One of my favorite things to do online is to browse through some of the sites that feature found photographs, images that have been lost or abandoned by their original owners and picked up by others at flea markets, yard sales, etc. Almost all are by amateurs and feature many day-to-day scenes of friends and families, some remarkable and some not so much. Some a little bit too personal. But there is something quite beautiful in the sum of them, an artfulness that is naturally gained and not thought out, much of it unintended.
I find a lot of inspiration in going through these images. There is often a tangible sense of emotion in these images, something that makes me wonder how something that obviously meant something to someone at some point could be just set adrift. How many of my own family’s photos are out there like these, lost ancestors floating around in some flea market bin?
Some, like the one shown here, which I call the Roller Skating House (obviously a house in the midst of being moved), are just neat images that pique my interest and imagination. I found this at The Boat Lullabies which is a great site ran by the person behind Square America, a site that is now down but was an amazing collection of vernacular photography. You can still find Square America on Facebook– a great page to follow. Another great collection of found images is at FoundPhotographs.com.
Check out some of these sites. They are fun and often thought provoking.
Posted in Favorite Things, Photography | Tagged FoundPhotographs.com, Photography, Square America, The Boat Lullabies | Leave a Comment »
Robert Henri- At Far Rockaway
The man who has honesty, integrity, the love of inquiry, the desire to see beyond, is ready to appreciate good art. He needs no one to give him an ‘Art Education'; he is already qualified. He needs but to see pictures with his active mind, look into them for the things that belong to him, and he will find soon enough in himself an art connoisseur and an art lover of the first order.
A lot of people over the years have made my work their first art purchase which pleases me greatly because I know how difficult it is to make that first decision to spend hard-earned money on a piece of art. It is tremendously gratifying to me as an artist to have that person find something in the work that belongs to them that allows them to overcome the fear of buying art.
And there is a fear in buying art. Or even showing one’s appreciation of it.
I hear it all the time from people who come up to me in galleries and say that they know nothing about art, some who are very powerful people who move through the world with a supreme air of confidence about them. They are often afraid of making a mistake that will reveal their lack of knowledge about art.
My first response is to tell them that they don’t have to know anything about art. They don’t need a wide knowledge of art history or contemporary art. They only need to first trust their eyes and their emotional response to a piece of work. No amount of persuasion can make you like those things that don’t stir your emotions.
Ultimately, you like what you like– work that speaks to who you are at your core. And that is the first requirement and rule for any lover of art, whether you collect or simply enjoy taking in the images when you come across them.
Posted in Quote | Tagged Collecting, Quote of the Week, Robert Henri | 2 Comments »
Wisdom sails with wind and time.
Thought I’d take the opportunity to show another new small painting that will be part of the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery, opening next Friday. This little 4″ by 6″ piece is titled Wisdom of the Wind.
For me, this is a piece about motion, about the movement of the trees caught in the gusting winds. Like the words from the 16th century above, I see this as being about how we are often shaped by exposure and time to prevailing thought. Some will simply succumb to the winds of the time while some will offer resistance against the direction in which the wind is blowing.
I suppose that the wisdom comes from knowing when to relent and when to resist. What fights to pick and what fights to let pass.
There’s a long pause between that last short paragraph and this one. I find myself lost in that thought, wondering if there is any wisdom in it at all. It’s one of those things where I can see a viable argument for either side. I suppose it comes down to one’s nature, how one is built. Some trees are made to simply go with the wind while others always struggle against every wind.
I sometimes can’t decide what type of tree I am.
Posted in Quote, Recent Paintings | Tagged Corning NY, John Florio, Little Gems, Quote, Red Tree, West End Gallery | 1 Comment »
Yesterday on the blog, I showed one of my small pieces from this year’s Little Gems show at the West End Gallery, which opens February 6. I thought I might show another today, this one a little 4″ by 6″ painting called The Outlier’s Home.
It’s a simply constructed piece that features the intense color of the foreground set against the placid blue gradation of the sky with a red-roofed homestead alongside a Red Tree set between the two contrasting forces. It has a feeling of distance and separation but without anxiety or fear.
Maybe that is where the title originated, in this separation. I like the idea of the outlier, that thing or being that is apart from the normal set. An aberration, something slightly outside the norm in one way or another. I think that is why I envision the Red Tree standing alone apart from other trees in many of the paintings.
I like the idea here of a place outside the normal that seems peaceful and accepting of itself, not caring what the world that looks at them from across that purple field thinks. I think that’s what we all hope for in this world– an acceptance for ourselves as we are without having to put on a mask to fit into the crowd.
It’s a lot to see in a simple, little piece. But that’s my take.
