Two trick pony

In my last post "Attack of the brain thing" I was doing some experimenting with a few ideas and maybe different visual approaches using old paintings as a starting point. One of the comments was "its nice to see your experimenting. I don’t think they work. I liked the originals much better. keep painting from your heart! Don’t try to imitate modern art." Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I'm glad he responded to the post, many don't. I do like the back and forth dialog thing but since the thrust of this blog is informative and educational in nature, I would really love for someone to say something like "I don't think this works because there's too much repetition of shape or it doesn't move my eye through,  non-objective art doesn't work because there's nothing for the veiwer to relate to or perhaps if you added some more amorphous shapes to counter the mechanical ones..." or similar. That opens it up for a real conversation about what works and what doesn't. I am as interested in what doesn't work as in what does... it's how we learn stuff. As for painting what I love, creating is what I love, impressionist plein air landscape and figure stuff is a passion but it's not the only passion. My brain is constantly moving and thinking and creating and adding one thing to something else to create a third new thing. I wish sometimes I could shut it off but that's just the way it is. My last post was really just me sitting there and thinking, what if I took a traditional art form and remixed it. People do that all the time with music and it is awesome! I certainly do not ascribe to the "One way only" notion. There are so many... and with the advent of software and apps and stuff, there is really no reason not to play till your hearts content. I want that for everybody. Your sand box does not have to be filled with sand.

With that in mind and as a way of explaining where I came from, I'm going to post a series of portraits done over the years as an illustrator. Just to say, look, we don't have to use oil on canvas, we can use acrylic on wallpaper with collage and popsicle sticks if we want. Free country. We don't have to use traditional site size methods, we just need a likeness, an idea. I'll start with a traditional plein air figurative thing for reference and then a few of my favorite non-traditional versions. I do miss the vital illustration days.

Traditional oil, plein air hunky cowboy dude portrait. 12x16

Eisenhower  14x18  oil on canvas  A bit more unconventional. Played with flesh colors a bit and added the Normandy scene as line.

Fred Stone 12x18  Gouache  Pushing the form more and the facial planes with color. Fred was a local actor who started a small theater, hence the masks (Acting!)

Anne Frank   18x22 pastel on sanded paper    More narrative elements, the facade of the building she hid away in on the cover of her diary, the shadows of Gestapo coming to the door, a hint of her writings in the background.

Charles Darwin  about 14x14   Acrylic, cut paper and wall paper. A demo for my illustration class showing unconventional materials, this was always a favorite. I had just finished reading "the beak of the finch" and was all chubby on Mr. Darwin, still am.

Faust 24x30  oil and house paint on canvas. All the warm stuff is oil and the grays stuff is house paint. One of 45 created for the orlando opera.

 Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings  24x36 Mixed media  Cut spruce panel, book covers, popsicle sticks collage, acrylic, ink. A project for the Volusia Children's library. 


A portrait without a face. Gouache 12x20    You know it.. it was a movie... Think about the elements, a lake, it's warm in color, the fishing hat, the tree going gray.....  you old poo.

Post modern Macbeth. Gouache  about 10x12 in size. Some theatre project or another but always a personal favorite. I could see some collage mixed in, maybe cut wood. Heck the whole thing out of metal would be killer... any more it's entirely doable, all you need are the right people to help with the gig. I mean, how cool would it be if this thing were 20 feet tall and 20 feet deep and built in layers and mounted in some park and you only see the face appear when you stand in one spot. Awe and then some!

Wall installation 25'x14'  multi level cad router cut 1/2" pvc, acrylic and clear cote. Technically not a portrait but unusual materials for sure. It started with an idea I had when I went to visit a friend of mine who could cut anything out of anything for signage. I asked him if he could cut shapes out from a sketch and he said "Sure"...

Which brings me back to my point. Art isn't just about doing the same stuff the same way as everyone else, it's about exploring and playing and looking for ideas. There is no excuse any more to not be creative... we have so many tools within our grasp with which to create.

Go and play.  Maybe I'll teach a class in nontraditional portraiture...

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