Monday, September 28, 2009

Oyster Run

It was said that 25,000 motorcyclists converged on Anacortes Washington last Sunday for the 28th Annual Oyster Run. The population of Anacortes is 18,000. What's the history? I'll let you research that aspect. My story is about art.

Art has many faces. Art for the viewer would probably be considered a form of entertainment. What about art for the artist? The process of doing comes to my mind at first but, what about expression? Where does that enter the realm of art? I focused this post on the "Oyster Run" because I feel it's a combination of several art forms. The photographer, the motorcycle designer, the groupie, the rider, and the voyeur, all entertaining.

My friend and photographer J.B. Smith put together the following chronicle. I hope you enjoy. Al

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Voice

I made a conscience choice to leave Chicago 20 years ago in search of quality of life. Quality of life in Chicago was good but, I'm just a small town person. My journey took me to Washington State, specifically Anacortes, my home. What a beautiful place it is here in the Northwest. The people are open and friendly. The water, the mountains, and everything in between is drop-dead gorgeous. Why am I writing this? Well, sometimes I miss the vibrancy and bustle of the big city art scene not to mention the opportunities afforded to a growing art career.

The question might be: would I have established my own voice as an artist if I stayed in the big city? I probably would have but, definitely not the one I have today and for that, I'm thankful. I was on the path of being a technique-based painter and that wasn't where I wanted to be. As I've mentioned in the past, I feel that your technical skills are only the tools of expression. It's what you do with those skills that count. My mind was set on finding my own identity as an artist. When I was younger, I didn't know what that meant or what direction I was heading. All I knew was that I wanted to explore, discover, wander, and wonder.
My own voice came by accident. I was starving and contemplating putting a "career" in art on the back burner while I took a job-job. What happened then was pivotal to my work. Resigning myself to this change, I just started playing around with my art with no intended motive of selling. I experimented with shapes, color, and form. The results were my signature style of painting, impasto. What made it work was the research of Robert Gamblin and his development of G-gel, an alkyd gel for painting with thick paint. Generally speaking, oil paint will dry, dry, and dry some more until it eventually cracks even with the best "fat over lean" guidelines applied. This is especially true with impasto, a thick buttery application of oil paint.

Fall is here which means that I'm back in my studio as opposed to painting outside. This painting, "Shoreline", is a work of fragmented color that appears abstract as you stand close. As you step back, your eye will blend the color. The first two images are close-ups of this painting. The last photo is the completed work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Intense week of painting on Whidbey Island

It was an enjoyable but, intense week of painting at the Plein-Air U.S. Open. My painting was a struggle most of the week. I was rained on twice, and once, the wind caught my umbrella with my painting, sailing them both onto the highway. Fortunately, a bus stopped all traffic for me while I retrieved them. Determined to continue, I worked and overworked the painting for six hours: "ugh."

Towards the end, I headed for the beach for a little sunset painting. I guess I needed to be inspired and Jamie was the model that inspired me, wow! The inspiration lead to a "Juror's Choice" award of which I'm very proud.

The last painting was a father and son fishing at the end of the day at Deception Pass. The salmon were running and they didn't notice me painting them from the trees behind. Titled "Got One Dad", they never looked back to see me working. As it often seems in art, the faster paintings are the ones that capture the emotion of the moment while the labored ones miss the mark.

Pictured below is Anne Schreivogl painting on the streets of Coupeville. A brightly colored safety sign with "Plein Air Painter" boldly on it was a great help. In years past, cars and people sometimes challenge your position on the streets. I was hesitant at first, but came to love that sign as the week went on.

Subscribe in a reader