Thursday, December 29, 2011

Femme de feu I final ... First timid steps towards a new pictorial language!

 I finished this one yesterday with a few of "hit or miss" passes, trying to achieve an acceptable balance in my view...

To accomplish what I want to accomplish with this new technique incorporating calligraphic mark making, I need to lay the artwork flat on the floor at least at the initial stage. In this case, I proceeded as usual on my easel, hence the extensive vertical dripping which I tried to leverage by hook or crook in the final design.

Note to self: "I'm getting bored with pure realism... and would like to introduce some chaos in the natural order of things!"

Monday, December 26, 2011

Femme de feu I - step III... Jumping off a cliff hoping to catch a thermal!

As I initiated a third pass, I realized quickly that I was about to go back to my comfort zone, reproducing more or less the kind of work that I usually produced when remaining relatively under control. Deep down, I'm still vying for total freedom. On the spur of the moment, I decided to throw a monkey wrench into the picture...

I've been toying with this kind of paint application for quite a while but never really had the guts to implement it. I'm back to not destroying too much what resulted from a spurt of spontaneity!

Note to self: "I'm looking for my own iconographic language for fire..."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Femme de feu I - Step II... Trying not to lose too much canvas!

A last kick at the can before Christmas...

I slapped another staining coat in preparation for the final pass. I plan to jazz up colors a bit when applying the thicker stuff!

Time to join my guest for the evening, my 100 year old mother-in-law!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Femme de feu I - step I... Firming up my ideas about a new series!

I took an hour or so this afternoon to lay the foundation for the first painting of my "Private Eyes" series. However, a new idea for a series emerged as I thought about potential solutions for this one....

As a result, "Femmes de Feu" (women of fire) will probably replace "Private Eyes" as my upcoming series. We'll see how this one evolves... since most of the time, my paintings have a life of their own! This is a 28 X 28 canvas...

Note: I realized this week that the kind of raw cotton/linen that I'm using may go the way of the dodo bird sooner than later: the supplier discontinued the product recently. I placed an order for 50 meters which should last me 4-5 years! In the interim, I'll be looking for alternative ways to reproduce similar results... too bad I'm addicted to the stuff!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and visitors of this blog a happy Holiday Season. We look forward to spending some quality time with family and friends.

As grand parents, we are lucky to have the prerogative to see Christmas through the eyes of our grand children... and we are ready to handle the task at hand!

P.S. I've got a piece of canvas ready to start a new series... so I will attempt to cast the die before the New Year... sort of a "breaking the ice" exercise!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New series 2012... gearing up!

Not much painting this week, and mostly thinking a lot about what I'm gonna do next. On Friday, I was lucky enough to have Val  (a friend of the Muse) for a photo session in preparation for my 2012 production...

I used a different tactic this time and relied also on video to capture movement. Lately, I've been interested in going the route of raw Belgium linen for my support... so it's with great excitement that I will initiate my new series in 2012!

Update: The price of Belgium linen is a killer (10 times the price of cotton/linen)... but at least I got a yard... as a Christmas gift to myself!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bather II final... Getting at the end of the roll... my canvas roll that is!

I still have one piece of raw cotton/linen left after this one... and this will mark the end of my "painting vacation", i.e., painting "no brainer" paintings! I'd like to start some serious work next week. I've got two main series in mind:
  • "Vortex", a series of large scale semi-abstract faces and bodies with a spin
  • "Private eyes", a series of large scale faces emphasizing the eyes and leveraging unusual viewing angles
I finished this one in a hurry this afternoon, with the sole purpose of accumulating time on raw cotton/linen before getting real serious with my new series...

Note to self: "After all, total freedom may not be incompatible with total figuration..."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bather II step I... Still in-between series... painting for the sake of painting!

I started a painting this afternoon using a small piece of raw cotton/linen (20 X 24). As usual, I just tried to capture the feel of this pool scene before getting more serious...

I wouldn't mind going for a more colorful approach while working with sweeping brush strokes  to create a bit of a vortex like effect...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Miss Sarajevo - step II... I pedaled for a while!

