Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Twilight Mood

I finished this 8x10 a day or so ago at something like 2 a.m., as appropriate a time as any, I guess, to be touching in atmospheric mist. First step was an all-over mud underpainting that I then wiped away in an abstract design. I let that semi-dry and then went back and laid the whole thing over with a new layer of mist in the proper places and painted in branch-like forms that you can hardly see in the photo. The final stage was to finesse the border zone between the positive forms (the "trees") and the negative shapes (the "mist"). Sometimes this stage can be tough and one has to let the thing dry and try again another day. This time it went smoothly, and it was really fun to do. I'm still bent on pushing these "landscapes" into abstract territory, hopefully without breaking the mood. Each time I finish one, it suggests all kinds of variations and ideas for new and better ones that blow past the latest try's shortcomings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Strange Little Things

I've become interested in an underrated because hard to classify 19th century American artist, John La Farge. He ranges among still life, landscape, portrait, but mostly Symbolist work. He definitely qualifies for the label "visionary" in my book, but then "my book" isn't used to teach art history ;-)

But I had to share this great title for one of his paintings,
The Strange Thing Little Kiosai Saw in the River. I'm sure there's a literary allusion or something going on here, but with the passage of time the allusion, if there was one, is lost, and just the suggestion of a dark story peopled by vanished Japanese characters that we will never get to know remains. How great is that?!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Philip Glass on Forging Ahead

“A new language requires a new technique. If what you’re saying doesn’t require a new language, then what you’re saying probably isn’t new.”

Composer Philip Glass, from an interview in "Glass, A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts," a documentary about his life and work. I think this is one of the most profound statements about art and creativity I've stumbled across in a long while. I've understood something of this from the other side, from the perspective of the work's audience: new, living art seems to come into the world complete with its own set of newly written laws. This really hit me the first time I saw photos of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. It seemed to me that an entirely new form or category of beauty had entered the world. I hadn't thought of it from the artist's perspective before: At some point, technique only leads to more technique.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Swingin' Maxes

Between teaching and helping to raise Max-the-Magnificent, finding time to paint outdoors (okay, to be honest, finding time to even THINK about painting *at all* for 5 minutes at at time) can be a challenge. Well, I'm not alone.

Painter Todd Bonita, who's also represented by Kennedy Gallery (and who's got a solo show there coming up in August), finds himself in a remarkably similar situation - like me, he lives in the Seacoast of NH, like me he has been painting professionally for about three years, like me he has a three-year-old named Max, and, like I'd like to do a little better, he is methodically building a career and a following so as to continue doing what he loves most - painting.

We've combined forces (and kids) and kicked off a new routine - painters' play dates with the Maxes. We spent about three hours in the glorious sunshine and sea breezes of the New Hampshire coast, hanging at the playground at New Castle Common today, talking shop and plotting future outings that will include not just us and the boys - but easels as well. Stay tuned for developments as they happen.

This may just turn out to be a revolution. The boys took to each other like two peas in the proverbial pod.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

iPhone Meets the Blogosphere

I've downloaded two apps for my iPhone that promise to make it easy for me to post to my blog from wherever I happen to have service. Neither one seems particularly great. They're called Typepad and Pixelpipe, which was recently pulled from the AppStore, it turns out. Typepad wants to you to start a new blog on its own blog site! Ha ha ha ha ha. Yeah.

Also, I dislike the way apps like this ask you to join their network to access their services - meaning, store your stuff on their servers and create an account to post to social media, etc. It'd be more seamless if it were just an interface for an ftp-like pipe that hooked into Blogspot so I could post directly. Oh yeah, but then they wouldn't get your email and such and it wouldn't be a "sticky" application (barf). Pixelpipe sort of works, but it also sort of sucks - it fails to post the pictures I select about 50% of the time, and it never allows me to access the same Blogspot editing features I can access from my MacBook, including photo size, font for the titles, blah blah blah. I have yet to use Pixelpipe to properly post a photo and a text update to the same post! Admittedly, I'm an Apple user, so I no longer have much patience with engineers' narcissistic misjudgments of usability. If anybody has had better luck with anything - let me know.

I just learned that the other Blog supersite, WordPress, has posted their own iPhone app to the store - hopefully, Blogspot will make one soon. If not, I'll just jump ship.

Oh yeah, and that image of Homer reciting the Odyssey was created with the Brushes app on the iPhone by some guy with time and a wicked talent for digital finger-painting.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Warm Colors

Played around with the limted palette for this 6x8. Been studying the honey-gold light in Claude Lorrain's imaginary landscapes, thinking warm colors will coax the warmer days to come! Doing those pears today ...