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Fuel to the Fire

Posted on by Wess Foreman

I've been writing some on a new book about art---my take on it anyway---and I thought I'd post a section of it here. It's just a first stab at the topic and will probably change in its final form, if and when the project ever gets finished. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you have anything to add on the topic!

 

Fuel to the Fire

   When I stand at my easel and paint, I recall a simpler time. A time half-forgotten. When I paint, I remember what it was like to play, what it was like as a child to imagine worlds within worlds and to speak them into existence. To negotiate imaginary battles. To summon heroes. To build castles out of sand and place oneself on the ramparts yelling down to a plastic action figure in a friend’s hand: “Who goes there?!” To hear him reply in an altered voice, “It’s me!” To respond in turn with the inevitable question, “What’s the password?!” (and then the fantasy would be paused as we played twenty questions to resolve the issue)

    It’s not that when I paint I think about the details of my childhood—-I do not—-but it’s the essence of that time: echoes of a mind untethered, a discovering mind, a creative mind. When I paint, I am unburdened and set free of distraction and worry. I am an instrument of intuition. I am pulled out of time. I have come unstuck. The brush moves; it scrapes against the canvas, leaving behind a trail of paint—-all that is true but for one detail: I move the brush. The artist wields the power, makes the decisions, creates worlds within worlds and speaks them into existence. The artist is in charge.

    When I stand at my easel and paint, I often listen to music. I assume this is true of many artists in many different disciplines. Music has a way of pushing away the real world and redirecting the mind to a more creative space. I find that to be true. It’s not magic and it’s not altogether automatic, but it does seem to help. And any type of music will work, I’m sure. I don’t normally listen to country music, but I’m pretty sure if I played country music when I painted it would do the job just fine. I have tried classical music and I have tried music from the eighties as well as “oldies but goodies.” I have listened to entire albums from single bands—-Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Radiohead, Beck—-and I have let the radio play down the top 40 hits while I’ve painted. It all seems to work just fine. However, in the interest of honesty and in full disclosure, I should tell you that I paint most of my paintings to angry music.

    There is something to be said for the raw passion and unbridled energy of punk and post-punk alternative music—-maybe sprinkled with a bit of metal and a bit of grunge and even a bit of post-ironic garage band thrown in the mix. I like it. I can nod my head to it. I can paint to it—-and I often do! Nothing beats a wall of discordant power chords fed through the right distortion pedals and tube amps complete with microphone feedback and lyrics belted out in bold abandon—-you can almost see the sweat spraying off the brow of the lead singer as she bounces to the frantic rhythm unconcerned with reality as she knows it. Nothing beats the isolation this creates as the raw energy is radiated out like some undiscovered thing that kindles the fire of creativity. It washes over me and passes right through me as I stand at my easel to paint. And I use this energy best I can. I channel it onto the canvas—-it becomes a rich landscape; it becomes a delicate flower; it becomes the face of a portrait; it becomes art. Art creating art.

    There is a bit of chaos to the music. There is something dangerous in it. An idea that goes against the grain. No, I do not subscribe to the idea of nihilism—-my paintings might be amoral but I am not—-but there is something primal to the energy that music can project (now I’m sounding all New Age-y). I guess I’ll just leave it there: music injects energy into creativity.

what next?

Posted on by Wess Foreman

wessf-winter.jpg

As an artist, I am always learning and growing in my craft. I am always experimenting with new ideas, new techniques. I hope to never stagnate; that would be fatal. As a result, my work is always changing. My subject matter changes. My style evolves.

So at the end of every painting I face a simple but dire question: What next? And nine times out of ten, I do not have an immediate answer. I either dip back into old photos, retreading old ground, or I squander a day or two days . . . maybe an entire week without producing new work. And, to coin a phrase, this is no way to art!

So here's what you can do to help. Send me ideas. Send me snapshots to use as reference photos. Send me a list of your favorite paintings---my paintings or otherwise. Maybe you have a specific painting you'd like me to paint---whether you purchase it or not, I'd love to hear about it. comment on this blog post or email me directly: wess@wessforeman.com

I have posed this question in my newsletter [signup] and it will show up on my facebook page and via twitter. If you see me at an art market, you can answer the question face to face or on my sign-up sheet---I'd love it. Please help me answer the question, What next?

charcoal pencil sketch

Posted on by Wess Foreman

I suppose it could be called a sketch, but I think of a sketch as a less-finished, loose interpretation - this one is a little more substantial. Let's call it a drawing.

Anyway, this was drawn from a photo of a childhood home. The photo had great potential for a drawing because of it's nice lines and shadows, and no bright colors to get in the way of seeing those lines [if that makes sense].

Although not the best pencil artist, I think I did alright with this one. I was pleasantly surprised with how fast the drawing came together - after a light sketch, I basically started at the upper left corner and slowly made my way down and to the right until I reached the bottom right corner where I signed it. I can definitely see where I could improve upon my techniques [and my patience], but this was probably the best I could do at the level I am now. Now hopefully I will make time to practice and improve. Look for more drawing/sketching in the near future!

