A digital painting called "I Want To Take You There"

I Want to Take You There

This post is about today’s release of a new painting, called “I Want to Take You There”.

It’s the feature image here. The bright, playful and curvy figures in the center took awhile to complete – a few days of touching up something that had been at rest for several years now. By Friday night the only thing left was to add some sort of background – at that point I really had no idea what that would be.

For my backgrounds I often browse through several older creations, picked one or part of one, and then play with it using different effects. If you’re familiar with layering that essentially what I did for this background. Sometimes It can be a very simple process, other times not so easy. No matter what, inevitably there is some tweaking involved . . . altering shapes, redrawing, cropping, colors, contrast and so.

If it starts to be a struggle then I’ll stop and reconsider whether I’m on the right path. Over the years that happens often, and that’s when I’ll leave one painting and go on to another. That’s one reason why I have so many unfinished projects. However, more often than not, when I revisit a piece, what was once a struggle can suddenly became an easy labor of love . . . and that’s when something happens . . . I like to call it a little magic.

Friday night had its magic moments.

When it was finished I posted this painting on Twitter, as I like to do to get some feedback, to get a discussion going. It was a really nice reaction, and especially the exchange I had with a fellow artist who loves my work. She judges a lot of art in various shows, and she commented on how she finds my work hard to respond to, though she loves the “gorgeous complexity”.

I told her how I’ve found that my favorite compliment is basically, “I like it but I don’t know why!” I told her that to me it seems pretty simple, but then if I have to explain it . . . “Oye!”

We also talked a bit about those hard-to-explain moments when something special happens in the process, that little magic . . . the “wow” moments. I look for those moments, but mostly wait for them, and definitely cherish them. She understood exactly what I meant.

Finally, often there’s something ephemeral about a piece, something I really want to convey, to somehow pass on to you as a viewer. It is kind of spiritual. We talked a bit about that too, and for some reason it got me thinking about Madonna’s old hit, “Just Like a Prayer”. That link takes to a video of a live performance of her song, and through the course of this viewing, a few minutes before midnight, came the title, “I Want To Take You There”.

A picture called Learning To Dance

You Look Like You’re Looking For $50!

I’ve spent the past 3 days revamping my web site on Fine Art America.

The galleries have been completely refreshed, much better now . . . you’ll see what I mean if you visit the site. Also, I’ve taken off the smaller print options and added a few larger ones. Each creation is now available in six different image sizes – there used to eight or nine. I’ve also fiddled with the pricing, but nothing major though. In the process, it finally occurred to me how to have a little fun with this holiday craziness, beginning with Cyber Monday.

As of today I’ve dropped my price by $50 on select pictures and sizes.

Here’s the fun part though . . . the savings will only last until Saturday, December 6th. By Sunday morning I will have taken off these savings, at least most of them –  I have no idea which ones will remain! Then for the following week  I’ll do something similar.

Currently this selection includes twelve of my creations as shown in the list below. These are all from my gallery called “Fan Favorites”. If you click on any of the picture titles, you will be taken to that picture on my site (in a new window).

I’ll be letting people know about this offer on Twitter and elsewhere throughout the week, and I do consider this to be one of the few ways to thank you all for tolerating my ramblings, and especially my quirky sense of humor.

Now here is the list, by title and then the size where you will find the $50 savings.

Enjoy the view, and please do me a nice favor and share the news, either through this blog post, or on my art site, or both. I know how easy it is to forget to do that, so please don’t find me rude for asking . . . there are much better reasons for that foundation! ha ha

  1. Commonality – 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  2. In the Right Place – 24″ w x 24″ h    (61 cm w x 61 cm h)
  3. Learning To Dance – 24″ w x 18″ h    (61 cm w x 45.7 cm h)
  4. Leaves in Elegance – 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  5. Forever Dancing - 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  6. Missing You – 16″ w x 20″ h    (40.6 cm w x 50.8 cm h)
  7. Promises – 16″ w x 20″ h    (40.6 cm w x 50.8 cm h)
  8. Shyness Revealed – 21 5/8″ w x 24″ h    (54.9 cm w x 61 cm h)
  9. Sunset on the Beach – 18″ w x 24″ h    (45.7 cm w x 61 cm h)
  10. The Other Way – 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  11. Touched – 18″ w x 24″ h    (45.7 cm w x 61 cm h)
  12. Angels Calling – 36″ w x 25 3/4″ h    (91.4 cm w x 65.4 cm h)

Important note: For safe Christmas delivery the order deadline is midnight, Dec. 15th. Also, all orders have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

In the Right Place - art

WTF – Happy Thanksgiving!

There’s so much going on around the world that is so damn troubling. Like countless others, it seems that no matter what one does individually or collectively, these troubles persist. Yet we try.

