The thumbnails I usually put at the top of these posts turned into a series of connected works recently. I started giving them titles, and the imagery I saw in them made me think of folk tales or myths. I called them New American Mythology along that line of thinking, imagining each image could be part of a larger set of stories that remake the world in their telling.
It’s pretentious as hell, of course. But I tend to gravitate to such grand scales, and I decided to run with it, for now.
But it’s clear to me that most of them are about conflict, and danger, and skullduggery—to be perfectly pirate about it. These are elements I see prominently in the corridors of power at the moment, in government, business, and in people. And one’s feelings tend to come through in one’s work.
I’m hoping I’ll feel like making more hopeful, generous, and open-feeling work next year. Counterpoints to the negatives we see around us are always useful.
She’s a Canadian, and her work has a narrative element I’ve striven to reach for in my own work, ever since working on my comics series a long time ago. Follow her Instagram, it’s full of good.
News and social media can wear you down. There’s nothing for it but to step back a bit, or completely, if you can. Unless you’re a journalist, there’s not much point in staying up-to-the-minute on the relentless news cycle. You have things to do. This is good right here, a real slowdown for the mind: The Last Ambient Hero
I’ve also got a newfound appreciation for art that’s funny. CB Hoyo is worth checking out, too.
What I haven’t done much, here, is talk about what I’m doing. I think—and feel, double emphasis there—that the thumbnail doodles at the top of many posts aren’t really an indicator of ongoing process tracking, so there should be some balance to the endless advice and prescriptive know-hows I seem to have in endless supply.
One of the things I’m working on—s l o w w w l y y—is a series of 11 small paintings I pledged to people over a year ago. Be fair, year-and-a-half.
It’s a bit strange to go back and forth from analog to digital. Some things are easier in physical media: texture, random surprises, depth, the subtle wonder of a unique object. Some things are harder: development time, corrections—oh for an ‘undo’ when I smear or put too much of something on a canvas—and precision.
Here’s hoping I won’t be too much longer finishing and can finally notch off this project and start the next.
I watch a lot of painting demos these days, looking for Procreate tips. Digital painting may have a similar perceptive core, but the execution is different. Few videos are as serene and revealing as this one of Studio Ghibli background artist Osamu Masuyama painting a sky and landscape.
This is one of the traditional ways art is taught in school. You watch a master work up a painting or drawing, and you try to do what they do on your own. Most of art, any art, is practice, I believe. There are techniques that will save you time, and specific exercises that can give you facility with the work, but time and effort is the biggest factor in anyone’s level of ability. Talent only goes so far.
This new story about conservator Mary Schafer’s discovery of parts of a grasshopper stuck in one of Van Gogh’s olive tree paintings is one of those amusing trifles that, at once, is publicity for an event, and a glimpse into the past of a great artist’s process. It’s also a reminder that life is messy and the things we do are all jumbled together with everyone else’s things.
I mean, it could be used for the frothing kind of inspiration that abounds in motivational circles: IF SOMETHING GETS IN YOUR WAY, PAINT OVER IT! But it’s really just that Vincent wasn’t so precious about his work that he cared if a little dust or a bug got stuck in a painting now and then. In a way, it puts us all on notice that art is more than the materials we make it out of.