Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More palette Talk.....

"My palette,newly set and brilliant with the contrasts of the colours, suffices to inflame my enthusiasm".
-Eugene Delacroix

During my last post I described a personal experiment with a palette arising from previously used Masonite panel to "imagineer" an intuitive image or response. The more that I thought about the exercise... the more I came to understand that as artists we are all searching for ideas and devices to extend both our knowledge of mediums, styles and subject matter.

As I visit different blogs that I enjoy, it becomes ever so obvious that we are all "restless" in a sense. I run across some who have "found" the Zorn palette... or the Singer Sargent palette... or in my own case a "split" palette suggested in John Carlson's classic "Guide to Landscape Painting". I continue to use that palette and rarely do I feel a need to change at this point in my journey. Others employ or experiment with limited palettes, or add in a new pigment such as black which seems the rage at present.

All of these devices are legitimate efforts towards gaining new knowledge and add new and necessary excitement to the painting process. It pays huge dividends to extend one's knowledge... or as I would offer... to "shuffle the deck". There is a trap however, if one simply "floats around" from one new venture to another without spending a significant enough time to really understand and develop an idea or approach further.

Success in finding one's own "style" comes from hard work using your own comfortable method... adding "dashes" of discovery into your own recipe... as "You" grow in confidence and capability. It takes time... and perseverance to develop... or discover one's own unique palette and style.It takes courage and conviction to "stay the course"!

My own exercise from the last post is not an isolated example of my trying to "think outside the box" in my own search and artistic method. Here are a couple more jpegs which illustrate a couple of more "ramblings"... and moments of "play" in my journey.

In closing... "I" would offer this anecdote regarding Pablo Picasso and his "discovery" of Cubism. I read an account which describes Picasso passing by a curio shop in the Montmartre... where he discovered some smallish wooden African carvings that excited him enough to purchase them, in order to study them in his studio. Out of that "discovery" Picasso shocked... then reshaped Modern Art with the creation of his iconic "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon".

"I" would offer this question. Who is the true "genius"? Picasso coming out of his Blue and Pink Periods... or some unknown "uneducated"... searching African artisan... from who-knows-where.... carving for what reason?

That is a reasonable question... that does not matter. It IS... that all artists build upon their own work, drawing from the vast treasury of ideas of those who are their contemporaries... or from those who preceded them.

Ramble on!... Search and discover! That is the primary joy received from a journey of painting!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Imagineering... or Envisioning

Looking in the dictionary one finds that "to imagine" can be defined as the ability to make mental images of things not present. The dictionary similarly defines "to envision" as an ability to conceive something as a possibility.

I firmly believe that all serious artists possess both of these qualities, or abilities in larger degrees than many others around them in their daily lives. I also firmly believe that this same group of individuals possesses these "gifts" right from the very beginning of their lives. I believe that it is in "their nature" from the start... but that it is often also recognized early on... nurtured and encouraged by parents, relatives, teachers and mentors who appear along the course of one's journey.

I believe that artists in general, are more curious about and sensitive to the world they live in... the people they meet and the natural rhythm of Nature. How many of us have been asked: "To stop day dreaming"?... or "When are you ever going to grow up"? I have always known that "I" was much more "Child-ish".... capital "C" and hyphen intended, even up until today. "I" ....continue to "see" the world through the eyes of a hopeful... optimistic and trusting child... and for these reasons often am disappointed and am vulnerable to the pessimism and oppression of many adults... if I permit it.

However... "I" choose to move ahead in all areas of my life... and ALWAYS in my Art continuing to search and learn more about my Self... and the wonder-filled world that "I" am privileged and blessed to live in. My art talents and passion DO NOT set "Me" aside from others... because "I" am ALWAYS open to ... and willing to share my findings with any person... regardless of age or ability... so that they might feel the same joy that "I" receive in creating my own work.

Often... "I" create a challenge for my Self... to step outside of the box... "to imagineer"...or to create intuitively from deep within my imagination... without the normal benchmarks we all establish as our "working method".

This post demonstrates one of these exercises. Perhaps it parallels one of your own.. and if not... perhaps it will unlock a new way to channel your Muse. I hope so.I began this exercise after finding a discarded 1/8 inch piece of Masonite... a 9x12 inch gesso-primed a burnt sienna toned panel which had served as a makeshift palette for one of my young students. I sanded it a bit with a rough piece of heavy grit sandpaper... wiped it clean with solvent... set up a new palette of my own... and waited for the sanded panel to dry.

While this was occurring, I put on a CD called "Forest Music"... and just sat listening and looking (as I do outdoors on location) at the "nothing" panel... hoping for a direction or guidepost to emerge. It did not take long to happen. I will not... no... really cannot tell you anything about the process... except that the painting that emerged ..."fairly painted itself"... "I" merely held the brush. How many times have "You" experienced just that? I wonder?

