Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Oil on Canvas 40"x30"
I redid the background on this piece, giving it a cool grey from the pinkish it was before. It is going into the show at the Ian Tan gallery in Vancouver on April 18. Apparently, when the background was pinkish, patrons were interested but the comments were, "I can't live with the pink". All right all ready, no big deal to change it.
I want to thank Simon Holzman for his comments and invitation to view his blog. After the show I will have time to go through everyone's websites and am looking forward to seeing new art.
As the deadline for the show approaches, I notice my psychology changing. I feel more like a fireman, putting out one fire after another, and it's not how I like to create. In the "fix it now" mode that deadlines impose, it becomes perilously easy to overwork an area of a painting. Yecchhh.
It brings me to a thought I had about the painting process. It occurred that what I am trying to do with paint is akin to alchemy. It is about coaxing the paint to do the impossible; turning the dense, flat, opaque earth minerals into luminous expressions of what the conscious mind percieves and imagines. I don't recall signing up for the impossible, but somehow, that is what I find myself doing. When the process gets frustrating, it helps to remind myself that, well, it's impossible anyway, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wild Bunch #3

Oil on Canvas 24"x48"
What I like about this subject is how it reminds or suggests DNA. People have commented that a lot of my fruit paintings remind them of DNA. I hadn't thought of that, perhaps I'm trying to depict my own DNA, making the changes in the programming that I would prefer. Evolution has long been a fascination, and along with that, an intense wondering about how programmed are we by DNA. DNA is a crystal structure, like the old crystal radios, where it can be tuned to pick up signals. I've always thought that a signal theory of evolution was far better than the random mutation idea taught at university. The notion that our bodies were a result of accidents just never made any sense to me.

Tangerine Dream

Oil on Canvas 28"x22"
This uses my favorite themes, streaking sunlight, fruit, and for me, an unusual composition.
One thing I've been thinking a lot of while I have been struggling with these canvases is what the word beauty actually means. I know that the idea of beauty is the prime motivation behind the choice of painting as an avocation. There is a part of my character, I'll call it the manager, that couldn't care less about beauty, and it figures that I could do a lot better in some other pursuit. Most people, when it comes to the nitty gritty of life, don't put a lot of value on the idea of beauty, relating it to the notion of cosmetics and or decoration.
The artist in me, challenging the utilitarian manager part, says, try living in a world without beauty and see if you could actually sustain your spirit. That challenge got me thinking, well what is it exactly? The notion that beauty is a presence, an awareness, came to my attention. Beauty accepts what is, including ugliness, and then somehow finds a way, through relationships, to something more, something beyond. Beauty is always suggesting, pointing somewhere, moving someplace.
The importance for me is that the presence of beauty shows that we are in a world alive with intention, and not in a machine world where everything is predetermined, where everything is essentially lifeless. So the idea came that a successful painting is one where the presence of beauty is felt, the immediacy jumps off the canvas, giving it a compelling quality without any one thing being obvious.

Orb with Folds

Oil on Canvas 24"x48"
My apologies for not posting in a while. I ran into problems with new canvases, where they didn't take the paint very well, and I botched a bunch of paintings. If any one out there can recommend a brand of Gesso that transforms the surface of a canvas into one that works well with glazing techniques, I would appreciate the info.
I'd like to thank everyone who commented, in particular Jeff Hays, who is a very accomplished painter, and Todd Ford, who exchanged links with me, and who does a distinct contemporary style of painting that I admire.
In this painting, my normal glazing approach didn't work due to the canvas, so I sort of had to learn to paint over again, using a lot more white than I am used to. I became fascinated with how the folds took on a sculptural quality and focused on that. I have had this silver orb for a while, and decided to use it with the cloth. I took my own reflection out of it, didn't think I would be all that interesting, and decided to have it reflect the sky. It took on a sort of surrealistic quality, kind of empty, but it also draws the eye in, suggesting a sort of infinity. Maybe it's just me.