Why Do I Paint?

Why do I paint? What an odd question to be confronted with, and even odder that this is the first time in 10 years that it has been asked.

This is the query I must answer as part of the application. It’s for one of the better, yet lesser known art sites. I’ve selected it as a venue for my limited edition pieces, partly because of the potential to reach a much larger audience than the one enjoyed by this blog.

It’s a selective site, not like Fine Art America, which is open to everyone. It would be a great place to make my art available because it is genuinely intent on building an online community for art lovers . . . it seems to have a following of people who like to collect art, and not just look at it.

That’s an important distinction. You see, while I’m grateful for having many encouraging fans who love my art, I know that very few will actually ever buy any of it. After all, for most people art is a luxury item and for so many, spending $500 or more on a limited edition print seems to be a big decision, perhaps out their reach. I fully understand and appreciate that.

Finding Love in All the Right Places

Back to that original question, I could answer it in a book, but of course I won’t. As with most of life’s questions, the challenge is to find the simplest answer. This one finally came to me last night, while trying to get to sleep.

I love the process of creating, and occasionally something selfless happens there, and it is magical, and it has something to do with love. In these moments it’s like being inside the picture, where occasionally there is the giving and receiving of a precious hug. It is warm, it’s real, it’s peaceful and it’s the only thing that makes much sense. On top of that, there is the striving – the dream – to somehow send that hug along in the finished piece.

I see that happening more all the time, based on some of the comments and discussions I’ve had with people who love my art, regardless of whether they buy it.

That keeps me going, and as I’ve said many times, as in life, art is essentially about love.

A Friendly Embrace

Finally, here is a preview of my latest completed piece. It touches on the issue of skin color. In a harmonious way, it is also a playful optical illusion. I almost called it “What Color Am I?” but instead the name is, “Color Is Your Friend”. I’m saving it for a later release.

New art by Lawrence Grodecki

Neutral Colors – Available soon in a limited edition.


Into The Light

Early in my art adventure, while learning how to do it on screen, I tried a lot of new things. At least they were new to me. Here’s a little story about one 10-year old journey.

One in particular involved scanning sheets of aluminum. First I’d use felt pens to draw on a sheet of foil – more like doodle – and then see how it looked on screen. The bright colors and shine from the foil effect pulled me right in. At the same time I’d learn by doing, such as stretching, twisting, warping my hand-drawn doodles. Here’s how one of those old projects came out eventually, to the point where it was something worth keeping . . . “Into The Light”:

Into The Light - Art by Lawrence Grodecki

Into The Light – 2005

Since this original I have over 70 renditions of this picture, but have never come close to finishing it. I still have all those renditions, and here is the most recent. However, you can’t really see the progress, as it really is in the tiny details. Here’s how the 72nd version looks, as of today:

Current version of a painting

Into The Light – Current Rendition

You probably don’t see much of a difference. However, as I mentioned, there are differences in the details. Here’s a close up comparison to give you a better idea . . . it’s of a small section near the top and center of the bigger picture:

Before and After of Into the Light


In this original close-up you can see what appears to be a reddish-brown image of a lady’s head. As often happens with my art, a small part of one picture begets another, so it is very much like a family, and so far this particular parent has at least three children . . . grandchildren remain a dream!

Again, show and tell is the better teacher, so here’s an example of what I did to that young lady’s head . . . this picture was born around 2011:

"Who Knows?" - daughter of "Into The Light"

“Who Knows?” – daughter of “Into The Light”

I named this picture “Who Knows?” based on the truth that I was seven renditions in before I realized that she doesn’t have a nose . . . I was really tempted to leave it at that!

Luckily I poked my nose into her nose, and I’m sure glad I did! With a little magical light surgery, her transformation is now complete. You can see her just below, in my newest release – “Some Once”.

Clicking the image will take you to the details about “Some Once” - now available in a limited edition.

Some Once - art by Lawrence Grodecki

Some Once – Limited Edition of 30 Canvas prints

Finally, as much as I would have loved to get more into some of the mystery about light, it’s simply too much for the post. Besides, I think it also has something to do with Love, so where would one begin and then end? I think you get the picture?



Fifty Floating Apples

Last summer I wrote a blog post about floating apples – Going Bananas Over Nuts and Apples. It’s a special topic for me, as is gravity and that kind of mystery.

