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Provence Paintings

Originally posted on April, 13, 2009

"Walk to the Ventoux" oil on mat board, 20cm x 16cm, 2009
"Walk to the Ventoux" oil on mat board specifically prepared for oil, 20cm x 16cm, 2009

With the explosion of visual images over the last one hundred and fifty years it is as if our brains moved from the cortex to the receptors in our eyes. Like it or not the holographic reality that we live in is created visually. From cradle to grave we are nurtured in a way so seductive we gladly give our all to it. Long live the zietgeist!

I can remember clearly as a young boy the time and place this state of affairs became evident to me. This occurred in a very personal and intimate way. It changed my life and I have not been the same since. I was 4 months past my 13th birthday. Certain areas in Provence around Mount Ventoux trigger the emotions associated with this understanding. It is a very comfortable mental place for me. As I get a better grasp of its meaning I become even more comfortable. And so it goes.

My apologies for the rather ecliptic manner of expressing these thoughts; it is unfortunate that in this area our limitations in verbal expression become most acute. Visually I’m slowly approaching these feelings, very slowly. Expressing this in terms of paint will no doubt involve much work and certainly some grace from the powers that be. Please wish me well.

Each year in March, my wife Françoise and I head south. The last three years we went to Picasso country on the Midi. Going and coming there we would stop for a couple of days close to the Mount Ventoux. This year we spent 3 weeks there. Even though the weather could have been more cooperative I came back with a lot small paintings, sketches and photographs which will help me develop some themes I have begun working on. I have found that for me it takes a long time before I do a good work motivated by a particular area. (It is just like that for me, but this is a subject for another time.) In the coming weeks I’ll share some of the paintings. The one shown here is quite small. I have found that if you are going to stretch your creativity one of the best way to do it is to work either much smaller or larger than your normal “comfortable? sizes. It forces you to both look and work differently. For me it is all about finding that fine edge between reflection and experience. As we better understand the relationship between things we understand that our painting has little to do with these things. It is about relationships.

Published in french as Peintures de Provence

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Personally Modified Impressionism

Originally posted on March, 3, 2009

Sketch near Carpentras, 2005
Sketch for the following paintings:

"Untitled", Golden Open acrylic on acid free mat board, 30cm x 24cm, 2009
"Untitled", Golden Open acrylic on acid free mat board, 30cm x 24cm, 2009

"Untitled", Golden Open acrylic on acid-free mat board, 22cm x 16cm, 2009
"Untitled", Golden Open acrylic on acid-free mat board, 22cm x 16cm, 2009

"Untitled", oil on canvas, 27cm x 22cm, 2008
"Untitled", oil on canvas, 27cm x 22cm, 2008

"Untitled", oil on canvas, 27cm x 22cm, 2008
"Untitled", oil on canvas, 27cm x 22cm, 2008

Due to an interruption in my painting (house repairs) I’ve had plenty of time for reflection. Past posts, have, I believe, dealt adequately with the question of artistic integrity in a negative sense. Like all meta-physical questions it is answered in terms of what it is not. To state a response in positive terms obliges recourse to the story of history. There are times when I skirt this issue by saying that my painting is a personally modified impressionism. Like all ism’s this phrase in analysis says absolutely nothing. It is gobly gook like much written and said about art.

Read the rest of "Personally Modified Impressionism"

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Another Painting

Originally posted on February, 11, 2009

"Boats" Golden Open acrylic on canvas, 46cm x 38cm, 2009
"Boats" Golden Open acrylic on canvas, 46cm x 38cm, 2009

As promised, here is a photograph of the painting from last week after I did more work on it. I’m still not terribly pleased with the result. Sometimes it’s like that. It depends on what I have for breakfast.

In thinking about the difficulty with this painting I realized I changed part of my process. The painting was started using a large bristle brush. This brush brought more water into the Golden Open. It seems the Golden Open is quite sensitive to an addition of water. If you were attempting to work in a watercolor technique I’m not sure how well it would work. In any case, my preferred method is to work direct and fast even if I have more than a single painting session.

Published in french as Une autre peinture

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The art of loving the tools

Originally posted on February, 10, 2009

My modified table-top box easel
My modified table-top box easel

The last couple of days I’ve been preparing for a trip to Provence. Every year in February or March we head for Provence and the côte d’Azur, weather permitting. As soon as we get a break in the weather we are gone.

My latest project involved an old Lefranc-Bourgeois table-top box easel I’ve been moving around the world for close to 30 years. Several years ago I adapted it to fit on a camera tripod. The one you see is relatively light weight and extends so that the canvas (size 8 to 20) is at eye level. The box itself weighs nothing compared to my French easel (a free-standing box with attached folding wooden legs) and holds more stuff. I’ve reworked the easel part so that it works flawlessly. The tripod has a quick release which is attached to the bottom of the box. It takes me about 20 seconds to set-up and be ready to paint. In short, it is a very fine box. I love it.

Published in french as L’art d’aimer ses outils

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