Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Best Laid Plans

Best Laid Plans, acrylic on canvas, 14" x 18"
With the posting of this painting, my first impulse is to say, like William Kentridge ,  "My job is to make art - not sense."

But that wouldn't be quite true.  I almost always find meaning in my abstracts.  All I pay attention to as I paint them is the marks and colors and textures and shapes - yet meaning appears.  They make sense to me.

Go figure.

I'd say more, but I've decided not to.

What do you see?

And if you can't quite beam to wherever I'm at, never fear, I have some representational paintings in the works right now.

Monday, September 8, 2014

. .

I am working right now on three separate paintings, maybe four, depending upon how you count. Two are representational and very detailed.  So I needed a break.

A comic - just the thing!  A quick diversion.  And I'll try it in ink and watercolor this time, I thought, since the last was in black and white.

Dots!  How long could it take?

Well ignoring the quick story board which was dashed out in a flash, there was the measuring and drawing of the boxes; and then the writing and drawing itself  (I used mathematical calculations - yes math - to get the approximate proportions right because I liked my little storyboard so much). The drawing involved measuring to get the circles to be in about the same place for each frame and then eyeballing the sky to get the stars in approximately the same place in each frame.  Then there was inking and applying the masking fluid for the stars.  Then the watercolor, wet-on-wet on the top half, and drybrush over a wash in the lower half.  Finally, a touch of really awkward Photoshop-ing here and there for where that marvelously flowing watercolor went out of the lines.

Whew!  I figure about six hours.  Six!

Yup.  Call me speedy.

So, go Pamo!  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, see Pamo's twice-weekly strip here.  She's a pro.)  Me, I'm returning to painting to get a break!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Weepers 8" x 10" watercolor on paper
Weepers howl and sway
No leaves anymore - no leaves
Upturned soil, hard rains

Sunday, August 3, 2014

More scribblism

The Accident 5"x 7" ink and watercolor

Microscribblic 7" x 5" ink and watercolor

What can I say about these except that I am indulging all of my artistic impulses.  I've got to feed the muse!

The first one remained unfinished for a long time.  I began the "eruption" part and stopped before it became too regular and did not know what to do next.  Then, wouldn't you know, I had a dream.  In the dream I drew or made a ruler-straight segment with irregular notches in it.   Extending from the segment came a pipe-like structure that curved.  I knew I would have to use it somewhere, and last night I realized that this was the place.  Then I finished it up.

The second I drew a while back, and resisted coloring it. I still resist. I like it in black and white.  I was thinking of my oldest son's laboratory - he's a chemical engineer, working on his doctorate.  (Oh, sorry, that sounded like bragging and paternal pride - how on earth did that slip in?!)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On the Way to Somewhere

"On the Way to Somewhere"  14"x 14" acrylic on canvas
There are two family members that I always show my work to.

The first, my valued critic - who brutally tells it like it is every time, and so helps me improve my work - loved this one.  

The second, when I texted this image to her, did not respond for a good forty minutes.  When she finally did, it was with the word I was fully expecting.  "Interesting."  

She went on to say, "The man is scary looking.  Don't like this one as much as the one you gave me."  

She was referring to the other recent abstract that I posted in my June 29th post, here.  She loved that one. The funny thing is that my valued critic hated it.

So if I can imagine that each of these family critics represents 50% of the population, then I have 100% covered, don't you think?

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Well, once again I'm inspired to dabble in another side of art - webcomics.  Pamo has inspired me once again.  Visit her site if you have a chance.

This is a tryout.  I actually made it a bit too big to scan - so here's what the formatting looks like, snapped from my cell phone:

Every now and then, in between fine art works (at least I hope they're fine!) I may do a comic or two, and play with different styles, etc.  I have some ideas - this was, in my mind, the least funny of the lot (although hopefully still funny) so I figured I'd start here.  Hope you liked it!

I have another painting that needs an ever-so-minor touch-up first, that I'll post next.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Summoning

5" x 7" ink and watercolor 

This started with random marks on the page.
Then it appeared to me that a person was there.

So I called to him with my brush and paints.

And there he was.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


"An Ordinary Day" 6" x 6" acrylic on board

Periodically at this blog, when I comment on where I live I learn that folks have all kinds of fanciful images of Miami.

Here's one you might not have thought of.  I have peacocks strolling about my neighborhood.  One in particular - we call him Gary - hangs around at the end of our block.  He's a repeated source of delight.  No matter what I might be thinking about, when I see Gary I pause in wonder.

Not so this woman.  This painting is from a few photos I have taken, one of a woman at a bus stop, and one, of course, of Gary. I like the dichotomy.  The landscape is completely invented.  I learned a lot about composition with this one.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Inviting the Muse

"Wildflowers", acrylic on 20" x 16" canvas.
Here's what I've come to know:

When I paint, I must leave myself behind.  Only then will I be fully present.

And I must humbly welcome the muse each time I paint.   (I could feel her guiding me during the painting of this one.)  I cannot take her prisoner or she will inevitably escape.

That is all I know.

Thank you to Celeste Bergin and Belinda del Pesco, who both introduced me through their blogs to The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, an indispensable read for any artist.

And here is a shadow shot, for Shadow Shot Sunday:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Still in Abstract-Land..

