Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gnarly, Dude

Maybe something like this, sketched in Photoshop, will give more interest to my tree. After painting so many botanically accurate plants it is hard for me to add imaginary branches to this tree painting. A little voice in my head keeps saying "what if pear trees don't really twist like that..." Shut up voice. This one does.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mural Update

I am having fun with the pear tree mural. While my studio is only large enough to see two panels at a time, I have figured out that I can photograph each panel and Photoshop them all together to see the composition. Cool!
The red background is distracting and rather pretty, like a Pompei mural, but will be covered with silver (aluminum) leaf.

Here is the great Vincent Van Gogh's beautiful painting "Almond Blossom" from 1890

Gustave Klimt painted this pear tree in 1903. I don't find it as interesting as his later, more graphic work.

A few years later Piet Mondrian started his journey towards the famous paintings of colored grids by looking at the patterns of tree branches Piet Mondrian Red Tree 1908
Piet Mondrian Grey Tree 1911

Closer to home here is a lovely painting by Canadian artist Garry Kaye who lives on Salt Spring Island, just around the corner from here. It is acrylic, measures 36"x48" and was painted last year.

While all these tree paintings are useful references for me I think that I need to draw more inspiration from the work of Arthur Rackham who illustrated children's books in the first part of the 20th Century. I want my tree to be twisty and fabulous like his trees. My daughter wants me to include fairies too, but I think I will stick with pears and maybe a few birds. So hopefully I can add more gnarly-ness to my tree. It needs viens and muscles and wrinkles.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fun on a Bigger Scale

I have started on a new adventure this week! Macrina Bakery and Cafe will be opening a new headquarters in Seattle soon and I am painting a mural as part of the interior. It will be based on this small painting I did last year of a pear tree but, instead of measuring two feet accross it will measure 16 feet! Yikes!

The mural will be made up of eight panels, each one so heavy that I can't move it by myself.

Henry helps me sand and prime the panels.

I have started with the trunk, which so far looks like a shiny disco ball. Oh dear. A little more work needed I think. Even though the trunk of the real tree looks like a basic grey color, I am including many different colors in the painted trunk. Why be boring when we can make something rich with color. Click on the picture to see the colors up close. The red background will be covered with silver leaf.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Painting for Obama

I am donating this little painting to "Art for Change", an Obama campaign fund-raiser. The event will be held in Seattle on Thursday evening. Fifty artists have donated small pieces and patrons will each pay $150 to choose one. For more info please check out the web site and come down on Thursday and support us. I think the web site says that the event is full, but I know that a few more people would be welcome.

If you live in Seattle you will know that it is blackberry season. All along the road sides and in every abandonded lot or neglected field the Himalayan Blackberry has taken over. Bad for the environment. Good for pies and muffins! Eat up.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Andy's Summertime Picnic

I have taken a little time off to enjoy summer and am now back in the studio - still enjoying summer. I love geraniums and have some very fond memories of my Auntie Kathy's house where a large indoor geranium plant stood in its pot on the floor with fallen petals decorating the polished wood all around it. Leaving the petals on an otherwise well swept floor was a striking embrace of accidental beauty that has stuck in a happy place in my mind. Kathy is also the only person I have ever known to cut the buds of red geraniums and put them in a vase. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada, where she makes her extraordinary paintings and where she and her daughter Sue share their teaching and their beautiful garden with students at Hooper Studios.

I have called my geranium painting "Andy's Summertime Picnic" because of the soup can. It is a nod toward the Pop Art movement of the 1960s which had, as one of its iconic starting moments, the 1962 introduction of Andy Warhol's "32 Soup Cans". (Now at the MOMA in New York) My work is not very much influenced by this movement but I appreciate the message that explored popular culture as a subject. It was also a much needed breath of irreverence in the intellectual world of abstract expressionism. Some of my current work can be categorized as "Pop Surrealism", a largly West Coast American movement of the past 10 years or so which uses images of popular culture in a surrealistic way. From one pop movement to another this painting is a little hello.

(My painting measures 8x10 and is oil on canvas. Click on any of these images to see them bigger though my painting will appear larger than it actually is in real life, which is kind of weird. The Warhol canvases are worth seeing bigger though. Their actual size is 20"x16" each canvas. The soup flavours are fun to read and I am surprised to find a vegetarian option in 1962)

Blueberries in my garden with Jolly Joker violas and thyme. Photographed today - before I eat them. Yum.