Suns Moons Stars / pastel

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When I was in art school they told us to not make a balanced composition. They said the mind seeks balance and when it finds balance it immediately moves on to the next thing. If you give the art viewer unbalance it keeps their attention longer because they want to fix it. So, I guess this still life would get a better grade than the one I did when I was a young chick in school because it’s less balanced. It’s top heavy for one thing, with the big flowers above the lighter peaches and even lighter starfish.

I consider this pastel to be bright and bold but I realize a lot of people would think this is tame compared to the garish modern art they’re used to looking at. I’m talking about overly bright colors with no place for your eyes to rest. The kind of art that makes you want to put on your sunglasses. Once I heard a juror / art teacher say she doesn’t like gray. I thought no wonder she doesn’t hang my paintings. They all have some gray. I need gray to make shadows. shadows add depth and you need shadows to show light, but those things aren’t important to “contemporary” jurors.

Once I had an artist friend that told me she hates green. It makes her feel sick. I said, no nature lover, huh? And she said no she’s not a nature lover. I wondered if she was talking about my paintings which have a lot of green. I’ll just continue to use the gray and green that I like.

I think this pastel shows  solar energy. When I think of paintings that are glaringly bright with  colors straight out of the tube unmixed, it reminds me of someone yelling at you. Like, screamers are weak if they have to yell, and there’s no need to fight back because you can’t reason with someone who’s having a fit. Or, that artist  using neon paint could be a primitive and doesn’t know how to mix colors and how to use gray. In which case, it’s not my responsibility to try to make them follow the path I was taught. But if an educated art teacher / juror rejects paintings because they have gray in them that’s discrimination.

 

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This shows a close up of a peach, its reflection and the starfish and its reflection. It’s a complicated section for your eye because the starfish on the edge of the table points into the reflection. Then you have a double peach because it’s attached to its reflection. The starfish is on the edge of the table to give the composition more for the viewer to worry about and keep their attention longer.

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One thing that made the reflections difficult was that at first I had the red and white checked vinyl under the still life but when I drew it I made the checks larger and blue. I couldn’t exactly visualize how to draw the table cloth reflections but I knew it would have a curve. So I did the checker design in pastel on paper and put it under the flower pot. I made a little cheat sheet. Then I could draw it and it was easier to work that part out.

Observations of the Astral World / Morrisseau

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photo lifted from I forget where

I saw this documentary on amazon called, “There are no fakes”. It’s about a huge art fraud case in Canada. Morrisseau is an aboriginal Canadian artist who is called a shaman. His work is very significant to the culture of native tribes.

Some people came forward and said there are tons of fake Morrisseau paintings flooding the market. The one above, I don’t know if it’s one of the fakes or the real deal. There’s court cases and big bucks involved. It became a real scandal with a forgery ring, drugs, a sex predator, young natives held hostage, people kept locked up and forced to paint forgeries. exploitation of the worst kind. There are so many people involved it’s hard to keep all the characters straight. And different opinions on the situation by the people involved. I can’t type it all. It’s worth watching if you’re interested in art world scandals.

I  try to imagine what I’d do if I knew someone was forging my art work but I can’t see myself in a million years in that situation. Not because bad guys wouldn’t like to find a way to exploit me if they could, but just that my art can’t be forged. Imagine a few kids, locked in a room, given all the drugs and booze they want and being forced to paint forgeries of my art. Impossible! And I’m not a significant artist so why would they?  No money in it.

ok, enough of my trying to imagine myself famous, this is a horrible thing that happened in the art world. I just read recently that the art world is the largest unregulated business in the world and they talked about how corrupt it is. But I’ve been saying that for years. How can this kind of crime be stopped? Did you see the documentary or hear this story?

still life in progress, close ups

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This peach is one of the many focal points in my new still life.

I’ve been sitting far back from my easel and it looks like the still life has more energy than I do. I’m saying to myself, “Whoa, Nellie!” This thing could power the neighborhood!  Fortunately our electricity stayed on during the recent storms, and we keep getting more storms every day that aren’t as bad as the hurricane, but scarier because of more lightening hitting the ground out back, where the hurricane was a big wind but I’ve heard the wind howl much worse in the past, so I slept ok.

