Time Out

I haven’t painted in the last week and a half, and canceled a trip to NYC to see a dear cousin and the Development of Abstraction show at the MOMA because of Bronchitis. However, I have been busy in my little art world, all be it in a quieter and more reflective way. I have been getting the management side of things going. I am continuing to work on a comprehensive catalog of my paintings, which will list title, size, medium, price, where it has been shown, and if sold, to whom. It is necessary part of managing the business of art, something that I have done sporadically, in bits and pieces at odd times with huge lapses. It is crucial because it is so easy to forget those details, and then I have to scramble to look on the backs of the paintings for the titles, and dig around in the storage boxes to measure things. It is also important to have a consistent pricing policy.

I have also been trolling the internet, looking at works in particular styles to learn more about what is out there, reading other artists blog posts, and seeing how they arrange their websites. This is making me more comfortable with the act of blogging. It is enabling me to look at my website with the eye of the outsider. I spiffed up some titles and captions to make them more understandable to people who are not familiar with the whole context.  Yesterday I learned how to put captions under the paintings in the gallery, for which I had to learn some html code.  Only two bits of code , not a lot, but a start – and even just  to start something sometimes is a huge accomplishment.

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Sketches and unfinished things

These images represent the beginning of a new series inspired by a trip to Cleveland. I was impressed by the variety of urban shapes and colors, and the associations they conjured up. After the recent election season, with talk of heartland, industry that built America, and diversity, I was where the multitude of diversified industries, small and large thrived and withered. Carl Sandburg’s poetry resonated, and memories of my recent visit to the George Bellows retrospective came to mind. We blew in and out in a whirlwind, couldn’t stop to sketch or photograph, so I came home with only my memories and a few sketches from the moving car. Never the less, I got busy in the studio. first I sketched some rough memories with charcoal. Then I tried out some small acrylic compositions, and some larger oil starts. I made a trip to Syracuse to study and photograph the intertwining highways, I81 and 690, around Almond Street. That led to some pen and ink wash studies.

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November Member’s Show at State of the Art Gallery


Here’s a link to the Video for the November Member’s Show at the State of the Art Gallery. I have five pieces hanging – the Jillian Portrait, finally finished, and four landscapes done on location at the St. Lawrence and in Chautauqua during the last month.

I am currently working on three more portraits. There is a good start on Julia, a Couch surfing guest, a third try at Susan, my daughter, and another pass of paint on the portrait of Andrejs that I started way back in January. Each portrait that I start, and each revision makes me more sensitive to the nuances of color and structure. I am using a brush, and trying to be very accurate. It is amazing how a minuscule inaccuracy,for example, a nose that is an eighth of an inch too wide or long creates a jarring perception of wrongness. We as human beings are that tuned in to the tiny variations that make us able to identify each other. With the landscapes, I can happily edit or even make things up, removing a branch or shifting it over to satisfy the needs of the composition. No such freedom with the human face if we want to recognize our friend or relative. It is a little nerve wracking to paint so slowly, and to see things reveal themselves after I thought I saw it all. Humbling, to be honest.

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Video for Turning Points

Here’s a link to the video that Stan Bowman made for the exhibit Turning Points at the State of the Art Gallery, where I am currently showing my paintings.

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New Starts and Loose Ends

The euphoria over “finishing” the Jillian portrait was short lived. No sooner did it go on the  wall than I saw a glaring flaw in what had been, moments before, the triumphant solution to the problem of the cheek in shadow. It needed a coming forward color – warmer in hue and lighter in value than the surrounding cheek in shadow, but still darker and cooler than the illuminated cheek, and still being close enough to all the other colors so that it looks like the same person on both sides of the face. This patch of paint did not fit those requirements, and in fact looked like a patch of paint, lovely in itself, but not this person’s skin. . You may wonder if I think like this when I am mixing color. Not on your life. That is way too complicated and way too right brained. I may know this technical stuff about color before I paint, and after I paint, but while I am painting it is all happening in another part of the brain unconnected to words. That’s why there is such a need for total involvement in the painting process and reflection after the painting process. Seeing the painting in another location, for me, does the trick; although sometimes, it also needs the element of time, gazing at other paintings, and a fresh start on some other painting. So, on to another painting. The tedious endless casting about for what to paint. Of course, there is a pretty long list of images in my mind that I intend to get to, and actually, two faces that I stretched canvases for, and yet my wayward mind is now yearning for a completely different type of subject. The problems of the face seem insurmountable today and suddenly I have a yen for the figure in an interior, or a grouping of multiple figures. Back to my camera and I take photos of Andrejs fixing a bicycle tire in the sunlit dining room. Another wad of time also spent in searching my recent images. Non of these appealing images yields a composition in a proportion matching existing canvases, so I would have to find stretchers, cut canvas, staple, apply gesso, coat with a  toned ground – I wouldn’t be painting for days. Ridiculous. But, such is the wayward mind. Then I get a desire to do some pen and ink wash studies. That leads to an argument with myself about what kind of paper to work on. Another dead end. At least I am not baking a cake or cleaning the kitchen in order to procrastinate. So, back to the original images that were lined up with canvases prepared for them.One good byproduct of this indecisive casting about is that I have a work plan for the next set of paintings, and will be able to prepare the canvases in between painting sessions. So I start Susan at McCormick & Schmicks. I have put this portrait off for a long time and it is with some trepidation that I embark on it. Two days later, I have scraped her face for the second time, still need to adjust the alignment and placing of the features, but I understand something about the modeling of the cheek in shadow. The same  blue, red, yellow and white, in different proportions, with a rich intensity and deep value,  suddenly bounce off of each other. and create an exciting dimensionality. Thomas Dewey really had a good idea when he urged teachers to let kids learn by doing. I mucked about with color and had an important breakthrough in understanding. Along the way I also reinforced something that I believe about learning. I suppose someone could have told me about swinging the blue/ yellow continuum in an extravagant manner around the red axis, but it might not have led to being able to do it. And of course,right now there is no guarantee that I can do it again. So, back to some repeated practice.


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