I was not sure how to approach this one, so and I didn't "cast the die" at step one as usual. The risk is the application of too many layers...

In the end, I went for a night scene with strategic highlights and bullet holes in the half destroyed wall!

Note: this one was shot in the evening light, so it needs to be re-shot in broad daylight. This is a 30 X 30 canvas...

Updated picture:

Note to self: "Looking at step I, I just realized that a certain strabismus (misalignment of the eyes) can make a face more "riveting"... sort of a trick from the old masters... and something to keep in mind for future works!

Subnote to self: "There is no two ways about it... the time has come for me to start my painting process on the floor to fully leverage fluid paint on raw canvas... getting a birds' eye view of the painted surface, flying over it like an eagle!" 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Miss Sarajevo - step I... Jumping in with improvisation in mind!

I'm still in a bit of a downer artistically.... so, I just keep painting! An idea came to mind, contrasting beauty with rubble, so I'm trying to implement it...

The challenge will be to make interesting patterns with shifts in values...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bather final... Beauty makes me nervous?

I ended up being more prudent than I anticipated with this one... could have been that I overcompensated for the half bottle of wine that I had at lunch time with a friend....

This photo was taken under evening lighting, so it will need to be re-shot... More than ever I want to pursue "raw canvas"!

Update (shot in day light):

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm in a rut artistically... so any subject that catches my fancy is a good candidate!

I have a series in mind but it will require a model, whom I have arranged for before the New Year. In the interim, I'm totally restless not really committing myself to anything. Under such circumstances, I tend to grab anything I can get my hands on in the pursuit of my artistic objectives! Evidently, this is a manner of speaking!

I took a piece of raw canvas this afternoon, and quickly laid the foundation for a bathing woman...

I'm a bit rusty with large scale raw canvas... but I hope to get back on track with this one quickly. I would like to stop thinking about what I'm gonna do... and simply deliver visually speaking.

Note to self: "These days, I seem to be yanking my yin and my yang from one painting to another haphazardly... I like it!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ultimate fighter XII final... An attempt at the "twirl" with the palette knife!

For this final pass, I kept applying paint in circular sweeping motions...

The end result in a close-up view is pretty raw, yet colorful...

I've got some work to do with this new way of applying paint... as I'm not there yet!

Note: A certain deformation of shapes beyond paint application was necessary, in order to achieve a certain spin. This was done on a 26 X26 piece of raw canvas...

Note to self: "I've got some new tools that could help me pave the way to more artistic freedom... I think it's time to let go!"

Subnote to self: "I need to keep reminding myself that less is more with this technique... just one iota beyond the second pass would have been perfect..."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ultimate fighter XII - step I... Trying to lose my art in a vortex!

These days, I'm thinking about developing a specific aspect in my art that could potentially lead to a more prolonged saga of exploration in one direction. For one thing, I would like the gestures that I use in my painting process to be in line with those associated with my Tai Chi practice. I'm referring in particular to sweeping circular motions. In this line of thinking, I've been attracted for quite a while to the "enso" circle often seen in Zen paintings, the so-called formless form. Another aspect that interests me (I have a scientific background) is the entropy phenomenon which causes everything in the Universe to go from a state of organization to a state of disorganization over time.

With this in mind, I took a second look at one of my ultimate fighter paintings and initiated this experiment on canvas...

It will be interesting to see if I can make some sense out of this rather humble first step!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The healing power of art....

This painting below will be part of an auction to raise funds for medical research in Multiple Sclerosis...

I wish my former company and team members good luck in their fund raising... and a cure for people with MS!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gearing up slowly... digging from my bank of sketches and my memory!

Still not ready for some serious work... nonetheless, not willing to remain completely inactive from an artistic standpoint. Ten years ago, I was in Cuba for a sales meeting and couldn't resist capturing this slender South-American woman from Argentina.... with a rather abbreviated watercolor sketch. I pushed my luck on a 16 X 16 piece of raw canvas to see what I could do in one sitting over a couple of hours...

As a second thought, I pushed the painting a little further to add more drama (in actuality, there was a shower station in this scene by the ocean side)...

