Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Hundred Paintings Part X

Good evening! Been a long couple of weeks again. I don't think we've ever had so much company at our house as we have this summer. Even on holidays. When I haven't been entertaining here, I've been visiting elsewhere. I tend to be a reclusive person when it comes to getting work done. I like to shut out distractions and work for hours at a time. It's been difficult to find that kind of time lately but I've managed to get these three paintings done over the past week. It's not all bad... it's been nice to see some folks. Some I haven't seen in a really long time. In one week I've had visitors from New Zealand and Finland. It makes me feel well traveled when I know people from other countries... but the truth is... I haven't been to Finland or NZ. Some day though.

I took out a book from the library about American Folk Art. I've been into it lately. American folk art kind of blossomed through the hard artistic work of average people. People who didn't have classical training in drawing and painting and for that you can always see these really strange proportions and perspectives, which makes them kind of juvenile or childlike. On the other hand, I always think there is something really interesting happening in most of these paintings, drawings, collage, textile etc. In particular I enjoyed this painting called "Dr. Philomen Tracy". Which has sort of a secret subtext going on. (And I'm all about subtext these days). It inspired me to do a folk art painting in the same vein. Tied curtains, windows, fancy dress are all fairly recurring themes in american folk art. 

And as an added note, "corvidae" is the family of crows, rooks, ravens, magpies, etc. (The more you know!) One of my favorite songwriters / poets, Aaron Weiss, has a great line in one of his songs for his band mewithoutyou, of a crow saying "Every rook and jay in the corvidae has been raven about me too." I always thought that was a pretty clever play on words, most of his lyrics are pretty clever in fact. 


PAINTING XXVIII
"Dr. Philomen Corvidae"




I don't really have a huge explanation for this one, I just kinda started painting. Kind of stressed out these days. Is it obvious?


PAINTING XXIX
"The Runaway"


This last painting means a lot to me for a couple of reasons but I think mostly because I really empathize here with this bear. I've had both the fortune and misfortune of growing up in the digital age. I often feel torn between what I have to do and what I want to do when it comes to my career and life. People expect you to act a certain way and present yourself in a certain way while still maintaining some part of yourself that's genuine and honest. It can be really hard to find equilibrium between others expectations of you or and your own expectations of yourself. Especially when the same kind of professionalism is hardly reciprocated. I've always kind of been an advocate of just being yourself even if it's weird or normal or whatever. I often struggle with whether or not it's appropriate to just go build a cabin out in the deep woods and never come back, ha. Just the other day I broke my cell phone and I've been taking my time getting a new one because well.... I just don't care. I like art and music and if I could just do that forever I'd be alright.  There's a lot to be discovered. The past few years of my life have been devoted to making that happen because I don't want to be stuck somewhere that doesn't make me happy. Who would?

PAINTING XXX
"The Age Of Refinement" or "How Old Habits Die"



Until next time.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dear Friends!

I finished building my website (mostly anyway) and it's now available for viewing. There are still a few kinks, but this is an immense upgrade from Carbonmade, which really doesn't allow you to do much at all. I also only use safari and chrome (firefox no longer works for me), so please kindly tell me if something looks disarray in your browser!

I'm also pleased to say that both alexandriacompo.com and www.alexandriacompo.com are working now. Huzzah!


Lots of love,
Alexandria


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lot of rant, little paint.

I'm currently out of town but I've brought lots of work with me. I'm working on my "One Hundred Paintings Project" and my children's book but I decided today to take a break from my work to do some other work. I got a little watercolor block a while ago but still hadn't used it. (As I mentioned before, I have these weird apprehensions when it comes to using nice paper). I wanted to get it for landscape and still life studies. I'm trying to get back into doing more fine art again, it has so much to teach me. It was after all, my first love.

