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Posts Tagged ‘David Warner’

Paul Klee- Fish Magic 1925


He has found his style, when he cannot do otherwise.

-Paul Klee


Paul Klee always seems to have something in his works and his words to which I can relate. I know these words relate to my own experience as an artist.

I do what I do. I am what I am.

I just can’t do anything else.

It can be frustrating at those times when I feel blocked and find myself wishing I was someone else with different and greater talents and skills. Or when people ask me why I don’t paint in a different way or ask me to do something outside of my artistic realm or area of interest.

So I do what I do and I live with that.

There was a scene from a PBS series years ago that I have mentioned here before  (and borrow from in what follows) that perfectly encapsulates this situation.

It was an episode of Mystery! on PBS starring Kenneth Branagh as the Swedish detective Wallander. It was an okay, nice production but nothing remarkable in the story. But there was a part at the end that struck home with me and related very much to my life as a painter. Wallander’s father, played by the great character actor David Warner ( I always remember him best for his portrayal as Evil in the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits, was, like me, a landscape painter. Now aged and in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, his son comes to him and intimates to his father, after having recently killed a serial killer, that he can’t go on as a detective, that he can’t take the stress.

The painter tries to comfort his son then recalls how when Wallander was a boy he would ask his father about his painting, asking, “Why are they always the same, Dad? Why don’t you do something different?

He said he could never explain. Each morning when he began to paint, he would tell himself that maybe today he would do a seascape or a still life or maybe an abstract, just splash on the paint and see where it takes him. But then he would start and each day he would paint the same thing- a landscape. Whatever he did, that was what came out. He then said to his son, ” What you have is your painting- I may not like it, you may not like it but it’s yours.

That may not translate as well on paper without the atmospheric camera shots and the underscored music but for me it said a lot in how I think about my body of work. Like the father, I used to worry that I would have to do other things- still lifes, portraits, etc.- to prove my worth as a painter but at the end of each day I found myself looking at a landscape, most often with a red tree.

As time has passed, I have shed away those worries. I don’t paint portraits. Don’t really paint still life. I paint what comes out and most often it is the landscape. And it usually includes that red tree that I once damned when I first realized it had became a part of who I am.

I realized you have to stop damning who you are…

 

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GC Myers Dominion smI have been away for a few days, taking in a couple of plays at the Shaw Festival in Canada.  I will write more about that later.  For this morning, I wanted to rerun a post that I first ran back in 2009 and again 2012.  It’s a post that always helps me find personal clarity.

Sometimes, usually at certain points of my year, there are times when I begin to question what I do and who I am as an artist.  It’s a time when my normal self-confidence falls aside and I fret about the future of my work.  It’s an internal struggle that usually resolves itself in the paint itself.  I paint and the doubts fade away, replaced by new revelations found in the spaces of my work.  Here’s what I wrote a few years back: 

There was an episode of Mystery! on PBS starring Kenneth Branagh as Swedish detective Wallander.  It was okay, a nice production but certainly nothing remarkable in the story.  But there was a part at the end that struck home with me and related very much to my life as a painter.  Wallander’s father, played by the great character actor David Warner, was, like me, a landscape painter.  Now aged and in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, his son comes to him and intimates that he can’t go on as a detective, that he can’t take the stress.  The painter then recalls how  when Wallander  was a boy he would ask his father about his painting, asking, “Why are they always the same, Dad?  Why don’t you do something different”

He said he could never explain.  Each morning when he began to paint, he would tell himself that maybe today he would do a seascape or a still life or maybe an abstract, just splash on the paint and see where it takes him.  But then he would start and each day he would paint the same thing- a landscape.  Whatever he did,  that was what came out.  He then said to his son, ” What you have is your painting- I may not like it, you may not like it but it’s yours.”

That may not translate as well on paper without the atmospheric camera shots and the underscored music but for me  it said a lot in how I think about my body of work.  Like the father, I used to worry that I would have to do other things- still lifes, portraits, etc.- to prove my worth as a painter but at the end of each day I found myself  looking at a landscape, most often with a red tree.  As time has passed, I have shed away those worries.  I don’t paint portraits.  Don’t paint still life.  I paint what comes out and most often it is the landscape.  And that red tree that I once damned when I first realized it had became a part of who I am.

I realized you have to stop damning who you are…

Here is that clip:

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When I was speaking last week with the docents at the Fenimore Art Museum, I was confronted with a question that asked about the repetition of forms and themes of my paintings, particularly my use of the Red Tree.  I think I answered the question satisfactorily, stating that I tried to paint as far as possible from the conscious part of my mind . I pointed out that painting in series of repeated forms allowed me to put aside thoughts of composition and focus on the color and texture that carry the emotional weight of the painting.  The theme and focus of the painting was really just an invitation to the viewer to enter the picture and experience the underlying emotional content.  And that was where I hoped the viewer ultimately arrived .

