Back in the studio... painting

After years of putting it off, to concentrate on children's books, I finally returned to the basement painting studio. It wasn't easy, but I'm glad I did.

I decided to try a portrait... instead of a landscape. The underpainting is done with defining the shapes with a cloth instead of a paintbrush. Sort of a reverse establishment of the body of the figure.

Then the paint is added. I use acrylics and large bristle brushes... mostly the cheap ones from the hardware store. I just love the way they string out the brushstrokes into threads.

I did a photoshop study of the initial colors after the first 2 hours of painting had dried overnight. I added colors against the neutral backdrop of the underpainting.

The entire painting took about 4 hours.

It's good to paint again. I'm thinking it'd be the perfect occupation for 'retirement'... and who knows, someday I might even make some dough at it. I do have lots of ambitious plans for painting ideas.


Paintings of Spring & Autumn


If at first you don't succeed...

Paint, Paint again.

This painting started off as something else entirely.

But I had fun finishing it off in a new way that wasy completely different.

I knew from the start that it would be impossible to mess up this painting. So much of painting seems first to just make the brushstroke, and second, figuring out ways to correct regrettable brushtrokes.

I guess it's knowing when to quit is part of the secret.


Waterfall in the Woods

I decided that thinking about painting & art in general is best done with one's paint brush... and not with one's brain.

This is a very profound realization for me, and hopefully it will spare me many hours of useless cogitation in future. The act of painting is 100 times more rewarding than most hours spent thinking about painting.

Here's some fun little 'ghost' paintings I did over the weekend. I remain very pleased with them... even the next day after they've dried. Even upstairs in the bright light of day.

Very quick to paint... but the paint does most of the talking. Done with rags and cheap bristle brushes. Thus sparing the artist the labor of the details. And it's more of a feeling than actual ideas that goes into them.

I have to admit, that even I was shocked by the scatterbrained process by which they were conceived. Usually I find inspiration mysterious... but these were delightfully put together from the oddest bits and pieces.

Albert Pinkham Ryder was always one of my favorite painters...


A Desert River

I've been thinking a lot about the desert lately...

I liked how this painting came out.
Color, color, color! Acrylics can be good for that.

I finally managed a painting without just black and a monotone... though I think that's an excellent choice for paintings. But all the other colors can be good too.

It's funny how my explanation for any painting goes through stages as I paint it.

Somehow the meanings and storyline reveal themselves bit by bit, until they finally make sense.

Anyhow, I'd been hoping to add in some figurative elements. So I'm lucky this one seemed to work out.

My unweariness of painting trees remains intact. And Waterfalls also are right up there in my iconic lexicon of favored themes.

The monotone piece below is the first step, where I figured out the basic shapes.


The mysterious world of paint

Here we have it... a little weekend getaway to the mysterious world of paint sloshed on canvas. Mostly I have to overcome a certain resistance to beginning... but I guess every artist does. I've been too busy with doing illustration work to really have much left over energy to paint.

What am I trying to paint? Depth... Mystery... Nature. Primeval places that are overlooked by the workaday world.

Why do I paint the same scenes over and over? It's interesting how one painting begets the next. Before long the artist has developed their own lexicon of imagery. I've got lots of things nagging to get painted. All in good time...

Does it matter what an artist paints? Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter at all. Anything is the perfect subject matter, but some are more perfect than others.

Anyhow, now I've started into my new shipment of BIG canvases... so maybe I'll make some headway to wherever it is I'm going... despite my contentious relationship with those new blank canvases.

Just as an addendum... having 'lived' with these paintings for a number of weeks now, I have to say I've grown to like them more and more. That's the final test of any painting I think... how well you can live with it.

Am I repeating myself?

Am I repeating myself? Definitely... and entirely on purpose.

I liked this one painting so much, I decided to do it again, mostly because I wanted to see it bigger. Painting big is my therapy from working on illustration the other 6 days of the week... so bring out the barn sized brushes please!

Also, there's just something about having two of these paintings now... I could see going on and doing a dozen. I think it'd make an interesting gallery show, and the more of them I painted, the more it would be like being in the woods. Each one slightly different, but the same. I've noticed lots of painters seem to work in series like that... just doing the same subject over and over for their whole show. Why must an artist re-invent the wheel with each painting anyhow?

I really liked the American Masters PBS biography on Andy Warhol. At least I liked the painting parts... I can do without the self destructive people and drugs and movies. But the whole idea of mass producing paintings to sell seems very interesting to me. I suppose artists usually work in series anyhow, so why not just mass produce them and offer one in red, one in violet, one in green and one in yellow?


Not enough time... only one me

Just like always, it's almost impossible to work full time as an illustrator and still find time to paint. Especially when there's a house that needs painting (and still isn't done) along with umpteen other naggy little chores.

But there's only one me! But I still have my sights set on painting, and I still enjoy looking at my paintings every day... so my heart is still in it. Just I don't have the time.

I've been totally swamped with three large illustration projects... all at the same time and the dog days of summer have been hard to deal with too.

Oh well, no big deal... thinking about painting can be good too.

Field with Hay

Here's a new painting I finished over the weekend.

Picture's worth a thousand words... so I can't add much.


Trees of Mystery...

The woods seem to be one of my recurring themes. There's just something about the woods that draws me to paint them. The mystery, the depth, the forms. I could probably look at trees forever. I think they're such incredible sculptural forms... the essence of miraculous nature. Then add to this the colors of spring and fall and the bare forms of winte.

Probably I could paint trees forever.


Two fields of focus

Here's a new painting I did recently... a fun experiment with two fields of focus.

It's got a flat kind of abstrack Alex Katz thing going on in the front with a flatness that plays against the depth of the background colors.

I can see adding figures at some point... maybe taking it in a slight poetic narrative direction or something. Anyhow, I was quite pleased with how it came out.

One of my biggest influnces is April Gornik... who's paintings are just amazing.


In the Studio

Here's a few more snapshots from around the studio... paintings in progress and finished.

A Painter's Blog

This is a blog about my paintings on canvas. Thought I'd start it out and see if it might work as an online portfolio of sorts.

First off, here's a picture of my basement painting studio... which I mostly paint in on Sundays, seeing as how the other 6 days of the week I'm busy making illustration for children's publishing.

Might take a while to get this blog sorted out... We'll see how it works...

Anyhow... shown are some recent paintings done in a kind of expressionist abstract sculptural mode, which I'm partial to.

Paintings of woods and a stream done in a bit fauvist with crazy colors... believe me they were crazier to begin with!