Saturday, December 26, 2009

The art of French winemaking, the process of California painting

The painting process. Artists approach painting in unique ways and it is much the same for the great winemakers of the world. There are basics of course, but we all have our methods, our aesthetics, and the love of what we do. Both are passionate.

I am very lucky to have wonderful and interesting people in my life, and Valerie Aigron, is no exception – she is an amazing and passionate women who loves what she does. Yes, yes, Val, I still owe you that “Martini” painting – soon I promise! (Valerie is currently the Export Manager of Cave de Rasteau in Provence and when she was in San Francisco last spring she introduced me to yet another amazing and passionate women, Mulan Chan-Randel.

Mulan is the French Regional and Rhone Valley wine buyer at K&L Wine Merchants (she knows her “stuff” to say the least and is currently a candidate in the Master of Wine program). Mulan has started a wine blog that I would like to share, mumu vignes. The web address is … check it out it’s fantastic!

The painting… getting there. It’s interesting, with the current paintings I am not doing any pre-sketches, I find that with the subject matter of these painting they seem to take on a life of their own anyway, so why bother. I just sketch out directly onto the canvas (abstract I approach differently, still doing a pre sketch). I have stopped fighting with the canvas, well, for the most part.

I get an idea in my head and just start painting (like my friend Matt said to me while having a glass of wine in my studio and looking at the paintings; “I’ve always wondered what was in your head… kinda frightening”).

The first step is to sketch in the idea/ basic composition.

2nd, I lay in base colors and start laying in the color flow around the canvas.

I tend to paint “off the canvas”, meaning, not ending the “story” at the edges. Next I start “developing” the full canvas. Somewhere at this stage is when the unexpected happens, that’s when it gets exciting… one color leads to another.

Then the fear factor. I think every artist goes through this. The “I don’t want to screw it up” part. But, I have learned that’s the process, you go on, and when it’s done, you know. At that point, you walk away and just let it be what is meant to be.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Painting with acrylic and Taxie the studio pup

I sometimes feel, and in this very soothing way, like I am living in a Norman Rockwell panting or something. Taxie the Studio Pup, who still somehow thinks that I am going to desert her and send her back to the SPCA , settles under the easel at my feet. I put my headphones on and start to paint.

Speaking of dogs, my life with Taxie is so about Dubose Dog Park, it’s a Lower Haight/ Dubose Triangle/ Wiggle life style. I am reminded of the San Francisco painter Roy De Forest’s “ Country Dog Gentlemen”. He did this painting in 1972 using polymer on canvas. Polymer is an acrylic based product. Well, to be exact, polymer and matte mediums are used to extend and thin acrylic paints, while promoting even flow and leveling, and maintaining the film's stability. This might be boring, but it is important as I now paint in acrylic. I started experimenting in the early 70’s using water based house paints as a wide range of colors were not readily available at the time… wow, how the medium has progressed and been enhanced. (And just to name a few who also worked in acrylic: Rothko, Lichtenstien, Warhol, Hokney).

I find it amazing that so many gallery owners are still unwilling to show artists who work outside of the “oil on canvas” box (and so love people like John and Jessica Trippe of Fecal Face Gallery aren’t stuck in the proverbial past) isn’t art and medium up to the artist? Isn’t it all a valid means of expression? Don’t get me wrong, I love working in oils, but with a dog in a studio, it’s toxic. Acrylics have there own challenges, experimenting with pushing the color, and the medium being sensitive to weather conditions as they are fast drying when it’s hot, can get gummy when it’s humid or damp. I find acrylic very rewarding and challenging. Isn’t that what art is, what the artist chooses to push?

Speaking of pushing. I love periodically visiting fellow 2nd Floor Studios artist Kirsten Tradowsky to see what she is up to. Kirsten seems to always push her limits and I so admire her wonderful work. She does her own thing... and yes, paints in oils and get’s “rock’n” colors!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter light

I am not sure exactly what date is the actual start of winter, but as my friend Liz would say; “Just Google it!”. All I know is that the studio is cold and the light has changed. It is very inviting, moody and romantic. I love that there is a hole in the window (which could potentially destroy the paintings from the moisture), but I have covered it with plastic for the near term. It feels so Paris, circa 1910. It feels so much like what an Artists studio should be... there has to some suffering doesn’t there?

I am always grateful for shows, so many thanks to Andy G. @ Cafe Que Tal for inviting me to have a show for this month, December. Stop by if you get a chance (see event listings on my web page for address).

I am currently continuing my “Lower Haight” series to get ready for the next show in April at Bean There Cafe (thanks Maurice F.). I have just finished #3, LH Terrace View

and now working on #4, “Memphis Minnie’s”... about 2/3rds along with this one (and making my partner Anne and neighbor Sara crazy with all the neurotic “what do you think, what do you thinks”). Hope to have it finished up next week.

The “heat is on” to get ready as this show is in “my hood”.

#1 is Noc Noc Bar and #2 UVA Enoteca

Just booked a show at the coveted Jumpin’ Java (thanks Sal F.) for January 2012... wonder what work I will have in two years? The process is always interesting.

Yes, the process is always interesting. IPod back on, Italian Opera. Taxie at my feet. It’s all good!