Friday, March 23, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I don't have a distinct memory of Brian being born, but I can recall seeing him shortly after he came back from the hospital. I remember learning the word "incubator," and knowing that he had to be in one for a long time. I remember playing with his hands as he lay on the couch next to my mom. It took a long time for me to stop seeing his as a little brother. But he's more grown up than I am in many ways, and seems like more of a grown man than I usually feel I am. And now, in a month, he's getting married.

I hope you get to have some good cake, Brian. Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Art update

Last Friday afternoon I spent some time over at E. P. Sawyer Park, where I sketched with ink. I used some plant stems instead of a pen, which is a practice I started in Wyoming. There, I used dry stems of wildflowers and grasses. I can’t recall if I started that out of necessity or curiosity, but it worked well, so I continued.

At E. P. Sawyer, I selected a nice spot next to a small stream in a woodsy area, and grabbed some nearby dry grass stems. I made a point on one, and it worked, but it wasn’t entirely satisfactory. It wasn’t rigid enough. It tended to buckle and fling ink. When I looked around for something better, this sort of plant stem was the only thing in view that seemed the least bit suitable. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time hunting.

I sat on a fallen trunk and drew, with the focus being a large bush. My legs fell asleep and my butt hurt, but I’m willing to suffer for my art. A little, anyway.

It was chilly, but not cold enough to be a problem. I had dressed warmly.

The final result was pretty good. I want to do some more ink drawings now. I’ll post a picture. My mother-in-law bought the drawing from me.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Today I spent a number of hours getting painting supplies ready. I had to do some rummaging and cleaning in the garage. There was a lot of paint to sort through, and jars, solvents, and brushes. I prepared two canvases (actually, quarter-inch hardboard panels), which took a lot of sawing, sanding, gluing, cleaning, and priming. One is a small square and one is medium-size. I didn't measure it, but I think it's 18 x 24.

I'm going to watch some more of the movie "The Fast Runner" now, but I'm very tired. Neither Kim nor I slept much last night. I stayed up late to watch John Yarmuth on the Colbert Report (I probably should not have bothered, although his later interview with Ted Koppel was good), and then both Erin and Jill had us up at different times, working to keep them happy.

It was a fantastically beautiful day outside today. Most of my work was outside, and I am grateful.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hard lesson from experience

Don't run with a vomiting child. If you feel you must, carry them low to the ground. It's easier to clean up a lot of vomit in one place then a lot of vomit in a lot of places.

What, you think I should re-title this blog "Mark's Art, Coin, Garden, Vomit Miscellany"? Maybe just "The Vomit-Blog"?

I just spent two hours cleaning all kinds of stuff. The carpet and the linoleum, and various neighboring items, are now cleaner than they were before they got splashed. Once again, I found myself chuckling deeply ("chuckling" is a funny word. In this context, it sounds very throw-uppy) at the situation.

I've got off pretty easy, though. I felt ill a couple of days ago, but it never got worse than merely feeling nauseated. That has left me free to clean up after everyone else.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Paintings, A & B

I'd love to hear comments about my category A and B paintings. Friday will be a painting day for me. One thing I need to work on is a landscape on a saw that I was commissioned to do a year ago. Money from that, or any near-future art income, absolutely must be used to ship a painting to Jim and Emily (I promised them a painting as a wedding gift, and they've been married for fifty years now.)
Riverbank at Riverside Park, in western Louisville. Category B, though it’s not too far off from category A. Again, it needed more variety in the green, as well as in the yellow dirt of the bank, and to a lesser degree in the river. There is a lot of subtlety and delicacy in both the colors and the brush strokes in the clouds—the clouds are the best part, though I doubt that shows up well on the Web. This is a wide, but short, painting, measuring about 18x36. Oil on panel. (Please give a hand to my lovely assistant, who was watching me and who asked if she could help hold it.)
I think this is an interesting category B. The lights and darks are strong, and the colors are rich and varied, in this scene from Joe Creason Park. The paint is applied in varying thicknesses, giving it some nice textures. The biggest problem is the wall of vegetation in the foreground, which screws up the composition for me. Really, it's not the composition that it messes with, it's the illusion of space--I want a landscape painting to feel as though it has some depth, inviting the viewer back into its illusory space. But the vegetation pushes one away. I think this is an unusual mistake for me. I normally have a good eye for composition and depth. There are also a few other little color choices that bother me. Interesting, but a little disappointing. I would like to see how it looks framed. (about 16x20, oil on panel)
This painting, a scene along Hwy 22, is from a year-and-a-half ago. It is my most recent real, finished painting. I put it in category A. It's kind of a weird painting because its subject matter isn't what one would call picturesque. I was drawn to the scene, however. The part that I worried would be the hardest to get right, the powerlines and poles, are the nicest parts. I think they are nicely rendered, and there is a good sense of light on the poles. (Size about 18x24, oil on panel)

"The Ohio River at Otter Creek Park"--definitely a category A, one of my strongest paintings. This is a scene I've painted several times, and I'll probably paint it again (this is the only one I've painted in the summer--the rest were in the autumn.) I showed it at the Watertower annual show a few years ago. My only regret is that I don't have a little more variety in the green. This is true for many of my paintings.

Waterfront Towers under construction. An unfortunate category B; I love the idea, and some of the drawing aspects of this are quite nice and interesting. Where it falls apart the most for me is in the areas that should have been the easiest. The red portion of the building at right never looked good, the paint application a little crummy, the color choices are questionable. Also, many of the elements on the ground ended up having a over-simplified, cartoonish feel to them because I was trying to fill them in later based on incomplete sketches and memory. Irritating, because there are some very nice things going on here, too. (about 18x26, oil on canvas)
A scene in Germantown, near Gnadinger Park. Category A. Once again, I wish I'd put in a little more variety in the green. But I like it. I like the shadows and colors on the houses, and the sense of afternoon sunlight.
A small (about 8x10) oil painting of a tree. Category A; I'm very fond of this one. The shifty asymmetry of the tree is a lot of fun; there is a strong sense of light and dark, and the colors in the grass glow.

I have two types of paintings. Some of my paintings are on the wall, and some are leaning in corners. Most of the category A paintings are on the wall, and most of the category B paintings are leaning.

Category A consists of paintings of which I’m quite fond. They may be far from flawless, but I feel that the good significantly outweighs the bad. I just think they look good, and I’m happy to show them to people. The oldest example, and still one of the best examples, is my lobster painting.

Category B consists of those that are problematic. I don’t like them very much, but there is something about them I like enough to keep. Usually I’ve struggled with them, wrestled with the paint, and finally given up. Sometimes it’s a drawing problem; sometimes it’s paint application or color; sometimes I just realize too late that I’ve made an error with the composition (this is rare, as composition is pretty basic, and I think I’ve always had a very good eye for it.)

There’s also a category C, which is paintings I started, realized they were going nowhere, and ditched. That is a much rarer occurrence than it was many years ago.

Category B is awkward. They are my children, but they never grew up. Now they hang about as wastrels, having squandered their potential, surviving through their limited charms. I can’t toss them out. I feel uncomfortable selling them. I’m a little embarrassed about them in front of company. Sometimes, though, I look at them and say, ooh, that part’s not half bad.

I will post pictures from both categories.