Oil on Panel
14 x 12"
"Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches."
"Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises."
"He had that curious love of green, which in individuals is always the sig of a subtle artistic temperament, and in nations is said to denote a laxity, if not a decadence of morals."
"Absolute green is the most restful color, lacking any undertone of joy, grief, or passion. On exhausted men this restfulness has a beneficial effect, but after a time it becomes tedious."
"Green represents the dead image of life."
"There are no "beautiful" or "ugly" colours. Those words describe our feelings about colours, not their intrinsic properties. "Wrong" or "muddy" colours are simply mixtures that are the inappropriate relative temperature for the area in which they are placed."
Fabula and Sujet (also sjuzhet, syuzhet, sjužet, or suzet (сюжет) ) are terms originating in Russian Formalism and employed in narratology that describe narrative construction. Sujet is an employment of narrative and fabula is the order of retelling events. They were first used in this sense by Vladimir Propp and Shklovsky.
This painting has been sitting in my studio waiting patiently to be finished for a few months now. I really dislike leaving pieces half completed, but moving house just meant that certain things couldn't get done normally.
My ideas about the body telling a story really came through with this painting, I think. I'm becoming more and more interested in the emotional value of 'unfinished' brushstrokes, when juxtaposed with more 'refined' areas of interest in a painting. I think it adds a raw quality to the piece, an energy which I've been looking for to balance the new things I'm learning about the more technical aspects of painting.
I've got a lot more work to post, and it's interesting for me to compare this piece - which was really at the beginning of the change I'm seeing in my work - with the paintings I've done over the past few days. I'm still working my way through Richard Schmid's 'Alla Prima', and right now I'm very preoccupied with edges. And colour.
Sometimes I feel like my head will explode with all this new awareness of the visual world; other times, a lesson I learnt just appears in my mind at the right time, and I get to try it out for myself. It's very satisfying but I'm very much out of my comfort zone right now, and it reminds me of learning to drive.
"There is an ancient enmity between daily life and the great artwork"
I'm ridiculously excited about this painting - I've been learning a lot about edges and values from reading an amazing book: Alla Prima: Everything I know about painting, by Richard Schmid. I've been reading it and making notes for the past few weeks - and although there's an intimidatingly large amount of information, I think some of it is finally going in. My friend, and new boss Kim Wyatt (of Bona Fide Books*, a brand new small press in Tahoe) referred to what I'm doing as 'composting' - that is, reading some, and then allowing it to settle in my brain before going on to the next chunk.
I'm enjoying my new mode of working; Without the pressure of chasing shows and sales, I'm finally on the path I wanted to take when I left the UK - which is painting for the love of painting - not trying to second guess what other people might like in order to make a living. My new job is giving me the money to contribute to our income, and buy paints - and is a nice enough job that it doesn't suck all the creativity out of me like a bar job would. When I'm satisfied that I've got a decent enough body of work to show - then I'll start sending out artists packets to galleries.
The other important reason why I'm able to do this right now, is that I was awarded the Jackpot Grant from the Nevada Arts Council for the second year running. This time, the budget is for models - so I can produce a body of figure paintings from life over the summer. This means a huge amount to me, and I'm very grateful to receive a grant in these hard economic times. Thankyou, Nevada Arts Council!
*Website coming soon!
History is indelible:
It is written in hard lines on our bodies
and on our faces.
I found a really interesting blog this morning, by film maker Jesse Epstein - The Body film Project.
She produced a video op-ed piece for the New York Times called Sex, Lies and Photoshop - well worth checking out. It's about how magazines re-touch models bodies in Photoshop, and are actually aware that they are damaging people's perception of body image. Sinister stuff.
Also, this short documentary on making mannequins I found fascinating - especially the interviewee's comments on fashion being the 'new religion'.
Mixed Media Artist Carol Sesko hosted a group critique last week at The Rock in Truckee, where she is currently exhibiting her paintings. It was my second critique with Carol, and I loved it. It's soooo helpful to be amongst creative people for a couple of hours, talking about your processes, hopes and fears, marketing, exhibitions, techniques...and so much more.
What's interesting is the diversity of our output doesn't make a spot of difference when we're discussing the emotional and practical aspects of making a career in art. We had a poet, a few painters of different styles, a couple of mixed media artists, and an illustrator.
The format went as follows: we each bring a piece of work to show the group, which we might need help or encouragement with. Each member introduces their work, and the group gives feedback. That's it. And it's great.
This blog actually helps me to organise my thoughts about my practice, more so than a private journal, because I have to consider my audience, as well as dig into my own soul to provide some sort of context to my work. I know a lot of artists don't agree with talking about the 'craft' of art, but I've found the internet to be immensely helpful in improving my technique and studio practice.
I've become especially fond of YouTube artists demos. The main thing I've learnt from that is that it's OK for a painting to go through a period of looking a bit crappy, because you work through that, and your 'ugly duckling' can become a swan if you stand back enough, evaluate your painting, correct the mistakes, be willing to wipe it down, and have faith in your ability to make it the best painting you've ever done.
Something which came up in the critique which was a relief to me (to know that others share my slightly schitzoid tendancies), was that looking at other people's work, often we go home and try out their style. If that happens often enough, it gets really confusing, and suddenly you don't know who you are any more. I wrote about that recently on this blog, illustrating it with my unmovable image of Derek Zoolander looking in the mirror going, "Who am I?"
The conclusion I've come to, is that if you're not disciplined enough to maintain your style in the face of all the other exciting styles out there, just incorperate a little tiny bit into your work, and see where that goes. You can't not have influences, we don't live in isolation from the world, history, other artists, etc., so I think if you're particularly chameleonic, (like me) the best you can do is try and stay true to yourself - having learnt from others, and absorbed the best and most relevant lessons to you, go back to the drawing board, and forget everything.
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I had one of those eureka! moments watching Finding Neverland the other night. I often get inspired by particularly 'painterly' films, like The Piano, and Girl with a Pearl Earring. This is inspired by a still from Neverland, of lovely Kate Winslett. I got my sketchbook out as soon as the film ended, excited and impatient to capture the image with seemed to be a crystallisation of what I've been restlessly striving for.
I've been struggling with this concept I have for portraits of women - they've just been coming out crap. I think I was confused about what I wanted to achieve - I wanted 'feminine' and I painted 'girly'. I want to paint something which speaks about women as people - emotionally and psychologically different from men, but also I want to capture something of the human condition, in an unspoken narrative.
I've also been stuggling with my 'style', such as it isn't. I've had this rather unappealing image of myself as Derek Zoolander standing in front of a mirror, going "Who am I?"
I want to paint loosely, and then I get all uptight because I'm all excited about ideas, and forget to let it flow. The studies came out great, nice and loose, lots of energy and clean paint - and then when I try and transfer that to the real thing...well, not good. Maybe I shouldn't do studies, I never used to. Maybe all the energy is spent after I've painted it once. I have learnt a lot though, about colours and the type of space I want to create, so all is not lost.
Anyway, I'm really happy with this Kate Winslett painting, and I think it's opened the door to a lot more. Yay!