Update 8/11/16 ---I replaced the original image of the painting with the new painting (the painting was stretched to a slightly wider size and parts were repainted . . . notably, the edges were fixed and the diagonal leg of the swing set was removed and I added the bright red and yellow squares of color throughout the painting). I like the new look even better.
"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." ---Salvador Dali
We don't have a lot of choice in the way we think. Not really. Life is a series of experiences, the vast majority of which we have no control over. Life just rolls right along without stopping to acknowledge us. The times we do have a say in what happens in life are few and far between, and for most of us that doesn't even get started until after we leave home for the first time---for some of us it takes longer still, longer to understand who we've become. But well before that time, our brains have already been formed. Strong connections have already been established in our brains, making us timid or brave, sociable or introverted, and so on. Some people are too needy. Some people are too greedy. And worse: some people get it in their heads that perfection is what it's all about. Perfection. That sweet idyllic metaphor, humming with the unseen rhythms of the universe, that one pure note of absolute mindfulness to which the very insects tune their lullabies on crisp moonless nights beneath the stars.
Hogwash! There's no such thing as perfection. Not really. Even if there was, would you really want that? At what cost? Yes, we can achieve sublime moments when everything seems to work out, and we might take a pause in those moments (if we are lucky) to acknowledge the "perfection" we have achieved. But those moments are seldom appreciated, and, sorry, it's not really perfection. This is what I think. I think perfection (or the perfection-obsessed mind) is an obstacle. It is in the way. It halts creativity. It stunts growth. It prevents people from learning and improving. Yes, a perfectly executed work of art is a thing of beauty---I'm not saying that can't or shouldn't be achieved---but the approach must be done in a healthy way. Perfectionism is a mind-trap. It is a mad cycle of desire to succeed, fear of failure, anxiety over the smallest mistakes, and finally, when the perfection hoped for has not quite been achieved, an ultimate letdown.
"For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It's a fast track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn't a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance." ---Psychology Today
So how do we get better at getting better without the perfectionism baggage? I answered my own question there: without the baggage. Leave perfection to the insects---let them have it, and all the problems that go with it.
Practical steps? Here's an idea: take some paper or canvas or surface of your choice and some pens/paint/charcoal/etc, and practice shutting off your brain for a little while. Close your eyes and maybe start by drawing or painting a circle---just quickly, without thinking about it. Okay, you can look at it, but then close your eyes again and repeat the circle thing. There, you've done it---two circles. Is it perfect? (if so, you may not be human; if not, congratulations, session complete) What comes next? I don't know---I'm not the boss of you---keep doodling, perhaps. Find some way to be creative without relying so much on your brain. Over time you'll develop new pathways in the brain---or maybe not (I'm not a doctor)---you will find your way out, I'm sure of it. Meanwhile, don't sweat it. You're doing fine. You are perfect just the way you are.
For this quick painting, I used a reference photo from Aaron Younce's Instagram:
"This is the Etienne de Boré oak, but locals call it the Tree of Life. I live a couple of blocks away from it and I ride past it all the time going to and from the shop. Sometimes I stop to just look at the tree for a while, or walk around under it. There's a little plaque under it that says it was planted around 1740. This is one bad ass oak tree."---Aaron Younce (instagram.com/atomictortoise)
I feel like this one fits right in my artistic wheelhouse. Some of my paintings end up more abstract than this one and some end up more realistic---this one is where the two extremes shake hands. Hope you like it.
Returning to this abstract flower/landscape series with shades of blue and yellow and orange.
Something about the vertical lines in the early stages of this painting caught my attention and took me in this colorful direction. The distorted perspective of the coffee cup only adds to the quirkiness of the finished painting, as does the energetic color combination.
Yes, I should have come out with these a couple of months ago to allow plenty of time for the Holiday season, but who says these are holiday cards? These are good for any occasion---simple, bi-fold note cards, blank on the inside; envelopes included---twelve in a pack, ten dollars a pack. If you need them mailed to you, I'm setting the shipping and handling rate at a flat $5 per package (US ground---anything quicker or out of the States, we can discuss). If possible, pick them up in person: those in the New Orleans area can pick them up from me at the December 19th arts market in Palmer Park and we can also work out an in-person pick-up in the Covington/Mandeville area. Thanks!
Just realized I never got around to posting these two paintings on the blog here. Both are very strong and have gotten great responses from Art Market audiences. And, as of this writing, both are still available for sale!
Landscapes [and waterscapes, in this case] are fun to paint. So many variations to be had, ranging from realism to utter abstraction, with none of the worries that can come from painting portraits, for instance (placement of eyeballs, adjustments of skin tone, etc.). This waterscape comes from a reference photo taken at Lake St. John, where my wife's folks live. I wanted a long, horizontal view, so I went with a three panel painting (triptych), at twenty inches tall. I kept the detail to a minimum and the feeling of the painting style loose. To complete the scene I added the suggestion of American coot in the middle-ground and the lone egret taking flight.
Fresh off the easel, this simple image is one I've painted before [and still have in my studio]. I thought it would do well in this larger format. The painting's calm, somber simplicity is only amplified at this larger size.
After a few weeks away from the easel, I returned and decided to lean even more heavily toward the abstract side of things with this piece I'm calling, "Substratum #1." I very rarely start and finish a painting in the nonobjective abstract realm. Usually there is some semblance of familiarity, even with my abstract work . . . a horizon line, something resembling trees or people, something recognizable. In that way, this one remains a mystery.
I like the color choices I made, keeping the primary colors, despite the dark, brooding atmosphere of the painting. Initially, I had the idea of going with a Sunday comics theme, the yellow, blue and red suggesting the newspaper ink, but somewhere along the way the idea changed into something else, perhaps something more substantial. And somehow the energetic, kinetic application of color throughout the painting is kept in check with the subtle black border, conveying less an idea of excitement and more of an idea of static, inner turmoil, in my opinion (though it might be seen by others as frantic energy I suppose; that's fine). Anyway, I like how it turned out, and I plan to do more like this.
This is an image I've painted a few times now---something haunting about it, if I do say so myself. This is Algiers Point in New Orleans. See the painting process video below.