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The Biggest Compliment?

January 9, 2014 by admin

We have grown up getting compliments for things

Good job

Good job

we do well, and then criticized when we do something wrong. It’s pretty much bred into us. As an infant the entire family will clap and jump for joy when accidentally roll over on your back. And then all the high fives you give your kids when they finally sit on the toilet to pee. (totally glad that still doesn’t happen, but maybe it will again when I grow old)

Jump back this way to adult life and we still see all types of behavioral modifications being passed our way. Raises at work when you do well, speeding tickets on our roadways when we don’t.  I loved getting stars on my papers in grade school, red, silver, gold… okay I saw some people who got gold, “hey, why didn’t I get one?”

Under a glass

Under a glass

What about as an artist, what kind of praise do you like? For me the ultimate of course is Best of Show, with a big fat check. Is that the ultimate? Maybe not, but it’s up there. I sure do enter enough shows on the chance that I just might win, or at least get accepted. Sometimes things don’t always workout the way you want and you are left with what you thought was a really awesome painting, and here they didn’t even want it in their show. We must learn to be resilient as an artist, because we don’t always get the praise we want.

How about that other praise?

I get it all the time, and maybe you do too. It’s the “Oh that looks like a photograph”. I know that is normally meant to be a compliment, and to

many it is. But to me, it’s not the compliment that it is intended to be. I think it’s intended to be. I mean I’ve never actually asked if they meant that in a nice way or not, but I assume so.

My goal as an artist is not to recreate the scene so to speak, it is to envision what is before me, and try to capture how the light effects the scene, and to bring back that feel that took me there in the first place. Is it a windy cold day, with a dreariness about? Maybe a hot summer afternoon with no escape from the heat anywhere?

What I like to hear if I’ve done my job right, is “I like the light in this piece”, or “this feels like a autumn morning”. Maybe it’s me, maybe I have not conveyed a feel or air about the painting enough for the viewer to experience what I had taken part in when I saw that scene and decided “this is what I want to paint”.

There are those artists who strive for a photo realistic painting depicting the scene for exactly what it is. I admire those artists, and appreciate their technical skills, but what I want to do more and more is bring back that wonderful imagination that at one time kept me occupied for hours on end, and create compositions that not only feel, but “wow”.  There are photographers who “wow” with their pictures, there are ball players who “wow” with their on field abilities. What kind of compliment do you give them as they hit the ball out of the park?

As pretty as a photograph

As pretty as a photograph

A good standing ovation is always welcome, with cheers and accolades as they run the bases. Try that at your next opening, maybe getting high fives as you go down the line.

In many art shows you have the “public’s choice” or “artists choice” awards. How about next show give everyone a sheet of stars, and each of the guests come along and put stars on the paintings that they like. What do you think, should we let the patrons use the “gold stars”?

Take your art to an open critique, that will sober one up fast, and make you think that maybe you should reconsider your profession. Keep a thick skin, but it’s that old reward/punishment modification again. Not to change behavior or your personality, (or lack thereof) but to teach us what is wrong and what is right in our art.

It takes a skill to be able to comment on art of all types and skill levels. Art is not the same as adding up all the columns of a spreadsheet and getting the figures right if you are an accountant. In art, high praise and compliments are given to artists who do solid fields of color, nail toilets on ceilings, have their cats chase a feather across a canvas as it spreads paint. The same gold stars are given to the photo realism, the abstracts and the expressionists.

How in the world is the general public supposed to know what is “good art”?

A star for you.

A star for you.

(of course another great topic for later) Let alone know the correct thing to say when confronting the artist and their work?

If someone wants to tell me “That’s as pretty as a photograph” that’s fine. I really do appreciate their taking the time to at least acknowledge that

something has been created by the artist and is now on display for the publics view.

But really, if you’ve got a gold star sticker sheet…

I’m just saying.

 

Do You See What I See?

