Monday, August 31, 2009

Wrapping up two weeks of vacation, varnishing and thinking about wabi-sabi...

I spent some time last week visiting art galleries in the Eastern Townships area... looking at other artists' works and doing some benchmarking. I still feel that something is missing in my art and 2010 may very well be the year to integrate all the knowledge that I have accumulated thus far... and go for broke!

There was ample time over the last few weeks to reflect upon my art and to define the shape of things to come. I've got close to 30 paintings to varnish (a necessity for me to protect any bare canvas showing up in the majority of my paintings!) so I guess I will think some more!

The wabi-sabi principles of Japanese aesthetic, the art of imperfection came to mind. It is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. How can some of these principles applying to my future art? Let me try (William Preston, sumi-e painter, was an inspiration):
  • The essence of the subject is expressed as opposed to its specific details
  • Things are implied or left unsaid thus creating a visual poem
  • There is ambiguity
  • Simplicity is sought after in composition (no clutter)
  • The work is left incomplete (bare canvas, underpainting or process may be showing)
  • Paint is always applied with spontaneity allowing an instant expression of one's emotional state at that moment; with multiple layers and periods of reflection between them, the final canvas becomes a record of the artist's emotional states over time (beyond the moment)
  • Rendition is imprecise, the largest tool is used for the job, there is risk taking
  • The painting tool surfs over the paint, not fully controlling it, allowing it to express itself!
  • The surface is rough and shows every paint marks (or signs of a struggle in my case!)
In a nutshell, I'm looking to add more character and spontaneity to my art. Time will tell if I can meet that objective.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Victorian style living near the beach... more than a common barbarian deserves!

Back from a vacation in Prince Edward County... and lucky enough to have enjoyed one week of sun shine with the muse, toggling back and forth between a Victorian loft and the beach, and sampling local wines and food stuffs...

I managed a few sketches... but still feel a bit out of place in the watercolor department especially working outdoors with dirty colors from a cheap watercolor set! I'd like to try a few studio paintings to see where I'm at with this medium that I haven't touched for 5 years. With regard to the "muse in my art" and the beach series, this trip gave me a few ideas that I look forward to implement.

The art in the County was great, and the artists awesome! Special thanks to Kenzo (great inks from Kauai in Belleville!), Margaret McFetridge (loved her vibrant flower paintings along with her dream studio), Hugh Charlebois (great marine paintings in acrylics) and Andrew Innes (loved his variety of techniques and his dream home gallery) for taking the time to share their thoughts on art with me. I was also fortunate enough to view beautiful abstract paintings from Rita Thivierge at the Sandbanks Estate winery.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Count down to my upcoming exhibition... after one week of vacation that is!

Slowly getting ready for my "Beauty and the beast" series to be presented in the context of a duo exhibition in Pierrefonds...

I've got my work cut out in September (I haven't done anything so far)! Next week, I 'm hitting once again the beach scene with the hope of replenishing my bank of ideas.... after that it'll be a frantic pace!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

End of race IV - steps I-II... frantically trying to find a viable exploratory avenue for 2010... within the limits of my model!

With this one (it's close to completion after a nose job), I applied a heavily textured underpainting using a painting knife and followed suit with my usual painting method....

... for the time being, this agrees more with me as it allows more control through the use of the brush. With the previous painting, I used the painting knife throughout and ended up with an organized despair. One year of using the painting knife for underpaintings will most probably lead me to a greater reliance on the painting knife. This is a highly desirable outcome for me, the reason being: I want speed but I also want to make it look like as if it were done over the course of a week... as opposed to a few hours!

My intent next year is to have two painting streams: one along the lines of the techniques that I have used so far (leveraging the canvas in the spirit of the non finito) and another one which will be totally experimental (leveraging the painting knife and textures). This is not unlike the two series that I will present at a duo exhibition in October.

Note to self: "Is my art a lie?"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

End of race III - step II... an experiment in paint application... a bit rough on the edges!

My main objective behind this one was to experiment with the painting knife, painting the body and using different paint consistencies (I've had success painting backgrounds with the spatula)...

Textural effects seem to convey the pain endured by the runner to attain a clear cut victory... or is it my own pain as the artist trying to make some sense out of this picture? I definitely need to do another one to see if I learned anything!

Note to self: "A noble objective with the painting knife would be to make decisive marks with a minimum of messing around... this could be a tall order!"

Monday, August 10, 2009

End of race three -step I... having nothing to lose!

In the mood to experiment with painting knives and textures, I gave this one a go hoping to finish it within a 3 hour session... I bit more than I could chew!

I still need to add more textures on the tank top along with more color nuances and calligraphic lines here and there. I need to increase the quantities of paint that I mix with this painting method (I ran out frequently!). I couldn't manage with just the painting knife... a skill and a half in itself...

Note to self: "I'm getting bored stiff with my fail safe step by step painting methods. I've decided to introduce some risk taking in my process... leaving some place for improvisation along the way. This is bound to be uncomfortable for a while... I just need to be patient in the face of suboptimal works, which is the case for most of my works anyway!".

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Havana step III... an escape from real painting?

I don't feel like painting these days... but for some reason, I enjoy doing these "care free" types of subjects. As usual, I left this one relatively unfinished (stretching will get rid of the buckles but I will need to restate the uneven whites!)...

Paintings like this one at least bring back good memories... if anything!

Deep down though, I'm still dreaming about producing a painting that will stop people dead on their tracks!

Note to self: "On second thought, I still need to learn how to simplify more complex subjects... and street scenes could be my ticket to get there".

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Havana step II... I guess this is the way I paint... for now!

Over the last few years, I've been concentrating on the painting of skin, water and sand... so a tackling a new subject is one way of knowing how I really paint these days...

This is a 20 X 20 painting on a loose piece of canvas (I realize there is some buckling on small pieces like that which cannot be avoided using my usual duct tape method). I'll have a second look at this piece and will apply my customary surgical corrections (primarily warm nuances, breaking lines, etc...) tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to the travel series... am I a man or a mouse?

In my quest to continuously throw a monkey wrench into my picture (I use picture in the figurative sense as well!), here's a quick preliminary run at this Havana scene featuring plaza vieja.

Meanwhile, we had a little visitor in the house forcing me to deploy antimouse strategies, i.e., frantically obliterating with mortar any holes that I can find on the exterior of the house! Looks like these little guys are already moving in for the winter... which is not surprising considering the summer we've had so far!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Two exhibitions scheduled for October!

Today I was lucky enough to be offered 2 opportunities to exhibit at the Pierrefonds cultural center: one duo exhibition October 2nd-4th (vernissage October 2nd) and a mini solo exhibition October 19th.

I've got two months to prep 30 paintings (I used loose canvas). I intend to present two main series ("the muse in my art" and "the 100 meter dash") under the theme: "the beauty and the beast". I will have the specifics by early September.