Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yoga pose VII on the block... Happy New Year everybody!

This will be my next one after the New Year...

It would be nice to have a mixed bag of free flowing paint and conventional color applications as I attempted to do with previous paintings. Colors should be separated (not mixed to death) and highly saturated... some areas precisely rendered, others rendered in "loose style"... in a other words, I want a contemporary look!

Note to self: "In a way, over the last year or so, I have attempted to emulate "painting in oil" using acrylics. After having explored to a certain extent possibilities in that area, I now feel compelled to go the route of mixed techniques exploiting fully the properties of acrylics at all levels. Although I don't see myself as being art gallery material for now... for the first time in 2 years with acrylics, I'm starting to see this as a remote possibility... but a possibility nonetheless."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009... mission accomplished!

We've made some happy people once again at this time of the year. There is no real Christmas spirit without the little ones (in occurrence our 2 grand children). How little are they anyway? Well, they are so little...

... that they both fit in the cat's bed!

As for me, between Christmas and New Year, I think I will varnish the paintings from my Yoga series. Mixed techniques make for weird reflective surfaces, so varnishing has now become a necessity for aesthetic reasons more than for protection. As usual, I'm going for a satin finish...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yoga pose VI - final step... going full circle!

Instead of just using values, this time around, I decided to switch primaries to bring the figure a little more in the forefront...

Two years ago I used very little white and transparency to realize my first paintings with the acrylic medium (this was my watercolor crutch so to speak). I seem to be shifting back after having experienced opacity and accentuated textures. I think I'm in a good position to develop a hybrid technique... and have the best of both worlds! Year 2010 will be a crucial year...

Meanwhile in the basement, the Christmas arsenal is ready...

... for the whole family and especially our grand children!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my followers and supporters (direct and indirect) in this crazy pursuit of mine for the elusive master piece in visual arts! I may never attain my objective but, like many things in life, the reward is in the journey, not in the destination!

Note to self: "Going full circle: this is reminiscent of the evolution of a martial artist: a punch is just a punch, a punch is no longer just a punch, a punch is just a punch!"

Sub-note to self: "Interestingly, my last painting of 2008 featured highly saturated azo gold used both transparently and in full strength. I used ivory black ( I now use phtalo turquoise) and titanium white to obtain dark tones and highlights, respectively. The painting obtained a honorable mention. There is a lot of similarities in technique between the aforementioned painting and the one posted above... I think this is telling me something in terms of my future direction and what I need to do technically speaking to develop a distinctive pictorial vocabulary and language... all of this being in the spirit of expressionism. Being able to accommodate large formats remains important!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yoga pose VI - step IV... going for hyper-saturation... but not by design!

For some reason with this one, I seem to have discarded titanium white for the most part (favouring modeling paste as whitener instead) except for the creation of highlights...

If I can put a few more nuances in the midtones without losing this high color saturation effect, I will have made a step towards modernity! Trying new techniques can be scary: at the early stage, everything seems so suboptimal!

Note to self: "I suddenly see an advantage in having different sets of transparent primaries going from weak to strong, using them all in the same painting in an attempt to reduce dependency on white and get closer to my watercolors!"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yoga pose VI step III ... Is this too much gravitas? Câline de blues!

Still preoccupied with textures, I went at it with a vengeance using a performance enhancer (no booze, just blues!), trying to break away from my usual conservatism, especially with the background...

The challenge is now to unify this composition... without unifying it! Sort of like a multicolored monochromatic painting... I need a drink!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yoga pose VI step II... pretending I'm an abstract painter!

Still bogged down with some construction work in the basement, I did nonetheless take the time for a quick second pass... with no restraints on my part.

Somewhat bewildered, I felt the need to put an acetate over the facial area to verify if I could recover the resemblance of a human face using a few brush strokes. The experiment was conclusive... I'll be able to sleep tonight!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yoga pose VI step I... wanting to add gravitas to my art... and falling once again for Newton's gravitational pull!