December 31, 2013 by admin

A star, a star, dancing in the night, with a tail as big as a kite.

The holidays are about over for this season, just New Years and then Ground Hogs Day is coming up, but then we’ve got a bit of a break. I had hoped to take this holiday time to get a bit of a rest from a long hard year, and spend some time with family and friends.

Did it work out the way I had planned? Did it work out that way for you?

I did spend more time with family, but the slowing down part never really happened. I enjoy painting so I try to get out and do it as regularly as possible, and at the same time

Dorian & I

Dorian & I

I have been readying myself for the upcoming year. Can’t enter it without a running start can we? No way!

But as I traveled with family, sat around visiting, playing games and enjoying company I consciously found myself looking at things as I always do. Trying to decide how this could look better. What I could do if I were going to paint it to make it a more pleasant scene. It did not matter what it was I was looking at, and it didn’t really make much of a difference what was going on. Automatically my brain begins to compare and evaluate.

No I don’t “zone out”, well not to my knowledge at least. I just quietly look at things, try to figure out what their local color is, how I could mix it up with my pallet of 4 colors. How it might fit better on a page, landscape or portrait format. There are a bazillion things that run through your mind in an instant, some of them are actually pertinent to the situation, but then many… my favorite ones, are the ones that assess it’s composition and reproduction possibilities.

I have no idea if this is what all artists do, and whether it is a learned behavior, or more genetic. I do know that as long as I can remember I have been doing this in some manner or form.

188861_1877181046860_1991848_n

“KC Scout”

Grade school had me taking scribbles from other kids and I would take them and transform them into interesting objective or abstract designs. Not a page a school notebook or textbook went without being adorned in some form or another. (much to the dismay of my parents who had to pay for damages) Walls, desks, table tops, stairwells, nothing was too sacred for me and my mini masterpieces!

Is this natural for the artist, or the creative mind? Is it natural for everyone? I can only speak for myself, and it was natural for me. But if I were to listen to some of my keepers, I believe “are you crazy?”, and “what were you thinking?” was quite often mentioned, so maybe it wasn’t something everyone did.

It is not just in the arts. My mind works in a manner that is constantly trying to improve something, maybe. Things just can’t be left alone would be a better adjective. Always trying to find ways to change things, hopefully to make them better, but not always the case. I love to fix things, create, destroy, alter, change… Things were not made to be left alone. Is it a “guy” thing? I know for a fact that the majority of men when presented with a problem will try to fix it, while that same case being presented to a group of women, they will talk about it… then who knows?

By that time I am long gone!

I love the challenge of taking any scene and creating the best 581361_4536368924895_1243090803_ncomposition possible out of it. I’m getting better at it, and I believe it’s benefited greatly from the constant appraising of the view before me, and then of course a bit of education. Finally getting a bit of “formal” training in the arts, and what it entails. Reading books by some of the Masters of the genre, Payne, Hawthorne, Carlson. At long last paying attention to those who know better and listening.

If only I had listened to my elders earlier, ha! Not me, I’m the type that must learn by trial and error, and error, and… right now I am trying to see less than what is there. My mentor did not go a session without telling me to “simplify!” Less is better, no paintings were ruined by having too little. I was notorious for including everything I saw into the painting. A typical beginners mistake I’m afraid.

I will always be a student of the arts.

Do you see what I see? I doubt it, we all see differently, and that is good. Our brains interpret things differently, the eyes see, the brain translates, and we create, and create, and create.

 

Heavy Metal Thunder

December 3, 2013 by admin

Not the normal sound one hears as they paint the countryside.

I would like to think I am a very cautious man. For instance, in the world of power tools I always use every precaution and if a safety device is not functioning I will just not use it.

I always wear a seat belt, don’t even think about it, it’s just what should be done. This might just be smart, heck with cautious… I don’t keep my passwords and pin numbers in the same place as my account numbers. What about you?

