Its easy to get caught up in year end rituals and say the words “out with the old, in with the new”. It is somewhat harder to act upon those words, to really let go of things that we have become attached to. Personally, I have too many unhealthy habits and they are hard to part with because, over time they have become part of my identity. In fact, even healthy habits have a limited effective lifespan and must be purged at some point in time, lest they become concrete ballasts that prevent us from moving forward to new healthy habits. So many habits to work on..so little time.
I’ve been making a special place in my basement storage room for my painting “archives”. Up thirty inches or so off of the floor (in case of flooding), I now have shelves and slots that make it much easier to file away and review my previous artistic efforts. Perhaps this is the precursor to bigger and better things in 2015, selling my work in a gallery for example. My new library is filled with yesterday’s masterpieces and yesterday’s failures and oddly it it equally hard to part ways with. This year during Christmas visits, each one of my four grown children had an opportunity to take with them the piece of their choice. God knows that they have each been there right beside me on my quest for deeper meaning, a process that has cost them all in one way or another. They all seemed to enjoy the process of gaining something tangible from my madness. I do run the risk that these works may end up in their basement storage rather than mine or that they may end up getting traded around at next Christmas’ white elephant give exchange…Ouch!
Nonetheless, its time to let go of past and to make room for new dreams and ambitions. I’m looking forward to a productive, growth filled year in 2015 and I hope you are as well. Do you find yourself hanging on a little too tight to the past? What to you do to lighten the load so that you can move forward?
Warm Holiday Wishes From Our Little Island To Yours!
(9″x12″) acrylic on canvas
Just over three and a half years have passed since I pressed the publish button for ArtSpiritVillage.com for the very first time. In May of 2011, I was a youthful 50 year old man who was deliberately turning the page to a new chapter, coming out of the closet to announce to the world “I Am An Artist”. At that time (youth is so innocent), I likely had visions of Virality Dancing In My Head. Perhaps the Blogosphere would quickly embrace me, thus paving the road to success with cobbles of gold. When I rewind my memory to that time I can almost see myself clicking on publish, then glancing at the second hands on my watch to see if I got noticed yet. I can still remember the anticipation. When would things begin to change? I remember feeling vulnerable as a person who gravitates toward introversion. “How would I cope with all of the fame”? We all know where this story is going, “The best-laid plans of mice and men, often go awry” (Robert Burns). To Date my blog boast a mere 208 followers and at times it amazes me that I have that many. Do the math and you’ll see that 66 posts in 3.5 years equals roughly 1.65 posts per month, I haven’t exactly been relentless in my output.
Today, I’m much more realistic about my blogging ambitions. I now realize that a blog is not an end but the means to an end. A blog is not a destination, it’s a journey. A blog is about reaching-out and making contact with other people who are also striving for personal improvement but it is also very much about reaching-in and discovering what it is that excites me and makes me want to create. A blog is as much about listening and learning as it is about showing and telling. For me, Art Spirit Village is what keeps me from being isolated on my own little island of ambition and somehow it keeps me connected to the power of the universe. If you have your own blog, what have you learned and how have you benefitted from it.
To my 208 followers and to all who visit I say Namaste (I bow to the divine in you). Have a Joyous Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year.
Yesterday’s Snow at Denver’s Washington Park
Life is full of disruptions and at times its difficult to find the peace that I need to focus on the work at hand. I’m not referring to minor distractions like the phone ringing or having to walk the dog. I’m referring to the major detours that must be negotiated before we find our way back to our intended path. At the risk of sounding cliche, Shit Happens. It seems that we are constantly dealing with our own issues or those of others who are close to us. Illness, Injury, Death…Relationships, Heartbreak, Worry, Grief…these are all just part of life. When faced with the debilitation of his final year or so of life, my Dad coined the phrase “this is no place for wimps”, how right he was. So just as the Winter interrupts Summer, our path to fulfillment will undoubtedly wind through fields of thorns. It’s our job to over overcome.
Lately I’ve established a pattern of painting each subject in series of three. Hey, if its worth painting once its worth painting again, and again and again. I have been using my own video clips to transport my consciousness from the cold Colorado winter to the endless summer of Hawaii. This is how I’m finding the inspiration for new compositions. Virtual Plein-Air Painting if you will, pardon the oxymoron. In this series I’m trying to portray the constant motion of the sea and the personality of this stilt legged shore bird as he pursues his next meal in the tide pools.
