Posts Tagged ‘Jean Michelle Basquiat’

Late Night Texturing, in Company and Departing from Andrew Wyeth

June 15, 2014
Re-Working the Hopper Composition

Re-Working the Hopper Composition

I work in drybrush when my emotion gets deep enough into a subject.  So I paint with a smaller brush, dip it into color, splay out the brush and bristles, squeeze out a good deal of the moisture and color with my fingers so that there is only a very small amount of paint left.  Then when I stroke the paper with the dried brush, it will make various distinct strokes at once, and I start to develop the forms of whatever object it is until they start to have real body.  But, if you want to have it come to life underneath, you must have an exciting undertone of wash.  Otherwise, if you just work drybrush over a white surface, it will look too much like drybrush.  A good drybrush to me is done over a very wet technique of washes.

Andrew Wyeth, Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: A Conversation with Andrew Wyeth, by Thomas Hoving

My thoughts tonight have been quite disjunctive: I’ve been sitting in my comfy chair re-reading the Basquiat biography by Phoebe Hoban, taking notes for my A. P. Art History lectures on Neo Expressionism, and flitting over to my drafting table to add more layers to my “Edward Hopper” style watercolor.  Yesterday I began the lengthy process of preparing the foreground for drybrush, taking Andrew Wyeth’s ideas seriously.  After many years of playing with this, I have parted ways with the Master on several details.  I still lay down several layers of wash before beginning the drybrush, but I also interweave several layers of masquing with the masquepen so I can get some weed-like lines to emerge eventually, ranging from the white of the paper to several off-white, wheat-colored lines from the overlaid washes.  I have four layers of wash and masquing underneath all this.  Late last night I peeled off all the masquing after putting down my first attempts at drybrush.

But because of the time constraints, I have stopped using a small brush and squeezing out all the water.  I have found this process to turn my project into days and weeks of work, and I just don’t have that, with my job and my advanced age.  So, I discovered a much larger brush (size 12 round, Winsor & Newton sable) that holds a great deal of water and still forms a razor sharp point.  I use it like a fountain pen to add dozens and dozens and dozens of curvy, calligraphic, razor-sharp lines of varying sepias and bronzes and browns, and I occasionally jam the tip into the paper to splay it into several points and keep on laying down multiple lines.  This makes the process go much faster.  Tonight I have bent over this composition and added hundreds of lines, points, dashes, scribbles, fingerprints and funky texturing patterns to the foreground, hoping that eventually it will emerge to look like an overgrown, weedy, unkempt yard.

The night is getting very, very late.  In twenty-four hours I will be forced to go to bed early to start summer school.  So . . . this is most likely my last “creative” late night episode to post, and believe me, these nights have been a genuine joy.

Working Late into the Night

Working Late into the Night

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am never really alone.

Re-Visiting Andy Warhol’s Factory

May 23, 2012

Ghost of Eureka Springs Past

No, this is not a painting of Andy Warhol’s Factory.  This is actually a limited edition giclee that I am bringing out for the first time at this weekend’s art festival at Arlington’s Levitt Pavilion.  My “factory” sentiment kicks in every time I get ready for an art festival.  Andy Warhol regarded himself as a “commercial person” and “a machine,” and named his studio “The Factory.”  It was located on the fifth floor of 231 East 47th Street (a former hat factory), and it served as his “Factory” from 1962-1968.  In that space, he and his associates mass-produced his silk screen prints, cranking them out as if on an assembly line.

My own factory is located in whatever designated room in my home or garage I use to spread out my stuff, and begin matting, shrinkwrapping, printing, pricing and labeling.  I have been doing that every night this week, and will continue to do so until I leave for the festival Friday at noon.  I actually enjoy the process, once I get into the groove.  But so far, this week, I haven’t “grooved”!  I’m usually pretty tired by the time I get home from school all day (the day always starts at 6:00), and this week, I can honestly say that the “muse winds” have not really kicked in.  But–I still have 48 hours, so perhaps something will stir by then.

I do enjoy the business side of art.  I would rather be working on a painting, but this is a nice change of pace.  And I do enjoy meeting people once I’m set up at an art festival (and I like even more selling to the people!).  There will be terrific music at this event, free to the public, with concerts featuring Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Wiley Hubbard and Asleep at the Wheel.  Large crowds are expected, and I’m really looking forward to the event.

The painting posted is the heart of the historic district of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where I will travel in a few weeks to teach a 5-day workshop on plein air painting in watercolor.  I take my students to the historic district and we take our pick of vintage architecture, flower beds, cliffs and any one of the myriad subjects presented to us in the open air.  The experience has been very rewarding, and I am returning for my third consecutive summer.

Well, I guess it’s back to the assembly line.  It’s getting late already.

Thanks for reading.


Lost in Colorado Wonder

May 20, 2012

Painting St. Elmo, Colorado, late night in the studio

I always laughed at the stories of Pablo Picasso working in his studio at 3 a.m.  Long ago, I lost the ability to pull all-nighters.  I miss them.  But this could be a late one.  I took a nap this evening (had a pretty miserable afternoon) and now am waking more as the hours roll by, and am getting lost in the rustic architecture of this Colorado mountain town.  I recall it as vividly as if it were yesterday.  Four of us were about to embark on a foolhardy trip over Tin Cup pass in a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4-wheel drive.  We made the trip, but I still think the decision was foolish.  I don’t bother to sport the bumper sticker “I Survived Tin Cup Pass”‘; I don’t take a lot of pride in doing that trip with a vehicle not quite cut out for it (Geez, 4-ply tires even!  What a fool).

I lingered around St. Elmo for quite a long time that afternoon, shooting my old 35mm camera, using Kodachrome slide film.  I’m glad I saved the slides, though technology in the schools has all but made them obsolete.  I don’t know how much longer this Kodak carousel projector is going to hold up.

I took a break from painting to read a bit (I’m re-reading Basquiat by Phoebe Hoban), and to look at this work-in-progress on an easel across the room from my man cave.  I like the habit of Andrew Wyeth, putting up his work so he could glance up at it while doing something else, or while entering a room, and thus get a snapshot impression of it to know what works, what doesn’t, and most of all, figure out when to quit the thing.  I’m making myself stop right now because I’ve crawled into the painting to the point that I’m focusing on all these minute details and forgetting to see the entire work, compositionally.  That’s how I lose a painting.  There is a haunting soliloquy in the motion picture Six Degrees of Separation, where Donald Sutherland muses over how it feels to “lose a painting.”  I have no words for this.  But I regret those countless times when, signing a painting, I sighed and admitted to myself that it “looked better a week ago.”  I pushed it too far.  Right now, I have questions about this Colorado painting, and so I’ve decided to set it aside while I muse over it, and meanwhile, continue reading Basquiat. 

Thanks always for reading.