Be Delighted

"Oh my my my my, what an eager little mind!"

Auntie Mame

Monday, October 26, 2020

Mile 359

 This is a post about process. There is a finished product and there is the process, just as there is a destination and a journey (that initially seems long, but with audio books and coffee on hand, nine hours in human travel time to get to a completely different view is really pretty amazing.)

This particular journey was to Breckenridge, Colorado last month, a wonderful respite in the mountains, with beautiful scenery and great food. And horses and bike riding and adorable chipmunks. But that is not what I painted. 

Instead, on the way back home we grabbed some Subway sandwiches on the edge of Raton and drove a few miles down the road to park and enjoy them in that most socially distanced of places, that stretch from Raton to the Texas border, where the last of the mountains slowly melt back into the plains, and an extinct volcano stands nearby (Capulin monument) to remind us of a long gone, ancient time. (this photo is from 2016 but extinct volcanoes don't change much in four years)

It was a quiet, hazy day, the haze due to the smoke from the California fires drifting eastward, and I shot two photos with my camera. The first photo became a small painting, Near Raton, that was sold to a friend, but the second photo also beckoned so I bought a larger, landscape oriented canvas and began painting another moment of the lure of the open road, Mile 359. I wonder where Mile 1 began?

The second painting took longer and was reworked many times. Here is the photo:

The beginning:

More brushstrokes. At this point looking back I actually like this roughed out version. It has energy and life and a sense of the actual journey, especially in the close-up.

Then I started refining and detailing.

And then glazing, reworking, glazing, reworking, stepping away, coming back, reworking. The process was not as fun at this point. My eyes were as glazed as my painting. But eventually I had to call time and decide it was done. Maybe.

This painting took longer than nine hours but coffee was involved.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Strange Days Indeed

I received some mail with a John Lennon stamp on it a few months ago, commemorating the 40th year of his death. Yes 1980 was 40 years ago. With everything going on in this tumultuous year I kept hearing his song "Strange Days"  (Nobody Told Me) in my head. I'd been working on turning some smaller scrap watercolour paper into pages for another art journal and so this is what evolved. It's chaotic, slapdash, unrefined, and impulsive. Then words and phrases from the past three months kept popping in my head, images, anxieties, anger, sometimes a sense of impending doom, not just in the larger world but in my own world with people I know. It is at once personal and global.
And yes, that's Fred Astaire in the video, among other celebrities.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Down the Rabbit Hole

I think we've all been down some rabbit holes lately, some more scary or deceptive than others. But this particular journey is more of the artistic variety, playing with paints and releasing that inner child. I've done a whole series in this style but before I post them I've decided to show the process just in case anyone had the urge to get colourful and make a happy mess.

And here we go. A square piece of watercolour paper measuring 6" x 6". These are Kilaminjaro paper tiles that come in a pack from Cheap Joe's Art Stuff. They are very sturdy and can handle lots of paint, brushing, scraping, etc. I start by wetting the paper slightly then brushing on some Payne's Grey, plus a mixture of turquoise and yellow in a very random fashion. Making the ol' substrata.

Next I used a stencil of a flower from Stencil Girl. I don't always use stencils but sometimes they are great for a quick start. Eventually it will lose its' 'stencilness' within the artwork.

Now I'm going to start breaking up the background a bit more. This piece will be the exact opposite of monochromatic. I've also started messing with that flower shape using free, loose brushstrokes of bright yellow.

Now to begin embellishing with random repeating shapes. We're about to veer into Impressionism with a dash of Pointillism, followed by full on Fauvism.  I've added that pink but will later subdue it because, damn, it's Pepto Bismol pink.

O.K. here come the dots. Plus I'm adding paint strokes to those petals to lose their stencil look. That pink has been knocked back a bit and the yellow has been toned down. At this point many people would think I should stop there. Maybe I should have, but I didn't. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes more is more. Let's go full out. This is not Minimalism by any means.

And here's the finished painting (I guess). I doodled a lot with a white pen, added some paint spatters. (Yes, even Jackson Pollock gets a nod) and then..... some of you may question the addition of that blue circular squiggle cutting right through the flower. Well, that was to keep the composition from being too boring and to keep the flower from being too static. I could have made fifty other choices but this is what I did. It's all spontaneous and intuitive and that's what makes it fun. I don't know where each rabbit hole is taking me.

 This was just a demo piece. Here are the others in the Rabbit Hole series that are already complete. Each has a scrap of a handwritten letter on it, penned by a friend in England who was commenting on the effects of Covid-19 over there. Her handwriting is very small, neat cursive and I tried to insert that bit of collage in each painting to add to the dreamlike (possibly hallucinogenic) effect. There are four paintings that are spoken for. The rest I'll probably put on Etsy.

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Tale of Clive the Lonely Llama (or what I did during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic)

Who knew that when 2020 started that I would find myself creating a story in pictures about a llama? I think we have all found ourselves surprised this year (also horrified, scared, anxious, uncertain, and yet brave, inspired, and compassionate, and amazed that we, as a planet, are suddenly aware of our global community all in this together. Life. Go figure)

But back in the distant days of February I was working on some small 5" x 7" abstract paintings, as exercises for possible larger versions. Sort of like this:

One of them was looking rather bland and going nowhere after I put some tiny rectangles of colour across the top. So, on a whim I painted a green rectangle and it became an odd little house, which needed a stone wall, which suddenly needed a llama. A llama specifically named Clive (perhaps his owner was an Anglophile, or had a long ago love affair with a British gent of the same name). It was just a one off amusement. But Clive was alone in his landscape.

                                             I couldn't just leave him there so: Hello!

And so a story begins. Paloma and Gustavo want to take Clive on an adventure.

Night falls and it's time for a rest but Clive isn't sleepy yet and the world is big. It's a long way but where are they going? (At this point even I didn't know. I just let them lead me on).

Up in the mountains a village comes into view.

They are being watched.

Clive tries out the local produce.

The three friends make it to the top of the world.

Fernando and Esther watch them depart back down the mountain.

Another night camping out. Look who came along.

Back over the bridge. Still just as high. This time they are watched by Monty (Montague III)

Almost home. Atahualpa's rock nap has been disturbed by all the foot traffic.

And finally, there are a few surprises in store all around. Here comes Senora Paola with Brigitte.
(but wait, we have seen Brigitte before ;-))

The End

The full set.

And Clive's Facebook portrait.

I hope you have enjoyed this story.

Some fun research topics.

1) Peru and the Andes
2) Who is Atahualpa?
3) Monty Python and llamas
4) Fernando Lamas and Esther Williams 
5) Llamas in costumes
6) Abstract Expressionism
7) the books of Tomie de Paola