This photo shows the work I did on the background. First I filled in with a teal pastel then blended the teal color into the paper with my kneeded eraser. It’s sanded pastel paper so it can take a lot of layers of pastel but you have to blend down the first layer so you can build up on top of that. Then I tried some other colors on top of the teal on a scrap paper and I liked the tint of red violet with the teal. At first, I put a light layer of the red violet on it and then decided to make the layer heavier so I went over the background again. The red violet on top of the teal vibrates visually because they are close to the same value on the gray scale but different colors. I didn’t want a flat background because this whole thing is so strong the background needs to be strong too.

I’ve gone all over the whole paper 3 or 4 times, every square inch of it, to get the look I want.

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This flower. As I was rearranging my flowers every day to draw them this one had a few petals that got bent and I drew them bent. I considered trying to straighten them out but decided that I liked the way the yellow petals cut into the dark center of the flower, so I left the petals bent. Then later I was looking at it from far away and I thought, this flower is trying to communicate. What is it saying? I don’t want to tell you because maybe to you the flower isn’t communicating at all. Or maybe the flower is saying something totally different to you than it is to me. And it’s kind of personal and it might sound silly. And I don’t know if it came from my subconscious or if the message is for me or for the viewer.

Now I have to do the hardest part of the still life which is the reflections on the flower pot. I’ve been putting it off. I’m almost finished. Some days I work on it for an hour or so and some days I work on it off and on all day with frequent breaks because it makes my hand tired. And some days I just can’t concentrate on it at all.

ok. You want me to tell you what the flower is saying, don’t you. It’s signing, “I love you.” And I don’t know if it says that to people who actually communicate in American Sign Language. Where is the love coming from and who is it meant for? I have no answer to that. This still life has taken on a life of its own.

still life. a good plan worked out

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I moved my still life to the window. It’s a North light which is the best for a drawing studio because the shadows don’t change much all day. My still life is blocking the sliding glass door to the balcony. It’s not actually a drawing studio but a dining room. No problem. I live alone.

I had to buy more sunflowers because the first ones wilted. When I went back to the farm stand on Sandbridge Rd. they were all out of sunflowers. I like the big ones with the darker yellow but I bought some of the smaller ones in the lighter yellow at a grocery store. Then yesterday I checked the farm store and they still didn’t have any so I ventured down to another farm store at Pungo. ( I love that name, Pungo. If I ever get another cat I might name it Pungo.) They had the big sunflowers at Pungo, Flip Flop Farmer stand. So one problem solved and in time because a hurricane is heading straight at us! The Sandbridge Rd. floods so I wanted enough sunflowers before the storm gets here.  Then even if the electricity goes out I can still work on this.

Another thing I wanted to buy for the still life is a bigger starfish. I went to the oceanfront and got one this morning from a souvenir store. It will be easier to identify as a star when I draw it.  A lot of people were going to the beach and walking on Atlantic Ave. It looks like most don’t wear masks outside but a lot do and I did when walking on Atlantic Ave. because of all the people.

I’m excited that I finally got my pastel started and I think it’s off to a good start. I’ll have to do the flowers and the peaches first because they won’t last.

I’m going to draw the starfish going off the edge of the table because I like the old master still life paintings when things are falling off the table. You often see plates, grapes, fabric etc. that looks like it might fall. That makes the art viewer want to go into the painting and push those things back from the edge. It’s a trick to get the viewer involved with the painting.

I drew my table from the corner because it’s a less stable composition than if you were looking directly at the table. With the starfish going off the edge and the angle of the table I think my still life will be unsettled feeling, like the dangerous times we’re living in.

Still life plan

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This is what I have so far. I might work on the pot more and I might add more flowers. I’m not sure. I stood back farther from my sketch to take the picture than I did to sketch it so the ellipse on the pot isn’t the same as it is in my photo. And I leaned the starfish up against the pot so you could see it but I wasn’t planning on leaning it there for my final pastel drawing. I need to go to the store and buy peaches because I need a peach in this picture. I might take it out on my balcony to work on it later because the balcony has good sunlight before 10. The light in my apartment isn’t good.

This is the second time I tried to draw the pot. When I was in art school long ago drawing accurately was important. An unsymmetrical flower pot or unsymmetrical ellipses on the pot would be mocked in a critique. Like, how high were you when you drew that? if it was lopsided.

