Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to get paid for making art. Most of the time, I’ve been constrained by the needs of clients. I once had a gig doing highly rendered illustrations of grocery products for newspaper publication. I did them with stippling technique, building the values with tiny dots. I was pretty good at it but it was intensely boring and unsatisfying from a creative standpoint. Most of my work was editorial, illustrating articles for publication, which is a lot more creative, but the work is still directed by the content of the article.
I’m semi-retired now and have the freedom to create whatever want. WTF! What do I want to create? Right now I’m getting in the groove doing small impressionist still lifes and landscapes. I’m enjoying the work and I’ve gotten good feedback, but I’m not so sure that’s the direction I want to go.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve gone pretty far down the abstract rabbit hole. I still want to explore that direction, with both digital and natural media.
But for now I’m enjoying the challenge of working with paint to make it do what I want and using color and value to express light. The discipline involved in this study brings a heightened awareness of the visual world. I notice color and form more intensely and from a new perspective.
I’ve started painting again. It’s been years. I started painting when I was very young, I was one of those kids that drew all the time. When I was five or six I started drawing in the margins of books and on walls and any surface available. My dad started bringing home tablets of typing paper and boxes of pencils to keep the rest of the house free of my murals. I would lay on the floor and draw while I watched TV. More like listened to TV, most of those early shows from the fifties were more like radio for me. I’m sure they were glad to find something to keep me occupied, I’m pretty sure I had ADHD, but in those days they just called me a bratty kid.
I was maybe 12, my parents let me wander around downtown Moorhead by myself while I waited for a ride. Or maybe I rode my bike down there. Imagine that. I was downtown getting a haircut when I discovered that there was an art supply store across the street. I might have been an art supply store virgin. I found my toy store. That’s also the day I met James O’Rourke. One of, if not the most, influential people in my life. More about that later.
To make a long story, Jim soon had me coming to painting classes. I continued to paint through college, where I became focused on abstract art. I was interested in using repeated shapes from realistic drawings, reconstructing them into new compositions. I also experimented with an organic approach where I started randomly making marks and then building on them to create a composition.
I graduated from college with the intent of finding seasonal or part time work to support my art habit until it could sustain itself. I found the perfect job, but love and basketball intervened and I ended up dropping painting. When I started doing illustration I did a few mixed media pieces and some paintings, but didn’t really sustain the effort.
So I haven’t done any natural media painting for decades and now I’m starting up again. I’m trying to take an open minded approach, I’ve done both abstract and representational pieces, right now it seems like I’m more drawn to the representational. I’m going for an impressionist, alla prima schtick, although I have to admit I cheat on the alla prima part quite a bit. I’m not above going back in with some glazes to make adjustments to values and colors, but I won’t tell if you don’t .
I hope to be posting here regularly about my painting adventure, things I’m learning along the way, problems I’m mulling, and general observations about art. I hope a couple of people might find it mildly amusing.