Tuesday, May 20, 2014

California Road Trip

Am I alone in finding the Pacific Ocean and coast of California one of the most magical places on this beautiful planet of ours?

As I mentioned in my last posting I spent a few months last summer at the beach in Cayucos on the Central Coast  and when I returned I was far more grounded in what I want to paint (at least for now). 

I grew up on the southern coast of California and love all of those odd businesses that are on Highway 1/101.  I know them; I recognize them; I have driven bye on road trips since I was 16 and able to drive.  I suddenly realized that I don't always stop to really look or appreciate what I would call my "destination markers"; "Oh, there is … I have XX time to go before I get to XX".  This is what my new series is about, a road trip on the coast, my beach towns and those places.

It is a nostalgic journey for me and it is also very fun to paint.

Here are some of the paintings I have been working on and a bit about them:

Shell Shop - Morro Bay 24x20"

The Shell Shop in Morro Bay has been there since 1955.  I have some special memories of that The Shell Shop sign as the first time I was there was either 1969 or 1970.  My Mom, close friend Juli and I decided on “the fly” to take a road trip up the coast in my little Fiat 850 coupe.  My Dad had MS and was getting worse that summer.  With his blessing we took what was to be the last “jump in the car with Mom and take off somewhere” before he passed.  Very meaningful visual imprint for me and as an artist those things never go away.  This is what I chose to paint it first for the new series
Giovani's - Morro Bay 16x12"

Giovanni's Fish Market and Galley in Morro Bay was founded by Mike DeGarimore in 1973 his son, Giovanni took over the family business in 2004.

Why I choose to do this painting was because we spend several months out of the year in Cayucos and shop at Giovanni’s almost every other day (many times by bicycle with Taxie in her dog trailer… it is only a little over 12 miles round trip).  It is a special place for me.

Giovanni is into local seafood products and sustainable sourcing which is important to my household.  Just the BEST!  
Borradori Garage 24x20"

The Borradori Garage in Cayucos looks like an old abandoned industrial site. 

It was built in 1932 and in 1949 the state of California moved Highway 1, purchasing the property and the garage.  Sam Borradori  bought the building back and then moved the structure slightly to its present location at 455 N. Ocean Blvd. (I found info about the building on The SLO Tribune site)

The property is now owned by the Dante Borradori family. Dan (Sam’s nephew) and wife, Sharon Borradori did the restoration along with local winery owner Stuart Selkirk.  It is now used for nonprofit events.
Barbara's Fishtrap 11x14" (temporary iPhone photo)

Barbara's Fishtrap in Half Moon Bay (Princeton Harbor) was established in 1971 and has been one of my go to places on the coast for years… some really seriously great fish and chips!
Patrick's Salt Water Taffy 16x12" - in progress

This is the painting that I was working on when I left for vacation in early May... back to Cayucos again… 3 weeks later and back in Studio 202 continuing.  The under colors are now in… time to start the "real" painting.

Patrick's Salt Water Taffy is this crazy pink and white building on Highway 1 in Bodega Bay that has been there since 1960. Really, is there anyway I could not paint this?

I have, at the moment, 3 more paintings lined up and ready to start for this series… one at a time.

I am also working on (when I need a break) some small pen & ink drawings of the Dog Patch area of San Francisco.  I plan to eventually do some large scale mixed media drawings with washes.  On the back burner for now.  Such an interesting part of the city with all the amazing abandoned industrial buildings.


Monday, January 6, 2014

A new year in Studio 202

Happy New Year! 

2013 was a very interesting year for me as an artist.  I can usually judge my productivity around the number of works that I complete.  Not so much for 2013.  It was a year that I had work in flux: reworking, rethinking and repainting.  

My studio was in wonderful creative chaos as I tried to grasp an understanding about how to bridge my paintings and drawings and yet not loose sight of my California rooted paintings.

