Birthday

I have noticed lately that there are a lot of museum shows & installations “walk through a van Gough painting” type of things using projections and other tech. I am sure this will attract revenue. For anything which is lazy, bad or dare I say plebeian, there are intelligent people out there ready to supply articulation as to justify it. The gimmick as (art) museum show; “This will attract those who don’t usually go to museums.” It is not so much bringing culture to those who normally would not bother but rather a transmutation of it into something akin to the latest block buster movie.

The problem with this is that it makes the artist/work besides the point. It is spectacle as focus and not artist work/intent. The deeper problems with this, as it is many people can not stand in line to get their coffee without keeping their head bent down in their phones as to be blasted by digi-sensations as to distract them from their five minute wait. A Picasso-laser show type thing is further contributing to a complete lack of the public’s ability to “merely” stand and look at a work of art. All art regardless of era and medium has a component of contemplation to it. We are perhaps a few years away from people going to one of the great museums of the world, standing in front of an immortal piece; a Renoir, a Velazquez et al impatiently waiting for the razzle-dazzle to begin.

When reading about art, depending upon where you live, there is a lack of the ability to go out and actually see the painting or works by a specific artist. The internet is good to look something up and get the gist of it, but it can not compete with the real thing. There is a difference. Looking at works mainly online, going to mutli media mutations of an artist’s work have changed what looks “right” or “good” to a modern art audience. They do not want to see brush strokes or other evidence of an artist’s hands which are a part of their voice. A smooth machine like perfection as encountered online, on postcards is what is now preferred.

One could imagine Soutine talking to a gallery owner or museum director and being told “Don’t worry, we will smooth down the rough edges digitally…”

You can’t fight progress nor the populist bent but merely offer an alternative for this willing to explore. The ability to portray flesh in all its beautiful imperfections is something I will never tire of.

“Birthday” watercolor on tan paper 11×14

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

Cuba

Watercolor & paper 5.5×8.5

 

The best artwork in any medium we can return to over and over again. We find new aspects revealed in it.

The work seems to, with the passage of time change. It is not the work which is ever in flux but ourselves. Better works have multiple layers of enjoyment  and so seemingly keep up with us on the evolutionary journey of intellect/taste/spirit.

With my work, this is why my main goal and raison d’e tre is conveying emotion. No matter what the social mores or trends are, we all will continue to feel sorrow & ecstasy.

 

Cuba

 

Bee Curtain

She repeatedly stuck her tongue out for almost every piece that she posed for. It was not my thing and I believe that she was thinking of someone else.

With every person that I draw/paint/sketch I aim for a truth but only a truth of that moment. What they look like, their likeness there and then.

The same person appearing over the course of several (or many) pieces may look slightly different each time.

This is a phenomenon naturally occurring in real life. Me sitting next to you in a car going down the highway will look different than me sitting across from you in a cafe etc etc.

This has to do with the effects played upon the subject by mood, health and ambient environment.

I avoid photo realism which to me can be flat, in favor of it looking like the subject but as occurring in art.
Where once this was the de rigeur , in the digital age this is all too often forgotten. We want an exactness that is the camera’s job not the brush nor pen.

The dynamics between artist & model is as if the artist is talking about the model using their own words (words being their style) and hands.
W.Wolfson

Bee Curtain watercolor & cotton paper 10×14

 

beecurtain

Poem

Watercolor & 7×10 Cotton Paper

Compelling works of art regardless of medium, allow one to return to them again and again without diminished enjoyment. Another point of pleasure is in the ability to find new things in a previously enjoyed work.

In painting, especially the representation of flesh, this opportunity is ever present.
I get pleasure from portraying not just volume and mass, but also creating a sense of depth on what started out as a blank white square.

While I could accomplish similar feats in representing say a piece of fruit, skin allows to for the suggestion of heat as in a blush, motion as in composition of limbs and what is hinted at in the purple-blue of veins.
For the viewer to come away with any sense of this after looking at my work is the greatest achievement for me.

 

Poem

 

 

 

End of Night scrap paper work

Very end of night, quick sketch on the back of grocery list (5×4) using waitress pen. I mix my subject matter as i never want w/my work to become the “. . .” guy.

 

For any artist, the actual work is a souvenir of the inspiration & process. The true joy & battle lay within that, with the tangible result akin to the ripple  radiating outwards.

 

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Two Drawings

I draw every day, regardless of where in the world I am. My ever present companion is my pocket sketchpad. Even after finishing a painting, that night I will still spend an hour or so drawing.

I will do fully realized pieces but also sometimes fill pages with endless sketches of lips, breasts, eyes and especially hands.

“Woodshedding” it is akin to musicians practicing scales. Some pieces from my pocket pads are fully realized and have been sold, while others are just results of a night’s or cafe visits woodshedding. Both feel equally pleasurable & important to me.

 

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Tete de Poisson

20160628_151202Watercolor  Cotton paper 9×12

Walking the fish market w/Louise as they set up. A man originally from Sicily takes a clever to a large tuna. With the first Cleve, blood spurts onto the apron in the shape of one perfect red flower, it is as it has always been. It shows that like his ancestors he knows what he is doing and also a portent of good luck, well, for somebody.

 

 

“Will you buy me a flower?”

“I need some coffee.”

“Not there, my cousin owns that place.”

In one day and a three hour train ride it would be as if I were in a different country.

W.Wolfson

Continue reading “Tete de Poisson”

Blue Hour

 

Watercolor & Mixed Media Paper. 9×12 For Marinabluehour

Not my preferred paper for painting but if I can get desired effects w/it then it is “easier” when using ideal French Cotton Paper. I always enjoy challenging myself as to avoid lapsing into mere mannerism.

Left Bank, Paris-France.