Saturday, June 27, 2020

Why Yes I am an Artist

I saw a funny cartoon in the New Yorker magazine recently that showed a man sitting in his apartment at at table with his laptop open and across from him were some stuffed animals and taped on the wall were signs indicating that he was in a "cafe" and the caption was "why yes I am a writer". I had a good laugh at how accurate that feels these days with sheltering in place and all the galleries and museums are closed and all the art events have been canceled for the year except for the on-line ones which I wonder if anyone is even looking at. I think most people have been so preoccupied with managing their covid experience that they don't have the energy to look for art. An so there you are in  your own house telling yourself and your dogs and your spouse and whatever other inanimate objects that happen to be there watching you  that yes you are an artist and that it's important to keep getting up at the crack of dawn to get into the studio to paint. YOU'VE GOT TO KEEP THE FAITH!

    This has been an exceptional period of time. I wish I could say that I made the most of it but I will confess that depression and anxiety had gotten the best of me on many days lately. I think it's been over a week since I last picked up a brush.The duration of this suspension of business of socializing of going out to see things and people is just eating away at my resolve to get up and paint. And then the other day I get an email from Norman Kolpas who wanted to do an interview with me for Western art and Architecture Magazine to run in conjunction with the Oil Painters of America show in October at the RS Hanna gallery in Fredricksburg Tx. Talk about a much need shot in the arm! It was like the sun coming out after being hidden for weeks. I felt I was able to kick myself out of the doldrums that I have been in and get back at it. I could feel the return of my clarity and focus. I knew what needed to be done and how to do it and it was working. I paint for myself I know that much is true. I like what I do but I know that I need other people to see it as well to complete the cycle of art making. I need my stuff to be seen by other people That is part of  what keeps me going, other peoples feedback puts gas in my artist's tank so I can keep on going with what I love to do. So yes I am an artist!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Too much of a good thing

So I think this is the 9th week of Shelter in place. It's become a long slog. It started out good. I finally got my chance to live the full time artist life and paint all day. Normally I have a day job running my own massage business which I've been doing for 30 years. I find time to paint in the mornings and on weekends. I can usually get about and hour or two in the mornings during the week and maybe 3 to 4 hours on weekends. I find that having only an hour or two during the week isn't enough to get into something and it has been my wish to have more hours in the day to do more painting.

Careful for what you wish.
My wish  came true March 16th.  I couldn't go anywhere due to the shelter in place so I had no excuse but to stay home and paint all day guilt free. At first I thought it was going to be only for three weeks so I wanted to make the most of it. I had a backlog of ideas and several canvases already started and wanted to get things done for future shows. Being a photorealist painter it takes long time for me to finish a painting. I was averaging about 3 months from start to finish so not a lot of production per year. So this shelter in place was a blessing to get some things done.  I had 4 car paintings at various stages I could work on and I had these vintage toys I wanted to tackle so started another 6 smaller canvases. I was in the zone for the first three weeks before I started to feel like this was becoming work. I realized I wasn't enjoying myself anymore. I was gutting through the paintings. Halfway through the 5th week I was feeling my stomach tighten when I thought of painting. Thats when I realized I drained my creative well. Julie Cameron of the "Artist's Way" says that you need to replenish the well otherwise you'll burn out and I was doing just that. I needed to put it aside and don't look at any of it and do something else until I could recharge again.

Go on an artist date?
Finding a way to recharge during the Corona virus is challenging. Normally I would go to a museum or a car show or a street fair or movie or a a drive to the beach but none of that was available. All I had was my house and yard and long walks around the neighborhood. Even all that gets old when you do it everyday. So now its week 9 and I'm not painting so much like I started to I realize that this sheltering in place is insidiously draining to the creative process. Because there is a level of uncertainty about our lives and when this will be over and what kind of normalcy will resume trying to be creative is proving to be more challenging. It's become harder to get that creative spark going to the level it was at week one. Trying to be creative when your primary needs are uncertain is really difficult. But I will persist I will still get up and do what I can. I am still getting things done I am moving forward and that's a good thing.  I don't know what the future of art will look like I can only hope that people will still want art in their homes and offices or where ever they spend their time. We may need to adapt as a market to reach people who are not coming out to see us in the galleries or art fairs. Right now everything is still on a "wait and see" basis. We don't know what will change and how we will need to adapt to this new environment of pandemic shopping.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Little Iso Dreams

"Little Iso Dreams",24"x 30", oil on canvas
Its SOO cute! Its so small! It looks like a toy. You just want to have it and put to on your keychain.
My wife and I were in Reno in 2019 at the Hot August Nights car show. Its a massive show. One of the biggest on the west coast. It takes place in several parking lots and event spaces all over Reno and it goes on for almost 2 weeks. The cars that show up are amazing in the variety and the level of customizations. And then there is this little Issetta 300. It doesn't even fill out the parking space. It was the only micro car that we saw at the show so it really stood out. Everyone came by to look and comment on it. It was kind of the freak of the show. That was the inspiration for this painting. I wanted to feature this little car as small but proud. The perspective is low to give it a heroic look. You can see people looking at it in the reflections but on the nose its head is in the clouds. It's thinking of when it was a hero of Italy and Europe.

A little history on the Issetta and the micro cars of Europe in the 50s. In 57 the Suez canal was closed by Egypt cutting Europe off from its gas supply. In response some very clever engineers came up with new ideas for getting people around that was super fuel efficient and cheep to buy because Europeans didn't have much money. The micro car was designed with a small engine usually less than500cc. Issetta was designed with a 247cc engine. Thats smaller than most lawnmower engines! Iso was a manufacturer of refrigerators. It was their design that was sold to BMW. "Issetta" is Italian for little Iso. 160,000 were made from 1955-62. It was the best seller of its day. So here is Little Iso sitting in a sea of big American cars  dreaming of when it was all the rage. It and the other micro cars answered the call and filled a need for people to get around efficiently and cheaply.