So what about painting? Me, I’m an artist who paints primarily outdoors on site.  I would like to think that I am careful on my outings. This is something that maybe the studio artist need not worry about so much, though I know there are many inherent dangers to painting within the confines of those 4 walls. But when coming back from a trip to South Central Nebraska I told of the location of one of the paintings and was quickly informed that I had to be crazy, and that had he seen me painting there that he would have taken that opportunity to “run my ass over”.

Maybe he had it in for just me, and not all artists… I hope.

I had gone to this location suggested to me by a friend the day before. It was the Little Blue River near Pauline Nebraska. The sun was quickly getting lower with the light from the late autumn sun, and it being a week day, the traffic seemed to be pretty steady, but I parked along the highway and walked both sides of the bridge, and across looking for the best vantage point to paint. There was barbed wire fences at each end keeping me from getting down along the river, and the area between the road and the fence left a scene that I was not really that thrilled about.

Nebraska 089I left this location and drove South 5-10 miles when I saw the way the light was hitting an old barn in a cornfield  freshly turned so I pulled over, setup along the edge of the field maybe a good 20-25 feet off the highway and painted away.

The following day after chores, I was still drawn towards that location at the Little Blue River. I gathered up my gear and headed back to see if there was someway I could paint that little windy river.

I drove East bound on 74 past the bridge going over the river and turned around so as to park my car at the foot of the bridge just out of the West bound traffic lane. Keep in mind that Nebraska highway 74 is nothing like an interstate. Speed limit I believe was 60-65 mph through this little stretch, which is much better than the 75 mph on Interstate 80 just North of here. Traffic was much lighter than the day before, you could go 4-5 minutes without a vehicle coming by. I walked out to the center of the bridge and saw the same scene I saw yesterday that had really set the bug in me to paint this little area. I was looking North as this river wound it’s way down and around the countryside.

I decided this is where I would set up!

There was a good 6 maybe 8 feet from the edge of the road to the side of the bridge, and I thought this a safe enough amount of space to set up my easel and back up as I tend to do as I paint. I went back to my car and slightly angled it’s tail towards the road as we see the highway patrol do to give themselves a little more room as they write us a IMAG3972-1speeding citation. Turned on my emergency flashers and then carried my pack and canvas out to the center of the bridge.

I’m sure you’ve noticed this while walking along a road. First you hear it, gradually getting louder and louder, then you feel it as it comes by at 6o miles an hour, there is this amazing gust of wind, and then conversely a vacuum behind it that fills the void that it just left. It’s the heavy metal thunder that rolls across the highways and bi-ways keeping us in our daily goods. The last of the American cowboys, and they are the trucks and the truck drivers of world. Well I learned pretty quickly what things I needed to hold onto when a large semi came cruising by. This being in the great plains there is a pretty steady wind most of the time anyway, and you prepare for it. I have carabiners that I clip weights to my easel to help hold it in place, and bungie cord to hold me pallet down. But things did need to be secured each time a truck came by.

It really wasn’t too bad with mostly trucks hauling grain passing  on occassion. I would wave hello as the ones I was facing would go by before I had to grab things, local farmers and ranchers would wave and slow to see what I was doing, but none seemed to be out to get the crazy artist, or no one laid on their horn to let me know that I just wasn’t wanted in them parts.

I looked for some sort of bright orange safety cones before I left, and I know it’s a good idea if I do go buy something like this to keep in my car. Maybe some of those collapsing caution triangles they sell for setting up when changing tires. I was wearing a bright red hoodie as I often do, and it can be seen from a good distance. This is not the place I want to be wearing camouflage!

When I go out to paint and I see a scene that I really want to paint, I’ll do what it takes to paint that scene safely. I want to live to paint my masterpiece, and I know it’s IMAG3971going to be hard enough as it is, let alone having to do it from a hospital bed. If I thought I would be a hinderance to oncoming traffic, I would not have setup there. I have no problem painting from photographs, though I would much rather set up and paint on site, finish if I can, or at least get a good block in before taking something into the studio.

