Keyed Up

Working on the red Typewriter. Felt like the first time I’ve drawn a full breath in two weeks.

HW RTkeys

Did more on the individual keys and started on the cover of the New York Times Review of Books. The heads you can see are cartoons of Sandra Day O’Connor, and a Muslim imam. Appropriate for a painting sparked by the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists

Starting a list of titles to make partly visible on the spines of the books. I tend to want to memorialize the books that shaped me as a child since I have been an avid reader since I learned to read.

I’m sorting through the 19,071 photos I’ve got on the iCloud and deleting weird duplications and misfires of the iPhone camera, and sorting what I’m keeping into various folders. This is a huge undertaking, so I’m working on it a little bit every day or so.

Old Man Flint River

In the last couple of weeks I started another painting that’s part of the Catch & Release series.  This one’s working title is Flint River Totem. It’s on a 48×24 canvas – big for me.

Here’s the beginning, when it was still as much a drawing than paint.

FR1
I did a couple of passes after this, and the best day was when I worked on canvas upside down. Moss and water confuse the hell out of me unless I turn them into a natural abstract. Painting shapes and values is a piece of cake.

Today I placed the titular totem, which I made out of tying antlers and a deer skull together with jute. The totem is really wet now, but there will be a spray of yellow wildflowers coming out of the eye socket, and, of course, all the twine.

FLT2

Three things about this image called to me. First, the glimpse of the Flint River, the same river that’s in the background of Collateral Damage. I love the sky reflected on the water and how the bend in the river lets your eye travel away into the distance. I expect to see Huck and Jim float by on a raft at any moment. I have always loved the last line of the novel, “But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest…”

Second, the swags of Spanish moss, which we rarely see in Atlanta, but are all over south Georgia. It’s embedded in my childhood memories of the rural south in the summer. Right up there with red clay, chert roads, grape pop-cycles, the sound of cicadas, and the trickle of sweat.

Finally, the totem. It’s what makes it more than a generic landscape for me. It’s bound up with my memories of my father, and my idea of the protective spirit of the place, a genius loci.

In other art-related news, Collateral Damage was accepted in the Metro Montage show. It will be delivered July 2, the show opens July 11, and it will be there until September 9. They sent me two passes, otherwise it costs $8 to attend the opening. Never ever heard of charging to go to an art exhibition. It is the Marietta-Cobb Museum, not a gallery, so I guess they can do whatever they want.

Breaking for lunch. If I start again (vs nap which is very appealing on this humid, overcast day) it will be placing letters on typewriter keys.

visual equivalent of a hoarder

I made a change to the red typewriter painting today. I’d tried to do a simple background. Hated it. I should just accept that I’m the visual equivalent of a hoarder. Anyway, decided to add back in one of the two rows of books that are behind the typewriter in my source photo.
Here’s the simple background from before. Just…vague. It didn’t work for me. At all.
red blah
And here’s how it looks after I worked on it today. I am much, much happier.

Just wait until I add detail, like titles and the slender edges of the pages, and the disintegrating covers  of these well-worn books.

red books

Yellow typewriter, sex & death

IMG_2291Worked on the cartoon poster and on the top three rows of keys, adding darks and lights. I was thinking about how to articulate what prompted me to paint this image.

The fact that this vintage typewriter is on the left bank of Paris inside the venerable Shakespeare & Co bookstore appeals to the old writer in me.

I love that the poster has a couple kissing (surely French kissing) and the photo of the painting is a version of the deposition of Christ’s body – sex and death.

The poster was for a festival of cartoonists in Paris, which puts me in mind of Charlie Hebdo.

I believe that freedom of expression, whether in words or images and so bitterly resisted by some, will prevail.

That yellow.

Cadmium yellow, Indian yellow, ocher

IMG_2277
Roughed in the cartoon poster, messed around with the edges of the frame, deepened the shadows and woodgrain on the right hand shelf, added some complexity to the variation of cad yellow light, Indian yellow and ocher, on the yellow case.

Doing the cartoon poster was a push-pull between the background and the drawing. A better draftsman than I would have plastered it with off-white and added the black outlines of the drawings after that dried, but it required serious effort to get the drawing right, even using a grid. I used some careful variations of neutrals and left the edges visible.
Eyes watering from all the pollen flying around, but it’s worth it. The whole city looks like a society wedding, or a baptist funeral, or small flower shop after a big delivery.

Keys and Paper

After weeks of more time spent planning my trip than painting, I got back in front of the easel and it felt so good.

IMG_2260Last time I pushed this along, it was all about the background. Today I worked on the keys and the stack of papers on the left.

Last week worked on the yellow typewriter, redrawing the poster in the frame on the left, and doing delicious edges on the photo on the right.

IMG_2202

In two pieces of unrelated news, I’m thinking of doing some small paintings of sphinxes. Not sure why, but not sure I have to have a reason either.

The second bit of news is I’ve gotten acceptances from two of the four juries shows I applied to. The jury is still out on the other two, but I am feeling optimistic. I am really glad for the Catch & Release series to have found a venue.

 

 

 

 

Painting a B&W photo

yt22Perfect painting day; overcast but bright, a lovely, even light.

Reworked the dandelion yellow case, the black keys with their multiple blue highlights, and another layer on the left hand picture frame. I added the little knob that sat loose on the table and a glimpse inside the top of the typewriter. Finally, I added the B&W photo of a painting (it looks like one of the many on the theme of Christ decent from the cross or being laid in his tomb) propped on the open book. That part I painted upside down, which helped me to focus on volume and form, and ignore unhelpful detail.

 

 

The Adventures of Mabel

Worked on adding the book, The Adventures of Mabel, especially the cover line drawing. Started filling in the stack of newsprint and magazines beneath it. Also the glimpse of the typewriter’s interior and the ql logo.

IMG_2176The Adventures of Mabel, by Harry Thurston Peck, was my favorite bedtime story. It was published in 1916, and I imagine it was my mother’s before I got a hold of it in the 1950s

I remember reading this book over and over again as a child. Mabel whistled a tune to calm the animals, and she could gentle any beast with it, from hungry wolf to rampaging stallion.  Looking back, it was a version of Peter and the Wolf for girls, only using kindness, ingenuity and courage, rather than bravado and trickery.

sleet outside, canary yellow inside

Winter storm watch outside, canary yellow typewriter inside.  Started with the top of the supporting shelf – there’s a lot of grain to work in and general texture yet to come – and the dark beneath the shelf. Roughed in the bi-level shelf to the right that the book and B&W photo are propped on, and the typewriter got one more layer of yellow.

IMG_2173

Who Said Red?

That’s the name of a book I used to read to the kids, when they were small.

hwwRT3Tackled the keytop, type bars, platen, type guide and various metal parts near the platen knob. Yeah, I had to Google up ‘parts of a typewriter’ or I’d be all gizmos and doohickeys