Monday, February 2, 2015


My style is accused of not being naive enough. Yes, naive is cool. But it's a ludicrous standard to apply to someone who has spent their life learning how to paint and draw.
In the past
In the past, much of my work has been learning. 
Painting landscapes outdoors, I learned a lot about color, how to work in public, to work fast and to let things go. The sun is constantly changing the scene and it eventually sets. There are decisions to make quickly about what details to include, what to change and how to finish. Painting outdoors is so wonderfully life-affirming. If you really want to feel alive, paint or draw outdoors for a few hours. Afterwards, on the trip home, you will find the world magically alive with color and light.
To complete my advertising series, I recreated photographs as closely as possible in paint. But there is a big problem in working from photographs: they always look too flat. My collages taught me about concept and layout. 
My life as a designer taught me how to be creative and play under any condition. 
I took some photography classes, which helped me see light better (and it was fun to make art in the darkroom with other artists working). 
I attend life drawing sessions regularly. I like to draw faces and capture personality. One can’t underestimate the importance of drawing.
My series of splotchy traffic in different color palettes taught me more about color and about blurriness. I painted a series of colored liquids with light shining through them as a way to study light and color. I painted a series of color grids while thinking about if all colors had an right to be seen. (The subtext was wondering if all people had an equal right to be heard.) I painted a series of tall format trees; a great compositional practice (and also the best way to do Gainsborough-type portraits of trees). I did a series with words, which was a primarily conceptual exercise. 
I was invited to a biennale and realized I had no work that I felt worthy. I realized it was time to stop learning and start painting. I embarked on the larger still life series.
Still life with Iris and Snoopa, the finished version
And I always had a fear of the blank canvas. And a fear of just being me.
While I set up a still life composition, I arranged elements based on whether I could pull it off. Now I feel I can probably paint whatever's in front of me, more or less, and I arrange the composition as it should be. I think more about art and less about workmanship. And it's ok if it's not perfect—it's not a scientific illustration—it's a feeling.

Early version: the leaves were repainted many times
 after this photo but still didn't work.
I confess, that I recently did paint out an element. I was working on a ‘fall hunting scene’ with a stuffed duck toy and toy gun and, since it was Thanksgiving, oak leaves seemed like a nice element. I had a pile of leaves on the canvas and I just could not pull it off. Then it got too crowded. Lastly, I bought some drapery fabric and added that to help organize the space. Lastly, the stripes to define the left side. 
Why did I paint this scene? Who knows? It’s how I was feeling over the holidays. I am just following my intuition and completing these using my traditional painting style.
- - - - - - - 
Okay I totally lied. I'm getting ready to start a new painting, and am just plain scared. I don't know why I am painting this arrangement. I don't know if I can pull it off. I don't know if I'm gonna be embarrassed about this painting… It doesn't get any easier.
But I'm trusting my intuition. Have a wacky view I decided to try, in a color palette I haven't used before, and I'm not even sure of the final elements. It’s self-indulgent painting, not about anything, not socially conscious. It’s going to take a lot of time and might not work out. No COMMAND Z. The act of painting vanishes time. I could be doing something else.
So why do it? A strange compulsion that matters only to me.

Epilog: I showed my completed to friends who didn't like it. They were more impressed by another painting I had just started, about 1 hour in. “It’s great, it's finished,” they say. [They may be right but I have to trust my process.]