I’ve been building on some older work and have some paintings emerging in a contemporary style. I thought I might gather the inspiration from them and gather the new works here.
Meeting the Genius
Surfing the Mindscape
The Birth of the Soul
If you like the above paintings you might want to experiment with high flow acrylic paint. The first link is for opaque high flow paints and the second transparent.
Transparent high flow
No, I’m Not Done Yet.
In Your Dreams
I was sitting and reading a book on modern art. I don’t always “get” modern art. I do try. I was looking at a picture of a lamb in a tank of formaldehyde called “Away from the Flock” by Damien Hirst. He also placed a 14 foot tiger- shark in a tank of formaldehyde called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. Now if this sort of thing is up your alley but you don’t have room for a lamb or a shark in your living room, Carolina Biological offers some delightful preserved cats for only $42.95. All you need then is a tank of formaldehyde to complete the exhibit. The shark in the tank, on the other hand originally sold for 50,000 pounds and was 14 feet long. But all that aside, let’s turn back to the picture of that lamb in formaldehyde.
Tila was reading over my shoulder. “Humph”, he said, as Pyrs often do, having a complex language of huffs and snorts and whines and more types of barks than you can count.
“We must do something about this, free this sheep, return it to the flock.” he stated matter-of-factly. After all he is a guardian dog. And that is what they do, guard flock animals from dangerous and sometimes unusual predators.
“That might be a problem.” I told him. “Someone did try to mess with it at one point, in fact a man called Mark Bridger poured ink into the tank and was convicted of an art crime. He tried to say he was contributing to the art, and renamed the work ‘black sheep’. ”
“Snort!” said Tila. “I wouldn’t call this art, supper maybe, but not art.”
“You know, this is funny, ” I said, ” Someone stole pencils out of a Damien Hirst installation and they may be charged 10 million pounds in damage to the artwork. You think that someone would just buy a few more pencils. And look at this, some other folks claim that Damien Hirst stole some of his ideas from other artists. But really can you own a bunch of dots or a skull if you paint or use the image once? But it isn’t nice to speak ill of the dead as he died this year. Oops, maybe they were wrong, he didn’t die in January 2012. Maybe that is just the ultimate angry art critic. The author did seem a bit wound up stating Hirst “died last Thursday, January 12, in New York following complications from acute diverticulitis brought on by a swinishly speculative, grossly cynical, intellectually constipated effort to pinch out 11 concurrent exhibitions of rehashed expensive crap.”
This July he offered a statue of a pregnant woman wielding a sword to a town in Devon England. He appears to be alive and well.
“This is why I find the modern art world so confusing.” I said.
“You know, this would make a great subject for a painting.”, nudged Tila the muse.
And here without further ado is “Return to the Flock”, with apologies to Damien Hirst and the modern art world.
I could not resist the word play. I have the greatest respect for the courts of Great Britain and no slur is meant. I don’t think they are going to the dogs. If you’d like to read about my background research you can read the post Inspiration from the English Courts.
News update: My Muse Calls and A Jury of Your Pyrs has been blogged about on Law Actually!
I have always been an avid gardener. In the spring I love to start by filling colorful pots on my deck with fresh plants from our local garden centers. When Tila was a puppy, I was happily potting away, turned my back for a moment and found my puppy in a whirl of lavender plants. In reality, there was only one plant de-potting puppy, but in this painting I thought it was more fun to have two.
I had an idea, a dream of a painting I could see clearly in my mind. A little Pyr puppy who was woken up at night by the light of the full moon and decided to play. I picked up my brush and realized I had no idea on how to paint light. Light is hard. So I read up on glazing. That is what the great painter Vermeer used and many other great Masters to show light and make their paintings glow. Me, I’m starting with the basics.
First take a large serving of patience. Glazing involves using transparent paints and a special alkyd medium (I used walnut alkyd oil) to dilute the paint. Then after putting a thin light layer, you must let that layer dry before you can do anything else! That’s right….a few brushstrokes and ..come back tomorrow. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock sigh.
