Pink Lake, 2007, Oil on Panel, 3x5
Steven asked me a bunch of questions yesterday in the comments of my last post. They are really thoughtful questions, plus I always appreciate the opportunity to yammer on and on about myself, so I turned them into a big ol' post. heh. So thanks for that, Steven.
Can you turn off your paint eyes for a weekend?
Yes and no. Like most artists, even when I am doing things that aren't related to studio work, I am observing details of the things and spaces around me. While technically, those things seldom make it into my work (for instance I do not paint images of chickens, or the piles of junk in our barn, at least not yet anyway) the feelings I get from whatever it is that I see are the basis of all of my work. And I am feeling very serene, in awe and humbled by what is around me lately, so I think some of that shows. And when I am not looking for them, I do often see specific scenes that I think will make a good image and try to remember those. Since that doesn't work so well these days, I'd like to say it's because my mind is so full lately, but I suspect it may have more to do with age, I usually take a quick photo as a reminder. So I guess you can say that I can turn off my paint eyes for awhile, but they usually turn back on when I least expect it.
I will add that when I am shoveling the shit out of the chicken house there are no thoughts whatsoever about painting or images or art. Just a lot of cursing and irritating issues concerning smell, sweat and blisters.
Even while you were in the yard and dealing with fowl, were you contemplating your next studio move?
Definitely not. I actually try not to think about what I am going to do next, at all. I have sort of long range ideas that are always subject to change, and I have a pretty flexible daily schedule, but if I think too much about what I am doing next, I get all bogged down and then tend to over think everything. Which usually makes me lose my gesture. I have learned to balance thinking with not thinking. heh.
Do you visually perk at dusk and dawn?
I hadn't really thought about it, but I guess I do. I love those parts of the day, the light, the sky, the quickness of the change and the anticipation of the next stage of the day. However I rarely paint those dramatic images (um, well, I guess the one above may qualify as some sort of late day scene), preferring instead to keep those experiences to myself. They always look too sappy when I try to paint them, which is always a disappointment and kind of ruins my lovely, albeit faded memories.
How much are you looking at photographs anymore?
Like I mentioned above, I use photographs, mainly to jog my memory, especially concerning composition. I'd say I use a photo as reference about half the time when I am painting the landscapes, and a bit more for barns and other structures. When I was working on the box images, I preferred to work from life, although I took great license with what I saw in front of me, especially concerning color. With the figure, I can only work from life. I would never consider doing a painting or drawing of a figure without a model in front of me, although that could certainly change if I were to spend some time developing figurative work. Up until four years ago I was sure that I would never paint landscapes and then look what happened! I have learned to never say never, it's like announcing to the world that I will end up doing it anyway.
Anyway, I will soon write another post about my use of photographic reference. Translating what I see in a photo to making an image is part of the process of painting for me, but that use is constantly changing, even if it doesn't look that way to the viewer.
So Steve, what would your answers be here? And I'd be interested in how other artists would answer these same questions, excluding the reference to fowl. Well unless you have chickens too, of course.