Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As is customary at this time of the year, the props have been deployed...

... for the enjoyment of the little ones and the whole family. It's time to be kids again!

My best wishes to everyone who crossed my blog pages!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ultimate fighter II final... One last experiment on raw canvas prepping!

After completing my last painting, I decided to repeat it on a 50% cotton/50% linen canvas, but this time around sealing the back of the canvas (instead of the front) with some acrylic medium mixed with water...

 I cut corners a little on this one taking about 5 hours to cover the 36 X 36 surface using somewhat of an abbreviated design relative to the previous piece...
 I like the pastel-like, watercolor-like aspects of the rendering, but edges may be too fuzzy for my liking especially considering the requirements of my upcoming series which will focus on the human figure. I'm tempted to revert back to my initial approach with raw canvas, i.e.,  minimally priming the canvas with acrylic medium mixed with water. I've been successful right off the bat with this method painting flocks of birds and the bald eagle. The alternative approach is to patiently apply color washes at the initial stage thus sealing the canvas at least partially. I am just curious about the effect of pure staining, but in my view the aggravation (fuzzy edges, difficulty in spreading paint around) may not be worth it. On the other hand, I like the coarseness and the extra textures I'm getting from raw canvas... in the end it's a matter of balance... I'll play it by ear!
Note to self: "I don't mind the effect of the light grey background on skin tone with this one. Getting used to a new look and new canvas properties could be the name of the game here. I like the new qualities, but what am I leaving behind. As usual, I'm forever attracted to the unknown!"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ultimate fighter I final... Literally changing direction with this piece!

After a  few surgical interventions, I decided to present this piece sideways... as a means to leverage any abstraction patterns emanating from interlocking body parts and to create a disbalance...

I think I will call this one "toss up"...

Note to self: "I need to get back to my usual minimal prep work for raw cotton canvas. Using too many color passes to compensate for an excessively absorbent surface took a toll on freshness."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ultimate fighter I - close to final.. Still assessing technicalities: not all canvases are created equal!

I've been working by one hour spurt with this painting, literally. I decided to go with no "minimal" prep work (diluted acrylic medium) on regular raw cotton canvas...

Although I don't mind the result, I'm after the same surface quality as the one I obtained with my last series (large scale portraits). I need to varnish this one to determine how I will proceed with this new series. Thus far, I'm satisfied with results achieved with 50%cotton/50% linen raw canvas (light grey background).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ultimate fighter I - step IV... Committing to a color scheme!

 The vision I had for this color pass didn't quite materialize but I seem to be getting closer to where I want to be, i.e., "colorful monochromatic" ...
 ... I used carbon black instead of turquoise phtalo by mistake... but this could be a blessing in disguise since I want my darks to be pitch black in strategic areas! I need more knife work to recuperate some color nuances and textures before I call it quit. I shied away from the idea of going more abstract since this composition is all lines and dark masses.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ultimate fighter I - step III... Adapting to the new canvas!

Without realizing it, I bought a roll of raw canvas with a tighter weave than what I normally use. In retrospect, this may be to my advantage considering my staining technique and my use of transparent colors for the most part. I slapped a couple of color passes this morning trying to assess the situation fast...

.... and found out that I'm probably in business with this one! With the last pass, I'd like to introduce more color variation and a certain degree of imprecision/abstraction.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ultimate fighter I - step II... Roughing it out before getting serious!

With barely an hour at my disposal today, I took the opportunity to restate the underpainting using darker values in preparation for color passages...

 As I did with flamenco dancers, I want to use a full gamete of colors and introduce even more variations in my textures...

This is a 36 X 36 canvas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ultimate fighter I - step I... Fishing for an additional painting stream with more testosterone!

Still exploring possibilities for new painting streams next year, I decided to push my luck in the sports area with the ultimate fighter as potential subject...

 I want to exploit the abstract patterns of interlocking body parts! I changed my brand of canvas... so this is experimental in more than one way!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Behind women's eyes X final... Getting closer to where I want to be!

This one ended up being pretty much the sum total of every techniques that I've learned or developed over the last three years...

I feel a bit more secured about working on a new series, not parting dramatically from my usual process but leveraging my current knowledge and all the tools at my disposal to create even more personal works in 2011. In final analysis, my recent experiments created a multiplicity of choices, which I played against each other to finally branch out in a direction that seems to offer the most potential for me moving forward.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Behind women's eyes X - step II... Looking for gut-wrenching beauty!

At every exhibition, I always seem to have at least one painting that sends people in the opposite direction. This could be the one...

... at any rate, I wouldn't want to be in a dark alley with this character! Another subtle pass should do it for me.

In terms of artistic direction... I have a feeling I'm finally branching out! I seem to be in a position to optimize my painting process without fundamentally changing it, finally giving way to pure expression as opposed to technique.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Behind women's eyes X ... Time to seize the moment!

