Friday, October 10, 2014

languishing too long

I will admit that I have not posted here as much as I had planned. I have not been painting in about four months either. I have been dealing with some issues and haven't really felt like painting, or talking about art, or really doing much of anything. I am beginning to come out of that though, and have returned to the works that I left partially finished four months ago.   

The image up top is one that I have started working on again. I was looking for images of it before I started on it again, to help show the progress I have made, but I didn't seem to take any photos. Too bad. The one on the bottom does not have any progress on it and hasn't changed since it was featured in an article here: . It is good that I have these. They stare at me daily and ask to be completed. I hope to share them here soon whenever I do get them done.

As I have been struggling to go on, I have read some things which I have found encouraging and have helped me move beyond my mood. One can be found in the most recent issue of Professional Artist.

Matthew Daub wrote an article about why one would study art and live as an artist. He discussed the very real issue of how there are millions of artists and not much of an opening for success. On the surface it seems pretty bleak. The main point of this article was that somebody has to succeed and to keep going, because the person who ultimately succeeds is the one that doesn't give up. That is good advice, but the thing that stuck out in my mind was his description of creativity and how it ebbs and flows. He said there will be times where you don't feel like working. Times where your personal life will creep in and drag you down. But, he added to be persistent, your drive will come back and you will start working again. He said not to fight these feelings, and don't feel guilty about them. 

And this is where I have been. I have not been motivated to work, and the guilt of not working has followed. His article explained that these emotions are part of the creative process, and I have found that reassuring. I have started again, and I hope to continue. So far his words have held true.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recent events

Ticket to Impressionist France at the St. Louis Art Museum

      Last week I attended the Impressionist France exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum. I grew up not too far from St. Louis and in my youth I frequented this museum. It was a great show, and it also gave me the opportunity to examine the new museum expansion that began shortly after I left the area. The expansion does not match the rest of the museum. It is modern and has a lot of glass and wooden beams. This seems to  clash with the classical marble and stone that make up the rest of the building. However, the exhibit itself was great.

      The show was put together around the idea of traveling to France in the 19th century. The concept and the presentation was good. The exhibition included much photography which I was pleased to see. Many people admire impressionist art and artists and go on about the colors and placid imagery, but forget that the roots of impressionism came from the invention of the photographic process and the idea of modernity that was developing during the industrial revolution. In fact, one of the first things viewers saw upon entering the show was a huge 19th Century camera and its associated equipment. This set the tone for the rest of the show.

Claude Monet 1874 Railroad Bridge
The exhibition included works by Pissaro, Monet, and other well known impressionists, but their work was presented against the developing world at the time and arranged under a theme. My favorite painting was a Monet of a railroad bridge with a train crossing. This painting was featured in the theme of factories and factory growth and details smoke from the locomotive as it puffs across the bridge.

I have spent some time investigating how the railroad has been interpreted in art, and this is a great example of some of the early ideas. In 1874, when this image was created, the railroad represented the penultimate in modernity. Locomotives were large, noisy contraptions that whisked people and equipment at speeds previously unthinkable, all while belching smoke and creating a sense of power. The railroad was doing incredible things like building bridges, and conquering the natural world. For example, when canals were iced up, and wagon trails were snowed in they were impassable. But the railroad chugged on unstoppable in almost blizzard conditions.

This image features the rail line slicing right through the natural world at an angle. Big strong pillars support a cast iron bridge, emphasizing power and strength. The train is elevated above the natural world displaying the wonder of human development. And beneath we have a placid image, composed horizontally, of a  river flowing idly by with a sail boat meandering through. The train with its elevation, smoke, and noise is almost proclaiming its dominance over the old ways of life in that of the sailboat. This image proudly claims that the modern era is here.

I have been busy painting. I have two ready to go, but right now I only have one image ready to be uploaded. Keep watching this space, and I will add the other one later. I have continued to work with the figure, and with faces, keeping the works of Modigliani in mind. I have also continued to work with the idea of books and libraries. I'm not sure where this idea is going, but I think its interesting.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Format

      Very recently I was asked to complete the above drawing. It had been some time since I actually worked on a drawing and not a painting. Sure, I have sketched and put ideas together, but those images have all been to use later in a completed painting. This is a drawing and was always intended to be a drawing.
      The purpose of this drawing is for a family reunion. The person I was drawing it for showed me a photograph of a trunk that had belonged to her great grandmother. It had been her sole possession and it was in this trunk that she kept all of her belongings. Many generations later, everyone in the family knows and recognizes this trunk. Symbolically, it was from this trunk that her family tree grew and developed, and that is what is captured in this image.
      Completing this drawing was a pleasure. I really enjoyed the concept, and since I have spent so much time painting, I had forgotten how wonderful it is to compose an image in charcoal alone. I am going to have to spend more time creating drawings.        

Recent Works
Completed image from previous post


  The last post I made was a few months ago. In it I detailed a painting I was working on, and questioned how long it would take me to finish it. I took me approximately two weeks to finish this painting. Which i think is about average. What do you think about the completed image?

Recent painting

      I have since completed some other images since I wrote about this one. They are also related to the figure, and they all have books in them. I have started to include books in my imagery, partly because I am a librarian, but more importantly because books have such great visual appeal.

Recent painting

      The images that I am currently working on also follow this trend. I had intended to post some pictures of them in progress, but as of this writing. I have not taken any pictures of them yet. Check back later, and I may add them after this message is posted.

Future Updates

       Future updates to this blog will be similar to this new format. I don't think I will be updating weekly, as I just don't have the readership. But I will post at least monthly, and each posting will include more than one idea broken up into featureettes like this. I like it. I think it adds a new dimension moving forward.