Getting Ready for Art Market

Posted on by Wess Foreman

The Northshore Art Market is coming up this Saturday (Feb. 14th). It will also be Valentine's Day, by the way [even though none of you took the time to remind me all these years, I'm doin' you a solid, as the kids say - oh, and paintings are the perfect Valentine's gift, pass it on]

passive-aggressive subliminal message complete - more later

art show cancelled

Posted on by Wess Foreman

Tomorrow's Northshore Art Market in Covington has been cancelled due to the probability of lousy weather. Well, this will give me more time to prepare for the next show - it's on February 14th. Be there or be square. I'll try to post some new artwork soon: some '2009' artwork to be exact.

Inside Northside magazine article

Posted on by Wess Foreman

I just noticed that the article on me in Inside Northside Magazine is available on their website. If you're interested in reading it and aren't able to pick up a copy where you are, here's the LINK.

Yet another website redesign

Posted on by Wess Foreman

I keep returning to these simple, colorless web designs. I don't know what it is; it's just nice and clean. Anyway, let me know what you think - especially if you have an idea for improvement. I'll take it under advisement.

Also, my painting, "30 Minute Commute," is on the cover of Inside Northside magazine this month with a nice little article within. So that's something.

Time of Recovery

Posted on by Wess Foreman

The Northshore Art Market went well last Saturday, I thought. The weather was cooperative, and I sold enough small paintings to cover the booth fee for this one and the next. Thanks to everyone of you who stopped by long enough to have my business card slapped into your hands! A few of you even made allusions to wanting a portrait made in the near future (bless you - email me a photo and I'll get started right away).

Anyway. I returned home only to find a construction zone where our utility room used to be - don't get me wrong, I was expecting this. In fact, I had helped in the demolition of the utility room floor the day before (major flooding during Hurricane Gustov made the renovations a must). And so, after a brief nap I went to work.

...Skipping, skipping, skipping - and three work days later - I found myself finally able to rest. And rest...

So, tomorrow is Thursday and I think I will, at last, be able to actually do something creative (it was only today that I found myself able to imagine life without these aches and pains once again, though it may take the rest of the week for that to become a reality). Much of today was spent making lists - paintings I need to paint, items I need to purchase, emails I need to send, work I [still] need to finish around the house - and there is nothing like a good long list to get a person motivated and going and doing.

Sometimes there is work to be done - sometimes lots of work. For anyone else out there facing a time of physical or emotional difficulty, remember to take some time to recover. Remember that it's okay to do nothing. To reorganize. To plan ahead before getting back to the grind. Stephen Covey calls it "Sharpening the Saw" [GTD].

All that to say, expect more content soon!

Open Studio Newsletter - 4th Quarter, 2008

Posted on by Wess Foreman

Hello, all!

It has been a while since the last newsletter, and I thought now would be a good time for a 4th Quarter edition with which to wrap up the year. Besides, I had a few announcements to . . . announce. Here they are:

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Northshore Art Market - Saturday, October 11th
I took the summer off, basically, missing the last two Covington art markets. I should have many new paintings on display. So mark your calendars and swing by if you can and say hello!

Inside Northside Cover Artist Nov/Dec
I am excited to announce that I have been chosen as the cover artist of Inside Northside magazine's November/December edition. No joke. Pretty cool, huh?

Painting-A-Day Blog
I will be restarting my painting-a-day blog soon - probably next month [November], but definitely during the month of December, as I mentioned I would in the Inside Northside interview. This is where I will be uploading one new painting everyday to my blog [for sale, of course]. I will probably do this separately from my main blog, just to keep it simple - a link to it will be displayed prominently on my website, of course, at wessforeman.com.
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It has been a long, hot summer. The kind of summer that makes you forget how cold winter can get, even here in South Louisiana. So, it was amazing when, a few weeks ago, the weather changed overnight, introducing the chilly mornings and pleasant afternoons of autumn - a season long-forgotten in my mind but remembered immediately with the first crisp intake of morning air to my lungs.

So, here I am. Relishing this great weather we've been having. Returning to the outside easel more and more often to put paint to canvas. The family is fine; all fine, thanks for asking. The wife and I are watching our son grow up before our eyes - he's two years old and ready for potty training and playing with Thomas the Tank Engine and jumping from the sofa to the pile of pillows on the floor . . . and life is great.

I pray that this new season finds you well. That you too are experiencing the joy of the changing weather and maybe recalling a time when life was simple and easy and new.

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To get these newsletter updates sent automatically to your email inbox, just contact me and let me know.

New Site Design

Posted on by Wess Foreman

geese sketchOnce again, I've redesigned the website. I think it's alright . . . haven't double-checked it with Internet Explorer, but it's working with Firefox (let me know if something doesn't work for you).

I've had this idea for a while of making my main website the blog, instead of just a static landing page. Anyway, it simplifies things for me.

