Archive for October, 2008

Drawing Rabbits and a Hairy Guy, I Guess

October 30, 2008

It has sort of been a rough week on the painting front.  I have started three paintings only to give up on them because they really weren’t very good.  That is tough.  I usually really like to take a painting to the bitter end because I don’t have a problem making bad paintings, I like to see if anything interesting/educational might happen, and because I hate to waste material.  In any event all this failure has really got me thinking about my paintings and my painting habits since I started this blog. (I sort of was heading this way before ‘the week of no good painting.’)

I started this blog because I was working on a series of paintings about a rabbit and a fish who were friends.  This was cool and it gave me the confidence to work on full sheets of watercolor paper.  At some time I began to create stencils to help lay out compositions and this activity continued to build my confidence.  A lot of cool things were happening, the stencils allowed me to create multiples and I did not have to worry about proportion.  In short I could paint drawing free.  This was really good and I learned a lot about color and watercolor paints in general, unfortunately, I really like drawing and I was slowly becoming dependent on the stencils.  I sort of think this dependency has become stifling.

In retrospect it seems a little funny that I ended up getting away from drawing.  I have always loved drawing and draw every day.  In fact I was reluctant to get into painting, and originally picked watercolor because it was a nice way to add color to a drawing.  (This bit is the big picture, and is including late high school/early college even though I am an old library professional now.)  I think the most successful of my paintings have been the ones that look the most like the sketches that inspired them.

Well, no more, I am going to try out some small scale, colored drawings on watercolor paper.  I am expecting big things.  At the top there is a sketch at to help set the tone of the future.  At the bottom is this hairy man I drew last week.  Long live drawing (don’t worry this blog will not turn into a sketch book, after this post it is back to finished work only).


Milk Containers Floating in Orange Cola

October 18, 2008

Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes I wonder who am I painting for.  I think audience is an important part to any art form.  The diagrams in Scott McCloud’s Understanding comics, where on one page a stick figure hands his comic to another stick figure, and on the next the stick figure buys a copy machine and the whole author/audience relationship changes really sums this relationship up.

For example, if you make an awesome card for your mom on mother’s day, your mother better like it.  It is cool if other people like it, and it is cool if they like it so much they trade your mother a new (object of mother’s desire) for it and put it on display.  All these things are cool, but first and foremost your mother better like.

I guess the part that is missing is knowing what your audience likes.  If you don’t know what your audience likes or needs or wants, how will you make something that they like/need/want.  You have to kind of know them and know your relationship to them.

With painting, many times I find I am painting for myself.  It is not bad to paint for yourself, but you should not do it all the time.  However, I wonder if I am painting for myself and I don’t like the painting, is it because it just was a bad painting, or because I don’t really know myself.

Pour Out

October 10, 2008

I was little upset when I found out the David Foster Wallace had killed himself.  Not upset like I am when people I know pass away, but much more upset than the usual amount of sadness I feel for people I don’t know.  In fact I can’t really think of any other famous person’s death that has ever bothered me.  In any event I found myself reading any article by Wallace I could find.  One article that I really enjoyed was EUnibus Pluram, an article mostly about TV (if you live in Oregon I would highly recommend using you library’s EBSCO account to access the article, it is in the Review of Contemporary Fiction Summer 93).

Well sure enough, any serious article about TV has to make mention of Duchamp, and Wallace does not disappoint.  In fact he really goes above a beyond and has a really nice write-up about Duchamp’s fountain.  One aspect he explores, that I hadn’t really thought about, was how the fountain changed the space of the gallery.  Not in a shocking way but in a more basic way.  Like, if we are inside and the walls are white and there is a urinal, is it alright to go pee?  Because really the only difference between the gallery, or the kitchen, or the classroom and the bathroom is the urinal, at least physically.

This reminded me of something I had read in a book on the history of clothing.  The author felt that clothing was invented not to cover up soft spots or for warmth, but to distract everyone from remembering that people produce excrement.  The author justified this argument by saying that it is universally impolite to go the bathroom mid-sentence.

The Sadness of What We Have Become

October 1, 2008

I have been busy moving this month and have gotten a little out of writing practice.  I am pretty happy with the way this work turned out, I really kind of captured the sad I was looking for.  It also has given me something to work on for the next few paintings.  We will see if this turns out, because I rarely make rules like this, but for the next couple of paintings I am going to try these things:
no central composition
and no rabbits.
Also, I have been in the process of moving across town, I would like to warn anyone who is thinking about moving to a coastal environment: anything you have ever heard about mildew, moss and mold is true.