Karen, at Gard Vintners called me up the other day and said I could set up anytime. We hadn’t talked for 6 months at least and had never set a date for a show at their nice wine and music place in Ellensburg. I had two days to pull it together and hang a show of about 25 pieces. Looking through my older work, some enamel paintings and oil pastel drawings from the 1980s seemed to fit with some of the newer acrylics. They all had to be taken apart, cleaned up and reassembled. The glass and surfaces were really dirty, but with some cleaning the colors popped and I could see what I was going after almost 40 years ago. There is a continuity to these two eras, something that ties my work together that is only knowable after this many years.
I’ve been working on fine tuning my technique for figures and portraits. In this painting of my friend Chelsea, I used something similar to the Venetian Technique with a complete tonal underpainting in an earth red. In this case Terre Rosa and Venetian Red but with no white,
just the white ground showing through the scumbled drawing. In this way I had the time to really work on the drawing without the complexity of the color. After that was completed and dry I could work over it keeping the shirt a looser more painterly style with solid strokes of opaque paint while tightening up on the face. This technique seems to suit my temperament right now, it can be as tight or loose as I want to go while getting the placement and tonal structure correct first to create the illusion that I’m after.
This spring has been a color feast for the eyes. The early sun hits the top edges of the Manastash Ridge and glows with pinks and purples, defining the rolling shapes of the hills. I’ve been making my morning coffee and doing a few watercolors looking out our kitchen window. Now the snow is gone and the glowing emerald is just beginning to cover the hills.
After sitting with this painting for a couple of weeks and getting some respected outside opinions, I’ve sanded out this guy on the left. I just couldn’t get the shadows right. Luckily, Neal, was over at Tito’s and I got some shots of him with better lighting. I did a tonal sketch at full size and here I’m whiting out the lights to lay a bed for the new painting.
After getting back from my trip to Maui I started the first in a series of scenes with musicians and friends. The “space” in the painting is important, I want to feel like you can be in there, in that room with those people. This one is a memory of a gig in Seattle with Tito, Robert and Neal. The brick wall works, the side room with Tito tuning his 12 string works, but I just can’t get Neal’s face right and he is the largest, most up-front part of the painting. Is it the shadows or did I just not draw it right from the beginning. Now it’s hard to see and fix?
Many times it comes down to some element in a painting that is just weak and I may need to let it sit, come back to it in a few weeks and hope I’ll be able to see what’s wrong from a fresh perspective. At this point my questioning mind comes in and says “why am I doing this?” Just keep going.
I’ve been at Mille and Bill’s amazing land on Maui for the last two weeks, painting everyday. The plants have such different colors than our eastern Washington plants. Here I’m trying to get the subtle pastels on the tops of these leaves. Watercolor is so fleeting and dynamic, such a challenge of spontaneity. 30 sketches … some aren’t too bad.
I’m working on a series of color sketches for my next paintings. Small watercolors to work out the elements of the layout and get and idea of how I’m going to deal with the scene. These will be scenes with multiple people from the last few years of photos taken of friends. I hope I can pull them off in oils and much larger than these sketches.
Warm up before you expect yourself to do something at a high skill level. Draw a bit before painting. Play your instrument or sing before stepping on stage. The same with creativity. Work diligently with your craft and maybe inspiration will show up.
I’ve been back in video editing land for the past few months pulling together the movie we made back in the late 1980s. FertiliChrome was written and directed by PS O’Neill (Shawn) and I’ve been working with him to get the edit up to snuff. We will be releasing a final cut in the coming year. This movie was shot and edited back when we had to do everything in the analogue world. Stacks of video machines locked with time code to the 8 track Otari tape machine for the sound track. It’s amazing that we even pulled this off. I transferred everything we had into the computer, synced things up and hoped for the best. Luckily, about 10 years ago Shawn had transferred the edited version of the 1988 film festival tape to standard def digital video. That tape had some problems and the sound just wasn’t as good as I knew it should be.
I had the master sound track that Steve Fisk had originally created at my Velvetone studio. Shawn had been thinking about and re-editing many of the scenes in the movie and I pulled his ideas together with most of the sound track we had to make it all work. Lots of audio and video to move around, layer up and massage till it worked. We are being faithful to the original movie shot on 3/4″ video in 1987 and 88, while getting it into a format that can be enjoyed now.
For the last two weeks several artists have been working in the big room at our local community gallery, GalleryOne. I put my painting hat on, hung out and worked there for a couple afternoons last week.