 I see some potential for free-style painting from memory and rough sketches... as I seem to be in a state of readiness to graduate to that level. I want to resuscitate the technique that I developed during the first part of this year with raw cotton/linen. Very large formats are ideal for this technique though (not this small size) to capitalize on the abstract quality of textures in close-up view.

Note to self: "Since I leverage abstraction in close-ups and large scale works, my smaller scale works will need to be much more abstract so that they align to my larger works."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Laying the foundation for next year... a frantic pursuit for some new nut to crack!

I'd like to get serious this coming December. Meanwhile, I'm in hot pursuit of something new. A couple more "doodling" experiments:

  • Turquoise phtalo (or blue) underpainting adding rose fluo before going for skin tones...

  • Selectively superimposing transparent black and white over colors to establish shapes or to force partial black and white passages over a colorful rendition (I tried the other way around and it doesn't seem to work for me)...
  •  Using a "reactive painting approach" over an abstract background, i.e., finding the subject after the fact based on established patterns and what comes to mind...

With the latter approach, a partial sealing of the raw canvas (with a mixture of acrylic medium and water)  will be necessary to promote free-flowing colors for the abstract background.

Based on my last experiments, a number of potential "dogmas" come to mind for 2012:
  • Use  raw canvas or primed canvas depending on the effect sought after
  • Use sketches as the foundation for my paintings (I should investigate projecting the original sketches on canvas to retain as much "truthfulness" as possible)
  • If reference material is to be used, use video stills as opposed to photographs (the capacity to select the most impactful image)
  • Experiment going absolute free style with no "chute", i.e. from memory
  • Retain the "good" (what I like) from this year, from the past four years
  • Merge styles that I have developed this year
  • Make every painting the sum total of everything that I've learned, in other words, all styles and techniques (my vocabulary) should be used, the balance between them dictating the final look
 At any rate, something to mull over during the next few weeks!

Note to self:" Is it doubtful that I'm a real artist?... since thinking and free artistic expression work counter to each other. If I allow myself to go berserk within the boundaries of my logic... may be there is still some hope!"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Still doodling in-between series...

These days, I'm trying to lay the foundation for my 2012 series. Four years ago, I used Phtalo blue underpaintings for my Hawaiian series while using opaque paint...

I'm tempted to throw a monkey wrench in my picture and go back to this underpainting approach with my current use of transparent colors on raw canvas. This will force the use of pure complementary colors and optical mixing on canvas. Over the last few years, I have relied on analogous colors schemes (e.g., red, yellow, orange with some purples, blues and darks for accents). Here is another "doodle with paint" as a first awkward experiment in this line of thinking....

I used turquoise phtalo as underpainting for this one. For more visceral works, raw cotton/linen canvas is tough to beat... and this is only one pass.

Another painting approach that has been haunting me for a while is "reactive painting", i.e., throwing some paint on canvas and building from there. This is my next experiment... and perhaps the only way to subjugate the control freak in me!

Note to self: "I have no time to be preoccupied with style for now... and just need to gobble up!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jaguar woman final... Trying to zero in on some prototype "jaguar woman"!

I remained prudent with this one as I collated different parts from two different models... I stuck to a monochromatic color scheme not to introduce too many variables at the same time!

Next year, I'd like to leverage "the vamp" and the "jaguar woman" in 2 colorful experimental series... just for laughs! I will use the muse as a "body model"...

Note: The first step for this painting represents best where I wanted to go initially... but because the rendering for my jaguar skin back ground was below par, I had to change strategy along the way and go with a more opaque approach.

Note to self: "Deep down, I've always wanted to paint like Frank Frazetta! I see these series as an opportunity to get this out of my system... at least when it comes to subject matter, certainly not style!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jaguar woman - step II... Getting closer to a solution...

I spent 30 minutes this afternoon to push this one further towards a viable solution...

The upper portion still remains to be resolved, especially the face and the body of the jaguar... so I'm still at the underpainting level before proceeding to the next step.

