This is What reality looks like

What? A painting of a flower?  That’s what reality looks like? And the answer to these questions is yeah, this is reality.  Take a closer look at the piece, do you see the frayed  edges of the canvas? Do you see the creases and wrinkles on the painted surface? Do you see that this is not a flower at all,  just paint on a rag?

This is not an earth shattering statement of truth, but it is truth nonetheless. In our current world, “fake news” is a household term and conspiracy theories ride the wind like shreds of broken glass cutting away at our democracy. We need to recognize truth wherever we find it.  So here is a little piece of the real world.  Yes, flowers are pretty and shadows add depth and substance to a painting, but look at the reality behind the illusion.  In my work, I put the reality front and center, the faults of the canvas are right there on display with the oversized flower.  See the whole of the artwork.  And see that it’s flaws actually enhances the piece.  To a real world person, it gives the “pretty” flower balance and makes it far more interesting than pie-in-the-sky fakery.

New works on old themes

I’ve been experimenting with the traditional still life. It has always fascinated me how, with a few brush strokes, an image can arise out of raw canvas and paint. But the conventional painting is usually framed so that the raw canvas is hidden and the viewer sees only the finished image. To me, seeing the image together with the raw canvas adds another dimension to the work.  It is something like looking behind the curtain at the man creating the Wizard of Oz. Or you could look at it as another way of showing what Magritte did so well in Ceci n’est pas une pipe.

In order to do this. I take unstretched canvas, soften it, then distress it.  I paint an image onto the raw canvas with acrylic paints.  Acrylics, as opposed to oils, will soak into the raw canvas and give the piece a soft edge look reminiscent of pastels.  But since the medium is acrylic paints, there is no need for protective glass.

This one point (no need for glass) opens the piece up to a more modern presentation. Instead of framing the work, I mount it on a cradled wood panel.  The distressed edge of the canvas along with the image are front and center. The work is totally accessible to the viewer, who can see it for what it is in reality.

Most of these pieces are large.  Iris, shown above and Tulip, are both 30″ x 40.”

Tulip

 

Then again, smaller is good too:

Calla Lily is  18″ x 24″

Calla Lily

 

And Cherry Blossom is 20″ x 20″

Cherry Blossom

 

Out of Time

Life and art.   I was given some sunflower seeds this spring and decided to plant them in flower pots and placed them on my deck.  And watch them grow.

I decided  to do a piece about sunflowers.  This is not the first piece I’ve done on sunflowers.  But since I had them growing right outside, it would be interesting to do a piece which captures sunflowers in different stages of growth.

I wanted to do images  from seedling, to full bloomed, to over bloomed, to dying and create a piece that would show all these aspects at the same time.  To do this I painted small paintings on unstretched canvas, mounted them on chip board,  then arranged them on stretched  canvas. Not all of the small paintings are aspects of sunflowers, some some are abstracts that suggest cityscapes.  This is probably because I live in a city and the concrete chaos is a common backdrop for sunflowers.

The paint splatters were the hardest part of the piece.  I just had to let go and let the paint fall as it would, knowing that it could as easily ruin the piece as pull it together.

You are Here

The red dot marks the spot. This is where you are standing right now,  but where do you go from here?

(unstretched canvas, acrylics, and watercolor paper on stretched canvas,   12″ x 48″ )

Lantern

Sometimes I like to paint situations rather than objects or abstractions of objects.  I call this piece Lantern not because it looks like the object, but rather it infers the discovery of a light in the distance. It is the moment when you realize there is  an idea or a perspective, or a secret you’ve never understood before. The Zen Buddhists call this moment “satori.”

(mixed media on a cradled wood panel, 40″x 30″)

It Kinda looks like . . .

I have noticed, when exhibiting an abstract, people will often look at it and say “It kinda looks like a . . . ”  Maybe people look for the representation in abstract because the human brain tends to look for patterns or identifiable elements.  Or maybe because my abstracts are not full on abstract expressionism but rather notions of objects or circumstances in the material world.

This particular piece generates a lot of speculation from viewers.  Many people see it as a city, some see it as a sailboat at night.  I see it as an interpretation of a verse from the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield:

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky,
And all I ask in a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

City lights or ghostly ship, the piece is about mystery, something only mildly  recognizable in the night.  Something you can’t quite grasp, but you can’t let go of it either.

Something not quite real, in the real world.  I call it City Ship.  (mixed media on cradled wood panel, 30″x 30″)

City Flowers

I’m starting a new series of multi-media work.  A  multitude of small paintings adhered to a cradled wood panel.  The piece portray the sense and scenes of the city peppered with images of flowers.  I was in Chicago, in that part of the Loop, where the sun never penetrated the city concrete.  I turned a corner and there, on the steps of a dilapidated, boarded up building, was a flowers stall.  The flowers, some blooming, some already past their prime, wallowed in oversized buckets.  For a minute it all seemed so perfect.

The piece is composed of several small paintings on unstreteched canvas, mounted on chip board, arranged together into one 30″ x 24″ piece.

Ya gotta have Sunflowers

Ever since Van Gogh picked up a brush and transformed paint and canvas into the living and dying of the wild ones, every artist sooner or later does a take on sunflowers.  My sunflowers are not an imitation of Van Gogh, nor are they an attempt to capture the mystery or passion of the subject.  They are fairly tame flowers in a fairly tame composition.  They are like me.

But they would look good in someone’s kitchen!

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