So in the painting below I only used red, yellow, blue and white. I wanted the hand to look like ghostly moonlight. First I painted the hand white and the red bar at one side and the top stripe of yellow. Then I painted the square over the hand a dilute blue and then a dilute red and I got purple. Then I painted the stripes at the side. Then I pained the hand a light yellow (my original yellow mixed with a little white). Of course I had to let everything dry in between and then the red heart and the blue paw. Where the paw overlaps the red it is a dark purple, where it over laps the yellow hand it is blue. The same with the other colors. The paint that is used is classified as transparent or semi-transparent and it is diluted with walnut alkyd oil medium rather than linseed oil or turpentine.
I like to paint wet over wet where you paint with layers of wet paint over other layers of wet paint. Sometimes I wait to let a layer dry so I can have a pure color and it won’t mix with the under-layers of paint.
But glazing you have to let each layer dry. But it is worth it. The next layer you put on, like putting one pane of stained glass over another, is blended by your eye to give you a new color, and more depth and luminosity. You really need to see the result with your eye on the canvas because it doesn’t photograph well.
So I did two somewhat abstract designs, Hearts and Paws, and Hands, Hearts, and Paws. I used only three colors, red, blue, yellow and white. Any other colors you observe is what you eye sees after one layer of one color is laid over the dry layer of another color.
So finally, I had the technique to do moonlight.
And here is my little Pyr at Moonlight Play.
I am now working on the largest canvas I have ever used. It is 18 inches by 24 inches. It has a theme again of Pyrs in moonlight. I hope to make the moonlight in the next one a little less intense yellow and make it look a little more like real light rather than a “beam me up Scotty” Star Trek beam. Getting better takes practice and trying new things. But it’s fun to branch out.
It seems there is nothing a Pyr likes better than a full moon, a brisk wind and the soft delicate first snow flakes of December. I took a photo of Tila shaking off the snow, reveling in the blowing snow and used that as the inspiration for this painting.
In the same spirit of “Nothing is White” I tried to give this painting the reflected blue light in the snow we often see in moonlight.
This original will also be available at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012 at the rescue table with the money going to help rescue dogs that lack a “Forever Home”.
I have this wonderful photo I took of Tila. On a warm summer day, after helping me garden and grill on the BBQ, he came in and parked himself in front of the candles and sat down and to my astonishment, looked as if he was sitting and meditating. I’ve always thought Pyrs had a spiritual and mystical side. And this proved it to me. This is the photo I used as the basis for my first painting. I have to say that this inspired the painting rather than me trying to copy it exactly. There were things in life (like the drool and dirt on Tila’s chin from the garden) that I didn’t want to make into the painting. I also wanted it to have a warm tone rather than the harsh dark background the photo has. So I had a vision of the end result as well as a mystical pyr to help me find my way.
Of course Tila helped by nudging me for treats from time to time to make sure I took enough breaks to step back and take a good look at my painting. He was absolutely right, you have to step back, assess and sometimes just stop until you figure something out.
The one thing I found out after “Nothing is White” is there are more shades of tan and brown and grey on a white Great Pyrenees than you can imagine. Let alone mix the colors. I had palettes with nothing but brown and badger and tan and various shades of cream trying to match those few hairs under the nose or over the eyes.
I did my planning and made a few preliminary sketches. And finally after days and days of working on it and letting layers dry (believe me this Pyr painting has an undercoat) I was done. Well not quite done…
Before I could start showing off my painting to my friends I had to get muse approval.
So after a proper examination, I was approved.
And at last I can say Ta Dah! Done the final work Tila Mediates.
While I know I’m just taking my first steps as an artist, I’m happy to say that the original painting is going to the rescue table at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012. So hopefully some kind person will buy it there and the money will go to the rescue of Great Pyrenees Dogs that have not yet been located in their “Forever Home” yet.