A Day’s Work

Nicolas Poussin once said, when comparing himself  unfavorably to the hyper  manic Carravagio, that he felt his day had been productive if he painted one face. I often feel  that way as well. If today’s accomplishment is any indication, I emulate my beloved Poussin.

Below is a detail of an oil painting I am now working on. 

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unfinished detail of a larger composition

As I paint, the pugs rest, Viola standing guard atop a UPS delivery. If being a painter is tough, being a painter’s dog is tougher.

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Getting ready for date night with the spouse, Thai  for dinner then “Noah” which releases today.

Have a great weekend, be well,

Lg

Postscript: for my friend Richard, an update on “Noah”. Well worth seeing, big mythic spectacle. We saw it at the Sunset Blvd. Arclight where they often have actual costumes, sets, props etc. on display in the lobby. The following is the costume of Noah’s nemesis Tubal-Cain. Thought you mike like the jewelry designs. 

tubal cain

tubal -cain-detail

and Noah’s costume

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Loki- a new relief print

Today was a good day, at least studio wise . A bit of painting in the morning, a lovely run to clear the mind and then relief carving . I decided to use two blocks, frantically carving before class this evening and the following artist’s proof is the result .  I ended up running a series of ten-next week I will run another.

I’m not usually pleased but this little bugger delights me.

I hope you like him as well;I’ve named him Loki, after Wagner’s “Ring”.

 

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Loki

Two color relief print on paper

paper dimension 8 1/2 by 11 inches

2014

I’m enjoying this class at the Craft Museum,walking distance , a  wonderful teacher, warm and encouraging and just a great group of folks, all at different levels, all trying to express themselves with line on paper. Making stuff, not just consuming stuff.

Speaking of consuming this print, and soon others, is available for purchase through my Etsy account :  Link to my account

Well, I  must eat, about to pass out, but until next time, be well,

Lg

the Hubris of the Gods

I have been reading Heinrich Zimmer’s Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization (edited by the great Jos. Campbell) , and in my reading I have gained insight into the visual symbolism of an art and culture that I  have admired but knew absolutely nothing about. I have also been introduced to creation myths (there are MANY) that have piqued my curiosity. One such tale is set in the great cosmic ether from which all life springs forth. In this space without time, this “infinite ocean of all seeds, all the potentiality of subsequent evolution…” the great god Vishnu is found, “Vishnu, the anthropomorphic embodiment of this fluid of life, is floating…in and upon the substance of his own essence.” I imagine this god  very pleased with the situation  that he finds himself; Zimmer goes on to describe him as”…radiant with the steady glow of his blessed energy.” In this blessed field of energy and intruder enters and disrupts the self worship of dear Vishnu; for Vishnu perceives a “sudden…luminous apparition”, the great demiurge Brahmā. The four headed ‘fashioner of the universe” seems less impressed with Vishnu, asking “Who are you? How did you originate?”. A cosmic pissing contest ensues, our two great gods thrashing it out ( in the most refined way)  concerning who indeed fashioned  whom.  All this divine ridiculousness comes to a halt when the supreme Shiva bursts upon the scene in his “towering lingam crowned with flame”-nothing denotes authority like a gigantic phallus breaking through the ether of time and matter.  Shiva does eventually set matters straight, but that is another painting.

This painting depicts the moment before the priapic intrusion. 

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Hubris of the Gods

2014

watercolor and gouache on Arches paper

17 by 24 inches

The spouse-man was surprised by this painting’s  color way , I don’t feel it unusual as I have been thinking of a painting composed of primary colors for some time. Months ago I clipped an article with an image of smallpox that I thought was just beautiful. This painting ,dealing with creation set in nothingness, seemed a good plus to try it out.

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My desire with this painting, which is the same when I tackle Mesoamerican narrative, is to resist imitating the original visual source material . As much as I love traditional depictions of Hindu gods , it seems inauthentic for me to utilize them .

Plus, it isn’t really very interesting.

I saw Vishnu as smug, frankly hot as hell, very pleased with his own fecundity.

Brahmā I saw as more reasonable and modest. Again I wanted to resist the traditional depiction of this four-headed creator god. Instead I wanted to utilize his very creations, that of the water, the sky, the earth and lastly humankind.

I’m happy with the painting, a pleasure to once again work with speedy watercolor. I switched off because my large easel suddenly gave up the ghost. I resisted replacing it for some time, bandaging it along the way. But at last it could no longer be repaired. I broke down and purchased a wonderful new easel , all metal construction, very Teutonic in its simplicity and precision-the Klopfenstein ProEasel II  ( link: HERE ).

