Stories or Statements

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Waiting to Launch – one of the first pieces I painted from a photo I took.

I am not an accomplished artist, nor am I seeking renown.  This will not be a career for me.  This art exploration I am on is following its own meandering path, and a year and a half ago, the path diverged from decorative painting, to exploring subjects in more detail.

You seek, and get a lot of advice when you start this.  Youtube has been a font of tutorials, but I don’t want to slavishly copy them (as they advise you not to) because that is not my work.

The biggest and best advice – “You learn by doing.”  But after that it gets confusing.  Copy old masters; Don’t copy old masters; Paint from reference photos; Don’t paint from reference photos; It’s ok to trace  your reference sketch/photo; It’s not ok to trace  your reference sketch/photo.  You get the picture.

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Frozen Ghost – combines three of my photos to tell a story.

Some of my favourite pieces come from photos I have taken.  Notice I say, “come from”.  I consider it my right to modify as necessary, or not.  And being a new painter, each time I tackle a photo, there is a challenge to present something on the support that I have not done before.  Each time, I am learning something that I can use in future paintings.  But when I showed some of my pieces to an artist and art teacher, who has had a decades long career and whom I respect, I was told that my work, while nice, lacked emotion.  That has niggled in my heart for months now.  There are all kinds of criticisms that I would have expected (on brushwork or perspective, colour or composition), but not that one.  And I have a problem with it.

Each painting I do from my photos evokes a memory for me, and/or tells a story.  Obviously, someone else will lack the frame of reference for the story, but I hope that the viewer can get some sense of it.  Perhaps one day I will evolve to the point of making strong statements with a brush, but at the moment I am giving more of a recitation.  And that is OK.

So if you are struggling with what should be the “right” way to paint – stop struggling.

If it speaks to you, that is the most important thing as you grow.  And try things outside your comfort zone, but not all the time.  Remember, you should be enjoying yourself.

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First Freeze – an ATC I did from my photo of the pond where I live.  The challenge was to learn how to do ice.  But the story is of a particularly beautiful sunset in the place I grew up.  A moment in time that evokes the peace of this place when I was a child.  In this light you don’t see a lot of the changes “progress” has wrought.

 

A Large Day!

Actually, it was a very large weekend.  In my little corner of the world we still celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday on the weekend that includes, or lies before, May 24th.  It’s an excuse to wet a line and bend a few elbows; to get out in the country and have a boil up.  This was a rare confluence of events as we had great weather and enough wind to keep the flies away, and a massive iceberg floating out the bay.

This gigantic block of ancient ice was ponderously making it’s way back out the bay.  Winds were high, and whipped melt-water and steam off the surface.

The bay holds reefs and shoals that have sunk many a ship, and our floating iceberg came upon a rock.  Over the space of the evening it grounded and twisted, the forces of wave and tide and wind torquing through the center.  The back rose, the center sank, the nose lifted.

We had no moon that night, but before all was fully dark I was able to try a long exposure of the two pieces as the berg broke apart.  While the camera was on a tripod, and I used a remote shutter release, the wind blew so hard that there was no way to keep the camera fully  steady.  The lights on the other shore trace a feather into the shot.

The next morning some anticipation woke me at 5.  The sky was tinged with yellow, and the two massive blocks were parted.  The bow well out the bay, floating aimlessly and in it’s way, somehow forlorn.

The stern still firmly anchored on the rock…