This week has been more the way of the construction worker (remodeling the cold room by recycling old panels and shelves- I'm an ecologist by formation!) as opposed to the way of the artist. The extra space recovered will be used for epoxy varnishing.

For my next Yoga posture, which I want to complete before Christmas, I'm still hung up on hanging hair!

As I'm driving nails in 2 X 4's... I'm thinking about my next move with this one. I want to paint her fast... and spell out the honest unadulterated truth with no lies! In other words, I want to leave marks without second guessing myself (with no regrets)... and live with the consequences!

Note to self: "Should I allow myself some white lies?"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yoga series... taking a breather before the next 5!

After 5 weeks of work, I've got 5 paintings under my belt with this series...

... and will be gearing up for the next 5 starting next week. The next time around, I'd like to address compositions that don't fit the square format such as this one:

If I take stock, I've learned a fair amount in the area of textures and how to build them up fairly rapidly while integrating them in the painting process (textures not separate from color application). I've also become a little less gun shy when it comes to abstracted backgrounds although 3 backgrounds from this series were the result of last resort desperate moves on my part to make things happen (I had to get angry)! The first 5 of this series were also an attempt to integrate the "half finished" with the "finished", and I've partially succeeded with 3 paintings. In the next 5, I'd like "half finished" portions of each painting to prevail... as if I'm not already challenged enough as is!

Note to self: "Imposing my own vision on reality is more and more becoming a dire need that I want to fulfill as an artist in the making... but images in my head are far from being clear!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yoga pose V - final... I ended up finishing it like an illustrator... I think I need a break!

Looks like the image maker as opposed to the painter reappeared once again during the completion phase for this one. I got caught up in the details. Obtaining near likeness, which was not my original intent, suddenly became a goal because of the frontal view... and comments from the muse!

With this one, I've also added another one to the group of beaten up backgrounds (my indecision led to this with my last four paintings of the series!)...

Four to five layers led to this kind of granular effect, a happy accident that I can most certainly replicate in some of my future works.

With the next five Yoga paintings, I'd like to go much more fluid in my treatment of this subject matter and tip the scale towards color washes as opposed to impasto passages, the exact opposite of what I've done so far with this series.

Note to self: This one gave me troubles ... and I had to rework the figure a number of times to reach a certain level of satisfaction... this is a sign for me to take a break and distance myself from this series, at least for a week. Although I like the imagery I produced so far, my best paintings are the ones I zip through without looking back... and they are just a few!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yoga pose V - step IV... probing deep into the world of tormented art!

This 4th step was an all out effort to make this one more compatible with the first four of the series (the powder blue background didn't catch my fancy in the final analysis) ...

I still don't have the recipe down path when it comes to palette knife painting on larger formats (I run out of paint frequently and this can be murder with acrylics!). Somehow, like a dog after a bone, I keep coming back!

I need to take a rest before applying finishing touches here and there.

Note to self: "I want to part dramatically from the reference material I use with this series (the reason why I post it!)... and I seem to be experiencing growing pain big time... in the imagination department, for now!"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yoga pose V - step III... still working on design in my head... but non committal on canvas!

I'm still roughing it out with this third step using primarily the palette knife...

As I post this picture, I see another possibility for a beach scene... but I'm afraid this will be too ordinary... I think this is calling for drastic measures... the next step will be decisive!

Note to self: Anything tangible on the right side of the head doesn't seem to work... I need to de-emphasize the sign... this may get worst before it gets better!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yoga pose V - step II... working gradually, hoping that somehow, it will speak to me!

Since I have no specific design in mind for this one, I'm proceeding slowly hoping that ideas will come to mind as I look at the half finished painting...

... I think I see the blurred foliage of a small bamboo tree on the right side of the head which could create the beginning of a downward slope towards the "OM" sign behind the figure... sheer mental elucubrations on my part!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yoga pose V - step I... testing the ground for another color scheme... scary stuff!

