Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where Did Those Circles Come From?

Here is the new work, completed twenty minutes ago. This one measures 9" x 13".


At the last posting, I was asked to explain the use of and placement of the circles in the upper left corner. OK, here goes - First, take a look at this image, doctored up in good old Photo Shop, showing the work without the circles. The only thing I have done here is to clone out the circles, I did not modify or adjust the image in any other way. So, now take a look here and also look above at the work as completed.

Now, try and keep your focus on the image as adjusted, just above here. As I harp about frequently, a well balanced composition with strong and appropriate positioning of subject matter is of great importance to me as an artist. I do a great deal of preliminary work in placement of objects, redefining the boundaries of the image, considering both positive and negative spaces and making sure, before I begin work on the actual drawing, that all works, is balanced, presents a pleasing overall design and makes sense.
Even though my preliminary ideas are simple line sketches which sometimes include some indication of shadowing and texture, I can tell a lot just by looking at the image say, the morning after I have sketched out what I think will be the final composition. Usually, if there is need to adjust or rethink, it will become apparent to me at that time, when I am looking at it with a fresh, rested eye.
In this instance with this basic composition, simple in form, with little actually going on except for the textures, shadows and positioning of the three birds, I was concerned with working up a rather abstract group of shapes in an interesting arrangement. With only the body of the birds and their shadows to work with, defining an interesting movement with their body poses and knowing that I wanted to repeat to some extent the heavy texture of the surface upon which they were standing, I knew I was going to be left with a great deal of negative space. Once I had accepted where the three birds were going to be positioned within the boundaries set for the compositional area, I had to make sure things would be balanced.
After giving myself some room, and allowing my eye to see the idea in sketch form after 'sleeping' on it, I was a bit concerned that the long, pointy, downward thrusting shadow of the foreground bird was going to play too important a roll in the final drawing and might actually tend to move the viewer's eye right out of the image in the bottom right corner. I could have resolved this possible issue by moving the little circle of birds closer to the upper left border, thus giving more space between the pointed end of that foreground bird's shadow and the lower right corner, but after thought and actually using four lengths of scrap mat board to redefine the edges of the compositional area, I did not like what I was seeing.
And so, it came to me that I needed to add some sort of weight to the upper left of the work. This I could have done by darkening in the textural aspect of the pavement at that corner, but I decided that would not work as it would have added too much weight. I then thought of some rough, sketchy indications of shadows of leaves and branches as if from an overhanging tree in that upper left section, but decided that would be too much of a conflict with the detail of the birds.
After a bit more thought and playing around with sketchy ideas, I fell upon a simple set of lines of some sort, abstract in form, yet suitable for adding the weight that I thought I needed. In short order, I came up with the two overlapping circles . . . shadows of something, but not strong enough to be too weighty or too much of a conflict with the detail in the feathers of the doves. It seemed the absolute perfect resolution to my 'problem' and added just enough additional interest to the upper part of the work to counteract the thrust of that long, pointed shadow moving in the opposite direction.
The image without the circles is OK, but I did not want the work to be . . . just OK. I wanted the balance to work as perfectly as it could and I think, in the end, my decision has made this a much more interesting work with the addition of those two simple, five minutes worth of drawing, circles. They not only add the weight that I wanted added, but I think they add just a bit of mystery and also help to really meld that little 'circle' of birds together as a single unit as opposed to three individual units.
So, there you have it. My reasons for doing what I did. You are certainly welcome to come to your own conclusions as to whether you think I succeeded or not!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

OK, here's the way things stand as of this hour . . .

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's a murky day here today with a chance of rain/snow, whatever, to come this afternoon. Pretty grey and threatening now and I am finally getting down to some studio time after a bit of lunch and a bit of web surfing while I enjoyed my turkey and swiss on flat bread.

I just finished reading several blog postings by Dustin Van Wechel, an artist whose work I respect greatly. I've bumped into Dustin in the past at an art show or two, but can't say we are friends. But I found reading a particular entry on his blog page, the one for December 6 of last year, quite interesting and close to home. It not only spoke to me but brought a knowing smile to my face.

In that particular posting, Dustin talked about being true to yourself as an artist; painting or sculpting or photographing or drawing or stitching or carving whatever it is that makes you happy and brings gratification, while possibly foregoing what is often a recurrent 'theme' in art circles, painting for the market. I could not agree with that philosophy, more.

