Saturday, January 30, 2010

Because you need a break from yellow

3 ft. x 3 ft. (one of my preferred sizes for oil abstracts), oil on linen.


As many of you know, I am incredibly moved by all Rothko's later work. I have been experimenting with approaches to try to, in some way, feel what he may have felt doing these sort of paintings, and imitating what may have been some of his techniques (I don't know, and am not sure that anyone does for certain). At the same time, I try to always paint as non-toxic as possible, which for me means, in part, eschewing solvents (I think I read somewhere that he used a lot to achieve his effects). I use none except for a little turpenoid for the "staining the canvas" first step--which I do outside on a nice day, so as not to have the fumes in the studio--and a little for cleaning brushes. (And anyway, I have tried some solvents and mediums and they always seem to backfire on me, so I gave them up. But, never say never--who knows what I will or won't be using in the future.)

I continue to feel completely captivated by color abstractions, and I imagine I always will. Oddly, apparently Rothko said that all these types of paintings that he did (the ones he's most famous for, that look like this) had nothing to do with color, only with emotion. For me it's both--certainly evoking a particular emotion or emotions, but definitely about color for its own sake.

Isn't it strange when you feel such a powerful attraction to someone's work (for me, Rothko and Diebenkorn, for example) that you feel you could die happy if you could somehow crawl right into one of the paintings and become it...and you show a book of that artist's work to a friend, and they give it a rather bored glance and give you a weird look, like, Nah, not my cup of tea, and why does this even interest you?

It continually amazes me, why as individuals we are so drawn to some work and not at all to others. I suppose it's a good thing, though, or else there would probably be only one or two artists in the world.

Comfy furry Golden vegetable. (Mojito.)

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Tierra de Quixote part 3

The final part of the triptych.

Triptych is sold.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tierra de Quixote part 2

Part 2 of the triptych.

Triptych is sold.

What kills me here is not just Rumi's expression, but also his curled-up back feet.

I think he's dreaming of Kayle--everyone, please take a sec to send good healing vibes out to California for our friend Kayle Martin, who just had a mastectomy today due to breast cancer. She is only in her early thirties.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Tierra de Quixote part 1

Introducing part 1 of an oil triptych I recently completed, and which I'm very excited about. Tierra de Quixote in Spanish is "Land of Quixote." The colors remind me of La Mancha.

Each canvas is 20" x 20". For those of you who were following when I discussed how I paint in layers, this was three or four layers.

Triptych is sold.

Little sun worshipers. (Note third cat in pic, black Cleo, top left, getting her tail played with.) They lie on the dog beds (intimidating the dogs, who are afraid to bother them), and then later they stink.

Rumi is in quite an obnoxious phase. At least I hope it's a phase, and not a permanent thing... He gets up on top of any surface (table, counter, etc.), and systematically and deliberately knocks every item off onto the floor, one at a time, with a pause of about two seconds between each item. I've of course had cats do this before, but not to this extent. He is seriously out of control.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Jaipur 3

Several of the photos were quite popular last post! so here's a reprise of sorts...
Starting with another view of Lynxie in the papasan (I think he looks like a little person in a stripey fur suit), and ending with another door on the school in Munnar.

This started as a painting-a-day blog, turned into a more relaxed art blog, then evolved into an art + animals blog, and now I guess it's turning into an art + animals + photography [which, yes, is art too, of course] blog. I don't mind if you don't.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jaipur 2

Hi everyone, if you have information you'd like to contribute, please continue to leave comments on the previous "Easel recommendations" post.

Lynxie, chillin' in the papasan.

These guys were building an outdoor events stage for a school in Munnar. They got their Bollywood on when they noticed I was taking photos.

The Husband and I both are very drawn by the abstract artistic nature of old windows and doors. (Morocco and Guatemala are especially rich sources for this sort of thing; I'll have to try to find all those digital pics someday...) Below are some of the windows on the school where the guys were working. I took these partly to work off of for some future abstract pastels or oils, but they might just be too marvelous as they are and not lend themselves to being interpreted; we'll see.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Easel recommendations?

Hello oil and acrylic painters! (and thank you, all you well-wishers!)

I'm wondering if any of you out there can recommend a good easel for me. I've been using a pretty cheap one ($100 or less?) for a long time now and while it's okay for smaller canvases, it really doesn't work for the size I mostly do oils on, which is usually 36" x 36", 36" x 48", or even larger. What happens is, the little shelf thingie that the canvas sits on suddenly drops off (with a resulting messiness you can imagine...avalanche!) because it can't support the weight of the canvas. The design seems bad too, in that the only way to tighten it (always, regardless of the size or weight of canvas) is by sheer hand force. The tiniest bit loose, and it drops off. Too heavy a canvas, it also drops off.

