In a few months I’ll celebrate 30 years of activity as a professional artist.
Now what does that mean?
One of my teachers at the Maryland Institute College of Art told us undergrads that one day we had to decide to be artists. We were green, full of pure Shakti, and a bit of acne.
I remember the day I decided to call myself an artist. It felt strange. I was bartending at Olde Towne Tavern in Frederick, Maryland. And I was making things. I made paintings of blue nudes.
Mind you this was 30 years ago. And this piece of junk has a big story behind it. I’ll tell you the story in the next post.
Let’s get back to what it means to celebrate 30 years of professional artistic activity.
Every thing I own I bought with the earnings from my art.
For 30 years I’ve worked for myself and painted what my heart desires. For 30 years I’ve been my own boss. For 30 years I’ve mixed paint, cleaned brushes, shipped paintings, packed paintings, marketed myself, eaten cheese and apples at the easel, worked until midnight and on Sundays, learned how to make my own website, got fined by customs, given painting workshops, made a painting a day, made 5 paintings a day, made a painting in three weeks… And I made money painting. I’ve paid taxes as an artist for 30 years.
And I LOVE it. I’ve realized my life dream. I became an artist and moved to Paris. I started 30 years ago.
Yesterday I prepared four new oil paintings of the Southwest. The underpaintings look like watercolors. They are watery, almost drippy. The spots on the floor are proof.
I tend to paint high contrast. See the painting on the shelf, on the right? It’s unfinished. I need to add highlights and details. But it is high contrast.
While studying sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, one of my professers — the infamous Art Benson— suggested I photograph my sculptures and contemplate the next step. The photograph removed me from the slapdash creative moment.
It was good advice. At the time I didn’t follow much advice.
As I look at the paintings here, on my blog, I see how to proceed in a new way. Less overall contrast could give a dreamy quality, almost illustrative.
I wonder if I am capable of painting with lest contrast. Hmm.
I forgot to announce that my paintings went up on September 30th in Carré d’Artistes Sedona gallery. When they invited me to paint for the Sedona gallery I hesitated. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. I’d been painting cityscapes of Paris for the last nine years. Several conincidences made me decide, yes.
The word Arizona kept popping up in unexpected places. For instance I was jogging through Luxembourg Gardens and saw a poster of the Grand Canyon. It was publicity for an exhibition at the Palais de l’Eau in Paris. I went to the exhibition and walked all the way back, along the Seine. That day I took excellent photos for the next series of Paris paintings I am planning.
Other things happened but Arizona was on my mind. When I was a child we went often to Arizona, driving through the Painted Desert. Everytime I saw a cactus, I had to touch it. My mother spent hours plucking needles out of my soft skin.
It’s funny how life brings you full circle.
One of my mannequins is for sale at Carre d’Artistes Sedona gallery, here is a photo from Instagram.
Tomorrow at 11 begins my painting-signing and dedication with live painting demonstration at Carré d’Artistes Saint Germain gallery,
66, rue Saint André des Arts –
16&17 April — 11h00 to 20h00
I hope you’ll come.
Here are some numbers.
118 small paintings painted for the gallery since Jan 1st.
28 hours a week is my painting time, though I’ve worked until midnight some days.
17 different colors on my palette.
15 different size brushes is the average I use during a painting session.
11 large format paintings finished since Jan 1st.
5 different brands of paint on my palette.
1 painting I’ll work on for the two days of the signing.
I’ve joined Instagram to publish videos of me painting.
If you haven’t seen this already on my Facebook page, here is an example of one of the short videos I’m making.
This is one of the Parisian cityscapes I’m currently working on.
I use oil paint. After drawing the cartoon, I block in colors using a very liquid mix of pigments that I mix on the palette and my own secret medium. The medium is ninety percent odorless thinner. After blocking in the colors I cover the canvas with a wash, also very liquid. These three steps take three days. Each layer has to dry before the next can be applied. Continue reading →