Sunday, June 3, 2012

Painting 7 and 9 at Long Last

     Hey there! Yep, it’s been a while again.  Only 2 entries in May, ouch!  The bad news is it seems pretty unlikely that I’m going to get to my goal of 26 paintings in the time I have left.  The good news is that I have still been painting even though you haven’t heard from me in a little while and I have some new stuff to show you.  The even better news is that I have a show coming up! I belong to the River Town Artist’s Guild here in Grand Rapids and they had been looking for someone to show at the Wyoming branch of the Kent District Library (where I first found out about the River Town artists). I said “Hey, that’s perfect, The Intiative will be over by then and I’ll have 26 new pieces to hang so let’s do it!” Showing at a library doesn’t sound all that glamorous, but it’s actually a nice little gallery they have just outside of  the main community room in the library.  
     I have a little bit of an extension since I won’t need to hang anything until July 7th and the stuff will be hanging for over a month, so you local folks will have plenty of time if you want to come and check it out.  I committed to 26 pieces because at the time I was still under the illusion that I might actually hit my goal for The Initiative.  As it stands I’m just going to work as hard as I can and fill the rest in from my earlier pieces from before the initiative.  

Might have to go back a little further to fill out a full 26

What I really need are frames!  Shockingly, the guild doesn’t want to be represented by pieces of paper masking taped to the wall like the hallway of an elementary school. So if you’re reading this and you have a way of getting a 12x16 or 11x14 frame to me here in Grand Rapids, I would be super grateful.  I will even give it back when I’m since I don’t really know where I will store 26 framed artworks in my apartment anyway. 
     Today is day 54 of The Initiative and I have 9 paintings done, that’s 6 days per painting. 3 days per painting was my goal…I have literally gone half the speed I set out to go! *Sigh*… I’m not going  to dwell on the negative. 
     So, now that I’ve admitted to myself that I’m going to fall short of the goal I set in March, it’s time to reassess.  I’m not going to roll over and say “Okay, I’ve got 25 days left so I’ll plod along at 6 days a painting, paint …(Making heavy use of my calculator right now, reminding you I’m an artist, not a mathmologist) 4 and 4/25’s of a painting and call it quits June 26th”.  In case you remember, that’s another thing, I originally said the 27th but I counted wrong  (I can hear my 2nd grade teacher laughing her dirty bitch’s mouth off to see that I still can’t count to 79). 

But no, I’m going to buckle down and see what I can get done.  My new goal is July 7th (remind me to make the last few projects watercolour so I’m not hanging wet oil paintings at the library) and even after that I’m not going to call this Initiative complete until I have the 26 pieces I promised you all.  This project was about painting, and having having finished pieces, and learning some things about myself.  The time limit was just to light a fire under my butt so I didn’t just coast and finish the last piece sometime during the second term of the Bieber administration.  (For those of you not following, I’m hypothesizing that some time after has ridden out his musical success, Justin Bieber will roll his popularity into bettering the world through politics.  After a strong career as governor of ….let’s say Nevada, he’ll run for president and the country will love him so much they’ll repeal the law restricting a born Canadian from being president (It’ll be the 2040’s we’ll be so much more progressive by then) Justin will be elected, do a bang-up job and then be re-elected for a second term, during which I would hypothetically complete my 26th painting.  You couldn’t put that together? Seriously?).   So sit down and strap in because this ride still ain’t over.

You said it Bieber Nixon!
      I am cooking something else up for after my 26th painting is done. Turns out this “having goals and being accountable” thing, while it hasn’t yielded the results I was looking for, has still given me more completed works than I have had in any 3 years combined since college. But more on that in a later post. On to the art at hand!
     For those keeping count at home, you may have noticed that the last entry said #8 but you hadn't actually seen #7 yet (God bless you if you actually pay that close attention to my silly little blog) but that was a clever trick I played on you because I had finished a painting that I didn't want to talk about yet because it was going to be a gift for one of my most loyal followers: my Mommy.  Mother's day happened in that time and I didn't want to ruin the surprise because my painting turned out far better than I had hoped and I knew that Mom would be on here checking it and these things just never look as great on here as tehy do in real life so I wanted the first time she saw it to be in person.  I did a portrait of my Mom's Mom who passed away a few years back after valiant battle with emphisema.  My Grandma was an awesome lady.  

     She always managed to be this classic, tough, southern woman who grew up on a farm and wouldn't take crap from anyone, but at the same time this really sweet, silly, disarming charmer too.  I won't bore you with all my fond memories of our time together since it won't mean much to people outside my family, but suffice it to say that when you think of grandparents and what they're supposed to bring to a young person's life, I consider myself the luckiest guy around that I ended up with she and my grandpa and I wouldn't have traded them for anything.   I didn't actually document a lot of the process here because this painting was on of those agrevating projects where it looks like hell right up until the last half hour or so and then out of the blue starts looking good.  I usually listen to movies while I work and to make sure my mind was in the right place for this piece I listened to a combination of Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The Majestic, and Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood.  There are probably movies out there that better exemplify Grandma's heritage and what she was all about, but of my personal library, these films have always made me think of her and maybe having part of my mind channeling her is what caused the technical side of my brain to get with it in the final strokes of this painting and really bring it home.

     Since I didn't take any in-process pics for this piece I thought I'd take a second to show you something else I worked on in our time apart.  I was disappointed by the quality of some of my earlier photos.  I have been using my wife's fancy digital SLR camera and I'm not a total dummy when it comes to how the thing works so the only other obvious variable is the lighting.  I have some experience photographing my work and I know the basic principles of lighting:


     When I used the photo studio at the college the lights had those big cloth bags over the them to diffuse the light and make it more even.  Now, I can't even for afford frames for my own art show, so I'm not about to go and buy pro photography equipment, but I'll sure as heck try to poor-man rig my way through it!

Using 2 types of hangers and some scraps of cloth I had from another project, I built these silly-looking light screens and put dimmers on both my lights so I could get a good, even light on these paintings and it worked out pretty good!  Just to show off, I took the pictures after I framed this piece. (thank you Michael's 40% off coupon!)   Do you see any reflections of me or the room I was taking the picture in? Me neither, my poverty lighting rig works great!   
My ninth painting is an abstract watercolour.  

I didn't have a plan going into this one at all.  I tried really hard to sort of meditate and make my mind totally blank and then closed my eyes and let the first shapes form in my minds eye and this is what I saw. I've always liked the edges and texture that watercolor can create so that was the only thing I was really trying achieve here. Then  I accented it with deep black ink.  I didn't have anything I was trying to say with this piece, I wanted the upper right and lower left corners juxtaposed so one has heavy white lines and the other has thin black lines.  Looking at it now I feel like its a political piece.  The thin black is conservative and the thick white that are looser and wilder could be liberal and the organic blob could be me since I'd be found right about there in the spectrum. The whole thing looks a little like a flag for a country that doesn't exist yet.  See how I can hang significance and meaning onto something that I've already admitted had none when I made it?  This is what got me such great grades in art school.  That's a joke, I'm only sort of that phony in real life.  So tune in later this week and I'll B.S. you some more!  


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