This week’s mantra came to me while reviewing some of the paintings that I completed several years ago and being reminded how important it is to set the imagination free. About a year ago, I set aside the brush in favor of advancing my photography skills. Hundreds and hundreds of hours have been applied to the craft of capturing the literal world through the lens and then completing the resulting image for presentation. All the while I’ve believed that somehow the photography will make me a better painter. This morning’s exercise reminds me that the opposite is also true. I can allow my painter’s imagination to have more influence on my photography.
I hope you have a great and productive week!
If there is one virtue to growing older, it’s that I’ve learned to identify the things that make me happy as well as the things that do not. Finally, finally, finally I’m spending more time pursuing the former and less so the latter. What took me so long? Here are a few photos from my unplanned Monday Morning photo outing. I awoke to the expressive alignment Venus and of a waning crescent Moon and everything fell into place from there. Before it was all said and done, I had witnessed the most gorgeous sunrise from the edge of the crackling ice along the shore of a nearby lake.
As 2015 winds down, I find myself taking note of the things that make me happy and I’ve made a list of 16 things I want to accomplish in 2016. Here goes!
1. Move on from past mistakes
2. Appreciate NOW more
3. Spend more quality time with Family
4. Do something good for a Friend
5. Be a Peace Maker
6. Meet new People
7. Go places I’ve never been before
8. Go to familiar places and look for something new
9. Shoot More Pictures
10. Make More Videos
11. Pick up a brush and paint with reckless abandon
12. Be inspired by the work of others
13. Improve My Skills
14. Share my work with more people
15. Write more
16. Learn new things every day.
For me, the number fifty-five always brings to mind memories of the “Double Nickel” speed limit. Back in 1974, congress enacted a National Speed Limit Law in the interest of conservation. It took 14 long years to repeal the law after it was determined that the fuel savings was less than 1%. Just think about traveling cross country at the rate of almost two hours per hundred miles conjures up images of extreme boredom and/or torture. In 1988, the pace of life accelerated to 75mph (or faster ;)) with a cel phone in hand. Wow, things have changed.
“Old and Strong”
In three days I will celebrate my “Double Nickel” Birthday with my Family. Everyone will be with me to hold my hand as I cross the threshold with the exception of my oldest Daughter who is hiking across Spain at the pace of 20 Km. per day on the Camino De Santiago Trail. I am one lucky guy with a really great Family. This is the year that I’ll turn 55 and become a Grandfather, Wow things have changed.
My Gorgeous Wife
Last Sunday, the festivities began with a drive up to the mountains witness the beauty of summer in the Colorado high country. We ended up at Kite Lake, which sits at about 12,000 ft. and is flanked by three “fourteeners”. It was a return to the scene of the crime where a couple of friends and I “bagged” the peaks of Mts. Lincoln, Democrat and Bross roughly thirty years earlier. The wildflowers were beautiful, the lake was filled with crystal clear glacial snow melt and the bristlecone pines were just as I remembered. I however, quickly reacted to the altitude with a headache and dehydration and I couldn’t fathom climbing even one peak. Wow, things have changed.
Wildflowers at Kite Lake
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.
“Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon like a magician extended his golden wand o’er the landscape; Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
To the person who first likened being unrealistic to having your head in the clouds I say this; there is nothing more real, more perfect and more original than a cloud. To sit and stare for hours if you wish, witnessing what has never been before and what will never be again is a better use of your time by far than memorizing tables and formulas for it teaches us that possiblities are endless.
The thing that I love about painting clouds is that there is no right and wrong. One might say that a cloud is ominous or unusual, but never ugly or unrealistic. A couple of days ago I was hiking under the most amazing lenticular formations and I estimated correctly that when the sun dipped low to the west that they would light up like fire in the sky. The resulting sunset brought inspiration, which manifested an application for the encaustic (wax) paints that have been sitting on a shelf for almost a year.
