Monday, August 22, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Oil on stone, 6 x 6"
(click here for more)
In it, Hubert bursts my bubble and locks me in!
Of course, these aren't Hubert's words but he is quoting someone else's translation of Leonardo da Vinci's:
How to expand the mind and conduct various inventions:
"I shall not fail to include among these precepts a new discovery, an aid to reflection, which, although it seems a small thing and almost laughable, nevertheless is very useful in stimulating the mind to various discoveries. This is: look at walls splashed with a number of stains or stones of various mixed colours. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes adorned in various ways with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys, and hills. Moreover, you can see various battles, and rapid actions of figures, strange expressions on faces, costumes, and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good, integrated form. This happens thus on walls and varicoloured stones, as in the sound of bells, in whose pealing you can find every name and word you can imagine.
Do not despise my opinion when I remind you that it should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains on the walls, or the ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud, or like things, in which, if you consider them well, you will find really marvellous ideas. The mind of the painter is stimulated to new discoveries, the composition of battles of animals and men, various compositions of landscapes and monstrous things and similar creations, which may bring you honour, because the mind is stimulated to new invetions by obscure things."
And before Leo da "V" there was Song Di, a Chinese painter from the eleventh century:
"Choose an old, ruined wall, spread over it a piece of white silk. Then, every morning and evening, look at it until at last you can see the ruin through the silk, its bumps, levels, zig-zags, and cracks, fixing them in your mind and your eyes. Make the bumps into your mountains, the deepest parts your rivers, the hollows your ravines, the cracks your streams, the lightest parts your closest points, the darkest parts your most distant points. Fix all that deeply within you and soon you will see men, birds, plants and trees, and figures flying or moving between them. Then you can use your brush as you will. And the result will be a heavenly, not a man-made thing."
Well, a couple days ago, I went to a soapstone quarry and got myself some chunks of soft rock. This stuff is totally addictive and many things are starting to make sense to me. Here is a brief turn-around video of where my first exploration is headed. I figure that the piece is about halfway done but I couldn't resist posting something because I am really enjoying myself and there is nobody else in my studio that I can nudge with my elbow and say "Whoa. . . check it out".
Monday, August 15, 2011
The sun was setting behind a classic retro neon sign. It seemed like a no-brainer. But, of course, it was wicked hard because the colors were changing as fast as the cars zipping by. Also, before I do this again, I am going to do a little research on the best methods for mimicking light glow.
Also, I will bring pre-tinted boards that are larger than the 5 x 7 inch stupid little cheap-os that I thoughtlessly grabbed. Not only is it hard to paint that small, they are simply hard to hold on to and I dropped mine butter side down in the grass. Oh well. The whole neon thing was wigging me out as it got darker and I left my first painting flopping like a half squashed beetle.
I was so rattled, I spelled "Motel" wrong. Doesn't matter though right? I was just trying to figure out how to make light. . . at night. I thought Sarah's painting turned out really sweet.
Next we moved downtown and spent a long time just walking around looking at nooks and crannies. The two of us must have been a classic cliche with our easels on our backs and holding up our L7 fingers to frame the world. We finally settled on a simple wall across the street that allowed us to have back lighting from a storefront.
I'm looking more and more like a turtle without his shell. Anyway, Sarah once again nailed it.
She framed what was nice about the wall, the three tall trees and the open window. I had trouble editing and tried to put far too much composition on to my little board.
The whole experience was really fun, even though I felt like a hamfisted troglodyte. I haven't been painting in what seems like ages. Just getting out there and hacking and glopping away felt good. Thanks Sarah.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
. . . or so would I be if I had found the "How to Paint" pamphlet from the Western Auto Wizard.
I have been saving these two torn out magazine pages for over a decade now. I still don't think I can part with them yet. There are so many tangents built into these paintings. First of all, the painting is beautiful. I'm sure there must be an illustration geek out there who can tell me who was responsible for this account?
I stole these images from a dead-illustrator's image file. Imagine. . . once upon a time, people would cut out the pages of magazines, place them in manila folders, and then alphabetize the pages by topic, technique, animal, vegetable , or mineral.
Is it possible to have a crush on an illustration?
Not everyone will agree that art must be born out of pain. It has to be heartfelt though. And the creative process process (sic) may require that you give your utmost.
Friday, August 12, 2011
I suppose that I have been thinking that everyone works like Whiting. Well, according to my readings on the history of early modern art, I'm a dork. I'm willing to bet that Clodion didn't work like Whiting.Of course, I know loads of other people who make sculptures, but I haven't gotten to know them like I know Whiting. His process makes sense to me; that is why I have found myself "back to the drawing board" even though I keep ranting about sculpture.
I started a recent session by drawing my daughter in order to loosen up. She chose a very funny and exaggerated posture of nonchalance.
These squares from the Pencilove suite are all 6 x 6 inches so keep in mind that I can't get too detailed with my marks (without wasting precious time sharpening my pencils (total buzz kill trying to keep a sharp point)). Also, one can't expect an eleven year old to sit still for very long. As I was shaking off my inhibitions through this self-imposed exercise of Beat-the-Clock. . .
. . . I started to wonder why one of the most gloriously peaceful things to do in my life is to try and capture a 3D object with pencil and paper. It even seemed the exact opposite of what I was setting out to do, which was to draw about sculpture. I like to compress and filter dimensions within a reasonable time limit, but now I was trying to make the drawings that would expand and spray into sculptures.
Plus, I also started thinking about representation.
Why would I ever make a realistic sculpture of my daughter? Even during the 1700's people were aware of the vanity of such practices. I suppose I am sympathetic towards things that are more universal or idealized. For example, here is a link to a tumblr page that essentially represents my adolescent development of sexy. . . and interestingly it also represents why I wanted to learn to paint. Exaggerated and mod Frazetta women inhabit my sub-conscious.
