Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bear's Den Study; "the intensity with which they occur..."; Fernando Pessoa; Andrew Wyeth

Bear's Den Study
 oil on panel  12" x 14"

"Time is holding it's breath for an instant - and for an eternity. 
That's what I'm after - that's what I'm trying to paint."
Andrew Wyeth

"The value in things is not the time they last, 
but in the intensity with which they occur.
That is why there are unforgettable moments and unique people."
Fernando Pessoa

I suppose the most difficult thing about making paintings is settling in on a subject. I am sometimes overwhelmed by the intensity of so much visual richness in the natural world - to the point of a kind of painting paralysis. It is then I have to tell myself to back off, relax, and trust that there will be time - time for it all. Then I might focus of a moment of visual poetry - a single, precious moment I can attempt to capture in a flurry of brushes and knives and seeing and feeling. The craziest part is about two and one half hours or so must be condensed back to that moment. I love the process within the attempt - this is what sends me along to the next one. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wavebreaker 4; Eugene Delacroix and the "austere ideas of beauty"

Wavebreaker 4
 oil on panel  11" x 14"

"It is not easy. It is never easy."
"It has to be worked at, and even then you never learn it. No one has any magic way of doing it. No one has anything except an over-mastering desire to do it."
Frank Benson, American Impressionist

"Nourish yourself with grand and austere ideas of beauty that feed the soul."
Eugene Delacroix

With all of Frank Benson's dire warnings I thought perhaps some of Delacroix's 'nourishment of grand ideas of beauty' might be called for. Benson is correct though, it is a constant struggle to attempt to get somewhere near one's original concept and at the same time, allow for the painting to change and develop as it is built. The key through all that, whether a single go over two or three hours or a day after day marathon, is to hold to the discipline of your initial vision. This is a combination of absolute holding to accurate seeing tempered by the poetic idea that first drew one to the subject. All the structural bones come out of the poetry. The vision allows for a chance to bring understanding or form out of the chaos of nature. The only possible way someone might attempt to paint say, a breaking wave, is to have an over-mastering desire to see if one can 
come close to it - in every sense.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tumbled Logs; The symbiosis between forest and painter; Neil Welliver

Stormfall, Tumbled Logs
 oil on panel  16" x 16"

"There is some kind of symbiosis between the forest and the person who's there."
"It's the whole business about the relationship between painting and that which you painted and what happens, and how much you impose on it and how much it imposes on you. Whether you change it or it changes you."
Neil Welliver

I don't paint scenes or scenery. Perhaps you've noticed this by the entries in the blog. I have nothing against them, as such, I just get bored easily when involved in that kind of painting. While the presence of beauty and especially, rural settings can be an enjoyable kind of nostalgia, I don't trust those yearnings or inspirations or what they tend to give me.
Every painter needs an edge or a visual problem to spur on a process and a progression in their work. A kind of unspoken reason to work. Welliver's quote here speaks directly to something I use as a spur - the flux between presence and imposition - the self and the subject. Coloring that battle is the desire to produce something that speaks to the passage of time and the presence of pictorial space. I have found that abandoning myself to the shapes and relative intensities of the subject, ignoring what they are supposed to be - resisting any sort of imitation or illustration - is the challenge and the purpose. This requires a leap of faith that whatever the result, in the end will somehow grab the poetic essence that attracted me at the outset. The inevitable disappointments must lead to the next effort!
So here is my latest effort along these lines. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

River Glide; Ernest Hemingway; "Trying to make a picture of the whole world

River Glide
 oil on card  6" x 10"

River Glide 2 
 Oil on card  6" x 10"

"I am trying to make, before I get through. a picture of the whole world - or as much of it as I have seen.Boiling it down always, rather than spreading it thin."
Ernest Hemingway, 1933

Hemingway has pretty well summed up a primary task of any artist and any art form. 
This idea is related to the old saying about the world can be discovered in a grain of sand and essentially, this is true. Into this idea we must realize a painter is confronted every day with limitations, limitations unique to each one. These are with us as surely as fingerprints and can be a wall to get around or a tool for liberation. For me, some days it is the former and some days, good days, it is the latter. Over around forty years of this painting business I have come to terms with both kinds of days and their cumulative effect - a day spent trying to make a picture of the whole world, contained in a small corner, is a wondrous day no matter how smooth or rough. These two small works are originally images from an aluminum row boat on the Potomac River.
 I hope you enjoy them as much as I did making them.