Thursday, July 30, 2009

Starting block 3 - final step... getting closer to freedom but not there yet!

I finished this one in a little more than 2 hours in the spirit of non-finito...

... I'm satisfied with color saturation aspects and I'm timidly starting to mix thick colors directly on canvas for more variety. Looks like this one is the beginning of a new trend for me!

Note to self: "I've been playing it safe for too long... I need to introduce more risk taking and joy in my painting process and do away with my customary tightness in execution (everything is relative!) and my performance anxieties."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Starting block 3 step II... going for higher color saturation for my emotional rescue!

This time around, without changing my palette or my previous ways, I simply went for higher color saturation all around...

May be it's the gray summer we've had so far... but it seems that I suddenly have a craving for intense colors... as a means to survive emotionally! With this painting, I'm going for my emotional rescue!

A quick third and final pass will aim at improving the background, some of the highlights and textural aspects throughout...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Starting block 3 - step I... couldn't stop at 13... and 14 could be my lucky number!

I realized the "100 m'" series only had 13 paintings... so I felt compelled to add another one to avoid bad luck! I decided to start painting with no preparation... for the sake of freedom and with the thinking that if I start loose I'm more likely to finish loose! Using a loose piece of canvas, I went from 30 X 30 to 28 X 28... a small price to pay for a bad eye...

This speedy second pass was done with the spirit of breaking away dramatically from my previous patterns...

Over the last year or so, I've enjoyed a general graying/attenuation of colors as a means to apply a distinctive screen to my color palette and in following up with my Chinese painting experience (black ink is used to attenuate watercolors). With this second pass, I suddenly have the urge to part from that tradition. This painting is likely to stick out like a sore thumb... but I've got to let go to move forward!

Note to self: "Going for general color attenuation and expressiveness at the same time seemed to be a contradiction in terms. Some of my latest paintings are already showing a tendency for more impactful colors. It's now the time to tip the scale in that direction. As a first step, I intend to use color attenuation sparingly as a means to make brighter colors stand out."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Las Terrenas - step III... what kind of painter am I? I will soon find out... the kind I'm not!

This new subject matter had a way of trowing me off balance big time! Four and a half hours overall got me to this final version:

A dab of this, a dab of that: suddenly I'm gaining a whole lot of respect for plein air painters working on small size canvases (this one is 20 X 20)! Although I like the power of large "in your face" subjects, I'm sure I will benefit from tackling new subjects such as this one, getting outside my "beaten path" so to speak...

Note to self: "My challenge here is to manage many elements at the same time with different color mixes. Mixing enough colors and simplifying painting steps, i.e. developing short-cuts, will help. I also need to learn how to paint gray and white!".

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Las Terrenas - step II... outside my level of comfort!

It took an hour this afternoon for this second pass.... I just need to get used to this new subject matter!

I hope the third pass will be sufficient to bring everything in balance, especially values and contrasts. I forgot how tedious it is to work on smaller formats with relative details! I just had a left over piece of rolled canvas that was too small to accommodate my usual formats.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Las Terrenas - step I... part one of an unlimited series!

I've been longing for a while to paint with acrylics or oils the places that I visited while traveling around the world over the last 30 years or so. In this unlimited series, I will focus on the areas that really caught my attention (in many instances, I will have watercolors and sketches to fall back on). A new challenge for me: I intend to address urban environments and incorporate people in my paintings as much as possible.

This first attempt is from my recent trip in the Dominican Republic. I rapidly laid out the preliminary colors this afternoon. This is a 20 X 20 canvas...

On the more experimental pole of my work, I intend to go abstract by depicting flocks of wild geese in extra large formats. As a teenager hunting with my father, I once saw a flock of Canada geese flying six feet over my head, an experience I will never forget. This series will be in honor of my father who will soon be 91 years of age.

I also intend to continue my exploration of the human figure using unusual cropping for more drama. In a nutshell... I've got my work cut out for the next 12 months or so!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Taking stock: where do I go from now?

As an artist, it's always interesting to know what happens to a piece once it's sold:
  • the first one from the left ended up in an apartment in Namur, Belgium (my step son),
  • the second one, in an "ashram" or "sanctuary" room in a Montreal residence (a friend of the muse and former Egyptian dancer),
  • the third one, in my taichi instructor's residence in Montreal.

I'm glad that my art has the potential to bring joy and to become an integral part of people's life. This is partly what's driving me to produce.

As an artist though, continuous development remains a key objective and I'm now at the completion of two years of serious full time painting. Lately, I pretty much said what I had to say with my two main series within the limits of my model... so I'm due for a change!

I'd like to introduce more spontaneity in my work with less dependence on preliminary drawings on canvas. I'd like more color separation and much more contrast in color and texture. I'd like to avoid formula painting and initiate each work with the spirit of "beginner's mind". In this pursuit, I guess integrating any strong points (if any!) from previous works will be my next challenge!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kauai beach scene two - final step... an attempt at contemporary realism... I'll leave it at that!

I think this one will complete my beach scene series featuring the muse... until my next vacation in August!

Although I want my style to be much more expressionistic... I had fun doing this one while embarrassing the muse once again! I ran out of gas doing the grass and left it relatively incomplete.

Note to self: I'd like to explore the female figure differently in the future... but how? I bought a book on Philip Pearlstein recently and was amazed by the variety of poses he uses, the unusual perspective he applies to his figures and his cropping of the figures. Could this be a lead?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kauai beach scene two - step II...risking to become the king of mud... just for a day I hope!

