Back in 1995 I received a grant through Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council to create 5 art instruction video tapes. They aired a couple of times on local cable and copies were donated to all the libraries in both Genesee and Orleans county libraries. After recent inquiries I discovered that none of the libraries I spoke to had transferred the tapes to digital before they were discarded. I may unveil them again someday, although the only thing memorable about them was the bloopers and folks that assisted me with the project.
Early last Sunday morning I tore down my campsite at Jeff Poppins Equinox party in Tennessee. I loaded up my belongings and decided to hang around and enjoy the rest of the morning. I made my way to the fire in the middle of the open field where some folks were gathering. I decided to do a little sketching and I brought my art box with me. Four youngsters were hanging around acting kind of bored. I think they were all siblings. I asked them if they would like to paint and like most kids they were into the idea. I got out some watercolor paper and gave them each a piece as they gathered around. I got my watercolor set out and they were intent on watching my actions. I slowly took the cover off the set and exposed all 24 colors to the kids. “It’s magic!” the older boy says excitedly. It reminded me of an old zen saying. “A child looks at a mountain and sees a mountain. The adult looks at a mountain and sees many things. The sage looks at a mountain and sees a mountain.”
I finally finished the acrylic painting I have been working on through 3 different states. Under Heaven. With studio work there is no time constraint on the work. You can keep working on on it infinitely. I think that may be how the Mona Lisa was painted…and maybe never finished. Fortunately for me, studio work doesn’t consist of staying inside or in one place. I just take my art with me. By investing more time in my paintings I can come up with more major works. Still, I enjoy just sitting down in front of a subject and just drawing it in one session. No reason I can’t just do both. Not good to have a favorite weapon.
When I studied art under Juanita Greene Parks back around 1983 I became close friends with one of the students in the class. Actually, I became part of her family. Rose Bacon recently sent me these pics when I visited them in Franklin Tennessee back in the day. I remember being road weary when she took these pics. Always good to see my old partner Roscoe again.
My “normal” way of doing my art is to do it live, on the spot. Guerilla warfare, I like to call it. Fighting the elements… be they wind, hot sun, deep snow or the darkness of night, while trying to create art makes you work fast and spontaneous. Time is of the essence. In contrast, studio work has little of that. Time is unlimited. One can work at their leisure and take their time trying to get things right. Major works can be created at any size. There are no limits. Instead of a battle or a mere skirmish fought, the work can become long and drawn out. More like a war or long siege…a long, thought out campaign to create a major piece. My recent works have been in acrylics on canvas. The subject matter, while not drawn directly from life are drawn from images I have taken photographically or enlargements of smaller pieces I have done from life. Still, I am not confined to a studio. When I travel I merely take the work with me. The new painting entitled “The End of Day” was worked on in both Tennessee and New York. A second major work entitled “Under Heaven” has been worked on in 3 states. As every major war consists of many smaller battles my art will still consist of these skirmishes. Drawing and painting from life is fun and a way of life for me. This will continue. But I look forward to bigger, major campaigns.
A very abbreviated version of my first hitchhiking trip as told through my mother’s note.
I haven’t made it to Nashville yet. Too much work to do! I’ve been in Tennessee 10 days so far and haven’t left the countryside. I may not make Nashville this time around but I will be back. I do have a preference for doing my art from life. The conditions and limited time frame of drawing from life compared to studio work are drastic. But some times I get ideas for paintings that require more effort than sketches. Often the subject matter at hand may not have a suitable place to sit and draw and only a quick reference photograph can be captured. This is the case of the large (for me) acrylic painting I am working now. I have been drawn to a single apple tree standing alone in a field with a wooden ladder with a broken wrung leaning up against it. I especially liked it naked of it’s leaves and it’s bare branches exposed. It was brutally cold and the snow was very deep when I finally saw the lighting I was waiting for. I parked the truck on the side of the snow and trudged through the snow quickly to get some shots. I made several compositions with the camera and hurried back to the truck as fast as I could. Once I had the pic I could use it for a large studio work later..any time or place. Not hard to set up a portable studio. Why not on a house boat on a lake in Tennessee?