But who gives a shit?
I feel like Bevis elbowing Butt-head
So then I tried to draw something simple, non-gender specific, and more to the scale of the 6 x 6 pieces of bristol I had stacked next to my drawing board.
I began to think about how every drawing I start when thinking about sculpture, begins with the presumption that I am working with a material; that is, "I am starting this drawing by imagining a graphically simple stainless steel monument." Or, "I wonder if I could make something out of sprayfoam, clay, or wax that feels like one of those cascading Asian landscapes but also invokes/evokes the figure?"
What if I was working with something more solid and reductive? What if I quarried some local soap stone and whacked around with a chisel?
What if I built something out of re-claimed materials?
Fug the limitations of materials, what do I think is something that I would like to see in real life?
Monday, August 08, 2011
I had learned to harness ignorance with presumption. I was ready to become an unacknowledged watercolorist. (Henry Miller)
That is how we used to go thrift storing. I found a couple watercolor sets over my travels.
In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you're in trouble. (Selma Blackburn)
This aluminum tray is brilliant. I think I'm going to get the above image tattooed across my chest. I suppose the only responsible thing would be to get the image below tatted across my back.
What is great about this set - besides the design - is that it has been carefully used. Many of the cakes have not been touched, and yet a few have been hollowed out with love. Also, I often lose sleep over how the colors have been organized.
A little amateur painting in water-color shows the innocent and quiet mind. (Robert Louis Stevenson)
This unassuming tin was a monstrous rush when I found it. The sleek contours of the heavier gauge mixing trays and well crafted hinge system betrayed an attention to detail that is hard to come by these days. But the rush came when I opened it.
Perfect patties laid out in a responsible color wheel! AND damn it if it didn't have a beautiful guide book that came with it. To this day, I think this Symphonic Color Wheel is one of the most simple and clear examples of hue, tint, and shade I've ever come across.
Watercolour could have been used more by the modernists. It is so direct, and when the white paper convention is accepted, so powerful, even brutal, that it would seem an ideal medium. (David Milne)
I opened a box labeled "Art Kitsch" that I had under the house because I am going through an eBay phase of cleansing. I don't think I will be parting with these water color sets however. In fact, I am feeling inspired. Maybe I am even a little confused because the red, white, and black of this Kopy Kat Paint Box just kills me with its design sense, but it is peculiar how un-watercolor-like it is. And, of course, it is virtually impossible not to think of Jack and Meg, or the Third Reich.
Somebody used this set in the same mercurial way as the first one we saw. It is interesting that the browns and ochers have been soaked up but many of the vibrant primary and secondary colors remain untouched. I'm sure there is a graduate school thesis in here somewhere.
The funny thing about this Kopy Kat set is that all the cakes are in their wrong trays. It seems like somebody tried to organize them by hue. All the cakes have stuck in their place and I don't dare try and move them for fear of snapping their perfect little convex molds.
This was and adult's set for sure.
-to Erje Ayden... Watercolors is the first and the last thing an artist does. (Willem de Kooning)
This Guitar tin, even with its gorgeous chocolate eclair palette, is not my favorite. Don't get me wrong, the design is timeless on the outside, but the internal layout is
actually pretty cool when I think about it. I mean, what other colors do you need, right? These might be watercolors made by the gods for all I know. I've never painted with these tins. I wasn't on safari for them for their actual contents. Sheesh. But it makes me wonder, how many colors could I survive on a desert island with? Watercolor is like life. Better get it right the first time – you don't get a second chance! (Sergei Bongart)
Is twelve all you really need? Twelve pads of pigment? Are Black and White even necessary?
Why not wheedle it down to eight?
Where oils lumber... watercolours prance. (Doug Mays)
Being in sync with watercolor requires a confident hand and a willingness to be on the razor's edge. If you crash and burn, so what? Surely, playing it safe won't take you where you want to be. (Frank LaLumia)
Eight is for the spartan-zen purists. Eight is for children, mad-men, and the primitives.
The sophisticated human MUST have 108 colors to work with.
Doesn't this aesthetic pander more towards the high brow (especially because the layout is entirely impractical)?
1025 Colours, 1974
Oil on canvas
120 x 124 cm
Saturday, August 06, 2011
Ornament and Crime is an essay written in 1908 by the influential and self-consciously "modern" Austrian architect Adolf Loos under the German title Ornament und Verbrechen. It was under this challenging title that in 1913 the essay was translated into English: "The evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects", Loos proclaimed, linking the optimistic sense of the linear and upward progress of cultures with the contemporary vogue for applying evolution to cultural contexts.
In Loos's essay, "passion for smooth and precious surfaces" he explains his philosophy, describing how ornamentation can have the effect of causing objects to go out of style and thus become obsolete. It struck him that it was a crime to waste the effort needed to add ornamentation, when the ornamentation would cause the object to soon go out of style. Loos introduced a sense of the "immorality" of ornament, describing it as "degenerate", its suppression as necessary for regulating modern society. He took as one of his examples the tattooing of the "Papuan" and the intense surface decorations of the objects about him—Loos considered the Papuan not to have evolved to the moral and civilized circumstances of modern man, who, should he tattoo himself, would either be considered a criminal or a degenerate.
The essay was written when Art Nouveau, which Loos had excoriated even at its height in 1900, was about to show a new way of modern art. The essay is important in articulating some moralizing views, inherited from the Arts and Crafts movement, which would be fundamental to the Bauhaus design studio and would help define the ideology of Modernism in architecture.