Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dark Ladder

"Dark Ladder" acrylic on 8" x 10" canvas

In the fading light I examine my walls, scraped bare,
Some, but not all, of their guts exposed -
A stew of colors, a few palatable, others putrid;
Glues from coverings best forgotten;
Telltale signs of holes and gaps and vulnerabilities.

Yet the scattering, the dissonance, is attractive to me.
It is perfection that is disturbing.
I think of this as I scale the ladder in the dark
And apply my first coat of
Smooth, aromatic white

* * *

PAINTER'S NOTES:  Mari of Colour Blob who, by the way, is doing beautiful work of cold - very cold - winter days, commented and asked how I got the texture in the painting, whether it was dry brush, so I thought I'd add my response here because the result was a surprise to me, and the process of painting was a bit of an adventure:

The painting began with an exact, almost photo-realist painting of the ladder. I am impressed with but not a big fan of photo-realism. It was properly done, but uninteresting, and I did not like the colors or the composition. So I stuck it in a drawer where it stayed for months. 

The other day I pulled it out, felt wild and wooly, and decided to start painting over it in a very free manner. Some was wet and some was dry. I was all over the place. I believe I was mostly wet first, and then went dry on top. Not sure. I thought I was going to ruin it frankly, and I didn't care because I didn't like the first "draft" and could always use the canvas again. Maybe that is when you do the best, I don't know. 

Then I pulled out the tool that I have truly begun to relish in my acrylics (which worked very well for me in another painting - not quite finished - that I haven't posted yet) - a rubber sculpting tool that looks to all of the world like a spatula. It could be viewed, I guess, as a soft painting knife. I love what it does. That may be some of what you see. 

Thanks Mari!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seeing Red

watercolor on 10" x 8" Daler-Rowney Langton Prestige NOT paper

I changed radio stations and heard what could only be described as Calypso-Mexican music.  Something came over me.  I decided that I had to paint green clouds in a red sky, and that nothing in the picture would be its true color.

As I got deeper into the painting, it seemed to me that the surroundings may have been reflecting an inner turmoil inside the house.  It felt slightly frightening.

Or maybe it wasn't that at all.

Per my favorite critic, I could have been envisioning a colony on Mars.  If so, you saw it here first.  It's something to talk about, if only anyone would listen.

Sketch from life in small moleskine

It is probably better, though, that you read a good book.  (Do you think her child will go to Mars?)

Sketch from life in small moleskine

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's all Good, and other Illusions

It's January 6th and I'm beginning to experience the joy and possibilities of the New Year.

Ink and watercolor in small moleskine
2012 was a trying year in many ways.  Artistically, it was all good - the year that is. 

Still there were moments.   As a result of my last post in which I described a kind of art identity crisis, you all came to my rescue - my internet artist friends rallied to my aid.  It was a gathering.  It was therapy.  It was an intervention! 

If you haven't done so already, read the post for the context, so that you can read all of the wonderful comments - they are the longest, most comprehensive, well-considered comment-essays I have ever received in response to a post since the inception of this blog.

To those that commented, thank you.  I owe you more than I can say.  Now, as a result of your help, I am only slightly unbalanced.

I do not blame the Miami artists.  I think they unintentionally laid bare my own underlying dissatisfaction with the state (or stage?) of my own work.  It takes time to develop, I know.  I am under no illusions.  Or at least my illusions are few.  Or less than many.  Well, let's put it this way, I have less illusions than a kid at an American Idol try out.  And that will have to do.  So you can expect more experimentation in 2013.  And more desperate efforts to develop my skills.  (Did I say desperate?)

4" x 6" ink and watercolor on Fabriano Artistico rough paper
There were some marvelous silver linings in the dark cloud of 2012 - examples of dreams fulfilled that help define the possibilities of 2013.

At the Miami Book Fair International, the shining moment for me was seeing Anne Lamott speak.  I sketched her (above) as she shared her wit, wisdom and humor to a full auditorium.  (Anne:  I just colored the drawing yesterday.  This is the reason why your blouse is rose, rather than blue or green or whatever.)  (Dear reader:  Of course she is going to read this!)  [Editors note:  See the above paragraph about illusions.]

Anne Lamott is an author whose road was harder than many.  She is a recovered alcoholic-turned-successful author and she is an inspiration - a fun inspiration. Bird by Bird is the book by her that I have read, (why on earth have I read only one? Another new year's resolution..) and it is by far my favorite book on how to write, and I have read many.  [Editor's note:  For the definition of "many", see the above paragraph about illusions].   In that book, for example, she gives the following advice which can easily be applied to art or to any creative endeavor:

"Your day's work might turn out to have been a mess.  So what?  Vonnegut said, 'When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his mouth.'  So go ahead and make big scrawls and mistakes.  Use up lots of paper.  Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend.  What people somehow (inadvertently, I'm sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here -- and, by extension, what we're supposed to be writing."

I am inspired.  I have a laundry list of resolutions for 2013.  When I shared the concept of a resolution with my autistic son Matthew, he thought I said "revolutions".  That's a much better name for it, don't you think?  So I now have revolutions.  If I fail, it's a circle, and I can try to succeed the next time - during the entire new year.

Ink and watercolor in small moleskine
Two more South Florida dreams fulfilled:

George Sukeji Morikami, the only remaining settler in a Japanese colony from the turn of the 20th century, dreamed of gardens that bridge the distance between his two homelands.  A successful farmer and fruit and vegetable wholesaler, he ultimately donated his land.  So now the the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens exist in Boca Raton, Florida.   When I visited the gardens I sketched and painted the waterfalls above with a water brush on site ( I haven't done that in a long time).

And at what has got to be one of the most beautiful man-created spaces on earth, the expansive Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami is also the fulfillment of a dream. David Fairchild and Robert Montgomery shared a passion for plant collecting that has become an 83-acre botanical garden containing plants and trees from all over the world.  It is a joy to experience.  On December 31st, when I last visited the gardens, I sketched and painted in the rain forest section.

There you are.  Three examples of visions fulfilled.  It can happen.  It really can.  So follow your dreams in 2013..

Happy New Year!