Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Giotto didn't use three general tones....

One of the aspects that I'm finding the most difficult about being a full-time painter is lining up a succession of really good ideas without repeating myself. Hardest thing ever.

When I first began to paint i had limited time and, to some extent, limited ability. In a sense that simplified the process for me immensely. I didn't have enough skill (or perhaps I did, but I certainly didn't trust it) to paint from life, so I was limited to working from 4" x 5" photographs as I felt my way through the maze that is watercolour. I produced one painting every 3 months (on average) and that at the time, was enough to keep me feeling as though I was accomplishing something.

The other factor to consider was that at the time, I knew even less about photography than I did painting. As such I was force to paint a wide array of subject matter. I knew what I liked, but I had to get my reference materials by trolling through other peoples photographs. This not only caused me to paint a wide array of subjects, but also in a variety of styles, as something from the original reference material always remained.

That is to say, I never painted the same thing twice.

Every single time I would look for something different. Different angles, lighting materials settings times of day, color palettes, techniques and so one and so forth. But gradually as my skill improved and I began turning my attention to oil painting the length of time between painting shrunk. My need for reference material doubled. Then tripled. Till finally I was out of photographs.

My time with M:R gave me a new outlet for subject matter, insofar as I learned to paint from observation. Now I can work from either photographs or observation (which I prefer now). However, I feel that (to a certain extent) my extensive work with the M:R setup (two pieces of fruit and a metal/glass object) has handicapped my ability to think outside of this traditional "teaching" set-up.

A traditional "student" set-up. Now with bread!

Also, as I've mentioned before, I hate the "three general tones, three tones in each area, lightest lights darkest darks" way of painting. While very effective to familiarize students with paint and teach them their basics it seems to me an awful way to paint. In my personal opinion, it smacks of impressionism. Don't get me wrong, some impressionism I like, but as I refine my work, I'm finding that I agree more and more with Gerome, in that impressionism is a sloppy, haphazard way to paint. So, I've deliberated added some other theories and techniques to my work, which I think has benefited me as a painter, but its still not helping me compose.

I'm still finding it hard work to shrug off M:R's compositional ball & chain but I do feel as though I'm making progress in this area:

Artichoke on a Brocade tablecloth. Without bread!

It's still a struggle. mostly because when I find something that works I am inclined to repeat myself which is something I definitely don't want to do. However this is perhaps my old habits of needing to do something different every time gnawing at me. Think for a moment of every artist you've seen in a gallery, in general, don't they all seem to be be painting variations on a theme?

And so, I'm looking for the next painting. I finished one yesterday, which I will post in a few days along with my thoughts on some color harmonies, palettes and Michael Hardings paint line.

watch this space.


Monday, March 7, 2011

The next big thing.

I'm terrible at math.

That's not at all an understatement. Frankly to put a number on it, I scored a 720 on my verbal SAT's (back when they were out of 800) and 500 on my math. So, to be plain, I can tell you very clearly and in great detail how I suck at polynomial equations.

But I am very good at take a mental accounting of things. Accounting doesn't necessarily have to do with math, it's just that the image of an accountant stirs up images of grey haired men who bend over a huge stack of papers all day long, adding an subtracting lives down to little 1's and 0's. But over the last few days I've managed to take a mental accounting of what I've been doing with myself now that I'm painting full time; mostly of things that help and hinder my production. For example, painting miniatures: good. Playing Warhawk till my hands are shaking and my eyes are ready to fall out of my head: not as good. Thus, I'm making a concentrated effort to be more faithful to the thing which I have put so much on the line to do.

This is mostly because I sold a painting this weekend.

The thrill of selling a painting is almost numbed by the need to sell more paintings. Kasey is of the opinion that I should enjoy it, but that is incredibly difficult, as stopping to smell the roses involves stopping. And stopping is bad for inertia, which is bad for painting, which is good for Warhawk, which is bad for my sanity, which is almost as bad for anybody of the receiving end of my war tank.

Part of this accounting is looking back at the things I used to do that were good and helpful to me. Blogging was one of those things, back when I wrote a blog once a week on myspace (back when that was the place to be). But I stopped that; mostly because of the trouble it began to create for me at work. I couldn't be putting down what I actually thought of things if work was to be reading about it; irritation about being ferried hither and thither by the needs of running 10 art studios in Los Angeles, the funny things kids do when your attempting to teach them to draw, videos taken of me by my students and even the benign observations about the quirks of working for people you admire and respect were all no-no's that could easily land me in worlds of trouble. And so, the necessity to monitor what I said gave way to the inability to say anything at all.

Not being bound by a employers code of conduct (or thought) anymore I'm rebooting Diary of a Genius. My plan is to work on it once, maybe twice per week. Including an honest accounting of my progress and work. I know that thre are people out there who follow this type of thing, because I'm one of them. I am constantly looking for thoughts on linen, board, paint brands, working techniques, experimentation, medium making and all of the knowledge and process that goes into painting.

And once again, like before, there will be no modesty to be found on this blog. Modesty is for quitters.