Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Graffiti and Other Masterworks

As I fumble around my paint box, flummoxed and forlorn, I wish I had begun my young painting career as an illegal street artist, stealthily stalking substrates off limits.

Okay, that's enough of that. There's a lot of luck in this game...serendipitously finding yourself in the right place, in perfect timing and landing in the company of some very, very helpful people. Talent and ability are often secondary. Frustration abounds for the workaholics (me) who take themselves way too seriously (me) and continuously bang their exhausted heads against the graffitied wall (me).

Consider Basquiat...then Banksy...and now KAWS aka Brian Donnelly. If I were a street artist like KAWS, Macy's would ask ME to design a colorless balloon for the big day (I'd call it Buddy) and I'd have MY few minutes of fame on the CBS Sunday Morning show. Cool, huh?

And for the record, I absolutely adore Banksy and his artwork. I'll never, ever be this cool. Damn.

Just sayin',

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Made in the U.S.A.

One of the hot issues of the recent political campaigns dealt with the outsourcing of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets and the resulting unemployment it created here at home. I care about this. A lot.
Not to be morose, but I ask you to consider: as you stand in line at the big box store craving the latest version of that electronic gadget, try to comprehend the fallout produced by the overseas manufacturing company who has installed safety nets to save the leaping miserable. Okay, that's extreme, but it bothers my conscience and, to be quite frank, I believe we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. It may seem overwhelming, but we can do our small part to contribute to the solution in the next several weeks of holiday shopping.

Buy local. Purchase merchandise from a small shop in your area. You'll be appreciated, enjoy attentive service and you'll be supporting a business that very likely cares about it's employees, offers a better product and stands behind it, pays American taxes and contributes directly into the local economy.

It's difficult to find products made in America but not impossible.

My mugs - proudly made in America by Americans!
My mugs and coasters are manufactured in the U.S. The coasters are from a company in Virginia and my mugs are created at a company in Texas. Heck, even the mug itself is American made. Yes, of course it costs more but the product is of excellent quality, survives hundreds of trips through the dishwasher and microwave, and you need not be concerned with dangerous toxins mixing with your morning beverage. Oh, and the lovely images on the mugs and coasters are created by THIS American.

Even my oil paints are made in the U.S.A. and my book is printed in America.
Think red, white and blue, baby!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Genre to General

After the race meet ends, Saratogians express little to no interest in equine art, especially horse racing. Either they've had their fill of it during the summer, aren't particularly inclined toward the sport, or it reminds them of huge crowds, insane traffic and the hopelessness of obtaining a dinner reservation.

So, what's an equine artist to do? Many of my peers are expanding their artistic repertoire in the wake of the stifling recession that put the kabosh on more than a few thriving careers. Experimentation's necessary course of action has produced these recent inventions:

Islands of Lake George, oil on canvas, 8"x10"

Simplify has become my new mantra and the word loops over and over in my head. Here, I'm playing with atmosphere and pushing the color expression. I feel like I want to re-work the value of islands to bring it closer to the air and water.

Lobsterman, oil on canvas, 11"x14
From my now infamous Maine vacation, I awoke early on the shore to observe the laborious hauling and inspection of lobster pots. The canvas ground is a cool, light yellow mixture of cadmium light and yellow ochre. The background was a wash of  pthalo blue and white. I was going to work in some water action behind the boat but decided to simplify and left it as is with the yellow showing through. It may not work but it was an interesting decision for me.

Sherman Farm, oil on canvas, 8"x10"
This plein air piece is a feel-good stretch. It was rendered quickly and simplified as it was only in the upper 30's outside. I've been studying landscape painting and pining to be good at it! It may be a matter of practice, practice, practice - or not. I've got a long way to go before I make friends with the greens. Whatever, it's good to get out and paint directly from life. A great help has been Landscape Painting by Mitchell Albala.

Untitled (as yet), oil on canvas, 22"x24"
I simplified these brushstrokes with a deliberate application...no unsure back and forth blending like I caught myself doing in the landscape pieces. It has an abstract feel to it and I'm especially pleased with the composition. Thrusting, powerful bodies in space...gee, that's familiar.

I feel like I'm starting over in some respects. It's uncomfortable and although it's interesting to try new subjects, I'm not very secure regarding my motives and direction as an artist. After a couple of decades of branding myself as a "dynamic equine artist", where am I going with this? Will I still be able to apply an aesthetic of striving for excellence, a dialog of visual communication and convincingly convey my ideas in paint that will translate as...me?    

It's good to step out of the box (I guess),