I finally opted for "close eyes", a better choice in conjunction with the meditative "OM" sound character...

I interlocked the "OM" character with the body, an attempt to replicate lines from the shoulders and lower arms.

As usual, each times I start a new painting... it's like going to another planet!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yoga pose V revisited... going for a typical complementary starting posture!

I've relook at the 4 paintings completed so far...

... and decided to go with a typical Yoga starting posture which would allow me to incorporate the "OM" sign.

In this way, this large canvas series becomes almost self sufficient as it includes a variety of positions including a starting one. In a way, the composition above may be even more engaging since the Yoga instructor is looking straight in the observer's eyes!

Note: I will try to interlock the sign with the body to make it more interesting...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Yoga pose V... another large canvas: I'm a glutton for punishment!

I selected this one for my last 36 X 36 canvas...

I think converging lines in the ceiling can add to the design. Hopefully, my process with this one will be less painful and more streamlined!

Update: I've decided to keep this one in the back burner for now. The foreshortened arm can be a challenge visually even if well rendered. An "easy street" solution would be to extend it sideways and get rid of the leg... but then it becomes like a typical dance pose. I need to think about this one!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yoga pose IV - final step... from paint to matter in a circumvoluted manner!

After a number of pirouettes, I decided to call this one "done" ...

An interesting twist: my cumbersome multilayered approach led to some interesting discoveries in the area of textures and working with "matter" as opposed to paint. So even though this painting is a technical failure by my own definition, key learnings that emanated from the exercise may influence my future works...

Note to self: "I persisted with this one and I'm glad I did. Difficult paintings are a fertile ground for growth!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yoga pose IV - step IV... experimenting my way to oblivion!

Realizing too late that any background design would compete against the figure unless much lower in value, I decided to use this painting as a ground for experimentation...

... with the palette knife. In a way, I was forced to do some real painting, something I've managed to avoid as much as possible (favouring the image maker as opposed to the painter).

I will do a last pass to lengthen the hair to make a better balance with the upper body (I backed off to move forward again, trying to find better movement!) before calling it quit...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Yoga pose IV - step III ... still stuttering with this new pictorial language!

I feel I'm getting closer to my vision after 7 hours of work on this 36 X 36 canvas (not counting the thinking time!)...

... but would like more value variations on the background, and some subtle "smoothing out", corrections (e.g., forehead and neck areas) and color variations here and there.

I'm having a hard time with this mixed technique (i.e., getting what I want) and the klutz in me is reappearing stronger than ever as my painting process gets interrupted by sporadic "panic city" episodes... with colors dripping all over my shoes! I'm in the "no pain no gain" zone!

Note to self: "With these non vertical positions, working with a relatively small photo as opposed to a model, it would be easier for me to rotate the figure so that the head is in a vertical position... at least at the initial stage."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yoga pose IV - step II ... doubled crossed and in trouble!

With this second quick pass with the palette knife (30 minutes), I tried to commit to the color scheme I had in mind... but only got half way there...

I was still trying to figure out some movement in the background... as I noticed the pattern of the central reinforcement bar from the stretcher (adding another cross pattern to the composition)... the result of over-enthusiasm with the palette knife!

A couple of hours of work in the afternoon led to this rather "rough on the edges" version...

I'd like to do something different than a blue black background (my specialty)... perhaps it's too much to ask for now! This one will make me sweat... I can feel it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yoga pose IV - step I... a textural dog's breakfast for now, but I'm starting to see the light!

I would like to leverage purples, oranges, reds and yellows with this one... but I'm still clueless about what to do with the background... as usual...

At this stage, I'm desperately looking for viable patterns of light to avoid having the armpit as focal point (reference photo)!

Meanwhile, I'm doubling as a carpenter (not my forte!) in an attempt to revamp a storage room in the basement after having gotten rid of a large defunct oil tank going back in the 50's. The extra shelves will allow me to have a more spacious area which I plan to use for epoxy varnishing...