“Fire in the Sky” my first encaustic painting
It took a while to figure out how to apply the wax and move it about using palette knives, rags, heat gun and torch. In the end, I’m pretty happy with the way my first wax painting turned out. After all, I’ve never met a cloud I didn’t like.
The Palisades of Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico
If you happen to follow my other blog, LocalTouristColorado.com, you know that I often share some of the same material on both sites. Usually I do manage to switch caps however and write something that might be meaningful to the audience that I’m addressing. The Local Tourist Colorado is all about experiencing things that are close to home. No matter where one might live, there is always a new adventure right around the corner. Art Spirit Village is entirely different. This is where I share the things that motivate me to release my passion for creativity in hopes of somehow connecting with others who have the same passion.
Canyon Road – Santa Fe
All too often however, both of these missions converge and I find myself totally confused about which blog to post the content to. The New Mexico border is just a few miles south of my home and every time I go there, I get inspired to create. After returning from an incredible weekend in Santa Fe, I have to share. Great artists will tell you how important it is to surround yourself with people who stimulate your imagination. I’m here to tell you that being surrounded by states that inspire is not a bad deal at all.
One of the many windows along Canyon Road
Saturday “Art Walk” Entertainment
Tammy and Charlie “Art Walkin”
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein
Look around this crazy world of ours with open eyes and you will likely have cause for great concern. Human conflict is certainly nothing new, time and again we have faced seemingly hopeless contention and time and again we have overcome it in spite of the odds. This time however, it’s as if the entire world has become like a tiny dysfunctional town where everybody is into everybody else’s business, the willingness to find a common agenda is rare, greed trumps compassion. We seem to be sitting at a great crossroads, looking hopelessly at all of the routes that we have taken, wondering how in the world we will move forward. Perhaps it is time to step back, think bigger, roll up our sleeves and carve a new path.
Stars Over Manataka
I know that creativity is alive and well within me when I awaken in the pre-dawn hours with ideas that I cannot let go of, when I am inspired to rise and begin my day holding on to that consciousness rather than releasing it back into the ether to vanish like some forgotten dream.
When I was much younger, I spent a great deal of time outdoors, quite familiar with the vastness of space. I completely understood that if I removed myself from sources of interference on any given clear night, I could see into the universe ad infinitum. With age, it became more difficult I suppose, to simply remove myself from the interference and look up.
Lately, I’ve been looking up again as if I have stumbled on to some new revelation and I’ve got to tell you, I’m excited about it. You see, I am beginning to understand that there is a repeating pattern in all of nature. Think about the seasons, there is spring, summer, fall, winter and then spring once again, ad infinitum. There is day, night and then day again, ad infinitum. There is awakening, sleep and then another awakening, ad infinitum. Can the same be said of life and death?
This is heavy stuff and it probably should remain in the pages of my private journal but this is afterall 2012 and there are plenty of reasons to ponder weighty subjects these days. I often wonder what season it is within our country, there is so much anger, fear and division and it seems as though people really don’t listen to one another. On a global scale a lot of scary things are happening, what season is it? If life as we know it no longer exists, then what? Somehow, some way, I believe that we, as the human race are about to remove ourselves from all of the interference and look up once again, to awaken in a cycle of infinite possibilities.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” ~ Emerson
We all have the necessary ingredients within our own imaginations to formulate the existence of our choosing. Why is it then that so many of us struggle through so much of life trying be something that we are not? For me, I suppose that it had much to do with fear of failure, fear of success and perhaps a false notion that material success is somehow on par with creative independence. Blessings counted, I can now say that I’ve stepped out of the box.
If you find yourself trying to be something that you are not, my best advice is to surround yourself with people who thrive in their own originality. It doesn’t take long to understand that the happiest people are those who fix their imaginations on a self defined purpose and then proceed to work tirelessly toward that end. I hope you will take a short minute and a half to watch the artist profile that my wife and I just completed for one of the most original creatives that I personally know. Annie Enke is an out of the box artist who makes of all things…boxes…and much more.