I’m tickled, this was my first day using it; such a delight not to have to use two pairs of pliers to raise and lower the canvas ; such convenience, and a pretty blue as well.

IMG_4776If you need an excuse to buy a new easel, I would easily recommends this one.

Well must run, return to my real world, far removed from the realm of the gods. Dinner for the husband is the only grand creation myth going on this evening.

Until next time, be well,

Lg

A Case for Doodling

I have consistently high blood pressure which is maddening, I’m fit, I’m vegan, I exercise daily, I practice yoga and yet the numbers soar. My doctor advised I buy a home monitor (if you want to feel decrepit, buy a home monitor) and now I have the added delight of watching the numbers rise on a daily basis.

This morning I decided to experiment, ordinarily I fuss trying to stay still as possible when using the device. I naturally run high on nervous energy,even sitting perfectly still causes me anxiety, a creepy Catch-22. My experiment was to draw during the monitoring. I was happily but not really surprised to see my numbers close to the desired range(125/83 whereas target blood pressure is 120/80).

I was delighted, it has been years since the numbers have been this low. I have known that when I draw my breathing becomes less frantic and I can experience a bit of calm. But perversely I always feel as if on some level drawing isn’t “real” work; I do not  regularly show my sketchbooks to others. And yet I doodle and draw all day, often with a weird sense of guilt. But this morning’s numbers have liberated me a bit from that ridiculous thinking, I’m not wasting time or procrastinating-this is therapeutic !

The following are a few pages from my sketchbook from the last few days. To a new and reasonable acceptance of doodling.

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the following two were from dreams the evening prior:

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Well that is it for now, off to yoga, then doodling perhaps. This evening one of my prints is in an exhibition, tonight is the opening. I’m so lame, I should go, but I would rather paint , will see what happens.

Until then, be well,

Lg

Primavera

I just finished up (for now anyway) a watercolor painting called Primavera.

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Primavera

2014

watercolor on paper

18 by 29 inches

Once again I draw upon the Popol Vuh and the sacrifice-redemption theme. The eternal fascination with the Life and Death cycle never seems to relent; the understanding that through death there is life. I am currently reading Zimmer’s collection of Indian “myths” ( offense term for a faith with current practitioners). But the Hindu grasp of this most elemental truth fascinates and brings a degree of comfort to what can be a deeply discomforting exploration. This painting tries to address some of this. Through the sacrifice of the Maize God, Humankind is born-man made of maize. I wanted to convey the visceral quality of this act, the maize shaft bursting through the actual flesh of our mother earth. Of course this is a very personal imagining with miscellaneous cultural references thrown in as I saw fit. But with Good Friday approaching it felt timely; the resurrected world is colored in Easter egg pastels. the underworld is rich and ripe with verdant greens and blood crimsons.

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above ground

Greco_Primavera-detail

The Hero Twins below ground.

One element I enjoyed introducing into the composition was the very feline looking dog.  My recently deceased  (actually I put him down) daschund Buddy keeps appearing in my dreams. His appearance causes  me much conflict. We, I decided to put him down the day before we move back to Los Angeles. This decision has tormented me, for although he was 19 and his health was quickly, seemingly overnight, failing,  I still wonder if I put him down for my own convenience. He might very well have lived a bit more, I don’t know. He obviously haunts me but in the spirit of this painting he always appears in my dreamscape, first as deeply broken as the following photo indicates; but as the dream progresses he is fresh, new and reborn, happy and bouncy and beautiful.

I try to take that as a good omen.

All that rambling aside, dogs were believed to be guides in the Maya understanding of Xibalba, the underworld. The little  fellow I painted  was inspired  not by my sleek Buddy  but by a  chubby  ceramic “neighbor”  from Colima at LACMA. 

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detail

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Dog Wearing Human Face Mask

Colima, Mexico

Burnished red and orange slip

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

He is a delightful fellow, as was Buddy.

That is it for now,  I’m working on a few other paintings, seems to be the season for watercolors right now at least until my new easel arrives which will be strong enough to hold a hefty canvas. I will close with a photo of Buddy, be well Buddy.

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Today’s Progress

I’m a bit pooped and a bit depressed, daylight savings-time-malarkey always affects me in a negative way but nonetheless I wanted to post today’s progress on a watercolor I have been working on.

The Hero Twins emerge…

IMG_4741detail of an as of yet untitled watercolor

That’s it folks, I’m a little blue and need to retire to the hermitage.

be well,

Lg