Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tiny paintings soooo far...

Here's my painting results from a crazy couple of days of tough going. This is 8x10, and I like the execution of it, but I don't like the content. This was something I just started and finished kind of spur of the moment and very quickly. Somehow I fell into a groove and got comfortable with the paint after several days of being at odds with everything. But this is probably still more of a learning experience than a complete success. The painting below is the one that was giving me headaches galore:

I'm not sure if it's done or if it's any good. It feels overworked right now, and I think if I kept poking at it I would just scrub it out and start over. The face is bothering me... so maybe I'll play with it or change it. I think I'll put it away for a while and turn to something else. Either way, for the next few days I think I need to take a break (and watch a little Project Runway, do laundry, make curry) because between stressful paintings and a stressful day job and photo shoot coming up Sunday I'm a little worried about-- I'm already worn out. It's Wednesday and I've probably already put in over 40 hours labor counting everything.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Painting tiny paintings.

I'm painting a couple 8x10's right now because some of the shows I've been doing sell smaller pieces pretty quickly. So I thought it would be smart thing to do, have a few small things on hand. But I've realized I hate it, it's so restricting. I feel like I'm trying to climb into a cupboard. My brush strokes get stale and overworked, and the painting dies a long laborious death. Sometimes I have better days, but not very often. I also thought the small paintings would go quickly, but it seems they take just as much time as the giant ones. It feels like progress is taking ages and I am just aching to work canvases that I can throw my whole self into, with big strokes and gestures. And less a feeling of preciousness of detail. We'll see, I'm working on them a few more days until I finish up prepping some large canvases for a series of paintings I have in mind. Though even the canvas prepping is feeling like forever. I just want to spend 80 hours a week painting, I never have enough time. Though even at 80 hours I would probably want twice that. The more time I paint, the more time I need to spend painting.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Too much to see, too much to do... I'll paint instead.

I didn't see the Dali exhibit, and probably won't get around to Murakami at MOCA. These giant super-exhibits never seem to impress me. I did like the Hockney one at LACMA though, and kind of liked the Magritte-- it made me respect him (which was hard because for 4 yrs during college I worked in a museum gift shop and I lost interest in any artist/artwork sold on mousepads.)

But I did to go to the Harvard art museums and the MFA in Boston over the holidays, and that was magical. I had the idea to see all the works by John Singer Sargent in Boston, but then totally forgot about the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum's El Jaleo which is probably the most impressive Sargent there (well, that and The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, which is my personal favorite.) The good news was that the MFA Sargent's are back on display (apparently construction of the new addition made them inaccessible earlier in the year.) The bad news is that I never made it across the street to the ISGM to see El Jaleo, and instead wandered down to Faneuil Hall to get fresh chocolate chip cookies and watch break dancers.

But after seeing the Sargent's and their very fresh lively use of paint, I couldn't be bothered to see the Dali exhibit. I find his paintings kind of drab and dead. I'm not a fan of surrealism, which is maybe odd because I've been painting surrealistically lately. But I really dislike it. And everybody asks me "Did you see the Magritte exhibit?" or "Are you going to Dali?" and I feel like a traitor. But when I explain to them the difference between what I'm doing versus the official surrealist movement, people's eyes glaze over. But after seeing the Magritte show, I was even more convinced I am not Surrealist (with a capital 'S'.) Surrealists are interested in the subconscious and dreams. Their movement corresponded with Freud's own work on dreams and the subconscious, though it had not been translated into French at the time-- the Surrealists just happened to be intrigued by the same ideas. Stuff like this is very intriguing to me, people exploring the same ideas in two countries unknown to each other. (The filmmaker Kieslowski was also intrigued by this, watch the extra features on "Blue"... and see is films, it is a recurring idea.) But I am not exploring the subconscious or dreams with my paintings. I think of it in a more literary way. I used to call it magical realism, and for a while I called them metaphor paintings, but still those terms don't seem right.

Most of my paintings are exploring issues and ideas that I see around me, in the media, in everyday life, and in my head. They are more collages and juxtapositions of real life things than anything else. More than anything else, they are about environmental issues, mainly because I'm completely scared shitless about this stuff and I am working it out in my head and it comes out in my paintings. I'm not trying to make "message" paintings, and want to keep away from that completely. But I want to let the confusion, frustration, and fear seep into the paintings.

This is probably why many of the paintings have figures with their backs to the viewers, it gives the painting a point of view so the viewer knows they are observing something instead of being lectured about something. I also think having a figure's back to the viewer will pull him in, because there is that natural instinct to want to see someone's face. I like to deny that to the viewer. I think it creates a tension, and also makes the viewer see the rest of the painting differently-- because then they are seeing what the figure in the painting is seeing. And they relate to the figure. Also I like the idea of viewing things through innocent eyes, which is why these days children are appearing in my paintings. (Many of which are in process and not posted anywhere yet, sorry.) It's like the book To Kill a Mockingbird-- it's about a controversial subject but because it's seen through the eyes of children there's more of an honesty and straightforwardness about it.

I'm rambling a bit today, and my thoughts are going million miles an hour. I've been working like crazy since the new year building new canvases and starting new paintings. Hopefully more coherent posts will follow, as well as pictures. And maybe I'll have a new *show* to announce soon, I've been working on that as well....