I have the utmost respect for other people, for farmers, for truckers, for everyone. I will not infringe upon them to create my art. If there is a fence, I don’t cross it, if it’s private property, I get permission. And if it’s blocking a 20,000 lb semi that is traveling 60+ mph down the highway, I am NOT going to make them be the one to decide whether or not they want to get out of the way!

Artists in general have a reputation of being a little quirky and odd, I don’t need to add “obstructions” to the list of adjectives they use to describe us. So stay safe, always be wareful of your surrounding because after all is said and done, we want to live to paint another day.Blue Hill Thanksgiving 041

 

Deja Vu

October 31, 2013 by admin

There is something I totally missed out on in all my years as a “studio” artist. Well there are a lot of things, but let’s focus on the relevant for a bit.

It’s not something I noticed till recently, though I’ve now been painting as a plein air artist for 2 years and 3 months now. It’s that feeling of being whisked away DSC_0142somewhere as you paint. Many artists speak of getting into “the zone” when they paint, but I’m not talking about that, nor am I speaking of some of those trips I took at my canvas in my college, AKA Timothy Leary daze.

What I’m talking about is what happens to you when you bring down one of those unfinished block-ins from a long past excursion. You know the paintings I’m talking about,  one of those that had you enthralled while you were there painting it, and looking forward to get back to finish up… but time and travels got in the way.

It’s what happens after you get that canvas on your easel and the paints out in front of you, pull the reference photo up on your monitor. Does it matter what playlist you bring up on your Ipod, or what kind of beverage you just set there on the coaster? No, I don’t think so. For me I wasn’t trying to do anything to spur it on, it just kind of happened.

You can have all the modern conveniences available to mankind at your fingertips, music blaring out the Bose 901 speakers, A/C turned to a perfect 78 degrees, but once you have everything set up and ready to go, it’s only moments before you are magically transported back to that place and time where that inspiration was first realized.

On the Los Pinos river

On the Los Pinos river

Maybe it’s not so dramatic, but when you get back into painting a piece that was started plein air, there are things stored in your memory that come out while painting. Was it the big fly that wouldn’t leave you alone, or the people you were out there painting with that day?

I had recently pulled out a block in from last year in Colorado, a wonderful start to a painting that I had been meaning to get back to since the day I returned. After getting it up and painting on it a while, I could feel the vast landscape around me, a overwhelming feeling of being again part of that land, by myself in this beautiful yet barren land. Those shadows in your photo that no matter how much you zoom in on your monitor in a studio piece, the plein air painting fills in with remembered details that if you had not been there, you would never know.

It’s “Deja Vu” at it’s finest!

A studio artist who has not painted outdoors will never have this same overwhelming feeling of being there. A plein air artist when out on the land observes and records, observes and records. Taking what they want, recording it either on canvas or in that strange storage cell called the brain, and then leaving the rest. A photographer observes and records, but not in the same sense. Do they study the shadows, watch as the light creeps across the scene before them for hours on end?

Pull out one of those forgotten canvases and see if it happens for you, no need to put bug spray on, and sunscreen, though the olfactory senses can play an important role.

smile

smile

Does this work for you? Do you remember the feel of the day when you work on an old painting started in the field? Does the entire time come flying back up in your memory?

Don’t have any unfinished paintings, then grab a favorite and make it BIG, either way I’ll see you back on the rivers edge. Enjoy

Too many Fires

October 19, 2013 by admin

You into  “Buzz Words?”  What is it that everyone in the world is trying to be a master of anymore?multitasking

Multitasking!

In these days and times if you are not proficient at doing many things at once it seems like you are being left behind, or at least I feel that way.

In this rat race of world we live in, who is it that comes through in the end? The multitasker, or the… hmmm, what is the word for someone who does not “multi-task”? They are all kind of crass, so nevermind that.

