Silly post, too much time on my hands apparently, trying to avoid weekend housekeeping…
But in seriousness trying to navigate in my work how much nudity, particularly male, I should depict. When is it gratuitous? When essential? When just free expression? Still processing this question, but in the meantime, peen.
No intention to self censor, but I do want to be more mindful of my own intention. Recently , when we were still having dinner parties, a guest quipped that I painted “that pornographic art” ; in another situation I was referred to as a “penis painter”. Nothing particularly wrong with either but that hadn’t been my conscious intention. Nudity is an element to my work but I hadn’t thought it the main focus. Again, feeling more mindful of intention.
But enough naval gazing, I’ve scrubbing to attend to.
Latest painting inspired very loosely by Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale ,the first yarn from the Canterbury Tales.
My reading group, the Agora Foundation, in enchanted Ojai California(https://www.agorafoundation.org/), has a Great Books focus and this reading season they selected works that consisted of narratives within a greater narrative, along with the Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Arabian Knights , Chaucer’s perennially relevant Tales were the reading offerings, all up for fascinating group discussion. By far Chaucer’s work was my favorite, the Decameron while bawdy and amusing was populated by characters a bit thin, I encountered difficulty in differentiating one from another; Arabian Knights I found unreadable, the macho blood thirsty violence, the rock solid foundation of misogyny , xenophobia and racism was repulsive, it sickened me, I wasn’t able to read more than a third. But The Canterbury Tales was a pure delight, and while The Knight’s Tale wasn’t really my favorite of the lot (that recognition would be for the Wife of Bath, most especially her rip-roaring Prologue) the Knight’s Tale was rich in chivalric detail masquerading in classical garb; low hanging fruit for a Neo-medievalist illuminator .
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was in fact eager to discuss it, digging deeper, when the time came to join the banter I was completely silent, my usual insecurities trumping any desire to participate. However during the discussion, which I did find illuminating, I once again turned to doodling my thoughts and responses. I’ve responded this way to social awkwardness since boyhood, very rarely would my voice be heard but my notebooks were packed with my feverish scrawling.
Below is an example from that day’s mute notebook:
A few more details follow:
Given the isolation and pangs of reflection during this Covid plague, this painting provided some timely “content”:
That is it from here, hoping all, and this being global, truly all, that all stay sane, well and of good cheer.
Awoke this morning to a notification that my work (the painting shown) had been recognized by the Torrance Art Museum here in Southern California for their ongoing Hobson’s Choice. Hobson’s Choice is an online presentation of seven new artists per week, particularly encouraging and timely during this period of social isolation.
Thank you Torrance Art Museum for the support, personally and more broadly.
There comes a point that an artist just needs room, and storing works gets rather expensive, with that in mind I felt it time to actively try to offer my work to potential collectors. The link below will allow you to browse oil paintings, watercolor paintings, acrylic paintings, drawings, soft sculpted Stuffed Paintings-I will post more as I go through my files.
If you have any questions or requests for works not shown please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at email@example.com, I’d be happy to chat with you.
Link can be found on side bar under Available Work and here:
I haven’t posted in a bit, but my hands have been busy and so has my imagination. I’ve been making, clarifying and meditating upon the theme of Re-enchantment. I’ve mentioned before that my childhood was far from halcyon, more precisely grim in the lower case. Yet in spite of the anxious tension I was quite frequently in a state of wondrous enchantment. I had the good fortune to have a beguiling and magical woods behind our suburban home. A solitary boy, I spent hours in quiet delight, there was simply so much to explore : salamanders, bullfrogs, carnivorous pitcher plants, skunk cabbage, blankets of velveteen moss, fungi galore and most delightfully sweet and wise box turtles. Truly, who needed humans when such fairies and imps kept you company?
That enchantment has slipped a bit in my golden years, I stumble upon it now and then, in the garden, with my animal friends, but most especially in my studio (my studio is my sanctuary) but if I were honest, a great deal of my time is spent in pursuits far from enchanting.
