Friday, July 19, 2013

Exquisite rapture.

From the time I was in highschool, every 4-5 years I'd shave my head.

Originally, it grew out of the fact that I liked to mess with my hair color. Sometimes this worked out very well, and I looked awesome. However sometimes this did not work out very well and the powers that be, (my mother, my principle and church) found my method of self expression "troubling". I would then get suspended, or grounded or excommunicated and chased by short fat women with pitchforks.


So shortly after somebody cried "It's a witch! May we burn him?!", I would get myself hauled off to a barber and get the whole thing chopped down to the nub, where the white/purple/red/ whatever remnants of color I still sported would slowly fade into memory.

As I grew this eventually this got to be habit. I stopped dying my hair very shortly after graduating high school, and still, every few years I would get the urge to to completely remove whatever was happening on top and start fresh.

But now that I'm older, I'm beginning to appreciate every follicle that holds onto its tiny existence on my head and I don't feel that accelerating my progress to total chromdomary is beneficial to my self esteem. The wife isn't a fan either. But the need for a refocusing every 5-6 years still exists and its roots go deep into my psyche. The head shaving was really a way for my take off everything that I had been attached to before (because your hair is important when your in high school) and start from ground zero. To really ask myself, "enough of what I as before. What do I want to be now?"


In ten years I went from living in a flat in London to being a unemployed aspiring artist in Southern California. I've since been trained in painting and drawing, taught other people to draw and paint, gotten married, moved, adopted 5 rabbits and a puppy, bought a house, started playing world of warcraft, quit playing world of warcraft, started and quit again. I've painting nearly 200 2 inch soldiers, become an accomplished Tromp l'oeil painter, exhibited my work all over the United States and very soon now will be a father. Considering the amount of changes I've left out, the amount of flux and accomplishment is staggering.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you used to take a magnifying glass and adjust it so that all the sunlight condensed into a single spot? About 10 years ago I was writing my masters thesis. It remains the time in my life that I was the most focused. In last ten year years, changes and the need to accommodate new situations, new demands on my time and new frustrations with people who don't know their ass from their elbow has gradually, and ever so slowly, caused the magnifying glass of my attention to grow. Because of that I feel dispersed and my attention no longer has that laser-like focus.

Might wannna check that lens out....

Creativity for my has always come in waves. And out flowing of work and then a pull back and refocusing. It's time for a pull back. I'm back to writing. I'm back to painting. So that once again:

Every morning when I wake up
I experience an exquisite joy.

The joy of being Frank Krifka.

And I ask myself in rapture,
What amazing thing
will this Frank Krifka
Do today?

Watch this space.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Sometimes painting is like trying to squeeze a fat guy into a small can of tomatoes.

 Why do my eyes burn?

Why one would want to squeeze said fat guy into a a tomato can is irrelevant and pointless. But a task such as this at times seems impossible: fat guys do not belong in cans of tomatoes. But after huffing and puffing, cajoling and begging, you eventually realize you are stupid for trying to get a 300 pound man into a can that is only 8 ounces.

And then you get a bigger can.

That might just do it!

For the last, oh I dunno, year or two I have been focusing almost entirely on miniatures. That is to say, paintings under 8" x10". Make no mistake I adore, simply adore painting small. In fact 8" x 10" seems like a hugely unfathomable space when I think that most of my recent work has easily been half that size.

It really amazing how ingrained you get to working in a particular way or particular style. When I was working at Mission: Renaissance I don't think I fully comprehended how my concept of a still life was tied to three the, "3 objects on a medium value cloth (or dark value if you're feeling adventurous)" aesthetic.

Once I began working on my own it seemed all I could produce was some sort of variation on that theme. I completed maybe 8-10 paintings before I realized that I was simply painting the same painting over and over. The only difference between them was perhaps a different color or two maybe different objects. In short I was bored.

So I sat down and began to look at my painting methods.

1. I had always used an open pallette, with secondary colors mixed from primaries.

Once I started to push my boundaries in subject matter I actually found my mixing habits to be a handicap. Being that I wanted to get a way from my previous idea of "still-life" I began to heavily restrict my use of color and get a tighter control on my light. I found that my previous method of mixing colors (by mixing two or more color's together to get a general hue and then mixing a compliment to get   a proper chroma) using my brush, resulted is slight variations within the local.

For those of you who don't speak painter.

 Instead of getting this:

If you blow your nose and you see this you're
probably sick

I got this:

If you see this, you're probably dead 
and turning into a zombie

This is fine if you are painting impressionism or abstracts where precise control over color isn't really an issue. In fact, when painting this way you get a color almost by accident. Generally speaking I was trained to think about color like this:

Your basic run-of-the-mill
color wheel of death

The more I attempted to push for a precise communication of color I needed a way of thinking about color, value and intensity in a way that was more descriptive. In short I needed to expand my color vocabulary.

I started experimenting with a "closed palette" that is to say I began mixing strings of colors using pre-tubed neutrals on a scale of 1-10.

Why do I taste paint?

When I wanted to mix for a particular area I would first mix for the color and then add an amount of grey to whatever value I needed. So instead of thinking about red as I did above, I began thinking about it like so:

I think the red square is just about right.

In short, color went from a wheel, to a three directional globe ascending in value and growing in chroma as it moves out from the center:

Looks delicious doesn't it?

Occasionally the problem you are facing requires that you re-evaluate the tools you are using. in this case the problem of painting (fat guy in leotard, see above) requires a re-evaluation of the tools at hand (can of tomatoes, see above). 

Tools are only tools because they are useful.  If they are not, all your left with is a fat guy standing on a can of squashed tomatoes. 

The picture of the fat guy in tomato sauce 
was too horrible to include. So here is a baby
in tomato sauce to make up for the leotard picture earlier.

Your welcome.