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This is how I try to make my flower pot look right. First draw straight lines on tracing paper to the approximate proportions then fold it in half and check it. Fold tracing paper in forth and cut an ellipse, compare it to what you see in real life. If the ellipse isn’t right, try again.

This much work on the flower pot is enough to make some people call the drawing “labored over”. Labored over is bad in contemporary art. Which makes no sense to me. Is it really bad if you enjoy working on something difficult and finally get it right? Is it actually labor if you’re not getting paid but doing what you want to do just for fun?

The thing about contemporary art being so badly drawn is that they don’t like a drawing that isn’t sloppy. If I entered a juried show and the other flower paintings had unsymmetrical flower pots and messed up ellipses or totally absent ellipses, and mine was the only entry that showed some effort, mine would get rejected. If the juror is an art teacher that never learned to draw because their art school didn’t force it on them like mine did, and if that art teacher didn’t tell their students to try again to draw the pot better, then mine would be a kind of affront to them and they would resent my efforts.

If I called the juror and asked why my painting was rejected the juror would say, “I was making groupings and yours didn’t fit with the others”. This is why I say, the art world demands conformity. And why I say the jurors think like interior decorators.

I’m not making this up. This is one reason why I h8 the art world and will never pay another entry fee. I might go for free wall space some time in the future but maybe not.

Once I asked a juror who constantly rejected my paintings why and she told me the jurors are looking for “contemporary”. As if my being alive and doing art today isn’t enough to make me contemporary. I also have to lower my standards. They see my paintings as old fashioned. The joke’s on them though, because I’m not behind the times, I’m ahead of the times.  I can’t change the art world. It will happen anyway eventually but I’ll be dead. And my daughter will be able to sell my paintings for big bucks. She has a genius marketing plan that I can’t divulge.

 

the Peachoid / I 85 at Gaffney South Carolina

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not my photo.

It’s a water tower. Interesting info that was new to me has recently been disclosed by my daughter.

I’m planning an art project which will be a pastel still life featuring representations of celestial bodies and I was talking to her about how to represent the moon.

I drove past this a lot of times on my way to Atlanta, GA. and never realized, people call it the Moon over Gaffney. It’s funny. Millenials  love to use emojis  and the peach emoji represents a butt. A butt represents the moon. So people driving past the giant peach thought of a giant butt. It has been repainted.

One time I took Amtrak to Texas when my sister lived there and as the train was speeding through Georgia and I was staring out the window, I saw a bunch of bare butts on the hill next to the tracks. Some kids were “mooning” the train. I’ll never forget it. I was traveling alone and sitting there cracking up. I stood up to see if anyone else in my train car saw the kids mooning the train but no one else was laughing, so maybe they didn’t see the moons. We passed it so fast.

The giant peach goes to show how public art can mean different things to different people. I decided to draw a peach in my still life. Not every one will get the connection.

This project might take some time. It’s too hot outside for me to enjoy drawing in plein air. I’m only now in the planning stage of my next art project, and I like taking my sweet time doing art, which is not the modern way of doing art. The modern way is to make it look spontaneous. I refuse to conform to that nonsensical attitude. I’ll show my progress on the still life as soon as I get something down on paper. Meanwhile, here’s an inspiration, the giant peach / moon.

panoramic dune paintings with close ups

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left

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center

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right

Finally finished! time to celebrate!

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This is a close up of the small piece of ocean you can see from there. I always see a texture on the ocean. This could be white caps or sparkles. I’ll let the viewer decide if it looks like either one of those. Maybe from far away. Also, you can see the texture of the grass I made with the Inktense pencils.

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This is the leaf texture I made with masking fluid to save the lighter leaf colors and use a dark green to darken the shadows. The grass texture in the shade was made with my modified fan brush and masking fluid.

I enjoy making textures. Masking fluid is a great product for that.

Some things I can use from my old school training are how to make a feeling of light by working on my shadows. If you use the full range of values from black to white and put the darkest shadows in under some lighter contrasting shapes, leaves, the viewer gets the feeling of sunlight, and depth. Could you walk in there and get out of the sun? Maybe, but you’ll need bug spray.

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This shows a sand slide. The smoother sand is the part that slid down and the top inch or two of the rougher sand is the part of the dune where it broke. I hope you can see what I mean.