It may seem like you are accomplishing so much more with your ability to burn the candle at both ends, but probably in actuality, you are doing a disservice to whom ever you are working with, or for. And I am as guilty as sin at this. How in the world can you give 100 % of yourself when doing 3, 4, even 5 things at once? I can’t, though I kid myself that I can, but I am writing down notes here and there from different plans, events, activities, checking emails and flagging, tagging, and logging things in their different folders. There is just no way in the world I can do as well at something when even before I’m completed with it, that I’m already thinking about the next project, or where I’m supposed to be at 8:15.

Trying to organize things into groups is helpful, there are many ways to do this, whether separating and working on things that are related in geography, or subject matter, or medium. But still we are watering down the quality of work that we, or I provide. Is 85% of something good enough?

Well you might just be shortchanging someone here, like yourself! I’ve seen some of the art I’ve created when my attention is not fully there, vs when I’m giving it my all. There IS a difference!

Maybe it’s the adult form of “attention deficit disorder”? Could it be that all the children we pumped full of ritalin would be the ultimate multi-taskers? Maybe.

show 002I find that there is just so much to get done that I have to be going 110 mph just to keep up, and if I slow down to catch a breath, I then have to double time it just to get back to where I was. I’ve found the world does not stop or slow down when I take a break.

It could be that I spent over 2 decades spinning my wheels in a self made trough of booze, and now that I’ve sobered up I feel the need to “overachieve” to make up for this.

Could be.

Whatever the reason, I find myself with 3-4 easels with different paintings being worked on simultaneously. Working on blogs, and webpages, spreadsheets, and schedules all at the same time. How about driving, eating, photographing, taking notes, and talking on the phone? Have you tried that? When I’m painting in competitions or events, I paint, I run around and photograph, and socialize, then go back to painting, munch on an apple. I mean it’s fun, but at what expense?

I love keeping busy, that’s really who I am. To get up and work hard all day. I like to have that feeling of accomplishment before I sit back and relax at the end of the day.

I want to be good at what I do, and I work very hard at it, and will continue to do so, but I believe cutting out the self imagined need to multi-task just to keep up with the Jones’s is important. I’ve found when I compare myself, my deeds, or my art to others is a recipe for heartache and disaster. It is myself that I must stack my work up against. What have I learned since my last piece? What will I do differently? Also I have quit jumping back and forth in mediums and am focusing on becoming proficient in landscape oil painting. That’s what I love, that’s what I need to focus on. I really don’t see a need to be good at everything, I am starting much too late in life for this. Just 1 thing, be good at that, and enjoy the process.

I can still keep busy, and get much accomplished, but save the multi-tasking for the quad-core 24 bazillion megabyte processing units.

I’m sure the world will keep on.McQueeny Lock 043-1

Saving the Best for Last

August 25, 2013 by admin

As I pass around the trays of food at the table loading on portions of everything that comes my way I of course try to get away with putting a little bit more of my favorite. Sometimes it’s not possible when there are measured servings, but I do look for opportunities. I’m not the type of eater that eats 1 item then methodically moves to another, well  not anymore. My parents through repeated teachings removed this habit, but one thing I’ve been able keep all these years is my saving just a little bit of my favorite food for last.  Something about going away from the table with the memory of the “pièce de résistance.”

steak dinnerThe dinner table is not the only place I would do this. I’ve found myself doing it for years with my art, and probably to my own detriment.

What do you do when you enter an art show? You enter your best piece right? Not me! Forever I would take what I thought was my second best painting and enter that, because I would not want to “show my cards” so to speak. Seriously I have no idea why, some sort of crazy mixed up thinking that has nothing to do with eating your peas first and your steak last.

Is it that “Ace up the sleeve” mentality, wanting to always have something you can throw out if the card you put on the table wasn’t quite good enough? How about when you are at your local art store, and the bonus rewards card says you’ve earned a $10 credit, do you want to use it now or your next purchase?

