Fourth in a series of paintings.

Some Notes on My Art Style

This is yet another post about my art, but perhaps the last for awhile.

There’s a few things I’d like to clarify, based on some of the questions and comments I’ve had recently on various social media. Much of this ties in with what I’ve said many times, “A lot of my art is done with leaves. Also, I paint with light.”

The best way to show this is with a few pictures. The first one is a very simple example of how I begin several of my projects . . . with a scan of a leaf or leaves, as shown below, on the left. Next to it you can see how I drew over part of the veins of the leaf . . . selectively. I do this on screen, rough at first, but then with a lot of smoothing, as seen in the right picture. There are several other adjustments to follow, such as reshaping, not to mention color.

Two images of a leaf

A simple example of using leaves as a base for my art.

The Leaves Become My Canvas

The next example is much more involved. It begins with a group of fall leaves. I lay them out on my scanner with a little thought paid to composition – but not too much – so it is not quite random. Because of this, it may take two or three tries before I’m satisfied with how the leaves look on-screen. It’s mostly an intuitive process.

After that I may work with the entire scanned image, but more likely I’ll just use a small, cropped portion, and then enlarge it. In this case I’ve done a series of cropped sections. Put another way, now I have three very different scans. Each one becomes “my blank canvas that really isn’t blank.” - after studying this image for a minute or two, I’ll start sketching, based on whatever has caught my eye.

Now here are those three images I’ve been talking about. “A” refers to the main scan (1st one), while “B” is part of the middle region in”A”. In turn, “C” is the bottom left part of “B”.

three scans of a set of leaves.

One scan of leaves, but three different “blank canvases”!

 How the Picture at the Top of this Post Came to “B”

From there it really becomes an adventure. With no preconception of what I will find, I have full confidence that something exciting and intriguing will show up. It almost always does! So it often feels more like a discovery than a creation, as if the picture or story is waiting there to be drawn. Perhaps that’s a different way of interpreting one’s muses? I like to think so.

Take image “B” for example. I’m showing it here again, but this time with a mauve rectangular inset that shows what was to become a series of pictures, only one of which has been published.

 

picture of leaves

Image “B” within an inset that shows the base of a series of paintings.

Now here are the pictures that came of this inset – for most of these, there are dozens of renditions done to get to what you see here. These remain untitled as they are still considered works in progress:

first in a series of digital paintings

The first in this series, chronologically.

second image in a series of paintings

Second in the series.

Third in a series of digital paintings.

Third in the series.

Fourth in a series of paintings.

Fourth in the series.

Now here is the last in this series. This is a version of the published picture, called, “Troubled”. If you click on this image, you will be taken to the final version of “Troubled” on my site.

last in a series of digital paintings.

The last in this series, so far.

“Rita’s Vision” is There Too . . . “C”

Thank you bearing with me so far. Now I’m going to show you what came out of the smallest cropping – image “C” from above. I’m showing it again here, rotated to match the picture that became of it. That picture follows right after – it’s my newly released piece called “Rita’s Vision”. Once again, clicking the image takes you to my site:

repeat of image "C", rotated.

Image “C” from above, rotated 90 degrees.

a picture called "Rita's Vision".

That’s enough for now. I intended to discuss the issue of how long it takes to make my creations. Given how I do things, that’s not always an easy question, so it looks like I’ll be doing one more style-related post, but it will be much shorter than this one.

They Call It Progression

Well I made a promise in my last post, so I’m going to try to keep it:

In my next post I’m going to explain the changes I went through, style-wise, while bringing“Angels Calling” to form. This may seem self-indulgent, but it will be a worthwhile exercise for me, and hopefully there will be something you might learn as well? At the very least there will be lots of pictures to see!

This has turned out to be more difficult than I thought . . . it’s very much like trying to put something special into words, even though you know it’s pretty much impossible to fully do so.

That has certainly been the case with this this blog, though it’s easier if I focus more on technical things that happened through the month. For example, I went back to sketching in curves that were never there in the first place . . . it’s very much like doing the sketch after the painting is done . . . it turns out this is quite opposite of the norm.

I learned that while watching an intriguing documentary about the Dutch Master, Johannes Vermeer . . . his painting, and especially his technique. For me it raises a lot of issues that surround “what art is” and the misconceptions about digital painting. There’s also this curious issue of painting with light . . . apparently that’s not supposed to be possible, but I didn’t though that . . . it feels like I’ve been doing that for years now.

It’s a fascinating film in that context, especially since the mystery of Vermeer has lasted over 300 years. The findings in the film can be a little disturbing to some art lovers . . . it was that way for me. To avoid any spoilers, you can see the trailer here if you like: a documentary called “Tim’s Vermeer”.