I need something that can handle canvases maybe up to 6 feet height, and their weight. Also need something that has a better system--where brute force is not the (only) factor in trying to secure one's canvas. My hand gets tired long before the thing gets tight (secure) enough.

The ceiling in the studio is not very high-- 10 feet?? I'll need to check--so I know I can't get one of those kind that has the mast that keeps raising up as you slide the canvas up. We can't afford one of those amazing-looking $1000+ models that I've seen advertised...

So, my question to you all is if you have any experience with a particular brand and/or model that might suit my needs and price range (like to keep it at a few hundred bucks if possible).

I can go ask in an art store at some point (though the two stores in town are kind of small), but wanted to ask all my trusted art-blogger buddies first, especially as you all have had some actual experience using your easels.

(Negative experiences with particular brands/models also very important to know.)


Sunday, January 17, 2010


I've rarely worked in such a high key before. It's interesting and feels good to at least temporarily get outside of my usual palette. (I never even realized I "have" a palette. I don't think most people realize they do, until they [for example] take a look at their original-boxed pastel set and see that some pieces are nubs, and others untouched.)

This is how I feel about still being sick. (Rumi's not dead here, just asleep. Although he really looks dead. I'd never seen him do this before.) I thought I was doing a lot better, then came The Dreaded Cough. The Husband has been coughing too, even worse than me, so today I sent him to Urgent Care. He had an X-ray because his lungs were sounding suspicious. Turns out, he has the beginnings of pneumonia and was given antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine (which you'd think would knock him out, but no, he's far peppier than I have been feeling). When he came back from the doc, I decided to go too. Turns out I have just yer garden-variety bronchitis, post-flu. Cough syrup, rest, and fluids (plus kitties) are my Rx.

Wondering if I should get a flu shot next year. It's like the friggin' Black Plague chez nous.

I don't think both of us have ever been so sick at the same time. (I'm also still wincing regularly from my back injury. It still hurts to sit more than ten minutes or so. Have started going to physical therapy and it is improving a little bit every day.) Both of us so out of commission simultaneously is tough in terms of cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and dog-walking. Tempers are flaring.

But enough kvetching (for today at least). Onward, to some more India photos!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

On the next windy day (we'll fly away)

Pastel, from just before India.

Finally feel well enough to get back in the studio. How I've missed it! (Though first I had to get over my "studio fear" after having been away for so long.)
Am currently excited about and working on a new series called "Jaipur," based on a palace visit there. A very different palette than the Chefchaouen series!

Paws up, ears up: he looks like a bunny here.

The Husband looking silly and cute, modeling some hand-spun and indigo-dyed folksy clothing. (The position is not random; he's imitating an Indian dance form.)

And some more pics from India:

Guarding his property in the Munnar mist, he was too busy even to acknowledge us walking by. (Sam, dog lover extraordinaire, this one's for you.)

This recent road cut was an abstract work of art in itself.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January sun

That weak, hazy light of the winter sun trying to burn through the fog. Observed it like that, mused about it for a day, then tried to recreate it in pastel.

That's from a few days ago, when I managed to get into the studio. I am still sick. I think it's flu, not a cold, due to the fact that a fever now accompanies it. The Husband has it too. We're both shuffling around the house exhausted, dizzy, and coughing. Fun. I don't even care about any more sympathy (yeah, sure), I'm just so tiiiired of this and want to feel normal again and be in the studio.

Some more pics from India, and then a little vid of Lynx below. Bonnie, your request was heard--to know what Lynxie's been up to. Now I have a request of my own: I must see a Cloud video!

Lynx in a vid here going a little nuts over a cat toy that's just a long strip of fuzzy stuff, which I call a "squirrel tail" (there's also a peacock feather there). What cracks me up is when Cleo (black cat) sashays over to investigate. Lynx is so deferential. This is because he got beat up repeatedly by her when he was little, until it finally got into his silly stripe-y head that she rules. Look closely--just in case he had any second thoughts, she actually waits a moment to see she has his attention, and then whacks him in the face with the end of her tail. A cool customer, she is.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Delhi

Experimenting with a very different palette to suit the mood.

I'm still feeling pretty lousy, but have made it for some limited time into the studio! It's so great to be back in there, surrounded by all the colors of pastels and the smell of linseed oil.

How to ooze. Step 1: Prepare.

Step 2: Let it all hang out.

Tea plantation worker (near Munnar).

Temple offerings.

A former temple decoration or offering, now left to gently and ineluctably become part of the roadside trash.

Tea pickers in the near-perpetual Munnar mist.

A mahout with his magnificent charge.

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