And on that note, I'm going to take this opportunity to rant a bit. If you just want to see the painting you can skip all this. I should preface this by saying, that this pertains specifically to naturalistic drawings and paintings, not cartoons, or abstractions, design, or personal stylization, or anything in which you use your imagination (though I do think the fundamentals of art play a very vital role in the development of those things).

 I think drawing or painting from life is a really important part to any artist's growth. I feel as though (especially in a digital age) that some artists have really gotten away from that. A lot of people have strong arguments on the matter, but especially as a developing artist, I should have never been told to paint or draw from a photograph. It may have been my only disappointment of art school. Again, my expectations of art school weren't completely met because it's a digital age now and things are done differently then they were even 20 years ago. Artists used to go out and paint stuff they saw and that's why they were so good (it also helped to be utterly persistent). Sometimes I wouldn't even invest myself into projects where I was required to use photos because I felt like it was cheating. I knew my work would not live up to it's potential if I didn't have a good reference, if I couldn't see all there was to see in my subject, so I just wouldn't even try. (I was even asked to trace photos for an entire semester's class once... worst class I've ever taken... and that includes high school mathematics). I see so many people draw and paint from photographs, which is fine for some things because you can't always paint from life, but it really doesn't teach you as much. And that's just integral to learning how to draw. I felt like the camera was doing most of the work for me. It takes a three dimensional scene and flattens it into two dimensions. That should be my job as the artist. I always feel like that's my problem to work out and solve, not a camera's. Not to mention, even with the best cameras, the colors are never the same as what you see in real life. When I look at a tree I see more than just a brown trunk. There are a billion shades of brown and green, blues, reds, purples. I just know if I used a camera, I wouldn't see those things and my painting would lack a certain vitality. Let's not forget lens distortion. These are all tell-tale signs that someone has used a photograph. There are some artists, some even that I respect and admire that can paint impeccably well using photos but an artist is never done growing, no matter how good they are, and I don't think it ever hurts to try and understand the nature of things and revisit the basics. To be constantly asking yourself deep questions and trying to see things in a new light. It doesn't matter what kind of art you do, having a basic understanding and feel for your surroundings is important to just being an observer of the world -- which everyone, artist or not, should be.

People, artists even, will look at Jackson Pollock's work and remark how easy it is to drip paint on a canvas but you have to understand so much more before you can ever get to that stage, which is the real reason he was a genius, not because he knows how to pick up a bucket of paint and throw it (that's really more physics anyway). There's really a lot more going on than most people realize, all these hidden cogs at work to make something greater function. So that was all a very long-winded way of saying, that I recognize I have a lot of artistic and creative potential still, and I will probably never stop revisiting these fundamentals, no matter how much I abstract from reality. I think I will always be humbled by my work and know the best is still yet to come. Some people can get away with skipping steps and cutting corners and you'd never know by looking at their work, but I'm just someone who has always needed to understand everything. It's just a restless curiosity I guess.  I've realized I've become so invested in finding my illustration style that I'm forgetting really important things, which is why I'm going to make more of an effort to paint from life again. As I said, it really can't hurt, but that's all my opinion anyway.

It's a good thing I'm not a teacher because I'm pretty sure all my students would despise me. I'd totally be that teacher that doesn't let you use out-of-the-tube-black paint (because it's an abomination) and tell you to make your own out of the four colors I've limited you to. 

I guess if you've made it this far you deserve to see the painting. You know... sometimes I don't talk at all. I just get sudden passionate urges to talk a lot. I don't know where that comes from...

My watercolor block is kind of a strange format (which is why I chose it). I think it will make for some interesting and challenging pieces, compositionally speaking. I've always loved these pines trees out here in Palmyra. I spent a lot of time looking at them when I was a wee lass. The sun was going down so the shadows were rapidly moving but I just love to paint at that ever elusive "golden hour". This took me about an hour to paint.



The thumbnail is a little on the yellow side... it's in RGB and looks fine everywhere else.. I don't know. I also took a photo instead of scanning (because I'm out of town). So it's not the best quality. Bare with me.


More to follow!