Monday, April 23, 2012

Eleventh Volley: Updates.

I once saw a Foglio doodle of a snail straining at its shell, going "urrrrrrrr." As if it were trying with all its might to go faster and harder than it was capable. Sometimes I feel like that. Between getting caught up watching episodes of Breaking Bad, The Legend of Korra, and reading various books and anime, I've barely got time to paint. I know, distractions, distractions. Well, that and a full time job. And other jobs. As the late Levon Helm sang once, "I've got more debt than an honest man can repay." Here's a protip, kids: when your school tells you "go ahead, it's good to borrow as much money as you possibly can, because you never know when you're going to need it..." Set them on fire. Many times.

Sigh. What can I say? I was young, poor, and stupid.

So any ways, that has nothing to do with this. Presenting: UPDATES.

I took a formal color theory class recently that taught me how to re examine how I paint. Of course then I had to drop it half way through taking it because life. The idea being that I'll paint quicker, or rather, more efficiently, and thicker. At some point my paintings will be mine, instead of merely aping technique. I'm also working on oiling in, because I'm away from the painting more often than I'm working on it. I've noticed quite a bit of difference when starting back on a painting. It's easier at that point, after oiling, to get a more even spread of pigment, as opposed to building up a wet surface to paint into and move things around with. This thickness without what I'll call cheating (using meglp and galkyd drying agents to create resiny, buttery, plastic-y goodness) is more difficult for me to achieve, and it's something I hope to work through in this painting. I love the way Rembrandt paints, and in Houston; a place I make a pilgrimage to once a year; are two Rembrandt portraits. They are beautiful and I've spent many an hour staring at them. He makes his impasto look so thick, without out actually making it pile up on the canvas. I'd like to have that kind of aggressive delicacy at some point. I've also mentioned Saville and Freud before, but I'll also add Robert Henri and Sargent as masters of a looseness that still manages to create a coherent and luscious image. The masters of the "painterly" method. Painter's painters, if you will.

I'm nowhere near that league. But that shouldn't stop me -- or you, if you're of the creative persuasion, from making things. And I will probably never love ninety nine percent of what I do, but I'll try to learn as much as I can from it while doing it, and afterwards, take those lessons with me.

So the short version of it is: Hooray progress!

More next time. You know, once the framing and house(s) renovating is out of the way.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thirteenth Volley: Oodles of Doodles

This might be a bandwidth killer. There are a lot of images here. This is the finished product for the Brooklyn Art House Co-op show. The premise was you could pay to receive a sketchbook from them and had to have it completed by the end of January. It, along with 4,999 other books of various themes will now travel the lower 48 for the next few months. It was kind of scary, working in a theme (Fears and tears), or with one in mind as opposed to trying to modify/bullshit something I already to to fit. I was paralysed in the beginning. Only working when I had an idea. It is a sketchbook after all. It's supposed to be incomplete. The idea of a body trying to fit a theme as opposed to a singular piece. As such, I was much happier about some of the drawings as opposed to the majority of them. And when I started screwing up, I would tell myself to keep going. If you added up all the ugly parts you would at least get something, while not beautiful, at least would be unified.

I figured I'd do a quick, and loose painting for the cover. Inside I stayed with sumi ink and watercolor. I started to tell a story about things I'd been through, like the loss of my sister. I'd falter, backtrack and also look for found imagery to help augment what I was looking for.

Between dead birds and burning trucks, I was looking to convey things loosely. Which was harder than I expected. There's a certain push and pull between expressiveness and context I think. I can make a very angry image, and you can get a sense of the violence of it, the energy that animates it. But I worry that that might be the only thing perceptible at that point because you lose sight of the subject matter. I like to maintain a balance of both.

A lot of the text comes from songs I was listening to at the time. Some stuff you'd expect, like Leonard Cohen. But some things came from surprising places to me. Like Sheryl Crow, or snippets of things I heard on the radio that just seemed to fit at the time. I'm no poet, but I enjoy reading it a lot. And a huge influence on both how I read it, and what I look for stylistically comes from Graham Foust. The book's title, As in Every Deafness, as well as the lines I butchered on the fourth page, come from his poetry. Which is very minimal but has a quiet and frantic desperation to it. Like the last moments of what I'd imagine some one being buried alive feels like - minus the euphoria that comes with asphyxiation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Pardon the awkward line breaks. Myself and technology are polar opposites. Next time: Painting up dates!