In this commentary & general observations about what I do & how I do it, I hope I’m providing something of value by attempting to be transparent - my imagined audience here is young artists – who may appreciate what I do – and might wonder about my process, or want to be reassured about theirs – so I feel best talking about what I do if I feel I’m providing a service.
So this is definitely not some kind of companion ‘manifesto’ to my art, and I don’t feel what I do necessarily ‘speaks’ to a 20-something-artist demographic. But I do feel that maybe younger people who feel they have a calling might be the most appreciative of an older ( 58 ) artist attempting to be transparent about … being an artist and making art.
I’ll keep adding to this over time -
Me regarding myself regarding pretty females regarding themselves. Regarding landscapes, too. If you’re a heterosexual guy, there isn’t anything more beautiful than a beautiful female – I don’t even care if it’s ‘art’ or not – whatever that is !
The juxtaposition of two images ; landscape & ‘selfie’, let’s say, isn’t methodically done and isn’t meant to be ‘deep’ – I decide to put two images together instantaneously – I have images laying around, I see two that go together, and that’s it – it happens in a lightning flash – “the more accidental, the more true”.
I do make room for that to happen – I have a lot of figure images laying around, and a lot of my landscape photos laying around – at a certain time, since the early 1980’s, anyway, I started letting two images in at the same instant. It works, it doesn’t work – it’s a flash of genius, it’s just a proclivity – probably all of the above.
But I don’t have two thick stacks of images that I methodically place, one next to the other, one by one, to see which works best. That doesn’t work for me; it becomes too self-conscious – and I’ve tried it ! Two images next to each-other have a power & strong vibration, I’ve found, that three or four or five don’t. For me, anyway.
I’ve steered clear of Susan Sontag’s ‘On Photography’ ( and most ‘understanding art’ books ), as too hyper-intellectual, but I’ll paraphrase a quote from her that I read somewhere, that’ we believe a photograph to be real, proof of reality, a relic of reality’. – That’s part of the reason I include actual sections of photographs in my ‘paintings’ : somewhere, deep down, I believe that, too, and want to include it in my work. I could fight it or try and talk myself out of it, but I can’t think of a good reason to.
Using Online Images
The first real live nude female I drew was in 1975 – I was 17. I was a virgin. I was away from home for really the first time – I was in Canada. I felt so uprooted. It was like when I was in love and had my heart broken - you feel so bad and lost for so little apparent reason that, on top of the pain, you also get to feel kind of insane.
These models were from the dance department at the college I was attending – they were goddesses; mature, knowing, eighteen and nineteen year-old goddesses. I really honed my drawing skills in these sessions – sublimated sexuality and intense insecurity can really focus the mind !
But after four or five years of life-drawing classes, the artificiality of it ( model on a platform – sitting, standing, lying down ) became pretty stultifying – I just could not draw another freakin’ nude model. I also eventually got pretty tired of getting friends & family to pose ( not nude ), as well – I felt like a real nazi about it : “Don’t move!!”, “Stay still !”
Thirty years later, I find there’s this online flood of images of beautiful women – spontaneous, sexual, modest – is refreshing and kind of irresistible.
I propose a 10% commission and a photo credit from the sale of any of my paintings ( where I use an online photo ) to the model or anyone who can prove they took the picture – I guess that would be 5% to the model and 5% to the photographer. Obviously anyone whose selfie I used would get 10%.
The Creative Process
I don’t know anything about ‘being a better artist’ or ‘unlocking your creativity’. I like this model of one’s essence, center, or ‘soul’, if you will : a circle with a dot in the center – a horizontal line runs through the circle. Above the line represents what we’re conscious of, below, our unconscious. Only about the top one-third of the circle is above the ‘conscious’ line. So our center – what motivates us – myth and imagination – is under the surface.
I’ve noticed when I’m working on a painting I’m not making a lot of rational decisions. It’s not all about my head or hands or eyes – I seem to use my solar plexus more. It’s kind of like echo-location in bats : you’re sending out not sound waves, but energy – and feeling how it comes back.
Making ‘Objets D’art’
I used to look at framing my paintings ( frames are kind of necessary for my work, as I use panels as opposed to stretched canvas ) as an onerous chore, but, as I’ve slowly realized how much what I do diverges from how most images are viewed and received : that is, on screens – the more I embrace the fact that I’m making objects. Rather primitive, hand-made, organic objects.
I like the organic quality of my paintings – I like that there are drips, bumps, imperfections. I like how I use photos ; you can usually tell right away where the photo is, and, if it seems right, I’ll let the photograph corners flap up a little.
Some of my paintings have curved frames – that’s fun to do.