Friday, March 27, 2009
For my first three years in Portland, I lived on lower Mellen street near Deering Oaks park. I called it "crow park" as it always seemed full of crows and mostly lacking in the enormous seagulls that dominate the rest of the town. I liked to imagine it was their little bit of hard-won turf in their underdog struggle for the garbage of Portland. I rarely get over to this area of town in the mornings anymore, but I headed over to the park in the morning and set up station on a park bench. There was a cool fog over the park, just below 40 degrees, my actual idea of perfect weather to be outside for a couple of hours. I was able to take over 200 photos of them though they were still very skittish.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
After my last post, I was struck with a migraine that gave me a hell of a night and laid me low for the next day. I thought about writing a post on hubris or the evil of fumes, but decided to just rest. I took it a little easier on my OMS/Alkyd medium today, and left promptly after fleshing in some more of the trees. I've also been working on the two panel pieces, and they are coming along.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I started the first big canvas tonight. I admit I've been psyching myself up for roughly a month, as it's been a few years since I worked on a painting this large. Not to mention I never painted any landscapes before last year. This scale comes more naturally than painting the small paper pieces. I just recall Peter's advice to me: big brushes.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The astrologically observant will note that there is no full moon tonight, nor was there one last night. On March 10, there most certainly was. It was a spectacular evening, and after walking home from the studio I was compelled to grab my camera and head back out. As usual, I took a lot of pictures that I have no idea if I will ever use as painting source material. What to do? I don't like showing my photographs.
When I have an open studio, I purposely hide my photos even though it takes a day to remove them all and put them back up again. Luckily, I don't paint over them like Francis Bacon, and unlike Thomas Eakins, who claimed to not use photo sources for his work, I own up to it. There was a whole show of Eakin's photos next to his paintings a while back: curators love showing photographic sources in comparison to paintings. At an Alphonse Mucha show in Warsaw last summer, they had a whole wall of his photos on display, even though it is well known Mucha used the camera as a tool. To a die-hard painter, a photo is flat, there is no surface, and often little depth. In my own work, a painting can be mental collage of tens of photos, and all of the color is completely reinvented within the reality of a painting. I'm almost insulted when somebody likes my photography, especially they prefer it to a comparable painting. However displaying preparatory work is nothing new, as a graduate school professor liked to point out with regards to shows of master drawings. He thought it was completely ludicrous that everyone was digging up Michelangeo's sketches and putting them on display, something the artist could have never imagined in his lifetime or intended. Of course, now we see drawing as an art in itself, and love following every line of the master's hand. Even for painters like myself, I suppose a photo sketch may speak something of the artist's mind, even if it is never intended for exhibition.
My reticence in showing photos is a little different. In an open studio literally hordes of people stroll through my studio, look at this and that,and leave. I'm lucky if they spend ten seconds looking at a painting I spent months on. In this sense, photos would be a competitive distraction to the work I wish the audience to consider. Online, there's a little of this. Initially, I wanted the paintings to remain the focus. Also, there's a bit to the magician not giving up his tricks, and I still don't like to show things that might end up in a painting, which I a little hard to decide in the daily time frame of blogging.
So my solution: retroblogging. Sadly, I looked it up and see that I did not coin the word. However, it appears that most people label "retro blogging" as post they make that day with a noted back date. As artists tend to like to subvert utility, I think its more interesting to truly back date things. So i think I'll start posting some of my better unused and otherwise interesting photographs, retroactively by fiddling with the date in the post options. They'll be buried under the date they were taken, effectively backfilling my journal into some sort of useless memoir. I promised to give them some sort of tag like "photo" so they won't be truly lost, but otherwise a new reader will have no idea they are there. A fun thing to do for a site with no traffic, huh?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I've been photographing corvids (crow family) regularly in Poland, but I realized recently in the studio that I was lacking the good old American variety. So, I’ve spent the last month here walking to the studio with my big heavy camera, and no luck. I ran across some last week in Deering Oaks park at dusk and tried my luck there again tonight, but they were all flying west. I followed them around town with my car and was very surprised to find them down by the cove near the 295 on ramp. They really hate being photographed and tend to fly away. I tried to entice them with bargain parrot-seed I bought at Target, but it just drove them back further. The last picture is from the Western Promenade, which is where the scared ones were flying to from the beach. I think I finally frightened them back to the interstate before going home for the night.