I’ll leave this post with two quick questions. Are there any bird lovers out there who might help me identify the species of this agile little guy? How do you shake off life’s interruptions to re-gain your focus on your work?
Shore Dance II (9″x12″) acrylic on canvas
Shore Dance (9″x12″) acrylic on canvas
Shore Dance III – Coming Soon
“Winter Waves At Shark’s Cove” (12×24) acrylic on canvas
How big is the Pacific Ocean you ask? A quick google search will remind you of some of the interesting facts that you likely learned in Elementary School. The Pacific Ocean is Freaking Huge! It is the largest body of water on Earth, twice as big as the distant second place Atlantic. One third of the Globe’s surface is covered by it and at its deepest point, the Mariana Trench reaches as far below the surface as commercial jets fly above it. Mankind first explored these depths a mere nine years prior to setting foot on the Moon! Twenty-four men have been on or very close to the moon. In contrast only three humans have ever experienced the deepest valley on the Earth’s surface. In 1960, the Swiss Oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lt. Don Walsh became the first men to accomplish the feat yet there names don’t sit at the tip of our tongues as does Neil Armstrong’s. Quite interestingly, only two years ago the third man to literally bump into the sand at the bottom of the trench was filmmaker James Cameron , producer and director of The Abyss, Titanic and Avatar. News of Cameron’s endeavor was unfortunately trumped by comparatively trivial political and socioeconomic headlines in 2012.
Yes, The Pacific Ocean is big and so is the contrast between painting my expressions of Hawaii as opposed to the small mountain lakes and streams of Colorado. One thing I know for sure is that I am compelled to paint how water looks and feels to me. Thanks to those who gave suggestions and comments on my last blog post. My painting “Winter Waves at Shark’s Cove” is as complete as it will be. There are things that I like about it and things that I don’t but it is what it is and it is time to move on. The painting below was my second attempt to capture the scene. Which one do you like better and why? What are you compelled to create or express? I’d love to hear from you.
“Winter Waves At Shark’s Cove II” (10″x20″) acrylic on canvas
Waves crash into the reef at Sharks Cove on the North Shore of Oahu. Captured on video in 2011.
In all of my contemplations thus far as a painter, I have come to understand that the introduction of light is the most important element. Light is the top coat, the finisher, and ever so integrated in the story being told. Composition of the large shapes, the establishment of tonality and a focus on the essence of the subject matter are all important, but without light a painting will never be complete.
So how do I go about transforming my results to add light and life to my work? Fortunately, I am enrolled as a student at HKU (hard knock university). At 54, I don’t have time to waste with a more formal education so I scour the world of art through observation and I soak up inspiration like a sponge. I owe so much to the internet and as long as Kim Jong Un doesn’t “take it out” (and I don’t mean to dinner), I will continue to do so. Currently, I’m learning about under paintings and glazings and I’m doing a lot of experimentation in hopes of achieving more vibrant results.
Have a gander at this unfinished work and give my your honest feedback if you will. The foam in the foreground in particular is what I’m struggling with. Do you like the hint of cotton candy? should I transform the hue one way or another?
Work In Progress – Winter Waves at Sharks Cove
“Blue Over Green” (16×20) acrylic on canvas
“What we need is more sense of the wonder of life and less of this business of making a picture” – Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
I admire the painter who can capture the essence of a given subject with one pass of the brush, or maybe two. When I paint something new, I often find that I capture the way that it feels with relative ease and speed. Then, as I add elements to make it more accurate or more finished, it begins to lose its emotional impact. I get caught up trying to make it look like think it should rather than how I want it to, which results in a great deal of time spent in frustration and everything I liked about the early painting gets lost in the shuffle. Ultimately, my efforts usually go full circle and I end up with what I intend, but not without going through this left brain – right brain tug of war.
In this painting I tried to represent tide pools along the north shore of Oahu as I remember them from video and photos that I’ve taken. The important thing here was to capture the warmth of the sunny afternoon and the adventurous feeling that being there gave me. The challenge of course was to find a way to represent the motion, texture, reflection and refraction of the scene without becoming overwhelmed with how those details should look. I’m pretty happy with it as a first attempt and be re-visiting this spot again to try to make it better.