To And Fro, 14.5 x 24, oil on linen
Well it's been a few weeks since my last post. This season have been super busy for me. Since the new year, I've taught three workshops, and have participated in three group shows. This on top of my weekly classes so I've just been swamped.
In the next few months, I have more openings coming up; The California Art Club's 103rd Gold Medal Exhibition, A group show at the California Museum of Fine Art, Paso Robles Festival of the Arts Signature Exhibition, another group show at the Holton Studio Gallery, and the annual auction at the Crocker Museum. It's madness!
Producing paintings for these shows has been a challenge to say the least, but the pressure and time constraints caused me to focus more, and I'm happy to say I'm liking my recent paintings very much.
The piece at the top is one of my favorites. I was able to move my brush more freely, not confining myself to defined and definite shapes. That's key to good painting (strictly in the context of my painting journey) and it's one step closer to letting go of rules and structure and painting intuitively.
For me, and for great many, that is about the hardest thing to do in painting. It's pure jazz, is what it is. I have only had glimpses of this improvisational jazz state in my work, but I feel that with this one, I was in it a good long time.
The next two may look familiar to you; I've taken cues from an earlier blog post, and actually did new versions from a detail shots of a larger cityscape painting. One big difference between these and the previous cropped versions is that I did not do a careful drawing to begin with. I didn't even grid these. I just went in with loose washes and slowly found my shapes as I developed the painting.
Pursuit, 11 x 14, oil on linen
I like the abstract nature of the marks I got with this freehand method. Although working on large cityscapes this way still fills me with doubt and trepidation. These were just 11 x 14, so I felt more confident. I mean if I screwed them up, no big deal. I can start over without too much damage to my self confidence, whereas on a big canvas, it might really hurt.
Ride, 11 x 14, oil on linen
I like to go back to something I did years ago, and try to do a new version of it to see how different it would turn out. My work is always evolving, and I would hope that I'm getting better at this painting stuff.
Now that I'm pushing abstraction more and more, it's really interesting to see how I'm solving the same problems differently. The painting below is a new one, but I first tackled it 10 years ago. I no longer have that one but I distinctly remember working on it. I was happy with the painting but I know it was much tighter than this new version. The subject matter is the entrance to the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, where I visited during my month long residency in Umbria.
Visiting St. Francis, 14 x 11, oil on linen
The shapes of the architectural detail, while not precise, still need to be reasonably convincing. Which is a problem because in trying to define those shapes accurately, the abstraction aspect is completely compromised. And the reverse is true, too, if you push abstraction, you sacrifice reality. So achieving some sort of balance was the big challenge in this painting. It took several alternating layers of accuracy of representation and abstraction/ deconstruction. I wish I could just jump into abstraction from the get go, but I don't even know how that works so I gotta do it the slow way.
Night Ride, 12 x 12 inches, oil on linen
A rare nocturne from yours truly. Actually when I started, it wasn't a nocturne. It was moody, but more like an overcast day. Too many of the elements were more visible, fighting for attention, and I was stuck. Darkness and shadow are wonderful devices to simplify a busy composition (I hesitate to even use that word because if it were actually composed I wouldn't have had the problem) and inject mystery and mood. I don't do too many nocturnes because I feel like I could easily become too dependent on the darkness as a device of convenience. And besides, I like painting daylight.
The Philosophers, 11 x 14, oil on linen
The red umbrellas,backlit figures, and strong silhouettes. Do I need anything more? This had all the elements of a strong atmospheric painting, it pretty much painted itself. The only thing that I had to really figure out was the value relationship between the foreground and the background. Light on dark, dark on light, or the same values. The shirts were light and the pants were dark, so by positioning the background shapes carefully, I could have all three relationships happening. It's just a couple of values so it's nothing tricky, but it worked really well. I was happy.
All of these paintings are on display at the Randy Higbee Gallery in Costa Mesa, CA. I am showing with my friends Simon Addyman and Tom Balderas, who are both very talented painters. we three have very different styles but together, the works create a kind of fascinating harmony. I drove down South for the opening this past weekend, and it was great to see them displayed so beautifully.
The show is up for a few weeks, so if you're in the area, please check it out. It's a fantastic show!