Saturday, August 31, 2013

Exploration in Perspective

This is just goofing around on the computer for fun, but I had to laugh because from a distance that squiggle, which is nothing, looks like something... the opposite from what I usually do, which is create something that looks like nothing from a distance, but is something close up.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Martini Mind"

August and September, 2013.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Blue Serenade"

A love poem.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Need a Happy Fix?

I was in a sad mood. Came in here and enlarged the image. That funny face perked me up. (Seems like answers to problems are always so damned hidden and you have to be such a sleuth to figure them out!)

"My Funny Valentine"

There's Nothing Dull About It

"Into the Waterway"

I have been meeting and talking to many people from my past over the recent few months, ages stretching from 23 to 75 years of age. These individuals have been generous enough to share a bit of their personal stories with me. I have heard excitement and sadness, frustration and rumination, verbose happiness and stoic one liners. Through all of the outpourings I've sensed a deep awe of the surprises that life brings us. I've heard wonderful tales of how disaster has struck but solutions were found and transitions (even transcendence) successfully carried out. The wear and tear is there, but in so many the wrinkles of experience crinkle forth with soulful wisdom and lively senses of humor.

I attempt to put an appreciation of this kind of human experience into my art. What higher honor can I do as a visual speaker than to illustrate the complexity of this amazing world. (As always, click on the image to get a closer look at the painting, just as in life we click in on an individual to get a closer look at their stories.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Exploring New Territory

"Say's Phoebe Putting on the Skids in Unfamiliar Territory"*

*Note the mountainous Pacific coastline at a distance on the lower left. Say's Phoebes prefer to be a bit more inland, and fly lower to the ground. A more desirous habitat is to the right, grassy plains.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Not a Simple Matter" (Detail)

On Saturday a friend tossed me into the "Impressionists on the Water" exhibit at the Legion of Honor. I flopped around a bit, sputtered, and came up grinning.

When I was 16 I learned how to sail a two-person sail boat. It took quite a few dunkings to teach me a sense of balance.

Looking at the watery imagery created over a century ago, I realized I can now play all the parts: sailor, pleasure rider, painter, observer, and critic. I walked away, as always, the student.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Scanning the Vista

This is a detail from a very small painting still in progress. The painting might not survive, but I thought I'd show you this little part that pleases me. What you see is the same size as the original, but if you click on the image you will have an idea of what I see when I put on my magnifying glasses to paint. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Digital Doesn't Beat the Real Thing

Verified by Dana Pianowski, the gouaches are far more interesting in person than as seen on the internet. One can not scan such subtle paint. This makes me smile.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Invisible Structure

And now to spill the beans...

One of the magical aspects of producing a painting is the artist's unique view... the product's invisible structure. Intentionally or not, we are all influenced by the activities that happen within and around us, but no one can guess at these influences except the curious mind of the individual involved him/herself. Life is too abstract for one to know the motivations of another.

We might wake up in the morning feeling light and wholesomely airy, or maybe instead heavy with a headache caused by allergens floating in the open night window. Our day will unfold under the structure of these physical influences. While passing a restaurant window and seeing a couple lean forward with moon eyes we might feel elation of spirit or instead the despair of loneliness. If a large dog runs toward us we might suffer fear that shakes us to the core, or perhaps laugh in joy at the bounding mass of animal energy.

When I look at "A Quiet Letter," below, I can find quite a few invisible structural influences behind those wandering pastoral lines. They are all unique to me but speak for the masses.
  • The underbrush that I loved to crawl in as a child, and saw mowed down by territorial tractors.
  • Southwestern cliffs that felt alive with history as I traveled through.
  • The magnificence of the meeting of the wild Calif. coastal mountains crashing down to meet the expansive plain of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Endless horizons found within cloud formations, the silver linings left over from the depression era.
  • Remembrance/thoughts of children who would practice at being soldiers, and then one day find themselves unable to write the truth home to Mother.
  • A faith that female energy holds some solace.
  • The quest for wisdom that unites humanity world-wide.
  • The acknowledgement that humans are on a historical, cyclical trajectory that informs and defines us as complex human beings.
Whenever any artist creates a work, no matter in which style, the complexity of that person's worldly experience helps build the structure behind each piece of art, from the most simple, to the most concrete, to the most obscure. Whether we relate to the art that we see is a matter of personal taste, but the invisible and unique structure stands, regardless of the audience.

Other artists emerging from my childhood playground, doing it their own way:

Erin Gafill
Sarah Healey
Celia Sanborn
The Bradfords siblings:
      (And soon to be Tal, just beginning to find a visual voice.)

A book that describes a rugged Big Sur childhood somewhat similar to that of most of the above artists can be found in the words of Nancy Hopkins, published in the book "These are My Flowers", edited by her daughter, Heidi Hopkins.

My childhood was a bit more civilized, being born to a world half in and half out of the wilderness.
The local elder artist that most influenced me from that youthful era was quite a designer (not my forte) but influence me he did. Emile Norman. All that attention to detail, the blending of man and nature, the determination to do his art his own way, no matter what.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How Much Information is Needed?

"A Quiet Letter"

The attempt here was to create a very quiet painting that is full of unspoken content.

Update: I added a bit more, the top of the tree bleeding out onto the white area above. I have decided to keep this for my private collection. Even though the message is deep, the quiet of the piece works well on my bedroom wall.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Unexpected Outcomes

"Meditation at the Park"

We think we know where the flow goes, but we really don't. Two posts ago you see this painting partially finished. I had every expectation that the water would continue to flow forward, a continuing river of thought. Between then and now I experimented with photoshop. For the first time in my art career I manipulated the image on my computer screen, doing plan-ahead sketches, painting water into the foreground, filling in 18 different scenarios of what could happen in the painting... small rivulets, large rushes, pools, even splashings over the frame and out into the white space below. So many ways to look at this unfolding image.

Then I wiped those images off my computer screen, went back to the painting table in the other room and painted the above to completion. No water at all came forward, but if you look closely you will see that the shrubbery began to glow.

There is trust in the way that I work that has everything to do with intuition acquired from years of observation, and very little to do with cautious manipulation. I don't know if drying up all of the water was the sensible choice. It is definitely the right choice: Where is the water going? Did it flow into the foreground before and has it now dried up? Is the flow coming in anew, to a place that has never beheld water before? Why are the people unconcerned? Can they hear the water? Why do the people trust the tameness of the water when it might also be seen as totally out of control? Can we meditate quietly while the world drastically changes around us? What is flow, anyway?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Inky Thoughts

"An Expressive Spot"

Clearly a good place to harvest cartoons.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Inspiration Ebb and Flow

(Older version of "Meditation in the Park")

Sometimes the flow is interrupted by life's circumstances, or maybe by an intentional break from the action. One must have the faith that the water will surge forward anew when needed.