Note to self: "I plunged into this one without much pre-planning... and this is forcing me to improvise, which is a good thing for the control freak in me!"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chasing the jaguar woman....

This is a subject that I tackled last year with a rather conservative approach. In-between series, I'm in the mood to experiment... to the extent of making a fool of myself with something totally off the wall, and this is a case in point...

... can I leverage transparency over a haphazard "jaguar-like" skin pattern to depict an elusive jaguar woman? I will soon find out!

Note: This is a mixture of crude Photoshop work and my underpainting as a means to envision what could be...

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Doodling with paint" final - "Cherchez la femme!

I pushed my previous "doodle" a little more to investigate possibilities with a different subject matter...

... in occurrence looking for some kind of dark eyed "vamp" that could become the subject of a series. Needless to say, it's simmering in my mind!

Note to self: "I see potential in projecting my usual viewpoint which favours interlocking shapes in close-up views."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Doodling with paint" step II... May be, I'm becoming more serious!

In the face of my somewhat wrinkled work in progress this afternoon, I stretched it and gave it another coat of paint...

... and realized that, may be, I have the foundation for a steamy bathroom scene!

Note to self: "I'm looking for a bushy haired, dark eyed female character for a new series... could this be it!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seeking some artistic stimulation in-between series...

Today, because of the unusually mild weather for this time of the year in Montreal, the muse and I decided to hit pedestrian streets downtown and visit a few art exhibitions in the process. I was particularly impressed by the Big Bang, a contemporary art exhibition featuring the collaborative work of internationally renowned artists residing in Montreal, and the new wing of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts covering a plethora of Canadian artists from different eras. We topped it off with the "Les pastellistes 16ième édition" at the Tudor room of the Ogilvie store. As usual, there is alway some ideas to be picked up along the way.

Yesterday, I started another "doodling with paint" piece on a 30 X 30 piece of canvas just to warm up some more with primed canvas and to readjust to a different scale of work...

I ran out of duct tape, so it looks like I may have to stretch that one before the second coat...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Didn't feel like painting today... did a small-scale experiment...

Some time ago, I obtained a sample of primed cotton/linen canvas from my usual frame supplier. I decided to use half an hour to test this new support for me...

I went at it "alla prima" anxious to see the results. There is definitely some potential for a "thin paint" painter like me!

Note: these days, I'm trying to figure out what I'm gonna do next in terms of subject matter... things are simmering in my mind...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Playing catch up with "prep work"... a good time to think!

Starting today, I decided to initiate the prep work for my completed paintings (painting sides and varnishing)...

Because of the backlog of paintings, I realize that this is a daunting task! Looks like I'm gonna have some time to think about what I want to accomplish with my future art!

Note to self: "Over the last 12 months, I've been thinking a lot about execution and the achievement of certain effects in an attempt to differentiate myself from other artists and to remain aligned to the themes that I had selected. It's becoming obvious that to progress to the next level, I need to forget about execution and rely more on what I feel. In a way, I see the last 12 months as a calculated step backward in preparation for a leap forward."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Taking stock... and committing to specific avenues... inspired by Lake Placid!

Nothing beats a walk in fresh air to clear up the mind and regain a sense of direction. Spending the day at Lake Placid yesterday in good company was perfect timing as I'm currently reevaluating my artistic objectives for 2012 ...

Merci Robert et Monique for being our touristic guides in this beautiful area in upstate New-York... just before the snow! This is Mirror Lake downtown Lake Placid.

After some cogitation on my part, in terms of style, I want to develop  two streams of works next year: one visceral and high impact, the other more subdued and Zennish. I'd like to emphasize artistic aspects (paint for the sake of paint, mixed styles) rather than illustrative aspects using the vocabulary that I've developed so far (color palettes, brush strokes, painting knife work, glazes, refraction, deconstruction). Based on my experiments, I'd like to use the best technique for each support (primed cotton, raw cotton, raw cotton/linen). In terms of subject matter, I want to pursue close-ups of faces and bodies but, this time... relying more on live sketches rather than video stills or photos, and also shying away from any overt narrative content or the clear communication of a specific idea. There is also the possibility of creating a female personage (a vamp?) that could be featured in  a series, something I've been toying with for a while...

