Oil on paper 2-3/4" x 8"
I like to fish, hunt, fly airplanes, mow the yard, tear out brush, work with animals (3 years of being a vet tech in high school almost had me looking at being a veterenarian), ski (I taught skiing professionally from the time I was in the 10th grade until I was off to Art School and could have enjoyed that as a 'life')... cut, rivet and glue big things together (like boats and airplanes), do light construction work... and on and on. At one time or another, any of those interests almost had me off on another life tangent.
I am getting to a point about art eventually... your indulgence of my sloth like movement foreword is appreciated greatly. In this stream of consciousness piece, it seems, I am thinking out loud about why I am always questioning my art, and myself as an artist. Pretty boring stuff... you can check out now.
I'm happy that although I spent my earliest years scribbling in bird books with Crayola crayons, having 'battle drawing' events on lined notebook paper with my other pre-school warrior buddies (the result of being a military brat), copying the cartoons of my dad, and all of those photos in National Geographic, I had many, many other interests in my back pack of life.
To cut this way short, when I left the college biology labs (the ornithologist in me wanted to draw and paint birds) to find an art school program that would give me the best basic training that I was aware of, I chose Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and began a major program in Illustration. I actually interviewed at UCDavis with Wayne Thiebaud, but decided it wasn't structured enough for who I was then... meaning I didn't know crap and needed a lot of work! Looking back, it would have been interesting to have tried that out...
I do not have the mind or make up of an illustrator, I knew and had that confirmed at Art Center. Although I received great training there, I didn't have the right stuff to head off to NYC or stay in LA and work in a commercial studio. My youth as the son of a military officer, and all of the affiliated discipline that goes along with that, created the rather rebellious attitude that I now carry with me. Nothing serious, I am not plotting to overthrow anyone, or anything (yet), but I tend to reject being told what to do, and I reject the idea that nothing can change, or be faulted, no matter how long I might have held a point of view, or belief about it. Illustrators must do what the client or art director wants them to do. I used to try to be that way, but it never worked for me.
The reason I am talking about this, other than as my own therapy, is because of late I have been rebelling against what I thought I knew about me, what I thought I was, as a painter. I'm convinced that it's very important to keep looking inward to evaluate where I am as a painter, where my art is, why it is, what is it, is it of me, am I doing the most I can do to take advantage of this life as an expressive visual artist?
Cliche alert: Turns out there really is ONLY ONE LIFE, at least only one where there are art supply stores near by, so I better make it the best art life that I can. I'm sure that many of you think about this too, in fact it's an age old conundrum... Am I making the most out of this gift of life that has been given to me?
Enough of that... the point of this is that lately I have been in the studio painting. A place where the "plein air" painter in me feels very uncomfortable. So I have been asking myself why that is? And is there a way to make the studio as seemingly vital to my art, as I feel the outside is when I'm outside painting? And... why not just paint outside?
While I feel this way about the studio, I also understand that there are things that can happen in here that won't happen outside. My challenge is to try to find out what that is... alas... that is the point of this post. I've spent many years in a studio, painting and illustrating. Not to disparage that time or those paintings, because they were what they were then. None the less, I've always felt like I was out of place in here, and that the paintings were something being forced out of me. Not paintings that were truthful examples of who I was, or am as an artist. Every once in awhile I would do something that gave me a glimpse of that, but then I'd revert to this other thing. This is where the sloth like temperament comes in. It takes me a long time to recognize these sort of things in myself.
Back to those videos I posted yesterday, and some others that I've been watching lately. I've learned that I have more in me that I can do in the studio, than I have been doing. I haven't been paying enough attention to the 'Art' in my art. Not listening enough to my own visual queuing up when it makes noise. I am not going to be able to paint with the same kind of honesty and truth in here, that I am able to pull out of myself when I am standing out in Mother Nature, face to face with her. However, there is a different kind of honesty/truth that I know I can find in the studio. I need to fess up (with myself), listen, and get busy with that.
In listening to other artists talk about their work in these video interviews, like Phillip Geiger, Stuart Shils, Lennart Anderson, Vincent Dessidario, Nicolas Uribe, Bo Bartlett, Kyle Staver, Eric Fischl and others, I have come to a few ideas that should help me in my dilemma. All of these painters paint based on life observation, but take those personal ideas into another realm... in the studio. I am critically inspired by that notion, and am on a search to find it for myself.
The two images above (and I have no idea where this is going but am sharing it as if I were a naked baby on display), are based from the memory of my walk to the studio this morning. No photos, no field studies. (I know you're saying to yourself... Wake up Marc! That's old stuff.) But from pointed observation and memory notes taken in the studio, and then painted. This is very exciting to me, I know, maybe it's old hat to many. It's what I am going to spend the studio time exploring for now. Like I said, I am like the lowly sloth who is slow while life passes by, but confident that each next move, is the best one.
Ps... I am not suggesting that I want to make stuff up, hardly. I think I'm saying that there is more within me, within us as artists, to bring out and work with. I am an observational LANDSCAPE painter, no doubt about that. That is one reason the studio is hard for me... there's nothing in here to observe! But... there is 59 years of the observational logging of information... in me. There must be a way to access and use that experience when I can't be outside reacting to life. That's all...