Fixing unfinished older experiments.1

I made painting a priority in recent days and got back to an older one that I hadn’t finished (code word for “mostly given up on”) and tried to advance it forward without ruining it (always a risk).

Here’s how it looks now:

Hendrix.Vinchesi.purple and green.unfinished

And this is where it started (you can see my comments on the older version in this post, Trying to Get Loose):

Hendrix2.Vinchesi

I used a lot of white paint to allow a re-start on the bandana, which I was very reluctant to do because I liked the blue with splashes of color set against the light-colored (no-color) hair. Part of me wishes I had left the hair blank of color and left the bandana as it was.

I also used white to cut back the boldness of the purple splotch in front of his face, and of course there are the layers of color now on his face, and the black pen scratching for his hair and ear.

All artwork is vulnerable to being over-worked, and this is especially true in water color, where the paper starts to break down after too many passes, or perhaps the beautiful layering that is possible with water color starts to get covered up in a muddy mess.

The only solution is to paint hundreds, and thousands, of paintings, and so we press on..

GW in acrylic

GW.acrylic.vinchesi

Like many of my paintings, this one started out as a practice-drawing that I kept messing with. I used a sketch pad (not the right paper at all) but things start to take shape and what can one do but follow where it leads…

I find the artistic process to be very challenging (will it be any good? it started off terrible, is it worth continuing or should I start over? when is it done? and 100 other questions) and this blog is largely designed to share the process and commiserate with people who suffer through the same experimentation.

When I see other artwork that I like, I always wonder what it looked like at the beginning, and the middle, and the end.

Here is a bit of the evolution on this image:

GW evolution.vinchesi.acrylic.2018

My intention is to continue the stars on the top right, in such a way that they are in front of George’s face (not all the way around, but maybe four or so). I like the idea of placing GW a bit in the background (subtle or more dramatically, such as in my paintings in which he is at the bottom of the frame, with a lot of space above his head) as he himself labored to do in the face of countless opportunities to seize the One Ring, which he never did.

How You Know When You’re Obsessed with a Subject

Recently I was in a restaurant (a burger joint) with my wife and there were crayons on the table and a table cloth made of paper to draw on.

Without thinking, I drew the following picture from memory, and if you’ve seen this blog recently you know that I am painting the same subject over and over again, for many reasons (not least of which is that I need to become much less attached the outcome of each painting — cannot treat each one as “precious”).

Restaurant.Jimi.Vinchesi

Clearly I’ve become obsessed…

Though the drawing is incorrect in many aspects, it isn’t too far off and yes, I’ve lost my mind a bit at this point (we had a good laugh about it).

My wife asked me “Why Jimi?” and it was a good question.

In short, like many people I was blown away upon hearing his music (more than 35 years ago) and went on to discover that I could listen to the album “Smash Hits” during my morning and evening commute and not get tired of it after a month…and even a year…Jimi Hendrix Smash Hits

But when I heard his live performance of “Machine Gun” performed during a New Year’s Eve concert with Band of Gypsies, I was transported on a much deeper level.

There is also a grainy video of the same performance. The solo he takes in that recording without doubt pierces the veil of consciousness, no artificial substances needed. As is true in Jazz music, you have to be ready for certain recordings, because otherwise it will sound like noise. But if you are….you can break on through.

He and the band performed two concerts that night, and you have to hear the right version, which is in this clip.  Please note that the recording has the amazing introduction to the song, but then cuts straight to the solo, which is not great, but the solo is all there.

Here is the URL to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yeu9o7rjVKM

There is an analogy to painting in that of his two performances that night (both were recorded), only one of them achieved a kind of perfection, and it is important to remember that Hendrix played poorly during many performances as he took risks that didn’t work out, and if he hadn’t let himself play “badly”, he would never have reached the heights he reached.

And so doing a Hendrix portrait seemed to be the obvious thing.

 

 

Painting with Stan Miller – 2018

I had a great few days last year with Stan Miller in one of his workshops.  He is an inspiring water color painter and great teacher.

Here is a series of my steps painting a composition of his — like all great teachers, he sticks to the fundamentals and is quite strict about not straying along the way, which ends up working very well.

Painting with Stan Miller - Church on the Plains.vinchesi

Here is a closeup of the church at an earlier step:

Church in progress

Quick sketch – Horse

I was imagining a home-remodel and a painting above a sofa on a new wall, and images of horses popped into my mind, though I have never incorporated them into my artwork.  I found some great images online, here is a quick sketch to get myself familiar with it.

Drawing the same thing many times helps with getting the right fidelity and also makes one notice tiny aspects of the lines and darks / lights, and as I’ve said before, I refuse to trace an image for a drawing (that becomes a painting).

Horse study.vinchesi.1

Which one is your favorite?

When painting a portrait, I refuse to use tracing paper or a projector or other methods that cheat on efforts to draw free-hand. It just seems wrong to me, but maybe that’s just a hangup.

I thought I’d juxtapose several of my recent efforts on the Hendrix series and look at some crazy distortions that have occurred at the level of drawing (before any paint hits the page).

I can’t decide yet which of these works in progress is going to become my favorite, would love to hear what you think.

3 Jimis.Vinchesi

Why did I use masking fluid?

What a cruel outcome I recently experienced….

I painted one of my Jimi’s and really liked how it came out — I took crazy risks and by some miracle did not censor my paint strokes or color choices.

Here was the result:

Jimi red and blue-with masking fluid

In particular I enjoyed the splashes of red around the eyes, nose, and mouth, which played off of the ones around the ear and cheek.  Interestingly, the values in the photograph do not match what I did here, and yet it somehow worked (at least to my own satisfaction).

And then came the nasty surprise: it turns out that a few weeks prior to doing the painting, I had applied masking fluid in key areas around the face.  I had no recollection of this, until I noticed the markings on the paper and began to remove them.

This was heartbreaking…

Jimi red and blue-mask erased

And so now I face the prospect of recreating the strokes around the eyes, nose, and mouth, and we all know how that will end up — I will try too hard to match the original, and it will appear over-worked.

And so the answer is to keep painting it over and over and over again, and a few will be worth keeping.

After the masking fluid came off