I’m beginning to enjoy this “archiving thing”. It’s not all drudgery. Many memorable moments are being revived through the discovery of photos of various events. Yet, one photo says it all. . . It makes me laugh - reminding me, once again, that I have never had an exhibition where there were not at least a half dozen or so paintings inadvertently not signed - even though Marie would often remind me beforehand to make sure they are. . . And so, despite “the suit and tie” and visitors beginning to enter the hall, I could be seen still signing and dating some of the displayed pieces.
It's always interesting to retrieve paintings from the racks in the storage area of the studio - especially years after they were created. This particular piece “Return Of The Vietnam Vets” has never been exhibited. It was painted as a physical reminder of what was going through my mind at the time regarding a war the US soldiers had been fighting despite being vilified by their own countrymen. I worried about those soldiers returning from a horrid experience only to be met with derision and shaming. As I had no experience other than the newspaper clippings and news reports on the topic, I was more interested in the emotional and mental scars created by the whole situation of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Traumatized by what they experienced in war and Vilified as they were by their own citizenry how would they ever adjust in such a way that they could begin anew a life of peace and productivity? All the guilt of that ill-advised and ill-run war was being heaved unto their shoulders because those who had managed the war and those who were at home looking at it on TV felt shameless. Oddly, it is this painting which encouraged me to paint, 34 years later, my black on black painting “An Intelligent Soldier Is a Dangerous Soldier”. In that I wanted to show that if ever a soldier, of any country, was asked whether a war they were being sent off to fight was necessary - maybe there would never be a war to ever be fought again. Has anyone dared ask a soldier what he or she thinks - before a decision is made to go to war? For whom would their answer be dangerous?
Above : Return Of The Vietnam Vets - Oil - 18" x 24" - 1976
Below : An Intelligent Soldier. . . - Oil - 40" x 60" - 2010
Being a studio painter with a commission-based practice rarely affords me the opportunity to simply "go out and paint". But when I can, choosing a land or a cityscape composition is a matter of flipping a coin. I live in a city which is greener than most. Several parks and one of the 3 main rivers in the area are at my doorstep.
When I can take advantage of some plein air enjoyment, my palette is often made up of a rather limited though not limiting array of colours : Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna and ochre. To this I add white (sparingly used) and black (even more sparingly used). This grouping is sometimes called the Velasquez palette. I lay out everything from beginning to end with a # 8 hogs hair bristle - even with small canvasses or boards. The big brush stops m,e from being finicky or fussy.
After about an hour of painting, the light changed too much to continue so I started a quick 15 minute sketch to use up the rest of the paint on my palette. The result was even rougher (freer) but opened the door to the possibility of turning it into a larger painting in the studio.
I had approximately 15 minutes of sketch time. Rain had been forecast but I wanted to not waste the remainder of the paint on my palette. I made a smart turn right and the bend in the river gave me a worthy subject - a bush trying to be majestic before a more impressive clump of trees in the background.
Above left : Just Past the Rapids on The Rideau - Oil/huile - 9" x 12"
Left : At The Bend In Th River - Oil/huile - 9" x 12"
2 blocks from home - lookin' good!
Despite the monstrous dimensions of the internet, forums and discussion groups for creative individuals (where thoughtful discourse is not only sought but considered essential) are difficult to find. And so, I begin this blog, hoping to create a connection with those who appreciate the difference between artwork and art and who know how rare "art" truly is in a world of consequence which no longer seems founded on the realm of the creative.
As a painter, I live in both worlds. The first, a studio environment - a place of unbridled creative potential. The second is what I call the "other" world - that physical and spiritual place beyond the studio. At times, like errant meteors, these two worlds seem hell bent on colliding and at other times seamlessly mixing - forming, during their lapses in aggression, a mesmerizing blend of similarities and opposites where creativity bubbles up to the surface - rendering concrete and hopefully comprehensible what it is that makes the universe sensible, sensual and in the end logical.
Not everything that these 2 worlds know is shared with each other and that , it seems, is when collisions occur.
This blog is therefore an exercise in the trying to make sense of such worlds - both as rich separate entities and as inevitable yet impossible lovers. I would hope the ensuing discourse would serve as a pseudo collective essay seeking to both describe the separateness of these 2 worlds and their need to both collide and embrace and understand the repetitively separate need to rush off and roam free.
In essence I present a notion that one without the other is a rather dismal consideration since, if it were possible for them to eschew one and the other and still purport to exist, we would be no more.
à vous la parole. . .
I am a painter and writer who's whole life has been influenced by one precept : "thinking each our own thoughts makes us relevant and relevance makes us powerful."