Bought some new paint brushes…. wow was it time!
This past summer I locked the door to Studio 202 and our household took off for several months and headed to the beach on the Central Coast of California. 

As I reflect perhaps this was actually Taxie the studio pups vacation!  She went to the beach everyday, she went for bike rides along the coast and country roads and enjoyed having a back yard.  Talk about a happy dog!

As artists we are never far from what we create.  If we are not painting (or doing what we do) we are thinking about it.  When I returned to San Francisco I realized how much I needed this break and how excited I was to get back to work. 

The Shell Shop - 2013
Above is a new painting of the Mid Coast (Moro Bay) and I have another that is in progress.  I am also very excited about the new drawings I am working on.  

New ideas!  2014 is going to be a GREAT creative year!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Everything starts with a sketch

A sketch can be an idea that stays in your imagination or it can find it’s way to paper.

If it finds it’s way to paper it can sit there waiting for years for you to return. Sometimes to follow through with a painting or the final drawing and other times just to remind you of that creative moment.

Sketch of woman who had just passed. I was in college and working in a convalescent home in Hermosa Beach. I knew her. It was late at night. The nurse on duty called me. I was allowed time alone with her and did this drawing.

Above a sketch I did during the same time frame, different woman, I call it "Forgotten".

The sketchbook. It is the artists’ journal and is much like a pile of old photos. There is a memory of every drawing. When I pull my old ones out I can remember every memory, emotion, idea and where I was at the time. My sketchbooks are the history of me. I would imagine it might be the same for many artists.

But it is not always dark, sketch of bathroom in a cool beach apartment where I used to live.

I use my sketchbooks as a reference library for ideas.

Above was working of hand angles for for a the new series.

Above is an example of a transition from sketch/ idea to painting. From painting to prototype clothing. I am working on some California Surfer motif clothing using paintings from my Vacation Series. People we are talking Haute Couture!

The Internet and digital cameras have changed so much the way I work. But, there still is no substitute for that direct transfer of idea to paper through chalk or pencil. I confess. I have become lazy and often these days defer to instant gratification of technology. That said, I do find that the most emotional and satisfying works I do actually start with a sketch. I have been thinking about this lately with the new body of work I am doing.

I am certainly not tech adverse, but sometimes do miss those into the night reaching and getting lost into those wonderful places before the computer made it so easy.

And I write this on my computer. And without the Internet and platforms like Facebook I would not be talking and exchanging ideas with artist friends on a daily basis all over the world. Interesting times we live in. And that is exciting.

And where am I going with this entry? Well, full circle to the new body of work that is in progress.  That will be my next post.

And at this point I will quote the Bob Dylan song; "When I paint my masterpiece"; "...Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble, ancient footprints are everywhere..."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

“I take the view that life is a constant, flowing thing.” Mildred K. Walker

(photo of drawing I did in the Creation series, Mother Earth,this was a part of my independent studies as a student of Mildred K. Walker in the 1970's)

There are moments in ones’ creative life that stand out for various reasons. Those moments are often separated by years.

As an artist it will always be my time spent in Mildred’s life drawing classes. I know that very few reading my blog will be familiar with Mildred K. Walker or her drawings, but she was and will always be an inspiration. She was tough, as in tough love. I think of her often when I am alone in my studio, and the energy that she brought to the world is still with me as I move back to and forward in what drives me as an artist. I guess, in my own way, I am giving the best thanks that I can as I know she would smile, this is her immortality… us students/ artists that remember her and how she so gave of herself.

Los Angeles Times article about Mildred K. Walker

I made a very calculated decision three years ago to work on and complete paintings that were focused on the exploration of color and the urban surroundings that I move through. For the moment I have come to the end of that endeavor (This will never leave me, I will return. As an artist I live between two worlds… the painting and the drawing). I think the transition painting was “Midtown”, color with a painting style close to drawing and back to a large canvas.

