Monday, August 13, 2012

So just got back from Cleveland, where my wife and I were visiting her family. Started this painting on the second day of the visit, after having told everyone how excited I was for grad school. Here it is after the first session: 
Yikes! Here I was again, giving myself more problems than I needed- unfamiliar subject matter (a lot of architectural, man-made stuff ), more than a few elements, and all on a smaller-than-advisable canvas. To top it off, I also felt the pressure of having an audience (my in-laws). I really felt like wiping the whole thing down, but decided to punish myself by finishing it. I figured that at least I'd learn my lesson  about tackling too much on a small canvas.
           I stood out in the sun (Cleveland's pretty hot- who knew?) for the next couple of days with this thing. While I didn't finish it, I was able to get enough down so that I'll be able to finish it from memory sometime soon. At any rate, here it was after the last session:

And a closer look:

                                  Not there yet, but I'm glad I stuck it out and was thankful to able to leave with my
                                 dignity intact.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

                          So here ‘tis, finished at least for now. There are earlier versions posted below, the most recent of which shows the state it was at when I took it to my mentor George Nick for our first meeting. I’ve long been an admirer of Nick’s work, and it would be no stretch to say he’s one of my heroes in terms of Painting.
            My first real life encounter with George and his work did not disappoint. Still painting and every bit as much the curmudgeon friends’ tales had led me to believe, he is, in a word, fierce. There was no shortage of work, both new and old, to look at. It was something else to hear the behind-the-scenes action.
            First of all, while I knew they were all painted from life, I had no idea of the lengths to which he’d go to finish it all from life. From houses being repainted  halfway through a work, to shop window displays being changed two or three times, to a guy wielding a jackhammer ten feet away from him for an hour, George Nick paints what he sees and will make major changes as they pop up without hesitation. “Nothing’s gonna keep me from painting”, he says. He strongly encourages students to work from life, not photos. “It’s harder,” he says, “but the rewards are there”.
            I’m pleased to report that he had some nice stuff to say about my work (for real- I’d be lyin’ if I said any different). He also, of course had a lot to say in terms of how it could improve. Of the duck (and of a few other paintings, primarily still lives) he said he liked the main object, but had problems with the cast shadow and the background. Granted, it wasn’t done, but I could see what he was getting at. He said he’d like to see as much effort and concentration expended on every square inch of the canvas. “No hard parts and then easy parts- I want it all to be hard for you.” In truth, I kind of like how my objects emerge from their surrounding chaos, like they’re coming out of the Void. I see them as metaphors for perception, with the primary object becoming our object of focus and the rest drifting back into the universe’s general detritus… And yet, George Nick is George Nick. While I do intend to explore my ideas concerning object/Void further, a little more focus and hard observational work spent on my backgrounds is certainly an idea worth pursuing. His comments on the painting above certainly helped to bring it to another place.