That mystery is imagination itself, where ideas live, play? For me it is without a doubt the most real aspect of the universe, intact beyond anything physical, and fluid more than static. I think some of that is there when the apple floats – when the tree can no longer hold it, and yet just before gravity begins the descent. And I wonder, “Do butterflies “know” something of this, but in a very different, magical way?”

Please keep that in mind, as it may the best way I can describe some of the thinking behind this new painting. It’s called “Floating An Apple” and it was done somewhat with Magritte’s “Son of Man” in mind. Perhaps this is my tribute to his message in that picture, show here:

image of the Son of Man painting

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

On the painting’s Wikipedia page [1], Magritte is quoting as saying this about his painting:

At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.[1]

Here is the painting, “Floating An Apple” by Lawrence Grodecki.  The link takes you to ArtFinder, where It is now available in a limited edition of 50 prints.

New art by Lawrence Grodecki

“Floating An Apple” – Limited Edition of 50 Prints on fine art paper.

Skirting Issues – So Touchy!

Have you ever heard of embellished art? I’ve had a few people suggest that I consider doing that. What it would mean is taking a finished print and adding some ink of paint by hand, making it truly unique from any other print.

It seems to be increasingly popular these days. However, I’m not fond of the idea for a few reasons. First, if I’m going to offer some of my art as original art, and by that I mean a one-of-a-kind painting, then it will be just that – one print, unique, signed “one-of-one” – no need to embellish it.

Second, I wonder if embellishing causes confusion or concern among collectors . . . any thoughts?

Embellished Limited Edition Prints

The one place where the notion does intrigue me is limited edition prints, but only in small runs – editions of 10 or 15 as opposed to 50 or 100.

It’s easiest to show this by example. Shown below is a series of pictures, all based on an original piece that I have yet to make publicly available. It’s called “Skirting Issues” and here is what that original looks like:

New Art - Skirting Issues

Skirting Issues – Final Version soon to be released

This may look rather simple – and I hope it does – but it took about two dozen renditions to get here. As much as I like this piece, I have a personal preference for more definition. While some of that is in some curves, for me there isn’t enough. Also, part of the nature of my art is to be drawing and painting at the same time. It’s a back and forth process, and not always does the drawing come first.

I tell you that because next I want to show you what the underlying sketch might have looked like, if I had gone the traditional route of sketching first . . . here it is:

Sketch of a new painting

The Issue of the Sketch

So how does this tie into limited editions and embellishments? Well let me continue, and tell you what I’ve done with these two images. The sketch was created so that I could apply to the original painting and add that definition I want.

While my on-screen tools give me plenty of ease in doing this, it’s a very personal process in creating the final look. Often there can be several amazing embellished renditions, making it difficult to “choose one”. But I do. I save the set but select one to publish.

However, in a small edition run of 10, I could quite easily embellish each one, make each one truly unique. To give you a taste for what I mean, I’m showing five renditions below . . . I’m pretty sure you will see what I mean.

Finally, I do believe this is embellishing by hand . . . it just doesn’t require a brush or pen. The oddest thing is that I’m much more comfortable with my on-screen embellishing than with the pen or brush idea. Perhaps it is because it is true to the original process? I think so, and though I don’t let on how personal this is, for me it’s a matter of artistic integrity? Put another way, embellishing on-screen does feel like it comes from the heart. Using a pen or brush on a print would just seem so much more mechanical . . . how’s that for irony?

Now here are 5 ways of “Skirting Issues”:

One of five renditions of a painting

Skirting Issues – one way

Second of five renditions of a new painting

The darker side of “Skirting Issues”.

Third of five renditions of a new painting

The Issue of Purple . . . and simplicity?

Fourth of Five renditions of a new painting.

More color, more contrast . . . same Issues?

Fifth of five renditions of Skirting the Issues

The color of the year . . . perhaps the real “Skirting Issue”?



Special Orchid

Painting – Both Art and Craft

Did I ever tell you about my very first painting? Probably not. It wasn’t anything close to a Rembrandt or a Dali. It wasn’t a portrait, or a bowl of fruit either. If anything, it was more like plein air or a landscape. The setting was idyllic. It was late spring, in a valley, near a hamlet called Valley River and about a 15 minute drive from my home in Dauphin. Gorgeous, lush parkland, and at that time of year one can work long hours . . . the sun hung around at least until 10 at night.

