Returned to the Easel

“Plane Compression”
Transparent Watercolor 22 x 30 inches

Okay I am back! Hawaii was fantastic ! Frankly, however, I have been itching to return to the easel here at home.

This piece is quite similar to the other non objective pieces I have completed in the last few months. It was half finished when we left for our Hawaiian Holiday
All I needed was one look at it’s lonely, half baked existence on the easel to awaken my juices and get me rolling once again. I arose quite early this morning (4AM) to get after it. I am still not certain that it is complete. I may let it hang around for several days before I declare it final and finished.
On another note, I put the last few non objective pieces down on my studio floor this morning and lined them up next to each other. They all look very similar . . . . .which has both good and bad points . . . .it is a spur in my sides, though, as it indicates that I am becoming stale. Gotta move on to another ‘theme’ . . . . .which may not be all that easy. I like the motif of floating planes and shallow space, which is what all of these are . . . .and I noticed that the compositions are quite similar, too! A change up is due!!
Until next painting . . . .

Breaching Fear

“Just Plane Spilled”
watercolor 22 x 30 inches

After a long layoff of painting abstracts/nonobjective paintings, I began to wonder if I could, indeed, do it again. Painting linemen, stilllifes, teaching, presiding over a large national watercolor association, working part time, etc. all take their toll on developing one’s skills in the art world. My dear wife has been challenging me to do more of these kinds of works. Alas, I am as most of the other artists I know . . . . .afraid I might not be able to do it once again.

We all fear failure and, worse, going public with it. There is that ever lurking voice “Forget it! You never had it in the first place. Those others were an accident when you really had it. you’ve lost the touch,” etc. etc. One must step up and face it head on, if for nothing else but to once again be able to say, “yes, I CAN.”
What a difference in how life tastes when we can say that. Right?

I have had a sketch of an interesting composition taped to my easel for over a year. The day I painted the last painting of linemen (see last post) I decided to take the challenge. Working at it some four to six hours per day (every day save two) has gotten this piece to this place.
It is a fine effort to take on something like this because it forces one to focus on the elements and principles with nothing more to use as a reference, except for the initial shapes of the composition. Then it is a matter of subtle adjustments of value transitions, textures, movements, shapes, tangents, convergences, not to mention color dominances and harmonies. In other words, I have found that painting a piece like this takes every bit of design knowledge and calls into play techniques and color skills which have been developed over a long time. . . . . . . .and all of these can become stale if not used.
The last comment is that this sort of work is pure creativity. Copying, referencing, emulating, reproducing or mimicking cannot be part of this kind of painting. it all must come from within and from the hints the painting offers as the painter moves forward.
Now I can go back to my linemen and put some of these ideas to work . . . but wait! I have another abstract piece that I must complete first!
Yes, I CAN!!!!!!!

Lest We Forget

Still Life # 100
Watercolor, 15 x 22 inches

Okay already! I have been very absent.

I have, however been painting. But not painting like you might think I have. In the last 9 weeks, most of my efforts have been aimed at new, solid examples of design approaches and how to use some of the tools. For example, I have painted some 14 different times the same drawing in 14 different color approaches to illustrate how mood is affected by color choices.
Also, I recently did a number of pieces focused around the principles of value design. And it was actually fun. (Have you forgotten that you took up painting because it was fun?) Yes, it was fun. Nothing earth shaking came out of these many little examples, but it has certainly helped me become much more convinced of the many ways to manipulate the elements and principles of design.
While I have been teaching (and earning a living, too,) I have also been working at being the leader of the National Watercolor Society. And, not surprisingly, leading brings with it worry and sometimes angst. Not that anything is wrong at the society, but events have to be managed and people need to be coached (or whatever) . . . and this causes me to awaken out of sound sleep, sometimes. So, at 4 AM, after such a mental episode, I will make the coffee and go directly to the studio to paint.
Lately, my mind is brimming with ideas to put in front of my enthused class. Along with all the other concerns racing around in my noggin. Today was no different I flew out of bed at that horrible hour of 4AM studio bound.
Texture and Pattern are to be the last lesson next week. So, I set about making another still life painting (number 110!) to see what I could do with texture and pattern. WOW! What happened!? I just let my silly side take a seat front and center. Last week one of class participants used a similar backdrop for their painting, like this grid pattern you see in this painting . . . .I decided to used it and do some other textural ‘stunts’ to bring home the effects of pattern and texture. Before I knew it, I was having so much fun I was actually giggling as I made the painting! Yes! I was laughing out loud.
This may seem somewhat near insanity, but I can assure you it is not. You see, I began painting several years ago (23) just for fun. That ‘s right I was intent on doing this for fun. Every time I paint, silly thoughts come to mind about what I might do . . . .or my first watercolor teacher (Her name is Oneida!) and how much her lessons still make me smile to myself. . . . . or trying to discover some way to include a silly approach into a serious painting.
I suppose we must, from time to time, not forget why we began this journey. We are doing it for FUN! Right? So, when we get frustrated with our lack of progress or ruined paintings, isn’t the most healthy thing to do just to call to mind our reasons? Isn’t it cool that we can completely escape, make funny representations of stuff and giggle while we are at it? Pretty soon the purposes intensify, (like entering competitions), but the real reason we do this is for FUN. Let’s never let go of that!!
I had a BLAST making this painting . . . and I think it shows! (It also counts for brush mileage!)