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mprvmnts Posts

Gestural landscape practice

Gestural landscape practice. 1 pass, 24 x 18 inches.

Working on freeing myself up a bit more, so I’m going to be making some low-risk, low-stakes landscapes on paper. I have some ideas about what i’ll do with these but I’ll discuss that when I actually do something. I’m thinking this needs one more pass before calling it “done.” This scene is inspired by a photograph I took on my hike to Chasm Lake, just after climbing above the treeline.

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Painting: Above Sky Pond

Above Sky Pond, 2020. 22 x 15 Inches. Acrylic, pencil, ink, and resin on wood.

I am very pleased with how this painting turned out. There was a very real risk of overworking it and I managed to avoid that. I am still thinking about what i’ve learned with this painting, and I’ll probably have to consolidate those thoughts into another post.

This has been a great week of painting.

See the process leading up to this finished work.

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Painting: Wild Basin

Painting: Wild Basin, near Copeland Falls
Wild Basin, near Copeland Falls. 7 x 5 inches. Acrylic, pencil, paper, and ink on wood. 2020

Painted over another old abstract print/painting from 2002. I am very happy with how this painting turned out. I’m just beginning to identify the conditions that are making for enjoyable painting experiences with quality outcomes.

The scene is somewhere along the trail to Ouzel Falls from the Wild Basin trailhead in Estes Park. If memory serves, this spot is not far above Copeland Falls.

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A very good painting session

Everything about this roughly two hour painting session felt good. It had its ups and downs but more often than not I was experiencing a flow state. I succeeded in not overworking anything, and I now have a clear vision of where this painting will end. I am toying with a tone change in the sky but I want to add the foreground elements before changing anything.

one thing that has been working well when my intention is to paint looser and more intuitively is to put on improvisational jazz music. The last couple of painting sessions were powered by Makaya McCraven. Something about the groove and the open ended improvisation really helps me get out of my head and paint more by feel.

studio aftermath
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Starting something new

I was finishing up sanding a few freshly primed wood supports when I came across an old project I started about two years ago. I had cut up the solid wood top of an unused drawing table to use part of it for another project and was left with a 22×15 inch panel that seemed to have potential. I decided to use wood carving tools to carve a series of grooves into the wood, then pushed magenta ink into those cracks and wiped the top surface down (kind of like inking an etching). I then filled the cracks and covered the entire surface with about 1/8 inch of resin. This is where i stopped (my original plan was to layer further groove/fills, but I put the panel aside).

Upon seeing that board again, i had an urge to paint over it because i’ve found that starting with an old painting seems to work well for me right now. I took the panel outside and sanded the resin down to a paintable surface with 150 grit, wiped off all the dust, then got busy.

Using a photo I took from above Sky Pond, I started with a pencil sketch. Feeling the momentum, I decided to white out the sky as a base, then make some green marks. I really like where this is headed, it’s got a lot of potential and it feels right.

First pass, painting a view from above Sky Pond in Estes Park, Colorado.
Grooves and paint filled with resin, 2018
Carved grooves in wood, then filled with magenta paint, 2018
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Painting: River Through Mountains

Painting: River Through Mountains
River Through Mountains. 8 x 8 inches, acrylic on wood.

I decided to relieve myself of the impulse to make another tonal, semi-representative work by forcing myself to work with a non-representative palette. I painted this over three sessions and I feel pretty good about it. The one thing i really learned while painting this is how much the music i’m listening to influences my approach to making marks.

I struggled quite a bit at first to get into a flow with this painting. Zion was also painting in the studio next to me and I let him pick the music. It was a great mix, but around halfway through the session some kind of more improvisational jazz type of music started playing and the groove and the energy of the music started influencing my painting. Zion noticed it too and commented on it. I’m going to start to experiment with different music as i continue this painting practice. There is really something here to use.

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Future paintings

I spent some time last night priming new surfaces to paint on. I’ve got two 8″ square and two 12″ square panels. More importantly, I’ve got a nice 24×36″ panel that I’m really excited to work with. I need to see what I can learn from making increasing the scale. Plus, i’ve got some other ideas bubbling that would require working at that scale or larger, so it’s time to test the waters.

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Honey Boy (Self exploration day, part 2)

After a really wonderful afternoon of relaxation, meditation, journaling, and art viewing, I found myself looking for some passive entertainment. I was sitting at the Art Institute thinking about how much I had enjoyed people watching and so, rather than go see some jazz as I had planned, I walked over to the Siskel Theatre on State Street and saw Honey Boy.

HOLY SHIT.

I don’t know if i’ve ever been moved so much by a film. For me, it was about as emotionally intense as it gets. I came into the film so completely open (thanks to the meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation of the day), and found myself in tears throughout the film. Hours later I was still crying.

The film is essentially an thinly fictionalized autobiographical movie written by Shia LaBeouf that focuses on his strained relationship with his father from the perspective of his time in rehab, looking back at formative and traumatic experiences around age twelve. LaBeouf plays HIS OWN FATHER which ads a whole nother layer to the experience of watching it.

What makes this film better than all the other depressing but beautiful art/life films out there? This movie is profoundly empathetic, and that makes all the difference. The raw emotion and the difficult situations portrayed with such authenticity generate empathy and hope in me, not despair. As a man, a son, and a father of sons, and a surviver of my own anger, this movie absolutely wrecked me and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Shia, Alma, and team: Thank you for making this movie.

Everybody else? Watch Honey Boy!

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Another experiment

I found another small old painting in my studio and couldn’t help but start going over it. I learned quite a bit while making this.

(1) If i’m going over old paintings, i need to leave more of the old in tact

(2) i need to stop using prussian blue hue. i will probably repaint this sky because i find the blue unsettling.

(3) I have a lot more to learn

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