And to bring that feeling into even sharper focus in my mind, I find myself continuing to consider, today, time spent yesterday with collector/friends at the Baltimore Museum of Art to see a fine exhibition entitled Cezanne and American Modernism. That exhibition, co-organized by the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey and the BMA, focused on the major influence that Cezanne's work had on any number of American artists painting at the turn of the 19th/20th Century time period. Many of the Americans were artists whose names were quite familiar to me but I was also very pleased to find several names that were relatively unknown to me and have since, done further research on the Internet to find out more on several of the artists whose work really captivated me and spoke to me and involved me and just flat out knocked my thick, woolly socks off!

Of course, as I frequently do, I picked up a copy of the 370 plus page catalog of the exhibition for future reading and digesting. I can take in just so much when standing in the galleries and then have to take the time to really delve into further study.

Anyway, as I read Dustin's words and thought to myself that he had it just right, I could not help but consider what I had seen yesterday at the museum. If there ever was a group of paintings that I felt represented the best of an artist's personal viewpoint and great examples of artists just doing their thing while being true to themselves, there they were in all their glory, hanging on the walls at the BMA.

Now certainly the thrust of the exhibition was the way in which those Americans, working here or abroad in Paris and observing Cezanne's works for the first time, found inspiration in his brushwork, his pared down color palette, his unique for that time period, fresh approach and viewpoint. They adapted what they saw to suit their own personal needs as creative souls themselves.

It was very interesting to see a natural progression as I moved through the exhibition of how each of the selected artist/observers of Cezanne worked through their stylistic approaches, finding their own personal way, while at the same time showing a remarkable kinship with Cezanne, whose works were interspersed throughout, side by side with those of his 'followers'.

OK, back to being oneself as an artist. It struck me as I was leafing through the catalog just now, how the likes of Marsden Hartley, Arshile Gorky, Maurice Prendergast, John Marin, Charles Demuth and all the others, were seemingly uneffected by what might have been perceived as the current tastes and trends of the public and specifically the art buying collectors of their period. Their choice of subject matter, their individual ways of expressing their emotions as artists and their unique take on the world around them, shines through in each and every work represented. And with Father Cezanne standing behind them, after his own stepping away from the norm and what was seen as the typical art of that time period, the impact of the individual and his deeply personal way of putting paint to canvas was further impacted.

I have always contended that an artist must please himself/herself, first. The most creative aspects of their individual personalities must be showcased to the fullest. They have to allow themselves to see in the special ways in which they see and they have to painstakingly and with great courage, translate that sight into their work. They have to look at subjects that appeal to their own base instincts in order to work to their fullest potential as creative beings. They have to find the medium that fits like a glove and not be dictated by the whims of perceived current fashion. They should be free to explore whatever direction they choose to move in without fear of being rejected, looked over or ignored. They should test themselves constantly, push boundaries, try new things, look at new subject matter, all the while without conscious concern for sales.

Yes, I know in these tight financially messed up times, artists have to be concerned about paying the bills. Artists always have been concerned about paying the bills. But that concern should be left out of the personal need to do what brings internal peace.

Many years ago, someone came to me and said they thought my choice of subject matter and the way in which I chose to portray those subjects, was appealing to some extent! To how much of a greater extent might that appeal be, according to that individual, should I choose to use color and be just a bit more selective in narrowing my field of animal subjects to, say, the examples that seemed to currently be 'moving' in galleries, was their query.

I had no immediate response, as I was momentarily struck by the unknowing, uncaring and unfeeling of that individual as to what the creative process and being an artist, was all about.

Over the years that I have been a professional artist, I have seen many others who have, to my way of thinking, foresaken a great deal of their individuality and development of uniqueness, simply to make money. I do not begrudge any of them, their trips to the bank. But as a fellow artist and creative person, I often wonder how they justify placing their names upon works that could be so much better, so much more defined for their oneness, so much richer in the establishment of that name.

