logo

BLOG • PAGE 4

JAN 03 2015

First and foremost, I consider myself a sentient being, not necessarily a human being, primarily because of all the negative connotations that nomenclature implies. Too many seem to think falling back on "I'm only human" is a good enough excuse to do so much that is selfish, wasteful and even evil. It seems, as a race, we do not look inwardly so much as upon the surface of things around us and if that surface is polished enough, it merely reflects what we want to see, not things as they are.

I think I have said before that art, like life, should be a journey. This journey should be one of fearlessness and, in some ways, selflessness. The ability to take one's self out of contemporary context, to look upon what is going on around one with an observer's objectivity as though studying some alien race, that is the kind of egoless journey I'm speaking of. Unfortunately, it can be rather a lonely sojourn, this brief stay in the unadulterated 'here and now.'

I think we all inhabit, to some degree, a world of self-delusion. In this world, our mirrors lie to us each day like that fictional one of the wicked queen. We surround ourselves with whatever feeds and sustains the delusion; things that strengthen it, individuals who reinforce it. And as mass and immediate communication across continents has become an everyday reality, this delusion has become more and more homogenous. Our desires have become rather base, generic and more and more, they have become immediate.

In my own small way, I am battling this homogeneity, this strong pull toward sameness that has spread like a computer virus across much of human consciousness. Maybe we are settling for less because in some ways we are BECOMING less. This 21st Century distain for sentimentality is, I think, symptomatic. It's as though we are becoming afraid to feel on a personal level, to feel true sympathy and are losing our ability to empathize. If we lose this ability totally, our societal cohesiveness will be gone. We will become a crawling seething mass of selfish egocentricity, unwilling, perhaps even unable, to look upon our fellows with anything resembling kinship. Everything will be reduced to a 'what can I get' mentality. I think, dear readers, that you can agree that this is happening even now.

I see my work as outside of the 'art world' because I see that self-absorbed entity becoming increasingly trivial and inbred. I don't even see my work as 'outsider art' because that loosely-defined group is becoming more and more an artificial artifice, in much the same way 'country music' has become an artificiality in modern times. I do see my meager output as being true to me, the artist. It is not concerned with what is 'trending' at any given moment, nor is it geared to impress or disgust. I think MacLeish would have liked it because it simply IS. :)

My work may never prove to be enough to others. It is enough, I think, that it proves sufficient to me. Nothing is perfect and you will never hear me proclaim my pieces to anything other than imperfect shards produced by this imperfect self. But like you or you, it's the only one I have; I do not possess it, it possesses me.

DEC 10 2014

The 12BUY12 show's reception on the 6th of December has come and gone. I would give you a moment-by-moment account, but if you've been to many art show openings, you know they are, by and large, very similar, if not repetitive.

Even at the shows, I am more an observer than participant, I'm afraid. I did see Debra Wilson, who is always very supportive of my work. She is a former semi-resident artist at the Art Space Gallery who purchased a set of my art-earrings last year. She mentioned them at this show.

Also another significant person attended the show and she is always a wonderful face to see. And I think she'd like to join the art association and show work too. I've told her for years she should pursue her artistic bent more but she usually only poo-poos me. Sometimes all that it takes is a little confidence to take that next step. I think with a little confidence she could move the world. :)

My old photographer buddy, Eduardo, arrived rather late to the event. Folks on average welcome him more warmly than me I observed. Interesting. I wonder why this is? Anyway, he told me he was going to Bolivia in the new year and stay several months. He does photographic studies of indigenous people and has published several books. He usually only takes a 'real' job long enough to make enough money to pay for his next journey. That must be an interesting life-style. He also mentioned retiring, which I thought was interesting given what I just wrote. He is approximately my age, BTW.

I didn't run a tally but I think this show wasn't as well attended as the Fall Show. There were a lot of events/competition that night, including other art events, musical concerts and Christmas-related festivities. Last year the show opened the same day my work group went on an out-of-town trip and I arrived just before it ended, so I can't say which year was better attended. I didn't see any piece of art receiving the coveted RED DOT OF SALE though, which is rather disheartening considering the show's name. :)

OCT 28 2014

The 2nd show of the season, The Fall Show, occurred last Friday evening at Art Space Gallery. I arrived early with my usual assortment of beverages, all alcoholic, and added them to the ice-filled case in the front area. There were already people in attendance, looking about at the show's pieces.

I noticed there were several rather large pieces in the front area where usually all the work for a show hung. The area also lacked my painting, I noted. Going further in, I noticed other of the show's work in the room where the wine table resides, and, there, to the left of the door just inside I found, "The Conversation." I thought it looked pretty good where it was.

