Posts Tagged ‘Pop Art’

Are there Meanings behind the Images?

January 3, 2013
Still Life with Ammo Crate

Still Life with Ammo Crate

The everyday things we live with are so beautiful and no one realizes it.

Andy Warhol

Temperatures reached 30 degrees this morning, with a real feel considerably lower.  The Man Cave was freezing, and I got so close to the space heater that I wondered if my sweater would catch fire.  Still I enjoyed rendering in watercolor the ammunition crate at the bottom of this composition.  My few attempts at painting wooden structures in watercolor have not reached my level of satisfaction, but this one is coming along better, it seems.  I’m focusing on the oil stains and grime that have soiled the surface over the years–the box actually smells as if it once contained oil cans. I also found it a pleasurable experience, lettering upside down.  The letters actually became abstract objects for drawing, and I hope they’ll come out looking O.K.  I could have turned the picture upside down, but chose not to.   I now realize that the crate needs to be re-aligned–something I did not notice with the initial line drawing, but can see all-too-well now that there is pigment blocking in the cubic shape.  I’ll fix that after I warm up and return to the freezing studio.

Recently I’ve been trying to discern the distinctions between Andy Warhol’s Pop images and Andrew Wyeth’s still lifes from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and Cushing, Maine.  My own sentiments have sought connections between those two artists and the Imagist writers that include Joyce, Eliot, Pound, Hemingway and Williams.  Of course, I am looking at those magnificent works over against my own attempts with painting and writing about subjects charged with memories from my past.  I like to browse antique stores and museums so that I can remember things that were important to me growing up.  And now, more recently in still life painting, I am doing the same.

With delight, I finally finished Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast last night.  Now I am back into the biography I started of him a few weeks ago, written by Carlos Baker.  I enjoy reading about Hemingway’s disciplined focus on writing during the morning hours.  It inspires me to set an alarm (as I did at 7 this morning) and enter the studio as soon as possible to focus on the painting enterprise.  Hemingway was satisfied if he completed a good paragraph after a morning’s work.  So also I feel satisfied if I painted only one good object after the morning has passed.  School begins next week, and I really must find some kind of a schedule that will allow me to continue making art on a consistent basis.

This morning I was notified by that they have selected my January 1 post, “Peeling Back the Layers” to post on their homepage under “Freshly Pressed.”  That announcement knocked the wind out of me, as I have admired the blog posts on “Freshly Pressed” over the past year, and wondered how those bloggers were fortunate enough to be posted prominently that way.  I never dreamed that such fortune could come my way, and I am still breathless with gratitude.  Thank you, WordPress!

And thanks to all of you who read me.


No Ideas But in Things

December 19, 2012
Vintage Coffee Tin and Suitcase

Vintage Coffee Tin and Suitcase

I believe it was Garrison Keillor who warned that when mining for deep truths, we should be careful not to come up with a handful of horse hockey.  So, with reservation, I confess that I am still muddling about with Imagism, a movement in poetry traced back to 1912, involving Ezra Pound, H. D., William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot and a host of other literary heavyweights.  This group of writers was interested in approaching objects directly with language, cutting unnecessary words and ornamentation.  I have much of that on my mind as I work at watercoloring these still lifes of late.  I also have Andy Warhol and the Pop culture all over me as well:  “A thing is a thing.”

I listen seriously as Andrew Wyeth testifies that one can talk too much about one’s art instead of just doing it and exploring it.  But I am earnestly in search of a theory, a reason.  It’s not enough for me just to say: “I make art in order to remember.”  Sure,, nostalgia is in my work, and the objects I select to paint resonate with my past.

I’m nearly finished with this still life posted above.  I can’t say I’m too happy with the finished results, but I did enjoy gazing at these objects over the past couple of afternoons, and I enjoyed the process of trying to solve problems in capturing and recording them in watercolor on paper.  I’m not sorry I tried.

Tomorrow is the first day of final exams.  I just finished typing up all mine to give to the classes, and I’m seriously considering a good night’s sleep and an early arrival at school in the morning.  So I guess I’ll shut down the studio for another night.

Thanks for reading.

Caught Somewhere Between Pop and Imagism

December 1, 2012
Watercolor of antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin on antique table

Watercolor of antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin on antique table

Saturday night finds me relaxing outside the Barnes & Noble Store at University Park in Fort Worth, one of my favorite places to chill.  I am posting the finished watercolor that I signed this afternoon, having returned from the Tyler Museum of Art to admire the Wyeth exhibit.  I was inspired to finish some of my dangling watercolors, so I first wrapped this one up, deciding only to scuff up and scumble the left-hand side of the table top, which I thought was lacking in woodgrain texture.  I’ll never forget working on this composition.  The cigarette tin I painted earlier this summer, inspired by Andy Warhol’s Pop images.  I was afraid to paint a prosaic image such as this tin which I purchased many years ago in an antique store.  But I finally decided to give it a try, and enjoyed immensely the sensation of focusing on the damaged paint and rust on the tin, and most particularly the peeling adhesive stamp on the lower left corner.  I experimented with watercolor, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, graphite and salt texturing, finding all these techniques to be plenty of fun.  My recent doorknob paintings have given me the courage to attempt this table top as well.  I still have so much to learn when it comes to rendering wood surfaces.  I’m looking forward to more experiments here.

Thanks for reading.

Returning to Work on a Lucky Strike Watercolor

November 24, 2012

Lucky Strike Cigarette Tin

Last summer, I took a detour from my usual watercolor subjects and painted still lifes of my antique Lucky Strike cigarette tin and my Maxwell House coffee tin.  I rendered the subjects in the best detail of which I was capable, but left the backgrounds white, undecided as to what direction to take with them.  Last week, I began arranging the cigarette tin on various table surfaces and in front of different antique doors.  I also experimented with lighting effects.  Finally I decided on this antique table surface and an extremely dark background.  I’m finding the surface textures of the table top to be quite a challenge, especially the damage and scratches which I have not yet even attempted.  I do enjoy solving problems and taking watercolor in new directions.  This one is turning out to be quite enjoyable.

Thanks for reading.

A New Still Life Watercolor, with Thoughts of the Fireside Poets

November 19, 2012

Still Life Watercolor of Book of Poems and Cigarette Case

I must be half-nuts.  I have three or four watercolors still unfinished, and here I am, starting on something else.  Last night, I was reading selections from the Fireside Poets, and came across this 1881 volume of John Greenleaf Whittier.  As I thumbed through it, I thought, with great delight, that I was possessing a volume that was for sale on a book shelf while this poet was still living.  Many winters ago, when Texas had snow, I read “Snow-Bound” from this old volume, enjoying a fire and a cup of coffee.

So, last night, before I could talk myself out of it, I dug out my old Lucky Strike cigarette tin, laid this volume on top of it, and began sketching.  Once I had the composition blocked out, I was in the mood to paint, so I took out my Winsor & Newton field box (I recently replaced the pans with colors from the palette I adopted about six months ago).  I am finding a strange satisfaction, painting this small still life with a small paint box instead of the large palette and butcher tray I had grown accustomed to using in the studio.  I am also doing much more pencil work with this piece than is my usual custom.  I’m not sure where it is going to take me, but I’m enjoying this new twist.  This composition is probably not going to grow beyond 5 x 7″.  It is extremely rare for me to work so small.

I have nearly finished the Rollo May book begun over the weekend: My Quest for Beauty.  I will have plenty more to say about that, but wish to return to painting for now.  The man cave is providing an excellent environment, and I have the  “T. S. Eliot” documentary from Voices and Visions playing on my laptop.  This is a great moment.

Thanks for reading.