In an effort to motivate and challenge myself as well as to share and show my work with others in (almost) real time, I will post here, every Monday by 11:59 PM, one new piece created that week (allowing myself two weeks off for my honeymoon). When the calendar rolls over to 2011 I will have posted a total of 50 pieces. Whew! No time to chat, gotta get to work!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Week 22. "A Third Fool" aka "The 'I Do Whatever I Want, Fool!' Fool" 18"x24" oil on canvas

Someday, when the funds are available, I will have a model. And to that model I will say "Here, put on a jester's hat and a velvet jacket and then make hysterically emotive faces". Until that time the only model I have who's available 24/7 and poses happily for no $ is yours truly. And that, my friends, is the age old story of why there are so many self-portraits in the world.

I had a lot of fun exploring this image digitally before putting paint to canvas. It really helped me understand the composition better and allowed me to see many different color schemes without having to commit to any one of them. Here's the digital version of "A Third Fool".

Is there a greater fool than he who talks more than listens? Probably not. A jester's cap is a facetious replica of a king's crown. A jester was often the one who could make the king laugh at himself and still keep his head. A jester helped the king listen to opposing points of view. We are all kings over our own thoughts and actions. Too much talking and too little listening is a sure way to sink a kingdom.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 21. "Summer's Cauldron" 30"x40" oil on canvas

I think one of the hardest things to do, not just as an artist, but in life itself is to be mentally free to do what truly brings one joy. It's not easy to take all the advertising, opinions of peers and acquaintances and, worst of all, the "that's how it's always been done" mentality and throw it out the window. Then truly ask one's self, what brings me joy? Well, while doing this painting I may have come as close as I've ever come to just doing what brings me joy when I'm painting. What? Creating art is not always a joyful experience? No. It can be excruciating. Especially when plagued with thoughts of is it hip enough? is it now enough? is it original enough? is painting dead? The art that I'm in love with comes from within. To let that art out I must ignore all the art history, art contemporary, pop, shock, angst, post-this and neo-that. This week, I tell myself, I will work in joyous equanimity. I will shut the door on the art flavor of the month, May something, 2010.

I envision a pregnant couple taking a summer's rest on a bed of vegetation that is somehow reminiscent of a night sky. It is textured and deep and yet close and intimate. There is a profound stillness and but I hear the buzzing of bees coming and going and coming. I see it in this moment of now-ness and lay it down on the canvas in the next. I work, I float, I'm timeless, I'm gone...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Week 20. "Adam And Eve" 30"x40" oil on canvas

Oh Adam! Oh Eve! Oh phooey! This painting is an ode to spring. It is an appreciation of every single time two people have felt love and/or attraction for each other. Original sin? Again I say, phooey! An Edenic state of mind is always possible. Enough about what I think this painting means. You decide for yourself. I'd rather talk about trying to show paintings in the digital age.
Recently I was following a juried art competition sponsored by a group based in Brooklyn, NY with celebrity judges and all. The theme was self-portraits and variations of self-portraits and was open to any medium (painting, sculpture, photography, etc...). To enter this contest an artist would submit a digital image of the art via the internet. Nine out of ten winners in this competition ended up being photographers. Stunning. Why such a ridiculously high percentage of photographers? One reason may have been that seven out of those nine winners were women who had submitted self-portraits of themselves without shirts on. But there is another answer I find is worth paying attention to. That is that when submitting art via internet your art is being seen exactly as it's meant to be seen if it's original form is a digital image. However, any work that exists in the real world (meaning it exists outside of a hard drive) will have to have a photo taken of it and hopefully represents the original somewhat accurately. In other words the judges were judging the photography in a state in which it was meant to be seen but were judging real world art from a photo which is only a poor replica of the original. In any art competition where digital art and real world art is being judged side by side on a computer screen the real world art is going to come up short. Lesson learned. That being said...
When you look at a photo of a painting online you are seeing a version or resemblance of the painting, not the painting itself. I know this seems obvious but the reality is that much of what makes painting as a medium so wonderful (like texture and nuances of color) get lost when an image of it is captured with a digital camera. So this week I'm going to share some detail images of Adam and Eve providing close up views of few different parts. Please click on the images below to enlarge.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Week 19. "A Second Fool" 18"x24" oil on canvas

If I were the plaything of every thought, I would be a fool, not a wise man.

A Second Fool
is, as the name implies, is a second piece following One Fool which was posted to this blog a couple of weeks ago. Both of these painting have been were started by referring to a photo I took of myself. I manipulated the photo in Photoshop so that the face barely resembled my own then used this manipulated image. In essence both paintings are self portraits but not intended to look like me. Anyone who knows me would not describe me as a dark skinned man with a red afro and one blue eye and one brown. But that's the whole point. A fool thinks he is wise. He is absolutely sure that he knows who he is. He knows his face, name, race, nationality, social security number, religion, schools graduated from, net worth, etc... A wise man knows himself to be a fool because, although he knows all of those things also, he recognizes that not one of them actually have anything to do with who he is. He knows that a perpetually open and unassuming mind is the only mind that can be filled with wisdom even though it may make him look a fool. I've had occasional dreams where within the dream I glance into a mirror and the face staring back looks nothing like me. I always awake with a start when this happens. And yet, if the face in the mirror looks like black man with a red afro, or if he looks twenty, or forty, or even if it's a woman's face looking back at me, I am still me. The superficial is exactly that, superficial. Freedom is recognizing that which is insignificant and letting it go. Poof!

Let no man deceive himself.
If any man among you seemeth to
be wise in this world, let him be-
come a fool, that he may be wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18

Before One Fool and A Second Fool I'd explored the idea in a couple of other paintings. One is from quite a long time ago and was inspired directly by The Fool card from the Tarot (on the left). I was never totally happy with it and stopped working on it before it was finished. The air around the fool is filled with images and faces that can be made out if looked at closely. The more recent painting is called Jumper and was one of the pieces that was shown in Art for Progress's Clash of the Artists 2009 show in New York city.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 18. "Romeo and Juliet" 30"x40"

True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.
Romeo and Juliet. ACT I Scene 4.

Love cannot exist without a courageous heart. But dying for love is cowardly. It’s when love is lost and yet a life of love is continued to be lived that courage is discovered and true love found.

As I was taking the photo of this painting this morning my next door neighbor came over to take a look at it. I watched as she identified the different subjects within the painting piece by piece, not all at once. She saw Juliet first, then the moon and then the flowers. It seemed that she thought she had seen all there was to see and then suddenly saw Romeo lying there across the bottom. Then I pointed out the rams along the top of the wall. It was wonderful to get to see this process of discovery. The effect is lost to some degree when the image is shrunk down to be viewed on a computer monitor but when looking at the actual painting it does take a while to see what's what in this picture. The composition is deceptively simple. Even Juliet's shirt is difficult to see properly. The lines in it keep twisting and turning keeping the viewer's eye busy trying to make sense out of it. The bodies are still but the emotions are turbulent. One thing that's been left totally obscured and would never be known if not let in on the secret is that the quote from the play at the beginning of this blog (True, I talk of...) is written on the slab on which Romeo lies. The vines and moss have almost completely covered the text but parts of it can still be seen when looked for very closely.