Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Sunbathing Betty", oil, 16x20

My favorite model is vaporizing in the sun before my eyes. A dedicated model I couldn't allow her to fry in the 95 degree heat so this session only lasted 20 minutes but I really like how it came off. I've been using oil gesso and sanding it smooth. Using thin washes of Old Holland medium I mix myself I can control the drying time and application. I got some nice sable brushes that make me have finer control. I believe I'm developing my sensitivity to color and handling. I've looked at art all my life without fathoming the finer points of application until I attempt achieving certain effects with the brush.
Instead of diluting hue with titanium white I use the white of the canvas as one would when doing a transparent watercolor. I especially like quick drying glazes that I can immediately layer new strokes. Cool over warm, light over dark etc.
JC is an EFF (emergency fire fighter) for the BIA on the Colville Reservation. Home from U of E. Kentucky, he chases wild fires to earn money for university. He's going to be a famous writer (starting with his first novel, "White on Rez") if his papa has any say in the matter.
To keep him preoccupied he's doing what most young people are doing these days, chatting on his laptop. 30 minutes was about all I could get out of him. He found out how hard it is to sit still or rather my version of sitting still. He's got great features. I hope he takes up my suggestion that he approach the art deptartment at Uof EK or "YUK" as he says, and make $20 an hour as a model. He's a fit dude, packing his firefighting equipment around these mountains keep him fit as a marine.
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

There are no rules

Attending a show of Impressionists at the Seattle Art Museum, which compares the realism of Fragonard and Rembrandt to the Impressionists Monet and Renoir, I came home and started into a series using a technique of painting used by early masters and taught to me by Leonid Gervits which entails the use of underpainting and glazes, exploiting the natural brightness of the oil primed canvas itself. A technique used by the old masters and shunned by the alla prima work of the Impressionists.
I started this series with a team of horses under a monumental cloudscape. I love painting clouds and have always been attached to studying them. Studio paintings allow me to implement the visual vocabulary I have acquired over the past 35 years of dabbling in art.
Considering imagination to be one of the tools of painting I have yet to explore, I am delighted to explore where I might go.
I started the series with something familiar, a team of horses farming. That idea led to the next painting we call "Blessings", of a willowy woman, arms upraised in supplication, her light dress blowing in the breeze. A very optimistic image that imparts good feelings. This in turn led to the next idea in which I had intended to simply change the dress to one of green and place the figure on a green hill to express the idea of "Verdancy". I started with a nude to get the proportions right with the intent of dressing her with the green gown but the gestalt of the painting led to an entirely different painting, far more spiritual and iconic ending up with a goddess like figure emerging from the clouds bringing rain to the sun baked earth. Still staying with the theme of verdancy I placed the constellation Pisces in the upper left corner which is the constellation the sun is in when it crosses the equator in the northern latitude spring. I put a sliver of moon, one native americans say is the pregnant moon. I'm quite delighted with these paintings and am looking forward to where I might go using my imagination.
Having developed my painting technique through the exercise of alla prima, pleinair painting, I strive to develop content by means of imagination which I feel is another level of effort with enormous possibilities. I find I am at a point where I am familiar enough with the mechanics of making a painting that I the next thing to do is explore the content of my paintings. I will still paint en plein air as that is how one develops the visual vocabulary necessary to fuel the imagination on the journey into an un-mapped world. There are no rules in this world I intend to explore. The danger is to guard against diminishing the effort by editorializing although much of what I'm interested in is definitely political and aspirations that have developed out of a lifetime of experience.
Each of these paintings are 30"x40", oil, done on canvas.

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