Thursday, April 30, 2009

Winter Park Paint Out

This week I am a participating artist in the Winter Park Paint Out, a benefit event for the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Along with a number of other painters, I am out on the town painting snippets of Winter Park and the gardens at the museum. It's a beautiful week weather-wise and a great opportunity to hone my painting skills. Plein air painting is not my niche and so I'm getting my come-uppance being around these artists who can stab an easel in the ground and dash off a nice painting while the light changes in front of them, the wind blows, and passers-by stop to ask what they are doing. Tuesday night we were treated to drinks on the museum grounds and a boat tour of the Winter Park chain of lakes. Today is the third day of painting. It's a lot of fun but hard work. I'll post some images later.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Visiting a Happy Memory

Because of several looming deadlines, I missed about a week of posting for this space so there is a little catching up to do.
Last Friday noon, after a week of finishing up numerous paintings, I headed north in the van with a load of artwork from myself and three other artists at Mc Rae First stop was Bennett Gallery in Knoxville TN. I was unloaded and checked in with Ginger by noon Sat. At 5pm I pulled up to Miller Gallery in Cincinnati and left work with Katherine and Rosemary for a show I'm participating in beginning May 6th. Then back to Bennett by Sunday morning to pick up a few pieces of mixed media work that was being returned to an artist in Gainesville FL. Sunday night at midnight, I pulled up to my house in downtown Orlando. 1,800 miles in 60 hours.

While in Cincinnati I took a little personal time to track down my old house. This was the one I lived in at the time of my birth. I haven’t lived in Cincinnati since I was 7 years old but it still holds an attraction for me after all this time. The house is in a section of town called Norwood. It was largely settled by Appalachian migrants who came to work in the factories. My grandparents were part of that migration in the early 1930s. I have happy memories of the house at 2316 Madison Avenue even though those memories are vague.

I was taking a photo of the front of the house when the owners pulled into the driveway and greeted me. I told them I was a past resident and just wanted to reflect on those years when me and my tricycle owned the sidewalk out front. We chatted awhile and they asked if I would like my picture made in front of the house. I remembered a photo somewhere of me on the front steps with my mother. It was taken when I was three years old. I asked if I could have the picture taken there on those steps.
When I got home I found that old photo. I was reminded that though I could reach down and touch those very same old steps by simply moving my hand, so much was forever unreachable. Maybe you can't go home again. But you can carry the memories.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dinner on the Avenue

Last night our studio took part in the Winter Park FL Dinner on the Avenue. Its an annual community dinner that is held on Park Avenue in the center of town. Individuals, businesses or organizations can rent tables on the street and enjoy the company of hundreds of others for cocktails and dinner. Its great fun in a beautiful setting. Prizes are awarded for the best decorated tables and themed out diners so it has become a bit of a competition. There were some great themes. From the lavish AIG table to the Food Network table with star chef imposters. Our panel of scouts observed that if you had tall decorations you were a front runner for the trophies.

I admit, artists are notoriously hard to organize for any event or purpose. Our best ideas and highest ambitions for next year's event peak as we dine 365 days beforehand but in spite of our lapse in follow-through, we put in a good appearance.

Plaid was our theme this year. I don't remember why. But this worked out well for some of us guys. We simply pulled something off the closet rack and we were there. But most of the women artists brought stocks of emergency plaid. Standby scarves, belts and head gear was available for rescuing the understated. I was loaned plaid pants to accent my shirt lest I look like I just came from work.

We had a great time. Good food, friends, and beautiful weather. And wait till next year. There's talk is we raise the legs of our tables by a foot. As Lynn Whipple put it - "verticality". That should win us some metal.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apologies to Mickey Gilley

This week has been a trying time for painting inspiration. I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I am working on five or six paintings simultaneously since one at a time usually puts me into a creative ditch. I get stuck, or worse, I start thinking I have just created the best painting of my life in a mere two hours only to come back the next morning having to wipe it with a turpentine rag and set it on fire. Falling in love with your brand new quickie creation is to painting what going home with the girl from the bar after nickel beer night - is to drinking. That painting may be a nine or ten at quitting time but in the morning it could be a number one. At any rate, I find it better to suffer interminably over multiple pieces at once. There is less guilt about doing something I love.

But here is the darndest thing. Somehow my mind seems to subconsciously time work to finish just as scheduled deadlines arrive. I usually zone out and become mediocre and unproductive in the week or two preceding the exact day that only a herculean push can be executed to turn in a respectable showing. I guess this is to protect the body mind and spirit from total meltdown. You can’t be anxious and industrious continually. The body isn’t capable. I also can’t look too closely at approaching deadlines on a calendar anymore. I have learned to regard this as heart-healthy, allowing me more red meat at dinner.
I marvel at this innate sense we have of knowing when the afterburners must be lit. In my case, not just because I know when to get serious, but that work gets better and flows more easily. It comes together because it has to. Still, I would love to just once take two or three days off before delivering new work to a show. Maybe down deep, I know I couldn’t handle the guilt.

New work pictured above: Pastel Sky, 12"x16", o/c

Monday, April 13, 2009

Your Call is Important to Us

My photographer friend Barbara called today from her pickup truck. Barbara is one of the artists I have gotten to know in my travels doing art fairs. My artist friend Chris and I were in Sun Valley ID in 2003 for the Sun Valley Art Center's festival. Barbara invited us to her place nearby for a dinner party. As we got a short tour of her house, I caught sight of a piece of pottery on a table that was created by my wife Susan.
"Where did you get the pottery? My wife made this!"
It's a small world after all, or so the song goes. Barbara had once worked for an attorney in Orlando who had bought the piece and given it as a gift. Barbara comes to Florida a couple of times a year to participate in the spring and fall art festivals. In between those and other shows in the west and midwest, she returns to the Idaho mountains for gardening, horseback riding and making her art. Not a totally bad existence.

She was on her way today to the Main Street Art Festival in Fort Worth, day two of three alone in the truck. She said she was going down her cell phone directory looking for someone to talk to since, while the landscape of northeast New Mexico was interesting, she didn't recall it being so long lasting. Bach, being only a B name, left plenty of contacts for the vast stretches of prairie ahead of her. You can only drink so much coffee.

I can identify with her road weariness. My daughter and I took that road home in 2007 from the Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver. Northern New Mexico and the Texas panhandle were beautiful and well, forever. Though somehow, when you're not in the experience of road boredom, you can't wait to be out there again. It's mind clearing and for an artist inspirational.

For me, it's observation I hope will show up later as paint on a brush. I mentally file away what color the shadows on the mountains were as the sun set. I know that color will reside there somewhere in my brain though I will only recognize it when it appears by accident on the canvas.

Barbara may cycle through her phone directory to the B's again before Ft Worth appears in the windshield. Your call is important to us, Barbara. Stay awake and good luck at Fort Worth.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Finish Line

Another 12 hours or so of work on this piece since the last photo. I think it is finished. At least the hard stuff. Now a coat of paint on the sides of the canvas since it will hang unframed, and a coat of retouch varnish over everything.

As I said in an earlier post, the painting process slows to a crawl as I finish a piece like this. Details are everything in these car paintings and having the correct details are crucial to the collectors. Getting shapes shadows and reflections right, and graphics painted in perspective are the most painstaking parts of the piece. I'm happy with it so I'll take it to Jacksonville early next week and hope this is what the client envisioned.

Tomorrow begins getting ready for the annual spring open house held this Saturday at our group studio . I need to finish up a couple of landscape paintings and make my studio presentable. We usually get a large crowd at our openings and it's a big effort to get ready. Food, bar and clean up - spruce up. Let's hope it brings some art buyers.