Tuesday, December 29, 2009
As for the irony of his work, he painted sunflowers to brighten the homes of common workers, that is, to have something cheerful and wonderful, something of natural beauty, on their walls. He wished for them the glory of color to shine as they ate their daily bread, the fruits of their own hands and toil. To this end he dedicated his days and hours. Could he have imagined that only the super wealthy could ever afford such a sight in their homes?!
As for his mastery, I recall seeing an exhibit of his work some five years ago at the Seattle Art Museum. The exhibit was exquisitely lit, that is, the most superior lighting I had ever seen in an art museum. The room seemed dark, and yet, the paintings were lit with optimal brilliance. For a Van Gogh, this has to be key, and quite a challenge with his work being sculptural in nature. I thought to myself that truly, Van Gogh was the best with color of any artist, living or dead, even better than Picasso.
I say, let's not presume so much to understand, as to appreciate Van Gogh for the wonder of color, form, and brushstroke, the wonder of the way in which he captured his world with gobs of pigment. In this way, I think we can best honor the memory of Van Gogh, the master.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This morning I had time to revisit the work, the first day in two or three weeks. It has been very difficult to find studio time lately, what with all the priorities vying for my time and efforts. Also, creative endeavors demand that, not only do you have the opportunity to create, but that you are up for it. This morning, all forces came into alignment. Whether I am pleased with the results or not, it sure felt good to "be there then." I do feel pleased with the results so far. Not overjoyed, but I feel some satisfaction. I had the urge to sign the work, often a sign that I am (nearly) done, but, it just as often means there may be more to do. I am reluctant to sign a wet painting.
I will give it some drying time, and hang it on the wall for a good look later.
Does it really look like Jackie?! I'm not sure. Perhaps. I am reminded that, after lengthy posing sessions, Gertrude Stein remarked to Picasso that her portrait did not really look like her. He responded something to the effect of "don't worry, in fifty years it will look exactly like you."
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Rembrandt's mastery was everything I thought it might be, that and much more. The show, which featured only a handful of his works was so moving, so powerful, that words could never do it justice. This artist was in total control of the painting. It was all so real, with an inner truth.
This show must be seen, and seen again.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Do you need to look at a series of uplifting images, images that explore the joy of color and form? Check these out, and click here.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I must have gotten a bit impulsive, because after very little searching, I came across the Leica Minox hybrid, the Minox DCC, shown above. It was infatuation at first glance. Always partial to Nikons, I have yearned to own a Leica, having used one only as part and parcel of a Reprovite copy stand. Oh how I loved to advance the film, focus and depress the remote shutter release! The snap of the controls, the sounds... pure quality and joy. The results were impressive. I thought I might own a small portion of joy in the DCC. I was wrong.
Visually, I was awestruck when I opened the packaging. The tiny camera was stuck in a wonderful wooden box like a piece of jewelry. It was striking looking with classic good looks. However, there were downsides that could not be overlooked. The camera on-board software was anemic, and lacking. There were visible controls some of which had function, some did not. Ouch. The photos were, well, disappointing. Finally, and yes, all on the first day, one of the buttons just failed to work. I am not one to return items easily, but this had to go back where it came from.
The search is still on for that wonderful little digital that is (nearly) always with me, feels good in your hands, and yields superb results.
Yes, and someday, I hope to own a fine Leica.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I am prone to being infatuated with images that I create, and this is no exception. Does it look like Jackie? It does to me! After it dries, I will have a closer look, upstairs, on my wall.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Picasso said something to the effect that as you begin a piece, you must be on your guard against early infatuations, that is, with images that emerge in the creative process. He counsels against saving and honoring these images, and advises that they be “destroyed”, buried deep, yielding ever richer, stronger results in the process. The work above is a case in point.
I started this work quite a while ago, perhaps going on nearly a year. As the work progressed, I hoped to keep portions of it, here and there, which I found most pleasing. However, I could not seem to flesh out the entire piece based around saving these incongruent parts, and truly, in retrospect, they seemed somewhat anemic. The frustration gave way to boldness with some ninety per cent of the painting covered over with layers of gesso, paint and collage. In the end, all that I initially sought to save and maintain was layered under, with newer, bolder and more cohesive images emerging. The work became fully realized; images, themes and all.
The creative process here was a very satisfying and rewarding adventure, with much to ponder and learn, about myself, in the completed work.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I am closing in on finishing another work, shown above. When it is dry enough to hang it on the wall, I will decide if it is in fact completed. There may be yet a few finishing touches to do, I am not quite sure. At the very least, I will probably touch up the edges with color, or a fresh coat of gesso.
The canvas frame is home made, and quite deep at 1.5”. I don’t think this painting will ever have a frame on it. With such a deep edge, I was able to move the two rear frame supports well back of the canvas surface, which is a big plus for me. I am not exactly a delicate painter. I am, in fact, a bit physical with the canvasses at times. Sometimes as I work, I tend to press through to the support bars in the rear, leaving paint impressions on the front of the canvas which I loathe. At those times I have to reach around to the rear and press the canvas forward, aggressively working the front with brushes or rags to remove any unwelcome traces of those impressions left by the wood. I am tempted to make more of my own canvas frames, because this one turned out solid as a brick, not to mention, that I can have total control of the size of the finished work.
