Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Sycamore Canyon Afternoon"

We love going up the coast to Sycamore Canyon, a ways north of Malibu. It has a beach on one side of Pacific Coast Highway, and a campground and a whole network of hiking and mountian biking trails on the other side. We took the mountain bikes up for the day and rode about 8 miles into the canyon, all uphill with a mostly gradual slope, then up the steeper hills at the end where the fire road climbs up into the mountains. Then we rested, and turned around and zoomed down for a few miles, then coasted a lot of the way back. It was hot, but a great ride, and we went down to the beach and watched the sunset. The hillsides are the typical California gold. This is a 6"x8" inch oil on canvas, and the darks are lighter than this and the colors brighter, but someday I will have a better camera.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I mention on occasion my previous 20 plus years of sculpting. Here's another small bronze from the archives. This is the male wolf mate to the female wolf "Nocturne" posted earlier. I don't remember the dimensions exactly, maybe about 9" long. It's a foundry cast bronze, sculpted in the round, patinaed and polychromed lightly with acrylic. This piece is in a number of collections, and the edition is still open. Retails for $1250.00.


Okay, so I made it to and through the half century mark yesterday. Some gnashing of teeth was involved, but I layed low. Vacuumed. Walked the dog. Gently demanded that my SO order pizza and had a real beer, and watched some vintage footage of Aussie skateborders on Fuel. Watched National Geographic. I'm not a big tv watcher at all, I'd rather read, but I was indulging. Interesting show about Hogzilla. Worked on the pc, tried to order a lot of Michael Harding paint and some Winsor & Newton Monarch filberts (synthetic badger, lovely brushes) on the Italian Art Store website, and when I was ready to check out, they decided to go down for maintenance. But that's okay. I counted my blessings all day, and I'm still not done, and I don't plan to ever stop counting my blessings while I'm on this planet in this body of illusion. I saw a 100 year old woman on a commercial, she looked about 85, and I ruminated on what if I was only halfway done with my life? That's another 50 years to paint. I don't want to waste any of it! Even if it's only another week. Just to not waste the gift of life, I think that's a good overall goal for anyone.

Did I mention how peeved I was that AARP hit me up about 3 weeks early? ;D

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Art Shows Revisited

I had a great time with the Art Show for which the flyer is posted below. It was with a truly wonderful group of people, it wasn't expensive, everyone involved contributed their time and effort as well as their work in a spirit of community, and it was a lovely venue, set up with care and class and a great spread of food! There was a cellist and a harpist, there was performance art and poetry and a lot of people showed up. It was generally a wonderful success. Create with all your heart in it, and your love will shine through in the work.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"Thorny Situation"


I love macro photography because it helps us see things we would normally miss. This was from a luminous close up view of a lovely aloe type plant in the gardens near the monastery in Santa Barbara. It's not quite finished, but I'll replace the image when it is. 6"x8" inch oil on canvas.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just Paint!

My better half says "JUST PAINT". It seems so easy, just squeeze some paint onto a palette, grab some brushes (and maybe some medium), throw a canvas up on the easel and start spreading that stuff around! BUT. If a painter doesn't have an understanding of the materials, the results can be something like a backyard mechanic pulling the pieces off an engine without knowing how they go back together. There are basic mechanics involved in any art form, and the more the artist understands the materials, the sounder the process in general. For painters, specifically OIL painters, it's necessary to know a number of rules relating to the support (what the painting is painted on; wood, canvas, hardboard) and how it's prepped (sealer or sizing, oil or acrylic ground, how many layers, what kind if any texture); whether to use an underpainting and how complex it should be if so; how much and what type of medium to add and it's composition; which paints are transparent, which are opaque, which dry faster, which are very slow; what kind of brush to use for a particular paint application, how thick or thin the paint goes on, what kind of brushstroke.. you get the idea? Now let's go deeper, into all the different pigments and types and their characteristics, how they blend and interact, which are archival and which are suspect, and who makes the best paint, which is always good for a rousing discussion!
It's like the world of coffee home roasters, where type of bean, specific varietal, where it's grown, how it's processed, how it cupped, ect. is just the beginning before we roast. Then we have degree of roast (first crack, second crack, and how long into it), what type of roaster, how to ramp up and control the roast cycle, etc. to consider. I have enough experience to roast by the seat of my pants, and it's always good if I keep a careful eye on it. (As in never walk away from a roast in progress, lest you hear the dreaded third crack, which is the glass of the roasting chamber!) But we don't want to go there, I can bore anyone who isn't also a home roaster to beyond tears, and have.
I paint by the seat of my pants now and then too; some paintings beg for bravura brushwork and experimentation, but it's better to have that basic experience and knowledge from which to pull when doing so, or one can end up scraping off lots of wet paint! (Though sometimes that can make for a lovely resurrection of the work).
So good painting requires study and knowledge of a tremendous number of art related areas. One method of direct study is to do paint tests and comparisons, one of which I have posted here to share some of the behind the scenes process. It may look like I'm not painting when there are no new canvases up, but it often means I'm busy doing some homework!
This was a study and comparison of Vasari, Michael Harding, Puro (and a 30 year old tube of Brera, by Maimeri, who makes the Puro) with some 25 year old Grumbacher Pretested earths I have. The top of the color swatch is straight from the tube, the middle is thinned with turps to check pigment load and luminosity, the bottom is mixed with my standard medium. (I am also doing a drying test with this panel). They all have their own strengths, and this panel is now part of my reference tools for what colors I want to favor, and for how I want to use them.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dharma Art

It's a lot of fun when a group of Buddhists work together to put up an annual art show, with work that reflects the principles of the dharma within art. I put the Jumbo Rocks painting in, and the Queensland Native painting. This is the flyer, you will have to click on the image to get it full sized. It was hard, but it was fun working with a group of kind hearted, funny, talented and spiritual people!