Artists are often advised to present a consistent body of work to the public, for very good reason. If you’ve developed a following, you owe it to your “fans” to give them what they expect. But as an artist, this is easier to say than to do. Creative people naturally want and need to experiment with various art forms, different media, interesting techniques. Even if you absolutely love abstractions, as I do, there’s nothing to stop you from also loving detailed landscapes and intricate still lifes.
When I exhibit, I make sure to maintain consistency. But in my own studio, anything goes. Here are two of my latest efforts, one completely abstract, with lots of texture and one in which I tried to capture the misty chill of a Scottish Highland stream.
Maybe you’ve noticed–I love color. I love how different colors play off each other, sometimes soft and soothing (analogous colors), sometimes bright and jarring (complimentary colors). I often combine my colors with various mediums to create texture on the canvas, too. But for “Sculpture in Gray,” I decided to try something different. To begin, I just glopped on a pile of black and white paint loosely mixed with fiber paste and started spreading it around with a large palette knife. The painting sort of took off on its own from there. I glopped on more paint, dribbled on some silver, sprinkled a little glitter and–voila!
At first glance, you might think it’s just a gray painting, but as you look at it, you notice the swirls and layers, the shadows and lights, and you begin to lose yourself in the richness of the painting. I’ve been studying it in my studio for about a month now, wondering if I need to add any of my signature colors or maybe some defined shapes. But I’ve decided I love it just the way it is. Minimalism has certainly been around since at least mid-twentieth century, but now I find myself appreciating it much more deeply than I ever have before.
Sometimes people ask me how I come up with my titles. Well, I enjoy naming my pieces almost as much as I do creating them in the first place. I try to invent names that give the viewer a hint of what I was thinking while I was painting, but at the same time, something that leaves a bit of mystery, a little question in their minds. I’m calling this piece Gothic Bazaar. Why? Well, the pointed arch is a bit of Gothic architecture, isn’t it? And the colors remind me of the time I visited the bazaar in Istanbul, full of golds and secret passageways and hidden corners. Touristy? Sure, but all the same exotic and fun. Everything about this–the design, the colors, and yes – even the title, says Whimsy. A bit of whimsy to brighten up a cold winter day.
Paint on canvas-what could be more peaceful and calming than the simple act of applying paint to canvas? Letting the paint flow while music supplies the mood and and directs the action. Enjoying the colors, savoring the process of letting the design happen. Nothing better on a January day.
Here are two of my latest efforts.
Feel free to contact me for prices and delivery information.
My Naperville readers may not realize that we have a hidden gem in the Main Street Promenade. The second and third floors, accessible from both Main and Webster Streets, host a variety of businesses in a light, cheery environment that provides an ideal setting for the ongoing art exhibits sponsored by the Naperville Art League. Walk the halls and you’ll be astonished by the beautiful variety of paintings and drawings on display there, including four of my large pieces. You’ll be glad you made the trip.
Individual works of art may be purchased through the Naperville Art League.
In my previous post, I wrote about using a 12 x 12 format to express a single idea, but sometimes, I need a bigger canvas to capture the moment. A River Runs Through It reminds me of the colorful river towns perched on the hilltops in Spain. The water rushing down the mountains, the clean, fresh air! Aah–how delightful.
I love working in a small, 12 x 12 format. It forces me to really think about what I want my painting to say, because the small space doesn’t lend itself to a lot of miscellaneous flourishes. Here are a few pieces I’ve done in the past few months. By the way, Facebook has somehow removed my page (and no–I haven’t been posting anything horrible!), and I’ve decided to just let it go, so if you have a comment, please post it here on WordPress, or just contact me directly. The pieces here are all 12 x 12, Acrylic and mixed media, framed and ready for display.
I bought this Turkish coffee pot in Istanbul years ago, in a little bazaar filled with rugs and leather jackets and the aroma of exotic spices. Today seemed like a good day to put it into a painting, using autumn tones but hopeful little flowers to help us get through the winter that’s almost upon us. When Spring comes again, we can hope that most of us will have been vaccinated, and we can begin to emerge into the light again.
Creating a painting and crafting a novel have a lot of similarities in common. First, you have an idea, a sort of vague concept you’d like to explore. So you do a sketch or write a little story, just to see if the process takes you anywhere. You doodle around a little and more ideas happen. Eventually, you figure out a rough composition, so you pencil that in. Then you begin to fill in the blanks with solid color. You add shading. You scratch out some parts, move other parts, throw in some new ones. More shading, soften some edges, sharpen others. You stand back and look at it, trying to see it with fresh eyes even though you’ve been looking at it for ages already. You decide to let it sit a while and move on to something else.
A week later, you look at your project again, and now you can see things you didn’t see before. You do all this again and again, as many times as it takes. You add the darks. You stroke in the highlights. You correct errors. Finally, finally—you sign it! It’s done! Somewhere from out of the depths of—your mind? your heart? previous experiences you didn’t even know you remembered?—you’ve created a masterpiece, ready to present itself to the world and face the music. The orchestra rises! Ta-da!
I’ve been working on three projects simultaneously recently, one minor, two major (Yes, a musical metaphor. There’s a reason all these things are group together under the category of “Arts.”). I’m nearly finished with a small floral painting, A Shadowed Spring. It just needs some more of the darks and lights I spoke of earlier. My new novel, A Wonderful Good Morning, is in its 5th or 6th iteration and is coming along very satisfactorily. And my newest novel, Riva’s Journey, will be a fictionalized memoir told in the voice of my paternal grandmother.
“A Wonderful Good Morning” has had a number of titles. At one point, I considered, “A Novel in Search of a Genre,” but I decided that would just confuse people. It’s a little bit of a mystery, but really fits somewhat better into the category of Science Fiction, although it’s a lot of fiction and not much science. There’s also some romance, because what’s a novel without romance?
Riva’s Journey is still in the R & D stage. I’ve drafted an outline and an opening chapter, and gathered a lot of facts. I’m figuring it will take me a good year or so to turn this all into a novel of historical fiction. I’m finding the project fascinating and I hope to do my grandmother justice with it. I hope, if she’s watching from somewhere up above, she approves.
So—art in the time of coronavirus isn’t a lot different from ordinary life, even though in other respects, my life, like everyone else’s, is sort of on hold for the duration. Still, the experience of this pandemic is coloring my work, as I’m sure it’s coloring the work of all artists right now. The next several years will undoubtedly see an explosion of corona-inspired creations. It should be interesting.
Every artist knows that the idea of being inspired to create is overrated. Einstein said it perfectly. “Inspiration is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” An artist might come up with a great idea, but making it real means getting into your studio or sitting down at your laptop or your piano and getting to work. Nevertheless, sometimes that great idea refuses to stand up and say “hi.”
With everything going on in the world today, not to mention my broken arm, creative ideas have been eluding me lately. I could stand staring at an empty canvas for an hour and absolutely nothing happened. Until this past week, when suddenly, ideas came into my head. The result, so far, is two small paintings, which are my response to the insane situation we find ourselves in at the moment.
“What the Bleep Just Happened” is a nod to Tribune journalist Rex Huppke’s weekly column with the same title. “You’ve Got to Be Kidding” is my take on the corona virus, social distancing, the sudden shortage of toilet paper and so forth.