I have taken down and packed up most of my paintings to clear my studio for this new body of work. As I move forward I am becoming surrounded in the ancient story of Greek and Roman myth. I am also finding that each new drawing and painting start to relate and are telling a story. It is the story of humanity at a time when what we now call civilization began… good vs. evil. I am also expressing my feelings about what is going on with our politics here in the U.S. as well as globally.

I am now working on two large paintings; each 48 x 60” as well as several large drawings. Most of these are still in progress, meaning, not finished... I move from painting to drawing, to painting to drawing.

Cheiron was among the gentlest, wisest, and most learned of creatures. As a result, he was asked to tutor several of the greatest of Greek heroes, including Achilles, Asclepius, Hercacles, Jason, Aeneas and Peleus. Being the son of a god he was immortal, but Heracles accidentally wounded him with a poisoned arrow when fighting the other Centaurs. According to one tradition, in order to be relieved of the unrelenting torment of the wound, he gave his immortality to the Titan Prometheus and allowed himself to die. According to another, he appealed to Zeus and was transformed into the constellation Sagittarius. (painting is in progress)

This painting is from a photo I took of the Pantheon while living in Roma. I walked by this building no less than 3 times a week for over a year. I sat in a café outside of it. I went inside and just hung out. This is a very spiritual place for me. Whenever I am in Roma I allow time to visit the Pantheon. I allow time to reflect on the dreams of humanity. (painting in progress)

One of the drawings in progress is of the giant Enceladus . He is moving the volcanic rocks as he stretched from his wound. Living in California this is an interesting way to think about earthquakes. I am so enjoying this new body of work.

From Wkipedia: During the battle between the Giantess and the Olympian gods, Enceladus was disabled by a spear thrown by the goddess Athena. He was buried on the island of Sicily, under Mount Etna. The volcanic fires of Etna were said to be the breath of Enceladus, and its tremors to be caused by him rolling his injured side beneath the mountain. In Greece, an earthquake is still often called a "strike of Enceladus".

And a drawing of Athena with her hawk.

This week I have been laying in a drawing of a Dryads/ tree nymph. She is apart of her tree, which is the myth; one could not survive without the other. (in progress)

This drawing is a bit hard to explain, the short version is that yes, it is about the mythical Gods and it is also about the struggle of the artist and the inner demons that drive creativity. This drawing is kind of the essence of this series. (not titled yet)

This drawing is titled Transformation. It is about the flight of birds, the human spirit (and yes, there is symbolism is the mask of humanity) and how we are and become apart of each other in our journey when we open ourselves up to the universe.

Nature. Two Rocks. While taking a walk with my dog, Taxie, I came across these wonderful large rocks along the road and needed to do a drawing of them. As I move into this body of work, I can now see how they are apart of the Giantess and nature.

I must say that this is probably the painting that started this series, Roman Villa, acrylic on canvas, 12x9". It did not fit into anything I was working on and yet it kept calling back. I had put this little painting away and when I got going on this new body of work I pulled it back out. I did this painting in 2009.

To wrap up this entry, there are many more gesture drawings up on my wall at the studio waiting and there is a new canvas waiting. This is a very exciting departure or rather a return for me as an artist. And I am looking forward to exploring my feelings about what it means to be human and what that means in today's world. It is said that the reason the ancient Gods left us was from broken hearts because we stopped believing.

I think about ancient mythology and can see how as modern science and archaeology discovers new and exciting links to our past, those beginnings to an intellectual understanding (Art, Science, Music, Philosophy, etc., well, those things that make us human and that we can't explain) truly is what keeps us human. This should be a reason to keep going back, to learn from our mistakes and keep going forward, to grow.

Our world is in trouble at the moment, we can not forget that we all have a common beginning. My family roots are in the Mediterranean and so this is why I am exploring this subject. We all come from somewhere, and it is so interesting to find and connect the dots, so to speak. We should not forget that all of us come from somewhere and that is what humanity is about, our differences and our commonality.