That day was partly cloudy, so I kept plugging away with grayed colors in the rendition of the scene...

The last pass will aim at correcting anatomical flaws (left arm), refining dark areas (I overshot mud!) and enhancing contrasts here and there with calligraphic brush strokes ...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Facing the subject on canvas... but pondering on "bigger" subjects!

Two days ago was my birthday... and as I'm getting closer to the big SIX "O" (I'm now 57), alone in front of a canvas, it's hard to avoid pondering on the "bigger" subjects such as life and the passing of time... besides, grand children are a reminder!

Two years ago, I decided to abandon my career to sort of "live to paint" while enjoying the journey... now, it seems that sooner or later I will be painting to live, to feel more alive... as a visceral need! Or perhaps, it's just the crummy Montreal summer (so far) and my oscillating retirement funds level that make me feel that way...

Meanwhile back to reality, I'm tackling the muse once again with this Kauai beach scene:

I think, I'll go "monochromatic" with this one. As the two guys are staring at each other, an heavenly creature is passing by... those guys should be reduced to their simplest expression!

I worked on the color scheme this afternoon... using a foundation of dirty colors (single colors mixed with black)...

I think I will entitle this one: "Bermuda triangle".... the bag in the middle has to go!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A pregnant pause: Painting on the fence, my manifesto for the remainder of the year!

Before attempting further works, I've decided to put my thoughts together as a guide for my future painting approach:
  • The paint is applied with anything handy, and that includes the brush!
  • The paint is thick yet it’s transparent
  • Thick paint and dripping paint coexist
  • Thick paint and transparent paint coexist
  • Blurriness and sharpness coexist
  • Drawn and painted structures coexist
  • The approach is minimalist yet it’s picture perfect
  • The abstract and the figurative are intimately intertwined
  • “Black & white” and "full color" may coexist
  • Monochrome and "full color" may coexist
  • Bright colors and their toned down versions are intimately intertwined
  • Warm and cool colors are intimately intertwined
  • Values go from pure black to "pure white canvas" (no paint!)
  • Experimental and fail-safe approaches coexist
It will be interesting to see if I can live by these standards!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

After the race III- step II... getting my hands dirty... with dirt tones!

For the first color layer, I decided to go with this rather simple grey color scheme leaving the sienna underpainting show through...

... I saw an opportunity for some painting knife work on the background... so the second color layer gave me this:

I zipped through this one without thinking too much, applying colors in a rapid sequence as if painting a watercolor (with the same kind of panic city approach!)... until I reached a certain level of satisfaction.

I will leave it alone for the rest of the afternoon before applying a few final touches tomorrow morning when my mind is clear (the updated version will be in the slide show). I need to recuperate from that painting frenzy! It seems that, these days, painting for me is like making the best of an emergency!

Note to self: "Now that I think of it, my abbreviated painting technique, sort of a short-hand approach, seems to follow its own evolutionary course... beyond me. I think where I can really have an impact on my short-term development is in my choice of subjects (the human body still or in movement, water and aqua environments), in the way I crop these subjects and in the way I present them (ideally with multiple view points in the same picture, something single photographs can't deliver). Leveraging abstract patterns in composition and in the rendering (brush strokes, textures, high contrast) will also be important. This is what I will endeavour to do until the end of the year."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

After the race III - step I... the last kick at the can for this series!

I wanted to finish the series with the "look of pride" of a champion runner after a successful race...
I would like to give this one a "total contemporary" look...

While attending the Montreal jazz festival this weekend, I ended up passing by a series of contemporary art exhibits on Ste-Catherine street, realizing that this was an annual event organized by FIMA. Although I've developed some skills with acrylics over the last 2 years, looking at the works of participating professional artists gave me the feeling that I still didn't belong...

There is no two ways about it: in the next 12 months, I need to realize quantum leaps in technique and originality if I'm going to fit in! All of a sudden, I have an urgent need to part dramatically from what I've done before... while maintaining a certain evolutionary continuum leveraging the techniques that I have developed thus far."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Samana beach kids two - final step... not there yet but starting to understand my own mud!

I had poor source information for this one and had to rely primarily on my recollection of the event... so, all in all, I'm fairly satisfied with this attempt... not in terms of technique but in terms of believability...

I stuck to the impasto gel this time around... and it seems that I have finally adapted.

Lately, I've read a lot about color theories... and realized that my limited palette contains primarily transparent colors including ivory black, a warm transparent black, and a few modern pigments (Azo Gold is one of them). My limited palette of transparent colors is a saving grace considering my propensity for mixing mud... transparent mud that is! For now, my favourite strategy is to toggle back and forth between bright colors and dirty colors. Let's hope my work doesn't end up in the gutter!

Note to self: "I need to keep the spirit of the first color pass until the end... two to three passes later but not ten... to avoid pure realism!"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Samana beach kids two - close to final... painting with mud but it's transparent!

After this 3rd pass, I'm pretty much where I want to be. I'd like more contrast in the water area especially in the foreground... I'm also looking at withdrawing the boy's upper left arm behind his upper chest... amongst other minor anatomical adjustments...

Painting kids is a challenge for me as I'm not used to their head/body relationship.

Note: I took a week of vacation taking a rest from painting... an activity that seems to be, from time to time, both brain and nerve wracking for me... particularly since I don't know where I'm going these days!