But driving home, I thought about a  blogpost from a few years back that addressed the same question and my own concern early in my career with allowing myself to simply paint whatever came out of me.  I hope that  posting this piece from October of 2009 helps better answer that question from the Fenimore docents:

There was an episode of Mystery! on PBS starring Kenneth Branagh as Swedish detective Wallander. It was okay, nice production but nothing remarkable in the story but there was a part at the end that struck home with me and related very much to my life as a painter. Wallander’s father, played by the great character actor David Warner, was, like me, a landscape painter. Now aged and in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, his son comes to him and intimates that he can’t go on as a detective, that he can’t take the stress. The painter then recalls how when Wallander was a boy he would ask his father about his painting, asking, “Why are they always the same, Dad? Why don’t you do something different” 

He said he could never explain. Each morning when he began to paint, he would tell himself that maybe today he would do a seascape or a still life or maybe an abstract, just splash on the paint and see where it takes him. But then he would start and each day he would paint the same thing- a landscape. Whatever he did, that was what came out. He then said to his son, ” What you have is your painting- I may not like it, you may not like it but it’s yours.” 

That may not translate as well on paper without the atmospheric camera shots and the underscored music but for me it said a lot in how I think about my body of work. Like the father, I used to worry that I would have to do other things- still lifes, portraits, etc.- to prove my worth as a painter but at the end of each day I found myself looking at a landscape, most often with a red tree. As time has passed, I have shed away those worries. I don’t paint portraits. Don’t paint still life. I paint what comes out and most often it is the landscape. And that red tree that I once damned when I first realized it had became a part of who I am. 

I realized you have to stop damning who you are…

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A few weeks ago, at the gallery talk at the Principle Gallery, I was trying to explain my process and how my work comes around to being what it is and why there is often a repetition of form and subject.  It’s a difficult thing to describe and has always evaded the limit of my words.  In doing so that day I used an example of an apt description that I had seen once on televison and had written of in this blog.

It was from a segment on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery series called Wallander: Sidetracked starring Kenneth Branagh as a Swedish police detective involved in solving a series of murders.  There is a point at the end where he is forced to shoot and kill the killer who is a disturbed and abused young man.  Wallander (Branagh) is deeply affected by this and goes to see his father, played by the great British character actor David Warner (I’ll always remember him best as Evil in the film Time Bandits from  Terry Gilliam) who is shown above.  He is a painter of landscapes and is struggling with the onset of Alzheimer’s.

While trying to find a way to comfort his distraught son, the father reminds him of the times when Wallander as a child would ask why he painted what he did, why they were always the same.  He gives an answer that struck me deeply when I first heard it because it was so near to the heart of what I do as a painter.

 I used this example that day and as I describing the scene to the folks there at the talk, I was wishing I could just show them the scene to better illustrate what I had meant.  Anyway, I was able to find the scene which is definitely enhanced by camerawork and background music. I hope it gets the point across as well as I think it does.

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 Climbing Beyond the Blue There was an episode of Mystery! on PBS starring Kenneth Branagh as Swedish detective Wallander.  It was okay, nice production but nothing remarkable in the story but there was a part at the end that struck home with me and related very much to my life as a painter.  Wallander’s father, played by the great character actor David Warner, was, like me, a landscape painter.  Now aged and in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, his son comes to him and intimates that he can’t go on as a detective, that he can’t take the stress.  The painter then recalls how  when Wallander  was a boy he would ask his father about his painting, asking, “Why are they always the same, Dad?  Why don’t you do something different”

He said he could never explain.  Each morning when he began to paint, he would tell himself that maybe today he would do a seascape or a still life or maybe an abstract, just splash on the paint and see where it takes him.  But then he would start and each day he would paint the same thing- a landscape.  Whatever he did,  that was what came out.  He then said to his son, ” What you have is your painting- I may not like it, you may not like it but it’s yours.”

That may not translate as well on paper without the atmospheric camera shots and the underscored music but for me  it said a lot in how I think about my body of work.  Like the father, I used to worry that I would have to do other things- still lifes, portraits, etc.- to prove my worth as a painter but at the end of each day I found myself  looking at a landscape, most often with a red tree.  As time has passed, I have shed away those worries.  I don’t paint portraits.  Don’t paint still life.  I paint what comes out and most often it is the landscape.  And that red tree that I once damned when I first realized it had became a part of who I am.

I realized you have to stop damning who you are…

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