This year has been a year of intense technical exploration tackling different supports and diverse subjects and themes. The idea of putting a concrete idea on canvas with some ambiguity was important for a while. Moving forward, after 4 years with acrylics, I'd like to purely test my artistic ability... using less brain and more heart!

Note to self: "My urgency  to create a painting a week should be curbed. From now on, I want to concentrate at delivering high impact works without any concerns about speed of execution. In other words, I want to be driven by whatever it takes to get there, i.e., what's in my head."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking stock... An unlimited series of self-questioning!!

As is customary for me at this time of the year, I like to analyze my works of the previous 12 months in an attempt to find an optimal path to follow moving forward. Here are some take-home messages from this analysis (clockwise from the top left):

  •  My most dramatic work on raw cotton/linen was done with both the palette knife and the brush; the canvas was not obliterated completely thus unveiling the natural texture of raw cotton/linen
  • Glazes and brush strokes on primed canvas are useful to render a blurry effect but I need to get back to more colors now that I understand the principle; brush strokes are difficult to retain on raw canvas as the paint sinks in
  • I like the chalky pastel look obtained when applying color glazes on raw cotton
  • Soot and/or walnut stain can produce perfect black and white renditions on raw cotton that are acceptable as is (coloring them may very well add nothing and even defeat the purpose); a soot/walnut stain underpainting can be useful to avoid a first layer of plastic and allow further staining (the idea is to tone down colors applied subsequently)
  • Glazes on primed canvas produce realistic images that can become more artistic with selective "deconstruction" work 
  • A blurry effect is possible using the brush and the palette knife on coarse cotton (the header for this blog)... but it's an impressionistic approach that is not very differentiating
I will decide on a course of action for next year this week...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ultimate fighter XI post-mortem.... Arrangement in pink and grey!

As a last experiment on my previous failure, I went with sort of a reverse "grisaille" by applying black and grey over colors as opposed to the other way around, as old masters used to do...

Funnily enough, this technique could very well have some merit. I'm curious about the impact of a satin varnish on this work.

Note: I felt humoristic this morning, hence the title of this post "winking" at Whistler!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ultimate fighter XI post-mortem.... The glutton for punishment is back!

Not feeling like attempting another subject this week, I decided to learn something from my recent failure...

I applied major surgery to the back and readjusted everything else until I was half satisfied with proportions. I used a black and white photo to better assess improvements. Next step was to attempt "salvage therapy" with colors...

There was a price to pay for not arriving there fast. On the other hand, this one gave me the opportunity to experiment a little... so not all was lost!

Note to self: "The blurry effect I have achieved so far on raw canvas is less painterly than on primed canvas. Raw canvas naturally leads to a foggy blur as paint is absorbed by the canvas. I see an opportunity for 3 types of blur: through paint application (brush strokes, refraction), through wiping out paint and through deconstruction. I wouldn't mind having 3 streams of paintings for a while."

Subnote to self: "May be I should go for a few black and white paintings!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ultimate fighter XI final... Cropping my way to some composition!

I seem to be running out of decent compositions for this series, at least as it relates to wrestling positions on the floor. After a few passes, it dawned on me that the elbow on the right was sticking out like a sore thumb...

I elected to curb it somewhat for some improvement! Unfortunately, this composition is also showing too much back for my liking, so I guess this one won't be joining the collection!

For the specific look that I'm now after following my recent paintings, it seems that raw canvas may not fit the bill totally. Pigments need to sit on top of the support... and not sink in! The other aspect is that my new pigments are not as powerful as the ones I routinely use, especially with regard to their staining power. Primed canvas doesn't seem to pose a problem with them but raw canvas is a challenge.

Note to self: "Part of the problem with this painting is that I lost my spontaneity by wanting to apply some sort of formula. Moreover, each time I pussy foot around with a painting, and I don't get what I want fast...results always seem suboptimal."

