While doing taxes, (of course at the last minute) I always end up meandering over things I’ve done over the last year. This one was kind of cool. At the height of that idiotic media-invented “clown hysteria” last October, the good folks at Good Morning Washingtonreached out to the experts of Washington DC’s Clown Cabaret to get a more educated perspective. Check it out. I’m the blond. The one wearing pants. 🙂
Paintings 43-45 of 365: So, I got to a point with this project where I had an idea for a piece but there are things I didn’t know how to do in watercolors to make it happen, hence the Universe painting (#43) today, and in the last two posts, (here and here). Today’s post contains a few paintings with elements of either a technique, or playing with concepts of style and spirit of the upcoming God piece. I believe these experiments have their own charm though.
I always enjoy seeing the finished piece vs. the rough sketches, to see the artist’s mind taking every detail available to the lump of matter in their skull, crunching it down to the comparative few strokes of the final work. These are simultaneously rough sketches and finished works. I’ll explain that conundrum to anyone who can explain the Trinity to me without using tautology.
But art really is a tip-of-the-iceberg thing. Whenever you see artwork, literature, performing arts, etc., the final product represents many, many discarded ideas, blood, sweat, tears, etc. Even if it isn’t rough sketches, there’s still much iceberg beneath the water. A quote attributed to Pablo Picasso suggests, “It took me 30 years to learn how to do that in 30 seconds.”
Similarly, it takes 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil, and 2400 gallons of water (19,200 pounds) to produce one pound of beef. Yikes! Glad I eat plants– smaller footprint and they fart less.
In #44 here is God, in His eternal glory, farting around with some planets. All-powerful beings have got to have fun sometimes, when they’re not flooding or smiting people. The “upcoming painting” is a take on God that I found amusing, and will likely end up hanging in my office, though I may make another one to sell.
#45 is also thematically aimed at the upcoming painting. This reflects the sensibility of my book of illustrations, “Snapshots of God,” which I might sell online at some point. I currently only sell them at shows because I hate stuffing one envelope at a time. Give me 100 envelopes to stuff, and I’m your guy.
If you really want one, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up.
I don’t normally do requests… unless I’m asked.
I occasionally find myself struggling for something to draw/paint. I find no shame in the occasional block. My daily practice has trained my brain to just find something and do it without asking my “editing brain” if it’s a good idea. Or my “choosing brain.” I find it hard to make choices.
So on this day, I asked Facebook At Large to suggest a subject. “Lon Chaney.” The next suggestion, “A Watermelon.” And third, “A bullfrog.” All three are things I could get better at rendering, so I went on a crash course.
I am still trying to figure out this thing called watercolor, and will be for a while. I do enjoy some of the subtleties that are guided by the artist’s hand but some of is left to entropy. Guided entropy, I guess.
The second one, #41, is just a study, an admission that I am not very knowledgeable at that extremely important aspect of illustration: Perspective. The first step it to admit you havea problem :0).
And #42 is the second in a series. I wanted to create a painting that requires a little warm-up. Part of that is learning how to get certain effects. I’m not entirely happy with the results here, but it’s like going to the gym. You don’t always get results on the first visit. But I know I can.
And you can, too. What are you putting off improving because the first time you tried, you got discouraged from your lack of professional skill on your first try?
Day 36/365. FML. Not a commentary; just busy relaunching a show in Brooklyn NY a couple of weeks from now and don’t have the time and brainspace to do a pretty pretty picture. So back to my ink-first quickie-simple style which fills so many sketchbooks.
In doing so, I find the pleasure of the simplicity of communicating an idea with as few lines as possible. I find that penciling first makes the playground the paper, but with ink first, most of the work takes place in my head, as erasing is not an option.
On the one hand, I can make a bolder statement with a more complex idea by drawing it out first, then laying the indelible ink (and colors) on afterwards; on the other hand, the more simple image that was thought out first has the more iconic feel.
I guess it’s similar to music: you can painstakingly write out your notes and create some amazing stuff, or you can internalize your scales, open yourself up to improvisation, and play Jazz. it makes sense in words, but I’m not sure a viewer will immediately look at this image and think, “Jazz.” (Interestingly, R. Crumb, known for not using pencil, is also a great Jazz aficionado.)
Or maybe it’s more like juggling fire torches: you practice with them unlit. You can do much more crazy things when they’re not lit, to experiment and find your parameters. That way, when you light them, you can do less crazy things, but operating in a lower threshold of difficulty to please an audience while not causing a disaster. Ink first can be one stroke away from disaster.
Because I didn’t like the original background, I drew a new one onto a different sheet and spliced the two images together digitally, and decided to color by computer. It’s actually more fun to color by hand, I am finding. The allure of the “undo” makes you sloppy. I got aggravated after a while. I’m clearly out of practice with coloring in photoshop. Photons behave very differently from waterborne pigments on textile.