As for me, I have to agree totally with Dustin's ultimate realization that, as he has to, I have to produce work that moves me and with hope, in the end, others as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yesterday's bit of work. More mumbo jumbo in the paving and twittering in the birds. Fun, fun, fun!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Installment No. 2. Yesterday's work.
As I remarked yesterday, I am just noodling away on that pavement. Why do I do this to myself?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A new work is taking shape on my drawing board. 'Ah', you might say . . . 'looks vaguely familiar.' Well I suppose you might say it has some resemblance to a work recently completed, yes. Perhaps . . . a variation on a theme? Sure the subjects are once again, mourning doves. And sure, there is a large expanse of some flat surface (oh, am I ever having fun with all that noodling!). And yes, I have clustered the little feathery characters all together in a little huddle. And yes, the little huddle is offset to one corner of the overall compositional field. Well, you know what they say . . . when you find something that works, make good use of it! And that goes for making good use of good reference material as well. I have very good reference of mourning doves in many interesting poses so I guess I will just make use of it!

Hey, if a great composer, like Rachmaninoff (who I have been listening to this afternoon in the studio), can come up with a beautiful series of variations like those on a theme of Paganini (The Rhapsody, of course) I suppose I can give it a try too!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I have posted four small works to ebay today. If you would like to take a look and possibly place a bid, check out the links below and Good Luck!

Check out 'Enchanted'.

Check out 'In The Barn'.

Check out 'Got Moos?'.

Check out 'Painted Ponies'.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Ventures, New Venues

I am pleased to announce that my work will be joining that of the other fine artists represented by the William Ris Gallery in Stone Harbor, New Jersey later this month. I am thrilled to take on this new partnership and look forward to having my work in this new venue and before many new eyes.

I have also been informed that dates are being looked at for, what I am currently calling 'More Unknown Bridges', a solo exhibition with the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts in New Castle, Pennsylvania for next spring. This exhibition will sort of pick up where 'Unknown Bridges', my solo with the Woodson Museum in the summer of 2008, left off. I am very excited about once again digging into reference material gathered but not tapped for that '08 exhibition and continuing to explore the inspiration of bridge structure and architectural abstraction that so got my creative juices flowing during the four years spent on work for that original exhibition. Once definite dates are set, I will post notification here and can't wait to get going on that work!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

35 minutes of work this morning to tighten up and finalize yesterday's work and this one is ready for mat and frame. The image is 11 1/4" x 15 1/2". Now, you may ask why such a strange size? Hmm, if you asked one of my artist friends who know of my stash of frames in the basement, they might say, 'I wish Terry would make use of those 100s of frames that he has sitting around all the time and do his work to suit the frame rather than the opposite.' Well, here we go! I did this work to suit a particular size of a frame just waiting to be used, hence the rather peculiar image size. I must do more of this . . . find a frame and then work to it! Maybe someday, if I stick to it, I will be able to rid myself of all those frames in the basement!

And now I have to consider whether to dress up and go outside and start to make a dent in the shoveling or just sit tight. Plows, where are the snow plows?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I got a few hours of work in yesterday and now, today, as I sit down to the drawing board again, here is the piece so far. With snow blitzing everything outside once again today, I am glad that I am indoors, warm and out of the cold. With hope that the power continues to stay on as the winds and snow swirl outside, I shall see if I can't finish this one up today. The dreaded water comes next I think . . . may as well get on with it! Then some final touch ups here and there making sure that all the intensities of tone work and help to give complete depth to the piece, and this one will be ready for a mat and frame.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

As I sit down to the drawing board, finally, today, this is where the current work stands. Obviously over the last few days I have been otherwise occupied in case you had not read a paper, watched TV or read here on this blog about our great snow. And there is more yet to come today! So, while I have time and can actually sit and work for the first time in four days . . . I will take advantage of light and power and heat and work! Maybe this one will be finished by the weekend? Damn groundhog.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Great Snow of 2010 has come and thankfully, now gone. With the power out yesterday, not much to do in the studio but sit and watch the snow fall! My hopes for completing the current work by tomorrow have faded and after shoveling later today there might be drawing time, but sort of doubt it. Since no one has seen anything that looks like a snow plow in the neighborhood, I guess there will be plenty of draw time over the next couple of days so maybe by mid week? OK winter, I'm personally through with you!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Haven't gotten in much work on this one these last couple of days, but as the white flakes are falling once again outside my studio window and we wait to see if the predicted two plus feet of snow indeed does happen, I sit down to work today with this, the work so far, in front of me. All things being equal, this one should be done by Monday since I will most likely be snowed in!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The current work . . . progressing nicely.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Here is the new work so far.