Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Here is something that is new for me. I recently invested in several sets of pastels. I've wanted to do some pastels for quite some time but I have not been able to swing it until now. The last time I did any was when I was in graduate school and I loved them then, so I could hardly wait to use them again. Its such a great media, I love its immediacy. I'll post more as I get more done. This painting was done for a Yosemite show at the Vault in November.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Warm Twilight and Orchard Ranch were the first two paintings that I brought to The Vault. They were not a orginally painted with any thought that they would go together, they just happened to to be the same size and I didn't really think anything about it at the time. But shortly after talking them to the gallery, I get a call from the owner asking if I was planning to do any more paintings that size. A collector was interested in four paintings in the same format and liked the first two that were already at the gallery. I had no immediate plans to make any
other paintings that were going to the same size, but I did have two other panels o fthat size that were laying around the studio, so I started thinking about what I could do with last two...It was strange the first two were not suppose to go together and now I was making two more to go with the other two. It was Kris at The Vault who sort of suggested that I make the four seasons out of the four panels...so I just when with it. Cold Weather came first and then Around from the last post was the last to be finished. I think the four pieces work
together, even if they were not originally meant to work together.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I have another confession to make. I really don't like to write that much. Now I know that may seem strange since I do have a blog. So let me explain. I'm not a very talented writer (please try and keep the laughing to yourself). It's just a struggle every time I try and write. I have to work and work to get anything to make any sense. Yet, I do enjoy the process of writing, getting the words down, thinking my thoughts through and trying to get them to make sense somewhere besides in my own head (which is not as easy as it sounds). But, lately I have not had the time to do any writing I've had too much on my plate and frankly writing is a ways down on my to do list. So that got me to thinking-I started this journal to show my work and maybe write a little about it. It became quite quickly to be more about the writing than the art (at least for me) and as I have previously stated I'm not a good enough of a writer to do that on semi-regular basis. I am after all an artist and not a writer. So while I may do some longer bits of writing from time to time, I'm mostly going to show you what I've been up to in my studio. Let's get started....
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I have confession to make...I love oil paint. That may not seem strange, since I am oil painter. I love the smell, the buttery texture of the paint. I love lying out my colors on my pallette fresh and new. I buy the most expenive paint I can afford. I can spend money on color like nobody's business. I don't bother with the little studio size tubes either, what's the point? If I can't get in at least 150 ml tubes I stop looking at what colors that paint company has to offer. Each color on my palette is there for a reason. For example, one of the reasons I like to use Zinc white because of its weight. I use five different blues on my palette, because each has its own distinct characteristics. I have my favorite brands of Cadmium Lemon Yellow. etc, etc But sometimes I can become a bit obsessive. I CANNOT run out of any color, if I'm running a little low I MUST order new paint. This is especially very true of white I must have at least three or four tubes on hand at all times, if I don't, then it's straight down to the art supply store to stock up.
Sometimes I feel like a collector of artists color, much like a collector of fine wines, and so in my paint drawers at my studio I have some classic vintages. Colors that are not made any more or colors that the paint manufacturer have changed the formulation of how they make a color. (A crime in and of itself and a possible subject for a future note.) What is an artist to do? Keep the old color, of course...wait a sec... aren't I suppose to USE the paint? But, how can I be expected to use something that I can't get anymore? soooo, I save them...I must have, I don't even what to count in my head how many mostly used up tubes of paint I have lying around my studio. I can't use them and I can't throw them away, its quite a catch 22. I must have some paint that is more than fifteen years old in my studio that I just can't bear to part with it...I'm sick...really sick.
Painting can be very difficult at times. I toss around thirty percent of my work, they just don't work, for any number of reasons. Mostly, I've made some bad decisions. Sure, any painting can be fixed but is it really worth the time it would take to fix them?
I walk into my studio and I don't have any fixed idealized vision of what any painting should look like, so everything changes from day to day. I usually have some sort of an idea that I have seen, say, from the day before, a sunset or sunrise from my backyard or some fields on a drive from last week, it all melds together in my mind and then I start thinking I may have an idea that would work in a painting or drawing. So I have to try these ideas out to see if they will work in paint. These ideas may work or they may not, I never know until I try them, painting and drawing is experiential, you can think about all you want but until you try it you can't know. Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I don't. I never can predict the outcome. Sure, I've learned that certain colors work well together, but what if I'm trying a new color combination? The answer will be found on the canvas or panel not in my head. It may not seem like the best way to paint, but when you paint this way your good painting can be better than if I was always striving for only one kind of painting. How do you get better? I know of only one way, you gotta make a lot of mistakes.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Ninety Minutes later....
We unlock the gate and drive up to the top of the hill where we left our stuff. There we find a herd of cattle surrounding our easels and painting gear. Jack's stuff looks to be fine, but my stuff...well, its taken a bit of a beating. My field easels is upside down with its three legs sticking straight up into the air and my paint bag is turned upside down with tubes of paint strewn all around and my painting was laying face down in the knee high grass. The cows were just standing around looking at us as if to say, what are you guys doing in our field? Apparently cows are very curious animals, and they just wanted to see want we were doing. What is not commonly known is apparently some cows are art critics as well. (Note: they did not mess with Jack's stuff.) We shooed them off to see what the damage was done to my stuff and surprisingly it was nothing! The cows has amazingly not broken anything, the easel was fine and the painting just needed some minor repainting where the grass had messed up the paint. A couple of hours later I finished the painting.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Barley and Early Cotton, 2003. oil on panel, 7 x 12
Painting outside (I refrain from using the romantic French term though I have nothing against the France or its beautiful language, but recently in the US, some artists have co-oped the term, so they can use it as a marketing tool, and the French term has come to denote a certain style of painting which was not its original meaning, but I digress) can be challenging. I participated in a paint out this past week at one of my galleries. We got to paint all over the Foothills of California. It's a good excuse to visit my friend Jack Cassinetto and spend the week painting with him or at least trying to paint. We are not dedicated painters of the outdoors. I don't mind it and have painted outside since I was in school twenty years ago, but Jack only tolerates it. We are both studio painters. So here we are two studio painters headed out to the great outdoors.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
When I am with other artists we often talk among ourselves about who our favorite painters are. I also find it is a question that collectors and art lovers like to ask. It helps to understand what influences a painter. What really rows their boat, so to speak.
