Friday, June 15, 2012

............I've been thinking..............

Yes, for the last 48 hours I've been pondering things. In at least one direction hopeless, depressing things that are, at any rate, quite beyond my control. So, I'll leave those things and the people associated with them to their fate and concentrate on trying to increase the candlepower in our little corner of the universe. This miraculous, natural world still deserves to be viewed with appreciation and as long as I breathe I don't intend to let careless conformists suck that capacity out of me.

Well now. I've also been pondering my relationship to painting. That relationship has gone through a lot of changes over my lifetime. At first I only painted when the spirit moved me and I was thereby moved to produce about 3 pictures a year. Then came art school where I learned that it would be utterly impossible to make a living as a landscape painter, despite one's apparent potential (thanks for the extra dung guy's - as if there wasn't enough floating through the back alleys of our culture). The only alternative offered was advertising but though my friend Rick Taylor and I were thoroughly  fascinated and highly amused by the subject, it wasn't the sort of pile that would hold any personal attraction as a career. Propaganda, you see.
So there were a lot of lean years but eventually I followed my own course and as sales increased we got used to the concept of financial incentive as a factor in the production of art. Then of course the whole bleating flock had the rug pulled from under them and sales have again declined.
 My problem is this: I love painting on location - "en plein aire"- if you prefer French. And that's how I begin most of what I do. But I'm increasingly having trouble getting inspired to finish what I start, in the studio. It's got to be a lack of incentive. It's not 20% the fun in the studio that it is on location and I suspect you need some kind of positive expression of appreciation for the work you're doing to keep you interested. Sales were always an expression of appreciation, which were in turn definitely appreciated. Don't get me wrong - things still sell  (we're certainly not facing starvation) - just not at a rate to make you feel that the thing you're toiling over in the studio has a very positive chance of  coughing up much in the way of remuneration.

O.K. - the above may or may not be understandable to the reader but I  have a plan that may or may not supply a remedy for my  situation. Donna (my wife who is an indisputably top notch teacher of painting) is trying to get me to take a more active role in teaching myself. Given the present climate, it makes sense. The trouble is there is a lot of skill involved in being an effective teacher. I have almost no experience compared to her. When it comes time to critique some students work I only feel comfortable in giving encouragement. But students are not paying for only encouragement. Even so it takes a lot of sensitivity and tact to honestly give meaningful assistance when it comes to painting. I need practice. 

My Plan:
* One; I will immediately post any plein air work I may have started, in it's finished or unfinished state.I'll also post a photo of the location taken that very day. I'll try to give some analysis of where I might have gone right or wrong and speculate where I might go with it in the studio. Having stuck my neck out, I will then go to work in the studio and see if I can bring out the best in the piece, posting the result as soon as I figure it's done. It should be like doing a demo - hangin' way out there, with lots of incentive to make it to the finish line. Almost like the Daily Painter thing. In fact, that too might be an option. But whatever, ................. feel free to critique the beegeezes out of me - I need to get used to it.
* Two; I am going to encourage mid-level to advanced painters to not only critically analyse what I'm doing but to email any plein air work they've done that  they would like critiqued. I will do my best to deliver constructively helpful criticism. If I get overwhelmed with responses (doubt it) and it becomes an impossible burden I'll have to modify my approach but for the moment I think it might be interesting and useful.

First Up
This is as the 14"x18" painting stood after 2.5 hours work on a street in Guanajuato last Saturday morning. I haven't touched it since (as I say, I've been doing a lot of thinking - not much painting this week). 
Below this is a photo of the subject taken at the beginning of the painting session. It wasn't quite wide angled enough but there's enough there to serve as partial reference material. I'll work on the painting this morning and post the result in the afternoon. Somebody said at the time "you got that shadow color on the street just right" - well I can see how I fiddled with it later and ended up getting it "just wrong". Hey! - the light had changed by then, right? Well, ....yes it had, of course but that's no excuse. It was also pointed out that my sewer grate looks like a carpet ................ people are so mean. Actually, I think the color was coming out pretty good but the worst of it was we all got started a little late and I jumped right into the painting without any preliminary drawing. That can be fatal. In this case it only critically wounded the beast - we'll see if I can pump some life back into it over the course of the day. 
I'll post the before and after's later with the photo below the two. Isn't this fun?
Time to put out the paints and brew up a strong cup -hasta luego.

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