten minute walk.

One of them is really savvy in stocking the end cap by the register with a rotating supply of sketchpads. These are not cut-outs or discontinued brands & styles but rather quality things you did not realize you needed until waiting in line to pay.

If there is even one person in front of me in line, i always end up getting a pad.

I had gotten a really nice hardcover landscape sketch pad. It was not something I used all the time, returning to it when I wanted to mix things up a little. Sometimes I would lay the pad on the table vertically rather than horizontally.

I just finished a beautiful portrait which i will not tempt fate by posting here as it is  NSFW (it is up on my flicker & Saatchi page though). Between that, overseeing the release of my new short story collection & Easter, I have been full out. These are final pages of landscape notebook which I filled over the weekend.

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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

Sculptures

I have been doing sculptures for years but always  looked upon them as a largely private matter.

Mostly, they are done just to keep the juices flowing. I had not really ever had  any intent to show or sell them.

Stylistically, they are akin to some of what Cy Twombly, Jack Whitten & Robert Rauschenberg had done. They are  one part totemic object, one part a sort of a chronicle of a moment and place. Intuitively I came up with my own rules which served me well from the get go. I will only use materials that are on hand and of the time and place that I am at. This lends a strong improvisational element to my sculptures while also allowing the place to dictate important aspects of the work’s voice.

It is “easy” compared to my other visual work since there is no pre plan and so a piece can never be wrong. Working in a different manner and medium from my other work has led me to view my process in a new light which ultimately adds to my chops and palette.

A few people having seen some of them, understood what they were about and even liked them. I would have considered it an achievement to have had even one person “get it” . So many more than that, it melted my resolve for them to remain unseen. Of course I fully realize that they are not going to be everybody’s cup of tea.  I am sure too, that there will be people that really enjoy my paintings and drawings but are left cold by these.

They are varying degrees of sturdy. Most done on the road, if not gifted would not make it home. And even left behind as a memento, they often have a limited lifespan. Others on account of the nature of the materials used, start to die the moment that they are born. The winner always in a fatal game.

This fragility makes it so that my sculptures are often three works in one. There is the conception and creation of the piece. Then there is the physical work itself for however long it lasts and lastly the photo of the piece.

Even knowing that some will not physically last, I have not photographed every sculpture i have ever done. I like the idea of their existence being akin to hearing a piece of music or poem. It can give pleasure and add to you in some way but its intangible.

Give me a pencil nubbin and scrap of paper and I am pleased. I do not need everything I do to be worthy of being framed or even seen. I get a huge pleasure now in the process. This is a major aspect of my sculptures importance to myself. The process is the pay off intellectually and spiritually.

W.Wolfson ’19

 

“Monkey Bird”

“Cecil Taylor”

“One Eyed Face”  (This one is actually very sturdy being wood & Steel)

Ganache

The relationship between artist and subject/model goes back almost to mankind’s nascence. The advent of cell phones has made expectations veer off from a portrait’s purpose. This is especially true in regards to  the public’s expectations.

The ability now of anyone, at any given time to whip out their phone and make a movie or take photos makes the casual viewer come to expect a work of art to lean towards hyper realism.

This defeats the purpose of art, exact visual reportage down to the smallest skin pore and one might as well just snap a photo. Portraits allow for multi layers of enjoyment and contemplation. Done right and they can be revisited, offering up new things with each viewing.

It is a matter of choice for every artist, but personally I always want my pieces to look like the subject. A commonality is that for every artist the dynamic with the subject. It  is  as if the artist is describing the subject but instead of words, utilized are the technique and style (voice) of the artist. I describe you, but my words are my own.

With portraits, the likeness is captured but so are  psychological insights. Not only are the subject’s positioning and posing conjured up but present too are aspects of personality that do not come to the fore in photos unless blatantly apparent (i.e drunk, crying, laughing et al)

I always try to use subjects who are not professional models as I want the body language to be their own and not the expected or academic positioning. Ideally, subjects are people within my orbit, the added trust of knowing each other bolstering the organic conveyance of emotion, which is the ultimate goal for all my work.

 

Ganache 9×12 Watercolor & Multi Media Paper

ganache