I didn’t pick the site, rather it picked me, or perhaps more accurately my dad helped pick it out. I was still a teen then, didn’t even have my driver’s license, so he was instrumental in getting me there. By the way, he was teacher most of his life, and a real whiz at math . . . that was his passion. With six kids and always in debt, he took on odd jobs in the summer months, self-employed light carpentry and painting. That’s how my first painting came about – it was a barn and it hadn’t been painted in about 30 years!

It was one stubborn fucking building, I’ll say that! Keep in mind that this was 1974, so 30 years prior, they were using material from around WWII time – lots of lead –  I’m sure a similar concoction would eventually find it’s way into the making today’s hockey helmets, it was that tough. The building was in remarkable structural condition – no warping or rotting or anything. But that paint, all three layers of it, oye what a job!

After all those years of being exposed to the sun and wind, it was drier than David Letterman with a hangover! There were a million tiny, stubborn, nasty paint chips . . . about four would fit on the nail of your little finger . . . each clinging to the wood like they used crazy glue . . . more like “completely psycho glue”. And they drove me nuts!

But wait, there’s more!

I could bitch about the process all day. I’m pretty sure it was the first time my dad knew that my cussing vocabulary was fully developed. That took perhaps an hour or so. He didn’t seem to mind though, and I’ve always appreciated his patience and understanding. He just let me vent, would move to a different section and give me that space, and get his own too I suppose? He worked so hard and never complained. However, you could tell by his eyes if you had hurt him or were doing something wrong, so just by looking at him I’d find myself thinking, “Stop being such a jerk!” and then I’d calm down, at least for awhile.

After 3 weeks of evenings and Saturdays on this barn, I actually did feel like we’d accomplished something, and at that point I’m sure there was even a little smile of accomplishment. After all, the scraping was complete and now we could do some painting.

Well son-of-a-bitch . . .the next news came as a complete shock. Having read the stories about Tom Sawyer and Huck, I felt duped . . . this was no goddam picket fence! Now we had to put plaster all over the place, not on every square inch . . . mostly where I’d left some nasty gouges in the wood from my “aggressive” scraping technique. There was that and then over the head of every nail, and in the cracks where one board joined the next.

Still, it was much easier than scraping, and by the way, now that I think of it, that’s the year where my throwing arm really developed . . . launching bullets rather than darts! Anyways, after about another week this puttying was done and I could hardly wait to start painting, or so I thought. Well mother-fucker, no one told me we had to sand this pig first!

As you can see, I’m still not quite over the swearing-out ceremony!

I can still feel that pain in my shoulder as I’m typing, but at least I’m not sweating buckets and swatting mosquitoes or worse . . . those tiny no-see-ums. No smell of cow shit lingering either. Finally we got to the priming, and then two coats of grey with white trim, and by then this part felt like a vacation.

I have to say though, after all of that, it was one of the best experiences of my life. There is nothing in 19 years of schooling that could teach me what that project taught me. The building was beautiful, especially in this valley setting, on a bit of an incline, surrounded by trees and close to the creek. And the wood almost seemed grateful – you could literally watch the paint soothe its dryness, and it felt wonderful when it was all done. It felt just as great some 20 years later, which was the next time I saw my friend, the barn. I had actually forgotten about the place, and was there kind of by accident, so it was quite a surprise to see it again, especially since it looked exactly like it did we finished it!

The grey with white trim was still there, and it was still our original paint , , , I could tell just by looking, but don’t ask me how. It was like time had stood still in that serene, secluded place. A nice rush of warm memories came over me and it was then when I realized how good this was to do. I have no idea how much money dad gave me. It wouldn’t have been much. It’s hard to remember, but I think that’s the summer I got a ten-speed bike and a really great baseball glove. I got that and an allowance that would be enough to treat my girlfriend to a Saturday night movie and a soda after, at the Grange Cafe . . . if we could talk her dad into that extra hour or so . . . he was even more stubborn than me.

Most importantly, I learned about patience and perseverance. Maybe that’s partly innate? I don’t know. What I do know is that for the next decade I spent my summers painting houses, barns, churches and more, and pretty much loved every minute of it. Before graduating from high school I had gone solo.  I loved the self-reliance aspect and it paid for most of my seven years of college and university, including grad school. Ever since then all I’ve ever really wanted was to have that kind of independence again, no matter the endeavor . . . owning a small business, and now that includes my art and writing.

