Life as we know it has remained if not completely on hold, then altered. The rhythms & goals now a familiar stranger. It had rained off and on, so I did two Cinefield® pieces while waiting for my necessary to paint sunlight. The weather finally obliged me and I went to work on a new piece. With the changes of season the ideal times to paint & to photograph the finished paintings change.
Of course I have this memorized, it has become reflexive, a sort of muscle memory of light utilization. One thing which has always served as a reminder of shortly being about to change my painting hours are activities that I am doing beforehand. Coming back from my Parisian residency heralds a shift, etc etc.
Without all my usual activities as prompters, I found out upon completion of this piece, that I have hit a optimal hour to work change. It was an odd sensation, a bitter taste in my mouth. I will be the first to recognize that many have it far worse than I. It once again firmed up my resolve to put my work out there, not as any kind of cure nor solution but to offer up to all, a brief respite from what ever trials are currently being face.
Over the course of the past year have adopted the rhythm of doing a Cinefield® then a painting (while maintaining steady flow of nightly drawings & 8’s). At the start of a painting it rained for days off and on. I put it aside, the novelty of doing so being in itself of value for my creative process.
I started a new Cinefield® , the creation of which I do not need sunlight for.
Even though the shapes are lush and abstract, I wanted to see if I could achieve an open ended, open to interpretation sense of narrative.
“Bing-Bong” The piece is 11×14. As always all the images are from photos I personally took. There is no digital magic just my trusty scissors and adhesive applied by brush.
To anyone that reads my blog, it is immediately apparent that I take what I do very seriously. I am writing from the point of view of someone who is a professional working artist, so some of my advice or point of view will not apply to the hobbyist or anyone who has a “regular” job to earn their daily bread.
Numbers on social media & blogs still seem of the utmost importance. Whether intentionally sneaky or not, many people hunt for images, taking without attribution anything that strikes their fancy. You can copyright your image and if it is taken you have recourse. With concept or ideas however, it’s a different problem. If you have a concept that you work to articulate and brand and someone comes along with ten times the followers or who spends half their day online working their sites, it oddly becomes theirs. Unless you have taken the proper precautions.
I have gotten really into my collage and every time I do one i have learned a bit more. I feel with life in general, one must every now and then have an inner dialogue, even about established things that they know, as further articulation can provide more depth and layers to the thing(s). This week marks a year that I have been doing collages. (not my sole output as there has been a novel, short story collection, essays, paintings and countless drawings). While I still like my early ones, I recognize that they have gotten better and better.
One of the reasons this occurred is that I was constantly refining my methodology and philosophy while honing my skill. It may not be necessary for every artist but I came up with a description & mission statement for my collages. I created a word Cinefield® which is now a legally registered trademark.
Cinefield® “Flat, two-dimensional visual works of art on paper which create the feeling of movie like narratives through a composition of image rich and story like printed pictures”
I did this to show my seriousness in the medium but also the great affection which I have for it too. This is my second piece under this newly minted label. As usual, there is no digital magic. I used my trusty scissors on photos which I personally took, applying adhesive with a brush. The piece is 11×14.
What feels like another lifetime ago, I made a CD. I felt very self conscious and looking back, judge my performances to be widely uneven. The parts that I can still bare to listen to, at the time I thought of nothing but what I was doing (talk/singing). The parts which are not as great, i was self conscious of the faces I couldn’t help but make while performing. A sort of seizure- scrunched up- ecstasy morphing into drawn- down horsey longness.
Way after the fact I felt what I had already intellectually known, no one listening to CD would think “Wow, I bet he had on weird faces while doing this.” And, that aside I now know it is highly subjective anyways. If one is a fan of a band, then in concert when singer looks like he perhaps could use an un-sharpened pencil put in their mouth, you think “Wow, he is really getting into it, this is intense.” Someone not into the band seeing same performance may snicker.