As I meandered back toward the front of the gallery, I heard a gentleman ask another artist who had contributed a cubist-like painting, if he too had painted, "The Conversation." I announced that, no, that piece was mine. That gentleman and I talked for some little length of time and I also showed him some of my pieces via my Android tablet. He suggested I market my work to a publisher for use on cards, etc. I told him I had made some homemade cards and had put some of my images on jewelry I had made in Mexico via a photographer friend last year.

By this time, the little gallery was beginning to really bustle with activity and it was progressively difficult to carry on a conversation. I was feeling like I needed something cold but not alcoholic and stepped out to a nearby yogurt shoppe. When I returned the space was really beginning to feel like a crowded phone booth.

A gentlemen who had recently left the gallery as one of its resident artists arrived and we began to chat. (There are, on average, 6 or 7 resident artists at any given time.) It seems he had just returned from a month in Paris France. We both looked carefully at a rather large oil pastel that had been encased in a clear plastic coating, making the occasional comment. We discovered that the lady who had been standing near us during our discourse was the creator of the piece and she told us the plastic began in liquid form and was poured upon the piece, allowed to drip over the sides, dry, and then the extra was cut away. I gave her one of my cards and she gave me one of hers and we talked for a bit. I'm not sure if she took offense that I thought her piece had a certain androgynous quality, but the other gentleman had agreed. The lady and I shortly thereafter ceased our conversation and I selected a bottle of one of the beers I had brought from the case.

I noticed two things about this time. There was no live music and the director of AVAA didn't speak to me when she arrived. I figured that her silence meant she had not brought the name tag she had mentioned in a recent e-mail. Of all the artists at the Membership Show last month, it appears I was the only one who couldn't find his tag in the box with the others.

Oh well, I thought, they WERE rather large and I could make my own easily enough, though it did raise a nagging question which I decided to let re-settle to the bottom of my consciousness where it could do no harm.

A lady then entered who wanted to know where my piece was hung, so I escorted her back to the wine room and, in doing so, began a conversation with another of the resident artists. I told her I was trying to loosen up a bit in my painting and she hurriedly insisted that I not change my style which she described as unique. I told her that at this late stage that would be quite the impossibility. It was just after this that another resident artist engaged the lady in conversation and I began to roam, meandering through the narrow straits the crowd left for navigation.

I was feeling a bit morose as I made a mental note that none of my regular attendees had showed. It was then around 7:30 and the reception had 30 minutes left to it. I sat down in a chair, sipped my Fat Tire and watched the affair for another 7 to 10 minutes and then I got up to leave. There was really no one to say good-bye to so I headed out into the parking lot. I noticed there was a gentle breeze and the nearby Walmart was abuzz with activity so I made a point of driving in the other direction to gain egress.

I am uploading a low-rez jpg of a photo of Marcel Duchamp I found recently on the Internet. I really like it.

SEP 20 2014

I'm remembering my prior hesitancy regarding painting exclusively this year as I've filled all my walls and still have some on the floor. A restaurant owner who told me his current artist was leaving in May, has apparently gotten his dates confused. Anyway, for months it was good motivation and, not only that, reinforced the habit of having something on the easel at all times. So now the habit is ingrained.

I'm part of a show that opens tonight. It's the annual Membership Show of AVAA here in Austin. Here's hoping I can make some good contacts. Of course, I know a lot of my problem is my reluctance to 'promote' my art with due diligence. I have this site, an account on Redbubble and a video of work from 2012 on YouTube. I hand out business cards on occasion and I take my tablet with current images to the shows I'm in locally. This totals on average 5 or 6 a year since I started showing again in late 2012. I have yet to enter an out-of-city/state/country show because of the bother and expense of shipping, etc. Guess I'm lazy and/or too timid to go that route yet. But if not now, when?

Someone put up a nice nude this morning, and I have a piece I've been hesitating to upload because of some folks' problem with mammaries. IF it's still up in the morning, I'm tempted to upload 'Red-headed Woodpecker' and let the censorial chips fall where they may. :)

MAY 31 2014

As promised, I'm uploading a pic of the little magnetic sketchpad I salvaged from my work environment. I have found it a good new tool with which to streamline and perfect imagery.