A Blurring of Visions

In many ways this project was a blurring of previous ones, though it felt more like a fine blending by the time it was finished. For the first time ever, I spent some quality time looking back on my development. It happened differently through each of three major stages of detailing . . . always unexpected. As a reminder, the project I’m talking about is “Angels Calling”. It consumed my October, and during this month I went back to study at least half dozen pieces, ones I’ve done over the past decade. I’d compare some aspect of the current project to one of those older pictures. Then immediately I’d notice something nice about my own progression. Sometimes the changes are subtle, other times stark, and always a little amusing, but not in any nostalgic way.

This happened with every old picture that came to mind. Oddly though, these were also breakthrough pictures for me personally, usually involving new tools or applications of old ones - the personal “wow” moments. Taken all together, this led to an immense sense of calmness, like finding balance in a new way, and certainly style-wise. It’s a really good feeling.

Finally, I mentioned a series of 41 renditions in the progression of “Angels Calling”. How it works is that every time I make a fundamental change to a rendition, I save it as the next highest rendition number. That way I can sit back and see if each change is for the better. If so, then the higher numbered version becomes my new work-in-progress. It’s an elegantly simple system, and it works beautifully. Still, it’s not always easy to decide whether an improvement has been made, or if the previous rendition is the better one. However, in the making of this picture, it was all a very smooth process.

One rendition pretty much flowed into the next. It was never a struggle, yet still challenging . . . demanding a lot of patience and just as much attention to countless details. So here are some “snapshots” of various renditions . . . the numbers are noted in the captions. Thank you for spending your time on this post, and I hope you enjoy the view.

Rendition #2 of "Angels Calling"

Rendition #2

Rendition #10 of "Angels Calling"

Rendition #10

Rendition #17 of "Angels Calling"

Rendition #17

Rendition #31 of "Angels Calling"

Rendition #31

#41 - The Final Version of "Angels Calling"

#41 – The Final Piece

If you wish to see how this looks on my site – or view any of my other 60+ pieces – click here to visit my art on FineArtAmerica. Also, feel free to email me with any questions. :-)

 

October’s Calling

October was a little different, amazing by my standards. I spent the bulk of my time creating one picture. It took at least five weeks, especially with all the detailing that went into it. All my social media activity slipped big-time, especially this blog. I needed that break and for many reasons, including going through a creative transition. When I was about half done “Angels Calling”, it came to me that something special was going on . . . more on this further down.

As soon as it was finished, I launched “Angels Calling” on my site on FineArtAmerica. That was a few days ago and soon after my first customer got in touch with me. We exchanged a few pleasant emails, and she was so genuinely grateful that I created this piece.

Clutch Hitting During the Month of October

Then it really hit me, that unsettled feeling that comes with finishing a major project like this one. I’ve noticed it before, but it seems each time I learn something new. When you finish a painting, especially one that feels like a breakthrough of sorts, there is the experience of a sense of loss. That happens even more when you recognize that something unique going, a change in both process and technique. You get to watch it take form . . . there’s no real hurry to finish the picture . . . you don’t want this journey to end, but you also know that it must.

Often, in those times, I’ll dive into something else right away. It feels very much like trying to replace something that’s vanished. It doesn’t take long to become immersed in another project, yet there is this lingering of the previous one. At the same time, I must put on my business hat, announce “Angels Calling” and promote it online. Then I inevitably start thinking of the painting as being more as a product. The process still lingers, but again, this “changing of the hats” seems to helps in putting a closure to the journey.

Perhaps it was then, when it was launched, that the journey becomes an arrival?

 Upon Arrival

In my next post I’m going to explain the changes I went through, style-wise, while bringing “Angels Calling” to form. This may seem self-indulgent, but it will be a worthwhile exercise for me, and hopefully there will be something you might learn as well? At the very least there will be lots of pictures to see!

Finally, I’m going to show you two renditions of “Angels Calling”. The first one is the earliest rendition, at least the first with a layer of leaves on top of the sketch. The second one is the final and published version . . . it’s #41. There was a lot going on in October, between #1 and #41.

Here they are . . . clicking on the final version will take you to “Angels Calling”on my art site.

digital painting

First Rendition of “Angels Calling” by Lawrence Grodecki

Final Version of "Angels Calling"

Final Version (#41) of “Angels Calling”…now on my FAA site…the picture links to my art site.

 

Going Bananas Over Nuts and Apples

How about them apples? I don’t mean the ones for Halloween, just around the corner. Nor do I mean anything about new i-phones and such. I’m talking about gravity here, and eventually about floating apples.

I had my own Newton moment almost ten years ago, sitting near a tree and watching the squirrels at play, and then the cones falling to the ground. For some reason, Newton’s formula for gravity came to mind, as I was taught so long ago. It was an intrusive thought though, as it wasn’t equations that caught my attention in that Eureka moment . . . it was the time of release that got me thinking.