Back to the future . . . soon

It all seemed much easier then. In many ways earning a living by painting houses is much easier than selling paintings. After all, people needed their houses painted and most abhorred doing it themselves. Few people see a need for art. Believe me, I understand that. However, I guess there is one odd little commonality between painting the houses and the pictures I paint. With the houses I had this quirky little thing about color. I’d always recommend the color and color scheme, and insisted on using really good paint, but not necessarily the most expensive. However, sometimes my customers would have their own color ideas.

If I didn’t approve of them I simply wouldn’t take the job. Thankfully there was seldom any real disagreement. I did walk away from one job opportunity though, because I just couldn’t put those colors on that house. Don’t forget, my reputation was on the line with every job. So that one time I walked away and got as far as the curb . . . by then she had called me back, agreed to my color selections, and loved it in the end.

How is that common to my art? Even though it’s digital painting, the final printing is not so simple . . . it’s not just pushing a button. There are decisions to be made, nuances in the final process, and believe me this is all very personal . . . the little details that really do matter. So you can be damn sure that my final printing approval is extremely stringent before I sign any piece of my art. I guess I’m just stubborn that way . . . maybe that’s the one time when it’s good to be one’s own toughest critic?

Finally, I loved this movie when it first came out (see below). Every time I see this scene I think of that barn, and of my dad. He had a few faults, but a lack of kindness or patience was never among them. I’m happy to say that I do miss him.

Eight Picture about Pictures

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved going to the movies. Saturday afternoon matinees were always a treat in my little hometown. In those days we didn’t have to buy popcorn and drinks in the theater. Mr. Ratushniak (the owner) was kind enough to let us stock up on penny candy at the convenience store next door. If you were quick enough at making your choices, you would have time enough to browse through those “detective magazines” . . . it always seemed odd how the detectives had to help ladies who were wearing underwear. You always got a good feel for their dilemma, but you never got to see the detectives . . . good cover I suppose?

So I could never get enough of Sinbad, or Hercules, or The Three Stooges or so many others. As for Barbarella, the closest I could get was the gorgeous movie poster that hung outside the theater for what seemed like months, yet not long enough? I could never understand why that movie wasn’t matinee-worthy, and I was pretty smart for a 12 year-old.

In more recent years I’ve watched a fair number of art-related movies. I don’t even go looking for them, and yet there have been plenty. There have been some fascinating ones and some so-so ones. It’s kind of funny though. I often say that I can’t understand why people who love my art seem to want to know stuff about me . . . the emphasis should be on the art, and not me at all. I just don’t get it. Yet here I am watching these films, totally captivated about these artists’ stories, and paying almost no attention to the art.

Anyways, here’s a partial list of those films. I’m no critic, so I’m just going to list them along with a brief comment. I hope you find something of interest, and by the way, they’re certainly not all bio-pics. If you know of any not on this list, by all means add a recommendation in a comment, and foreign films are more than welcome.

So without further adieu, here’s a list of eight, in no particular order:

  • Klimt, starring John Malkovich
  • Frida, starring Selma Hayak . . . perhaps my favorite in the bunch
  • Renoir - a French film about the artist’s life in his later years, especially his relationship with his son, who went on to be a film director
  • The Thomas Crown Affair – the more recent one with Pierce Bronson
  • The Best Offer – an intriguing mystery about a high-end, reclusive art dealer
  • Tim’s Vermeer – an interesting documentary
  • Girl With The Pearl Earring – a close second in the favorites department starring Scarlett Johansson

That’s it for now. As a final note, I’m surprised that I’ve never come across any film about Leonardo, so if you know of a good one, please let me know . . . and that’s da Vinci, not DiCapprio!

Who's Counting by Lawrence Grodecki

Some of My Fresh, New Art

For over a month I’ve been talking about putting my art out there in limited editions. It’s only a matter of time now before I do that. I’ll easily have a dozen paintings offered in editions of 50 each, possibly 52. I’m thinking the number of paintings will be closer to twenty than a dozen, but they may not be released all at once.

I want to keep this post short, so I’ll be blogging more about this move over the next few weeks. In the meantime, at least six of my limited edition selections have never been published elsewhere, such as my site on Fine Art America. Here’s five of them, and for a change I composed a group shot – I hope you can view it okay – it looks great on my laptop!

As not all the titles are finalized, I won’t mention any for now. However, if you have any questions then please add a comment here, or send me a private email to: ljgrodecki at google [dot] com.

I hope you enjoy the view . . . the one in the middle has never been seen before, other than by me. :)

A collage of five new works by Lawrence Grodecki

A collage of unpublished creations, soon to be available in limited edition.