Monday, November 21, 2011

Reduction and Seduction

This latest painting was an interesting journey into the land of simplification. I started out with a very complex line drawing and had perfectly painted every aspect of every jar and shelf ridge when I stopped and asked myself, "was that really what people should focus on in this painting?" The answer was "no" and the process of reduction and "seduction" began.

By "reduction and seduction" I mean taking away the details, leaving shape and some line. Then making that shape sumptuous using color, light and texture - seducing the viewer's eye. Working in guache makes this process go very quickly because the paint is so dry is sets up immediately and you can't change things too easily. I trained in oils and miss the time I had to push the paint around the canvas but working this way has made me much more decisive.

I can draw a correlation to this act of simplification and decisiveness to creating digital art. When I am teaching I often will tell my students that since I learned design in a pre-digital era I am much more organized and decisive about my ideas. Without a computer, making changes were costly and very time consuming. In the end I believe I am a better designer because I don't fall back on computer tricks - I absolutely know what will work. I feel painting in guache is giving me the same experience. When I return to painting large oils canvases I will know what works for me there as well.

Painting presents a new challenge with every piece but the process is liberating because the knowledge gained, opens the door to technical confidence and we don't have to travel that path again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To Paint is to Love Again!

The title of this blog is taken from a book by Henry Miller. I don't know if it is even in print anymore but it seems appropriate for this place in my life. Henry Miller was an author who later in life found his way to painting and wrote about that journey in this book. I had no idea that after all these years I would stumble back into painting again and find the truth in that book title.

My 'awakening' began with a solo trip to LACMA for a quiet couple of hours contemplating and drawing in the French Impressionist painting gallery. I walked away with a spark that steadily grew inside of me. About a week later I woke up with an idea that was burning a hole inside of me. I realized that many of the painters, whose work I admired that afternoon had simply painted their environment. After years of living in Venice Beach, I wanted to chronicle the people of my community.

So I broke out the paints and dove right in. I love painting the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. Many of them are manning the espresso machine of my local coffee shop or cooking up my favorite Mexican food and they have no idea how much their gracious attitudes and friendly conversations contribute to my sense of community.

For artists a sense of community is a very important thing. Venice has always provided this for me. We often work in isolation, fueled by our desire to create. So when we venture out it is good to see a friendly face.

I wondered away from painting many years ago and I thought I would never find my way back but here I am. The wonderful things is that at this stage of my life I am a more evolved painter. I get it. I have something to say and it is just pouring out of me!

My mantra at this time is DON'T OVERTHINK! As a teacher I tend to lean towards over-intellectualizing the art-making process. Not this time - this time I am focused on the simplicity of the idea and preserving that. I am having fun with my technique.

In the spirit of connecting with my community I am posting my paintings on a separate blog - - where I show the work and tell a small story of what this person means to me. The piece above, Rebecca, was the first painting I did in this series. It will be interesting to see how this grows and the blog will be a great way to watch the progression of this concept.