Oddly, it comes back to yet another thing that can’t be measured in nature, such as the precise time when an apple or cone begins it’s descent. In botany I learned a bit about energy in trees, and how with some of this energy the tree holds the apple to the tree. Eventually this energy is not enough to keep the fruit attached, and then it falls.

Just Before the Start of the Fall

That’s the part that fascinates me . . . that immeasurable moment within a moment . . . just before the start of that descent. It is then that the apple floats! There is no energy from the tree holding it back, and the draw of gravity has not yet begun . . . in between the two, the apple floats!

To help you get a better picture of what I’m saying, there is a pretty famous painting by Magritte called, The Son of Man, as shown below:

image of the Son of Man painting

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

If you want another visual idea, there’s always Bugs Bunny, especially those countless times where one character or another finds themselves floating . . . here’s just one example.

So for me this is all a comforting reminder of how little we know, in spite of all we think we know. I like that we don’t fully understand gravity. That way we don’t have a hope in hell of synthesizing it, bringing dead planets back to life, and repeating our mistakes somewhere else. When you think about, what really is the point of colonizing a planet that has no gravity, as we have on Earth? It all seems so unnatural, sad really.

Finally, I do believe there is something about love in every such magical, invisible moment, something that exists freely in nature, never to be contained.

For years I’ve thought of this with every naturally falling object, such as all the fruits and cones. Lately I’ve also become quite fascinated with the notion of the sky being full of water, even in the absence of clouds. Now – just last night, while thinking this post through – another thought came to mind. This magical moment within a moment, when apples float, it seems the same is true for every drop of water in the rain . . . and then there are snowflakes!

To end on a lighter note, now I’m wrestling with a bigger mystery. Out of all those raindrops that fall in a pond, I wonder which ones float!

 

The Shame of It All, More or Less?

This weekend Dawn at Last is free on Amazon in its Kindle Edition.

Because of this, chances are that my blog will be getting relatively more traffic, and with many first time visitors. Because of that, I feel obligated to be extra witty, more charming, poignant, wise and so on.

Then again, I also feel obligated to tell you to make sure you read the damn book before you come around here . . . the book is more interesting than my real-world me . . . as is my art. Some of my closest fans see a lot of me in this character or that. I will neither confirm nor deny such fantasies. As these fans are typically women, the discussions thankfully waltz more into the characters with whom they relate to the most.

Those are the most intriguing discussions . . . and Lawrence, “How do you know these women so well”? This is one of my favorite questions, or ones closely related. Frankly though, I really have no answer, and when the issue comes up someone should give me an honorary degree . . . Master of Segue?

To my closest fans . . . thank you for sharing your stories.

Perhaps I use art in my defense at that point? Or listen to more stories, those of these dear fans . . . each one fascinating in their own tales. Either way, it’s been a wonderful time, a picnic basket full of unexpected pleasant surprises, and every day seems like a good day for a picnic!

So where was I? Self-indulging once again I suppose. Anyway, if you’ve got the book, please actually take some time to read it. Did you know that 57% of books that are started are never finished, when it comes to reading? It sounds like a big number, but when I look at my own track record it becomes quite believable.

Dawn at Last - FAA_3_Final

If you happen to drift into that category . . . well at least there’s the pictures! By that I mean my art. The art on the cover of the book (shown above) is one of my original pieces. To coincide with this weekend’s promotion, I’ve finally added it to my repertoire on my art site. It’s also on at much lower prices than my other works, such as $20 less for a 20″ x 16″ print.

Now there’s my shameless plug for the post, and as I read your minds I totally agree, “Lawrence you must find something more enticing to be shameless about.”

On that note, it’s definitely time for to get out and about. Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever it is you are reading, and if you wish, drop me a shameless comment or two . . . by now if I have succeeded, you should be feeling obligated to do so!

Pickled Eggs and Other Food for Thought

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything ethically related, and no, this isn’t going to be about Ferguson or Iraq or the Ukraine or Gaza, or Venezuela or Nigeria or Syria or Afghanistan or whether Germany will export another $60 billion of military “stuff” this year. It’s not even about drones peeping into Vancouver apartments.

This is about life, and the creation of it, or in this case is it best to say the production of it?

I came across something today that has me in a pickle, and it can be a little jarring. It has to do with the bio-mechanical womb, and it seems just around the corner . . . you can read the post here . . .

Would You Grow Your Baby In An Artificial Womb?

Is it just me or are we basically doing everything ass backwards now? By that I mean, “shouldn’t the ethical decisions be covered long before the technology gets this far?” The truth is that for a very long time now, one can always find an ethical justification for anything we are capable of inventing or doing . . . hello folks, everything is allowed! The legal people just put up some rules & regulations to complicate matters further. Still, shit happens!