At this point "I' will let the "Voice" who conducts my writing using his words sit down... and let the "Voice" who conducts my painting process explain with his images. "I" think... that though they are silent... they speak as sensitively, fluidly and eloquently as the written word.

"A picture is [indeed] worth a thousand words".

What do "You" think?

"Art Matters!

Good painting... and Imagineering...All!

PS The painting "lives" as shown framed in the home of one of my ardent collectors... another "Dreamer"!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tanglewood... a roadside study

Our Oro-Medonte region is literally littered with swamps, creeks, streams, lakes and rivers a part of the Canadian Shield geological region which stretches across most of Ontario. One never has to venture far to find suitable subject matter for a good landscape. This particular subject is less than 10 minutes away from the Gallery. I have passed it by on many occasions in all seasons... but on this particular morning everything seemed right to give it a go.Winter light and shadows reveals new "magic"... and really adds drama... isolating previously hidden passages for the searching eye.

The actual composition is a bit frenetic and complicated... not the usual thing one looks for in an outdoor session. I knew that there would be a lot of small, fussy shapes and spaces to deal with... sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. But... Hey!...Who doesn't enjoy sitting down once in a while for a few hours of such "puzzlin'" fun.... with a thousand or more pieces strewn out on a large table?

I liken the painting to exactly the same kind of leisure pastime... Focus!Focus!.... Search!.... Play... and look for similar passages of line or colours. That's sort of how the exercise unfolded... and how the final image emerged. Hooking onto certain elements... pushing others into place to create a new whole.

"I" do like the final outcome. It's definitely a bit on the tight side... but I really like the colour harmony and the warmth in the piece. I enjoyed the day... and learned a little more about perseverance! A good lesson for us all in our daily lives.

Keep the Faith... and do what "You" feel and love!

Good Painting to all!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Value of a Second Glance....

My last post fully demonstrated the process whereby I approach a large studio painting. A subject is conceived (usually)through a process of careful preparation... study and distillation and moves slowly towards a constantly changing and emerging ending. That ending can be dramatically different from the reference photo ... or the plein air version. It depends upon what enters into my thinking as "I" work along in "The Flow".

My next project is an extension of a previous project from the last winter painting season. It is a largish canvas as well... begun in somewhat the same manner as "Canadian Gothic". However... I took shortcuts... didn't bother to grid (when the ratios of sketch to canvas were different) because I had a "deadline" to meet to get the requested three paintings off the easel... crated and shipped to the gallery. "I" felt good about the three pieces... in retrospect... likely grateful they were completed and ready to ship. That's where... "the wheels fell off"!

The first disappointment came when I received the large painting back after only days at the gallery... hardly enough time had passed to justify the cost of shipping and effort to get it there. I unpacked the piece and stood it vertically... ignoring it for a couple of days while dealing with the discouragement.During one early morning visit to the studio... I happened to glance over my shoulder in the direction of "orphan".... and there it was... SMACK in my face... the reason for the quick return/rejection.

The canvas and subject were of a horizontal format and in that plane looked.... well... at least half respectable. But in the vertical plane... the painting glared and certainly "spoke" even to "Me" with much less respectability. I was actually shocked that "I" would have not seen these glaring errors... before letting them out for the eyes of qualified "others" to view.It was to "Me"... an embarrassment and something "I" didn't want to look at or revisit again! So the painting has been face-to-wall ever since.

In January... when my wife and "I" were putting together some changes we wished for our personal and artistic lives... we cleared out a bunch of "hangers-on". Many things were delivered the the local Goodwill Centre. I paid a visit to our area where I store older canvases.... tidied it up and went up into our apartment above the gallery where "Winter Residents" was residing in shameful exile.I sat down momentarily and looked at the canvas.This time, however... it was a look to find a solution... rather than the look of condemnation and embarrassment that it had received upon its untimely... and unexpected return. For the first time "I" saw a directions... changes that could make this "child-of-mine" something that "I" could be proud of.
Through viewing the plein air sketch from ten years ago... along side the "failed first large composition and then the corrected version. I hope to usher "You" through the risky but rewarding process through which that painting and I passed through. "I" truly hope that if nothing else is attained through this record... what will emerge is a belief that "Redemption" is ALWAYS possible... where there is (1) a recognition and acceptance that there exists a problem (2)that there exists a deeply felt willingness to work at improvement and (3)that one has the capacity to "let go" and forgive things that happened in the Past. This applies not only to painting... but as well... to all other areas of one's life.This is the true pathway.. to "Inner Peace."

I" hope that "You" enjoy seeing the trio together for comparison... and that perhaps this post might encourage "You" to revisit... and reclaim an earlier disappointment. It is a great feeling to overcome adversity and succeed!

Good Painting to All!