... pretty simple design, I'll grant you that... but this is only like the "underpainting"!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yoga pose IV... Getting ready to take another plunge!

I'd like to use a different color scheme for this one... but I'm not sure which one...

I'm taking a deep breath... while crossing my fingers!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yoga pose III - final... hung in there... but almost got hung in my own underwear!

I had a hard time getting what I wanted for the background using a mixture of color washes and paint marks here and there...

I also had a hard time dosing the pure quinacridrone violet as I underestimated its power relative to the magenta version... fortunately, the whole scene is dark any way.

A saving grace: this painting opens up the avenue of mixed techniques for me... and God knows where this is gonna lead me...

Meanwhile on the front porch, a glimpse of hope late November...

... knowing that everything is on borrowed time!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yoga pose III- step III... searching for the balance between 2 techniques: a balancing act to say the least!

Changing technique means organized despair for a while... at least for me. I'm mixing palette knife and brush work, transparent and opaque painting... and want to retain the effects of the first pass...

Moreover, I'm also using a violet as a red and I seem to be having magenta withdrawal symptoms! It's no surprise that looking at me painting is like looking at a dog in a bowling alley! Despite all of this, I'm close to where I want to be, by hook or crook...

Note: I want to go back to a slightly more purplish blue highlight for the Yoga outfit but want to retain some of that complementary turquoise tint... also want to warm up the blue black a little...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yoga pose III - step II... Still trying to resolve the background... bit by bit!

With this second rather rough layer, I've tried as much as possible to retain the fluidity of the first one while using heavy impasto gel mixed with my paint. While using the palette knife, I found myself dragging some residual paint with a sponge to even things out a little (you can call that cheating!)...

I've got a find a way to drag some of the dark tone into the remaining lighter areas while making the transition interesting and gradual. I haven't worked too much on the anatomy yet... and I have to say that the appearance of an elbow at the unbent arm joint is sticking out "like a sore thumb"!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yoga pose III - step I... a start reminescent of the men from Lascaux!

I've been chasing art supply all morning and, to my surprise, all Montreal artists seem to be going for square canvases these days. As a result, I couldn't find any large ones (I had to settle for a few 24 X 30 for now)!

I didn't have much time to paint today but did spend half an hour though delineating this Yoga posture more clearly (I did a rough first pass with a palette knife yesterday using a couple of colors mixed with modeling paste). For some reason, I seem to have begun like your average caveman with this one...

... may be I should pursue in the same vein!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yoga pose III - On the starting block with another one!

I've got three more 36 X 36 canvases... so I chose this next Yoga posture which I find suitable for a larger size. Some movement registered in this photo...

... it would be interesting to convey this in paint...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yoga series - I think it's a start: my usual fetish photo after 2 paintings!

After a couple of paintings which are the sum total of a fair amount of uncertainty and hesitation (when I start something new, I never know if I'm coming of going!), I feel comfortable saying that I've actually started this new series...

My first painting (top) was literally a "fail safe" portrait of the Yoga instructor I'm using as a model for this series. The second one (bottom) is more representative of the new direction I finally want to take in 2010, i.e., mixing techniques and emphasizing textures more than ever. In my quest for textures, I found that by creating partly absorbent (paste) and partly non absorbent (gel) grounds, I could leverage both watercolor and opaque painting techniques. In a way, I want portions of any of my paintings to appear unfinished as if reality is gradually emerging from nothingness...

Note: Just notice the empty 1 liter bottle of Merlot... not a bad mileage in the making of 2 large paintings!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yoga pose II - final step... trying to commit to some form of value scheme... an impass!

With this last pass, I tried to commit to a value scheme of dark patterns over medium values with highlights on both the figure and the foreground. As an experiment, I stamped out textures in the background in an attempt to give more place to the figure... I then changed my mind and redid the background... trying to part from the textural aspect of the foreground for variety!

Although my new process is far from being optimal for now, I feel pumped up for the next painting of this series!

