Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Love Letter to Art on the Occasion of Our Anniversary

14" x 14" acrylic on canvas
My Love Letter to Art on the Occasion of Our Anniversary:

My Beloved,

It's our anniversary.  It's hard to believe that it's been 3 whole years.

You and I flirted on and off, of course, before we finally became serious on March 15, 2009.

As a child I drew all of the time. Doodles were in all of my margins at school, and cartoons of aliens were everywhere. I knew my true love then. I forgot later, I know. But you forgave me.

At age 7 I won my newspaper's weekly children's art contest! Then in 1973, the Watergate trials were on tv. We had only a rudimentary idea what was going on but loved to draw all of those nefarious faces, didn't we?

One year in junior high school, they had a "patch and motto" contest. My design for the patch won first place in the school. But they sent the second place winner on to the county contest. That student's idea was better than mine, they said, although my art was the best. I was crushed.

I drew in pastel. I played with calligraphy. I loved pen and ink. I did a mighty impressive pastel of my brother, and some pretty good drawings on scratchboard. I was 14 or 15. 

A pastel of  my younger brother done when I was 15?

If only we'd stayed together. But I was young - I was confused, and looked away from you. In college at times I forgot you altogether.  I thought I was too old for you.

After I graduated we had a tentative liaison and I dabbled in oils, and then acrylics. But I didn't do much and knew even less, and had a marriage and then a family to tend to.   I didn't take you seriously.

But you were always whispering in my ear even if sometimes I forgot to listen.

Finally, in 2009 we caressed. But would it last? It had never lasted before.

Friends we have never met saved our relationship; I am sure of this. Our first acquaintance was Janey of Janey's Journey, a very special artist to me. You can read in this blog's very first post about what she did for me, if you'd like - about her innocent question. That was the beginning. By my second post, I'd met Raena. [Check out my joint blog with Raena, 2'nFro].  And soon thereafter, the Everyday Matters Group and artists all over the web.

A mildewed scratchboard drawing I did at about age 15
I discovered that there are no folks in the world that are more generous than artists. They share their knowledge, their techniques, their struggles. I have learned so much from them - am learning so much every day - that I am now almost as good as I was at fifteen.

I must confess, that my wife knows of our affair of the heart. She says all I think about is art, art, art. And it's true, I am smitten. But we could never be, you and I, without the artists I feel so blessed to have met and am still meeting every day. They care about us, you know. This blog has just passed 200 followers!

To properly summon tears for the occasions, and since I am a guy and of course do not cry, I have painted onions. This is only the second time that a painting on actual canvas has appeared on this blog, but it won't be the last. I love impasto, and have missed it with watercolor. And I love the immediate rich colors.

I am newly reacquainted with acrylics. I believe that this painting was able to happen only because of what I have learned from my online friends. [I will now never believe that watching the Cooking Channel can't help you to learn to cook!] I was visiting my mother, and she and I painted together. We found two onions in the refrigerator - one had been there a very long time!  It was a delightful afternoon that you shared with us.

So here we are, beginning year four, and our relationship is renewed again. I am working on another painting in acrylics that is far more complex than this one - and so far so good (fingers crossed). I am truly excited about it, and hope I can get it to the end without ruining it. But even if I do [ruin it], I know you will be there for me, and this time I won't leave you.

I won't ever leave you.

Now pardon me, while I have a good cry.

Yours forever,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Two for the Road

5" x 9-1/2" watercolor on 140 lb. paper
Deadlines, Deadlines. The other day, Terry Miura asked at his blog, "Are you waiting till the last minute so as to set yourself up for failure and cushion your fall with the excuse, 'I just ran out of time...'?"

No! I answered.  Absolutely not!  I knew that I finally needed to complete his Cityscape Challenge.

His challenge is posted here - to paint and simplify a scene using a random street in San Francisco as a reference - and from the moment I saw the photo I was intrigued by it.  One reason for this is because Frank Eber does this kind of scene all of the time in watercolor (see his New York streets here), and his goal and Terry Miura's goal is the same:  SIMPLIFY!  And both are very successful at it.  If you visit their blogs, you too will be the beneficiary of their generously-shared knowledge.  And witness to their great art.

Of course knowing is not the same as doing and the most successful parts of this picture were where I actually paid attention and tried to follow their learned advice.  In the least successful parts I would not only forget to simplify, but would also forget what medium I was using - I was practically scrubbing the paper in parts, with watercolor!  Don't know what came over me, really.

2-5/8" x 9" (lol)
It might be that I've been working in acrylic lately (I can't wait to show you.)  Might be that I shouldn't start painting after hours of yard work.

Excuses, I know.  But I can't help myself.

I set up my paper to draw a big swath of buildings on the side, and decided, for the composition, and to humanize the picture, to place a man crossing the street on the page.  With the buildings, though, I really lost it - simplicity out the window (er, out all of the windows.)  So I sat staring at the completed piece, not really satisfied, and suddenly I saw two much better pictures were I to simply to cut the page vertically, just so.  And that's what I did. On the right is the other picture, cut from the left.  So that the first picture that you saw on the left, was on the right, and the second picture that you see on the right was on the left, capisce?

So that's about it.  No poetry, no witticisms, nothing particularly clever to say  today.  Sorry about that.  This picture left me high and dry.  And I had to meet that deadline.  If 99% is simply showing up, at least I did that.  And I left having learned a thing or two. 

'Till next time..