Lately, I've been alternating frantically with different supports (canvases) and techniques with the hope of finding a creative path that's totally me in 2011. As I mentioned before, 2010 was a good year to make further inroads in the areas of color and textures with acrylics. Some of my recent experiments pointed to potentially creative avenues for me, others validated certain techniques and philosophies that I've adhered to thus far. After these creative perturbations, it's time to release to a higher order:
  • I want visceral contemporary art, not solely illustrative or decorative art. 
  • I want deconstruction in my images, the type associated with the expression of fragments of memory. 
  • I want textures, unusual textures and more variety in them.
  • More than anything else, I want freedom in my execution!
I'm starting the next painting with this "modus operandi" in mind...

 ....  want this one to be the sum total of everything that I've learned so far.

Note: The previous painting suggested a potential return to a more conservative approach, negating the lessons learned from my recent experiments. This was a strong prompter to reassess what I really wanted from my art...

Note to self: "Once the mind stretches, it doesn't go back to its original form."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jaguar woman I final... Went through this one like a steam roller!

After having worked on a larger scale for a while, I found working on this composition a little more tedious...

  ... even though the smallest brush I used for details was a flat beveled half inch one. Until the end of the year, I'll be looking for scrap reference materials... to keep painting... simply because there are some brushes and paint around... and because there is always the prospect of a happy accident!

Note: I'm slowly firming up my ideas with regard to how I will approach my next "Smoke and mirrors" painting theme ...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jaguar woman I - close to final... Trying to stick with the program!

Still pressed with time today, I invested another hour on this canvas...

 Because of my favouring staining colors for transparency... all of a sudden, the advantages of raw canvas become quite obvious as I spread colors on this gessoed canvas. An interesting key learning for me... that I will put to good use in my future works. Also my experience with cotton/linen (light grey) canvases has been an eye opener... I don't need to use black and white to attenuate transparent colors as I did last year. I may come back to attenuated colors in my future series to create more drama...

Note: I made a special effort with this one to mix more colors directly on canvas...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jaguar woman I - step II... The title and the painting: the tail of the dog is wagging the dog!

I like to play with words, and I found out recently that many of my "supposedly creative" expressions are already featured in the English urban dictionary. Case in point, a jaguar is defined, to my surprise, as a 50+ year old woman who likes to go after much younger men (in essence, the next level after a cougar!). Cumulative plastic surgeries often give these women slanted eyes, hence the appellation "jaguar". Well, I'll be damned... may as well follow suit with this painting...

 I barely had an hour today to define the character of the woman a little further... and I decided to go for a feline/oriental look, which I may attenuate a little. In parallel to that, I tried to figure out the background while thinking about my next moves and corrections at the third and final pass. I'm not doing any pirouettes regarding textures with this one.

Note: I don't have the guts to make a statement about these women "à la Otto Dix" (could have done that based on my 1st step!).... so she will get progressively prettier and softer!"

Note to self: "Ever since I dreamed about a jaguar last summer, I've been haunted by the idea of doing something with this theme... it's now of never! I also want to include multiple meanings and ambiguity in my paintings in the future. This will go in line with my "smoke and mirror" umbrella theme for 2011."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jaguar woman I - step I... Applying lessons learned from one support to the other!

These days, I'm looking around for any piece of left over canvas that I can use to experiment further. My intent is to fiddle around until January 2011, before starting any new series. Although my basic painting techniques haven't change much over the last few years, in 2010, I dedicated more time to the exploration of colors and textures. The use of raw canvas recently has led me to mix more paint directly on canvas (somehow it felt more comfortable). With this experiment, I want to see the impact of this newly acquired behaviour on regular gessoed canvas...

The jaguar theme came about last summer during a dream, but I followed suit with only one painting to date, and rather timidly. This time around I want to go "animal"!

Note: I'm not sure how much will be left from the background when I'm finished... but is was fun to let go with this first pass!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Behind women's eyes IX final... Seeking receding black holes on canvas!

In final analysis, I decided to go for a conservative "coloration" approach for my first black and white rendition of the human figure...

 I leveraged the black and grey underpainting the best I could using transparent color layers along with textured passages. I shied away from a more overt partial coloration... and don't mind the potentially visceral contemporary look that this technique can impart to some of my future works.

Note: Pure black is avoided by purists, but my experience with Chinese black ink has given me an appreciation for it. In my view, pure black is a "dead" color that literally creates space through the canvas and beyond, not unlike black holes in the universe, the imagination helping! Conversely, color passages come forward, as if gushing out!

Based on my previous experiments, I see two key artistic opportunities for me in 2011:
  • The use a black and grey underpainting before the application of color
  • Opposing abstract patterns to figuration: either normal paint over metallic paint, normal paint throughout, or metallic paint over normal paint