I like the way that the dunes mimic the ocean with their wavy shapes and their rising and falling with peaks and breakers, if you can imagine it.

dune painting and wildlife report from VA Beach

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When I was driving down the Sandbridge Rd. this morning a deer crossed the road in front of my car. I saw it from far away, a doe, as it walked across the ditch. It didn’t jump, just walked. Then as I was driving down the Back Bay rd. a big sand crab crossed the road.

A couple days ago I had to come to a stop on that road for a big turtle.

One day last week I was walking down the gravel road to my overlook and I saw something brown in the grass next to the road, not moving, and I wondered what it was. It was a big rabbit and not your ordinary wild rabbit but one with real pretty tortoise shell  colored  fur. As I got closer it didn’t move but kept on eating the grass. I walked by it only 3′ away and it didn’t run.

There is a bumper crop of dragon flies down there and one flew right into my neck! You can see hundreds of them buzzing all around this scene.

It was hot when I got there at 7:30 but there was a nice breeze which made it more tolerable. Now it’s hot as hell out there.

I’m almost finished with my dune painting triptych. This is the center section, finished.

dune paintings debriefing

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This morning I worked on the top part of the dunes adding some Inktense pencil to draw some grass. I also put a second glaze on the sand in the light areas and the shadows. The foliage on the bottom of the paper needs more work. The sky and sea are finished.

I can’t tell if I messed it up or not. I can’t fix it so I have to continue. An old dude (birdwatcher)  is watching my progress almost every day. He asked me if I sell my paintings and I said no. The first few times I saw him he didn’t talk much then once he talked a lot. If I don’t tell him I’m not sure if it’s working he’ll think it’s great. Anyway, I don’t really fear failure and if it is a failure let it be epic. That’s my attitude.

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This is the left panel of the triptych with one layer of glazes. To make my shady sand color I painted a thin glaze of gray with burnt umber. Then today I used a blue gray glaze  on top of the first layer. And I went over the light sandy color again today before scribbling in the dark green Inktense pencil lines. I think the two glazes in the shadows of the dune looks like a good gray now. The viewer’s  eye can see both  the blue and the brown glazes mixing together. The viewer might not actually notice the two glazes but it makes more interesting shadows.

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This is the center section of the triptych with one layer of glazes.

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This is the right section of my panorama with one layer of glazes.

The funny thing about painting a triptych is that even though I want the paintings to be hung in order and close together so it looks like a panorama, there’s no guarantee it will get hung that way, so just in case some idiot curator can’t hang it right, each piece should be strong enough on it’s own.

Now, you may say, “Chris, why are you so hard on curators?”

I’ll give you  a couple examples.

Years ago, I drew my skull of a bull with pastel, the skull facing left, center and right to be a triptych. The 3 pastels were strong, colorful, bold and kind of moody. I entered a national contest in Boulder CO. and all 3 were accepted! I was looking forward to it because I thought my pastels would dominate the show. I got plane tickets and made reservations for my Mom to go with me to Boulder for the opening. We got there a day early and I rented a car and wanted to find my way to the venue in the day so I wouldn’t get lost at night. I went in to get a sneak peek at the show and only one of my pastels was hanging. I might add that it was a big job packing all 3 in one big box and shipping them out there. I asked the person in charge of hanging the show where the other two of the triptych were since 3 pieces got accepted and were so large it would be hard to miss 2 of them all in the same box. The lady said they had migrant workers unpacking the boxes and they must have missed the other two. I had labeled it extra large, 3 pastels on the box. They had to send someone up to their storage unit in Fort Collins to bring my other two pastels down to Boulder and then they weren’t hung together as a triptych but spread around the show. I guessed they weren’t expecting me to show up from Virginia. This is why if you enter a show in another state you have to go, or your painting might not get hung at all.

 

One time in Richmond I entered a triptych in a show with a Richmond city theme. I did oils on smaller canvases of the skyline and the river. I guess they didn’t have enough entries for the show because they spread my 3 paintings out over a 12′ wall, so the effect of a panorama was lost. For a triptych the paintings should be hung with only a couple inches between them.

ok, enough of my complaining. This triptych might never get entered so, no more of that aggravation.

 

No Camera Needed