Well I am pleased to say I will now take that $10 credit on this purchase, and I put my best painting forward. For me time is ticking too fast to be messing around and holding on till next time. There may not be a next time, no guarantee there. And if your artwork is not good enough, I’ve got more paint, get out and try again.

What Rick would tell me when I’m painting, don’t be afraid to lose a painting in going for a great painting. Put forth your best effort, and

Late on the Klondike

Late on the Klondike

if it’s not your best, make it your best, and if that doesn’t work, try again.

Since I have adopted this phylosophy, I have won more awards, and accomplished so much more. My confidence is up along with the quality of the art. I’m not a gambling man, but there is risk when throwing all your cards out on the table, but like they say, “without risk, there is no achievement”.

But I still save my favorite foods for last. Some habits die hard.

Escape from the Crazy

July 12, 2013 by admin

205677_1006191152657_3388_nWhen life gets all crazy all around you, what do you do to escape?

I spent much of my life trying to find things to remove many of the pressures that the world puts on you, I mean there are a lot of pressures that face us on a daily basis. Fortunately I have not had to deal with any cataclysmic events close to me, but that didn’t stop me from making my exit stage left into another realm. Whether it was drugs in the 60’s & 70’s, alcohol for then next few decades, I sought outside help to take me away. More often than not all it really managed to do was alter my geographical location, the world was still there.

I would like to think that as I have grown older, I have gotten wiser, which might be, but I’ve seen many an older folk who still have not learned from their past experiences. I think for me it’s more just the whole approach to life and all it’s eccentricities that have changed, and I don’t seek escape from that. Though I do love to be taken away by a good story, or lost in a piece of art. It’s not a removal from this world I am seeking anymore, as chaotic as it is at times, it is more for relaxation of the mind, body and spirit. I find I keep a good balance in these 3 aspects of my life, and I’m “Good to Go!” How I do it boggles me, I’m not into yoga, nor an exercise fanatic, I just stay active, and do the best I can all around, and try to help others do the same… oh, and paint.

I forgot about that!

I mean I love being rushed away to far off worlds in a good novel, or the exertion of a challenging tennis match on a hot day, but there is nothing anymore as exhilarating as the process of creation. Taking a blank canvas, my 5 tubes of paint and “going to town”… anywhere, everywhere! It’s a wonderful escape whether you have talent or not, there is a good reason that schools, counselors, psychiatrists use a blank piece of paper and some crayons. It can be a very therapeutic experience for some… of course it can drive you a bit mad too when you have some expectations of how it should be looking, and you cannot quite get it, but never mind that part at the moment. Just get out, get in and do it. Indoors, outdoors, there is a rewarding experience waiting to be had at the end of your brush. It doesn’t really matter what it is you paint, representational, abstract, non-objective, it all has the same effect on one.

For me, this is what I love to do, and do, and do. It is a blast, and then every now and then you create a real beauty, and then you get out and do it again, because it’s not the end result for me, though I do love to look at wonderful fall enchantmentart. It is the act of creating, the challenge of applying paint to canvas in some fashion that works. Occasionally one enters the coveted “zone” when painting, and all the world is lost around them, you are one with your canvas. This I wish I entered that zone more than I do, but I don’t. Painting in short spurts with my timer set in the studio, or painting outdoors in crowded areas it’s kind of difficult to “zone out” for me, but I don’t mind. I can still get lost in the act of painting while talking to an onlooker.

To escape, I paint, to find myself, I paint. For fun, I paint, and again, for work… guess what? I do the same. It may not be what brought this little bit wild, little bit crazy, lot of bit self-destructive person out of a tailspin, but it sure has kept me flying up in the clouds.

Come on up and try it.

