Posts Tagged ‘rhododendron’

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.

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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.

Nameless Running Animals

August 23, 2008

My approach to painting is very similar to my approach to running, I just go out there and keep at it. Sometimes I will run five miles and not get anywhere. Sometimes I feel very fast.
Painting is very similar, I can paint for months and have dud after dud, or have something beautiful just out of reach, where if I only could paint a little faster or a little longer I might have caught it.
With this painting I feel like I am gaining on something. I feel like I am getting somewhere. This painting is the running equivalent of passing the slower members of a high school cross country team.

This painting feels like a step in the right direction, and I have high hopes for the next one.

Science (Transparent) Fiction

August 2, 2008

Still moving with transparency.  And kind of groaning over the last blog entry.  My story should have spoken more about the close ties between the faded and the transparent, and less on the watcher.  I should have personified memory or something.

I am happy with this new painting, although one of my close friends said, “what is that? a milk jug rocketing into space?”  This comment has lost some of its sting now that I have written it down, but needless to say this is not a picture of a space bound milk container.

One thing that is kind of new to these paintings is the shadows on the rhododendron.  I think that was a good feature, especially when it is found next to the flat color of the rhododendron through the milk container.

To Fade or Transpire (Transparentness)

July 23, 2008

I know that transpire has nothing to do with transparent, but it is too interesting of a word to leave out completely.

I have become very interested in the relationships between fade (fading) and transparent (becoming transparent).  I think these ideas are important to me and important to watercolor in general.

For example, what marks the past?  I sort of think relics and monuments from long ago mark the past, but it is really our memories that replenish it and keep it from fading.  However, even with our memories, relics and monuments working together, the past seems to fade.  It does not go away, but becomes transparent to our memories.

Now something that is transparent is different from something that becomes transparent, but I sometimes wonder how great a distinction this really is.  If things are transparent, they cannot fade, at least in visual terms, because if they are transparent there is nothing to fade.

Concrete example, lets say there are two birds watching a hedge.  If a rabbit runs by the birds will watch it and then, it will slowly fade from their memories.  If a transparent rabbit runs by the birds will never notice and there is nothing to fade.  Now, what if there are hundreds of thousands of transparent rabbits?  Or the birds are transparent?  It seems a little silly because I do not think my ideas are there yet.

100% Allegory, non-GMO

July 10, 2008

While not especially apparent in this photograph, the area where the line falls behind the milk carton is really pretty nice. As dumb as this sounds, you can really paint cool transparent things with transparent watercolor (My library now subscribes to the OED and I was tempted to use the word diaphanous in this sentence, now that I know what diaphanous means.)

I am only sort of happy with the rabbit in the carton. I think the color is little too saturated, and I am not really sure why I placed the rabbit there in the first place. I guess it kind of reminded me of a picture on a fruit box. If anyone is selling an apple that tastes like a rabbit who has drank too much milk, this painting would be perfect for their crates.

Video Game is to Fun, as Painting is to…

June 25, 2008

I can’t really think of what to write about this painting.  I think it is one of the strongest works I have done in a while, but I am not sure why.  I think the use of color and modeling is getting better, but I would hate to hang my hat on better technique.  This is not to say better technique is a bad thing.  I really believe that in most cases you need some kind of technique to make a good painting.

What worries me is that I begin to only pursue better technique.  Better technique can make a painting look better (“hey that is well painted”), but it does not make a painting more interesting or transcending or what ever a painting should do.  I want my paintings to do what paintings should do.

I remember reading a video game review a while ago.  I can’t remember the game, but it was based on a movie.  In any event the reviewer stated that he felt sad for all the people who contributed their time towards the making of the game, which while good looking and well built, had zero fun.  Fun, of course, is what, deep down, every video game longs to be.  No amount of polish can make a game fun.  Of course a complete lack of polish can stand in the way of fun.

A Rabbit and Three Containers of Milk

May 22, 2008

Q. Are poets better than painters?
A. Who cares, a clever painter can slowly poison you with cadmium and cobalt, probably at the same time.

Where do paintings live?
An easier question is where to poems live?  Poems live in words, and some how words exist outside of our reality (right?).  Every time you read a poem it is the poem.  The poem is in a book, a person is saying the poem, the poem is on a calendar.  It is all the same poem.  The poem lives in the words and not really in a place.  You can picture the poem, but you do not have to picture its location, because the poem is its location.

But what about paintings?
I hate to think my favorite Rothko is rotting on a conservator’s table, I don’t want to think about a sleazy stockbroker hoarding a beloved Baldessari, I never want to think of a page in a book when I think of Anselm Kiefer.  When I think of paintings I never think of location or space, it is often too sad.  I think the only time I can really be happy thinking about a painting is when I am in front of that painting, when I am painting, or when I am too distracted to think about where that painting is.

Paintings shouldn’t really be anywhere.

Rabbit under Rhododendron

May 10, 2008

I spend a lot of time walking and running along roads, and most of the time I find some kind of dead animal (usually cats, birds, dogs, skunks or opossums although for a while there I was seeing cow heads (3) but that seemed very unusual) and a lot of garbage.  In Southern Oregon these animals were usually in the middle of the road flattening out, or off to the side in an irrigation ditch.  Now that I live on the coast I seem to find a lot of animals under these large hedges that sort of look like rhododendron bushes without flowers.

The strange thing is that unlike Southern Oregon where the animals seemed to disintegrate quickly (due to cars or being washed away) these animals seem to sit for awhile (one cat in particular has been down the street for over two week, he just seems to go a little farther and a little farther under the hedge).

In a sad way I like the holding pattern these animals are in, they are so close to the road but not going anywhere, and if they are hiding from something they are not doing a very good job (obviously).  I think I am going to paint rabbits in and under hedges (I made them rhododendron because I like that better, more romantic or something) along with some garbage (nothing quite says pathos like an empty 2 liter soda bottle).