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Archives for November, 2009

Unoriented/ Oriented: Painting the Desert

This is a double posting,  ruminations from Day 29 of my Residency at the Goldwell Open Air Art Museum. So if you’re reading the residency journal, this is all old news.  And it’s really an essay ruminating about the experience during the last few days of our stay. I will almost certainly publish images of the final result of the painting when there is a final result. But this is mostly just thinking, ruminating, rummaging.

I told Jer this morning that I should be able to “finish” these canvases in another two days. Tonight I’m not so sure. But I’m not going to show any more photos of them until I’m fairly confident that I’ve done as much as I can see to do. The panorama  does have a name, which for me means it’s close to being done. I’m calling it “Unoriented: The Amargosa Desert.”

I spent an hour this afternoon (when my eyes and brain could no longer deal with painting itself) reflecting on what I had wanted to achieve and what factors were involved in getting me to this stage of the work. I wrote these “reflections” down in my notebook, knowing that by this evening I’d be totally clueless as to what I was thinking at 2:30 PM.

It’s very nice to have a handsome notebook, even though when I read back through this month’s entries, I often haven’t a clue what I was talking about.

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Still Here

Months have passed since I posted anything. Like others I have been distracted by a number of competing priorities, but have kept my hand in as much as possible.

The affair with plastic as a medium continues – in fact has perhaps gone over the edge a little bit – as I buy all manner of absurd plexiglass which now threatens to take up all available space.

My initial work with plastic in trying to put out a clean product, continues.  Added to this are experiments with a happy-go-lucky kind of drape forming, which is something of an antithesis, or complement, to an otherwise obsessive concern for smooth surfaces and clean edges. The drape forming is a primitive exercise in laying plexiglass sheeting over a variety of shapes and blasting it with a sizable propane burner. The plastic sags and bubbles in the flame and assumes some semblance of the underlying structure.

waffle pattern drape nov

In this instance I obtained a waffle pattern from an old louvered door. Some colored varnish was dropped into the grooves. When this had hardened I then painted the back in silver. While nothing in particular was anticipated with the exercise, I found a hybrid effect that recalls a sort of medical metallica interspersed with a sense of bubble-wrapped bodily fluids. Sometimes keeping to an intended path and not being drawn off by such happenstance can be most difficult.

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Color — some notions


Gerhard Richter, 1985, 57.4 cm x 86.4 cm, Oil on paper

The Henri Art Magazine (written, I think, by several authors) has a fascinating continuation of a discussion of color, “Color: Simulation,” published on Wednesday Nov. 4, 2009.

The author discusses how the perception of color has changed with technology, the technology that presents any color you want: directly out of the can (reducing the need to use traditional techniques to create luminescence or brilliance by direct observation and experience); and then, further “enhancing” and changing color as we know it, technology can produce a pure physics of color through light technologies (as seen on the computer screen.) This, he insists, has produced color as desire, as consumer directed, and loses color as personal and emotive.

I can’t do justice to the writer’s observations; you’ll need to read them yourself. And I’m not sure the polemic need be as strong as it is.

But I was reminded of Steve’s black and white photography, (also here, on A&P) and along with thinking that Steve’s work clearly transcends point-and-shoot photography of the digitized masses, I suddenly understood how the black and white refuses the seduction of the digitized web versions of color.

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oil on a maple, 12 x 12 inches

A meditating duck in the Banter Lake outside Liselotte’s cabin in Wilhelmshaven.

The color that I chose for painting water in Northern Germany differs from my usual Lake Michigan color mix. Today, it consists of Ultramarine Blue, Dioxane violet, Titanium White and Zinc White.

I paint water, June paints the desert. Do you also have a proclivity for a particular motif or theme?



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