Saturday, January 23, 2010
Couldn't paint today cause of the rain yesterday. However, I was treated to an exhibition of nature I have never seen before. It was as if I were guided to this spot in Summerland, overlooking the beach right as the storm was breaking. There was nobody else to share this vision with, so I gave great thanks, snapped this shot. At first I thought it was a dancer, then an angel. It seemed supernatural.
Nature gives us all kinds of natural phenomena to observe and learn from; my imagination sometimes goes wild when looking at clouds...
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Getting ready to paint a demonstration painting at the Montecito Country Club, last spring, I opened my palette up to find this little lizard crawling around inside. This picture shows the lizard between the piles of Cerulean Blue, and Permanent Green Light.
I was startled at first, then bemused. That is, until the lizard started to crawl all over the piles of paint, and leave oil paint tracks wherever it went.
I felt sorry for the little guy because as it now had toxic paint on it's skin, and as it scurried off into the shrubbery, it left some colorful footprints behind. There was nothing I could do to keep this from happening.
Today's lesson: When painting in nature, I am to appreciate unpredictable events, and learn to accept that I, have little or no control over the elements, and that which comes my way vibrationally becomes a part of my painting process.
Nature teaches me humility in a colorful way...and this is a good thing!
Man's best friend, (in this case, my dog, Bella) has a way of pointing out the good and simple things in life which I may have overlooked, or have taken for granted. She enjoys hanging out with me when I paint-- a real, "watch dog". Bella loves the smella oils, but prefers chasing lizards.
Every artist needs a watch dog painting partner.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
This is me...and this is my class.
Today is the first day of the Winter 2010 quarter for S.B.C.C. Adult Education Program.
I've been teaching art for eighteen years or so. At present, I teach a plein-air,(open air) painting class, through an incredible program; Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education. The ages and skill levels of my students vary from 18 to 90, and beginning to advanced. I view anyone who participates in my class as my teacher. I teach in Oils, Watercolors, Acrylics, and Pastel Painting. I am clear that I teach what I most to learn, and I remain open to to increasing my depth of understanding about art, and the artist's process.
In each class I attempt to do a demonstration painting. I try to teach various techniques such as tonalism, impressionism, warm and cool, limited palette, architectural renderings, perspective, mixing grays, and other fundamentals essential in creating better art.
My method of teaching is a cathartic experience for both my students and me. Being surrounded by observers helps me in my creative process. In this process the painting becomes a collaborative effort based on the sharing of energy, and questions they impart which challenge me in my philosophy.
I've realized that the act of painting a painting from concept to finish is alchemy; it is nothing more than process orientation on a two dimensional surface.
Demonstration Painting: Goleta Beach, 16x20 oil/canvas. Video by Aaron Arson
If you would like to see me paint this particular painting, check out this link:
Enjoy the Show!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
One Wednesday afternoon I was preparing to teach my painting class down at East Beach. In my search, I came across this homeless man down by the Mission Creek outlet. He was spending his time collecting riverbed stones, and stacking them like stalagmites in various groupings all over the creek bed outlet. There must have been 30 to 40 stacks of rocks piled, like a community of people frozen in time; a miniature Easter Island.
I've seen small stacks of rocks in places in nature, where people stacked them with the intention of paying homage to and appreciating the moment, but I've never seen anything like this. It was amazing; the way he grouped the formations together and individually created a surreal environment. To me, they looked like sculptures depicting an ancient race of people; the land that time forgot.
In conversing with the gentleman I asked him about his craft and life and where he learned to do this, 'stacking'. He told me he grew up near a rock quarry (somewhere back East}, and that was where he developed the skill to stack rocks.
I called the Santa Barbara News Press to see if they would send out a photographer to photograph this extraordinary installation, but alas, I could muster no support from them. (I guess my presentation wasn't passionate, or enthusiastic enough).
So anyway, I asked the man if he would let me take his picture. He agreed, and then climbed into the middle of one of his small communal grouping of stones, and sat down to pose. To this day, I don't know who he was, but I do know he was out there that day, homeless, creating; free as a bird.
To me he represented a physicist, geologist, an engineer, a poet, a sculptor, and anthropologist. Spending this day on Earth creating art for art sake. Leaving behind a temporary legacy to inspire and influence, hopefully, one individual, or at least spark the imagination of onlookers.
One never knows what magic he will discover if he lives, eats, and breaths a life of creativity. And one must never judge a homeless person, for they too have a story, and may harbor skills, way beyond our imagination.
I grew up on these bluffs. Some of my earliest memories of driving on my Dad's lap on a Sunday morning with my brothers in tow, out along the bumpy dirt road, now known as the Artist's Trail. There were even mornings we'd bring our family's 22.cal rifle and shoot at some of the debris dumped out under these trees. Fortunately for us all, this area is now a public preserve and will remain wild and open for future generations to enjoy.
I was out walking my dog one morning when I caught the sunrise gleaming through the trees. I was interested in the patterns made by the shadows being cast over the trail, and the silhouette of the eucalyptus trees blocking the morning sun. It had just rained so the morning light was misty and warm.
Right around this time, in the Fall of 2007, I was helping Huell Howser produce a documentary for his, "California's Green" program. He wanted to produce a program on a group of artists I belong to called, "THE OAK GROUP". During this production he interviewed me, while on location painting this picture. Now, this episode can now be seen on PBS a few times a year.
An artist never knows where his paintings will end up. Whether or not they will be purchased, donated, stored in a closet, put under a bed, put into a collection never to be seen again, or destroyed on purpose or on accident. With any luck they will be placed in a museum collection and exhibited for ever. But this is rare.
After a painting is created it takes on a life of it's own. As an artist, I continue to learn to detachment from my, 'children'. They trail me like the wake of a ship, and every now and then when I see one of my paintings hanging in someones home, it is a great feeling; not only to reacquaint with it nostalgically, but to try and remember what motivated me to paint that scene in the first place. It's like deciphering a time capsule.
Sunrise on the Artist's Trail
18x18 oil/canvas 2007
Painting subject to prior purchase
Typical Nasty Weather.
A lot of what I do is try to capture the moment in paint: "Have easel--will paint!" I painted this painting from my hotel room window; from the Lowndes Hotel, London, one blustery night. It was my first night in London since my world trip in 1986. I came to London on my way to Iceland, after receiving my latest commission from the novelist, (and patron), Robert Eringer. The objective was to paint the purity of the night sky in Iceland.
As my patron Robert Eringer, (the Mysterious), had a secret meeting downstairs in the hotel bar, I felt a need to satisfy my desire to paint. So, opening my window to the cold damp air, I got quickly to work. This was cool (literally), looking down from my room with the window wide open. I found it interesting; looking down on people walking on the street, each in their own world; completely unaware they are being observed. I was like a voyeur.
Because they were moving, the challenge for me was to capture their gesture rather quickly, and then work from memory in the studio, to make sense of their form.
The Master Artist Charles Hawthorn said, "It is a higher art; to take a subject that is boring and/or mundane, and paint it in a way which is more interesting and beautiful."
Keeping this in mind, I look at it as creating for the sake of creating; for creating art for art's sake.
On my world travels, I carried a panel box where I fit my pre-sized and prepared panels. My easel and oils were streamlined which allowed me to make quick sketches at a moment's notice.
Whenever I am painting a nocturne and the subject includes warm, sodium vapor lights, I under paint with a transparent Thalo Green. This creates an interesting contrast and, "Pop" to the painting.
London Rain, January, 2002 14x10 oil/panel
Painting subject to prior purchase