Methods

100_3491 (2)

In the past I have used oil pastel often as a sketching medium, as a way of trying out ideas before committing myself to painting.  But lately, particularly now that I’m using acrylic paint, I have been going straight to the painting to experiment with ideas directly there.  Consequently I’m using oil pastels much less.

They’re a beautiful medium so I don’t want to neglect them entirely.  I am enjoying the directness of just painting though.  I find that I can blast away more with paint.

The drawing above measures 18 x 24.

Advertisements

pictorial physics

100_3465 (3)

Turn the pear upright and it’s shaped like a pitcher.

I’m probably not alone in finding the shape appealing — merely as a shape.  Perhaps it’s the way it relates to gravity.  Pears and pitchers offer subliminal reminders of gravity.  Weighty things get pulled down toward the earth’s surface.

100_3468 (3)

Different objects manifest the same effects, participate in the same beauty.

100_3573 (2)

Shadows pull us down to earth too.  Shadows are wonderful.

Kismet

aqua di rose painting

I found the Aque di Rose vase at the thrift store on August 12th.  And since then I’ve painted it three times.  Many more plans for it.  It’s an amazing vase — the first paintings just scratch the surface.  Sometimes life brings you exactly what you want — that something you didn’t even know you wanted!  But there it is.

Each of us is different and the things that appeal to our sensibilities are different.  For me, part of the enterprise of painting is finding those touchstones.  The subjects of painting do matter to me.  I don’t always know what they are or “should” be — for me, I mean — but when they come into my path, there’s this marvelous sense of recognition! It was you all along!

I never even knew this thing existed — and yet it’s as though I was looking for it.  Isn’t that wonderful?

Here’s the earliest version, the one I painted soon after getting the vase home. The painting above measures 28 x 22 inches, and the one below is 18 x 14 inches.  (A third painting is still under wraps ….)

100_3558 (2)

 

art psych

100_3560 (2)

Versatile medium that it is, acrylic paint can be used on virtually any surface to which it adheres.  So all kinds of paper work wonderfully.  This study of the fruit bowl is painted (13.5 x 12 inches) on a stiff sheet of smooth watercolor paper.  I made the painting to study one detail of the still life table for a painting in progress.

It ended up being a form of “painting therapy,” a way of preventing me from messing up a painting that’s far along in the works via some frustration I was feeling.  Better to take the frustration out on a separate drawing — get the painting distress out of the system harmlessly — all while learning more about the motif and making another small painting.  Take that, bowl of fruit!  You won’t vex me!

Be your own art psychotherapist — confront the art problems on scraps of paper that lie about.  Work it out and learn new stuff.  What’s not to like ….

Fauvisme

100_3570 (2)

When I began this little acrylic painting on panel (14 x 11 inches) it looked quite different.  I liked it but I knew I didn’t like it enough.  So I decided to rework it.  The still life table had changed totally so that meant incorporating it into the new still life stuff — hence parts of it had to be completely repainted. Had no idea how that would go, but I’ve been experimenting with acrylic, so I figured there’s no better way to find out than to just do it. Here’s how it looked before:

100_3424 (3)

Since I switched to using acrylic paint, I have had Matisse in the back of my mind.  For a long, long time I have wanted to experiment with the “fauvist” ideas that Matisse pursued in his very early career. There were certain still lifes that I have always really loved — especially certain dark and rather chaotic ones — that seem to hold such fertile material in them.  Matisse chose to take his art in a different direction, but I have wondered what his painting might have been like had he followed the murky fauvisme instead.  And it seemed to me as though he left that trail there for others to explore ….

These are just two examples, but both reveal the dramatic lighting, murky passages and rough manner that Matisse explored.

So I have some projects planned that will pursue darker tonality, rougher and broader kinds of drawing and exaggerated color, but even in a small work like this painting of the little black pitcher, I have been trying to get at a more instinctive handling.  I find that some sources of interest for me are all the myriad color changes to be observed on a small scale between objects, as in passages around the perimeter of the orange, or between the orange and the lemon, or in between anything and anything.  Such observations in realist painting aim to get at the true appearances — and oddly enough I am striving for a true effect also.  And yet my picture doesn’t become realist.  It’s an odd paradox that Matisse explained as a parallelism — that you are aware of always wanting to get at some truth of perception but it is nonetheless an image that is “parallel to nature.”

The details are really important and for me they’re where the real action is.

100_3574 (2)

I don’t know how much I’ll work on the painting, and I like all these passages, but they can be further developed as readily as the whole painting itself was open to reworking.

100_3572 (2)

Each section of a painting can become like an independent composition.  And as your attention focuses on different parts, it’s like these “independent compositions,” can merge and shift constantly.