I’m one of those who in the past few years has tried to avoid “the news”, as in “mostly the relentless accounts of the worse current events”. In fact for me almost everything about what we call “the news” is among the most troubling of our current events.

As hard as I try, one simply cannot avoid some stories, such as the ongoing Ferguson debacle. I usually don’t blog or comment about these terrible tragedies, but for some reason this one has gotten me down more than most . . . I’m reminded of an incident that happened about 12 years ago, in Birmingham, Alabama.

I was there for a few days on business, along with a few others. One evening a co-worker and I decided to go for a walk, check out the city a bit. We were close to downtown, walking distance from the convention center, and there was plenty enough to see and do. In other words, we came across a pool hall.

It seemed like a nice, safe area. It was clean, lots of lights, a beautiful evening, friendly people around, and so on. We felt extra safe when we noticed a few police officers. They stood out partly because they were on bikes, just strolling around. One especially stood out because he looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. They also had on these skin-tight uniforms – a tight shirt and shorts – at least on of the Village People would be so envious.

A few minutes after seeing these police we were safely inside this nice, clean pool hall. We got ourselves some whiskey & coke and soon the game became so relaxing. In other words I began to kick his ass . . . oh, how I missed my snooker! To make matters sweeter, the music came on. Nice tunes on the jukebox, courtesy of two very attractive young ladies in the corner, the only two others in the place, aside from the bartender. I glanced over. They really were stunning to be honest, especially with their smiles and giggles.

My friend and I continued with our game. Then Arnold entered the hall. I had my back to the ladies in the corner, which is where the policeman was headed. All of a sudden those giggles turned to loud screams. In a horrible flash I turned to see what was going on. The ladies had their arms up and backs arched away from Arnold – a defensive posture. It was necessary because the policeman had a long nightstick raised and extended in his right hand.

In this flash I saw this nightstick begin its downward assault. Almost miraculously, it stopped. No one was hurt. The young ladies left their drinks behind and made a quick exit, visibly shaken but at least not beaten. The officer had his back to us the whole time. I can’t remember if he glanced over in our direction behind he quickly left the place as well.

We asked the bartender what had just happened. She told us that apparently these young ladies did not have any I.D. on them, so it was unclear whether they could legally be in this licensed hall.

My reaction now remains as it was then, and it’s the same for Ferguson, “WTF!!!”

I forgot to mention that these were ladies of color and the officer was white . . . they also appeared to be close to the same age.

Anyway, I can’t stop any of this madness. About the only thing I can do is offer my little sign of peace. It’s not much. It’s just a savings of five bucks, and by that I mean I’m giving away my novel – today and tomorrow – November 26th and 27th.

While the book is about love, it does have its unsettling parts and aspects . . . did I mention fear? Still, overall it’s about the best of humanity . . . at times like these it seems we all need reminders of that means . . . a temporary escape from some of these troubles.

So here’s my Amazon link to “Dawn at Last”. While I know it doesn’t mean much at all, at least it’s a little something . . . a little gift.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Finally, to my friends around the world, even those whom I have yet to meet, I’d be honored to have you accept my gift.

a picture of leaves

Painting In Time

This is my last “art post” for awhile. It’s about time, or perhaps timing is the better choice of words?

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked in various ways about how long it takes me to create something. Even when not asked, it becomes an awkward aspect of announcing a new project.

Incidentally, I’m one of those who agrees with Leonardo da Vinci and many others . . . a work of art is never finished . . . there is some universal truth in that, I’m sure. What is amusing about that is looking at the beginning of a piece.

If art has no “ending” then where does it really begin?

That can be a fascinating question to tackle. For example, in a way “Rita’s Vision” took me less than a week to complete – sometimes completion feels like a surrender, but a very sweet, peaceful one. But where did this picture start? If you read my my last post, Some Notes on My Art Style, you can see that this picture really began almost 10 years ago, with the collection of some leaves, and then a scan. But then there were many pictures that came out of this scan, and each time something new happens. Something is learned?

A style eventually emerges, change happens . . . often unnoticed. There are elements in this picture that were not part of that style ten years ago, so in a way each picture is the result of weeks and months of other pictures. That applies not only directly to the these leaves, but indirectly too – all those other creations that had their influence as well.

Let’s not forget that without those leaves none of this would have happened . . . this art. So where did these leaves come from, the first ones? Some may call this philosophical whimsy, but to me it’s not. It’s another example of a prominent theme to my art and novel. Everything blends and time is certainly no exception!

I’m going to try to avoid this issue of time in the future (no pun intended). When it comes to art, and especially with art, time really is so irrelevant.

Finally, the picture at the top is what I’m playing with now. There’s no name yet – that will come in a different now. By the way, now is my favorite time!

 

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.