Mumbo-Jumbo

June 28, 2013 by admin

Recently attending the Oil Painters of America Salon show in Petoskey, MI, Signature artist and juror Marc Hanson was giving a demo on painting a “nocturnal” painting. If you haven’t seen Marc’s work, do check it out, beautiful stuff I’m telling you. Marc studied under none other than Master Artist Richard Schmid.

Marc Hanson demo

Marc Hanson demo

The demo was about painting after the sun goes down, with existing lights, and colors and all that this entails. But something really stuck with me from this demo of Marc’s. He said “if you see mumbo-jumbo, paint mumbo-jumbo!” Sounds simple enough, but it really set on me. This was not the only thing in the workshop that I remembered, in fact after the demo I immediately went out on site and painted a nice looking landscape using some of what I had learned. This I believe will be something ongoing for many years, but back to the “mumbo-jumbo” if I may.

As a Master Engraving Artist, I spent decades interpreting what was not there, trying to make sense of it all. Beginning at Hallmark, and then continuing into the field. When a customer sent artwork they wanted sculpted 3 dimensionally, I took that and hand carved it into metal, and when areas were vague, I created something. Whether it was a hibiscus plant, or the feathers on an eagle medallion. I would take this customers “mumbo-jumbo” art and make something that made sense out of it. This was what was expected, and what the customers wanted.

But now at age 55 I finally hear what I’ve been needing to hear to free me from this self-imposed purgatory of mine. “If you see mumbo-jumbo, paint mumbo-jumbo”. Why try to make sense out of something that doesn’t make sense. It makes sense! If you see

painting Harbor Springs fog

painting Harbor Springs fog

something and can readily identify it, and what is going on, go with it. But how often do you look at something and say to yourself, “hmmm, is it a grouping of flowers in the shadows, or it kind of looks like I can see a face.” Just make it a dark shape with a bit of variety, and texture, and call it good. Let those people looking at it try to figure it out. Is it really important what it is in the first place? I doubt it, if it were you would probably know what it was.

Working with Rick Howell, he kept going over with me that if it’s not important in the painting, don’t make it so. I have been notorious throughout my life as giving the same weight to something on the edge of the canvas, as the focal point. This does not always work, and rarely did it work for me. I am finally understanding what it was about those great paintings that I love so much, they controlled what you saw, and expertly moved you where they wanted you to go. Glancing over unimportant parts of a composition, and lead you into the center of attention. If one does not recognize what it is you like about other art, it is so much more difficult to create things with the same feel.

I will go forth with all this in mind as I travel this long and arduous path I have chosen… and relish every minute of it. But is it “mumbo-jumbo”, or “mumble-jumble?” I wonder…

Finding Shortcuts

June 13, 2013 by admin

I love shortcuts, if I can find a way to somewhere that is quicker than the regular route, I usually take it. In this world  of convenience shortcut to successstores and the microwave, time is everything. I think mankind has been trying to find shortcuts to thing since the beginning of time. Now this I am assuming, I’ve only been around for about 55 of those years.

Maybe it’s my coming into the AARP age that has made me look a little bit harder at these decisions to do the fastest route. I mean on this road of life, there is no turning back, but maybe I can extend the ride just a little bit longer, or make it a bit more worthwhile.

I had read a blog by an artist I admire about their purchasing a “candy store” of colors, with the thinking these are the ultimate colors for their newest painting. What this did to their work was create a dissonance to it that was nothing like what was originally intended. I found this same thing true in my art without even knowing it. If someone would have told me that my painting lacked a harmony of color, I know I would have thought “harmony?” It’s not trying to sing something.

Well it was not till I eliminated this modern convenience of color did my art become a little more soothing on the eye. No more shortcuts on my pallet, I put 4 colors on my pallet and figure it out from there. I know that for me, less is better, though it may not be true for others. I am finding that it has really helped me.