100_3573 (2)

I am also developing more latitude for abstraction or accident in the paintings.  Some things happen that turn out to be interesting that were never planned.  I have always been aware of such passages as I paint, but I never completely let myself just leave them or let myself develop them ….

100_3575 (2)

A passage like the one above which depicts a bit of drapery can become a great place for observing small color differences.  I just painted this green part broadly to cover up what was there from the earlier version, but it’s definitely a passage to exploit going forward.

I am keeping the process fun because I have a tendency to freeze up at various junctures along the way. So in contrast to past habit, I am telling myself that I have permission to pile on as much paint as I please.  Also I know that I’ll never learn what this medium is like if I don’t try out lots of different approaches.  Painting lots of layers over others is just “one of the approaches.”

I like acrylic because its fast drying time makes experiment easy.  You can paint pretty much as fast as you can think.  It can wear you out.  You can paint as if you were digging ditches so it can be “hard work” if that appeals.  Or it can be very whimsical and free.  Certainly you can allow yourself great freedom regarding drawing since you can always immediately paint over anything that you perceive to be “a mistake.”

 

 

Fun & Work

100_3499 (2) compotier sketch

Behind the finished paintings are lots and lots of drawings and sketches and what not.  It’s all fun, except for when it’s not.  But even when it’s not fun — if not fun in the right now — it’s fun later.  I don’t think that has anything to do with art — that’s more about just living.  Eckhart Tolle has some interesting ideas on the subject ….

What I mean, though, is that in my paintings I have ideas about what I want, but I don’t always know how to get there.  In my indecisive states, I turn to my tools and make lots of trials.  Since I often paint from life, it means sitting in front of the things and simply making color/drawing decisions.

Let’s put this here.   Could as easily start with it being there, but here seems good.  What if it’s this big. Okay, if it’s this big then that thingy is that big.  (I think.)  I believe it’s this color.  Oops, no it’s more a fill-in-the-blank (cooler, darker, lighter, warmer, bluer, etc.) And so on, and so on.

I have begun thinking of them as rehearsals.  Sometimes they’re even casting calls.  Sometimes an object just isn’t working out … (So sorry, seashell, you’ve been great in other pictures but … um … you’re just not right for this one.  Sorry.  I’ll call you!)

100_3421 (3)

Anyway, there are many versions of things.  They end up in all stages of finish or unfinish.  They help me think.

100_3484 (2)

New Directions

100_3458 (4)

I have been painting exclusively with acrylic paint lately and I have fallen in love with the medium as never before.  The medium seems different to me now — more full of possibility than I ever realized.  And the painting above, in particular, has made me crazy with joy.  I cannot explain it.  I don’t know that it would affect anyone else similarly, but for me it’s like a path leading in a wonderful new direction.

It’s a small painting, measuring just 20 x 16 inches.

Maybe it’s because it seems to move (somewhat) in the direction of my old hero Pierre Bonnard.  But there’s more to it than that — reasons that are impossible to put into words.  It reminds me of my childhood … somehow.  But it also looks like “the future.”  It’s as though I knew what “the future” is — and it has a hint of this — whatever this is.

It’s something to do with the yellow.  I know that.  It’s like sunlight in landscape.  This is still life, but landscape is there too.  Crazy talk.  The exact color scheme is impossible to capture in photography (as is always true in art).  I am not sure whether it’s even finished.  The still life is still on the table so I can work on it some more.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s just my painting, the one that for mysterious reasons makes me so glad.

Bowled Over

100_3509 (2)

I have been painting bowls and they have hypnotized me.  I love objects in bowls!  The one above appears in a painting that’s still in the works.  But there are various others.  Here’s a quick sample, starting with a second one from the same work in progress:

100_3507 (2)

And then there’s this one:

alethamkuschan_67683433_189470082064723_6909467833587799154_n

It’s from this painting:

aqua di rose painting

The painting above Aqua di Rose measures 28 x 22 inches.  And as you can see it also features a second bowl, an empty one.  I got those objects recently, by the way, at my favorite thrift store.  You just never know what wonderful things will show up asking to be painted.

September Show

compotiers of fruit (4)

My still life table has been a busy setting lately and this painting above, called “Food for Thought” will appear in an upcoming Art League exhibit.  It’s an acrylic painting and measures 36 x 18 inches.  I have been painting a lot!

The painting has a cousin, a small work 20 x 16 inches that features the same compotier.

compotier yellow cloth

That September show will be at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria, VA beginning September 10th and lasting through October 6th.

confluence

real v painted

When you have lots of painted flowers stacked about and real ones in vases sitting nearby as well, sometimes the real and the artificial get all jumbled together.  In the view above the real flowers blend right into the receding painted ones.