Monday, January 26, 2015

Painting isn't about reality

Juniper #2
12"x16" Acrylics on linen panel $90
You can purchase this painting HERE.

I watched my Joan Mitchell video again  yesterday, and wrote down this quote from Elizabeth Murray, a NY painter who knew Joan Mitchell: "Painting isn't about reality, it's about life. There's a level where you cannot explain it with words; it's visual." I was thinking about that a lot yesterday, and also what Joan said in the video: "I don't think when I paint." She was talking about people who ask her what she was thinking when she painted a particular work.

One of the things I really love about painting is except where you're consciously trying to make it look like something in particular, where you're doing a lot of comparing or measuring, the activity of painting is pretty much a thought-free zone. I'm pretty sure that images and thoughts/words come from separate areas of your brain. I use music or old movies to distract my verbal brain so it doesn't think about what I'm doing, so it isn't constantly worrying about whether or not what I'm doing is working. My eyes do the thinking, and that's not verbal thinking.

This juniper is from another photo I took last spring in north central Oregon, like the other juniper I did last summer. This one is purposely painted in a much looser style, except for the bleached "bones" of a shrub in the foreground.

I'm happy because this is the 4th painting I've finished this month! I think that's a record for me! I'm looking forward to my show at the new In Bocca Al Lupo Gallery this October, in its new location in downtown Oregon City. Speaking of which, here's the flyer for the first show there, opening weekend after next, the first weekend in February.

I bought my first plants of the year this morning—perky little primroses for my hanging pots out front. So my new little car does work for carrying plants, as long as they're not too big. That's a good thing. Happy almost-end-of-January!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Villa Catalana at Sunset

Next day update (1/20/15):

As soon as I posted the painting (see below), I realized that it really wasn't showing the "color feel" I saw in my original photo of the scene, nor was it evoking the mood of the twilight. But, the difference was so subtle that my eyes couldn't register it, just looking from the painting to the photo on my computer. So, I took the original photo and the photo of the painting and viewed them side by side on my computer screen, and got this very interesting comparison:

Left: Painting  Right: Original photograph of the scene
The light bulb finally came on.

This morning I took the painting back into the studio and corrected the colors of the sky, the water, and some of the foliage, including taking down the turquoise of the spiky plant in the foreground. And after that round of corrections and yet another photograph, I realized that I had also not conveyed the warmth of the pavilion area and its reflection, and that they were also very important to the color scheme. So now it looks like this:

I may go back to it tomorrow and tried to even out the water. It was so pretty in the too-blue painting; at least the colors are correct now. Maybe I can make it pretty again.

It's all grist for the mill. Must keep grinding. How could I ever learn to see color without my computer?

END of update.

The Too-Blue Painting
This is the other painting I really wanted to do of the Villa Catalana paint out last summer. I took the photo from their patio, looking toward the west, in the long twilight. The lights were on in the pavilion, and although I couldn't see them from that angle, they were reflecting in the water. I was in love with all the colors, and the water, and the trees, and the perfect summer evening.

I'm staking out another desert painting for my next one.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Figures, loosely—an experiment

I've had this panel sitting in a pile with an outline sketch on it for the last seven or eight years, from the last time I worked from a live model. I'm trying to use up all my old panels this winter. I haven't finished a painting of a figure for almost twice that long, and the last one I started got painted over with a sunset. I was curious to see if I even could paint a human, just loosely, and again I started with the texture, just seeing what would happen.

Originally, the panel was to represent the Three Muses. I think it still does, but I don't feel they're talking about work; they don't look as though they're talking about inspiring anyone. I feel they're talking about themselves. Maybe that's what they're doing when you can't find anything to inspire you. But surely even Muses deserve a little time for themselves.

I do think I'm getting the hang of working with drier paint, at least, scumbling and dragging it around.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter time is imagination time

It's January, and the perfect time for playing in the studio. I'm back to working with abstraction and lots of color. Outside it's gray, gray-green, gray-brown, and gray-blue, but in here it's all about rich, bright, and stimulating colors.

Still playing with textured surfaces, having fun with that. And I'm planning on making the most of my imagination in my painting, too. Imagination is the best kind of bank account—the more you take out, the bigger and better it gets. Turn on your idea machine and start using it, and you won't believe how great it works. All it needs is for you to not be afraid to use it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Farewell Moonbeam, 2001-2014

On October 20, 2001, I joined up with Moonbeam, my first van since years before, when I'd given up my super-annuated, oil-leaking, 1964 VW Camper Bus. I've never had any car who could do as many things as Moonbeam could, or who had so many neat electric and electronic gadgets, big windows, and so much room.

For 13 wonderful years he was my courier, my carrier, my boon companion, my portable space, and at times, my refuge. We went up and down the western mountains and the coast, from the bottom of the Sierras up to Mount Hood, through the central valleys from LA to Seattle, and most of Highway 101. We even went to Zion.

He moved me to Oregon in 2005 and lived outside in the cold, rain, and snow for almost a year until I could get a garage built for him, enduring muddy kitty prints and enough fir needles to choke a regular-size car. He was the most obedient, most versatile, most dependable car I ever had. He schlepped paintings, canopies, rocks, bags of leaves, tubs of mulch, trees, shrubs the size of trees, flowers, rebar, lumber, pipes, furniture, food, friends, camping stuff, and me, over, and over, and over.

A few days ago he passed on to his next life, and my love and best wishes go with him.

Farewell, dear friend, I shall never forget you, or all the good times we had together. I could ask for no better.