Note: For some reasons the previous lime green background felt weak... I went for army khaki with touches of lime! Also, I felt there were no commitment on the previous background, dabs instead of sweeps!

Note to self: "I need to get used to painting with a palette knife, especially backgrounds. Also, adopting a a new style is accepting/getting used to a new look... and this is difficult... leaving something behind!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yoga pose II - step III... springing back a little!

With this last pass, I went back to my normal way of painting trying to retain, with some difficulty, the spirit of the fluid first pass....

I will wait for tomorrow to apply finishing touches and corrections. At any rate, it is a departure from my previous painting style... and the beginning of a promising new process that I would like to explore further...

Note to self: "In retrospect, my new palette of primary colors is likely to give me what I want... extreme color saturation!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yoga pose II - step II... taking my courage with both hands... and my brush with the other!

After my more traditional previous painting (although I got many positive comments, it's not the direction I want to take ultimately), I've decided to "really give it a go" with this second one from the series... and go for broke...

An apparent mixture of dripping paint and paste is what I'm after... hopefully, I will be able to make some sense out of these patterns and bring uniformity with a minimum of interventions!

Note to self: "After 2 years of experimentation with acrylics, I feel the time has come to use my whole artistic arsenal to see what comes out of it. I want my art to be totally me... with no restrictions. The sum of everything that I've learned so far from watercolors to Chinese black ink and acrylics."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yoga pose II... proceeding with the task at hand... and dripping!

Although I still have a few additional creative ideas for the first Yoga posture that I have just tackled, I will let them simmer for a while as I proceed with the painting of another posture...

I kinda like the patterns of light and shadows with this one... and I decided to go with a different color scheme for a change...

I also want to retain a loose style throughout as I go "more opaque". I'm desperate to part from my previous painting patterns, embracing a more fluid style... mixing techniques indiscriminately and leaving more to chance!

Note to self: "The first of this series will be an odd ball... but this needs to be done... I'm going for creative freedom! I feel I have done enough with my semi controlled style of contemporary figuration. I want to go to the next level... or at least attempt to do so for the nth time!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yoga pose I - final step... and perhaps biting more than I can chew!

This one was a bit more tedious than I thought... because I was not sure where I was going at the initial stage...

After 10 hours of wrestling with it, I was ready for my usual "sleep on it" creative pause before calling it quit. Some additional surgical brush strokes and adjustments in colors here and there sort of did it for me... even though I can't wait for the next one to do better!

Note: In terms of design, I wanted the sky to appear to be doing Yoga movements as well, and this was replicated on the foreground with more or less a mirror image of the sky in the sand. In a way, this painting was fun to do since I've always admire the work of fantasy artists...

Note to self: "This is the first of the series and as such, it's a bit too stiff for my liking. More than ever, I want to maintain the looseness of the first full color pass with semi transparent paint... with colors flying all over the place... many of them remaining separate. I may have to change my technique for that though... and I will!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yoga pose I - step III... a last minute design shift!

For the third pass, I worked primarily on the sky. I also tried to get a better feel for highlights on the figure... at the expense of contrast for now....

As I was ready to call it a day, a comment from the muse and my step son's wife regarding the relevance of the yoga carpet, or lack thereof, prompted me to obliterate it in a flash... proving that "test marketing" a painting before completion can be a good thing! I need more color nuances to be satisfied with this one...

Note to self: "I see great potential in the semi opaque technique that I used in the previous step (color brilliance, watercolor-like), a technique that I used 2 years ago for my women's eyes series. To be successful though with more elaborate subjects, I need to know exactly where I'm going from the get go, just like with watercolors..."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Yoga pose I - step II... going the route of cosmic art... may the gods be with me!

After some initial hesitation, I decided to fully engage in a surrealist approach (although not in the rendering) with this one, prudently testing the ground with colors mixed with pure liquid medium (thicker paint and general highlights will be reserved for the third pass)...