Subnote to self: "I want to detach myself from my over-dependence on video stills and photographs... I want to move to sketches at least for a part of my future production. This is my challenge for next year!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ultimate fighter XI - step II... a bit off balance again!

Being too hasty, I missed an opportunity for ultimate refraction with this second pass...

With the third pass, I'm not sure if I can get as much "patina" and refraction as with primed canvas without relying on an additional transparent layer of gel acting like a glass layer in-between 2 color layers. I'll soon find out. Raw canvas has a definite textural advantage, but it can lead to a chalky pastel look with fewer layers. I'd like to have it both ways, high patina, lots of textures... in three passes flat!

Note: Initially, I felt like "boxing in" the two fighters to create a smothering effect... as a second thought, I decided to leave some space on the right side... to give the two fighters more room to fall on the way side!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ultimate fighter XI - step I... Back to raw cotton/linen!

I started this one with the intent of trying  to emulate the "new look" that I've developed using primed canvas... but this time using raw canvas, in occurrence raw cotton/linen ...

We'll see how this one goes... I'm curious about the impact on this support. Not taking too much risk, I duct taped a loose piece of canvas on a board for this experiment...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ultimate fighter X - final... "Fuzziness" is getting clearer!

The last pass allowed some refraction, and I ended up with a slightly different look than the preceding painting partly as a result of using less textural effects from the beginning...

To a certain extent, the smoother surface led to less character. On the other hand, I used more transparency with this one and I like the blurry effect on skin tones.

Note: this canvas is not stretched for now...

I haven't tried the new colors along with my newly developed techniques on raw canvas... so this will be next on my agenda...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ultimate fighter X - step II... testing how far I can go without blue...

As usual for a first step, I introduced a basic color scheme along with some textural effect...

I like the new colors I received from my sister-in-law very much. Although I have plans to complement my color set with a few strategic blues from the same manufacturer, I want to restrict myself for now and replace my usual blues with purples to see how far I can go with this new color scheme. I think I will call this painting: "Getting some elbow room"... in total disregard to the fighter on the receiving end!

Note to self: "Teal blue is a nice complement to orange and red... I have some withdrawal symptoms already! On the other hand, the prospect of exploring something new, creating a new look is too appealing! By using unusual premixed colors for me, I hope to keep myself off-balance and receptive to new developments!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ultimate fighter X - step I... Keeping the momentum going... with "the blur"!

I wanted to get to 10 works with this series, so I set the stage for the 10th one this afternoon....

I'd like to follow suit on the previous painting when it comes to creating a blurry rendition...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ultimate fighter IX final ... edging my bet in the pursuit of "fuzziness"!

For some reason, throughout this third pass, I naturally evolved towards the combination of both refraction and brush strokes to obtain the desired blurry effect...

My natural tendency over the last few years has been to indulge in the use of vertical strokes with either the palette knife or the brush. Why fight it! This new development is setting the stage for next year.

Note to self: "I got caught in my own game... brush strokes do matter for me!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ultimate fighter IX - step II... Testing multiple layers...

These days, I spend more time outside the studio, trying as much as possible to enjoy the last days of Indian summer in Quebec. I did take the time though to slap another coat of paint on my work in progress...

Not much to write home about... but I'm counting on multiple layers to give me what I want in terms of color nuances and character. Meanwhile, the fellow on the right will be getting progressively larger... as a counterbalance to the originally bulkier fellow on the left!

Note to self: "I don't seem to care anymore about my brush strokes... slapping paint right, left and center... as it goes. Could this be the beginning of truthful art for me!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ultimate fighter IX - step I... trying to adapt my raw canvas techniques to primed canvas...

Pursuing this "ultimate fighters" series, I selected this typical confrontational scene this morning to further test the grounds with primed canvas...

Instead of using my usual chimney soot/walnut stain mixture for my underpaintings on raw canvas, I wiped a mixture of raw umber and ivory black on this primed canvas. I want to see if I can build up on what I've learned from the previous painting.

The first color coat led to this fairly visceral version...

Note to self: "Working on primed canvas brings to light what I miss from raw canvas.... and vice versa. I need both!"