Please Stay Kosher

When I look at that womb container the first thing that comes to mind is a pickle jar, and it seems everything gets privatized sooner or later? Private or not, who among is worthy to make these decisions? Perhaps none of us. By that I mean how the technology is applied.

So instead of worrying about pregnancy, and stocking up on pickles and ice cream, you will worry about something else. “How is my little Bick baby doing today?” Then as you snap pictures of the work in progress, you ponder, “Shall it be Ben or Jerry?”

I’m one of those who is completely against things like colonizing Mars, and this artificial womb stuff only solidifies that concern. After all, at some point isn’t it all just a little too excessive? When did nature become so irrelevant?

Roll over Beethoven! Another Turner Classic?

An Original Short Story

Do you mind if I tell you a little story?

“Lawrence, you need to make a decision,” she said, partly in exasperation, part in concern.

“What do mean Jeanette?”

“You need to decide whether your art is decorative or fine art.”

“I’m still not sure what you mean. Please explain.”

She sighed, “I mean do you want to see it hung in a museum or in people’s homes.”

I was flattered . . . in a museum? This all started in a discussion about our art. Her art is digital too. She’s in an MFA program in major city in Ontario, while I just do what I do in a small prairie center. Her goal is to create something that will one day appear in the history books. Mine is to pay the rent and keep me sustained enough to do more art.

The discussion was more about the frustrating business side of digital painting. The original art is essentially in a file and then printed in a museum-quality way. However, museums are used to showing art that is one-of-a-kind. It seems that is the point she was trying to make.

That’s a big decision from a business point-of-view, though it has nothing to do with the creative process. We talked about how people get confused by it all. When they think of prints they think of a photograph or scan taken of a one-of-a-kind work of art, and so the quality is not the same as the original.

However, with digital painting each print is a first generation of the original art. We talked about that too.

“But Jeanette, here’s where we disagree. I can produce the exact same work of art for a gallery as I can for someone’s home. I know that’s a big change for the gallery world, but I never intended to screw anything up. I just love doing my art as I do it, and never really thought of things much . . . and by the way, thank you for the really nice compliment!”

Jeanette didn’t say anything for a minute. She was thinking. She understood the importance of it from the marketing point of view. After all, in a previous life she owned a pretty successful advertising boutique. She also lives in different circles from me. She’s not a snob about it all, but she’s very much aware of the games that go on in the world of art . . . the silly ones really.

One of those games concerns limited editions. I expressed my frustration at that, telling her that I’m not going that route anymore. There’s a lot of trust involved on both sides . . . artists and buyers, and anyone else in the middle. Besides, very few limited editions really go up in value, so it’s a dangerous game investment wise.

She seemed to sense that I was making my decision as the conversation went on. She understood when I explained how my only real way to reach art lovers is online, at least for now. She sympathized with my desire to simply have people buy my art because they like it or love it. She understood how I hope that when necessary, it brings them a much-needed smile or some kind of inspiration.

She kind of frowned slightly when I added, “and that could be anybody . . . I’ve gone with open editions and am making my high quality art available at the lowest prices I can justify.”

It was obvious that Jeanette didn’t approve. How could she? She had long forgotten the pressures of rent and such. She had many luxuries that I don’t, including time. She can travel and shmooze and sell the odd piece for $5,000 while I plug away at prices that start at $32 . . . funny thing is that most find my art to be more interesting hers. Then again, her customers don’t know of me, and they seem to want something to pay that kind of money for . . . it just takes some convincing in terms of the value.

Jeanette and I never discussed value, or technique for that matter. For me it’s because I know how she does her art, and it really is just pushing a few buttons. Mine is much different, much more like real painting, more hands on and lots of TLC. As for her silence on the matter, well . . . she simply knows that I know!

Before we parted ways for the last time, I asked, “Why not both?”

She was already walking away and turned and gave me a puzzled look, “Excuse me?”

I said, “Why not both? Why can’t I sell the same work of art to people for their homes and still have one hanging in a museum?”

She kind of laughed, definitely gasped. She never said a word, but the laugh was meant as agreement, while the gasp was definitely to say, “the horror of such an idea!”

This is the end of the story. My art will likely never be in any museum. That was never part of the dream and so that’s okay. And if I want it published in a book, I can damn well do that on my own! Then again, all I really want is for those who love it to have it in their homes, and once awhile smile for the picture.

Now here’s a video that in a way makes fun of my art predicament, but please don’t think of my art in terms of photocopies or even mass-produced big-box posters . . . each one is the same as the original . . . hence that wonderfully confusing new term, “multiple originals”! I had quite a discussion about that with one of my old economics professors not long ago. However, that’s another story – one in which we both laughed a lot!

Finally, finally . . . and one of these days I really must finish that little story . . . the one about gravity, and how apples really do float. Ah, the Son of Man (the painting)!