Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Do I Paint

As I lay in bed last night, not able to sleep, I thought about painting and about my process in particular. It is one thing to be able to paint, but to verbalize why or how is completely different. When I teach my students I try to get them to pay attention to value and also to notice relationships between shapes in a given space. But last night I began to think about what I think or feel when I paint and what I realized is that I try to define the essence of the object or scene I am painting; for instance when painting glass, what constitutes its essence. It is reflective yet transparent, solid yet liquid, smooth. What about a tree? I remember reading an anecdote, when I was taking a Tai Chi Class, about a Buddhist Master who was visiting a certain monastery and when the Senior Monk met with him in the court yard, it was noted that they sat for a very long time without saying anything at all. Finally, the Master was heard to say to the Monk, "They call that a tree." The anecdote has spoken often to me as a painter. I try to understand what the Monks were witnessing and begin to understand the essence of what makes a tree a tree. It is not just the physicality of the tree, but how the wind rustles the leaves and how the light flutters through them picking up color from the sky in some places and casting shadows in other places. How the birds flit from branch to branch and how the bark of the tree is alive with insects. If you touch the bark, sometimes pieces will come off in your hand and it is so rough. If you can think of an object from this perspective, it will then become possible to paint.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Working out the kinks

I just made a few adjustments to my blog and I'm sure that there will be more as I learn to navigate this system. In a few minutes I am going to start painting, it has been calling to me all day and I have been busy with other things. Got to get to work.

Here is a painting I did a few years ago and I'm pretty sure I sold it, if I didn't it means I painted over it because I haven't seen it for a while. Sometimes I'll paint over pieces because I can't seem to work out the problems of the painting. I think I want to try to paint this again, I like the view and it would be interesting to see how I would interpret it a second time. My style is constantly evolving so I know some things would look very different. I will post the painting when I finish it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finishing Work

Two views of my studio, where I do almost all of my painting.

Finishing Work

another unfinished painting I will be working on

Monday, October 12, 2009

Finishing Work

Today is the day I can begin to finish paintings I've had hanging around my studio all summer, and some even longer. I am through with the summer art festivals and I just finished a commission that was picked up Friday, so now my time is my own. Having unfinished paintings around my studio gives me something to look forward to and also allows me to study the paintings and decide what I want to do to them to make them say what I want them to. Studio painting is so different from plein air or alla prima. Feeling that I have time to make decisions about the piece is something I really enjoy. You can compare it to writing in the sense that alla prima is like journal writing-quick impressions with very little planning, and building a painting over time is more like writing a novel. You write and edit, write and edit and edit and change. I really appreciate that process. I know some artists say that the quick, alla prima style gives the work a special quality, but I don't see it. I am inspired by any artists processes, but I also respect the decisions individual artist make about their unique processes. I love it, just love it.