Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Echo of the Place We Are In

City Park, Denver - photo by Lorna Cochrane

Henry David Thoreau - October 30, 1850 (yesterday, 159 years ago)

"I used to strike with a paddle on the side of my boat on Walden Pond, filling the surrounding woods with circling and dilating sound, awaking the woods, “stirring them up,” as a keeper of a menagerie his lions and tigers, a growl from all. All melody is a sweet echo, as it were coincident with [the] movement of our organs. We wake the echo of the place we are in, its lumbering music."

I love that last sentence.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Art and Meaninglessness

Medardo Rosso - image source.

The Guardian's Johnathan Jones wrote an article today called "Why the Best Art is Meaningless." In it he elaborates on his belief that once the concept or meaning of a work of art is made clear then, "what is left to say?" To Jones, "beauty is better than a big idea," going on to say, "Real art doesn't have a message, doesn't necessarily say anything."

It is interesting to read the comments on this post as well - poster BestoftheBest writes, "it's possibly the abstraction of a meaning or intention and the involvement this beckons, rather than the bleeding obvious, that nourishes. The veneer of meaningless is a bluff. But if there's nothing there, it evaporates pretty quickly." Another comment by shakinwilly reads, "Not meaningless but ambiguity is a characteristic of great art."

In undergrad I was frequently asked what are my "concepts" and even in grad school it was a very concept-driven program - I'm not saying these are bad things but the freedom of making art that doesn't have to push an idea is very appealing to me as an artist.

I have been having this constant quarrel in my mind about my next show - whether I should have a more defined concept or not. The statement I wrote for the upcoming issue of New American Paintings reads, "These images are a response to natural processes and the noticeably unnatural human habitat. They depict the effects of construction and destruction – each image functioning as a visual pause; a contrast in this persistent turbulence." I stress the visual image in this statement - perhaps more than a clear concept.

I personally agree with the sentiments of Jones and as it stands right now, my next show will be "about" ambiguity - with what Jones calls, "real art's difficulties."

A post at Learning to Stay blog called, "Why We Need Art" goes on to stress more than our desire for mystery but our need;
  • "We now know enough to know that we will never know everything. This is why we need art: it teaches us to live with mystery. Only the artist can explore the ineffable without offering us an answer, for sometimes there is no answer. John Keats called this romantic impulse 'negative capability.' He said that certain poets, like Shakespeare, had 'the ability to remain in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after facts and reason.' Keats realized that just because something can't be solved, or reduced into the laws of physics, doesn't mean it isn't real. When we venture beyond the edge of our knowledge, all we have is art."
~ Jonah Lehrer, from Proust Was a Neuroscientist

The Bells

Kris Martin - via the Flog. See also:
Jannis Kounellis, Bells, 1993, Bronze bells, rope, wooden beams.
Photo from the Tate Collection.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Photo

photo by Lorna Cochrane - taken last night.

Small Ink Study

Nathan Abels, untitled - small ink study, ink on primed paper, 5x7"

Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell

Just this week I've had two people ask me how to get their work or the work of a friend of theirs "out there" - mostly wanting to know how to sell art. I generally tell people there is no magic formula, but maybe there is...

John Baldesarri, "Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell"
1966-68. Acrylic on canvas.
68 x 56 1/2 in. (via Man Made Lakes)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Currently Outside Our Window

What do we know

Pine tree tops

In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
what do we know.

-Gary Snyder

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blood Red

I'm going to give blood this morning - which reminds me - the Barnaby Furnas show at the MCA Denver has some monumental blood-red abstracts up right now.


Last Sunday I showed you all of the canvases I've been preparing. It seems that was a bit of a distraction because right now I'd like to plan on my next show being made up of just panels. So Thursday after work I built three more sizeable panels:

(I don't love the logos on the back, but it is better plywood)

I'm going to be painting at least one of the fog images that I took in City Park recently, but in order to do so I had to have new references. To clairify - when I tried a foggy image for my last show I found that it was easier to obscure it if I could better see what I was painting in the first place. The same was true with the waterfall image I recently completed. In short, I painted both works mostly from better-lit or daylight images and then added fog or darkness over it - rather than painting directly from a foggy or night time image.

Here is the reference image I used for a work I did last year- I painted this pretty directly (including most of the tree branches and far off mountains) before adding a layer of semi-transparent blue/white over it for the final painting:Here are the references for my next work:
Above is the image that I will be portraying in the painting and below is the day-light image that I took yesterday to have a better idea of what I'm painting:

(hope this all makes sense)

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Road

Max Klinger, Four Landscapes: The Road. 1883 - image source.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trees - new aerial photos

I took these this morning. The top one if from New Mexico and the bottom one is around Pueblo, Colorado.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winter Wind

John Everett Millais, Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind, Oil on Canvas, 108 x 155 cm, 1892
photo by flickr member Martin Beek.

The winter wind is blowing this morning...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Background

I updated the background for fall/winter. Thoughts?

Lucien Levy-Dhurmer Pastel

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, Le Lac Léman, 1925, Pastel - 55 x 73 cm- source.

A Pair

photograph by Nathan Abels
Arnold Böcklin, 1851

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stage Set for Mozart

Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Stage set for Mozart's Magic Flute, 1815, Gouache, 463 mm × 616 mm

Sarah Jones Photography

Sarah Jones, The Rose Gardens (Magneta) (1) - photo source.
Sarah Jones, The Rose Gardens (display: II) (III),
lambda print on aluminium
152 x 122 cm - 59 7/8 x 48 inches, 2007 - photo source.

Dutch Masteresque
Originally uploaded by pachanga

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Current progress

I've got six canvases being primed for new paintings.

Sorry I haven't been posting much in the way of other art/artists lately...I'm juggling a lot of things right now and tying to keep up. Here's a self-portrait by Edvard Munch that I've been thinking about a lot lately:

Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait with Burning Cigarette
1895; Oil on canvas, 110.5 x 85.5 cm - photo from the WebMuseum.

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Aerial Photo

I took this today while flying over the front range. Denver doesn't have any snow, but the high mountains do.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More morning fog

More photos from my walk yesterday morning in City Park - Denver:


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