Sometimes collectors eyes will glaze over when I start talking about my, well, at least fifty favorite artists. (What do you mean you have never heard of Richard Diebenkorn?! He's only one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century!) So I have to watch myself. It's when I'm talking to other artists that it can get interesting. So many times, I will mention an artist that I find highly influential, and find that my artist friends haven't even heard of him or is not even interested in his work. It's strange.
I consider Paul Cezanne to be a great painter, one of the best. Yet when I mention him I usually get blank stares from fellow artists. Wasn't he the guy who started cubism and that modern art crap? I've never understood his work. No, he wasn't, and I'm sorry you never took the time to look at what he did. There is a emotional depth in his work that is lacking in a lot of work before and since his time. He was an artist who had a personal vision of the world in paint. He reinvented what he saw in paint. That's something that I think all artists should think about when they're working. What am I bringing to this painting that is my own? Of course, we are all influenced by other artists, but how can I reinvent nature in my paintings and make it personal?
Isn't that the reason to paint?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
The canvas is on the easel and I have carved out enough time to lay in the composition and color of the painting. I first have to establish where the horizon line will be, that will dictate how everything else will relate in the painting...how many fields there will be and how big the sky will be in the painting are all determined by where the horizon is placed in the composition. At the same time I'm thinking about what time of day it is in the painting, this will help me decide what color I'm going to try in the painting.
Once the composition is worked out, I then start to lay in the color that I think will work in the painting, making slight adjustments as I work. I make the color choices in my paintings based on my memories when I am outside looking at the landscape. I don't work from photographs when I am in the studio. The colors I choose are based on my visual vocabulary that I have built up over the years of looking at and painting the landscape...so my color decisions are based in my personal experience, not second-hand information from another source.
This process may, on larger pieces, like this commission, take the better part of the day to get the first layer of color on the canvas. On even larger canvases it may take several days to lay in the color on the canvas. I try to work as quickly as I can so I can have something to work against when I work on the painting in the coming weeks.
When I have the color laid in, the whole process tends to slow down. I refine the relationships of the color in the painting making them work more effectively together. This process may take some time...when I first lay in the color on that first day, I usually think that the painting is almost done when I leave the studio that day, but when I come back to the painting the next day I see things that I did not see before, problems that need to be addressed and colors that do not work well as well together as I thought they did. The fine tuning of a painting can take weeks and even months. As I work on the painting the relationships in the color of the painting grow stronger, more cohesive, working together to make the piece a more effective painting. It is only when I feel that the painting is working in concert and nothing is detracting from the overall feeling of the piece that I can call the piece complete.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
This is a painting that's just fresh off my easel. It is for a commission I did for a couple in Missouri. I am quite pleased with how it turned out. The painting process for this piece and how it was finished was fairly typical for me. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about how I make a painting from start to finish.
This painting was started, since it was a commission, by deciding with the collectors how large the piece was going to be and then I stretched the canvas. I would normally just stretch a variety of sizes, which are sometimes based on thumbnails than I've been doing recently. Most other artists I know do not stretch their own canvas, but I simply can not find any canvases that are prepped the way I want them, so I do it myself, the old fashioned way...two coats of hide glue and oil ground primer. It's simply the best canvas surface I have ever painted on.
So once the canvas was ready to go it sits in my studio until I have the nerve to start on it...
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
A painter in his most basic function put blobs of color on a flat surface in a certain order on that surface to make a painting. It is the COLOR that makes the painting, all other things are subservient to the color. Sure other things are important, but means little if the color sucks.
Artists often go on and on about loving the light when they are painting, but I have found that light has little to do with painting and has everything to do with photography and the fact that many artists think that photographs are how our eyes see the world. You see, without light photos could not exists. Light has to enter the lens to make the image. That's the only way a mechanical eye ( the camera) can reproduce what it sees. I'm still looking for that light color on my palette...hmm, I don't think it's there. That means that I am only left with color, so I am going to base my paintings on the paint on my palette and not some color and value structure that has nothing to do with painting.
Someone recently made a comment about Afterglow and asked how such a dark painting could have such a sense of wonderful light and color and if I could teach her husband how to paint like that. "Well" I answered, "I could but he would have to look at the world in a completely different way than he does now."
I don't see light, I only see Color.
My days are spent in my studio working with color.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Warm Evening, oil on panel, 8 x 10
What a day... I really hate spring forward. The kids get all screwed up and they never know when they are supposed to take naps or go to sleep. You wouldn't think that one hour would cause that much havoc...but it does. But what a beautiful day. Nothing could spoil this, even if the kids that are not sure when they are suppose to sleep.
This is a painting I did a couple of weeks ago...and I saw the sky tonight our first warm evening of the early spring after church. Some days, I see things so clearly and everything is a painting. I thank God for days like today.
When is Monday going to get here? I want to get back to my Studio and get to work.