It's been a while since my last post (a full month), but, sadly, not much has happened since then. The weather has been typical Louisiana summer fare: hot and humid with the occasional thunderstorm. So I made the decision to skip the June and August Northshore Art Markets (the August one is this Saturday). I plan on returning to the Art Market in October, unless something changes (then by definition . . .), and I'm also considering the Madisonville art market in September.

Skipping these venues has left something of a vacancy in the commissions I normally take on - at least I think that's what is to blame - and, as such, I've found it difficult to get back into my normal painting rhythm. [side thought: why is it that when business is going slow for me, everyone feels the need to ask me, "so, how's the painting going?"!?!]

In the meantime, I have gotten some painting done and have made it up to the Ponchatoula Furniture Gallery to change out some paintings. I spent some time there making some changes to a commissioned landscape. It was fun painting somewhere different and painting in "public", and there was talk about me and artist Bill Hemmerling doing a painting demonstration sometime in the future [I'll let you know if that happens].

Well, that's all I can come up with right now. Back to the easel for me. Let me know what you think of the new look, and if you have any suggestions. Thanks.

New Look for the Blog

Posted on by Wess Foreman

If you haven't noticed, I'm trying out a new look for the Open Studio. I like the fact that it's a simple theme, with one main column. I still need to configure the menu on top, as it's a little sparse. If you have any opinions on the new look or suggestions for improvements, I'd love to hear them. Let me know if you find anything not working as well: I've only tested this on the Firefox browser, so if you're using Internet Explorer, for instance, let me know if it looks good. I hope to be posting more regularly now, so check back often, and thanks for visiting!

Covington Art Market is Nigh

Posted on by Wess Foreman

This Saturday, in fact, I will be lugging all my gear over to the NorthShore Art Market in Covington [hope to see you there]. I feel ill-equipped this time. I have some new paintings to show, that's not it; I just feel like I haven't been preparing as much as I usually do. Well, I have three and a half days to do just that, I suppose.

A big part of my uneasiness might be the fact that this blog has gone unchanged in quite some time. It isn't as if some great catastrophe has befallen me, preventing me from updating the blog - nothing that fantastic - only a lack of motivation has prevented it. Well, anyway, I'll try to get back at it once again.

*friendly reminder: Federal tax return deadline is nigh, as well.

Wessforeman.com

Posted on by Wess Foreman

In case you have not already noticed (or been notified), the website name is now wessforeman.com instead of wessf.com (which is no longer mine). It's a long story, suffice it to say, steer clear of vizaweb.com if you need web hosting, and definitely do not register your domain name with them (for they will not register it in your name, but in their own).

But I harbor no hard feelings - not many - and life goes on. Besides, wessforeman.com (wesforeman.com also works) is, in some ways, a better name anyway - no need, for instance, to explain the awkward spelling: "w-e-s-s-f-dot-com" - I can now simply say that it's Wess Foreman dot com.

Along with the change, I've also changed the name of this blog to "open studio" and plan on posting only art/creativity related posts here. I've created a separate blog for all other stuff - check it out here: popularblur.com

Along with the new domain name, I've taken on a new look for the site as well - a little too austere perhaps, but fresh and new and ready for the new year and new content to go with it! All that to say: don't forget to change any old bookmarks to the new site. And welcome to the new wessforeman.com - expect much in the way of new content and come back often!

Join me on Twitter and Facebook

Posted on by Wess Foreman

I just wanted to let you know (whoever you are) that I have joined the Facebook online community, though I'm not very impressed and don't update things very much (not a very glowing recommendation, I know). Anyway, just thought I'd mention it, in case you were interested.

On a different note, I have also joined the Twitter online community, which is much simpler and easier to get into. My "tweets" should now appear in the sidebar of this very blog (to the right). If you would like to follow what I'm up to (it's a microblog, of sorts), you can follow me at twitter.com/wessf. I do highly recommend Twitter.com; like I said, it's easy to get into and much simpler than facebook.

Leaning Toward Abstract

Posted on by Wess Foreman

leaning.jpg


"Leaning Toward Abstract, paintings by Wess Foreman" is available for sale now. Here are the details: 7 inch square format book, 38 pages - softcover $20, hardcover $30. Available through blurb.com (pdf preview available).

I'm very happy with the results. I'm looking at both the hard- and soft-cover versions right now, and I can tell you, you will want to get the hardcover edition - it has a much more "finished" look to it - and then you can order a few of the softcover versions as Christmas presents, if you want to spend a little less on other people.

And finally, here are a few tips once you receive your copy: #1) for the hardcover edition, use a bit of scotch tape or your favorite Snoopy stickers to affix the dust jacket to the book, itself (otherwise, it will want to slip off all the time), and #2) for the softcover edition, pinching the spine of the book in one hand, use your other hand to gently bend the book one way and then the other, all the way down the spine - you may have to do this with half the pages at a time (this will allow the pages to turn freely when viewing and will hopefully avoid the tendency of the book to tear through the glue of the spine - you have been warned).

I'm already looking forward to doing another book in the future (any suggestions are much appreciated). Happy reading!