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I’ve got to lose

At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I’ve got to lose the dreaded Covid-15 (15 extra pounds, that is). My painting pants have been feeling a little snug lately, but that’s not it. I actually looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. Haven’t weighed myself, so I don’t know exactly how bad it is, but the exact weight doesn’t matter. I just have to lose.

Suddenly I said to myself, “Self, what have you been doing with all that extra time you have?” And Self answered: “Not much. A little painting. A little shopping. A little cooking. A lot of eating. A lot of sleeping. And very little exercising.” … [You see what Self and I are getting at.]

Something has to change. Actually, somethings have to change. Exercise three times a week (already started). No snack with my 6:00pm dry vermouth (already started). No more cookies (aww…). Walks at least once or twice a week (not started yet; can’t do it in 90 degree muggy weather). More painting (already started). [The list will grow.]

In fact, the one good piece of news lately is that I have been painting more, trying new things (new for me, that is). And painting more means that I feel better, which helps with the other things that have to change.

So, to cut to the chase, some new paintings:

Storm’s Coming

This isn’t finished, but I think I’ve captured the feeling.

Storm on the Rocks

I thought this was finished, but now I’m not so sure. See how I feel about it tomorrow.

In both of these, I like being able to see the brushstrokes. It’s very different from painting on raw canvas.

Might as well keep experimenting …

Well, there really must be a backlog of orders for stretched raw canvas, so I might as well keep experimenting. And actually I kinda like working with acrylic on canvas board or gessoed canvas (which is fortunate, since that is what I have available).

And the really great news: if you don’t like the result, you can just gesso over it and start again. In fact, I’ve actually gessoed over a couple of my acrylic paintings on raw canvas that I didn’t like, thus giving the canvases a whole new life. As that obnoxious commercial on tv says, “Who knew?”

So, continuing my blog about experiments from almost exactly one month ago (Experiments can be tricky‚Ķ ), here are my latest two experiments:

Ghost Light 2020 18×24 Acrylic

When theaters are closed and dark (as in a pandemic), they keep a “ghost light” on. I suppose it’s to make it easier to find the things that have to be turned back on when they reopen.  Somehow the phrase “ghost light” stuck in the back of my mind after reading the NYTimes article. I didn’t want to paint a real theater with a real ghost light, but did want to convey what the words meant to me, the hope that everything would get turned back on.

Stormy 2020 9×12 Acrylic on canvasboard

There was a storm brewing over the Palisades, but I wanted to change it up a bit.  I kept the sky, but modified the Palisades and the river. Everything else seems to be changing, why not my view?  And this is my still relatively new experimental technique, so that is changing too.

This new experimental technique arose due to my running out of raw canvas, but having plenty of gessoed canvas and canvasboard. Once my raw canvas orders materialize, I’ll have to figure out which I want to use. Decisions … decisions. It’ll be nice to have a choice.

Playa Langosta Beach Colors

In the middle of the pandemic shut-down, waiting for raw canvases to arrive from Amazon and searching for something to do with my other gessoed canases, I keep thinking about my favorite Costa Rican beach, Playa Langosta, and more importantly, my favorite beach colors.

Turquoise, teals, all kinds of blues, yellows, ochers, burnt sienna … an embarassment of riches. And I’m tired of standard beach paintings; I want to do something more abstract, something focused on the colors.

Playa Langosta Acrylic on canvas 2020 11×14

Okay, so it’s not the best thing I’ll ever do, but it’s pointing me in the right direction (I hope). Beaches, sunsets … lots of memories and photos to work from. Anyway, I think I’ll do more of these. To be continued …

Collage to Painting

Okay, while waiting for some raw canvases to arrive from Amazon, I had done a collage version (an artistic rough draft) of my favorite view: the sunset over the Palisades and the Hudson River. Now it was time to try and convert that into a painting. Collage to painting: easier said than done.

My collage had been all about flat color and hard edges (see my previous post). I decided to try to create a watercolor version, which would be all about soft edges (or no edges) and fluid color changes. Still an experiment though, since I wanted the final painting (which I could see in my mind’s eye) to be acrylic on raw canvas. Watercolor would allow me to test and practice the shift from collage to painting.

I ended up with three attempts (it’s been a long time since I worked with watercolor) and one of them gave me the idea I was looking for:

wc sunset

Lord knows, it wasn’t anything I wanted to brag about, or even really acknowledge, but it was the start I needed.

So I moved to acrylic on raw canvas backed with gesso. [Technical aside: you can buy canvas pads which are gessoed only on one side. I simply opt to paint on the back, or raw canvas, side.] It’s not the same as working on stretched raw canvas, which is NOT gessoed on the back, but it IS the next best thing.

So ended up with two versons of my sunset on canvas, only one of which I will post:

Acrylic canvas pad sunset

Now we’re getting somewhere. Not my final destination, but closer.

Next step: wait for delivery of the stretched raw canvas and then tackle the painting. Depending on how long that takes, I may do a few more canvas pad versions. To be continued …

I KNEW I remembered collage…

While I was flailing around trying to figure out what to do with my gessoed canvases and generally making a mess of things, I KNEW I remembered collage … and I thought I knew where I had put all my colored papers, construction paper, glue stick, etc. Lo and behold, I was finally right about something.

And it also was coming back to me how much easier back in 2015 it had been with collage to experiment with planes, shapes, composition, push/pull … all the things you want to be mindful of while painting.

Every night, the spectacular sunsets over the Hudson River and the Palisades are displayed in all their glory and make me want to paint them. So while waiting for my raw canvas supply to be replenished, I decided to experiment with collage.

So I experimented …

Sunset Pieces 2020 9×12

Well, that wasn’t too bad. It took three or four tries to get the sun, the clouds, the Hudson River, the Palisades and the composition to all work together.

Now, this is starting to feel like it should be a painting. To be continued …