Measuring only three and a quarter by four and one eighth inches, with a diagonal measurement of five and one eighth inches, it forces me to focus on basic shape rather than detail. This has given rise to more streamlined imagery which has manifested itself in the last three paintings I have uploaded. I have a fourth on the easel even now. :)

This just goes to illustrate that an artist need not rely on the new hi-tech gadgets to develop ideas. One either has them and can pull them out with basic tools, or does not. I find many of the new technological playthings to be rather counter-intuitive and slow, at least for me. Now if your work is entirely digital, then your viewpoint and/or experience will probably differ widely from my own. But ideas all come from the same place, regardless the tools. ;)

MAY 04 2014

I uploaded 'Self With Dark Cloud' today and mentioned I might write a little about it as well as upload the sketch that I used as a starting point for it. So as I have a few minutes to kill (very strange expression don't you think?) I thought I would follow through with that threat. :)

First, let me say that the photo of the painting was taken just as dawn was breaking today and so the sun ran across it low to the horizon and thus accentuated the texture of both the canvas and the acrylic. I paint pretty thin usually but did, on this occasion, make the hair a bit thicker. Probably just the result of wishful thinking. ;)

As you look at the original sketch, you will notice one of my truncated figures with shadow, as is my want, but I decided to bring the image in and focus primarily on the face and neck with this piece. Originally, the sketch did not have the mountainous horizon line or the cloud. I added these while describing to someone at a local restaurant what the painting, still on the easel, looked like.

The colors came about in process and the harlequin aspect of the them did not escape me. As I told an AW artist recently, the more I paint, the more I feel I NEED to paint. This actually has three meanings. The first, I find painting in and of itself very stimulating---some may say relaxing, but that's not exactly true in my case. I find it more like playing chess with the canvas as my adversary. :) The second, I feel when I am painting, that it (the intellectual/artistic process) fulfills a need. The third, the more I paint the more I, hopefully, improve. There is no such thing as the perfect painting, at least within the mind of the artist who paints it. One usually either tires of it ("the love affair is over") or gives an effort a pat on its proverbial head and pronounces it 'good enough.' :)

APR 27 2014

This is only the second time I've entered my blog area this year to write a few lines. Sorry about that. I've been either busy at work or artwork OR haven't felt I had anything anyone might find interesting enough to read. Of course, when my energy level ebbs, my writing flies right out the window---probably to roost in the same tree as that woodpecker I hear most mornings. I hope they have a nice visit. :)

Several times this year, I have found myself returning to previous paper works as inspirational material for my paintings. I recently spent a 4-day weekend working on a piece that I sketched spontaneously onto the canvas. That effort did NOT rise to greet my expectations. I have put it aside for the moment. Such a lackluster experience depresses me greatly. I don't feel I have time to burn like I did in my youth.

I will admit that the acrylic paintings have usually deviated from their paper counterparts. I think 'Supplicating Bird' is probably the closest I've come to duplicating both the composition and color of the paper piece. But the year is still relatively young, so we'll see what happens down this year's artistic road. ;)

I have mentioned that I made a New Year's resolution to paint in 2014 rather that create works on paper, but I may have to re-think that resolution soon. I might start doing a small color piece on paper and, if I like it sufficiently, try painting it. Otherwise, I may find myself re-hashing older pieces infinitum.

I'll also try to write more frequently and with greater eloquence, if I can muster the energy. :)

JAN 05 2014

It's been a while since I've added anything to my blog area and I thought, since this is a relatively new year, I'd try to do a little better.

I always try to be hopeful at the beginning of a year. At least historically I have. As I age, it becomes increasingly difficult for me pull that off. Life is a series, it seems, of diminishing returns. I don't mean that in a negative way, but merely as an observation. All observations are colored by the personality doing the observing and my personality isn't, by all accounts, average so your observations will probably differ. :)

I am currently doing more painting than works on paper and that will most likely result in a smaller output of images for 2014. Of course, I will be doing some works on paper as is my want, but I've noticed that I fiddle with a painting longer than a small piece on paper. I assume that is to be expected---especially as a painting is a different animal than say a watercolor or a drawing. They may be precursors to a painting, or they merely stay as they are. I do not consider works on paper to be the bastard children of fine art. They can be perfectly 'fine' as they are. :)

I've only just begun to paint again after many years of only infrequently taking up the brush. At the moment I feel my paper works excel over my paintings. Of course, I am constantly seeking refinement and that will come about, hopefully, after some consistent easel time has past.

I am aware, via my statistical area in AW's profile control panel, that I get quite a few individuals clicking on my blog tab. It is probably just the result of curiosity, but it is gratifying to know that some of my thoughtful noodling is actually being read. As you will note if you look through my sub-galleries, I have been attempting to express myself for a lot of my life. I have never wanted to be a portrait, landscape or figurative artist, or belong to any past or present school of art. That being said, I do not follow any of those disciplines religiously if at all though elements of each genre find their way into my work.

I think once a person stops trying to emulate and or imitate, that person begins, in some small way, to originate. I think we all start out as imitators because that is how we learn the basics but like a child who wishes to become an independent adult, there comes a time when he or she must leave the relative safety of the nest. I find my imagery comes easily---when it comes. I do not force it and I do not consciously will it into being. If it is forced, it LOOKS it and that defeats my purpose.

