Monday, December 27, 2004

Haven't Visited in Awhile, Have I?

Yes, this must be me.

If you got here from the New York Times article about the Pac Man Mondrian game, you probably are in the right place. If there are other blogs about Franz Kline out there I'd love to hear from you.

What this started as was a project for me to get away from a fussy painting style and understand simple, big marks, big colors, black and white, diagonals, and a different way of working.

I still haven't painted my definitive Kline homage. Keep checking back, though. You never know.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Tabloid Landscape

I realize it's been awhile, but one thing I've learned is that art doesn't happen linearly, regardless of your best intentions.

It's not really Klinish, but everything gets thrown into the art hopper when you're painting. I talk more about it over on the Fresh Paint blog.

Still Here

Yes, I'm still here, and will post again a bit later. Until then, check my other blog, Fresh Paint for a few new paintings and general political fun.

Thursday, July 22, 2004


Back in May, I was at the beach without my notebook, and I hadn't bought the camera yet (so my imagination and motor skills were still intact). I drew this little drawing on some lined paper with a pencil scrounged from the floor of the car, but I always liked it.

In some ways it's the reason why I wanted to look more closely at Kline, since I wanted to learn how to simplify my work, which had become needlessly fussy.

So did a tissue paper "level" overlay in software and produced this:

Now I want to paint it, and simplify it perhaps even more, now that I've learned a few things. For example, in my original from May I plopped the thing in the middle of the paper with a nice even half inch of white space all around. No more! I am looking at edges and interior spaces more, and thickness and thinness of marks.

I like the gray of this new drawing, which was originally unintentional, since it was the color in the digital eyedropper at the moment, but it suits -- memory, misty foggy beach, barriers that are falling down but of woody substance.

Will post and get hopping, since it's supposed to rain heavily this afternoon, so I may loose power.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Oil Discovered!

Since Kline was working before the invention of acrylics, he of course used oil paint, as do I usually. All my previous posts have been acrylic, however, since I wanted to get stuff done fast. The problem with acrylics, unless you use a whole chemical factory of retardents, flow equalizers, and texturizers, is that they dry very fast with a consistent plasticky surface. Or if watered down, very very matte in appearance. Worse, you can't rework it except by going over it again and repainting, which makes for headaches of a different kind. And let's not talk about wasting $15.47 worth of paint to mix just the right color before you get a phone call and come back and find it's all dried and you have to start again.

Oil on unprotected paper is that great modern art class no-no, because it's not archival and will rot the paper eventually, perhaps 200 years from now. This is school of thought Number 1. School Number 2 says, screw it. If your work is deemed important to preserve, it will be preserved. No one is going to let Picassos rot away, or even Klines.

So here's oil on collage, though I covered the collage with a cheating coat of gloss medium to make a nice slippery surface. I wanted to be able to move the paint around with brush and fingers yet have it sit above the surface, letting the phone book show through.

I tried to work some white in, but it still seems too white to me, but it's time to move on. I might knock it back a bit later, adding a little ochre or umber. And all my moving of stuff around did matte and dirty the surface a bit, but I can live with it. I felt a bit tentative doing all this, for some reason, maybe because I really liked the collage underneath. Next one I promise will be bold.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Date Night

Back to jazz again, but of a different kind. If you've never heard Ken Nordine's Word Jazz, you must. I used to listen to it all the time when it was on public radio (I think) or at least on an FM station back when FM meant "alternative".

I used to lie on the floor of my apartment in the dark with speakers all around me hypnotized by Nordine's voice caressing words words words through the air, telling of strange and wonderful things against a backdrop of the coolest jazz this side of Mars. If you hit "play this page" from the link above, you can experience a good selection -- best to have a fast connection, but it's worth the wait to download one or two just to experience it -- as I say, in the dark -- or in the tub for the first one.

Thinking of all the words on the pages of the phone book made me think of Nordine. That's the connection.

I pulled this Klinish drawing out of the pile since it's the first in which I consciously tried to deal with the edges of the the page better, rather than just blithely slopping around in the middle. I like it enough I may try an actual painting from it. It feels like a landscape to me, so I may use it as a departure point for a larger painting that may take several weeks.

Spent some time today in blissful ignorance tearing the yellow pages into pieces and assembling them, not really looking at the subject matter on the pages, until THIS hit me in the face, so to speak:

I was up to the pages labeled "Escorts - Excavations".

I may get very political in my ordinary blogging, but in my art I've never dealt with "issues". This seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up. So I may end up doing something with it, starting with the title of this entry, "Date Night."

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Fast Car

Put on the Kline jazz playlist I've been listening to, and somehow a few lonely songs had got attached to it. Like Nina Simone's heartbreaking "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" that I picked up from the Womenfolk site.

Awhile ago, blogger friend ThatColoredFella put out a poll of sorts asking for the songs that made everyone immediately cry as soon as they heard the first notes. I responded with anything by Janis Ian (Society's Child, At Seventeen), but I believe the prize really goes to Tracy Chapman and Fast Car, TCF's choice.

So the song came on and whatever I had thought to be painting started changing. I started looking at narrow passages, possibilities for escape that then blocked. At colors, like love, that beckon with pretty and vivid brightness, but that dull, and then trap. I wanted to paint something about routes you might take, and the ones that don't work.

All on a 9 x 12 inch surface. Yeah, right.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Working Methods

Being such a representational painter, my working methods thus far have been the following:

1) Set up easel in front of subject
2) Paint subject

Until this last challenge (Art By the Inch), I'd never done collages or little goofy things before. Now, with studying Kline, I'm interested in seeing how his working methods might help me.

Right after I got my digital camera in May, I wandered around the beach looking for interesting shapes and trees, and liked the way the clump of trees on the right pushed away from the water toward the land:

However, I realized what I really liked was more the idea of this scene, rather than the specifc photo of it. I liked it best as a little thumbnail. So I did some manipulation, shrinking and expanding it, etc., and then did some studies from it, and then a little painting. Here's a shot of the studio with the mess:

And the kinda finished painting -- I actually sawed the piece of luan to exact size to match dimensions of my little photo study.

I wanted to give the big negative shape of sky the same kind of weight that Kline does with his big black shapes, hence "learn" from him. Being of his time and gender, he didn't do much with the girly pastels of sky and landscape. I hope to change all that.