Hence this interest in re-enchantment, in my work, in the studio and in my life. I am actively searching for the extraordinary in the quotidian, mindful and appreciative of the minor miracles of the day-to-day, the unfurling of the hairy leafed begonia, the topaz gold of a hornet, the diamond trail of the garden slug. My seven year old self was well aware of these delights, I’m in the process of being reacquainted .
In that spirit, a new body of work is emerging, I’ve coined it as Fairyfellers (inspired by the fantastic Victorian fairy painter Richard Dadd). Fairy-telling is my aim, visually expressing that wonder found in the gentler, enticing realm of toadstools, ferns and tadpoles.
The following are examples of some of my labors:
Much of my time has been spent just sketching out re-enchantment, my studio journals are full of spontaneous bursts of wonder.
This figure of the Mandrake Titus was inspired by my visit to the V&A, in particular the heraldic, near life-sized Dacre Beasts.
In particular the heraldic banners, I’m wild for banners in general, these beasties compelled me to design and stitch up my own.
The Mandrake’s cape was inspired by a detail from my latest painting (previous post). Cross pollination of ideas , across mediums, is a common occurrence in my studio.
Further experiments in “stuffed paintings” resulted in this elfin trio of Fairyfellers: Rufus, Derrick and Seamus.
I’ve also been busy working further upon paper-doll making (as fairyfeller an activity as you can imagine).
The last image of the daisy loin cloth betrays a bit of self censorship, increasingly I am re-evaluating how much nudity to portray. Not so much out of prudery, but I’ve heard myself described as a “penis artist”, and that isn’t my intention or interest. In this case I think the work is improved by the discretion, plus it is more playful; playfulness a key element of re-enchantment.
So far that is it in the Fairyfeller realm, more fairyfellers are on the way. Right now however I have returned to painting , stitching is hard work, my fingers begin to ache and the fabric and needle pricks have caused some damage to my fingertips. So for now this fairyfeller is at the easel.
That darn anchorite keeps following me around, this time not so much in the desert but in a lush, abundant landscape inspired by the German Romantic painter Jakob Phillip Hackert (1737-1807).
It wasn’t really my intention to once again return to Anthony and his desert travails, at least not yet (currently more immersed in fairylands, bogles, goblins and pixiefolk). But in my studio, kicking about and frankly in the way, was a practice landscape from a few years back. I’ve long admired German Romanticism, particularly the dramatic treatment of nature, most especially trees. In the hands of a master like Hackert, trees are major players, singular beings rich in personality. I had hoped to better understand how these landscapes/tree-scapes were constructed so I set about copying one of my favorites, Hackert’s Italian Landscape, 1778.
It was a gratifying experience, in no way was I able to match Hackert’s luminous original, but I did learn valuable lessons in light, perspective and composition.
But then I had a painting that I wasn’t very interested in, wasn’t original, wouldn’t/couldn’t show, not particularly “good” and yet frankly too sentimentally attached to to just chuck.
So I decided to make it my own by reworking it in my own way. I’ve seen artists self consciously take thrift store paintings (rather annoyingly, seems a bit stunt-ish), works they mockingly called kitsch, and adapt them to their generally ironic purposes. This sort of practice is close to being a kitsch cliche in its own right but it started the wheels turning .
I’m not an ironic artist, nor did I think my painting kitsch, although granted a rather poor copy, but I was excited to reimagine Hackert’s poetic composition, eager to populate his pretty world with my imps and daemons. In many ways old master Jakob acted (unwittingly) as my collaborator. This latest painting the happy result.
I hope he would have been pleased.
As my composition is visually dense in the Boschian/Bruegelian sense, details follow:
This is the Master’s take, as you can see it is quite lovely, my copy so paltry in comparison. The wisest path was re-spinning my inferior version in my own voice.
In the end I am pleased, I made room in storage, profited from past labors and have a new painting I like quite a bit.