My In the Eights series is capturing looks we give but would largely prefer others not see. They are slurred to surrealistic proportions as I wanted to make it beautiful and off putting. It is not so much that for each of us our “eights” are there just below the surface, they come out, making appearances when we laugh, cry, are drunk, climax or for some of us, feel anger. It’s the terrible beauty.
The genesis of this series. My regular collages are very time consuming and slowly take over my studio with sheets of paper upon which rest tiny paper snowflakes. I alternate between doing a painting and collage. I worked hard to gain my collage chops and found as i worked on painting I missed it. I absolutely could not do both at once. When I am on the road, I am still creating but with the way my collage work is, that is all I would be doing. I came up with the idea to do drastically smaller ones which I would be able to do on the road and also while working on painting. Since I had the road in mind i knew I would not be able to use 100% my own images as I usually do. I also realized I may not be able to achieve my preferred density. The answer was to do portraits. My first few 8’s were found pictures. Reluctantly, I showed them. People really liked them an encouraged me to do more. I was able to get people to model for me which had been my one initial qualm about showing them initially.
They are small, all being roughly index card sized. I work no digital magic, utilizing old school technique of scissors and adhesive applied with a brush. As it is an ongoing series, I am always looking for new models, email me for details.
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.
I have always tried to post new content once, maybe twice a week. This is not for lack of material. Ostensibly, we are all here to connect with like minded people or even better, introduce something about ourselves be it our work or way of looking at life to others who otherwise may not have encountered it.
This seems counter intuitive to a lot of people as the pervading modus operandi seems to be machine gun firing content out, if not hourly then daily. The average person who is actually reading blogs most likely also has other social media sites they are keeping up with, twitter et al. If even half of the number of people one follows takes this approach, it really becomes static-babble. Your follow/like(s) numbers might be up there but how many people are really looking at what you do, how many people are you truly connecting with? I mention all this not by way of complaint but to hopefully help those who are receptive.
Connected to this phenomenon are artists who have things to sell. There is nothing wrong with making people aware of what one does and where others can find it for sale. However, artists should want an audience and not customers. I was shocked when I first joined twitter as it seemed to be a million people shouting “look at me, buy my stuff” (with little if any reciprocation) with the rest of them just posting memes or quotes by others. Again, the machine gun approach to promotion. It’s not effective and depending upon the frequency of chance to purchase promotions, can be a turn off.
For this reason I try to keep my own promotions to a minimum. I want an interested audience and have always been willing to patiently play the long game as is in line with the seriousness behind what I do.
This is one few times I promote. My new Novel “Keeper of the blue” just came out. I am very proud of it. The interesting genesis behind the works’ gestation is briefly explained in my short forward. It is available for Kindle & paperback.
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.
During the pandemic I have made constructive use of my time about 90% of the time. Of course now and then I need a break from working & thinking. I’ve tried watching some of the genre shows people talk about. The shows which take place post-apocalyptic, the writing at best is “I wonder what is going to happen next?” Missing from all of these type shows is a largely untouched upon important component.
Of course in middle of a zombie outbreak first consideration is escape, safety. Shelter, food and ability to defend oneself are the primary concerns understandably. Some of these shows have been on for years and they do not really show the toll which would be taken on humanity collectively with the loss of culture. Making things (of beauty) just for the sake of doing so or if one does not have those skills, then viewing them. Life without culture as non-stop collecting or searching for the basic essentials would see a profound rewiring of mankind’s way of acting and thinking. After “X” amount of time, would it even be worth sticking around?
This mental fast food made me reflect on our current situation. I do not think it the duty of artists to put specific messages, rhetoric or agenda in their works. I do however think that, especially in in trying times, it is every artists’ duty to do their thing, create something beautiful.
It serves as a reminder of the better part of humanity awaiting us all when the trouble is over. It unites us all in reminding us there are things which are not unpleasant that link us all all together. One can not avoid bad times, we are all trapped by history. As artists we can put beauty out there, a page saver for when our thoughts and actions can once again look past merely surviving.
Offered up beauty. As usual all the images are from photos I personally took. No digital magic was used, just scissors and adhesive applied with brush.