As for the content of the painting, I think I may be working out some unresolved feelings with respect to my work-life. I may have some feelings that I don’t know where to put, but, at least I can put them on a canvas. For me, there is something reminiscent of Goya here, and that has to be a good thing.
I think it was Isadora Duncan who said that, under no circumstances is it for an artist to judge their own work. That is for others to do. What a relief! The only judgment that I need to make is whether or not to hang the work on my wall. If I want to see the painting every day, well, that says something.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Something tells me that even Van Gogh would have appreciated this image. Is it the composition, the textures, the colors, the mood, that is, for me, one of alone-ness? Is it the time of day, morning or evening?
Whatever it is, it is the footprint that man has left on the earth. The way to get from one place to another, within or without.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I love the image on the underside of this flower. The unique qualities of the colors and textures. The fractal-like composition. The suggestive details. The energy is bursting out in all directions.
It really is a wonderful world.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
More often than not, the creative process also entails a good deal of destruction, with the careful laying of paint followed by an equally careful process of removal, followed by reassessment.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to complete another work. Who is to say?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It must be near the end of its life cycle as I think they only live some two to three months. This one seemed a bit battle worn, as it posed patiently for its portrait. The macro mode really allows us to see what would never be seen normally. These insects display a complex level of detail.
This little worker has done an amazing job on behalf of its young, its community and the environment. It is a little sad to watch it all come to a close.
Its work, however, will ensure the future. Can we say that about ourselves?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
It was late afternoon when I saw him, or her, a time when activity winds down for the night. I grabbed my camera, that is, the Nikon P5100, and was allowed increasingly intimate opportunity to document the visit, under constant scrutiny by these highly visual creatures. At some point I must have been judged to not be a serious threat, because in the end, I had the camera quite close to its face. Only at times were the front pincers separated, a sign of some alarm. At no time did the wings spread, a red alert.
I wished that I had the Nikon D80, a single lens reflex camera I use at work. This would have allowed precision in the macro shots. It is quite hard to auto focus on a wispy creature, some two inches in length. It was necessary to auto focus on an object and then continually hold the focus and estimate the distance to the mantis, a hit or miss strategy for crisp focus on the subject. Another issue to be faced was the fact that the closer you are to the object you wish to focus on, the smaller the depth of field becomes, yielding an increasingly narrower focal range.
Through macro photography, I gained respect and admiration for this little predator of calm repose. That is one aggressive little grip at it's command.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Start date, circa 1959
Fantastic little box camera. Bakelite at it’s best. Hold it like a Hasselblad (great feeling even for a four year old) and stare down into the view finder. My first taste of art direction! I can still hear the tinny little sound of the shutter release and spring. Then, the sound as you wound to the next frame. That was great fun. Need I say it? This and all to follow until I mention otherwise were all film cameras!
Kodak Instamatic 100
Start date, circa 1965
Felt like I was in heaven. Was picture taking ever this much fun, or cool?! I don’t know how I got my hands on this baby, but I still have it. I loved the horizontal format and the look of the prints. They scream, mid 1960’s. This was the camera to bring to the World’s Fair (yes, they had those things where you could roam around in freedom and safety, learning about other cultures and enjoying life.)
Unknown Minolta SLR
Start date, circa 1968
Brief, but wonderful stint using my sister’s old SLR from art school. Magnificent camera, but, unfortunately, malfunctioned and was never repaired. This middle-schooler lacked the wherewithal to bring the camera back to life.
Start date, circa 1971
This is where we drop all the booster rockets and enter the heavens. Magnificent camera, an aristocrat. Professional level, fully manual. This was a loaner from my then brother-in-law on his return from duty in Vietnam as a photographer of the aftermath of battle (I hear you). I was brought up to speed. I learned to load the film, take light readings, and set the aperture and shutter speed. I gained experience in proper exposure and image composition. I began to develop and mount all my own color slide film and create slide shows. After shooting countless rolls of film I learned to cull down and tell stories with only the strongest images, preempting the yawning and “look at the time” syndrome. The Nikon F2 brought fulfillment.
Start date, circa 1973
Not an SLR, but a little workhorse that I used for quite a few years. Lost track of it. Would love to find it in my attic some day.
Start date, circa 1983
Beautiful semi professional SLR. Just getting to know it when it was sadly stolen out of my house one dark December. May have ended up under a tree somewhere on Christmas morn, or, helped satisfied a drug habit.
Unknown Ricoh point and shoot
Start date, circa 1984
Not much to tell here other than that this camera filled the gap between the previous glories, and those to come. As a point and shoot, I have no complaints. Worked well and was easy on batteries.