I knew nothing of “color theory” when I first took my paints beyond the studio door just barely 3 years ago. Cools, warms, chroma, hue, tertiary, analogous… it was really someone speaking a whole new language to me. I really just put paint on the pallet, and painted, with no real thought. Sometimes I came up with a “pretty” painting, but always something lacking. Not what I so admired in other artists work. Now everytime I go out I approach everything a bit differently. Not rushing in, but still being quick, because this is “plein air” you know, and that rain cloud is coming your way. I now enjoy trying to evoke a mood or capture an atmosphere of some sorts through my limited pallet. Sometimes it works, more often not, you would think I would learn from some of these mistakes, but it takes longer for some of the “unteachable”.

Sure it’s frustrating at times, struggling to get the right color, but when you finally get what you are looking for, what a sense of accomplishment! Did you mix up enough of it? It’s been many a time that I didn’t and found myself in need of more

limited pallet

limited pallet

and wondering how in the world I got it in the 1st place. There are some who say, “if you did it once, you can do it again”…”yeah, right”,  in theory!

It’s all a process, and I’m sitting here learning it everyday. I believe my work has benefited from taking away those shortcuts, plus it’s much easier to make sure you have all your colors packed when you only have to count to 4… I can handle that.

When speaking with someone in a favorite gallery last week, he mentioned how my paintings have improved and grown more sophisticated over the short time he had known me. I believe it is due to my working very very hard to improve, the hard work of my mentor to bring me to a higher level, and the taking away of those shortcuts to painting. I know that there are other ways to get from point A to point B, and I know I will take them at times. But it’s like learning anything, learn to do it the right way, before you take the shorter route.

It works for me, but then I’m “old school”

Is it Jealousy?

June 5, 2013 by admin

People deal with jealousy all the time, it’s a rare bird who isn’t affected in some manner by this affliction. A lot of times we cite what we do in life as a bit strange. I’ve used animals as an example at times, “animals don’t do it, why do we.” But here, even animals are taken to jealousy at times.

jealousy

jealousy

I had a wife who was so jealous, (wife #2) I could be walking along, then notice a dog or squirrel scampering by, and all of a sudden “GREG!!”, she would let me “have it!” Imagine the tirade she would go into if I happened to notice a pretty woman.

Is this a reactive jealousy, or a more of a suspicious jealousy?

I get affected by a reactive jealousy, but not so much to such an extreme. For instance, if I’m sitting at my desk working on something, and see out the window where someone is outside playing frisbee, or riding a bike, I get a bit jealous of those people. I don’t want to be stuck indoors when someone else is outside enjoying themselves. Do you call that jealousy?

Now with this modern media being so prevalent all the time, and in so many different fashions, there is a bazillion ways it can get you… or me at least.  When I see another artist posting a photo of themselves outdoors painting, I get this urge that I have to be there painting with them, and then someone else posts, I want to be there too! It’s not just artists, and painting, but friends or “acquaintances” posting cool places, I get this feeling that “I’m missing out on life, though here I am happy as a lark, and busy as a bee. (too many idioms?) Does it happen when you are content with where you are and what you are doing? Actually at those times I’m not seeing or noticing others, and their happenings, so maybe it’s just when you are doing something you would rather “not”?

Or is this really jealousy?

I see beautiful art in a museum, or someone posting a recent painting of theirs online, does this make me “jealous”, envious, no I don’t think so?  What it does do is it  inspires and motivates me to do something. If getting out and painting isn’t an option because there are things that need to be done 1st, I prioritize and work my way slowly but surely to the easel. Now if I saw those same paintings and had thoughts such “oh they just think they are so good”, or “I could do that if I had studied under the masters too.” These are negative thoughts that can turn something positive and inspiring into counterproductive and hateful.

For me keeping a positive attitude when we come to any situation really helps. For me there is no good reason for going with the glass half empty attitude versus glass half full. I know for myself that the “half empty” philosophy on life is not for me. It would lead me on the road to ruin lickidy-spit! That’s not the road I’m traveling.

Antioch Road

“Antioch Road” 16×20 original oil on canvas.

 

 

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