Monday, November 24, 2008

Is there a there there?

Oil on Panel
5 x 12

This is a simple little painting, maybe not as simple as it first appears but still there's not a whole lot to it. Personally I like clean, uncluttered images, but I have it on good authority that I'm quite, what's the term, nuts. Anyway, I was going for a tranquil, twilight mood and for that I didn't need a lot of extraneous stuff. I'm thinking of doing quite a number of small paintings, predominately landscapes, like this that can be done fairly fast and sold at a reasonable (read cheap) price. If anybody out there has any thoughts about this or interest in the pieces let me know.

But that's not what I want to talk about today. I did a little gallery hopping a few weeks ago, mainly looking for new outlets for me and just to see what was out there in general. I didn't hit the entire gallery scene by any means, but I think what I saw was pretty representative. It was pretty disillusioning. I didn't find anyplace I thought I'd fit into, so I didn't even bother submitting anything to anyone. That led me to start thinking about they whys. What did the pieces being shown have that I don't. Excluding the abstract art and just looking at the realist pieces I came away thinking that the one big thing they had was flash. These things just jumped out and grabbed you with bright, downright garish color and strong contrasts. The problem was that once they grabbed you there was really nothing there to see. No subtlety of tone or color. Composition, nothing special. Drawing for the most part was adequate at best and I just came away feeling cold. There was no there there, just trash flash. Is that what people really want? Much of it was only slightly better than the Starving Artist shows they have at the hotels where you can but a sofa sized painting for just $40. Where can you even buy a frame that size for $40? But that's a whole other rant.

I'm not putting the painting in today's post as any great example of subtlety by any means. It's just something to see in case you don't want to read my ramblings. But I do try to do pieces that the viewer wants to spend some time with. Hopefully they have enough to grab your eye in the first place, but once you're looking I truly hope you will stay there awhile. It isn't always a matter of detail. The next time you look at a Vermeer for example look at the overall feel, the way light falls on a wall. It looks simple, but it is deceptively complex. That's what I'm after. If that doesn't fit in with today's art world I guess I'm just boofed. (That's a technical term. I think you can guess the meaning.)

Maybe it's just a society thing. Are people too busy to stop and contemplate these days? Or maybe I'm expecting too much. Painters view paintings differently from other people. There was one trip to the museum I remember where there was a guy that was apparently a big Matisse fan. When he finally found one he practically broke out into a little dance he was so happy. Total viewing time of the painting itself was something in the range of three seconds even though this just happened to be a very important piece. Painters actually look at a painting to see it. It's not exactly a passive activity. I've spent my share of time with my nose up to a painting, and I know most of you have too. I've seen other people wondering what I was looking at so closely. They probably just thought I had bad eyes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Duck Season

Oil on Canvas
10 x 26

It's duck season again. Time to get up before the sun, go out in the cold autumn pre-dawn and sit in a duck blind with a wet dog while waiting for the ducks to come in. When I put it that way it doesn't sound like all that much fun. I really just went to watch the ducks and play with the dogs anyway. There's something about seeing hundreds of ducks and geese migrating down the river, and a good dog is, well, a good dog. What more can I say?

Anyway this is one of those paintings that won't go away. For anyone that's followed this blog from early on you may remember a wetlands series. This spot is to the right and over the levy from an earlier piece. There was a sign saying to keep off the levy, but being me I had to see why. When I peeked over and saw the blinds I figured out the why real fast. I've had this laying around for a while. I thought it was done, but wasn't entirely happy with it so I kept fiddling with it. I think I've just about got the mood I want so I'm calling it done. At least until I think of a way to make it better or somebody buys it.