Start date, circa 1994
For me, the best of the film cameras. Pure joy. When this camera was stolen, it shook my ability to trust (long story that I won’t elaborate on.) Used exclusively for product photography. A fantastic camera.
Start date, circa 1994
Copy stand marvel in black (film only.) Also a joy. The Leica body and lens were a jewel in my eyes. Everything worked flawlessly. Every tolerance was right on the money. I hope to work with Leicas again some day.
Unknown rented digital SLR monster-cam.
Start date, circa 1995
Rented for test purposes, this camera produced stunning results. Price tag? Around 28K. That’s why we rented it.
Start date, circa 1995
A new era of fun begins. Feels like a toy, but, if you are not terribly concerned with image quality, gets the job done. Best at quick record shots.
Start date, circa 1997
After the Kodak DC-40, this feels like a real camera in your hands again. Cleanly designed hardware. The image quality is improving. This camera is probably around 2 mega pixels, impressive for that time. If you purchased a separate mountable screen, you could actually view the image that you were about to capture, a first. Still, this camera was somewhat temperamental. At times,there were hours and days of downtime while we did trouble shooting to get it back in service.
Nikon Coolpix 3100
Start date, circa 2004
At 3.2 mega pixels, closer yet to capturing a good image for web or print. The digital fun has now kicked in. Still works great. I wish that the battery door had not fallen off. Black photo tape holds it all together. At a passing glance, can’t tell there is a problem. Looks cooler than ever.
Start date, circa 2007
We have arrived. All the fun and possibilities are at our command. The depth of the image is fabulous. Only drawback? Need to use the camera almost daily to stay familiar with it. But, it is worth it.
Start date, circa 2008
I keep this one close to me because for image capture it is the best thing going. It used to be “F 8 and be there.” Now, it is, “just be there.” Not an SLR, but, you can’t put an SLR in your pocket, or hang it lightly around your neck. Oh, the wonder!
Do I miss film and slides as media? I sure do, but that will have to wait for a later post!
Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I love the way I can digitally capture an image, say, of an oil painting as shown above, entitled "Closeup 02, Porcelain Redhead", which, point of information, measures 12" x 48", and then quite easily manipulate the image to my liking, as shown in one iteration, below.
To me, this is shear fun, all over again.
World, are you listening? Stop all the mayhem, and go for the fun. You heard it here first, fun is sustainable.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I tend to rotate works around my house periodically and sometimes a work will end up in storage and out of sight for a while. The image may go out of my peripheral consciousness. When I see the work again, I have to look at it and imagine myself in the creative process. I remember the order of its creation, the drawing of a line, the rendering of a mass.
For a moment, I relive its birth and feel the joy all over again.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
At the time that the tree stops functioning as a living, growing organism, as we normally think about it, it takes on a new life, a phantom, as host to the bugs, bacteria, bats and birds. As storehouse, condo, and insulator, it also continues to provide a measure of shade and wind protection. The tree takes on a magnificent sculptural appearance and patina as it points heavenward only to be brought down, ever so gradually, to nourish and renew the next generation. We could learn a lot from trees.
If “man is a tree of the field”, might not we have this sort of legacy or afterglow of purpose and poise?
Yes, and it is all by design.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The key is to observe the magic, and have fun with it.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Often, I check to see if a work holds up from a distance, and, I have to say that this one doesn't do that. I think that you have to really get up to it to see what is happening in there, which is fine on a case by case basis. This painting is fairly large for me at 36" square so there is plenty of territory to check out, and, a lot of form interaction by virtue of the close proximity of elements.
Here is the fraternal twin to the above painting, also rather large at 40" x 30". It was completed in the same breath with its twin, and was just as much fun. This painting does hold up well from a distance. I just couldn't wait to do a painting with a color palette of red, yellow, white, and black.
Both paintings bring me back in a way, to earlier times. The first to a distinct memory of my early teens, and the second to a feeling, an emotion from my earliest years. In part, I think that is what the creative endeavors are about, a sort of mirror to your essence. The question is, can you really see?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Can you see the porcupine posed face in to the underside of the rock? Who says animals can't speak? I hear him saying "I will be here minding my own business, I recommend that you do the same."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
It is very satisfying to have them form into finished works nearly at the same time. I am not sure how I will see them in the morning, but it feels good for right now.
I love watching paint dry!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I thought to myself, doesn't she know that water is colorless, that water takes on the color of reflected light in the surroundings, that water could be any color at all? There are a lot of reasons why water could indeed be orange. Has she not been to Venice Beach, California at sundown and looked out over the Pacific?
Even if water couldn't be orange, does it matter? In our creation, water could be any color that we choose.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
By the way, his dad got wise to him, closed down the chemistry lab and bought him a telescope.
I owe so much to this man, Harold Zabitz, artist, teacher, man of his times. When I was in his class, I felt that I was exactly where I was meant to be.
He interacted with the likes of Jackson Pollack. He is as engaged an artist now as he ever was. He continues to inspire.
Live, thrive and survive to find out.