After having set the stage for two light sources (sun and moon), now I have to follow suit and part from the lighting used for my photo shoot! I dug up some old art books on Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta in an attempt to find some inspiration. This is a 36 X 36 canvas...

Note: "My research revealed that a full moon at sunset is possible and the moon and the sun would be opposite to each other. Needless to say, I used artistic license by setting the sun higher than it should be in association with an orange lower sky...."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yoga pose I step I... in the mood to experiment!

With this one, I decided to start off with modeling paste mixed with a few colors to create an absorbent and somewhat textured ground...

My intent is to use watery colors as a second step before proceeding with more opaque colors. The lighting will be surreal... as if there were the sun and the moon at the same time (astronomically possible but I'm sure this set up would not pass scientific validation!).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Preparing a new series on Yoga... coming soon to a theater near you!

This summer, I decided to dedicate a series on Yoga, remaining true to my objective of continuing the exploration of the human figure using a contemporary approach to paint application (I know no other way for God's sake!)...

With this series, I would like to explore the abstract aspects of the human figure through unusual cropping and lighting. I would also like to go totally abstract on backgrounds, something I've timidly started to do more recently...

I owe one to my wife's superlative Yoga instructor. I was floored by her skillful demonstration of Yoga poses... coincidentally, I had to be to take these photos! Thank you Geneviève!

Meanwhile, I'm still holding on tight to some garden flowers as we're closing the gap to November.... perhaps as a pure demonstration of machismo in the face of my neighbours ... or is it my inborn need not to give up on the "still living and kicking"...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Moroccan woman commission - steps II-III ... back to the easel after responding to an emergency!

As my mother suffered a transient memory loss (we were informed by one of her neighbors), I had to temporarily move to my parents' place 60 miles from Montreal to take care of this potentially dangerous medical condition (my mother is 87 years old). Before leaving Montreal, I had her take an aspirin as a precautionary measure, which was the right thing to do under the circumstances. Fortunately, this condition appears to be transient with virtually 0% relapse rate. A brain scan revealed nothing... so I have to thank the Guy Upstairs for this positive outcome...

Back to the easel, I applied a few rough layers (thin in the dark areas and thicker in the highlights) going for somewhat of a painterly approach and a prudent monochromatic color scheme (not willing to do pirouettes with this one!)...

I will sleep on it for a night before calling it a "done deal"...

Note to self: "They say that every piece of art is a prayer. Well, if it's the case, then this one is dedicated to my mother...."

Update: Just a few additional brush strokes were required for me to reach satisfaction (mind you, my expectations are low... when it comes to details!)...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Moroccan woman commission - step I extended... the 1% that broke the camel's back!

Looks like my estimated 99% completion rate for step one was a rather rough estimate at best (mind you, I started off with a couple of 3" X 2" photos, one of which was dating back 7 years!)...

If anything, I had to fight doggedly to obtain 100% likeness, luckily obtaining in the process a better representation of the client's facial features, i.e., more conformed to the way she looks now (slightly more streamlined).

Looks like I'm back to "zinc white" country with this one, in an attempt to retain as much color power as possible while working "more opaque". Needless to say, I'm crossing my fingers as I proceed to the next level!

Note: funnily enough, my first attempt at the nose ended up producing a plausible nose... but an eagle beak one! It's interesting to observe that, in portraiture, a quarter inch can "make you or break you"...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moroccan woman commission - step I... looking for a safety net big time!

I used the prudent approach with this one and, although there were no preliminary drawing, I'm about 99% there in terms of likeness (I got lucky!).

Another transparent wash to define the color scheme and I will be ready for a more expressive color layer... I hope! I'd like the third step to be a finite number of brush strokes. This 3-step approach has served me well in the past...

My short painting sessions for this one were interspersed with a few outdoors activities to entertain visiting family members from Belgium. The Chinese lanterns at the botanical garden were awesome...

... notwithstanding the Mont Tremblant scenery, just before the winter...