Sunday, September 18, 2011

Swerving Along the Artistic Road

8" x 10" watercolor on Arches 140 lb. natural white cold press paper

Something is going on here, and I'll bet you're looking to me to tell you what it is.  Well I can't.

I'll bet you're thinking,  If you don't know what's happening, then I certainly don't.

That, I am sure, would be a perfectly reasonable position for you to take if I had any idea what is going on myself. But I don't.

So you, my friend, are being unreasonable.

No offense.

I do have three theories though.

Theory number 1:  I am a Groupie. I can't help it.  I am as helpless as a schoolgirl at a Justin Bieber concert.  To test this theory, I popped into a Justin Bieber fan club site, to see just what a groupie is like.  Quotes from the fans included:  "justin bieber is following me on twitter now :::::::)))))))))) supper [sic] happy" and "Sooo i was eatin [sic]at a restraunt [sic] and i had fries…and they had suger [sic] on 1 side of the tabe [sic] and salt on the other, and i didnt [sic] see the i accidently [sic] put suger [sic] on my fries soooo groooosssssss!!!!"

Okay, maybe not.

But I feel like an art groupie nonetheless.  The truth is that I go from art blog to art blog, art site to art site - some are modern, and some are traditional, some are creative, and some are skilled - and often when I see something I like, something I looooooveeee :::::::)))))))))), I worship that artist, drool a little, and want to do the very same thing.  More than that - I want to do what he or she is doing all of the time.  I want to live his or her life, step into his or her shoes, and wear his or her pants.

Okay maybe not the pants.

Case in point, the other day I was surfing and went to Chris Beck's watercolor blog, "I am Painting As Fast as I can", here, and he dedicated a post to Frank Eber, another signature member of the National Watercolor Society.  From there I sailed to Frank Eber's blog, here, and BOOM, infatuation.  I read every post in his blog.  Yes.  Every post.  Swoon.  Because I liked what I saw and maybe he said something there I could learn from so I could try what he was doing.

The above picture is my humble first effort.

One of my longest art crushes has been Celeste Bergin.  Her blog is here.  In oil she has an experimental and impressionist style that I greatly Desire.., but oil is a long way from watercolors.  And here was Frank Eber, doing en plein air in a loose impressionist style with my medium.  Sigh.

The problem with this is that some of you may recall a few short posts back my infatuation was .. well, we'll get to that in Theory no. 2.

[Note:  I do not want any of you to get the wrong impression, so perhaps my analogy for theory no. 1 should have been as follows:  I am tobacco spittin' sure bowled over by that Magnum .22 he's a shootin'.  Yeah.  That's closer.]

Theory No. 2. I am as Loose as a Goose with a Masseuse.  So here I am, under Frank Eber's spell.  In my "fine art"- type watercolors I have often spent a lot of time concentrating on details, like shape, color and light.  It has often been a slow and methodical process.  Frank Eber, however, abhors detail.  He is washy - mostly wet-on-wet.  He simplifies, focusing on shapes and values, saying we should connect the shapes to provide unity in our paintings, and instructing that values exceed color in importance, which is most certainly true.  I wish I could quote him, but I must respect his copyright and have no time to request permission, so I encourage you to visit his blog.

So with all this in mind, I grabbed a larger brush than usual, and tried to be loose, simple and free!

I am one of these people that cannot be massaged.  I am tight.  I run from masseuses.  But today, I was loose.  I couldn't find my pencil (Frank Eber at least pencils in general shapes).  So I just started applying paint to paper.  I was en plein air, sort of.  I was outside, kind of, with only my car's windshield between me and the Town of South Miami.  So I was en plein air conditioner.

I was Michael Jordan.  I was Gumby.  I was the Dali Lama.  How loose was I?   I was so loose that I lost track once or twice where I was going and what I was doing - I had to remind myself that impressionistic did not mean careless, so that the skyline ended up changing a bit.  It is a different South Miami, than South Miami.  I was Caravaggio.  A loose Caravaggio.

But, going back to theory no. 1, my infatuation just two months ago was with Andrew Wyeth,  His work is  not wet, but dry, and hardly impressionistic, but greatly detailed.  So what does that mean?!

Theory no. 3. I am thoroughly lost.  It was great fun doing this painting, and I will do more in that style I am sure even though I know it is not what I will do the most and will not be where I ultimately head.  I will do more of that just as I will do more drybrush, more ink and watercolor, and more detailed watercolors that are somewhere in between.  I am fine artist.  I am illustrator.  I admire fine artists.  I admire illustrators.  I sketch.  I draw meticulously.  I am careless.  I am detailed.  I want to learn acrylics, monoprint, perhaps oil, and who knows what else.  I like still lifes, portraits, cityscape, and everyday portrayals of people.  I admire traditional art, and more recent isms, and modern design.

So where am I?  I am everywhere!  I am nowhere.

I believe - I hope - that this is the definition of a student.  I have found my passion, and my infatuation.   I travel down many roads and one day I hope to find my road. At the start of this blog, I wrote its tag line: "Swerving along the artistic road with every sight a potential target."  When I wrote that, I was thinking of subject matter.  Without understanding, I also seem to have summed up the journey of finding artistic voice and method of expression. 

And that is where I am.  Everywhere.  Nowhere.

So something is going on here, for sure.  I hope.  And someday I hope to look back and know what.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memory of Those Lost on 9/11/2001

at our table
an empty chair,
negative space

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Quandary

Ink and watercolor on moleskine (comic books for sale)

Great Art Thoughts about ink and watercolor:

I ink therefore I am.

I still live, I still ink: I still have to live, for I still have to ink.

He who learns but does not ink, is lost! He who inks but does not learn is in great danger.

watercolor, drybrush, in large moleskine

But should I ink?

To ink, or not to ink, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous line,
Or to take arms against a sea of scribbles
And by opposing end them.

It occurs to me that even if you have read many of my posts, you do not really know me.  So an example from my life is in order.  Step, then, if you will into my bedroom..

My wife is stripping the bed.  When she unfurls the sheet, a tv remote tumbles onto the floor. 

She is looking around just as I enter the room.

"Where's the clicker?" she asks.

At first I am confused.  I am wondering why she is in the bedroom asking for the garage door opener.  She holds up the tv remote and then asks again: "Where's the other clicker?"

Then I realize.  She is asking about the second tv remote.  We call both the garage door openers and the tv remotes "clickers."  (In the name of progress, our cable company Comcast now requires that we use two tv remotes, and one is missing. My great-grandchild will have 10 remotes.  And god forbid one of them is misplaced.)

So we search and we search.  It has to be in the bedroom because that's where I last used it.

Suddenly my wife stands stock still.  She has had a sudden epiphany.  She strides to my end table without hesitation, opens the drawer and plucks out the clicker!

I am astounded.  I had put it there, certainly, but I don't remember doing it.  It doesn't belong there, and I never put it there.

"How did you know?" I ask.

"I know how you think," she says, and leaves the room.

I have an excuse, though, an excuse for my distraction - and here, dear reader, is the key to who I am:  I am always busy thinking GREAT ART THOUGHTS.

So there.