Sunday, October 2, 2016

Continued Painting Ponderings

I know I spent a lot of time talking about the thumbnails and compositions and...well, I just spent a lot of time talking on Thursday. I hope it helped spark some ideas and (maybe) get the mental juices flowing. It did for me, I know this.
I have some images and thoughts below that have come up for me since then. That happens a lot, something happens, or I see or read something, and then I start seeing things in that vein everywhere.

So here goes. First I saw this image while going through the explore feature in instagram. I think it's interesting. Something like this could easily be a great self portrait. You can get different angles, and/or different emotions. You can have it representing different parts of you or how you are. You don't even have to think so much about space and depth. If you look closely it also has some crisp/clean/defined corners amongst the very organic aspects of the human head. This can be very interesting compositionally.

Then I saw the below image at the Kaleid Gallery in downtown San Jose yesterday when the fam and I went to the MLK Library and to get some Philz Coffee.

That image has some interesting use of color and brush work in it. That's initially what pulled me in, but then when I saw the organic elements (person, plants) mixed with the origami (which is a man made element) I started thinking.
Well, with that boat...that is kind of a representative element regarding a journey - or travel at the very least, but the plants...those are grounded...rooted...and need a place to grow. They need to be fed and watered and tended to. If you tend to those plants they take care of you. They give you oxygen and food - assuming it is that sort of plant/crop.
But there is so much to learn from getting out and seeing the world as well.
You are at this point of ending one journey and starting another.
How do you stay grounded with what you know and what you have learned while also getting out there and exploring and seeing what else there is?
How are you transitioning from one place to another?
How do you decide to stay or go? What does that even mean?
What else could you use to represent rooted versus moving?
(actually, it isn't origami, I was just remembering incorrectly; I used some origami boats in my drawings last spring, so that's probably what I was thinking of, but I hope you get my's still a boat.)

Then I saw the below image that I linked to from another link from a totally different image that was posted in a facebook group for high school art teachers that I am in.

I love the playfulness of this image. Immediately I thought back to the spring of 2008.
This is when my son was a senior here at lghs. I remember he and his friends hanging out at our house and one day I had this massive thought that came over me.
There in the living room were these 17 and 18 year old "young men" who were getting ready to graduate and go off to college at places like Santa Clara and Berkeley and Boulder and Arizona. They were smart and well educated and articulate.
They looked like "adults" for most intents and purposes. But they were being so goofy and funny as they were teasing each other having fun and playing guitar hero right there in the room next to the kitchen.
They were kids.
They should be kids.
They should hold on to that for as long as they can.
That care free spirit and goofiness and joy and FUN.

You all have so much on your plates, and everyone expects so much from you - including myself. Is that the most fair?
Well, yes.
And no.
You are capable of exceeding our expectations, but at least for myself, I want you to retain that image and essence of playfulness.
I know it is integral to your existence and your future joy.

So yes, that is a lot of what went through my head when I saw that stack of lego that had a t-rex perched atop it. That's what happens when you have a richness of experience to pull from.
I also thought about a series of drawings I did this summer for a class that I was in, which will come below.
But that lego image. It made me think of this transitional period you are all in of being kids, but becoming adults.
How do you hang on to the sense of wonder and play that you are expert at as a child while also undertaking the journey and transformation into responsibility and adulthood?

So here are the images from this summer. I was tasked with creating a series of work that could be any topic I wanted. I think the first two are pretty interesting drawings, and the third one - of lego - is by far the least successful.
Well, in my opinion anyway.
But it probably helps with why I was drawn to the above lego image...because I had used them in a recent drawing of mine.
I don't love the outcome, but I do think the idea is a good one.
I was in Sonora at a "vacation" house that my wife and her sisters grew up going to. It isn't fancy, and it is definitely dated, and it isn't in an amazing location such as Tahoe.
Her family just didn't have the kind of money for something like that. Or even for a "traditional" vacation. This is all they did for vacation when she was growing up - go to this A-Frame house and swim in a lake. There were no flights to Hawaii or Europe or even the Grand Canyon.
This is a similarity she and I share, we didn't have much except for a very low key middle class upbringing.
But I am digressing...actually, I'll share something else.
I had to write a statement that discussed the three images I made (an "artist's statement", if you will), so I'll paste that below.
It isn't edited in the best sense, but I do think that it communicates some interesting sentiments. Don't judge, just take from it what you will. It's below the third image.
Oh, this series was called "In The Days of My Youth".

As an artist and educator I am almost immediately asked, “Well, what kind of work do YOU do?” by those that are just meeting me and the inevitable question of what do I “do” arrises. I always find this odd because there have been zero times my colleagues in science have been asked, “What kind of science do you do (at home)?” or in English, “What do you write (in your free time)?”
I never know how to answer this. I do everything - or at least what feels like everything. Today is different than one year ago, and certainly different than five years ago. I make marks. I make beauty. I make happiness. As creators know, you just do things and the ideas come. The opposite can also be true.

For this body of work I began with joy and memory. While on vacation at an old family retreat (well, my wife’s family, that is) I was more in tune than in the past. I kept my eyes open as I worked in my daily sketchbook and as I watched my step-daughter play.
This place, in Sonora, CA, is a relic of the past. The majority of the A-frame’s contents were there when the place was bought, and have remained for more than 35 years. Everything has a story, and because of use and love, everything has character.

While I don’t know if any of the toys there were Made in America, undoubtedly some were. They arrive with chipped paint and the hard clank of metal as they are dumped out of the cardboard cylinder that houses many of them. They sound old. The look loved. They are, in every sense, relics - of when they were made and the memories they carry.
On top of this, they are living on as the daughters of the mothers that once played with them give them new life. After all, there is no wifi and no tv and no way to pass the time save for games, toys, nature and family.

Could I take these perfectly imperfect toys and give them a new life? A new story? Or at least be part of the story/history myself? What happens when you bring them to the table in a different way? Celebrating not what they can do but how they look; celebrating the beauty that is easily glossed over and the imperfection that is their beauty.

I took the memory of childhood, and an era that is no more, and existed there for a while. I took fleeting moments of fury and fun and extended them into hours of new work. I focused on the basics not just of childhood - where you create your own stories without help from electricity, but the basics of art as well, and created using composition, line, and shape to focus the viewer’s eyes and attention.
I hope to grasp a gaze for long enough to bring a smile - through memory - to a day that exists still, somewhere in all of us.

This is along post. I know. If you made it this far, thank you for your time. Enjoy having tomorrow off school! See you Tuesday!

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