Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Metaphor

"Summer Blues" by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Paper, 15" x 11"

Risk Taking Made Easy

I could write about how brave I was back in 2010 to risk such a free-for-all of color as I see in this painting. I was painting the hydrangea blossoms the way I really saw them - bursting with color and to my mind demanding more mid value color to surround them. It is a bold painting, that's for sure. Nothing subtle about it. Cadmium Red, Metallic Gold, Brilliant Blue.  Every now and then you really do need to let loose.  

But it really wasn't all that risky. How big is the risk if you never show the painting?

Timing Is Everything

Clearly this painting came before I got into the knack of rubbing out all of the color, but not long before.  "Summer Blues" is another transitional painting on the cusp of the floral painter slinking into the underground while the figure painter came out to take center stage.  You can tell by the signature, the use of the original stamp I made, and the introduction of metallic gold paint.  You'll see echoes of this painting in the new collection of florals I'm introducing in the near future. A single vase.  Impressions of flowers.  Low horizon suggested by just a line.  I expect with time these elements will morph into something new.

This was among the last "hydrangeas in a vase" images I painted - years earlier I produced a series of paintings based on the hydrangeas that grew in my cousin Richard's garden - shrubs that towered over me and produced huge blossoms ranging in color from deep blue to purple and some rusty orange where the petals began to die. To stand in front of those shrubs was to be bathed in rich color.  I must have taken a hundred photos of those flowers. None of them came close to satisfying me - they all fell short of my experience of the beauty in those flowers.

How do you capture or express the lived experience of being in the presence of the flowers? I think that is really what "Summer Blues" is all about.  This painting is my metaphor for what it is like for me to experience the beauty of flowers. 

It's Never Too Late To Risk It

"Summer Blues" had one outing into to the public - for a couple of hours. I did not have an opportunity to show it again, since I had stopped painting florals. And so now I am taking the risk by writing about it and by posting it on my blog - and tweeting it - and putting it on Pinterest - and on my website in a new gallery "Florals" where the painting is available for $185. [UPDATE 7/27/2014 Painting has now been sold.]

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Out Of Commission: Fantasy

Fantasy” by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Paper, 15" x 11"

Fantasy: It's All In Your Imagination

Prelude: "Fantasy" is here by matter of force. Internal force. The voice that comes from    within and says, "Just do what you do! And enjoy it. Forget about matching the sofa, forget about the commission, just paint."  "Fantasy" is all about listening to and honoring your own creative spirit. 

Which Comes First: Horse or Cart?

I generally don't do commission work, but a number of years ago I was asked to consider painting a floral using certain colors that would match a beautiful newly-decorated room in a client's home. I went out and bought a boatload of fresh flowers that I thought would match the colors of the sofa, brought them into my studio and set the stage for making a painting that would make the client happy. Did it work? 

No. It did not work. All the while I was painting that little critic was sitting on my shoulder grumbling away. Apparently neither the client nor the artist was going to be pleased with this painting. 

In retrospect, it's clear to me that I was doing battle with myself, still unsure of my own authority and my own voice. I can see now that I had set up a situation that stymied what I was striving for  authenticity in my own self-expression. 

I am pretty much a "cart follows the horse" kind of artist. I don't know what I am going to paint until I paint it. 

Oh, The Heck With It!

Fantasyis what I painted once I knocked the gremlin off my shoulder, let go of the restrictions of the commission, and just decided to paint, to make it up as I went along, to enjoy the paint, the process, and to explore. This painting was completed in 2009-2010. Though I have wanted to exhibit it, I have not really made a concerted effort to show it until today. I'm putting the horse before the cart. Here's the painting. I hope you like it. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Guilty Pleasure: Painting Flowers

"Grace" by Jim Carpenter, Watercolor, 15" x 11"

As my friend, artist Sandra Hadley, pointed out, “Sometimes it's refreshing to just celebrate beauty for its own sake.” And that observation by Sandra helps me to understand to some degree my love for painting florals. And, in my quest for living a joy-filled life, I have decided that it is time to indulge in some flora-abundance. 

For the next few days I’m going to publish some of my florals here on my blog. I am also making them available in my store on ZatistaI am bringing these paintings back into the light of day, in part because they stand for my own leap back into claiming my own voice (“I like to paint flowers!”) and in part because they lead the way for a new collection of floral paintings.

I painted “Grace” in 2008, long before I knew what a blog was and shortly before I discovered qigong and painting with acrylics, both of which turned me away from painting florals and turned me toward painting from an interior rolodex. “Grace,” as well as several of the others that will follow, is perhaps the beginning of my letting go of the need to paint from a reference.  Here I just painted from the heart – no photo reference – no flower or vase in front of me.  This painting has never been on exhibit, not because I didn’t want to show it, but because I was caught up in changing my image from “the guy who paints florals” to someone else entirely. 

Now, since this is my blog and this is my life, I think I can paint florals any time I want, and talk about it.