Maybe I’m a dinosaur, but I really like the feel of Nature. I’ll do digital art, but a stylus on glass is missing that drag of the pencil, or brush across the texture of the paper, canvas, or board. One thing that bothers me about acrylic paints is it’s really just air-dried plastic. Of course, that means your art won’t biodegrade, and maybe that’s a good thing.
I really miss the organic feel of the watercolors. Funny; I’ve done so much computer-colored work in the past because it’s “more versatile,” but it’s amazing how old school brush and pigment just … is easier, and it feels more real. It would probably help if I pulled out my Wacom tablet, but still, ugh — it just feels unnatural. (Get off my laaaawn!)
Again with the boring mechanical lines that I hate because I don’t feel competent at them. No way to get good but to do it. Over and freaking over. Sigh.
It’s funny how as I depict many things, I have the “forest for the trees” effect; “it doesn’t look right … it doesn’t look right… this will never work… and then, standing back … hey; it worked! I guess it often feels that way in the middle of creating something, or doing life changes: You feel like it’s all wrong and you’re making no progress, then look back, and, “hey; it worked!”
There’s still a few things that bother me about this one, but it’s just a rough sketch. I made a number of mistakes, but I figure that makes it look more organic — more real. The final work will also likely be flawed, but hopefully less glaring flaws (to me).
The commission I plan to evolve over the next week. Still learning some watercolor techniques and am producing a show for God, in New York, this September, so I may get behind schedule. I also still have to figure out the size the end product will be.
I really wanted to do another thing, but at the point of the evening where I was about to set pen to paper, I realized just how tired I was. I really need to start this stuff earlier in the day. Of course, in the quiet of the night is really my favorite time to create. The stillness of the world around me is crucial to finding those crevices of the imagination where the ideas lurk.
Reverting to a much more minimalistic style, I was able to convey my exact state of mind yet still appease the seductive pillow-goddess.
Day 31. Truck.
I’ve never felt competent at drawing machinery, preferring organic, natural characters to the cold, repetitive lines of machine-made objects. I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone a bit. Still, I had to put a person in there somewhere, otherwise the art tells no story.
I chose brush and ink because color can distract from a whole lot of structural errors. I wanted to be able to focus on the bones so I can see the half dozen or so problems with this, but I think at least my style shows through, despite there being (almost) no creatures involved.
I have a blog. “Big deal,” you’re probably thinking. “Anyone can get a blog,” right?
Well, do you have a blog? No? Ha! Score one for me!
Having a blog is one of the best ways to get the world to think you are important. I know this to be true because I said it. And I am important. Because I have a blog.
Oh, sure you could get yourself a blog, like on blogger or wordpress or whatever else place you can find online and then write thoughts down for people to read so they can make you feel important. Sure, you could do that. But even if you do, and you are important, whose blog are you reading now? Huh? Whose?! Ha! Score two for me!
Don’t get me wrong; I really appreciate you taking time to read this blog, but I just wanted to gloat about the fact that if you don’t have a blog, I have at least one more reader than you do! Wahoo!
Suppose you are a person with a blog. Perhaps you think that makes you important. You are correct. That is true. But again, where are you? Reading my blog! Ha! Three points! Score!
Now it is possible you have a blog that has more readers than mine. Hm, I haven’t thought about that. Good point. Three-one. My lead.
But wait a minute, if you have a blog and it has more readers than mine, then it must be interesting, pertinent or useful. With fewer followers, I need not be confined by such constraints. Game, set, and match! I am invincible!
My wife got me a “Calm,” a meditation app for my iphone or Christmas . In its introductory 3-minute “hey, you too can learn to breathe!” session, I came up with the realization that over the years, I’ve amassed a great deal of knowledge and strategies on how to better focus and manage my life and productivity. Implementation however? Hmmm.
I’ve given advice, which people have taken, and they implement. They get stuff done. I watch and marvel at their ability to get things done. I decided maybe I should write a self-help book, to myself. Maybe if it sounds like it comes from outside myself, it’ll sink in better. Who knows? Too often, advice I receive is things I already know and am not implementing.
So… battling Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I kinda see as a clinical term for “Winter Blues”) and ADD, I have in the past, successfully capitalized on the hyperfocus of ADD and the motivation of a deadline. So this year, it’s taking the form of producing two theatrical shows in January andFebruary) to keep me moving forward, creating comedy, and having less time to wallow and chase squirrels. It’s a personal form of Art Therapy.
So here’s a suggestion to those like me: Get past your Winter lethargy — decide on a project (build a bat houseto cut down on mosquitoes in your yard, learn a song on guitarto sing to someone, learn to drawa cat to make a birthday card for someone) and a realistic deadline: timeframe one or two months. Promise it to someone outside yourself. Be accountable. And produce. I’ll see you on the other side, if not sooner.