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  • Newly elected member of the Salmagundi Art Club, New York, New York
  • Artists of the New Century at the Bennington Center for the Arts
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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.

 

 

Does your Temper Flare?

May 24, 2013 by admin

I never had a real choice of whether or not I wanted to help my Dad fix the car. They would go through the motions of asking me, but then I knew there was only one answer. I learned early on that to say no to such an open ended question would bring “that look” that you never want to get from your parents. So however begrudgingly it was, I would say sure, okay!

Dad and I

Dad and I

My job was pretty much to hand my father the tools he asked for, or hold the flashlight on something so he could see what he was working on. I was quick to find the right wrench, and I knew that the light had to be coming from as close to his viewing angle as possible to avoid any unwanted shadows. I think I did pretty well at this, I must have because I was forever chosen for these duties. Could have been I was the oldest boy, but hey now.

If you’ve ever worked on things mechanical, or electrical, plumbing, all of these things. There are occasions where things do not go quite right. And on some occasions, nothing EVER goes right, you combine that with a half pint of Jim Beam Whiskey, and the fact that somethings broke and you don’t want to be here fixing it in the 1st place, and there are chances that you just might lose your cool.

My duties had suddenly doubled, now I had to include going to get the tools that were being thrown across the garage, that and trying to understand the strings of expletives coming from my fathers mouth. It did not take long to figure out that these were not to be repeated. Nor let on where I had learned them.

I found it best if I remained calm throughout all this, not say much of anything. Just casually go about the duties that were needed of me, and get back in my position in case I was needed again.

I think I learned patience here, or it was a good start at learning about what would come. I do not have a fiery temper, or do I go off in tangents, at least now that I’m 10 almost 11 years from my last drink. I have taken almost every mantra that the Alcoholics Anonymous program had engraved it deep into my brain. “One day at a time”, “Serenity Prayer”, all of these little tools for getting one through a deadly bought with alcohol  I can’t handle it, but without it I can handle life, and all it’s little eccentricities. It’s a crazy mixed up world and rarely are things easy or go the way you want. But if you have no control over it, don’t try to. And if you can do, do something about it, don’t put it off.

Right now I am smack in the middle of my favorite painting competition in the Kansas City area, the STEMS plein air competition, which lasts 2 weeks. I am finding that there are many things that are keeping me from getting out there and doing what I love, which is

Marcos Baghdatis, smashing racquet

Marcos Baghdatis, smashing racquet

painting outdoors. I still have responsibilities all around, and I do not like to “shirk” those. I  try very hard to prioritize and methodically go down the list doing what I can, when I can. Then reward myself with some fun. Amazing but I even try to include my lovely wife in some of this.

When things don’t go as planned, and there is nothing I can do about it, “roll with it”. I’ve found that it does more harm than good to get mad. I don’t have to like it, and there are many things that come up that I don’t like, and would rather not. But I didn’t make the rules of life, whatever they are. But if you relax, take a few breaths and know that things will soon be going your way, you can get through most everything… so far.

 

Driven

May 1, 2013 by admin

What is it that drives you? What does it take to get you so into something that all of your focus is on that goal, and that nothing else matters except it’s success? Does this ever happen to you, or are you more an easy come, easy go type personality, the “que sera” attitude?

When I get going on something such as my painting, I really go at it hard, and I would say I am a “driven” person, though I still take

Fanning the Flames

Fanning the Flames

time to “smell the roses” so to speak. I work hard at what I am doing, but I take time out to have fun at what I’m doing, or if I’m doing something that “no way in hell can this be fun”, I get it done first and quickly, then have some fun. I always tackle the hardest tasks first, so that once I’m past the first step, it’s all down hill from there. I’ve always done things this way, and I find it easier. On my dinner plate, the 1st thing gone is usually what I like the least, and my favorite I savor for as long as possible.

One of my goals in art is to “be the best at what I do”, which is plein air painting. I am working very hard at this, and have been since I was first introduced to it in June of 2010. In the rest of that year I painted 15 plein air paintings in preparation for my 1st solo show. The following year I painted over 50 plein air paintings, then 2012 almost 70. And these are not the average 8×10 or 11×14″ paintings, my average size has been 18×24 over these years, with my largest plein air being a 36″ piece.

Okay, enough with the numbers already, the point is that I know that to get to be the best, it’s going to take a LOT of practice. I have a long way to go and a  short time to get there. I am not young so I have to stay hard at it. I know I have what it takes, though lacking in some fundamental skills, these can be mastered with time. In 2013 I have no idea how many paintings I have painted, but I know that I am improving. It is fun to see the progress, though I really have not set down time to note it. It should be done, and needs to be. I had

Stay hydrated

Stay hydrated

a solo show at the beginning of 2012 that had the best of my work to date in a chronological order. It was fun to see, you should do it too. See where you are going.

So yes I am driven to be the best that I can be. But my fanatical drive is mixed with all that a good fun life should be, for I also captain a couple tennis teams, and play on another. I cook, and try to spend good time with my loving wife. We have about 7 children around the country and enjoy our family dinners on Sunday evenings. Drop by, we would enjoy having you.

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