Saturday, November 29, 2008

Study of San Pedro Chapel, Tucson

What do you do when you only have forty-five minutes to paint plein air? No, the answer is not always "don't post it." Why, it's, "Use a big brush, don't sweat the small stuff, and call it a 'study,'" of course. It's not very successful, but it gives an impression of foreground growth, building and sky. Sometimes, trouble can be instructive.

Lessons learned — which is sunnier than 'post mortem', no?

  1. It was a cool, humid day, and I learned that watercolor, in other climates than the desert, must behave in remarkably different ways — like, you can do wet-in-wet painting for the longest time. Like, a completely different medium long time.
  2. I did 'stretch' my greens pretty well, showing a decent range and variety, but the bush to the right of the chapel doesn't work as light and shadow. The dark spots come forward, like ornaments on a tree. Reworking may be in order.
  3. Lifting and glazing after the fact on the face of the chapel had an interesting effect on the richness of the surface. Like it. I can see a whole new approach coming out of that alone. Thanks, Melinda, for the suggestion and the trained eye.
  4. Thought the blue sky did pretty well, but I really need to work on making my clouds float a little better — they just doesn't have any dimension or mass.
  5. Diagonals in the composition... semi-successful.
  6. Don't leave home without my mixing squares.

Friday, November 21, 2008

First I painted graffitti, then I got tagged

Tagged -- by Karen and, because I waited too long, by Silvina. By now, no one who visits this site doesn't know what it is. How do I know that? Because, I can do math. You're all from sites that recently got tagged.

You know, some schools don't permit kids to play tag... the school psychologists say it's emotionally scarring. It's a way of picking on the unpopular kids, who are never able to get "untagged," since the clique of popular kids target them. (My sense: those kids are bullies, whether tag is played or not. Fix the bully, because you haven't solved anything by banning the game.)

About a week ago, someone tagged someone else in the blogging network. That first person tagged seven others (1x7=7), each of those seven tagged seven more (7x7=49); those forty-nine each tagged seven more (49x7=343). One of the 343 is me.

If all of us in my cadre of 343 tag the full batch of seven, then the next group —of 2,401 artists— will be looking for 16,807 "untagged" souls on the web.

Now, there aren't any bullies in this game -- except for maybe that first person. It's actually a great idea (until you get into this ponzi-scheme math), a way of recognizing someone, of getting people to write a little bit about themselves, and to pay the compliment forward, so that lots of people are sending lots of people to look at lots of other people. It is a 'rolling theme', providing interest and variety... and I'm complimented that both Karen and Silvina have tagged me, because they are kind and generous and talented (and running out of candidates already, I imagine.)

So, here are my little-known facts:
  1. In middle school, I played saxophone in the school band. At first, I made good progress, but then I got worse, instead of better. Eventually I was so bad, I gave up practicing because I couldn't stand to hear myself play.

  2. In third grade I jumped off the side of a slide, snagged my foot on the ledge, and stopped my fall with my face. Put my upper incisors through my lower lip. I can still feel the scar.

  3. I get better at tongue-twisters if I've had one beer.

  4. In theater, I didn't get sweaty hands before going on stage, but I got a huge adrenaline shot when I said my first line.

  5. I spent my early childhood in Germany and England -- missing a huge chunk of Americana. People look at me funny when they make an "I Love Lucy" reference and I look blankly back at them. I must look like one of those red-scare foreign agents: He looks and talks like a normal American, but he doesn't know who won the '68 world series.

  6. I was inspired to become a visual artist by having an internship with an architect, who made me study political art. John Heartfield changed my idea of the power of art, and gave me an unforgettable image of courage.

  7. I once had a job programming payphones - and designing ads to go next to them in the booth.

At this point, I'm going to break the rules, because everyone else on my blog roll has already been tagged this month, or I just don't know them well enough to tag, and I can't overcome my anxiety about the possibility that I'd be rejected out of hand, and I'm not a very friendly sort, so I don't have any other friends.

I guess that makes eight true, but little-known, things.

But, to round out the people on my blog list that I don't know well enough to tag; if you aren't already familiar with them, do go look at the blogs of (in order of latest update):

Bob Cornelis, who poses hard questions about art and artmaking
David Lobenberg, an accomplished watercolor teacher
Deb Schmit, a terrific western landscape painter
Frank Gardner, a landscape painter living in Mexico
Karin Jurick, who has a body of work about people looking at art, which is cool
Kathryn Law, who is a sunny impressionist, now in Italy.

... and David Cornelius isn't willing to play, but everyone should have a look at the story of his moleskine-exchange project with his international art friends.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Urban Dysphonium: Juke's Box

A new project. I've been seeing these marks -- graffitti -- around me, and I'm inspired. This set of utility boxes have been a constant target for tagging. Tagging strikes me as a futile, nearly hopeless attempt to mark territory. In our area, tagging is soon erased, making a pristine new surface for the next writer's scribble, each in rotation.

For artists, perhaps grappling for exposure in galleries or museums, taggers may seem like anti-establishment outsiders, looking for their own shot at a moment of notoriety.

All we mark-makers change our environment, and our environment changes us.

6.75"x12" -- on canson watercolor block.