Saturday, June 23, 2012


I almost gave up on this a few times . . . there was so much information
with orange reflections bouncing all over the plate, cast shadows, and
"wrinkles" of light and dark in the plate itself, I had to simplify a bit. The
fork had a very complex reflection as well as shadow and it got the best
of me—had to leave it out. My first version was very sedate and boring.
When I worked at it again, my intention was to break the boundaries of
the objects and the only way to do that was take the setup down and eat
the peaches. When I'm looking at something, I become a slave to the literal.
So I used the first version as a roadmap and painted over it focusing my
attention on the painting surface rather than what I was painting. It seems
to be the only way to go beyond my "little self" as Suzanne Stewart says.
Before I paint a still-life I usually spend a little time looking at Stanley Bielen.
The painting I've linked here is tiny—8.5 x 7 but in its simplicity, it feels
monumental. He's all about the paint.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Apples on Gray

I needed a break from wrestling with heads and grabbed an already-
painted panel of these two apples. It was a very bad, labored painting
with a dark background so a good candidate to paint over without being
attached to the result. I no longer had the setup or the apples and hadn't
photographed them so I used what was there as a base and decided to
make the rest up. I keep grappling with finding the intersection between
"paint what you see" and invention and now I had nothing to look at and
nothing to copy. I felt the earth move . . . it was so freeing to mix colors
without trying to match what I was looking at. Just loved mixing reds that
looked good to me, experiencing the tactile quality of paint, brushing it on
thick without being faithful to anything. (hmmm?) Whether it's a good
painting or not, both my opposing brains came together for a little while
and that felt really really good.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Copying Kanevsky

Alex Kanevsky is one of my most favorite contemporary
artists and I've forced myself to not copy him for almost
2 years but finally succumbed. It was pure joy! When I'm
looking at something in real life, I have such a hard time not
translating it literally, a problem I've never had before a couple
of years ago. It's probably because I've been so focused on
learning to see things as they are (well, as much as possible)
and now that I want to see in a different way, it's so hard to
make the shift. I am making the shift with still-life, but with the
figure, I've been hopeless. I've tried heads from my own photos
and always revert to smoothing the paint, ie. copying the photo. I
figured I had to do something very different to shift my brain:
learn from Kanevsky. (I've tried one of my own since painting
this and am still hopeless! It will take time and practice.) His
painting (a nude) appears to have some transparent areas brushed
over thick paint which is what I planned to do as well but when this
image starting emerging, it seemed best to leave it.

The painting I copied from is no longer on Kanevsky's site: but it's still under Some Figure Paintings
on Click on "Grid View with
Artist's Names" under the slide show.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pear Gathering

I used the same three-pear photograph as for the last painting and
invented a background of grays just to experiment and explore a
different light/dark relationship. Since I started to paint representationally,
so many aspects of making a painting flew out the window while I
struggled with modeling the subjects. I'm just beginning to feel that's
turning around so when I step back to look now, I really am looking
at edges, temperature, lights and darks and how or whether they
contribute to the whole piece.