Posted in Recent Paintings | Tagged GC Myers, Little Gems, New Painting, Outlier, Red Tree, West End Gallery | 2 Comments »
I’ve been working recently on some very small pieces for the upcoming Little Gems show at the West End Gallery in Corning. I’ve mentioned here before that this particular show is always a sentimental favorite of mine as it was in this show that I first publicly showed my work twenty years ago. It represents the first step on to the path that I now follow and that makes it special for me. Plus I enjoy working in the smaller scale for a bit. It allows for easily easing back into older themes and forward into newer ones.
One of these pieces that just finished yesterday is shown here at the top. It’s a 4″ by 6″ painting that I call Storms Are on the Ocean. I haven’t done a boat painting in some time and thought the smaller format would be the perfect opportunity to re-visit the theme. I am always drawn to the motion in these pieces and the billow of the sail. It reminds me of a fable or a dream in some way that I find appealing.
I thought this would be the perfect match for this week’s Sunday morning music which is the song after which this painting is titled. It’s The Storms Are on the Ocean, a song first done by the legendary Carter Family back in the late 20’s. This version is from June Carter Cash‘s last album, Wildwood Flower, which was released in the year, 2003, after her death. Like the final recordings of her husband, the great Johnny Cash, this album shows her in a fragile state of health which adds greatly to the emotional impact of the songs.
It definitely comes through on this lovely song with its haunting chorus:
The storms are on the ocean
The heavens may cease to be
This world may lose its motion, love
If I prove false to thee
Enjoy and have a great Sunday.
Posted in Favorite Things, Music, Painting, Recent Paintings | Tagged Carter Family, Corning NY, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Little Gems, Music, New Paintings, Sunday Music, West End Gallery | 8 Comments »
This is not my studio.
Although sometimes when I am in a really good groove of painting my studio does get progressively more and more cluttered. At first, it doesn’t bother me at all that the floor didn’t get swept or that piles of papers are beginning to pile high on the stone kneewalls that separate the spaces in the studio. Tubes and bottles of paint and old yogurt containers with brushes in varying degrees of wear all over the place. New paintings propped against any available wall space so that I can freely see and consider them and a few old pieces and raw canvasses ready to be worked on stacked off to the side, creating a new wall in themselves.
But at a certain point, the feeling of chaos begins to creep in and I can’t take it anymore. I have to organize at least a bit to calm the drone that the chaos has brought on in my head before it breaks into my painting rituals too much. So, I re-stack paintings and paper, cleans some brushes and containers, put away some books and maybe vacuum.
But I feel a little lighter and my mind is clearer so I can easily fall back into that groove. Plus my current studio is, even in its most cluttered state, less chaotic than my old studio in the woods above our home. It was very rustic and I regularly purged the paints I soaked up in my process from my brushes on to the floor, creating a huge black spot of paint and ink. Plus, being much smaller than the current studio made the space always seem filled and in a somewhat messy state even after I would pick up.
But even that space didn’t compare with the studio of Francis Bacon, the Irish born painter known for work that is sometimes violent and disturbing in nature. The shots shown here are from his old London studio that was left intact after his death in 1992 at the age of 82. It was moved exactly as it was, with every bit of dust and debris intact, to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin where it is on permanent display.
I remember seeing these photos years ago and feeling so much better about my studio. The huge black paint stain on my floor didn’t seem so bad. But I wondered if I could function in his space. I guess the concentration required to block out the mounds of debris would have to be incredible. Maybe that is part of the painting obsession- to be so engrossed in what is before you that all else is pushed far off into the background. Bacon did view his painting as an obsession, saying, “I have been lucky enough to be able to live on my obsession. This is my only success.”
Bacon was an incredibly interesting character and one whose words often ring true for me. He was self taught and talked in terminology that I understand, earthy and straightforward. Very little artspeak.
The piece shown here from Bacon is one of my favorites, Study After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, and is very representative of the style of much of his work. You can find a lot on Bacon and his work online.
Well, got to go– I think I better pick up a bit…
Posted in Biographical, Favorite Things | Tagged Dublin, Francis Bacon, Hugh Lane Gallery | 4 Comments »
Quotes are often used here to illustrate the point of a certain blog post but sometimes a quote is just fun to examine on its own, without a lot of wordiness. I often read a quote this way and it sets me off in all sorts of directions, often away from the central theme of the quote. It can be pretty inspirational in this manner. To that end, I am starting a new weekly feature here on the blog called Quote of the Week. I want to focus on themes that relate to painting and some of the central themes of life.
Hopefully, they will be enlightening or, at the very least, interesting.
I am going to kick it off with one of my favorite quotes from Pablo Picasso. It pretty sums up my own criteria for evaluating art. At the top is one of his greater works, the anti-fascist masterpiece Guernica.
There is no past and future in art. If a work of art cannot always live in the present it must not be considered at all.
Posted in Favorite Things, Motivation, Quote | Tagged Guernica, Pablo Picasso, Quote of the Week | 1 Comment »