Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Savage Winter, last plein air painting in 2009

This is my last plein air painting for 2009. I did this one at Scottsdale Farm in a four hour session, and added finishing touched in the studio after thawing out.


My style has been changing for a few months now, and this painting marks a pivotal stage in that change. It is a slower way of painting with several layers and a lot of texture. The process is not deliberate or studied it is very spontanious, but require more work and focus. The texture and the feeling that I get when I look and work on my painting in this style is invigorating. It represents my own voice and my style.

Savage Winter, Oil on artist canvas board 8"x10"

I tried very hard to match the colours in the photograph and the video, but there are so many subtle colours here and they are being averaged by the cameras.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009, some thoughts.

What a year it has been! I will limit my comments here to art of course, but it has been eventful across the board.

It started of with my work shifting from Watercolours to Acrylics and then on to Oils. As much as I love watercolours and as comfortable as I am with them (I have been painting in watercolours for more years than I care to share here), they were starting to feel limiting and with the kids growing, and a move to a new house where I had a cell space to call a studio, I felt I was ready to try something new.

At first, Acrylics seemed a natural step in the opaque media direction. It is water based and it seemed at first easy to handle. After months of struggling with the medium to make it act “like Oils”, I finally raised the white flag and moved on to Oils. Acrylics are beautiful don’t get me wrong, but each medium has its character and one should not assume that any medium can replace another. It took me a few months to control the Oil paints, and I am by no means a master at it yet, but I am getting there and I can finally say that I have found my voice in oil paint recently. I have not given up on Acrylics though. I will continue to use them in a different direction that I hope to start showing here soon. As to Watercolours, there is no way I can abandon them of course. I can still remember my first watercolour box at age 6 or 7. It was a metal box with many pans of magnificent colours. It had a goofy cartoon design on the front, but it was a very important thing for me. I spent many hours painting with it. I will always feel at home with my Aquarelles, but I love my Oils and Acrylics as well.

It is funny, but it took me some time to get over the feeling that as an artist I had to be medium specific. I have no idea where that notion came from, but it is prevalent in art circles at least in North America. One is a Watercolourist or an Acrylic painter or an Oil painter. Last week I was painting with a friend and he told me a story about his first encounter with his mentor. His mentor asked him one question: Do you want to be a painter or do you want to be an artist? Yes, there is a difference. Being an artist is a state of mind. You could make art with cloth, chalk, and even sand if you had to. Many artists do. The medium is your tool not your religion. Mastering the tool allows you to express complex ideas and feelings. I think this is where most "painters" fail to grasp the liberating nature of working with multiple media. Moving freely between media does not harm your skills or slow down your learning in any way. Just like knowing several languages can help you think differently because you can grasp something more than words when you absorb a language, so with art media; your study and exploration of multiple media heightens your awareness of each medium's powers and limitations.

So next year, I will work with every medium I can get my hands on. Oil pastels, (not pastels because they affect my asthma), charcoal, coloured pencils, conte, pen and ink, the lowly HB pencil; you name it, I will hope to use it. I may meander along the way a bit longer while doing that. I will not be on a super (insert a medium here) highway to success, but that’s OK. There is a poem that I have carried with me for over 30 years now. I like to think I am living by its words. I will share it with you here and wish you a magnificent 2010.

Ithaca
Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

As you set out on the way to Ithaca
Hope that the road is a long one,
Filled with adventures, filled with understanding.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
Poseidon in his anger: do not fear them,
You’ll never come across them on your way
As long as your mind stays aloft, and a choice
Emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
Savage Poseidon; you’ll not encounter them
Unless you carry them within your soul,
Unless your soul sets them up before you.

Hope that the road is a long one.
Many may the summer mornings be
When—with what pleasure, with what joy—
You first put in to harbours new to your eyes;
May you stop at Phoenician trading posts
And there acquire fine goods:
Mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
And heady perfumes of every kind:
As many heady perfumes as you can.
To many Egyptian cities may you go
So you may learn, and go on learning, from their sages.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind;
To reach her is your destiny.
But do not rush your journey in the least.
Better that it last for many years;
That you drop anchor at the island an old man,
Rich with all you’ve gotten on the way,
Not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave to you the beautiful journey;
Without her you’d not have set upon the road.
But she has nothing left to give you any more.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca did not deceive you.
As wise as you’ll have become, with so much experience,
You’ll have understood, by then, what these Ithacas mean.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

River Bend

This will be the last one with the greens of summer for a while. I am ready for the winter and snow in my painting, but I just wanted to fit in one more of the credit in the summer this year. I did this one in my studio and recorded it live on USTREAM. If you where up early this morning, you could have joined me and watched live with coffee in hand while I painted away. It might have put you right back to sleep though LOL.

Anyway, here is a 5min accelerated video of the painting process. At one point my internet signal faded in the studio and I lost about half an hour of painting, but I think it is OK.

River Bend, Oil on canvas board, 4"x6"

Saturday, December 05, 2009

2010 Calendar

The 2010 Calendar is now ready to order. It holds 12 of my recent works in full colour and will hopefully fill your year with joy :)

Please go here to purchase one or a few! Oh, and please spread the word if you can. Thank you!