Monday, December 22, 2008

Alice in Wonderland

This piece is on exhibit now through January 31 at Flanders 311 in Raleigh, NC as part of a show about Alice in Wonderland and the writings of Lewis Carroll. Oil on canvas, 12" by 12".

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Upcoming Show

In February of next year I will be showing some new and some older paintings at Flanders 311 in Raleigh, NC.
This is one may or may not make it into the show, but it is recent and in progress, so I thought I'd share it. The image of the cowboy was inspired by the work of a former classmate at the Academy of Art, David Ryan. David must have painted 40 images of the Marlborough Man. This is in no way an attempt to copy what he did, but the image of the smoking cowboy was in my mind when I began.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Failure and Sandwiches

I am thinking that failing is the only way one can approach making "good" art. I think that without it, and the subsequent collapse of ego, the true painting cannot begin. Until this event, a failure, we can rely upon what we know, what works, and the results of what has come before. What I do not think we can do is push past what we have done before and create something new that surprises and challenges us. It seems that it is really only when I am lost that I can find the painting. Otherwise, I am just repeating myself, repeating the works of others, relying on and developing from the point of a style, and not making something that is really all that good.

Maybe this is why I like to do so many things, why I get stuck sometimes and cannot finish a thing, and the things I do finish are better than I am capable of doing through skill, talent, knowledge, what have you. I like being in the unknown, but crave the illusion that others' successes came out of knowing what they were doing or where they were going.

Maybe this is why I have always doubted the value of my work, always looked at what the other, more financially successful artists were doing, even though I felt that some of them were only stealing from more talented and original artists and passing it off as their own. Some of them seem to have a confidence I lack. I don't know. Like I said, it is an illusion that things are easier, that they have confidence.

I had anger for many years toward artists who steal blatantly from others. Especially when this theft resulted in financial gain for them. I was jealous of their success and my failure. These are artists whose work I actually looked up to and thought was somehow better than mine. The real failure was letting fear stop me from doing what I wanted and paying the other artists any attention. Though my anger is gone, I no longer see their work as having any value to me. I see it as just them trying on hats, wanting to do what they loved, and maybe not as conscious of their thefts. At any rate, is it really possible for a work to be "better" than another. I am on the fence on this.

I was making sandwiches this morning for my son Gabriel and myself. And I felt, that I was only really making good sandwiches, being a good father, by completely forgetting about myself and focussing on his welfare, his well being, and making a sandwich.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Painting, Teaching, Etc

I have been painting a lot for an upcoming show. February at Flanders 311 in Raleigh, NC.

In response to those who contacted me about taking courses. First of all, thank you. Expect a PDF in early January outlining the classes and pricing structure.

The following are photos of some of the recent paintings. I am not really sure what I think of them yet. It is a struggle to paint, and I do not know if I am any good at it anymore. The best things I have produced seem to result after much failure and many, many mistakes and reworkings. Most often, I feel like a failure. I do not know any artist whose work I value who has not failed miserably in order to create their work. Not that it has to be a painful struggle every time. There are happy accidents. But what I get at least out of knowing what I am doing is at best an imitation of what I have seen before, and if all I can do is repeat and copy the achievements of other more skilled painters, then I am not a painter, or at least, not a very good one. If nothing new occurs, if no new ground is discovered, it hardly seems worth it. There are plenty of bad pictures out there, and we need no more. Sometimes, even when trying to forget about what is right, to forget about how to paint with what you know, about what colors work at the moment, about how to use a brush, to forget everything you have seen or read about other paintings, you still end up with something that looks like a pale echo of past artists' works. Damn those great artists who have discovered incredible pathways and exhibited their discoveries! Damn all the labels about what "ism" it falls into. Categories such as "abstract", "surreal", "representational", damn all that! One great thing about painting, is that after a long round of painting, I will go outside and see beauty everywhere. The asphalt, the dirt, the leaves of autumn, all are so much more beautiful than anything I have done.

So, in humility, I share these recent efforts. I welcome any and all feedback.