"Unspoken Thoughts" 6" x 4" ink and watercolor on cold pressed paper
If you place a circle with a dot inside it into your piece, it is always Miro.  So there is a Miro "quote" here.  Take it away, and what do you have, Kandinsky?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Superb Advice on Artmaking for When You are in Doubt

[INITIAL NOTE:  The art above was created after all of the good advice below for the next page of my joint sketchbook with Raena.  It is also posted at our joint blog 2'nFro .  If you would like to comment on the art, please go to that blog to do so.   I'd love to know what you think.  And if you have input on the words in this post, please comment here at Dan's Canvas:  Have you had similar experiences?  What do you think of these artists' advice?]


Pssst.  Here's a secret.  I've been in a bit of a funk, artwise.  I am trying new things.  They mostly aren't working.  It may be that I am in some kind of transition period.   That is the hope.

I was feeling a bit down about it and then, as often happens, the universe gathered to counsel me.

First I heard an interview with Thom Yorke of Radiohead here, and he was talking about how he creates.   To paraphrase as advice (and applying it to painting):

Paint to the spot in the middle of your head.  Do not consider merit, technique, goals, and the like.  Just paint.  You are just one of the latest of a vast family of artists in the history of man.  You are a pebble falling down a waterfall.

Then a quote on Belinda del Pesco's blog:

"If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), 'Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?' chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death." - Steven Pressfield

When I commented that I needed that quote about now, Belinda generously sent me an e-mail, and said:

".. I hope there is no doubt in your mind that you’re an artist, through and through. I read an excerpt from a book about creativity (of all types: writers, painters, musicians) and the common current in the blood of every artist is a heightened sense of *feeling*. Like a high-resolution sensitivity to beauty, sadness, elation, mood shifts in a room, light, color, aroma, sounds, etc. I see evidence of this in your work, and your words. Being an artist has nothing to do with output (although the same book talked about enormous satisfaction in the act of creating, like a release, in the same way a good cry makes us feel better), and it certainly shouldn’t be validated by modern measurements associated with financial or exhibit “success” in the art world. You’re an artist. Plain and Simple."

Wow.  Thank you so much, Belinda.

Then, finally, I was listening to the latest podcast of  Modern Art Notes, and learned about a letter that Sol Lewitt sent to Eva Hesse when she was feeling much the same.  Here is big chunk of it [warning for the easily offended: profanity and references to private body parts are a small part of this, but the words are so profound that you should read it anyway!]:

"..Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and you [sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!

I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!

It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did. Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gentle Things and Hard Things

acrylic on 10" x 10" canvas

I'm posting this painting from last year as a form of "Hello", "I'm still here."  I don't think I am going to paint like this anymore, but who knows?  It's kind of tight, but there is something about it that I like anyway.  It's sitting on my shelf.

I've been doing all sorts of experimenting, mostly on a small scale, and working on a painting that has had me kind of obsessed.  In spare moments I've turned to it.  And there is not much yet to see.

I am becoming more and more dissatisfied with wholly representational painting.  Works by artists that are a successful amalgam of representation and abstract have fascinated me lately, and I am trying to see what I can do in that regard.  Abstracting reality may be an answer to my attempts to portray the real behind what we see.  I'd really like to avoid surrealism, but that seems to be what first occurs, an attempt to speak through symbolism.  I will have to let the process occur naturally, and see what happens.

As a casual aside, I've been playing with ink on yupo, hidden images.  One experiment was this, which felt a bit busy:

Ya think?!  Some might call it scribbling.

Then later there was this, on NOT (cold-pressed) watercolor paper:

Semi-controlled scribbling.

And then to this:

Watercolor and ink on NOT 7" x 5" paper

Yes, when I am wearing my fine art hat I am loopy, but my illustrator hat is still in tact.

Let's see what else have I been doing?  Oh,  I had a wrestling match with a flower, and the flower won.  It used to be that my favorite saying was, "The gentlest thing in the world overcomes the hardest thing in the world." from the Tao Te Ching.  Now I'm sure it's true.  And Lisa Daria makes it look so easy!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Painting, a Challenge & a Shadow Shot

6" x 6" acrylic on board, an outdoor scene, derived from a friend's photo
Six months ago, a friend e-mailed me his photo of an outdoor scene.  "You should paint this :)," he wrote.  That was all.  This sort of directive is not characteristic.

It turns out that he stood in that place, and was greatly moved.  It was more than the scene, it was the feel of the place.

I could understand that.  This has happened to me so many times.  I remember stretching my arms outward at the woods and sky around me, overcome.  And the birds:  being captivated by song piercing the fresh morning silence, then witnessing an Eastern meadowlark on a stump singing in a vast field;  watching slack-jawed as a young eagle carrying a fish endured the high-speed pursuit of an osprey, eventually yielding its prey; strolling under a tree branch, feeling odd, then turning to encounter the learned scrutiny of a great horned owl.  And so on.

All from stepping outside and looking.

Even a walk outside, well within the confines of the city, reveals the beauty of nature. Look close, and there are textures,  patterns, and shapes to experience everywhere, courtesy of nature:

And personality too (for Shadow Shot Sunday):

So I painted my friend's scene - my first painting of 2014.  It is a small painting.  I was inspired, as always, by Leslie Saeta's Thirty Paintings in 30 Days challenge even though, again, I figure I will not have time.  She recommends painting small to accomplish the aim.  But I fuss too much on each painting, and spend far too much time on my blog posts.  I may need to do 1" x 1", you know?

I HAVE NEWS:  For the new year, the joint blog with Raena, 2'nFro, has returned!!  We are sending our sketchbook back and forth between Miami and Boise, 2,829.6 miles (but who's counting?) and collaborating on each and every page.  I have a new post - please come visit if you have time! I'd love to see you there!