I am no longer young and day-by-day inch-by-inch I move in the other direction. It puzzles me when folks label one 'an emerging artist.' I am assuming that has to do with longevity---they are just beginning to find their way artistically. But I consider each and every piece of mine to be a shard or facet of the emerging self. I would hope, if you look over the length and breadth of my creative output so far, you'd get some idea of the true unadulterated personality of the soul/intellect of yours-truly. But you have to really look. A casual glance will prove insufficient. ;)

Let's hope we all have a prosperous year.

SEP 28 2013

Well, apparently, I can't upload anything to Artwanted today. I've tried three times now. I guess I can write something, though that remains to be seen. Maybe I can upload something via the blog area. Stranger things have happened, I think.

I've been getting my new work area in tow and am still finding bits and pieces of art supplies here and there to throw into the mix. Since I never go into anything half-cocked----I go for whole-cocked whenever possible ---I've been researching acrylic techniques and mediums to see what has transpired since the 80's when I did very little but paint. That's why you see no sub-gallery for that decade. I do have some photos of paintings, but only a few and I've added the best of those to the Paintings sub-gallery already. If you've been through my Paintings sub-gallery you already know that 20 plus (maybe almost 30) pieces were lost in the early 90's.

One thing of note that I have found in my research is that a lot of folks are no longer mixing their acrylics with water but rather with mediums, so I've now ordered a couple to use myself. There's something called Acrylic Liquid Medium. Golden, a company I do not think was around in the 80's, has something called Acrylic Glazing Medium which is supposed to prolong drying time, which can be advantageous if you are a blender---and I try to be one. I did use Grumbacher's Acrylic Retarder and Liquitex's Gel and/or Matte Medium in the day. And I see that the latter is still around. I haven't searched for the Grumbacher product as yet.

I will admit to using only enough water to keep things flowing and for having a penchant for thin glazing of different colors, which I may or may not continue with. I mean it's a new century, why follow the dictates of the old one---even of the younger you suspended in the aspic of that era?

I found an old scrapbook today, I'd put away. How old you ask? It was old when I purchased it at Baxter's Bargains in Ore City, TX, Memorial Day 1973. On the first page is inscribed "Beulah Belle Barlett, Bethel Maine From Mama, Xmas 1905." So anyone who thought Xmas was a 60's thing would be sadly mistaken.

In this scrapbook I have put newspaper clippings, photos of long dead poets, a little artwork, obits of poets of note like Robert Lowell, Ezra Pound, Kenneth Patchen and others. There is also a nice article culled from somewhere on William Blake, replete with some of his great watercolors---in black and white, unfortunately. I did get to see some of the originals when I was at the University of Texas at Austin on a visit to the Harry Ransom Center. WONDERFUL!!

The scrapbook also contains every newspaper cutting and every invitation to any art show I took part in as well. That's a little treasure trove that may find it's way to AW at some future time. You know, when I can actually upload something. :)

The 80's piece I am attempting to upload with this blog entry is called Triangulation---uh, it's a name I've just christened it with. If you find the painting, it may very well have a different title written on the back. ;}

ADDENDUM: Since this original post, I have created an 80's-90's sub-gallery and moved the paintings that were in the Paintings sub-gallery into that area, or whatever sub-gallery fit the pieces chronologically. Since I've begun to paint on a regular basis again, I thought this the best course of action.

JUL 14 2013

I am in the process of cleaning up around the house and, as in all clean-ups, am finding things I haven't seen in a while. Today I found a CD and press release with promo photos.

Years ago when I was the manager of a custom frame shop here in Austin, one of my employees came in one day saying that he'd seen a CD in a local music store with cover art that looked a lot like mine. Over the years, I had heard this kind of remark before regarding art folks had seen somewhere, so I thought very little of it.

A little while later, I was at a local music store and I found what I figured my employee had. And it WAS one of my pieces after all. One done in the mid-80's. This was happening in the mid-90's, so around a decade had passed since I'd last shown any of my work around town.

I called up the # on the back of the CD and told them that that was my painting on their CD cover. Anyway, it seems the leader of the band had purchased the piece at a yard sale near the University of Texas and no one could make out my signature. At that time, I signed my pieces in permanent marker using my whole name (including JR) and did so in cursive.

I never got a penny out of the deal, but I was invited down to the studio for a day so I could watch them work. I also received a press release and a free CD. I could tell it was a low-budget studio and I was probably more potential liability than anything else, but I had a good time that day and showed them several other pieces from the same time period to prove my authorship.

Today, on a whim I put Argument Clinic Music in a search engine and found that the same CD, with my cover art, is still on sale at Amazon. Ha. Hard to believe. :)